Daily Archives: September 15, 2014

(Gallup) Americans' Trust in all branches of federal government at or near record lows

Americans’ trust in each of the three branches of the federal government is at or near the lows in Gallup’s trends, dating back to the early 1970s. Americans’ trust in the legislative branch fell six percentage points this year to a new low of 28%. Trust in the executive branch dropped eight points, to 43%, and trust in the judicial branch, at 61%, is also the lowest measured to date.

The data are part of Gallup’s annual update on trust in government, conducted in the Sept. 4-7 Governance poll. Gallup previously documented that Americans’ trust in the federal government to handle both domestic and international problems slid to new lows this year.

Americans have generally had the least trust in the legislative branch, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate, but never lower than the 28% who do so now. The prior low was the 31% measured in 2011, shortly after Congress and the president engaged in contentious debt-ceiling negotiations.

Trust in the legislative branch had recovered slightly during the previous two years, to 34%, but is down significantly this year….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, Psychology, Senate, State Government, Supreme Court, The U.S. Government, Theology

(FT) US alarmed by prospect of Scottish ”˜Yes’ in independence vote

A “Yes” vote for independence would be an economic mistake for Scotland and a geopolitical disaster for the west, senior US figures ”“ including Alan Greenspan ”“ tell the Financial Times as Washington wakes up to the chance that its closest ally could break up this week.

Having assumed for months that “No” would win comfortably, Washington has reacted with alarm to opinion polls showing that Thursday’s referendum is going down to the wire. “We have an interest in seeing the UK remain strong, robust and united,” said Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Scotland, The U.S. Government, Theology

(SHS) Terry Mattingly–Vanderbilt, orthodoxy raise tensions

This private university in Nashville ”“ which once had Methodist ties ”“ affirmed that creeds were acceptable, except when used as creeds. Orthodoxy was OK, except when it conflicted with the new campus orthodoxy that, in practice, banned selected orthodoxies.

Ultimately, 14 religious groups moved off campus, affecting 1,400 evangelical, Catholic and Mormon students. Stripped of the right to use the word “Vanderbilt,” some religious leaders began wearing shirts proclaiming simply, “We are here.”

In the furor, some conservatives called this struggle another war between faith and “secularism.” In this case, that judgment was inaccurate and kept many outsiders from understanding what actually happened, according to the Rev. Tish Harrison Warren, an Anglican minister who worked with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Vanderbilt during the dispute.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Young Adults

(Wash. Post) George Will–Scotland and ”˜the crisis of Britishness’

The 19th was a century of national consolidations ”” in the United States, Italy (the Risorgimento under Cavour), Germany (Bismarck hammered together numerous principalities and other entities) and Belgium, which was invented from various odds and ends. The 20th century, however, brought the breakup of empires ”” the British, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, Russian and then Soviet empires. The disintegrative impulse continues in, among other places, Spain, where Catalonians are asserting their particularities as Basques have long done.

Were Scotland now to become a sovereign nation, as it was until 1603, it would have a GDP ranking 16th among what would then be the 29 nations of the European Union (just behind Ireland and ahead of the Czech Republic) and would be the 20th-most populous. And the United Kingdom would have to redesign its flag, the Union Jack….

Scotland’s Royal Arms banner, emblazoned with a lion rampant, flies over Balmoral Castle when the Queen is not there. Which means it could be used even more after Thursday.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Scotland, Theology

A Politico Poll–2014 voters are gloomy over the economy

If the nation’s economy is on the mend, the voters of 2014 aren’t feeling it.

Despite continued signs of a halting but persistent national comeback, midterm voters remain frustrated and unhappy with the state of the economy, according to the latest POLITICO poll of likely voters in 2014 battleground states. Many appear to blame President Barack Obama: 57 percent of these voters disapprove of his economic leadership.

By every measure in the survey, a gloomy mood still pervades the electorate when it comes to kitchen-table issues: Just 23 percent say their personal financial situation has improved over the past year, versus 30 percent who say it has gotten worse.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Psychology, Senate, Theology

(NPR) A Poet On Losing His Son: 'Before You Heal, You Have To Mourn'

HIRSCH: I was completely shocked when Gabriel died and I tried to go back to work after a while and I couldn’t really function at work and so in order to alleviate my grief I began to write a document in which I wrote down everything I could remember about Gabriel. I suddenly became desperate that I would forget things because I’d lost him so suddenly, so completely. It all was sort of a blur and I wanted to remember and I began to talk to my partner, to my ex-wife, to my sisters, to my mother, to Gabriel’s friends and every day I went to a coffee shop and I basically tried to tell the story of Gabriel’s life….

GREENE: You’ve said though that poetry is not a protection against grief.

HIRSCH: On the contrary, poetry takes courage because you have to face things and you try to articulate how you feel. I don’t like the whole language of healing which seems to me so false. As soon as something happens to us in America everyone begins talking about healing, but before you heal you have to mourn and I found that poetry doesn’t shield you from grief but it does give you an expression of that grief. And trying to express it, trying to articulate it gave me something to do with my grief…..

GREENE: Talking about – mourning and grief it makes me want to hear another passage from your poem. It’s on page 73, and it starts with, I did not know the work…..

HIRSCH: (Reading) I did not know the work of mourning is like carrying a bag of cement up a mountain at night. The mountaintop is not in sight, because there is no mountaintop. Poor Sisyphus Greif. I did not know I would struggle through a ragged underbrush without an upward path. Because there is no path, there is only a blunt rock with a river to fall into and time with its medieval chambers. Time with its jagged edges and blunt instruments. I did not know the work of mourning is a laborer in the dark we carry inside ourselves. Though sometimes when I sleep I’m with him again and then I wake. Poor Sisyphus Greif. I’m not ready for your heaviness cemented to my body. Look closely and you will see almost everyone carrying bags of cement on their shoulders. That’s why it takes courage to get out of bed in the morning and climb into the day.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Poetry & Literature, Psychology, Theology

Leaders gather in Paris for international conference aimed at shoring up a coalition to fight ISIL

French President François Hollande was set to order reconnaissance flights over Iraq on Monday as he kicked off an international conference aimed at shoring up a coalition to fight Islamic State militants.

On opening the conference, Mr. Hollande noted U.S. President Barack Obama’s call for countries to join a broad military coalition to combat the militant group, which has seized territory straddling Iraq and Syria.

“Many countries have responded in the region and beyond. France will do its part,” Mr. Hollande said, flanked by Iraqi President Fouad Massoum.

Read it all from the WSJ.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, France, Globalization, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Terrorism, Violence

UNISON and the C of E reach landmark agreement to bring living wage to all schools

UNISON, the UK’s largest education union, and the National Society, which promotes and resources Church of England schools, have reached a landmark agreement that paves the way for all Church of England schools to gain Living Wage accreditation.

The Church of England’s nearly 4,700 schools are committed to paying the living wage but this new implementation plan will provide the means for all support staff to receive it by turning the schools into Living Wage employers*. The schools are being given a step-by-step implementation plan produced by the union, covering both directly employed and contracted out staff to help them win Living Wage accreditation.

The agreement follows a motion that was passed by the General Synod, which recognised that ‘the widening gap between rich and poor harms all of society and that paying a Living Wage lifts people out of poverty’. It agreed to strongly encourage all Church of England institutions to pay at least the Living Wage, as recommended by Church Action on Poverty.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Education, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(CNN Belief) Russell Moore– How Christians should respond to domestic violence

…we should recognize that many abused women stay in the shadows because they believe our court system will not adequately protect them from further violence. They fear that reporting such behavior will fuel even worse danger later.

Justice should be clear and decisive enough that women will be freed to come forward, with the full protection of the law.

This means that churches should recognize the responsibility of the state in curbing such injustice. When a woman is abused, the church should notify police authorities, immediately, even as it ministers to the abused woman and, when applicable, her children.

Simply getting her out of the home is not enough; the abuser must also stand accountable in a court of law.

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Posted in Uncategorized

(TIME) TEC minister+Yale Chaplain Explains Resignation After Letter About Israel and Anti-Semitism

The official reason for [Bruce] Shipman’s resignation, according to the Episcopal Church at Yale, was not the letter but “dynamics between the Board of Governors and the Priest-in-Charge.” Ian Douglas, bishop of Connecticut and president of the board of governors for the Episcopal Church at Yale, emphasized this distinction to the Yale Daily News. “It’s not as glamorous a story to hear that Priest-in-Charge Bruce Shipman resigned because of institutional dynamics within the Episcopal Church at Yale and not the debates related to Israel and Palestine ”” but it’s the truth,” he said.

Shipman disagrees. “This story cannot be simply dismissed as the inner problems of the Episcopal Church at Yale. It was not,” he says. “It was this letter that set off the firestorm.”

For Shipman, the controversy raises a number of “troubling questions” about free speech on campus. In addition to the hate mail, Shipman says he has also received letters of support from people thanking him for taking a courageous stand for Palestinian rights. University chaplains, he adds, have a long history advocating unpopular cultural positions.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, Theology, Young Adults

(Commonweal) Unaccountable–The CIA's Troubling Violations of Trust

The story of how the Central Intelligence Agency came to operate a secretive program of rendition, detention, and interrogation under President George W. Bush has been made public by a number of investigations into the abuses that resulted. In 2007, the Red Cross detailed the methods used to interrogate suspects at CIA-run “black sites.” In 2010, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility strongly criticized the Bush administration lawyers who wrote the legal memos permitting the CIA to use torture. And last year, the Constitution Project Task Force on Detainee Treatment””a nonpartisan group that included a number of former military and intelligence personnel””analyzed what is known about mistreatment of detainees and the policy decisions that led to such ugly consequences.

Now a new report is expected from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which is charged with overseeing the activities of the CIA.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government, Theology

Melanie McDonagh–Like it or not, Isis are Muslims. Calling them ”˜monsters’ lets us off the hook

There are various pieties that politicians observe in the wake of some barbarity committed by Islamic fundamentalists and duly David Cameron observed them in his statement yesterday about the murder of David Haines. Of the perpetrators, he observed:

”˜They are killing and slaughtering thousands of people ”“ Christians, Muslims, minorities across Iraq and Syria. They boast of their brutality. They claim to do this in the name of Islam. That is nonsense. Islam is a religion of peace. They are not Muslims, they are monsters.’

I really wish he wouldn’t. It doesn’t add anything whatever to our understanding of Isis to say that they are not Muslims but monsters. They may not be our preferred kind of Muslims ”“ my own preference is for the C of E sort you used to get in the former Yugoslavia ”“ but they are, unquestionably Muslims of a particularly unattractive stamp. Calling them monsters is an impolite way of abnegating any effort to understand them.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Morning Food for Thought to Begin the Week

“The closed fist receives nothing.”

–Micehle Oka Doner, Readers Digest (August 2014), p. 156

Posted in * General Interest

A Prayer for the Feast of the Holy Cross

O God, who by the passion of thy blessed Son didst make an instrument of shameful death to be unto us the means of life and peace: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord, our Saviour and God, whom nails could not hold to the cross, but only love: Grant that we, who have received the fullness of thy love, may be ready to bear before the world the marks of thy passion; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust without a fear. What can flesh do to me?

–Psalm 56:3-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

[Telegraph] Queen warns Scots to think 'very carefully' about referendum vote

The Queen has broken her silence about the potential break-up of the United Kingdom by warning Scots to think “very carefully about the future” before casting their votes in the independence referendum.

With only four days to go to the polls and the contest on a knife edge, the monarch made a hugely significant intervention by stating she hoped Scots would consider closely what their “important” votes would mean.

Buckingham Palace insiders insisted her remarks were politically neutral but on Sunday night they were being viewed as the clearest sign yet she hopes for a No vote on Thursday. Henry Bellingham, a Tory MP, said Royal observers would be “in no doubt about her views.”

The Queen’s comments were made after she broke her usual protocol and spoke with well-wishers outside the church she attends near Balmoral Castle.

In an extremely rare move, police invited press to observe the exchanges….

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

The Archbishop of Canterbury condemns the killing of David Haines

Speaking to BBC News in Bristol, where he is on a diocesan visit, Archbishop Justin said: “What we have seen in this dreadful video is an act of absolute evil, unqualified, without any light in it at all. There is a sense that within this area, and in many places in the world where this kind of thing is being done, that the darkness is deepening. It’s being done in the name of faith, but we’ve heard already today faith leaders from Islam across the world condemning this.

“What’s going on is a power-seeking activity. Faith is often used as a hook on which to hang other desires, and this is a desire for power and influence, and faith is being twisted to enable it to be used to gain power and influence for their own unspeakably evil ends. So today there is that sick sense of horror at the wickedness we see, a deep sense of compassion for the family, and prayer that they may be comforted by the presence and light of Christ in a very, very dark time indeed.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Combating ISIS

TARIN: What I think U.S. Muslims are doing, their feeling is that ISIS again has hijacked their faith. We saw this on 9-11, we saw this repeatedly with Al Qaeda. ISIS is again using religion to put forth political and social goals in the region. And I think American Muslims are coming out in staggering numbers. The leadership across the country has come out saying, “This does not represent us. This is not who we are.

And we will stand against you using our faith to push a political agenda in the region.”

LAWTON: Is there something, though, the community can do beyond just words? Is there something concrete, maybe, to stop this?

TARIN: Yes. Communities around the country are making sure that the Internet is not a place where young people are being influenced. Because the message of ISIS is black and white. It says the West and America is at war with Islam. And so what our communities are doing, our institution has launched a program called Safe Spaces, where we are making sure that our young people are civically engaged and are not vulnerable to the black and white message of ISIS and groups like it.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Christian Post) Did you know TD Jakes Is Making 2 Mainstream TV Shows?

Bishop T.D. Jakes, the founding pastor of the 30,000-member The Potter’s House megachurch in Dallas, Texas, is making a weekly program based on his latest book as well as a daily talk show for national syndication in 2015 or 2016.

Jakes’ weekly program will be based on his book, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive, and his daily talk show is also being developed, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Both shows will be produced through his TDJ Enterprises, a for-profit company, and its partners 44 Blue Productions and Enlight Entertainment. The shows will be targeted for national syndication in 2015 or 2016.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Movies & Television, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Economist) Ditching the union would be a mistake for Scotland and a tragedy for England

At the heart of the nationalist campaign is the claim that Scotland would be a more prosperous and more equal country if it went solo. It is rich in oil and inherently decent, say the nationalists, but impoverished by a government in Westminster that has also imposed callous policies. They blame successive British governments for almost every ill that has befallen Scotland, from the decline of manufacturing industry to ill-health to the high price of sending parcels in the Highlands. Alex Salmond, Scotland’s nationalist leader, is broad in his recrimination: Labour and the Tories are of a piece, he suggests, in their disregard for Scotland.

But Scotland’s relative economic decline is the result not of southern neglect but of the shift of manufacturing and shipping to Asia. If Westminster has not reversed all the deleterious effects of globalisation and technology, that is because to do so is impossible. The nationalists know this, which is why, sotto voce, they would continue many of Westminster’s policies. Instead they make much of minor adjustments, such as abolishing the “bedroom tax”, a recent measure designed to nudge people out of too-large social housing. To break up a country over such small, recent annoyances would be nuts.

The nationalists’ economics are also flawed. Scotland would not, in fact, be richer alone. The taxes that would flow to it from the North Sea would roughly compensate for the extra cost of its lavish state, which would no longer be funded by Westminster (last year spending was some £1,300 per person higher in Scotland than elsewhere in Britain). But oil revenues are erratic.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Scotland, Taxes