Daily Archives: December 13, 2014

(Wash. Post) Why America’s middle class is lost

One day in 1967, Bob Thompson sprayed foam on a hunk of metal in a cavernous factory south of Los Angeles. And then another day, not too long after, he sat at a long wood bar with a black-and-white television hanging over it, and he watched that hunk of metal land a man on the moon.

On July 20, 1969 ”” the day of the landing ”” Thompson sipped his Budweiser and thought about all the people who had ever stared at that moon. Kings and queens and Jesus Christ himself. He marveled at how when it came time to reach it, the job started in Downey. The bartender wept.

On a warm day, almost a half-century later, Thompson curled his mouth beneath a white beard and talked about the bar that fell to make way for a freeway, the space-age factory that closed down and the town that is still waiting for its next great economic rocket, its new starship to the middle class.

They’ve waited more than a decade in Downey. They’ve tried all the usual tricks to bring good-paying jobs back to the 77-acre plot of dirt where once stood a factory that made moon landers and, later, space shuttles. Nothing brought back the good jobs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology

(The Economist Exchange) is The Federal reserve preparing to make a mistake?

…my colleague may be a bit too optimistic regarding just how close the economy is to full employment. It is true that the unemployment rate, at 5.8%, is within hailing distance of the Fed’s projected full-employment rate, of between 5.2% and 5.5%. But there are many margins along which the labour market can adjust in addition to the unemployment rate. Participation rates can and should rise. So too should hours, effort, and productivity. Given the slow growth in wages over the last year it is hard to conclude that the American economy is close to maxxing out its labour-force potential.

That apart, I think my colleague is exactly right and the Fed is close to making a big mistake. The wires are alive this morning with reports from Fed watchers, who are presumably taking their cues from Fed officials themselves, writing that the Fed will almost certainly adjust its language in a more hawkish fashion at the December or January meeting and is on track for an initial rate increase in the middle of 2015. I cannot fathom what the Fed is thinking.

Set aside potential downside risks (from a Russian financial crisis, or renewed euro-zone troubles, or a Chinese hard landing, or lord knows what else) and just focus on the dynamics within the American economy. Almost since the Fed announced that it was officially targeting an inflation rate of 2%, as measured by the price index for personal consumption expenditures, actual PCE inflation has run below the target, and often well below. It remains below target now. It is possible that tumbling oil prices could so augment household incomes that the economy roars forward and inflation jumps back to target. I do not think it is particularly likely, for a few reasons.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve, Globalization, History, The U.S. Government

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Churches and Conversations on Race

HARPER: Well, I’ll tell you. Just in the last two weeks I have participated in four major conversations on race and racial justice in multiple different contexts, from white to multiethnic, national leaders, grassroots””there’s major conversations happening, and people are beginning to make the bridge between conversations and protest.

ABERNETHY: Talk and protest, but I’m wanting to hear what you think has to be done, and how it can be done, and whether it can be done.

HARPER: Well, the number one thing that needs to be done is we need to grow in understanding. I think that we haven’t listened to the young people, churches including, and so when I say listen, I really mean listen to the stories of the young people, because they are ones that are bearing the brunt of most of the crisis that we’re experiencing””Michael Brown, Jonathan Crawford. I mean, the drug wars in particular focused massive amounts of ammunition, of police forces in our urban centers, and as a result those places have become war zones, and our young people are the ones who are bearing the brunt of that.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

Lent and Beyond: Prayer for South Carolina on Saturday December 13th

Awaiting the result of litigation. Please pray for Her Honor Judge Diane S. Goodstein

Amos 5:15a The Voice
Hate what is evil, and love all that is good;
apply His laws justly in the courts at the city gates

Our Father in heaven,

You are indeed a good God, and Your laws are just. O for the Circuit Court of South Carolina to be a true gate of justice! Amen.

Please pray it all and there are more prayers for South Carolina here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(BBC) Ebola crisis: Sierra Leone bans Christmas celebrations

Sierra Leone has banned public celebrations over Christmas and the New Year, because of the Ebola crisis.

Soldiers are to be deployed on the streets throughout the festive period to keep people indoors, officials say.

Christmas is widely celebrated in Sierra Leone, even though Islam is the largest religion.

Sierra Leone has the most cases of Ebola in the current outbreak. Some 6,580 have died, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture, Sierra Leone

Scott Stephens–Alone Together: Can Moral Reflection Survive in a Media Age? (I)

It is not surprising that such remarks [from Pope Francis] would be ignored, given the media’s high-priestly role within our “current Kingdom of Whatever,” to use Brad Gregory’s felicitous phrase, in which “men and women in larger numbers prioritize the fulfilment of their self-chosen, acquisitive, individual desires above any social (including familial) solidarities except those they also happen to choose, and only for as long as they happen to choose them.” By warning that any society that mistakes rights for competing individual interests and freedom for mere licence will inevitability descend into resentment and violence, Francis was effectively storming the West’s holy of holies, the sacred centre of liberalism as such. Far easier to grant blanket coverage the pope’s off the cuff “Who am I to judge?” remark, which poses no challenge whatsoever to the effete sensibilities of liberal individualism, than to wrestle with a thoroughgoing challenge to the sustainability of liberalism itself.

Nor is it surprising that the media would be drawn to a broad-brush characterisation of an ageing, listless Europe, made by a pope who has graced the cover of Rolling Stone, no less! Once again, this says rather more about the media’s slobbering servitude to “the new” – which cannot help but sneer at any tradition or institution or system of thought that does not melt away before the ineluctable demands of fashion and the fickle rule of individual choice – than it does about the pope’s open-handed invitation to join together “in building a Europe which revolves not around the economy, but around the sacredness of the human person, around inalienable values … a Europe which courageously embraces its past and confidently looks to its future in order fully to experience the hope of its present.”

On both counts, the media conceals its ignorance, its arrogance and its incurious disregard for whatever does not fit within its unavowed agenda behind the threadbare alibi that it is simply reporting what is newsworthy – as if that were an objective category which the media is duty bound to serve, and which it itself has no role in shaping.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Local Paper front page) First same-sex divorce granted in Charleston County

Less than a month after South Carolina began recognizing gay marriages, the state on Friday approved its first same-sex divorce.

Maria Hamar and her now ex-wife, who requested that she not be identified, were married in New York in the fall of 2011, according to court documents that were filed Oct. 31 in Charleston County.

The couple separated two years later, and ultimately dissolved their marriage this week before Family Court Judge Jerry Vinson.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality

(NYT On Religion) A Black Church Wins the Hearts of Whites in Harlem

On a Sunday morning in September 2011, Eloise Louis stood on a street corner in Harlem, looking for a church. She was just hours off a plane from her native France, jet-lagged and buzzy with anticipation. An aspiring jazz singer with spiritual yearnings and a self-taught knowledge of civil rights history, she had finally set foot on black America’s hallowed ground.

Just across 116th Street, Ms. Louis noticed worshipers lining up to enter First Corinthian Baptist Church, and she joined the procession. An usher, seeing her white skin and hearing her French accent, directed Ms. Louis into the portion of the balcony set aside for spectators.

“I’m not a tourist,” Ms. Louis pleaded. “I’m here for Jesus.” The usher must have sensed something genuine and desperate in her tone, because he moved her to the front rows of the balcony among the regular congregants. From there, she heard the gospel songs and the preaching, and even with her spotty English, as she recalled, “something touched my heart.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Lucy

Loving God, who for the salvation of all didst give Jesus Christ as light to a world in darkness: Illumine us, with thy daughter Lucy, with the light of Christ, that by the merits of his passion we may be led to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Make us, we beseech thee, O Lord our God, watchful and heedful in awaiting the coming of thy Son Christ our Lord; that when he shall come and knock, he shall find us not sleeping in sin, but awake and rejoicing in his praises; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Gelasian Sacramentary

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

To the end that [my] glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

–Psalm 30:11-12 (KJV)

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Music for Friday – Every Valley

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

Lent and Beyond: Prayer for South Carolina on Friday December 12th

Awaiting results of litigation”“
Please pray for the Diocese of South Carolina and its legal team, all those involved in the proceedings and for the Judge and for the growth of God’s Kingdom in South Carolina
1 Chronicles 4:42-43 (NIV)
And five hundred of these Simeonites, led by Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi, invaded the hill country of Seir. They killed the remaining Amalekites who had escaped, and they have lived there to this day.

Simeon”“God has heard
Pelatiah”“let the Lord deliver, deliverance of the Lord in Israel
Neariah”“child of God
Rephaiah”“Jehovah has healed
Uzziel”“God is my strength

Amalekites”“a people thought to be descended from Esau. The name is often interpreted as “dweller in the valley”, and occasionally as “war-like,” “people of prey”, “cave-men.”

Dear Heavenly Father,

You are a God who hears His children. You are our Deliverer, our Healer, our strength and our salvation. Have mercy.

Did not Moses say that because Amalekites had raised their fist against the Lord’s throne, the Lord would be at war with Amalek generation after generation? If the spirit of Amalek is involved in the South Carolina litigation, defeat it, we pray.

With You, nothing is impossible. Your name is Jehovah-nissi. The Lord is our banner! Amen.

Please pray it all and there are more prayers for South Carolina here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(F Things) Robert Reed–Gnosticism 2.0: Interstellar and the Religion of Science

Interstellar’s scientific pretensions capture the religious spirit of our times. What should we make of all the talk of the incompatibility of science and religion? Nothing: Longing for future glory is alive and well among the scientifically literate. Some of their own apparently comprise the most fervent devotees of future hope, displaying the same desire for human transcendence as the ancients but clothing it in modern science. Interstellar is worth reflecting on, not for any dubious relation it may bear to our future, but because of its indebtedness to the past: It is an ancient myth retold and centuries of scientific progress have diminished none of its appeal.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Movies & Television, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

The Rev. Dr. Martha Giltinan RIP

The Rev. Dr. Martha Giltinan died this morning in Boston at Massachusetts General Hospital after a yearlong battle with Leukemia. Throughout this year she has fought valiantly against the disease, but always with a deep trust in the Lord and without a fear of death. “Death has no dominion over me,” was her constant refrain during her treatment.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology