Daily Archives: February 20, 2014

(Post-Gazette) More are saying 'no' to retirement, whether they need money or just love the work

…more people every year, locally and across the nation, continue laboring for a paycheck past the time when they could be collecting Social Security.

The average age of retirement in America, which had been on the decline during much of the 20th century, has been rising for the past two decades for a combination of reasons. A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report found that about 27 percent of people ages 65 to 74 were still in the workforce, compared with just 20 percent in 2002. It predicted nearly one in three people of that age would be part of the labor pool in 2022.

“People today are working later than they have been for quite some time ”¦ as long today as in the 1970s,” said Kevin Cahill, a research economist for the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College. “The incentives have shifted in favor of work.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Middle Age, Psychology, Theology

A Statement from the Global South Primates Steering Committee Cairo, Egypt 14-15 February 2014

3. As we reviewed the current situation, we recognized that the fabric of the Communion was torn at its deepest level as a result of the actions taken by The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church in Canada since 2003. As a result, our Anglican Communion is currently suffering from broken relations, a lack of trust, and dysfunctional “instruments of unity.”
4. However, we trust in God’s promise that the “gates of hades will not overcome” the church. Holding unto this promise, we believe that we have to make every effort in order to restore our beloved Communion. Therefore we took the following decisions:
a) We request and will support the Archbishop of Canterbury to call for a Primates Meeting in 2015 in order to address the increasingly deteriorating situation facing the Anglican Communion. It is important that the agenda of this Primates Meeting be discussed and agreed upon by the Primates beforehand in order to ensure an effective meeting.
b) We decided to establish a Primatial Oversight Council, in following-through the recommendations taken at Dromantine in 2005 and Dar es Salam in 2007, to provide pastoral and primatial oversight to dissenting individuals, parishes, and dioceses in order to keep them within the Communion.
c) We realize that the time has come to address the ecclesial deficit, the mutual accountability and re-shaping the instruments of unity by following through the recommendations mentioned in the Windsor Report (2004), the Primates Meetings in Dromantine (2005) and Dar es Salam (2007), and the Windsor Continuation Group report.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, --South Sudan, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sudan, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Violence

(ABC Aus.) Ralph Wood–Becoming Icons of God: Divinization in the writings of C.S. Lewis

In the Orthodox tradition to which Lewis is so obviously indebted, Jesus Christ is the face of God, and thus the ultimate sacrament and icon of God. He is the image and likeness of the invisible God who remains at least partially invisible even in him. This in turn accounts for the utter centrality of icons for the life of Orthodoxy. An icon is not an image that one looks at in order to order to glimpse the meaning of things as depicted by an artist. It is, instead, an image that looks at us. It is meant to reveal, to our mundane sight, a vision of the invisible and eternal world that everywhere envelops and transcends us. An icon is image that we are not meant to master, but that instead is meant to master us.

This desire to divinize the human world means that realistic proportions and perspectives are abandoned. The size of a person in an icon is usually determined by their importance and significance. A figure standing in the background can thus be larger than one in the foreground. Heads and haloes often overlap, for depth is of no real importance. The Incarnation has overthrown all ordinary dimensions and perspectives. Indeed, everything in the icon takes place in the forefront. In an Eastern icon, the vanishing point it is situated in front of the icon in an inverse perspective. The focus point thus moves out away from the icon toward the beholder, as the iconic figure comes forth to meet the viewer. “The result is an opening,” declares Michel Quenot, “a radiating forth, while the vanishing point in an ordinary painting results in a convergence that closes up”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Books, Christology, Church History, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Open Europe Blog) How does the EU solve a problem like the Ukraine?

The escalation in violence in Kiev…poses a huge challenge to the EU. What, exactly, can it do here to prevent continuing civil disorder on its doorstep?

As ever when it comes to EU foreign policy, the first hurdle is to actually secure an agreement among 28 member states which is difficult in itself. As we’ve said on a number of occasions, Catherine Ashton’s European External Action Service cannot magically replace 28 foreign policy positions – this has been proved time and again over Israel/Palestine, Libya, Syria etc. When it comes to the Ukraine, these differences have been apparent in how to deal with Russia in the first place, how hard it was to push for the EU-Ukraine trade agreement, then over how to deal with the anti-government protests, and now it looks likely they will appear in whether to impose sanctions

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Theology, Ukraine, Violence

Bob Farr–Is there a Way to Reverse the United Methodists Decline?

[The last 40 years of American cultural] change situates The United Methodist Church in a state of confusion, denial, grief, and rapid decline. In our attempt to be something for everybody, we have become irrelevant to most people in our mission fields. Once again the United Methodist movement represents between 1 and 3 percent of the US population, and we find ourselves competing for the hearts and minds of people who don’t know us and seem very disinterested in an organized church.

This has resulted in at least a 40 percent decline in The United Methodist Church since 1963. The rapid decline is well documented, and this contributed to a corporate depression and malaise across the system. Due to aging leadership, contracting income, and cultural polarizations, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church functions very much the same way as the United States Congress, which is to say that it doesn’t really function very well at all….First, real organizational change always comes from the bottom up and the outside in. It rarely occurs from the top of the organization itself. Very few organizations can self-reform without a major crisis (e.g., exile). Although we are experiencing a slow fade and a slow death as an organization, we have yet to face a major crisis.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Time) Americans Are Taking on Debt at Scary High Rates

Americans are known risk-takers when it comes to their personal finances. While consumer spending has traditionally been one of the great engines of the U.S. economy, it also helped get the country into the Great Recession. So after five years of economic turmoil we’ve presumably become a little better at keeping track of our debts, right?

Not really. Data released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York show that at $11.52 trillion, overall consumer debt is higher than it has been since 2011. And more unsettling, debt is rising at rapid levels. Americans’ debt””that includes mortgages, auto loans, student loans and credit card debt””increased by 2.1%, or $241 billion in the last three months of 2013, the greatest margin of increase since the third quarter of 2007, shortly before the U.S. spiraled into recession.

And on an individual level, many Americans are in a precarious financial position.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Media, Personal Finance, Psychology, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Vatican Radio) Pontifical Academy for Life focusses on "Aging and Disability"

Dr [John] Haas says that because of the current demographic trend the world population is aging and it is not being quickly replaced: “I think it is a very apt topic ”“ these are grave social problems in most Western countries with an aging population, all kinds of ethical questions arise with regard to their treatment ”“ end of life decisions have to be made”. “It can be “a very difficult time of life but it can also be a very beautiful time of life depending on how we go in to it” he said.

Commenting on the emphasis Pope Francis puts on the importance and value of the elderly, Dr. Haas says Francis has a profound impact on the way people think by virtue of his personality which leads them to “sit up and pay more attention”. He also says that Francis’ emerging “theology of compassion and of accompaniment” is fundamental in the way society treats its elderly. “I think that this call will really resonate with the faithful” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

St Marys E. Barnet Parish to make stand against Church of England leaders on same-sex blessings

An East Barnet vicar says his parish is preparing to challenge Church of England leaders after they reiterated their ban on blessing same-sex couples.

The House of Bishops, which governs practice in Anglican churches across England, earlier this month rejected recommendations that it lifts its ban on blessing gay couples.

But the parish of St Mary’s Church in East Barnet says it plans to lodge a protest against the decision and write a formal letter once its members have met later this month.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Thursday Morning Mental Health Break–Alison Krauss sings Jesus Help Me to Stand

Watch and listen to it all. Lyrics:

Through trials, troubles and care
I know Jesus my savior is there
Giving me faith through darkest days
Keeping me on the narrow way

Jesus savior, help me each day
Fill me with hope, fill me with faith
Darkness retreats at the touch of Your hand
Jesus savior, help me to stand
esus lived through darkest pain
Rejected by men, despising the shame
Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief
He gave his life so we may be free

Jesus savior, help me each day
Fill me with hope, fill me with faith
Darkness retreats at the touch of Your hand
Jesus savior, help me to stand

I know that Jesus died for me
Cancelled my debt at Calvary
Rose from the dead, unlocked Heaven’s door
Trust in his love and live evermore

Jesus savior, help me each day
Fill me with hope, fill me with faith
Darkness retreats at the touch of Your hand
Jesus savior, help me to stand

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Music, Religion & Culture

Notable and Quotable–Hostility Against Orthodox Believers

There is a strong vein of hostility against orthodox religious believers in America today, especially among the young.

–You need to take a guess before you see who said it and where.

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

(JE) Jeff Walton–Early Warning Signs of Diminished Support at Virginia Seminary?

Virginia Theological Seminary Dean Ian S. Markham caused a stir last year after giving a provocatively titled address at the Diocese of Delaware convention on “The Myth of the Decline of the Episcopal Church.”

Recalling that the denomination was not in a state of decline in the 1990s, Markham insisted that the Episcopal Church was primed for a turnaround after shedding hundreds of thousands of members in the 2000s. The address was met alternately with appreciation and incredulity from different corners of the Anglican/Episcopal blogosphere.

Markham has been a voice unabashedly predicting a positive future for the shrinking denomination. But now the institution Markham leads ”“ the largest of the Episcopal Church’s 11 accredited seminaries ”” may itself be seeing a decline in support.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Holy Father, to whom we draw near with boldness through our Lord Jesus Christ: Look, we beseech thee, on his merits and not on our unworthiness; and grant that our prayers, being asked in his name, may be accepted for his sake; to whom with thee and the Holy Spirit be all praise and glory, now and for evermore.

–Frank Colquhoun

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually!

–Psalm 105:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Guildford clergy encouraged to provide home service for same-sex unions by the Bishop of Dorking

You will notice, and this is what Bishop Christopher and I were keen to point out in our earlier letter to the clergy, that a pastoral response of prayers is encouraged, where appropriate, to gay couples who may enquire about the possibility of some form of service. This would not be any fomal rite or liturgy but, as paragraph 22 of the Appendix states, a ”˜more informal kind of prayer, at the request of the couple, might be appropriate in the light of circumstances’. My own view is that this might be best done in the couple’s home.

Read it all and the earlier letter is linked here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Gabriel Rossman–On Serpent handling preachers who Die and the TV show Justified

Justified, one of television’s best shows, engages with the rather alien subculture of snake-handling in a way that contrasts favorably to the gloating I saw over the death of Pastor Coots. We can mock such people for their willful ignorance of the science of human origins or the textual criticism of the original form of Mark, but we can also appreciate that this same stubborn faith is one that says all people are created in the image of God.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Animals, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life

In one of the biggest technology deals ever, Facebook to buy WhatsApp for at least $16 billion

“WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement announcing the deal.

Zuckerberg has been trying to get into the mobile messaging market for a while. The company offered to buy Snapchat for $3 billion last year, but that messaging start-up spurned the offer.

Read it all.

Update: From Jon Ostrower-–“Just for a bit of perspective on Facebook and WhatsApp. You can buy 50 777X aircraft for $19 billion, which Qatar Airways did in November.”

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Science & Technology, Theology

An Interesting GDP map that shows half of U.S. output is generated by a few cities

50% of GDP comes from orange areas, 50% from blue.

Look at the map and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Rural/Town Life, The U.S. Government, Urban/City Life and Issues

Church of England bishops demand action over hunger

Forty-two Christian leaders, including 24 Anglican bishops, have signed a letter urging David Cameron to ensure everyone in the UK gets enough to eat.

They argue that “cutbacks and failures” in the benefits system are forcing thousands of people to use food banks.

The End Hunger Fast campaign called the situation “truly shocking”. It wants a national day of fasting on 4 April.

But the government said it wanted to help people “stand on their own two feet” by cutting welfare dependency.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theology