Posted by Kendall Harmon

T he discovery this week of a massive light crude oil field in southern Iran adds another layer of complexity to one of the world's most acute problems. Iran and Israel appear to be heading for war unless something unexpected happens and this week's discovery will only strengthen the resolve and confidence of Tehran.

For many Australians the name Iran conjures images of bearded and severe Ayatollahs and a wide-eyed President Ahmadinejad occupying the no-man's land between sanity and fanaticism. We see a persistent stream of refugees who seem to validate the assumption they must be fleeing a toxic regime. Since this country could easily become the biggest, cataclysmic news story of the year, it is worth spending a few minutes trying to understand its pathology....

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIsrael

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Posted April 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To those who questioned the prettiness of his paintings—their too-good-to-be-true sentimentality—he had a theological answer: "I like to portray a world without the Fall." A retort to that statement would be that faith itself teaches us that a fallen human is ill-equipped to imagine an Edenic world—and that in any case our task in life is not to look away from the sin-scarred creation and dwell on an ideal world but to look for grace and redemption in the midst of the mess we've made.

It's an argument I've made myself, in an essay criticizing Kinkade's aesthetic. Yet I am still forced to admit that he raised a valid question about the purpose and meaning of art. After all, Western art in many ways starts with the Greeks, who made ideal beauty, with its glimpse of divine perfection, the hallmark of their culture. Doesn't seeing the world as it ought to be elevate and enlighten us, offering us a small respite from the darkness? That's precisely what so many have found in Kinkade's art: a powerfully nostalgic longing for the way it ought to be, a break from the daily grind and the thousand disappointments that drag us down.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchArtReligion & Culture

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Posted April 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that 45 million people in 2011 received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, a 70% increase from 2007. It said the number of people receiving the benefits, commonly known as food stamps, would continue growing until 2014.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. Government

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Posted April 20, 2012 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some of the same spoilers that interrupted the recovery in 2010 and 2011 have emerged again, raising fears that the winter’s economic strength might dissipate in the spring.

In recent weeks, European bond yields have started climbing. In the United States and elsewhere, high oil prices have sapped spending power. American employers remain skittish about hiring new workers, and new claims for unemployment insurance have risen. And stocks have declined.

There is a “light recovery blowing in a spring wind” with “dark clouds on the horizon,” Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said Thursday....

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaEurope

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Posted April 20, 2012 at 9:27 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost every year for over one hundred years on the Saturday before Orthodox Easter, the main street in Ramallah has been overtaken by marching boy scouts and girl scouts banging drums and blowing trumpets before tens of thousands of onlookers.

It isn’t much of a parade. The music is as loud and out of tune as it is enthusiastic. Yet I try never to miss Sabt el Nour and the rowdy procession celebrating the miraculous light that beamed from Christ’s tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem the day before his resurrection.

Read it all and do not miss the fantastic picture.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEaster* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

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Posted April 20, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here’s a breakdown of the numbers. The report, citing White House budget office figures, estimated $46 billion of costs under the Troubled Asset Relief Program to support struggling homeowners. It showed $2 billion of overall gains on the Treasury’s investments in various bailed-out companies, such as American International Group Inc. (AIG), some of which are held outside of TARP. Other Treasury programs to buy mortgage-backed securities and to guarantee money-market funds would produce $26 billion of gains, the report said.

Add up those categories, and the projected net cost so far is $18 billion. On top of that, there’s the current net cost of the government-sponsored housing financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the Treasury pegged at $151 billion. So how did Treasury project a potential gain overall?

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsThe Banking System/SectorThe September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout PackageThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveThe National DeficitTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 20, 2012 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Executive CouncilTEC Bishops

18 Comments
Posted April 20, 2012 at 6:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Executive CouncilHouse of Deputies President

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Posted April 20, 2012 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Executive CouncilPresiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

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Posted April 20, 2012 at 6:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The annual meeting of the Australian church’s House of Bishops in Melbourne has adopted a protocol reaffirming the church’s position banning the ordination and deployment of non-celibate gay clergy.

On 29 March 2012 Anglican Media Sydney posted to its website the statement adopted by the meeting. It noted that “in comparison with other Bishops meetings, especially those associated with the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Australian agreement is being seen as a conservative stance.”

The protocols “express the common mind of the bishops as determined by consensus at our National Meeting” the bishops wrote, noting that they had agreed to “abide by them and renew this commitment annually by consensus.”

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of AustraliaSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings

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Posted April 20, 2012 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cornwall Council confirmed this week that teaching about Paganism has been a religious-education option in the Duchy’s schools since a revision of the locally agreed RE syllabus last year. After claims of “witchcraft lessons” made in a Sunday newspaper last weekend, a spokeswoman said that Paganism was just one option avail­able to schools that were within sight of standing stones, or where some pupils had Pagan parents.

But the RE adviser for Cornwall, David Hampshire, said that the intention was wider. The option was developed after the Agreed Syllabus Conference decided to produce a specifically local element, “Cur­riculum Kernewek” (Cornish cur­ricu­lum), for the county, which has more Neolithic sites than anywhere else in Britain. “This includes in­formation about Cornwall’s many local saints and historic Christian associations, as well as Paganism,” Mr Hampshire said.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted April 20, 2012 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By now I am sure that most savvy Christians are long since inured to the drivel that Time and Newsweek foist upon us every Easter and Christmas. It was not always thus. David van Biema (formerly of Time) and Kenneth Woodward (formerly of Newsweek) were knowledgeable, conscientious religion editors and took great care with their reporting (not to mention the estimable Peter Steinfels, late of The New York Times).

It's very different today. Case in point: the cover story on heaven in this week's Time. Who's the author? None other than Jon Meacham, Sewanee graduate, author of several highly praised historical works (Franklin and Winston, American Gospel, and American Lion) and former editor of Newsweek. In addition, he has been on the vestry at St. Thomas Fifth Avenue.

Unfortunately, Meacham does not know when to back off gracefully from subjects he does not understand--which includes theology....

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEaster* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* TheologyEschatology

4 Comments
Posted April 20, 2012 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr. Douthat mentions suburbanization as a cause of our religious decline. His other causes include political polarization, brought on by Vietnam and worsened by the abortion debate; the sexual revolution; “ever-growing wealth”; and a “global perspective,” which, in introducing Christians to other faiths, undermined their convictions.

Finally, the old WASP elite was replaced in the class structure by a media, university, and intellectual meritocracy that either rejected Christianity outright or demanded that it accommodate the new post-1960s liberalism.

Of all these Mr. Douthat is shrewdest about the role of wealth. “Entering the ministry had always involved sacrifice,” he writes, but with salaries rising so swiftly in other sectors, “the scale of that sacrifice grew considerable steeper during the 1960s and ’70s.” The quality of the clergy declined, as did its ability to preach about charity and encourage sacrifice. Worshipers grew richer, and on Sundays they wanted to drive S.U.V.’s to megachurch campuses, guilt free.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted April 20, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ah, ah, ah--no looking or googling. Guess first please, then read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchEducation* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

7 Comments
Posted April 20, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the team around him has quietly started to have doubts about victory, and is debating the best strategy to try to overcome serious odds.

Mr. Sarkozy is in deep trouble and is looking, for now, as if he could be the first one-term French president since 1981. He appears to be running neck and neck with his main challenger, the Socialist candidate François Hollande, in the first round of voting on Sunday, when 10 candidates are competing. But all the opinion polls show Mr. Sarkozy losing to Mr. Hollande in a face-off two weeks later.

His possible defeat carries implications that would radiate far beyond Paris. Mr. Sarkozy has had contentious but valuable relationships with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, a fellow conservative, on European and euro zone issues; with the British on defense issues, including the Libyan war; and with President Obama on issues involving Iran and Israel, NATO and Russia.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermany

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Posted April 20, 2012 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Make our hearts to burn within us, O Christ, as we walk with thee in the way and listen to thy words; that we may go in the strength of thy presence and thy truth all our journey through, and at its end behold thee, in the glory of the eternal Trinity, God for ever and ever.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEasterSpirituality/Prayer

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Posted April 20, 2012 at 4:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? But even if you do suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God's will, than for doing wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit....

--1 Peter 3:13-18

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 20, 2012 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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