Daily Archives: June 3, 2013

(WSJ RTE Blog) San Francisco Federal Reserve paper–Government to Hold Back Growth for Years

Shifting government finances are likely to take an even bigger bite out of growth over the next few years than many now expect, economists at the San Francisco Fed warned Monday.

In a research note, Brian Lucking and Daniel Wilson write fiscal policy headwinds will subtract one percentage point from growth over the next three years beyond the normal fiscal drag that usually comes during times of recovery. If not for the current and likely future stance of fiscal policy, the economy would be growing at a faster rate, which would allow for more robust job growth and, presumably, a more normal stance of monetary policy for the Federal Reserve.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Federal Reserve, History, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

Clara Sarrocco–Surprised by Awe–C. S. Lewis & Rudolf Otto’s The Idea of the Holy

In June 1962, The Christian Century sent C. S. Lewis a questionnaire asking him what books most influenced his “vocational attitude” and philosophy of life. Lewis politely answered with a list that included: Phantastes by George MacDonald, The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton, The Aeneid by Virgil, The Temple by George Herbert, The Prelude by William Wordsworth, The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius, The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell, Descent into Hell by Charles Williams, Theism and Humanism by Arthur James Balfour, and Das Heilige by Rudolf Otto.

Readers of Lewis, especially those familiar with his 1955 autobiography, Surprised by Joy, will recognize most of these titles and understand their importance to Lewis. Indeed, it is likely that many readers came to their own knowledge of writers like MacDonald, Chesterton, and Williams through reading what Lewis had to say about them.

One exception might be the German theologian Rudolf Otto. Lewis wrote to Sister Madeleva in 1934: “I shd. warn you that I am very bad at German and this doubtless influenced my choice of reading.” Thus, even for a man known to be, as George Musacchio commented in C. S. Lewis, Man & Writer, always “reading, reading, reading,” Otto’s Das Heilige, or The Idea of the Holy, might be a surprising item on the Christian Century list.

Read more: http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=24-03-036-f#ixzz2VB0ZL15D

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Religion & Culture, Theology

The Episcopal Church Holds Hostage Pensions of More Than 80 Disassociated Staff Members in S.C.

The retirement savings of more than 80 non-clergy employees of the Diocese of South Carolina and its parishes are being held hostage by their former pension plan at the Episcopal Church (TEC).

The lay employees have been trying to arrange for the rollover of their retirement savings since February, when they first contacted the Church Pension Group, which provides retirement, health and other benefits to employees of The Episcopal Church, its parishes, dioceses and other institutions. The employees became eligible to rollover their funds into another qualified plan when their employer, the Diocese or the parishes that voted to disassociate from the denomination, officially ceased to be employed by any TEC organization or parish.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Pensions, Personal Finance, TEC Conflicts

(First Things) Timothy George–A Tale of Two Demons

On Pentecost Sunday all hell broke loose in Rome. Following Mass that day, the unpredictable Pope Francis laid hands on a demon-possessed man from Mexico and prayed for him. The YouTube video of this encounter was flashed around the world, and the story caught fire: Is Pope Francis an exorcist? The Holy Father’s Vatican handlers were quick to deny such. The pope simply offered a prayer of deliverance for the distraught man, it was said. Exorcism in the Catholic Church is a sacramental, a sacred act producing a spiritual effect, which must be done according to the officially prescribed Rite of Exorcism. And yet what the pope did on Pentecost Sunday in St. Peter’s Square was more than a simple prayer for someone to get better. It looked for all the world like a real act of spiritual warfare.

Timothy GeorgeThe scene now shifts to South America, the continent where Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born and has spent most of his life. The place: All Saints Church, in Steenrijk, Curaçao, in the Anglican Diocese of Venezuela. The date: May 12, 2013, one week before the pope’s exorcism-like event in Rome. The preacher: The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church (formerly known as ECUSA). When she was elected to her post in 2006, Father Richard John Neuhaus described it as an occasion of great sadness. His reaction reflected neither personal animus nor schadenfreudlich glee. Rather, he saw her accession to this high office as likely to deepen the pain and division within the Christian community. Sadly, he was right.

In Venezuela, Bishop Katharine also confronted a demon””the one found in her sermon text for the day, Acts 16:16-24. This is Luke’s account of Paul’s exorcism of a manic slave girl in Philippi. The bishop’s sermon was really a polemic against what she called, in postmodernist lingo, “discounting and devaluing difference.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Europe, Italy, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, South America, Venezuela

(RNS) Mark Silk–Is the influence of religion increasing or decreasing in the U.S.?

For starters, it’s worth bearing in mind that Western civilization is grounded in the belief that once upon a time, God was in his heaven and people went to church regularly. So at any given time, more Americans are likely to think the influence of religion in in decline than the other way around.

That said, what accounts for the rather striking ups and downs in the chart? In its latest release, Gallup emphasizes that these do not reflect changes in personal religiosity ”” and I’m inclined to agree, up to a point. Here’s the story I’d tell about the people’s perception of religion’s influence.

The decline from 1958 through 1972 has to do with the perceived changes in cultural norms associated with “the Sixties.” Call it the “sex, drugs, and rock ”˜n’ roll” effect. The 1970s suggested push-back, or at least a range of religious responses to the changes, from New Age communalism to increased activity of evangelicals in the public square. The election of Southern Baptist Jimmy Carter in 1976 ”” what Time called the Year of the Evangelical ”” pumped up the popular sense that the influence of religion was on the rise.

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

Sheffield, Alabama's Grace Episcopal Church Building on list of places in peril

Constructed in 1903, it is a brick and stone building designed in the late Victorian Gothic style, according to a news release from the Alabama Historical Commission.

In 1963, the Episcopal Diocese sold the building and parishioners moved to a suburban location. Various congregations used the building.

Most recently, the building was purchased by a Muscle Shoals couple who removed some of the architectural elements for salvage and later donated the building to the Colbert County Historic Landmarks Foundation.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes

([London] Times) Taskforce to take on extremists as Blair warns of ”˜Islam problem’

David Cameron will launch a new taskforce today aimed at confronting Islamic extremism and controlling preachers of hate.

The Prime Minister will chair the first session of the Whitehall body set up after of the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. It will focus on how the influence of radical preachers in schools, mosques and jails can be curbed.

Ministers including Theresa May, the Home Secretary, and Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, will also look at whether the Government needs enhanced powers to expel foreign-born preachers guilty of hate speech from the UK.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Europe's Transaction-Tax Climbdown

European governments are figuring out that taxing financial transactions won’t be a magical money machine and that the proposed levy might even damage the European economy.

Reuters first reported Thursday that EU officials are scaling back a transaction tax proposal supported by 11 countries that is supposed to take effect in January. The levy could instead be introduced on a “staggered basis,” one official told the news agency. The first phase might only tax sales and purchases of shares, not bonds or derivatives transactions, and at 0.01% instead of 0.1% as currently proposed. A rate of zero is more appropriate.

Enthusiasm for the tax has been dimming for a while, including in governments that have previously backed it. Christian Noyer, the Governor of the Banque de France, said in Paris on Tuesday that the levy will raise “nothing at all.” One unnamed EU official told Reuters that a scaled-back transaction tax would reap revenue of less than €3.5 billion. The full-fledged levy, as proposed by the European Commission in February, was supposed to rake in €31 billion a year.

Read it all (if necessary another link may be found here.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, Politics in General, Stock Market, Taxes, The Banking System/Sector

(Local Paper) Lost Among Us: Mentally ill languish in ERs awaiting scarce psychiatric hospital beds

[this U-shaped pod]… is part of MUSC’s emergency department.
There are no locks on doors. The lone bathroom is the only suicide-proof room.
There is no shower for patients here; nobody is supposed to stay long enough to need one. Yet increasingly, they do.
Psychiatric “boarders,” as they’re called, often dominate this pod intended for short-term, acutely ill patients. At times fully half of MUSC’s ER, among the region’s busiest, has been filled with psychiatric boarders.
These are folks at imminent risk of harming themselves or others and need emergency inpatient psychiatric treatment.
Yet there are not enough beds for them all.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, Mental Illness, Psychology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Uganda

O God, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant that we who remember before thee the blessed martyrs of Uganda, may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, to whom they gave obedience even unto death, and by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Uganda, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Grant, O Lord, that we may cleave to thee without parting, worship thee without wearying, serve thee without failing; faithfully seek thee, happily find thee, and for ever possess thee, the one only God, blessed, world without end.

–Saint Anselm (c.1033–1109)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, ‘Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. “Will any one of you, who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'”

–Luke 17:1-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Heads up for the Summer Reading List–Allen Guelzo's Gettysburg: The Last Invasion is out

Of the half-dozen full-length histories of the battle of Gettysburg written over the last century, none dives down so closely to the experience of the individual soldier, or looks so closely at the sway of politics over military decisions, or places the battle so firmly in the context of nineteenth-century military practice. Allen C. Guelzo shows us the face, the sights, and the sounds of nineteenth-century combat: the lay of the land, the fences and the stone walls, the gunpowder clouds that hampered movement and vision; the armies that caroused, foraged, kidnapped, sang, and were so filthy they could be smelled before they could be seen; the head-swimming difficulties of marshaling massive numbers of poorly trained soldiers, plus thousands of animals and wagons, with no better means of communication than those of Caesar and Alexander.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Defense, National Security, Military, History

The Bishop of Derby welcomes UN High Level Panel call for an end to absolute poverty

The Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, Bishop of Derby, has welcomed the post-2015 development agenda report of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel, co-chaired by David Cameron. The report, A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development, builds on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals experiment and calls for an end to absolute poverty by 2030.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Poverty, Theology