Daily Archives: January 17, 2015

(W E) Michael Barone–Family fragmentation: Can anything be done?

How big a problem is family fragmentation? “Immense,” says Mitch Pearlstein, head of the Minnesota think tank Center of the American Experiment. “The biggest domestic problem facing this country.”

So big he went out and interviewed 40 experts of varying ideology across the nation and relayed their answers in his book Broken Bonds: What Family Fragmentation Means for America’s Future. That’s the good news. The bad news is that none of the experts is confident he has an answer, and neither is Pearlstein.

What is family fragmentation? The facts are easy to state. About 40 percent of babies born in America these days are born outside of marriage. That’s true of about 30 percent of non-Hispanic whites, more than 50 percent of Hispanics and more than 70 percent of blacks.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Theology

Former Bristol, Connecticut, Pastor Aids Baltimore Area Episcopal Bishop Charged With Manslaughter

[Heather] Cook and [Mark] Hansen attended General Theological Seminary in New York at the same time in the 1980s, according to the school’s website, and Hansen participated in Cook’s consecration ceremony last September.

Hansen, who lives in Millington on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, is a lay pastor at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Kent County. He is also executive director of the St. Paul’s Cathedral Trust in America, a nonprofit that supports the London cathedral.

Cook, who served on the Eastern Shore for 10 years, is listed on the St. Paul’s Cathedral Trust website as a donor who gave more than $1,000.

A spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland described Hansen as a friend of Cook’s. Spokeswoman Sharon Tillman said the church was not involved in the bail payment but was “grateful that she’ll now be able to resume treatment.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Alcohol/Drinking, Alcoholism, City Government, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, Theology

(PS) Raghuram Rajan–Is the Global Economy Bracing for Stagnation?

As 2015 begins, the global economy remains weak. The United States may be seeing signs of a strengthening recovery, but the eurozone risks following Japan into recession, and emerging markets worry that their export-led growth strategies have left them vulnerable to stagnation abroad. With few signs that this year will bring any improvement, policymakers would be wise to understand the factors underlying the global economy’s anemic performance ”“ and the implications of continued feebleness.

In the words of Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director, we are experiencing the “new mediocre.” The implication is that growth is unacceptably low relative to potential and that more can be done to lift it, especially given that some major economies are flirting with deflation.

Conventional policy advice urges innovative monetary interventions bearing an ever expanding array of acronyms, even as governments are admonished to spend on “obvious” needs such as infrastructure. The need for structural reforms is acknowledged, but they are typically deemed painful, and possibly growth-reducing in the short run. So the focus remains on monetary and fiscal stimulus ”“ and as much of it as possible, given the deadening effects of debt overhang.

And yet, the efficacy of such policy advice remains to be seen.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Foreign Relations, Globalization, India, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology

(C of E) John Spence–Resourcing the Future

Of all the Task Group reports being published this week it is perhaps Resourcing the Future which is least easy to understand from its title. So let me explain what it is about and how we reached our recommendations.

We started with all the research findings contained in the Anecdote to Evidence book published a year ago. That pointed to a declining and ageing Church of England population. Projecting the findings forward made us see the real threat to the presence of our Church, not only in every community but in large parts of rural and urban England.

Each of us has a personal Christian mission to help the Word of the Risen Christ reach out. In other words, we need to change this trend and start securing growth ”“ not just in some places as at present, but with a more uniform pattern across the country.

And we had a long hard debate about what we mean by growth.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Economist) C of E–London supplies England with wealth, culture””and, increasingly, Christians

Since the late 1960s overall church attendance in Britain has dropped steadily, along with adherence to the Christian faith. The proportion of people calling themselves Anglican fell from 40% in 1983 to 20% in 2012. But in pockets, mostly in London and the south-east, churches are thriving. Much of the energy has come from large African Pentecostal churches and from an influx of Roman Catholic immigrants from Eastern Europe. But there is growth in the Church of England, too. Most of this comes from “church plants”, based on a model imported from America in which a group of people move from a thriving, often evangelical, church to an ailing one, and turn it around.

Several big London churches, such as Holy Trinity Brompton (where the popular Alpha course started) and St Helen’s Bishopsgate, have been planting churches in the capital for decades. More recently Holy Trinity Brompton has started to reach farther afield. It was behind the plant to St Peter’s and has also sent people from its London congregation to Norwich and Bournemouth. Some members of the St Peter’s congregation have in turn set up another plant in Hastings.

Most church planters explain that they felt called by God to move. But more mundane things drive them, too. Being part of a team under an entrepreneurial leader is exciting; their friends may also be relocating.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Young Adults

The Record profiles former American TEC priest Jason Catania who was ordained under the Ordinariate

For [the] Rev. Jason Catania, Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, is a blessing.

“I still remember the day in the fall of 2009 when it came to be. I couldn’t believe it,” said Catania, an American Ordinariate priest.
This was Pope Benedict’s response to Anglicans requesting to join the Catholic Church ”” to come into communion with Rome yet retain much of their Anglican patrimony.

The Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus (“groups” of Anglicans), establishes a new structure within the church. It allows Anglicans who become Catholics to keep their spiritual, liturgical and pastoral traditions.

“This is something that was dear to the (former) pope’s heart. It is a novel opportunity, to allow Anglicans to retain their own identity and still be full members of the Catholic Church,” said Catania.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Canada, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

(BBC) Boko Haram crisis: African Union to discuss multinational force

Ghana’s President John Mahama has said he and other African leaders will discuss plans next week to “deal permanently” with Boko Haram militants.

He said he wanted African Union (AU) countries to produce a “specific plan of action” for tackling the Nigeria-based Islamist group collectively.

“This has to end. We have to make this terror end,” he said.

Boko Haram has seized control of many towns and villages in north-east Nigeria in a six-year insurgency.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Washington Post) A Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty

For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.

The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.

“We’ve all known this was the trend, that we would get to a majority, but it’s here sooner rather than later,” said Michael A. Rebell of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College at Columbia University, noting that the poverty rate has been increasing even as the economy has improved. “A lot of people at the top are doing much better, but the people at the bottom are not doing better at all. Those are the people who have the most children and send their children to public school.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Poverty, Theology

(The State) Under fire Uber getting some South Carolina help

The San Francisco online ride-sharing company that is causing a storm among S.C. taxi companies and regulators is finding bipartisan legislative support of its efforts to keep operating legally in the Palmetto State.

The state Public Service Commission ordered Uber to stop picking up riders Thursday while regulators weigh the company’s request for a state taxi license.

But Uber drivers were defying the order with cars available Friday in the four S.C. cities where the company operates ”“ Columbia, Charleston, Greenville and Myrtle Beach.

“We will challenge the order and remain committed to providing South Carolinians with greater opportunity and choice,” Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, State Government, Theology, Travel

Rod Dreher–Dante As Orthodox?

I noticed as I reviewed the final text for my Dante book how remarkably Orthodox it is. I never would have predicted this from a book about the greatest Catholic poet who ever lived, certainly not when I started writing… this phenomenon manifested itself in three main ways….

1. The role of asceticism in the process of salvation. Purgatorio is all about overcoming the passions, or tendencies toward sin, through the rigorous practice of asceticism. Note well: this is not about paying for your sins; that was done by Christ. It’s about retraining your heart to quit desiring evil and to desire good, which is to say, God. Purgatorio is an allegory for the Christian life in this world, which is a constant struggle with the passions. Reading Purgatorio was startling to me as a former Catholic, now Orthodox. I never heard this teaching as a Catholic, but hear it all the time as an Orthodox.

2. Theosis. Theosis is a Greek term meaning “deification.” It is the ultimate goal of each Christian’s life: to be absorbed into God. Theosis doesn’t begin in heaven, but begins right now ”” that is, the path to theosis, which is a process. You can always refuse the path, but if you’re not going towards heaven, you’re moving towards hell. Time is an escalator on which it is impossible to stand still. I had never heard of salvation explained as theosis until I became Orthodox. Dante’s Paradiso is entirely about theosis, to a degree that I think will shock Orthodox readers who have never read it. It’s not even disguised.

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Posted in Uncategorized

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Antony

O God, who by thy Holy Spirit didst enable thy servant Antony to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil: Give us grace, with pure hearts and minds, to follow thee, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Harold Riley

Almighty and everlasting God, whose blessed Son took upon him our manhood and increased in wisdom and stature: Grant that all Christian children may learn that fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom, and as they grow in stature may also grow in love to thee; through the same Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now I know that the LORD will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand. Some boast of chariots, and some of horses; but we boast of the name of the LORD our God. They will collapse and fall; but we shall rise and stand upright. Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.

–Psalm 20:6-9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Wash. Post) Supreme Court agrees to hear same same-sex marriage Case

The Supreme Court announced Friday it will decide this term a historic question about whether the Constitution requires same-sex couples be allowed to marry or whether states are free to limit marriage to its traditional definition as a union only between a man and a woman.

The court will answer a question left open when it last confronted the issue in 2013 and said that a key portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and in a separate case allowed same-sex marriages to resume in California.

The court Friday accepted cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, where restrictions about same-sex marriage were upheld by an appeals court, to confront the issue. The court will hear oral arguments in April and decide the issue by the time justices adjourn in June.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology