Archive for the ‘faith’ Category

Economy: World Needs an Upbeat Message; Where Are The “Leaders”?

January 31, 2009

People worldwide are “depressed and traumatized” to see their life savings, including homes and pension funds, disappearing, Rupert Murdoch said at a press briefing in Davos, Switzerland, last week.

And President Obama’s Inauguration speech on January 20 (that seems like a lomg time ago already) didn’t exactly hit a chord of uplifting delight.

And there have been several suicides of financial “experts” or people who lost a lot of money recently.

The war on terror and good times seems to have put us all to sleep.  The shopping malls were full and most of us had jobs.

Now the shopping malls are not full and the credit card needs to be paid off.

Maybe the American people need to make some sacrifices.

But let’s not forget, mankind has survived more than this.

 
China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao passed our compensation money to earthquake survivors last week to start the Lunar New Year.

So maybe someone needs to step forward and give the world a pep talk, or a good old “fireside chat.”

Remember the line, “We have nothing to fear except fear itself”?

We might also consider some old passe tools like prayer and hope and faith and service to others.

Because there are now four Americans trying to get every available job and unemployment won’t last forever.

Because no matter how much cocaine and alcohol is applied to an economic meltdown the Visa and Mastercard still have to be paid…

Enter Gordon Brown who says in the UK at least the public can harness the “British spirit” and remain resolute and upbeat.

Note to our leaders: Leadership needs to remember that the public needs a morale boost now and again.

*****

By Andrew Porter, Political Editor, in Davos
From the Telegraph (UK)

Gordon Brown has issued a passionate appeal to the British people for optimism in the face of the economic downturn, insisting that confidence will see the country through the deepening recession.

While admitting that Britain is “in the eye of the storm”, the Prime Minister said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph that the country will see off the worst of the slowdown if the public can harness the “British spirit” and remain resolute and upbeat.

International forecasters say that Britain is heading for the deepest recession of any advanced economy, with unemployment predicted to pass 3  million, but Mr Brown appeals against “talking the country down”.

In a striking show of optimism, he declares: “I am absolutely confident about Britain’s future. I have utter confidence in our ability to come through this. I have utter confidence not only in the British people’s determination to come through this, but that people will work together to make sure Britain emerges from this.

“The British spirit is to see a problem, identify it, and get on with solving it. Once a problem hits us we are determined and resolute and we are adamant that we are going to deal with that problem.

“And that is the resolve, not just of the Government, but the resolve of the whole people.”

The Prime Minister, attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, admits that the stakes could not be higher, saying that if a London summit of world leaders in April fails, then the world risks

sliding into protectionism and an economic slump similar to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The April summit, hosted by Mr Brown, will bring together leaders of the G20 economies, including Barack Obama, the US president.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetop
ics/davos/4404491/Gordon-Brown-All-Britain-
needs-is-confidence-in-itself.html

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Obama Inauguration: No Rabbis, Priests

January 20, 2009

Inauguration audiences on Tuesday will hear the new President deliver the most anticipated Inaugural Address since John F. Kennedy. They’ll hear the Queen of Soul sing and Yo-Yo Ma play. They’ll listen to hear if Rick Warren gets preachy when he prays. But there’s one thing they won’t hear: Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha’olam.

That’s because for the sixth straight presidential Inauguration, rabbis won’t have a place on the dais. And the Jewish faith isn’t the only religious tradition that continues to be snubbed. Since 1985, only Evangelical Protestants have played a part in the swearing-in ceremony. That will continue again this year when megachurch pastor Warren delivers the invocation and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, an African-American Evangelical, offers the benediction. At a time when the United States is more religiously diverse than at any other point in its history, and Obama’s entire campaign was built on the notion of a newfound inclusiveness and multiculturalism, it seems a glaring omission. (See TIME’s special report on civil rights and the Obama presidency.)

Time Magazine

The recent Evangelical Protestant monopoly began in 1989, when George H.W. Bush asked Billy Graham to deliver both the invocation and benediction (the opening and closing prayers) at his Inauguration. Graham did the same for Bill Clinton in 1993 and again in 1997. The decision to delegate the religious role to Graham seemed a reasonable alternative to filling the stage with an ever-growing number of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu and Baha’i clergy. The famous Evangelist regularly topped the list of people Americans most admired, and he prayed in fairly broad terms, referring just to “God” and using the formulation “I pray” instead of “we pray” to make clear that he was not imposing his Christian prayer on the entire citizenry. (Read Obama’s words on his Christian faith.)

But the absence of non-Christian religious leaders was felt even more deeply starting in 2001, when Graham’s son Franklin ended his invocation with an exclusive statement: “We … acknowledge you alone as our Lord, our Savior and our Redeemer. We pray this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit.” This was not a prayer offered on behalf of all Americans but on behalf of Christians alone. It bookended George W. Bush’s Inauguration with a benediction by Kirbyjon Caldwell that declared, “We respectfully submit this humble prayer in the name that’s above all other names, Jesus the Christ,” and instructed, “Let all who agree say ‘Amen.’ ” If you didn’t agree, there was apparently nothing for you to do but shuffle your feet.

For non-Christians, but particularly for Jews who had gotten used to having a place on the dais, the development was deeply disturbing. After all, traditionally, the religious roster at presidential swearing ins looked something like the set-up to an old joke: “A priest, a pastor and a rabbi walk into an Inauguration …” Rabbis prayed at a majority of Inaugurations that took place between 1949 and 1985, as did Catholic priests.

It is true that Jewish religious leaders weren’t on the dais in 1937, when Franklin D. Roosevelt first introduced the tradition of an Inaugural prayer. Up until then, presidential Inaugurations did not include prayers. Instead, the vice-presidential swearing in took place at a separate ceremony in the Senate chambers, after which the Senate chaplain usually offered a prayer. Roosevelt decided to merge the two events and brought the chaplain along to participate as well. But in a shrewd political maneuver, Roosevelt also opened up a second religious slot on the program for Father John Ryan, an influential figure in Catholic social teaching and a prominent supporter of the New Deal. As Mark Silk, professor of religion at Trinity College, has written, Ryan was not only known as “the Right Rev. New Dealer,” but he was also the most effective critic of Father Charles Coughlin, the notorious right-wing, anti-Roosevelt priest. Ryan’s participation in the Inauguration helped insulate Roosevelt against Coughlin’s attacks and shore up the growing – and critical – voting bloc of Catholic Democrats.

Related:
Obama Didn’t Need Rick Warren for Prayer; Others Abound

 Obama’s Path to Faith Was Eclectic, Diverse

Obama’s Path to Faith Was Eclectic, Diverse

January 18, 2009

The presidential inauguration ceremony on Tuesday will begin and end with prayers from two men whom Barack Obama considers role models, advisers and dear friends. One, Joseph Lowery, is an 87-year-old black liberal Methodist from the Deep South who spent his career fighting for civil rights. The other, Rick Warren, is a 54-year-old white conservative evangelical from Southern California who fights same-sex unions.

By Eli Saslow
The Washington Post

The two religious icons are, Lowery said, “usually on opposite sides of the chart.” But Obama will step onstage with them, set his hand on a Bible and feel comfortable in the vast space in between.

For the president-elect, religion has always been less about theology than the power God inspires in communities that worship Him, friends and advisers said. It has been more than three months since he sat through a Sunday church service and at least five years since he attended regularly, but during the transition, Obama has spoken to religious leaders almost daily. They said Obama calls to seek advice, but rarely is it spiritual. Instead, he asks how to mobilize faith-based communities behind his administration.

Then U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama ... 
Then U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) (R) stands next to moderator Pastor Rick Warren at the Civil Forum on the Presidency at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California in this August 16, 2008 file photo. President-elect Obama has chosen Warren, who opposes gay marriage, as a speaker at his inauguration, creating a commotion over what inclusiveness will mean for his administration.REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files (UNITED STATES)

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte
nt/article/2009/01/17/AR2009011702601
.html?hpid=topnews

Related:
What’s the Common Thread in almost All Inauguration Speeches?  Faith, hope and God….
Obama’s Genius, Inauguration Day, and Hope

Joseph Lowery, 87, is a black liberal Methodist from the Deep South.

Joseph Lowery, 87, is a black liberal Methodist from the Deep South. (By Jason Fobart)

Outrage at Busty Virgin Mary Models: Holy Mother of God!

January 16, 2009

A prominent fashion designer has sparked outrage in Chile by dressing up models like the Virgin Mary — in some cases with ample, near-naked breasts.

The Roman Catholic Church condemned Ricardo Oyarzun’s plans for a show featuring the models, and a conservative group tried unsuccessfully to block it in court.

Busty Virgin Mary Sparking Outrage in Chile! 
Geepers.  A model dressed as the Virgin Mary poses during a performance in Santiago January 13, 2009. A prominent fashion designer has sparked outrage in Chile by dressing up models like the Virgin Mary — in some cases with ample, near-naked breasts. The Roman Catholic Church condemned Ricardo Oyarzun’s plans for a show featuring the models, and a conservative group tried unsuccessfully to block it in court.(Rodrigo Nunez/Handout/Reuters)

Oyarzun said he had received telephone threats and had excrement smeared on his doorstep.

“There is no pornography here, there’s no sex, there are no virgins menstruating or feeling each other up,” Oyarzun said ahead of the catwalk show set to be held at a Santiago nightclub later on Thursday. “This is artistic expression.”

He said his designs — which include halos, look as though they come from a nativity scene and include religious icons — were inspired by the Virgin Mary but not intended to represent her.

“We look on with special pain and deplore those acts which seek to tarnish manifestations of sincere love toward the Virgin Mary, which end up striking at the dignity of womankind by presenting her as an object of consumption,” Chile’s Episcopal Conference, which includes Catholic bishops, said in a statement.

The show is more evidence that Chile, heavily influenced by the church for decades, is shaking off its reputation as one of the most socially conservative countries in Latin America.

(Reporting by Monica Vargas; Writing by Simon Gardner; Editing by Xavier Briand from Reuters)

*****************

The story from Santiago remined us of a story from Mexico on December 13, 2008:

Nude Virgin Mary cover prompts Playboy apology

The cover of the Mexican Playboy magazine. (AAP)
The cover of the Mexican Playboy magazine. (AAP)

Former NFL tackle gives up his career to study theology

January 16, 2009

Matt Lepsis was living the good life last season, making millions in the NFL and finally fitting in when he locked himself in a closet and screamed for help: Please, God, help me kick this drug habit.

The Denver Broncos left tackle, who called it quits after last season, admits now he was high on drugs for the first six games of his final season.

By Pat Graham
Associated Press

But in that closet in his house, struggling to kick a habit that intensified after knee surgery following the 2006 season, Lepsis begged for help. He believes he was heard — and rescued.

The drug habit now gone, Lepsis is taking classes at Dallas Theological Seminary, learning Greek and taking an introduction to theology course.

The offensive lineman had nearly $9 million US left on his contract. But he walked away.

“People hear this story and think, ‘He was at rock bottom and had nowhere to go and was trying to find answers to all these problems. So naturally he looked to God,”‘ said Lepsis.

“That’s not what happened. I can’t stress this enough: I was loving life.”

The drugs had transformed him from a “wallflower” into a “social butterfly,” he said. After struggling with social anxiety issues, he was suddenly more outgoing and personable.

The week before the Broncos were to play Jacksonville in September 2007, Lepsis was outside playing with his kids when his phone rang.

No one there, just music.

Not just music, though, but the Dave Matthews Band, his favourite group.

Not just any song, either, but a song he knew well — #41 — and Matthews was singing the lyrics, “The difficulty is coming.”

A few days later, Lepsis put on his head phones at his locker — same song, same lyrics. His initial reaction was he was going to perish in a plane crash.

A friend reassured him.

“She said, ‘There’s nothing for you to worry about. God’s in control,”‘ Lepsis recounted.

“If it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go. For the first time in my life, I was like, ‘What?’ I had never entertained that thought.”

On a plane the following week, Lepsis asked kicker Jason Elam if he could sit next to him. Elam, a devout Christian who now plays for Atlanta, was willing to listen.

“I really didn’t have any pearls of wisdom, just tried to steer him the right way,” Elam recalls.

Lepsis went to chapel before the next game. The sermon topic was fear.

“I was blown away,” he says. “I’m hanging on every word.”

He sought out Elam again and told him the entire story about his drug addiction.

“Can I become a Christian and a believer and still continue to do this?” he asked Elam.

“Jason said, ‘No, you can’t.”’

So into the closet Lepsis went. He asked for help, didn’t get high that day and had a horrible practice.

“I went into work sober for the first time in a long time and I had a miserable day . . . I’m angry for believing that God was going to supernaturally help me.”

His wife, Shana, convinced him to try again. The next day at practice he was sharing his story with teammates when it hit him: Here he was, someone who used drugs as a crutch to make himself more sociable, opening up to teammates.

“I get what I got through the drugs, but I get it through sharing my testimony for what God has done in my life,” Lepsis says.

In 2007, Lepsis was showering in a hotel room, thinking about religion and how his eyes had been opened. The bathroom mirror steamed up, but when the air began to clear, he saw the word “Jesus” there.

Probably just a born-again Christian who stayed in the room before him, perhaps a maid.

Whatever the case, it was another sign.

“This was a big decision. I didn’t make it lightly,” Lepsis says.

“What are the odds that two weeks after this decision, this is written on the mirror? . . . This was confirmation.”

Gaza: Choosing God’s Power or Military Power

December 30, 2008

On the Shabbat of Hanukkah (December 27), the starkest choice of values and visions of the future was laid before the Jewish people throughout the world.

On the one hand, Jews throughout the world were reading in synagogue the Prophetic vision of Zechariah, no stranger to exile and humiliation, writing from the midst of the Babylonian Captivity 2,500 years ago and looking forward to the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and the relighting of its Menorah — both of which had been destroyed by Babylonian militarism. This rebuilding and relighting, Zechariah proclaimed, must be achieved not by mobilizing might and power against Babylonia but by drawing on the Infinite Spirit, God’s power. A vision reinforced by the Rabbis who chose the passage to be read on the holy day that might otherwise easily fall into a celebration of the military might and power of the Maccabees.

By Arthur Waskow
The Washington Post

On the other hand — on the very same day!! — at least 225 Palestinians were killed by Israeli bombs in one more attempt to quell by might and power the use of violence (on a much smaller scale) by Hamas, in what Hamas claims to be a retaliation against the Israeli blockade and semi-starvation of the people of Gaza.

The two choices were to be found in two texts:

The First: “Not by Might, and not by Power — but by My Breathing Spirit, says YHWH Infinite.” — Zechariah 4: 6.

The Second: The New York Times, December 27, 2008:

“GAZA — Waves of Israeli air strikes destroyed Hamas security facilities in Gaza on Saturday in a crushing response to the group’s rocket fire, killing more than 225 — the highest one-day toll in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in decades.

Read the rest:
http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/arthur
_waskow/2008/12/not_by_might_or_–_bombing_
gaz.html

What Church for Obama?

December 21, 2008

A Washington Post reporter said the newspaper had called 16 churches to see if they’d heard anything about the first family’s intended place of worship. The white churches responded, eager to share their lobbying efforts to win the Obamas as parishioners. The black churches didn’t respond; they didn’t want to play, said the reporter. “They don’t trust us,” she said, explaining that after the Rev. Jeremiah Wright experience, black church leaders think the media are waiting to descend on them looking for inflammatory sound bites, sifting through tapes and examining church bulletins for anything that might offend white America.

St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House

Black religious leaders did not stand up for Wright even as they understood and sympathized with the prophetic theology he was steeped in. He had jeopardized Obama’s candidacy and so he disappeared, but the internal fight, much of it generational, continues. Wright has since eased himself back into Trinity Church in Chicago, alongside his successor, Otis Moss III, a voice of the future. The rise of Obama highlighted a cadre of black professionals who, like Obama, were not shaped by the civil-rights battles of the ’60s, or steeped in family memories of slavery and Jim Crow. “We look different; we sound different,” says Eddie S. Glaude Jr., a professor of religion and African-American studies at Princeton who spoke at the Pew conference. “Historically locked out of black politics because we didn’t march, we now have Ph.D.s and J.D.s,” he said, describing this group, of which he is one, as “post-soul babies.” Along with Obama, they are finding their political voices, and the traditional brokers like the Reverend Wright and the Rev. Jesse Jackson are vulnerable, caught in the generational divide that is confounding the black community.

Obama campaigned as the candidate who could bring…

By Eleanor Clift
Newsweek

Read the rest:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/176164&GT1=43002

Muslim Lawyer Brands Christmas ‘Evil’ (Is Santa A Terrorist?)

December 10, 2008

Muslim preacher Anjem Choudary has branded Christmas “evil” in a sermon posted on the internet.

The lawyer, who recently praised the Mumbai terror attacks, urged all Muslims to reject traditional Christmas celebrations, claiming that they are forbidden by Allah.

The 41-year-old shocked Christians and even those of his own faith by branding yuletide festivities as “the pathway to hellfire”.

Choudary, who is chairman of the Society of Muslim Lawyers, ruled out all celebrations, including having a Christmas tree, decorating the house or eating turkey.

In the sermon posted on an Islamic website, he said: “In the world today many Muslims, especially those residing in western countries, are exposed to the evil celebration Christmas.

“Many take part in the festival celebrations by having Christmas turkey dinners.

“Decorating the house, purchasing Christmas trees or having Christmas turkey meals are completely prohibited by Allah.

“Many still practise this corrupt celebration as a remembrance of the birth of Jesus.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3699565/Muslim-law
yer-Anjem-Choudary-brands-Christmas-evil.html


Could be a Christian terrorist….

Rick Warren: There’s a purpose behind our problems

December 5, 2008

Rick Warren, founder and pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, is one of America’s most influential authors and religious leaders. In August, he moderated a discussion on key issues between presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain.

CNN

Rick Warren says no matter what problem you have, there's a purpose behind it.

Rick Warren says no matter what problem you have, there’s a purpose behind it.

His latest book is “The Purpose of Christmas.” He was interviewed by Kiran Chetry on “American Morning” on Friday. Here is an edited version of the exchange:

Chetry: We always say we don’t want Christmas to be commercialized. It seems that at the end of the year, we end up in the same position, worried about buying presents, worried about spending money, worried about holiday cards, and how do you get back to the real meaning?

Rick Warren: A lot of people are really hurting because of the economy and because of the fears about what’s going to happen, and really those same problems are the problems that Mary and Joseph went through. Housing, no room at the inn, travel, economic unrest, things like that.

So I wrote this book really to focus us on what is the true meaning of Christmas. It’s a book of hope, and the big idea behind it is that no matter what problem you’re going through, there’s a purpose behind it. God has a purpose, and that purpose can help you make it through even the stressful times when we decide to write a note to everybody, buy a gift for everybody, redecorate our house, have five or six meals and go to eight or nine parties.

Chetry: Exactly, because that’s usually what ends up happening, and sometimes  the spirit….

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/12/05/warren.chris
tmas/index.html