Daily Archives: September 10, 2012

(Washington Post) Robert Samuelson–The Public Is Frustrated and Pessimistic

Are you better off than you were four years ago? It’s a harder question than you might think.

If you examine the numbers, they suggest that most Americans aren’t better off than they were four years ago — but aren’t much worse off, either. The big difference may be their state of mind. When Barack Obama took office, the economy was collapsing. People were terrified. Companies were firing hundreds of thousands; the stock market was plunging. This fright has now morphed into a quiet dread that the economy is stuck in a state of insecure stagnation, which the government can’t cure and that will crush people’s dreams.

Just how Americans react to this change may determine whether they feel “worse off” — and how they’ll vote in November. Are people so relieved that we avoided a depression that they forgive the economy’s subsequent miserable performance as a lesser evil? Or are they so angry over Obama’s apparent powerlessness to engineer a strong recovery that their discontent overshadows any earlier success?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, Psychology

(Church Times) Jeffrey John makes the argument for Same Sex Marriage

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Same-sex blessings, Secularism, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Francis Phillips–It’s a shame the Chief Rabbi can’t be the next Archbishop of Canterbury

To return to Lord Sacks: his book, according to Andrew Marr ”“ not an oracle, admittedly, but still a good barometer of liberal taste ”“ is “the most persuasive argument for religious belief I have ever read.” Sacks argues, not that Dawkins is the “latest pub bore” but that questions of religion and science concern different hemispheres of the brain: science (the left hemisphere) “takes things apart to see how they work”; religion (the right hemisphere) “puts things together to see what they mean”; both activities are vital.

Come to think of it, it is a great pity that the Chief Rabbi can’t, for obvious reasons, apply for the job of being the next Archbishop of Canterbury: he is an intellectual ”“ but with a gift for clear exposition; he believes in God, marriage, the family; he is conciliatory rather than divisive; and from his own religious and historical perspective he sees the marginalisation of faith for what it is.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Cathy Wield–Suicide survived, living life to the full

I was not expected to live, let alone return to work, yet I did both these things. Now finally I have retired from being a doctor, after a six-month hospital spell when I had a relapse of my condition. But as I slowly became well again, I knew increasing freedom in God my Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Now it is time for a different sort of life; one to tell the world: “There is no despair that has absolutely no hope.” The tragedy of suicide must be prevented and we, as Christians, can be frontrunners in the race. I had family and friends, but some sufferers with suicidal thoughts and ideas are alone and isolated. Not everyone is ill, some are just in total despair but all need to know that there are people around who care.

Our goal is to accept people however they are and provide them with hope – well or sick, able-bodied or disabled, mentally well or mentally ill, Christians or non-Christians. This is our mission as we know God’s love, to love one another and to love the world as He does.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Suicide, Theology

Eugenic Screening Allowed: European Court Decides

On August 28 the European Court of Human Rights declared that access to pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) must be allowed.

The court decision dealt with Law 40/2004 on assisted fertilization in Italy. The case of Rosetta Costa and Walter Pavan v. Italy regarded a married couple who were both carriers of cystic fibrosis who wished to use PGD to screen their children as embryos.

The couple already aborted a child suffering from cystic fibrosis and they brought their case to the court arguing that the current Italian law that prohibits pre-implantation genetic diagnosis infringes their private and family life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, Europe, Health & Medicine, Italy, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Writing for advice–My 16-year-old daughter is rejecting God and her faith

I am a stay-at-home mother of four who has tried to raise my family under the same strong Christian values that I grew up with. Therefore I was shocked when my oldest daughter, “Emily,” suddenly announced she had “given up believing in God” and decided to “come out” as an atheist.

She said she was “happy” in her decision and that it just “felt right.” She no longer wishes to attend church, speak to the pastor or even participate in family prayers.

I love my daughter dearly, but I am troubled by this turn of events. She has never seriously misbehaved or otherwise given me cause to worry before this. Emily insists she is old enough to make up her own mind, but I simply do not think a girl of 16 has the maturity to make such a life-changing decision….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family, Media, Psychology, Religion & Culture

Gallup Poll's CEO Jim Clifton –Don’t Be Misled by the U.S. Unemployment Rate

The problem with the unemployment metric is that an additional 6.6% report being “underemployed,” meaning they are left out of the 8.1% unemployed because they have part-time work but wish they were employed full time; they’re not classified as “unemployed.” They’re not in the 8.1% everyone’s watching, and this makes things complicated. Nearly 15% underemployed, including the unemployed, is much more accurate and significant than the single 8.1%.

My big point here is that the current U.S. unemployment metric is an over-complicated mess and misleads smart American leaders and citizens. Bluntly, we don’t honestly know when we see the government’s unemployment data if the employment situation got a little better or a little worse.

Gallup has a solution and breakthrough. We will start reporting Payroll to Population employment rates (P2P) every day on our website as of today. We will use a big sample of 30,000 completed telephone interviews in the U.S. and compute a new global employment metric that will be pure and unadjusted.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

WCC and Latin American churches express hope for Colombia peace talks

A public statement applauding steps toward peace talks in Colombia was issued recently by representatives of churches and ecumenical organizations that form the Peace Commission of the Evangelical Council (CEDECOL), the Ecumenical Network in Colombia and the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI).

The statement, released on 28 August and responding to an announcement that the Colombian government and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia ”“ People’s Army) were working on a proposal to start peace talks, expressed thankfulness to God and hope for a more peaceful future in the country, which has been wracked by decades of conflict. The peace talks are scheduled to begin 8 October in Norway and may also include the National Liberation Army (ELN).

“The people of Colombia deserve peace with justice,” Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), said in response to the ecumenical statement and the potential for peace talks. “As an ecumenical community, we ask all WCC member churches to pray that the process of peace talks will proceed as soon as possible.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Colombia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, South America, Theology, Violence

(Barnabas Aid) Some Egyptian Islamists call for the Government to monitor church finances

The Church in Egypt is being subjected to “cheap political blackmail and political thuggery” as Islamists demand that its funds come under state control in what could be seen as a ploy to deflect growing scrutiny of Muslim Brotherhood finances and affairs.

This was the assessment of Christian rights’ group Copts Without Chains to the call last week by Islamists in the Constituent Assembly that the government monitor church finances. Khaled Saeed, spokesman for the Salafist Front, said in a debate on Egyptian TV on 28 August that the measure was “necessary” to know where the Church’s money goes and “if it is on the right track or not”.

Absurdly over-stating the power of the Christian community in Egypt, Saeed claimed that the smallest monastery in Egypt was larger than the Vatican, and he alleged there were concerns of a “church state within the Egyptian civil state”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Egypt, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

PBS' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Roman Catholic Writer Ron Hansen

BOB FAW, correspondent: Nearly every day, as he has for most of his adult life, Ron Hansen attends Mass. For this deacon at Saint Joseph of Cupertino parish in California, the ceremony brings both comfort and renewal.

RON HANSEN: I find nourishment in it. It’s a way of being quiet for a while and to let my mind focus on just communication with God.
FAW: Hansen’s religious sensibility isn’t limited to rituals like this. It also infuses all eight novels written by this highly acclaimed author.

(to Hansen): You really do see writing as a kind of sacrament then, don’t you?

HANSEN: Yes, it’s a witness to what God is doing in the world. We’re supposed to worship and praise, and I can’t think of a better way of worshiping and praising than to write poetry or fiction.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Alexander Crummell

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy servant Alexander Crummell, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to those who were far off and to those who were near. Raise up, we beseech thee, in this and every land evangelists and heralds of thy kingdom, that thy Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Heavenly Father, grant us so to love thee with all our heart and mind and strength, and our neighbour for thy sake; that the grace of charity and brotherly love may dwell in us, and all envy, harshness and may die in us; according to the perfect love of thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

–Acts 13:52

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A recent sermon of Ron Stephens, St. Andrew’s Parish, Warrenton, Virginia

When I preach to you, I have been trying to always let you see the historical context of the readings as well as try to explain what they mean. I have tried to bring you truths about the Gospels that have sometimes in the past been ignored because there was fear that if people knew these things they would lose faith. It seems to me that one of the greatest problems of fundamentalism today is the devotion to the literal word of the Bible . The Catholic church teaches and has always taught that the Bible is inspired, and I have come to believe it is, but not as literal truth. What is inspired for me is the whole direction or movement or ”˜way’ of Christ that is described to us, stripped of its historical prejudices and the psychological quirks of the men who wrote it. At the very core of Scripture there is truth and beauty and God’s inspiration that allowed these people to put down their developing thought. I do think it is unfortunate that we have frozen these early writings as inspired and that many beautiful writings from Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas are not considered so. It makes me feel that after a certain date in time, we are led to believe that there is nothing more that God wanted to say. And yet I believe he speaks to us every day in very many voices and ways.
So yes, many of the sayings of Christ are hard! But I don’t think you will find any of them that devalue the human person, that denigrate whole races of people, that tell women to be subject to men, that threaten all sinners with hell. No! Jesus’ words in Scripture do the opposite. The prodigal son is welcomed by the Father, the Gentiles are accepted and even praised, women are treated with respect and kindness, sinners are told that they can be saved. Most of the culturally difficult verses are found in the Epistles, not the Gospels where the early church was trying to understand what Jesus words and his death and resurrection all meant. And they did that through the lenses available to them in their own time. Fr. Mike in my discussion with him of faith and doubt told me this: Theology is called : faith seeking understanding ”but faith which comes first in that formula, is a matter of the heart.” The heart has its reasons of which the mind knows not.” I think our heads often trip us up.” As a congregation we need to first listen to our hearts, then be open to discussing, questioning, and letting our doubts out so that we will not be like those who had to leave Jesus and return to their former ways, but instead answer with Peter: Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God!

And this is the disturbing but Good news I bring you today.

Before you click please guess his denomination, then go and read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

John Mauldin–Debt Be Not Proud

In 1992, there was one person on disability for every 35 workers. It is now about one for every 16 workers.

If disability had stayed at the pre-recession growth trend, unemployment would be at least 1% higher, and perhaps as much as 2%.

Bottom line is that true unemployment is closer to 10% and perhaps significantly more. We just don’t know. Underemployment is still in the range of 16%. And that does not count people who have a job for which they are far overqualified and who are making much less money than they would if they could find a job in their chosen field. I should note to all those people who think I am being overly pessimistic that John Williams at Shadow Stats, who uses the US government methodology from 30 years ago, tells us that U-6 unemployment is around 23%. The difference is in how you create the model. The feds keep changing the rules, and it should be no surprise that with each new rule the number of people officially counted as unemployed drops. And if you can’t find a job, whether you are officially unemployed or not, it’s no fun.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(Economist) A global debt clock interactive graphic

Herewith the blurb about it:

The clock is ticking. Every second, it seems, someone in the world takes on more debt. The idea of a debt clock for an individual nation is familiar to anyone who has been to Times Square in New York, where the American public shortfall is revealed. Our clock (updated September 2012) shows the global figure for almost all government debts in dollar terms.

Does it matter? After all, world governments owe the money to their own citizens, not to the Martians. But the rising total is important for two reasons. First, when debt rises faster than economic output (as it has been doing in recent years), higher government debt implies more state interference in the economy and higher taxes in the future. Second, debt must be rolled over at regular intervals. This creates a recurring popularity test for individual governments, rather as reality TV show contestants face a public phone vote every week. Fail that vote, as various euro-zone governments have done, and the country (and its neighbours) can be plunged into crisis.

Now, before you click the link, note that for each country when you click on it you get the following: Public Debt, Public Debt/Person, Population, Public Debt as a % of GDP, and Total Annual Debt Change. Please guess these numbers for your own country and then go and check it out (the country to country comparisons are fascinating).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Theology