Daily Archives: February 1, 2013

Timothy Dolan: The Plan to Save Roman Catholic Schools

I have heard from many leaders in business and finance that when a graduate from Catholic elementary and secondary schools applies for an entry-level position in their companies, the employer can be confident that the applicant will have the necessary skills to do the job. Joseph Viteritti, a professor of public policy at Hunter College in New York who specializes in education policy, recently said, “If you’re serious about education reform, you have to pay attention to what Catholic schools are doing. The fact of the matter is that they’ve been educating urban kids better than they’re being educated elsewhere.”

The evidence is not just anecdotal. Researchers like Helen Marks (in her 2009 essay “Perspectives on Catholic Schools” in Mark Berends’s “Handbook of Research on School Choice”) have found that students learning in a Catholic school, in an environment replete with moral values and the practice of faith, produce test scores and achievements that reliably outstrip their public-school counterparts.

This is why, to the consternation of our critics, we won’t back away from insisting that faith formation be part of our curriculum, even for non-Catholic students.

Read it all.

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

(RNS) A Renowned journalist throws the book at Scientology

Q: Why did you write this book?

A: I’ve always been curious about why people believe one thing rather than another. In America you can believe anything you want, unlike in a lot of other countries where there’s only one religion. So why would people be drawn to Scientology, one of the most esoteric and stigmatized religions?

Q: And what did you find?

A: Oftentimes people who go into Scientology are dealing with a personal problem. If you enter a Church of Scientology building you’ll be asked, “What is your ruin?” That is, what is standing in the way of your financial, spiritual and emotional success? And they will talk through things with you and offer a menu of courses designed to help. And many people do feel that they are helped by the courses or therapy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Other Faiths, Psychology, Religion & Culture

Peter Mitchell Chimes in on the Presiding Bishop's recent South Carolina Sermon

From a letter to the editor in the local paper:

I was saddened and appalled, but not surprised, by the vindictive and mean-spirited language Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori used in her sermon on Saturday.

Alluding to Bishop Mark Lawrence as a “tyrant” and comparing him to “citizens’ militias deciding to patrol … the Mexican border for unwelcome visitors” was unconscionable.

And to say, “It’s not terribly far from the state of mind evidenced in school shootings, or in those who want to arm school children, or the terrorism that takes oil workers hostage,” was despicable.
That any Christian, much less a presiding bishop, would use such invective and incendiary words says more about the speaker than the person she is attempting to vilify.

However, she is the same person who has spent over $22 million to sue churches over their property, who refused to sell a church back to its congregation and instead sold it to a Muslim organization, and who sued beloved, retired bishops because they challenged her authority.

It is not surprising that the fruits of Bishop Jefferts Schori’s leadership of TEC are a significant decline in members, controversy and confrontation with the majority of the Anglican Communion, and financial problems resulting in the need to sell prized land in Manhattan.

“They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love” has been a favorite hymn of mine for over 50 years.

It is also a good barometer of a person’s Christian character. The language used by Jefferts Schori from the pulpit is as unloving and un-Christian as it gets.

Still, as one who believes in a forgiving God and in spiritual transformation, I will continue to pray that TEC and Jefferts Schori may be inspired and imbued with the Holy Spirit and in the process may rise above petty name-calling and invective and embrace the love of Christ in what they say and do.

Dr. Peter T. Mitchell

Broad Street


I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Commentary, Adult Education, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

A.S. Haley on the Latest in the Ongoing South Carolina Episcopal Legal Battle

This is a highly unusual development, and will doubtless sow consternation among the SCEpiscopalians and their ilk: It shows that Chancellor Tisdale can read the writing on the wall, and knows that ECUSA cannot succeed in any plan to assume the DSC’s identity through its own actions. Since the injunction now accomplishes nearly all of the objectives Bishop Lawrence had when he authorized the lawsuit (all that remains is a judgment declaring that his Diocese is the lawful and exclusive owner of the registered marks), it will be interesting to see whether or not ECUSA stipulates to the entry of such a final judgment in the weeks ahead. In short, there is nothing left worth litigating. Yes, ECUSA reserved the right to request a modification in the injunction, but at most it would be only to tinker with the fine points (and I can’t think of any). That stipulation was probably included to assuage Mr. Tisdale’s clients.

Where things will go from here is now the question. Bishop vonRosenberg has his work cut out for him — he has to walk a tightrope between keeping the Presiding Bishop happy, and not violating the injunction in any way.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

(Get Religion) Bobby Ross–Media gets the Chik-Fil-A Same Sex Marriage Story Wrong Again

My question for you, kind GetReligion readers, is this: Did the newspaper reports bury the lede? Rather than sales figures and charity donations, is the bigger story here that two humans got together and found common ground? Or am I naive to expect that such dialogue might make headlines?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Marriage & Family, Media, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

(FT) US pension insurer warns of rising deficit

The finances of the US’s multi-employer pension schemes have deteriorated so quickly over the past year that the body that insures them will almost certainly run out of cash in 20 years, according to a new report.

The chances of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation ”“ the publicly created but privately funded body that insures the nation’s occupational pension schemes ”“ going bust went from 1 in 3 at the end of 2011 to more than 9 in 10 by the end of 2012, a report prepared for the PBGC and released on Tuesday said.

Read it all (may require subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pensions, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

(Sydney Anglicans) Kaye Chalwell–Praying for children (without ceasing)

Children’s ministry is a busy ministry that often needs lots of people to get involved for it to work well. People are needed to lead groups at church, teach SRE, help in after school clubs, prepare materials, and so on. It is a ministry that gives lots of opportunities for people to be involved in serving their community. But not everyone in a church is gifted, available or interested in getting involved in these ways.

However, prayer is an essential part of children’ ministry, and it is something that every Christian can do. When church members pray for children’s ministry they invite God into all our planning, programs and people. Praying also connects people with a ministry that they may otherwise have no involvement in. It helps them to understand the complexity, challenges and joys of children’s ministry. Sometimes, as people pray they become more interested in the ministry and choose to get more involved.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

(Guardian) Google and the future of search: Amit Singhal and the Knowledge Graph

Thinking about Google over the last week, I have fallen into the typically procrastinatory habit of every so often typing the words “what is” or “what” or “wha” into the Google search box at the top right of my computer screen. Those prompts are all the omnipotent engine needs to inform me of the current instant top 10 of the virtual world’s most urgent desires. At the time of typing, this list reads, in descending order:

What is the fiscal cliff
What is my ip
What is obamacare
What is love
What is gluten
What is instagram
What does yolo mean
What is the illuminati
What is a good credit score
What is lupus

It is a list that indicates anxieties, not least the ways in which we are restlessly fixated with our money, our bodies and our technology ”“ and paranoid and confused in just about equal measure. A Prince Charles-like desire for the definition of love, in my repetitive experience of the last few days, always seems to come in at No 4 on this list of priorities, though the preoccupations above it and below it tend to shift slightly with the news.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Globalization, Psychology, Science & Technology

(LA Times) Cardinal Mahony relieved of duties over handling of abuse

In a move unprecedented in the American Catholic Church, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez announced Thursday that he had relieved his predecessor, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, of all public duties over his mishandling of clergy sex abuse of children decades ago.

Gomez also said that Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Curry, who worked with Mahony to conceal abusers from police in the 1980s, had resigned his post as a regional bishop in Santa Barbara.

The announcement came as the church posted on its website tens of thousands of pages of previously secret personnel files for 122 priests accused of molesting children.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Living Church) Garwood Anderson reviews some recent Books on the Gospel of Luke

Among the very few things on which our diverse church can agree is the sorry state of biblical literacy. The complaint comes, not unexpectedly from biblicist precincts, that lay people lack sufficient familiarity, and clergy sufficient facility, with the Bible’s narratives and precepts. Meanwhile, on the “left” comes the rejoinder, not without basis, that the self-styled advocates of scriptural authority construe its contents selectively and self-interestedly, and especially that biblical cries for justice go unheard in favor of a too tidy account of “orthodoxy” and an unreflective fortification of the status quo. And from the academy comes the more recent observation that the standard academic approaches to Scripture are so mired in historical and comparative questions that the results are scarcely useful to the Church at all.

That there is not only a problem but even a crisis is agreed by most. And that there need to be resources to reinvigorate the Church’s engagement with Scripture is a matter of common sense. Surely we ought to be able to bridge biblical scholarship to address the practical life of the Church and formative needs of her clergy and members. But here the picture complicates, for it turns out that the task of producing such resources is more difficult than might be supposed. If, as some allege, biblical scholars are not carrying out an agenda useful to the Church, then it will do little good to translate their results into a more accessible form. But “amateur” reflections too often perpetuate interpretive “urban myths,” for good reason long abandoned in the guild. With the deceptive difficulty of the task in mind, here we sample some recent, diverse offerings on the Lukan corpus which seek and succeed to various degrees to fill the gap between biblical scholarship and the Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Government Minister Helen Grant denies haste on same-sex-marriage Bill

One of the ministers responsible for steering the same-sex-marriage legislation through the House of Commons denied this week that the Government was acting hastily or without a mandate.

Speaking on Monday, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, and Women and Equalities, Helen Grant (right), said that she did not think that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill had been “rushed”.

“The consultation on this matter actually started in March 2012, and the consultation itself was comprehensive. We received something in the region of 228,000 responses to that consultation, including 19 petitions. The consultation was open, fair, [and] transparent. Every- thing was looked at very carefully indeed.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

U.S. Student Loan Delinquencies Climbing Fast, Showing No Signs of Slowing

Research by FICO Labs into the growing student lending crisis in the U.S. has found that, as a group, individuals taking out student loans today pose a significantly greater risk of default than those who took out student loans just a few years ago. The situation is compounded by significant growth in the amount of debt that new graduates are carrying.

The delinquency rate between 2005-2007 on student loans that were originated in the three months after October 2005 is 12.4 percent. The comparable figure between 2010-2012 for student loans that were originated in the three months after October 2010 is 15.1 percent, representing an increase in the delinquency rate by nearly 22 percent.

While the delinquency rate is climbing, the average amount of student loan debt is increasing even faster. In 2005, the average U.S. student loan debt was $17,233. By 2012, it had ballooned to more than $27,253 ”“ an increase of 58 percent in seven years. By contrast, the average credit card balance and the average balance on car loans owed by U.S. consumers actually decreased during the same period.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, Theology, Young Adults

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Brigid of Kildare

Everliving God, we rejoice today in the fellowship of thy blessed servant Brigid, and we give thee thanks for her life of devoted service. Inspire us with life and light, and give us perseverance to serve thee all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

We offer to thee, O Lord our God, the work which thou hast appointed for us. Help us to do it heartily and faithfully, as in thy sight and for thy glory, that so we may be drawn nearer to thee and confirmed in thy service, which alone is true freedom; in the name of our Master and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

–William Bright

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Thus says the LORD:
“Where is your mother’s bill of divorce,
with which I put her away?
Or which of my creditors is it
to whom I have sold you?
Behold, for your iniquities you were sold,
and for your transgressions your mother was put away.
Why, when I came, was there no man?
When I called, was there no one to answer?
Is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem?
Or have I no power to deliver?
Behold, by my rebuke I dry up the sea,
I make the rivers a desert;
their fish stink for lack of water,
and die of thirst.
I clothe the heavens with blackness,
and make sackcloth their covering.”
The Lord GOD has given me
the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word
him that is weary.
Morning by morning he wakens,
he wakens my ear
to hear as those who are taught.
The Lord GOD has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious,
I turned not backward.
I gave my back to the smiters,
and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I hid not my face
from shame and spitting.
For the Lord GOD helps me;
therefore I have not been confounded;
therefore I have set my face like a flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who is my adversary?
Let him come near to me.
Behold, the Lord GOD helps me;
who will declare me guilty?
Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment;
the moth will eat them up.
Who among you fears the LORD
and obeys the voice of his servant,
who walks in darkness
and has no light,
yet trusts in the name of the LORD
and relies upon his God?
Behold, all you who kindle a fire,
who set brands alight!
Walk by the light of your fire,
and by the brands which you have kindled!
This shall you have from my hand:
you shall lie down in torment.

–Isaiah 50:1-11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture