Daily Archives: July 1, 2013

American Way of Birth, Costliest in the World

Seven months pregnant, at a time when most expectant couples are stockpiling diapers and choosing car seats, Renée Martin was struggling with bigger purchases.

At a prenatal class in March, she was told about epidural anesthesia and was given the option of using a birthing tub during labor. To each offer, she had one gnawing question: “How much is that going to cost?”

Though Ms. Martin, 31, and her husband, Mark Willett, are both professionals with health insurance, her current policy does not cover maternity care. So the couple had to approach the nine months that led to the birth of their daughter in May like an extended shopping trip though the American health care bazaar, sorting through an array of maternity services that most often have no clear price and ”” with no insurer to haggle on their behalf ”” trying to negotiate discounts from hospitals and doctors.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance, Theology

(Independent) C of E backed bid for RBS arm could herald creation of ethical bank on high street

The Church of England is backing a bid for hundreds of branches being offloaded by Royal Bank of Scotland, raising the prospect of a new, ethical bank on the high street.

The Church Commissioners, who manage the Church’s investments, are helping to fund a consortium led by the former banker and trade minister Lord Davies looking to take control of 315 RBS branches.

With investment decisions by the Church Commissioners taking into account the advice of the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group, this would suggest consumers will have a new, ethical banking option if the consortium is successful.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(Bloomberg) Hospitals Threaten Affordable Care Act Savings by Exiting Program

Almost a third of 32 hospitals and health systems involved in an experiment aimed at changing the way medical providers are paid may exit the program, a potential threat to the Affordable Care Act’s ambitious cost-saving goals.

Depending on the number of patients involved, “it really shows a critical cost-containment approach in the Affordable Care Act is running into real problems,” said Robert Blendon, a health-policy professor at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, in a telephone interview today.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, The U.S. Government, Theology

Jordan Hylden–Bishop Jefferts Schori’s Two Sermons: Curacao and Charleston

Sadly, it has become increasingly difficult for most Anglicans to recognize this quality in the Episcopal Church’s leadership, and Bishop Jefferts Schori’s somewhat freewheeling sermon serves to highlight why. Some years ago, the Yale theologian David Kelsey pointed out that it’s axiomatic to say that the Scriptures are authoritative for the Church, since that’s the very definition of what it means to say that a text is canonical Scripture. So long as many conservative Anglicans cannot see how the Episcopal Church is answerable to the authority of the Scriptures, it will remain difficult for them to see the Episcopal Church as a Church. This has a very great deal to do with the schisms of the past decade.

My title promised two sermons from the presiding bishop, and I’ve only mentioned one. The second was preached in January, this time in Charleston, South Carolina. The occasion was the secession of the conservative diocese from the Episcopal Church, and her audience was comprised of those who had decided to stay and form a continuing Episcopal diocese. The story of why the South Carolinians left is a long and sad one””the diocese was one of the Church’s founders, older than the United States itself, and was one of the few growth spots in a generally shrinking Church””but suffice it to say that they felt pushed out, and did not leave until their bishop, Mark Lawrence, was inhibited in his ministry by a disciplinary board for reasons the diocese held were unfair. The national Episcopal Church is now pursuing the diocese in court, as they’ve done in many similar cases (by now, they’ve spent over $22 million in legal costs), seeking to recover property and assets.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christianity Today) The Right Side of History Is Full of Rewrites

The court’s storyline continues, with the mean old Congress trying to “demean” same-sex couples and “humiliate tens of thousands of children.” And it continues the Supreme Court defending New York’s “considered perspective on the historical roots of the institution of marriage and its evolving understanding of the meaning of equality.”
That “evolving” understanding, rhetorically speaking, puts yesterday’s decisions not as the culmination of “the meaning of equality” but on what same-sex marriage proponents repeatedly, unrelentingly, unmitigatingly, refer to as “the right side of history….”

The proper response to such arrogance and rhetorical triumphalism isn’t more arrogance and triumphalism, shouting, “We win in the end, so get with the program.” The better response is to meet those claims with humility and questions.
Thankfully, that’s what we’re seeing in the early Christian responses to yesterday’s Supreme Court decisions. Almost to a one, the Christian leaders we talked to yesterday disavowed easy lines of “Christians vs. gays and lesbians.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Washington Post) Cardinal Donald Wuerl–Debating the nature of marriage

A culture based on the truth of marriage affirms that men and women are equally important, that they have equal dignity but are not the same. The recognition of the difference between a man and a woman is neither discrimination nor bigotry. It is a statement of reality, of fact.

What the court has determined demonstrates the limits of civil legislation. We all recognize that the word “marriage” is being used in many different ways. All that civil government can do is address the legal consequences of any specific union it has chosen to call marriage. While there are many other words to describe other human unions, “marriage,” in its intrinsic meaning and basic integrity, will continue to be understood by most people as the coming together of a man and woman committed to live together with the possibility to generate and raise children.

Far from settling the debate over the meaning of marriage, the Supreme Court decisions have simply reminded all of us that there is a great difference between what a law can decree and what God has created.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Religious Reaction to Same-Sex Marriage Decisions

[KIM} LAWTON: National Cathedral Dean Gary Hall announced in January that the cathedral would welcome the celebration of same-sex weddings.

[GARRY] HALL: I think there’s a good biblical case to be made that God made human beings in God’s image and blessed human beings and pronounced us good. So, whoever we are in our sexual orientation, we are good. And therefore the church needs also to make the same tools for living that have been historically available to heterosexual couples available to homosexual couples as well.

LAWTON: Hall acknowledges that many mainline Protestant denominations are still wrestling over the issue. Although his own denomination, The Episcopal Church has approved rites to bless same-sex unions that can be adapted to use in weddings, it officially still defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Meanwhile, religious opponents of gay marriage say no Court decision or poll numbers will sway their position.

[RUSSELL] MOORE: We don’t believe that the state created marriage. Marriage did not come about through a legislative act or through court edict, so no government bureaucrat or no Supreme Court justice has the authority to re-define marriage. Marriage is designed by God and embedded in nature and is beyond the reach of the state.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(Scotsman) Roddy Gow–Understanding Asia is vital for the West

Recent events in Afghanistan and Syria underscore the perilous times we live in. How to evaluate our options? Can we stand by as so many die in the Middle East? Should we negotiate with the Taleban? Where are the lessons in all of this? Who wins, who loses?

These are the dilemmas crystallised in the urgent need to better understand the countries of Asia, from the Gulf in the west to Japan in the east.

Asia offers colossal commercial potential but also seismic fault lines arising from unresolved sectarian and tribal conflicts and arbitrary colonial frontiers….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Asia, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Theology, Violence

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Media

([London] Times) Archbishop Welby seeks new aide after Middle East tour’s PR debacle

Justin Welby has begun the search for a new director of communications as he seeks to overcome the negative headlines that accompanied his first trip to the Middle East.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s failure to visit Bethlehem or Nazareth last week prompted fury among Palestinians, overshadowing the entire journey. He is now to advertise for the post as part of a root-and-branch reordering of his team.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Media, Middle East, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Provisional Feast Day of Harriet Beecher Stowe

Gracious God, we offer thanks for the witness of Harriett Beecher Stowe, whose fiction inspired thousands with compassion for the shame and sufferings of enslaved peoples, and who enriched her writings with the cadences of The Book of Common Prayer. Help us, like her, to strive for thy justice, that our eyes may see the glory of thy Son, Jesus Christ, when he comes to reign with thee and the Holy Spirit in reconciliation and peace, one God, now and always. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Church History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Into thy hands, O Lord, we commit ourselves this day. Give to each one of us a watchful, humble, and diligent spirit, that we may seek in all things to know thy will; and when we know it may gladly perform it, to the honour and glory of thy name.

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

Praise the LORD! O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever! Who can utter the mighty doings of the LORD, or show forth all his praise?

–Psalm 106:1-2

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Brazil Plays Wonderfully to Beat Spain in the Confederations Cup Final

At the final whistle they danced on the field and they danced in the stands.

This was Brazil, united. This was a nation that had rediscovered its faith in its beloved Selecao, a nation that believed in its heroes once more. As Neymar, Dani Alves and Fred shook tambourines and tapped drums near the centre circle, the party was just beginning across Brazil.

There was samba in the streets and joy and delight on the faces of those who trailed away from the stadium. There were still thousands in the Maracana an hour after the final whistle, simply basking in the joy and the jubilation.

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Posted in Uncategorized