Daily Archives: September 29, 2015

More Foreclosures, this time by Hedge Funds

Private equity and hedge fund firms have bought more than 100,000 troubled mortgages at a discount from banks and federal housing agencies, emerging as aggressive liquidators for the remains of the mortgage crisis that erupted nearly a decade ago.

As the housing market nationwide recovers, this is a dark corner from which banks, stung by hefty penalties for bungling mortgage modifications and foreclosures, have retreated. Federal housing officials, for the most part, have welcomed the new financial players as being more nimble and creative than banks with terms for delinquent borrowers.

But the firms are now drawing fire. Housing advocates and lawyers for borrowers contend that the private equity firms and hedge funds are too quick to push homes into foreclosure and are even less helpful than the banks had been in negotiating loan modifications with borrowers. Federal and state lawmakers are taking up the issue, questioning why federal agencies are selling loans at a discount of as much as 30 percent to such firms.

Read it all from the front page of today’s New York Times.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology

Anglican Church of NZ Working group reports on Motion 30

The report was provided on 5 August 2015, in time for Te Runanganui and every Diocesan Synod.
In the report the Working Group outlines its intention to propose a two-step process which would allow consultation at Diocesan Synod and Hui Amorangi level between sessions of the General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui in 2016 and 2018.
This process will give more time for consultation than would have been possible for a proposal capable of adoption at a single General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui. It is the procedure provided for by the Church of England Empowering Act 1928.

Read it all and the link to the report itself.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AI) PEARUSA Moves Legally to ACNA, Remains Relationally Connected

The Synod of the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, at its regular meeting on September 23rd, 2015, has initiated a bold move for Anglican unity.

By affirming the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as an Anglican Province, and by holding true to Anglican order, the Synod is calling for the legal transfer of PEARUSA to the ACNA under Archbishop Foley Beach by June 2016. This call includes the PEARUSA Networks becoming ACNA Dioceses.

At the same time, Archbishop Rwaje and Presiding Bishop Steve Breedlove (pictured) have announced that PEARUSA will now transition into Rwanda Ministry Partners, a ministry association within the ACNA.

“Though we release you legally,” Archbishop Rwaje said, “We are bound relationally in Jesus Christ. We will continue serving together as we always have with ever increasing strength.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Church of Rwanda

(NR) Robert George+Bill Lee on how Bill Nye the Science Guy gets Science wrong on Abortion

Bill Nye is supposed to be “the science guy.” Recently he published a video on YouTube purporting to inform viewers of what science tells us about abortion. Nye claims that laws against abortion reflect “a deep scientific lack of understanding.” But it turns out that it is Nye himself who doesn’t understand the science. “I really encourage you to look at the facts,” he says. But then he misrepresents the facts from top to bottom in an embarrassingly transparent effort to hijack science in the cause of pro-abortion ideology.

Nye’s video is so breathtakingly arrogant and incompetently argued that it is hard to know where to begin. He opens by saying: “Many, many, many, many more hundreds of eggs are fertilized than become humans. Eggs get fertilized, and by that I mean sperm get accepted by ova ”” a lot.” The fact he is pointing to here ”” the high rate of pre-implantation spontaneous abortions (estimates range from 45 percent to as high as 70 percent) ”” is the only bit of science Nye ever mentions in the video. But he thinks one can infer from it that a human being does not come to be until the embryo implants on the uterine wall: “[The sperm’s joining the ovum] is not all you need. You have to attach to the uterine wall, the inside of a womb, a woman’s womb.”

But that is easily exposed as a non sequitur ”” a logical fallacy, the conclusion does not follow from the premise. The fact that many human embryos die at an early stage of development (pre-implantation) provides no evidence whatsoever for the proposition that they are not embryonic human beings ”” no more than comparable high rates of infant mortality in most places before the 20th century showed that infants were not human beings.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Apologetics, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Gavin Dunbar–Catechizing

Christ commissioned the church to make disciples of all nations, by “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”; and by “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”(Matthew 28:19). There is a doctrine to be learned, “mere Christianity” if you like, “the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments and all other things which a Christian ought to know and believe to his soul’s health”. In accordance with Scripture’s command (Psalm 78:1-8) the Prayer Book provides a Catechism, in question and answer form, “that is to say, An Instruccion to bee learned of every childe, before he be brought to be confirmed of the bushop” (1549 Prayer Book rubric in original spelling!).

In his classic treatise on pastoral care, the Country Parson, the priest-poet George Herbert values Catechizing for infusing “a competent knowledge of salvation to every one of his Flock”: The “secret” benefit of this practice “consists in this, that at Sermons, and Prayers, men may sleep or wander; but when one is asked a question, he must discover what he is [i.e. awake, and alert or asleep, and wandering!]”….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Adult Education, Christology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Atlantic) How Should America Deal With the Sinners in Its Prisons?

Dammer, the University of Scranton professor, said people are often skeptical of religious people in prisons, and particularly those who convert behind bars. “The common thought by correctional officers or people who run prisons or even the general public is that people who are involved in religion in prison because ”¦[they] think they’ll get parole easy or earlier,” he said. This isn’t really the case, he said; especially as states have moved away from indeterminate sentencing, or prison terms that involve a range of possible lengths, this kind of pious performance hasmattered less for helping people get parole.

“Do some inmates use religion in prison in a manipulative way? Absolutely. They do it to meet women at services, they do it to get goods and services,” he said. “Most of them, though, don’t do it for this myth””just to get out of prison. They do it to help them live in prison in a way that helps them survive.”

Religious figures play various roles in prisons. Institutions will usually have hired chaplains on staff, sometimes euphemistically called “faith representatives.” These chaplains often oversee groups of volunteers who come into prisons to run bible studies and other programs. In one prison that Dammer studied, “the only contact [inmates] had with anybody was with the chaplains, who would walk up and down the hallways and read the bible. [Otherwise], it was 23 hours a day of total solitary confinement.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, Prison/Prison Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Paul House–Yours is the Day, Yours..the Night': Dietrich Bonhoeffer+the Practice of Daily Worship

The daily spiritual exercises Dietrich Bonhoeffer expected of all members of Finkenwalde created some controversy at the time.

Bonhoeffer required silence before the morning service, which consisted of Bible reading, prayers and hymns. He also required a time of silent meditation and intercession after breakfast before lectures began. The community had a similar evening service, and at times readings during lunch.

Though these exercises were balanced by study, lectures and recreation, many objected to such “Catholic” practices. Others considered them evidences of legalism at Finkenwalde. Why did Bonhoeffer require these aspects of the community’s day together and its day alone?

He did so because he believed that students were members of Christ’s body preparing to be shepherds of the body of Christ.

Read it all from ABC Australia.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Christology, Church History, Europe, Germany, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

David Brooks–the Mass Incarceration Problem is not caused by what most Think

…research suggests that while it’s true that lawmakers passed a lot of measures calling for long prison sentences, if you look at how much time inmates actually served, not much has changed over the past few decades. Roughly half of all prisoners have prison terms in the range of two to three years, and only 10 percent serve more than seven years. The laws look punitive, but the time served hasn’t increased, and so harsh laws are not the main driver behind mass incarceration, either.

So what does explain it? Pfaff’s theory is that it’s the prosecutors. District attorneys and their assistants have gotten a lot more aggressive in bringing felony charges. Twenty years ago they brought felony charges against about one in three arrestees. Now it’s something like two in three. That produces a lot more plea bargains and a lot more prison terms.

I asked Pfaff why prosecutors are more aggressive. He’s heard theories. Maybe they are more political and they want to show toughness to raise their profile to impress voters if they run for future office. Maybe the police are bringing stronger cases. Additionally, prosecutors are usually paid by the county but prisons by the state, so prosecutors tend not to have to worry about the financial costs of what they do.

Read it all from the New York Times Op-ed page.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Prison/Prison Ministry, Psychology, Theology

Head of Church of England’s task force on credit unions urges wealthy to lend to the poor

Sir Hector Sants is calling upon the wealthy to lend to credit unions and help run co-operatives in an attempt to raise their profile and fill the vast gap left by the shrinking payday lending sector.

The former chief executive of the City watchdog was appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury last year to lead the Church of England’s task force on credit unions, but said they need greater support to help borrowers seeking short-term loans.

In an interview with FT Money, Sir Hector said: “Join a credit union ”” it doesn’t have to be your sole bank ”” and deposit money, which can then be lent out. There are often good terms if you need a loan.”

Read it all from the FT.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Poverty, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Michael and All Angels

O everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the ministries of angels and men in a wonderful order: Mercifully grant that, as thy holy angels always serve and worship thee in heaven, so by thy appointment they may help and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

Blessed Lord, who putteth down the mighty from their seat and exaltest those of low degree: Save us, we beseech thee, from pride and vainglory, from self-seeking and false ambition. Give us a humble and contrite spirit, that we may think less of ourselves, more of others, and most of all of thee, who art our mighty God and Saviour; to whom with thee and the Holy Spirit we ascribe all praise and glory, now and for evermore.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries round about. His lightnings lighten the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.

–Psalm 97:1-6

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Do not Take Yourself Too Seriously Dept–The end of the World is Nigh?


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Eschatology, History, Humor / Trivia, Science & Technology, Theology

(US News+WR) Life on Mars? NASA Says It's a Possibility after evidence of briny water found

The possibility of life on Mars just became a little more realistic: Mars has a summer season when salty streams of water flow across the surface, before freezing again in winter, NASA announced on Monday, indicating the red planet could currently have life on its surface.

“Our quest on Mars has been to ”˜follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water — albeit briny — is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Science & Technology

(Independent) Women who have never had sex give 'virgin birth' through IVF, say doctors

Women are having children after undergoing IVF – despite never having had sex, according to doctors.

25 young women in the UK who are hetereosexual and in their twenties have opted for IVF in the past five years because they feel ready to be a parent, doctors told the Mail on Sunday.

Some who have had the “virgin borths” said they are still waiting for the right partner – and a few may be afraid of sex owing to psychosexual complications, experts have said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology, Women

(CSM) ISIS in America: how a doomsday Muslim cult is turning kids against parents

American families are under assault from an Islamic extremist group that is quietly turning young minds against their parents, against their religious faith, and against their country.

The group, the self-proclaimed Islamic State in occupied sections of Syria and Iraq, is using social media and the worldwide reach of the Internet in a sophisticated recruitment campaign that is making families feel helpless to stop a slow-motion kidnapping of their children.

So far this year, 58 Americans ”“ more than half under 25 ”“ have been arrested for attempting to travel to Syria or for plotting violence in the US. That is more than twice the number of similar arrests for the entire year in 2014, and more than twice the number for all of 2013, as well.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Islam, Marriage & Family, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(FS) Jaap Dronkers–Cohabitation, Marriage, and Union Instability in Europe

There has always been a fierce debate about the relationship between cohabitation and divorce risks. Some argue that cohabitation lessens people’s commitment to partnership and thus increases their risk of divorce, while others believe that a cohabitation phase before marriage (as a trial marriage) would strengthen marital stability. In the United States, data suggest that the effect of cohabitation on marriage is at best neutral; however, in European countries, the effect of cohabitation on marital stability varies markedly, according to a study covering the last decade of the twentieth century (Liefbroer and Dourleijn, 2006).

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology