Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunday afternoon / evening posts

Tourism slump worries US

September 17th, 2006 posted by kendall at 8:26 pm

Crystal Resendez was working in the Virgin Megastore in New York’s Union Square on the morning of 9/11, and vividly remembers crowds of people fleeing the World Trade Center covered in ash.

Today Resendez, 30, is general manager of the store, next to Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood Boulevard, one of the hottest tourist spots on America’s West Coast. “There’s no doubt we’re still suffering much more than New York from the drop-off in foreign visitors,” she said. “The Union Square store is beating its sales records, but we’re definitely not.”

Midwest accents seemed to dominate the throngs jostling around the freshly made hand and foot prints of actor Kevin Costner in the Chinese Theatre forecourt, but few of them were going into the Virgin store.

“I think the recent bomb threat at Heathrow has had a big effect on visitor numbers,” said Resendez. “It seems to have affected the whole of Europe’s tourist decisions whether to come here.”

Read it all.

The Bishop of Sherborne Reminds us not to Let Darfur Slip from our Minds

September 17th, 2006 posted by kendall at 7:00 pm

Listen to it all from the BBC as Tim Thornton connects prayer with change.

And speaking ofr Darfur, do not miss Rowan Williams prayer for Darfur here.

A Vatican Official Offers Guidelines on Christianity and Globalization

September 17th, 2006 posted by kendall at 5:52 pm

Bishop Crepaldi then dedicates a chapter looking at three mistakes made in analyzing globalization. The first of these, a sort of economic determinism, consists in considering globalization as a sort of undeniable process that leaves us with no room to maneuver. We can feel impotent in the face of changes that come about far removed from our control. For this reason it is necessary that international organizations and the more powerful nations not impose on the poorer and weaker countries economic changes that do not take into account local needs and problems.

The Church also asks for respect for local traditions and cultures and not to impose a globalization based only on economic criteria. It is vital also that the human person be the main protagonist in the process of development. This requires full respect for human liberty and not reducing people to mere economic instruments.

In this way globalization is seen not as a technical question, but as a process to be guided by people. Economic and technical processes may well bring us closer, but not necessarily more united. And if they are made absolutes, they risk dividing, not uniting, humanity.

A second mistake is a reductionism that simply blames all problems and social changes on globalization without an adequate analysis of each situation. The impact of globalization on many aspects of our lives cannot be denied, admits Bishop Crepaldi, but it is wrong to simply blame all the world’s ills as stemming from it.

Many countries have benefited from globalization and it is not necessarily the case that the economic advances of one nation result from impoverishing another. The problems of underdeveloped countries often stem from a complex series of factors, not all of them economic.

The third mistake is similar to the second, and consists in thinking that by now all is globalized. There are, nevertheless, sectors of economic activity that are not integrated globally. In addition, hand in hand with globalization there has been an increased emphasis on local and regional identities.

To avoid these and other mistakes globalization requires a new culture that can orient the changes. This “new culture” was called for by John Paul II who explained that this consists both in discerning the positive cultural elements already in existence, and in proposing new cultural elements.

Read the entire article.

Colin Slee: The recent guidance from bishops on same-sex civil partnerships is unworkable and totally wrong-headed

September 17th, 2006 posted by kendall at 5:45 pm

A complicating factor in any analysis is the clear difference between the durability of Christian and non-Christian relationships, whether gay or straight. There is ample evidence that a practising faith hugely increases the likelihood of any committed relationship lasting.

The refusal of the church to bless gay commitment is a horrible irony. Christian gay couples have to build a relationship and witness to the importance of faithful love in the face of two enemies: the prevalent promiscuity of the secular gay scene and the rejection of the church itself. That makes Christian witness to other gay people nearly impossible, because it offers nothing but insult and rejection. While we deplore promiscuity we are doing absolutely nothing helpful about fidelity.

The bishops’ statement was hardly pastoral in any sense; accepting civil partnerships as legal fact, it refused, nevertheless, to give any spiritual recognition or dignity. The word “love” never appears in its pages, not once. That speaks volumes. Far from being “pastoral”, the bishops are too frightened even to show gay people a human face - let alone the face of a God of love.

The experience of the last year raises enormous questions for me as a priest. The church is selling out on faithful lifelong heterosexual marriage precisely because it has not the courage to embrace faithful lifelong same-sex relationships. There are great matters to be addressed, not least all those which arise from promiscuity, and yet the church, able to help so much in the 16th century, seems to have lost its capacity to help society in the 21st.

Read the whole piece.

IRS Orders All Saints to Yield Documents on ‘04 Political Races

September 17th, 2006 posted by kendall at 5:37 pm

Stepping up its probe of allegedly improper campaigning by churches, the Internal Revenue Service on Friday ordered a liberal Pasadena parish to turn over all the documents and e-mails it produced during the 2004 election year with references to political candidates.

All Saints Episcopal Church and its rector, the Rev. Ed Bacon, have until Sept. 29 to present the sermons, newsletters and electronic communications.

The IRS investigation was triggered by an antiwar sermon delivered by its former rector, the Rev. George F. Regas, at the church two days before the 2004 presidential election. The summons even requests utility bills to establish costs associated with hosting Regas’ speech. Bacon was ordered to testify before IRS officials Oct. 11.

The tax code bars nonprofits, including churches, from endorsing or campaigning against candidates in an election.

Facing the possible loss of his church’s tax-exempt status, Bacon said he plans to inform his roughly 3,500 active congregants about the investigation during Sunday’s services. Then he plans to seek their advice on whether to comply.

“There is a lot at stake here,” Bacon said in an interview. “If the IRS prevails, it will have a chilling effect on the practice of religion in America.”

The congregants will have two choices: consent to the IRS request, or decline, which could result in the matter being referred to the Department of Justice and, possibly, U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, All Saints’ lead attorney Marcus Owens said.

Read it all.

Albany Episcopalians install a new leader

September 17th, 2006 posted by kendall at 5:27 pm

Bill Love arrived Saturday at the Empire State Convention Center dressed in the plain white robe he wore as rector of a small Episcopal parish in Warren County.

Following a centuries-old rite marked by pageantry and song, the slight, 48-year-old leader of St. Mary’s in Lake Luzerne left the center draped in the religious finery befitting the incoming ninth bishop of the Albany diocese.

Following his consecration, Love will be prepared to take on the sprawling 19-county diocese when his predecessor, Bishop Daniel Herzog, retires. Herzog assumed the office in 1998 and must retire within the next three years.

Hundreds of priests, deacons and lay participants filed into the cavernous convention center, preceded by the heady scent of incense and glowing candles. Bouquets of yellow and red flowers flanked the podium, under a large red cross that hung from the ceiling.

Bishops came from Ireland and around the United States. Also invited was Bishop Howard Hubbard of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.

After his son and daughter read scriptural passages and his friend, the Rev. Michael Flynn of California, offered a sermon, Love stood before nearly a dozen bishops who checked his credentials, including certificates of ordination and election.

“Are you persuaded that God has called you to the office of bishop?” asked the Most Rev. Frank Griswold, the country’s presiding bishop.

“I am so persuaded,” Love answered.

“Will you accept this call and fulfill this trust in obedience to Christ?” Herzog asked.

“I will obey Christ and will serve in his name,” Love replied.

Read it all.


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