Knowledge casts out fear - DADT

The Rev. Tobias Stanislas Haller has posted a wonderful piece on his blog, In a Godward Direction, on "Don't ask don't tell." Check it out:

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How churches can navigate a tough economy


10 Steps for Churches to Navigate Tough Economy
By Steve McSwain in EthicsDaily.com

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Kenya PM: gays should be rounded up and arrested

Box Turtle Bulletin reports

Prime Minister Raila Odinga, speaking at a political rally on Sunday, said that all gays in Kenya should be rounded up and charged with violating the nation’s anti-sodomy laws. According to the Kenyan independent newspaper Daily Nation:

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It was 55 years ago today - Rosa Parks sat

Yesterday, Google honored St. Andrew's Day with a St. Andrew's doodle, and today, since it is 55 years since Rosa Parks would not leave her seat on the bus, Google honors her with an anniversary doodle. Check it out:

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We lie about going to church (and God knows!)

USA Today has an article today, reporting that people in the US fib the most in the world about their church attendance when asked in surveys. How often do you go to church? How often do you say you go? Do you think it matters?

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Ratzinger failed to deal with pedophile priest says German media

#Vatileaks ?

A battle of documents has emerged surrounding the Archbishop Ratzinger's handling of the case of a pedophile priest in Munich in the 1980s. After the German media received documents of specifics of the case the Vatican this week released documents from the period that painted Ratzinger in a better light.

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Virginia property case: more filings

The Diocese of Virginia has posted more filings by the parties:

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Church of Nigeria fears competition

It is axiomatic that when a dominant firm gives a reason for why competition in its market isn't good for society one should be skeptical. It's in its interest to erect barriers to entry. That's why I was amused to read this:

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Church of Canada HQ restructured

The Anglican Church of Canada head offices have undergone what the church's newspaper calls an "extreme makeover" due to declining revenues from contributions by dioceses.

Restructuring at the Anglican Church of Canada head offices in Toronto has resulted in the closure of the Partnerships department as of November 1.

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Forum: See theological implications of new life form?

Updated

NASA has announced that it has discovered a completely alien life form, and it didn't have to leave earth to find it:

At its conference today, NASA scientist Felisa Wolfe-Simon will announce that NASA has found a bacteria whose DNA is completely alien to what we know today. Instead of using phosphorus, the bacteria uses arsenic.

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Generating enthusiasm for Hanukkah

There's a theme running through news/op-ed coverage of Hanukkah. Can it be made more than it has been? How much is tongue in cheek I'm not sure.

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Is the market for Amish romance novels saturated?

Another trend to watch: Bonnet rippers

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Faith, science and the healing of our world

Today, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will spend time in Chicago focusing on the faith, medical science and the healing of our world.

The Chicago Tribune reports on two events taking place today: a lecture at Rush University Medical Center where she will describe the healing ministries of the Episcopal Church around the globe, and her participation in the ordination of Carol Reese, a trauma chaplain at Stroger Hospital, to the priesthood.

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B16 says the best celibate is a straight celibate

Recently, the news was filled with the Pope's apparent change of mind regarding the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. But few reported that the Pope said in the same book of interviews that he believes that the priesthood should be closed to all homosexuals.

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Of ants and arks

Conservative activists and politicians are outraged about an 11-second clip in a 4-minute video that appeared in a privately funded art exhibit held in the Smithsonian. But they are silent when the Governor of Kentucky extends state tax relief to a $150 million dollar theme park that says that all the science you need to know is found in Genesis.

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New group to handle ERD orders

Starting Monday, January 3, 2011, orders for Episcopal Relief and Development's posters, brochures, gifts and the coffee (don't forget the coffee!) will be handled by Episcopal Media Center of Atlanta.

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Persecution and the future of Christian leadership in Pakistan

The Rev. Jane Shaw, Pakistan's first and only female Anglican priest, has warned that persecution of Christians in the country is prompting talented potential future church leaders to settle abroad.

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The nativity 140 characters at a time

The story of the Nativity began to unfold on Twitter on Wednesday through "The Natwivity."

The Natwivity takes advantage of social media's unparalleled capacity to engage people as they go about their everyday life to re-tell the Christmas story in a fresh, personal way. People will be able to pick up the 'tweets' in their homes, in the high street using their phones and at work.

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US Christians gather to pray for Sudan

As the January date of the upcoming vote on the question of partition nears, Christians across the United States are being asked to support the people of Sudan with their prayers. This focus of prayer began in earnest this week with an event at the Episcopal Church Center in NYC which brought together representatives of a number of denominations.

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Walking to Bethlehem in Winston-Salem

Episcopalians, Moravians, Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians in Winston-Salem North Carolina have all been taking part this Fall in a cooperative journey that has both physical and spiritual dimensions. Walkers from congregations across the city have been logging miles of walking with the ultimate goal of collectively covering the 6,175 miles between Winston-Salem and Bethlehem in Israel.

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Rayford Ray elected bishop of Northern Michigan

From the Diocesan Home page:

"On the second ballot of today's electing convention, the Rev. Rayford Ray was elected as the eleventh bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan.

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Saturday Collection 12/04/2010

You can tell that it's Advent out there because this week's news coverage of the ministries of Episcopal parishes is pretty sparse. That doesn't mean things aren't happening. It means that the focus right now is on making the shift into preparing for Christmas and helping congregation members do what they need to do to prepare for the winter.

There's one story this week in particular that's taken the task of preparation for winter really seriously.

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No more Innkeeper in Bethlehem?

I still remember when, as I child, I first heard the Christmas gospel read from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible rather than King James. That year the angelic proclamation to the shepherds had a different ending than I was used to. I still notice the difference even though we use the NRSV these days.

Well, here's a similar and more substantive change to the traditional Christmas story being made:

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Jeffrey John on Colin Slee: 'always surprisingly un-scared'

Jeffrey John preached the funeral of Colin Slee yesterday. Here is the text of that sermon.

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Fred Rogers for sainthood

Fred Rogers knew his audience and his mission in life and, importantly, himself. Famous as a television educator of generations of children, he was also an ordained minister in the Presbyterian tradition.

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Roman Catholics launch missal attack; liturgical shrapnel reported

The news of what exactly would be in the new Roman Catholic missal preceded the initiation of its use. That news arrived in something that should sound quite familiar to anyone listening to political news in the U.S. lately: through a wiki, in this case Wikispooks, a web site hosting files said to be from the new missal.

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Will he invoke the Holy Spicket?

Word came yesterday that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will in fact preside at the marriage ceremony of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29, 2011.

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Bahati will be barred from American event

MP David Bahati, the mover of Uganda's kill-the-gays bill currently under consideration, continues planning to attend a meeting of The International Consortium on Governmental Financial Management slated for this week, despite having had his registration cancelled, Box Turtle Bulletin reports.

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'Tis the season to be unrepentantly homophobic

If you listen to the debate in the Anglican Communion, or for that matter in the U. S. Congress on issues involving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, you will hear repeatedly that those who oppose giving LGBT people the same rights and responsibilities as the rest of us don't actually wish LGBT folks ill, they just aren't sure that they should be allowed to (fill in the blank) for reasons that have nothing to do with personal distaste or, God forbid, bigotry--because maybe they shook a gay person's hand once, or were nice to a lesbian when they could have been mean.

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Calling clergy

The Episcopal Church's Office of Public Affairs has issued a press release on the church's Office of Transition Ministry which you can read below. I am wondering if it provides an opportunity for a Cafe community conversation about what the release refers to as the "calling process." How do priests end up where they end up? How well is this process working? How could it be improved?

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British bishop bemoans US paralysis on climate change

Updated:: Climate justice is focus of four-day Episcopal/Anglican gathering in Dominican Republic.

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Can good come from the ordinariate?

The Café has not followed the "how many Anglicans will become Catholics now that the pope will let them keep their own liturgy" story as closely as some religion blogs because we think the answer is "not very many" and that the story is overhyped.

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Jay Leno has some fun with Washington National Cathedral

CNN did an excellent little story on Joe Alonso, head stone mason at Washington National Cathedral. Have a look. Then take a look at what Jay Leno did with it.

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Giving in the USA

Huffington Post features Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Ted Turner on philanthropy and The Giving Pledge.

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Ordinariate: You can't have your cake and eat it too

Damian Thompson, The Telegraph, reports that the Bishop of London, the Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres, has told those leaving the Church of England for the Anglican Ordinariate of the Roman Catholic Church that they must leave the buildings behind. Thinking Anglicans has Bishop Chartres comments:

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ABC and nativity scenes

The Archbishop of Canterbury has criticized attempts to ban public nativity scenes and carol singing "out of sensitivity to the supposed tender consciences of other religions." It is too bad that Williams' seemingly cheap shot at those who try to preserve space for other faiths and non-believers gets more headlines than the Williams' message of how Christmas and the story of the birth of Jesus reaches out to those who are in the midst of wondering if there is any hope in this life.

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How the covenant might work if passed

Savi Hensman, writing at Ekklesia, gives some examples of how the Covenant might play out if passed by Anglican Communion provinces. For instance adherence to the 39 Articles, #17 and #18

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Cyber-bullying

Mark Reford, head of St. Luke's Episcopal School, San Antonio, TX, writes on what can be done about cyber-bullying and how churches, parents, and schools can play a role:

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Myth of American religious exceptionalism

Robert Jones writes in The Washington Post's On Faith about the myth of American religious exceptionalism:

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Bishop Gene Robinson on what the Bible says about homosexuality

Bishop Gene Robinson has begun a series of articles on the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog. In his first article, he examines a methodology for how we might read what the Bible says about homosexuality.

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Finding the spiritual core of environmentalism

Kenyan environmental activist Wangari Maathai, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 has a new book called Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World, in which she strives to refocus the environmental movement upon its core spiritual values.

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Why people don't come to church

This fine little video on YouTube, "Reasons (why people don't come to church)" is a must watch!

Why else don't people come to church? (And why they should?)

Reasons (why people don't come to church)
From YouTube

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Twitter goes both ways

Are you sure you're ready to take the Twitter leap to market your parish?

Your church doesn’t need to be on Twitter, but if you’re on there (and promoting it on your home page), you should at least be paying attention when people send you messages.

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C of E dioceses face consolidation

Changing demographics and a decline in religious adherence has led a Church of England commission to recommend consolidation of two or more dioceses. Final action requires the approval of General Synod and Parliament.

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Kill Gays bill author enters US, appears on Maddow

David Bahati, the Ugandan politician who authored the Kill Gays bill, entered the US this week on a single entry visa. He was turned away from the government finance conference he was to attend, but was interviewed by Rachel Maddow last night. More of that interview will be aired tonight.

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Assorted links

1. Baroness Denise Kingsmill, a member of the House of Lords, on how her country was dealing with gays serving openly in their military since 2000. [H/T Thinking Anglicans.]

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Is this the end of the Anglican Covenant?

The weekly Church Times had a delightful letter on the Anglican Covenant from the Rev. Jonathan Clatworthy. The letter has just come out from the subscriber wall. An extract:

We therefore have two opposing cases against the Covenant. Many Synod speakers said it was too puni­tive; the ten Primates say it is not punitive enough. The Covenant itself, lacking any theoretical basis, has been worded to allow either interpretation.

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News and views on the royal wedding

If you've not heard, there's to be a royal wedding this spring to rival that of Charles and Diana. Here's just a sampling of the news and views.

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Glastonbury Thorn tree attacked by vandals

According to legend, Christianity was brought to England by a small group of Christian refugees from Jerusalem. According to many versions the group included St. Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene and the Blessed Mother. The story goes that when the group landed on Glastonbury Tor, St. Joseph struck his staff into the ground before falling asleep for the night. When he awoke the staff had miraculously taken root and had grown into a tree.

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Please pray for Haiti

The situation in Haiti is getting (as hard as it is to imagine) even more dire. The cholera epidemic is spreading, violence is spiraling and the fear of unrestrained mob violence is growing.

From ENS:

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"Clergy Women: An Uphill Calling"

A group of sociologists associated with Hartford Seminary has published the results of study of clergy women in the Presbyterian Church that revisits a study done in 1993-1994 to see what is now different in their career and career paths.

The conclusions of the most recent study are presented in 5-fold order:

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Anglicans in wikileaks

UPDATED: with commentary

The Guardian reports Anglican and Roman Catholics showing up in wikileaks:

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Are there limits to protest speech?

Fred Phelps' disciples from Westboro Baptist have announced their intention to picket Elizabeth Edwards' funeral this weekend. (News story here). Edwards was certainly a public figure, and the courts have repeatedly ruled that public figures have little or no recourse to hateful speech since that sort of speech is protected under the First Amendment.

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Marriage in America much more common among educated

A new study done by a group associated with the University of Virginia correlates marriage with poverty levels in the U.S. What the study finds is that contrary to past studies, today the more educated a person is, the more likely that person is to be in a stable marriage with children after the wedding. The less educated, the less likely a person is to be married, the more likely they are to have children out of wedlock and the more likely they are to live in poverty.

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Saturday Collection 12/11/2010

This week's Saturday collection features a parish pet, a personal account of one parish's involvement in sheltering homeless families, and another parish's 100 year observance of yearly tradition.

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Christmas Wars spread to commuters in NYC

Commuters into New York City, as they make the journey into the city, are being invited to take a stand about the meaning of Christmas:

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Homophobic violence ramps up in Africa

Violence about and toward gays in some quarters of Africa appears to be one of the ticking bombs of that continent's present reality.

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Jeweler has Second Coming Sale

Suppose it had to happen in America at some point, and we'd be a little surprised if it hasn't already, but one jeweler has found an eschatological marketing niche.

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They go great with the Baby Cheeses

By now the Wise Men may have appeared at the back of your local parish's sanctuary, but they've got a lot of miles to cover until January 6th. What better way to feed them than with an edible setting of the Nativity? (Warning: "sacra-licious")

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What is an 'activist judge' anyway?

Boston Review's Pamela S. Karlan fairly explodes the myth of the "activist judge":

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Tune up your church's web presence before Christmas Eve

The launch in mid-October of Vital Practices has yielded plenty of usable ideas. Case in point: a brief consideration of how parish web sites can welcome visitors on Christmas Eve with greater hospitality and more usable information.

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What to look for when electing a bishop

A few months back the Rev. Frank Wade of the Diocese of Washington wrote a column on the qualifications voters should be look for and the questions they should be asking themselves when they select a bishop.

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The church, the family and the individual

Justin Lewis-Anthony fashions a thought-provoking item out of a quote from Stanley Hauerwas:

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The plight of Iraqi Christians

The New York Times:

QOSH, Iraq — A new wave of Iraqi Christians has fled to northern Iraq or abroad amid a campaign of violence against them and growing fear that the country’s security forces are unable or, more ominously, unwilling to protect them.

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Vatican bank under investigation: did clergy front for Mafia?

More scandal for Benedict XVI and the Vatican. AP has the story:

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Don't ask don't tell: why should it matter what chaplains think?

Writing for Religion Dispatches, Eugene McMullen points out that the Rt. Rev. Timothy Broglio, the Catholic Archbishop for the Armed Forces, has written a column Don't Ask Don't Tell that is not simply poorly reasoned, but confuses the issue by making it seem that chaplains--who have to take orders like any other solider--are somehow privileged decision makers in this debate.

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Social Media: Nativity 2.0

Google, Facebook, Twitter and Email tell the age old story:

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Earth gets a small Christmas present

UPDATED
Despite those who deny there is a climate change issue, countries and religious groups are moving forward again to address the impact of human life on the planet. The UN Climate Change Conference took some baby steps towards addressing the issue. Anglican/Episcopal leaders met during the UN Climate Change Conference to address climate justice. And Rep. John Shimkus(R-IL) who believes the Bible says God will take care of the climate is being replaced as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

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Presiding Bishop's Christmas Message

UPDATED: with Spanish version

Christmas 2010
A message from the presiding bishop

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. —Isaiah 9:2

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Nominations open for elections at General Convention 2012

ENS reports that Nominations for membership on seven bodies or positions to be elected at the Episcopal Church's General Convention in 2012 are now being accepted by the Joint Standing Committee on Nominations.

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Global Mission statistics

Gordon Conwell's Center for the Study of Global Christianity has published statistics on the Status of Global Mission, 2010, in Context of 20th and 21st Centuries. A fascinating document on everything from the percentage of Christians in the world population - about the same from 1900 to 2010 to ecclesiastical crime - rising exponentially. Click to enlarge below:

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Who was neighbor to the man?

Mr. Narayanan Krishnan, a Brahmin Hindu searches out the homeless and feeds, clothes, bathes, shaves and loves them.

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Nation's oldest Episcopal camp celebrates 125 years

The nations oldest Episcopal camp celebrates 125 years:


Episcopal Church's oldest camp celebrates 125 years
From Episcopal News Service

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Pennsylvania Standing Committee meets with Presiding Bishop

Eight members the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania met with the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, and with her chancellor, David Booth Beers, and the Officer for Pastoral Development, the Right Rev. F. Clayton Matthews to discuss the situation of the Bishop of Pennsylvania.

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How to avoid lay ministry burnout

As we are in the midst of the busy season of Advent, and preparation for Christmas, churches are buzzing with activity and many tasks to do. It's a good time to consider Pastor Marty Cauley's reflections on how to avoid lay ministry burnout:

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Churches respond to recession

The recession is causing churches to respond by cutting budgets, programs and staff while the need for parishioners and neighbors increases. How is your church responding to changing economic times?

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Templeton award for theological promise awarded to Sewanee professor

The Rev. Benjamin John King, assistant professor of church history at the School of Theology at Sewanee, and recent Episcopal Cafe Essayist, was awarded a John Templeton Award for Theological Promise.

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People Magazine profiles Rowan Williams

No, not a story from The Onion. People Magazine is profiling the officiant for Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding.

Five Things to Know About Will & Kate's Wedding Officiant

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Calls rise to probe Capitol Hill Muslim prayer session

When zero takes the plural (r.e., zero calls) it's grammatically correct for Pat Robertson's CBN uses the headline "Calls Rise to Probe Capitol Hill Muslim Prayer Session" when Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice issues the only call. Did we mention Jordan Sekulow, the ACLJ's Director of International Operations, is a panelist the Washington Post's On Faith blog?

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Where are the Christian Christmas cards?

Should stores be expected to stock Christmas cards with an overtly Christian theme? Some in the UK think so. But it was Adam Smith who pointed out the fallacy of this thinking. Stores are denying shoppers something they want: "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest” wrote Smith.

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Bishop of Phoenix threatens Catholic status of hospital

Religious Clause provides a fine summary:

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, Catholic Bishop of Phoenix, Arizona, is threatening to remove the Catholic affiliation of Phoenix's St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center this Friday in a dispute over the hospital's actions to save the life of a pregnant woman earlier this year.

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The true meaning of Christmas

Senators are debating whether it is right to do the people's business so close to Christmas.

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Call for Ten Commandments makeover

David Hazony, author of "The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life"

In our world, it’s been a long time since the Ten Commandments, as a text, had any real meaning. We’ve put them into a black box, glorified that box and attached all sorts of sacred connotations to it, rendered it symbolically and, having commissioned our artists to depict it visually, have convinced ourselves that we no longer need to know what’s inside.

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Blogging Bishop Baines appointed to Bradford

The Right Reverend Nicholas Baines, Area Bishop of Croydon, has been appointed the next Bishop of Bradford. Baines keeps the blog Northern Lights, where he says:

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As one Episcopal newspaper ends, another begins

The last issue of Episcopal News Monthly is about to go to press, and a new, independent paper prepares to fill the gap.

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Prosecutors seek restitution from Armstrong

The legal troubles for a former Episcopal priest who pleaded no contest to a charge of embezzling $400,000 from his parish are not over. The local DA is seeking restitution for the costs of prosecution.

Denverpost.com published an AP report:

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EDS has a good year

Wickedlocal.com reprints a news release from Episcopal Divinity School that describes the work they've done to turn back debt and increase fundraising.

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In the beginning

Let it dough!

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Be careful what you pray for

When an atheist group bought ads on Fort Worth city buses, local pastors protested. Rather than pull the ads, the local transit authority will ban all ads with any religious content.

The Star-Telegram in Fort Worth has the story:

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Fuzzy faith-family link?

The Family Research Council thinks that the American family is in the worst shape ever. They say that only 45 percent of teenagers live in the same house as their biological mother and father who were married before or around the time they were born. The rest, they say, score low on their "Index of Belonging."

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Lutheran leader seeks Communion accord with RCC

Anglican Journal reports that Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan wants to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation with a common statement on eucharistic hospitality with the Roman Catholic Church.

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A Season of Prayer for Sudan

A new animated video detailing the situation in Sudan and the critical nature of the upcoming referendum is available from the Episcopal Church Office of Communication.

A Sudanese-wide referendum is slated for January 9, 2011 which, if successful, will establish a separate Southern Sudan with full rights to self-determination.

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Data dispels myths about LGBT income levels

There's a not uncommon perception that Gay and Lesbian households have more income than straight households, and because of that they have a disproportionately greater economic might. At least that's been offered as a reason that to discount LGBT political gains and lobbying success. Turns out that LGBT earners tend to earn less money than straight workers.

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Congress votes to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

The US Congress in an unusual Saturday session voted today to repeal the armed force's 17 year old "Don't Ask, Don't tell" regulation which forbade gay and lesbian Americans military service to their country. The House passed the measure earlier this week, and the Senate took up action this morning with a successful vote the allowed debate, and then the second vote this afternoon that approved the measure 65-31.

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Only 16% of Americans believe in "pure" evolution

According to new poll data, just about 40% of Americans believe in the strictest form of Creationism, that God created the world about 10,000 years ago and that evolution had no part in the presently observed bio-diversity. A roughly equal percentage of Americans believe in a middle position which holds that the world we see today is a result of evolutionary development with God's involvement. Approximately 16% believe that human beings evolved through a process of natural selection without divine action.

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Altruism claimed to be hard wired into humans

Over there years there's been a great deal of speculation about the root cause of altruism. Is it caused by genetics? By religious teaching? By societal conditioning?

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Jesus vs. Santa ... go!

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite (former Chicago Theological Seminary president and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress) writes in The Washington Post's "On Faith" blog that there are notable distinctions between Jesus and Santa Claus.

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Census data forthcoming, but handwriting's already on the wall

The last major census data are now a decade old, but the 2010 census is now essentially done, and some big new data sets are expected on Tuesday of this week.

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More church-located businesses on the horizon?

From a recent Church of England communication:

A five-way partnership has today published guidance for churches interested in hosting community shops on their premises - The Guidelines and Best Practice for the Provision of Community Shops in Churches and Chapels.

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Noticing the flaw, we ignore the beauty

Most people go through life dreading they'll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They've already passed their test in life. They're aristocrats.
- Diane Arbus

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Keeping the 'L. Ron' in Christmas

A Vanity Fair reporter recently asked Scientology-affirming actress Juliette Lewis an affable, offhand question: Can a Scientologist celebrate Christmas? Her affable, offhand response:

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New group, Equality Matters, to press for same-sex marriage

Sheryl Gay Stolberg in The New York Times:

As gay people around the country reveled on Sunday in the historic Senate vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a liberal media watchdog group said it planned to announce on Monday that it was setting up a “communications war room for gay equality” in an effort to win the movement’s next and biggest battle:

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Kids tell the Christmas story

The children of St. Paul's in Auckland, New Zealand, tell the Christmas story.

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NPR updates story of surging anti-gay sentiment in Uganda

Barbara Bradley Hagerty interviewed David Bahati, author of Uganda's notorious anti-gay legislation, and Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, who was defrocked by Archbishop Henry Orombi, primate of the Church of Uganda, for ministering to LGBT Christians, for this report.

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God and social media

The Rev. Heather McCance of the Church of St. Andrew, Scarborough and regional dean of Scarborough Deanery in the Diocese of Toronto, has written a thoughtful essay on God and Social Media.

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Christmas carol trainwreck

Maggie Dawn directs us to this recording of O Holy Night captured by the Music Academy. Apparently, it is for real. And, as one commenter said, it is not without sincerity. Stil...

Thanks to Dave Paisley for leading us to the true source - spoof!

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A Christmas buffet

A wandering soul with an internet connection looking for spiritual sustenance in this holy season can find all matter of wonders.

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Happy Postmodern Christmas

Bryan Stone of Boston University School of Theology has reworked 'Twas the Night before Christmas into a Postmodern version:

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Tea Party leader hates Christians

Religion Dispatches reports that a key Tea Party leader hates Christians, especially Methodists.

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Is Jesus the reason for your season?

USA Today reports on a LifeWay survey about the reasons people like to celebrate at Christmas.

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Global report on gay (in)equality

The website Foreign Policy reports on the leading gay rights battlefields around the world.

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Banning Christmas

Paul Flesher, professor at the University of Wyoming, author of Religion Today writes of when Christmas was banned:

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Christmas letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Ecumenical Christmas Letter:

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Nigerian Archbishop plea: don't boycott the Primates' meeting

The Church Times reports:

An Archbishop in the Church of Nigeria has urged Primates from the Global South not to boycott the Primates’ Meeting in Dublin in January (News, 26 November).

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UN restores sexual orientation to unjustified executions resolution

Reuters reports:
The United States succeeded on Tuesday in getting the United Nations to restore a reference to killings due to sexual orientation that had been deleted from a resolution condemning unjustified executions.

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Remembering those who died homeless

In this season of Advent, many churches across the country are offering services where those who died homeless are remembered and honored.

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2 teens raise $800K for homeless

In Salt Lake City, two teen members of St. James Episcopal Church in Midvale, Utah have raised an incredible $800,000 for the homeless!

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The plight of Christians in the Muslim World

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington (DC), the Right Rev. John Bryson Chane, and Ambassador Akbar Ahmed is Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University have co-written an article posted at CNN on Christians senselessly persecuted by extremists in the Muslim world:

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A bishop searches for the wise men

The former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California reflects on, "Where are the wise men?" in Washington Post's "On Faith" section:

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Jesus and Buddha on holiday

WWJABDOH. What would Jesus and Buddha do on Holiday? A new graphic novel in Japan explores the question of what Jesus and Buddha would do if they were on holiday today:

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Jesus changes society

When Jesus appears, transformation happens:

When Jesus Comes, Everything Changes: An Advent Experience in Cairo
In The Huffington Post

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Of the lineage of David

There have been studies showing that thinking about where we ultimately headed (death boosts our self esteem because it causes us to search for happy thoughts. Now comes research finding that our performance is enhanced by thinking about whence we came -- our ancestors.

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Obama "evolving" on gay marriage

Obama answering reporters' at yesterday's news conference:

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BREAKING: Ugandan "Kill gays" pastor arrested

Pastor Martin Sempa and seven others have been charged by Ugandan authorities with conspiring to frame another pastor on sodomy charges.

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Connecting Jesus’ conception and death

Which came first? The Annunciation or Christmas? Given a nine month gestation, was March 25th chosen first as the date of the Annunciation, or was December 25th chosen first as the date of Christ's birth?

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New Jersey diocese sells church to CANA parish

The Diocese of New Jersey announces that it has sold church property to a CANA congregation. The diocese's statement, in full:

Statement about the sale of church property in Helmetta, New Jersey

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5 bulletins for 5 services

Got all your bulletins proofread and printed? Two services on Christmas Eve? One on Christmas Day? The usual number the Sunday after? I hope so. This year it all happens Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

So you're ready. Right?

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Over the river and through the woods...

...To Grandfather's house we go; The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow.
If we could get to places instantaneously, would we opt for it? To put it another way, is travel a cost or a benefit?

Related: Standard GDP accounting understates value of Swedish reindeer. There's more to reindeer than jerky.

Go, Martyrs, Go!

NPR has news of one order on nuns in the U.S. who are bucking the trend and growing. They're not Episcopalians, but that doesn't diminish the sweetness of the story. Follow this link to the transcript and the audio (the latter is recommended).

Not so sweet is the unraveling of a Church of England convent caused by Pope Benedict's offer of an Anglican Ordinariate.

The Nativity through 21st century eyes

Becky Garrison illustrates a reading of the nativity story from the Gospel of Luke with images from her travels in the USA, the UK, and Israel

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Question of the week

In case you are wondering where Sunday Social Hour has been lately, we haven't been getting as many substantive comments here since moving to the dlvr.it interface for sharing posts. So now we're trying something different: a question of the week.

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Merry Christmas from The Lead

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Andrew, John, Ann, Jim, Helen, Peter, Nick, Torey



Thanks to Larry Graham

Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas Sermon

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas Sermon from the Anglican Communion News Service , economic justice, Christian marriage, and solidarity with those who are persecuted for their faith entwine in a message of hope:

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Suspected terror violence against Christians mars Christmas

The toll from violent explosions in Nigeria and the Philippines is still being counted today. Coordinated attacks on churches and in other areas were Christians were gathering in Nigeria killed at least 38 people in total so far with many more critically wounded. In the Philippines a bomb exploded at a chapel during Christmas Mass and wounded a priest and 10 members of the congregation.

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Saying you were at church, fingers crossed behind your back

Shankar Vendantam has been reviewing the literature on how church attendance numbers are derived, and he has some relevant commentary.

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Fun with a chorus

The people of Quinhagak, Alaska, have fun with the Hallelujah chorus.

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A loathing of God-in-a-bottle

Tony Jordan is the writer who penned a four-part drama for BBC based on the Nativity - cleverly enough titled The Nativity. (Hey, don't mess around with the classics, right?) He told The Telegraph that the writing process was something of a conversion for him.

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Fresh violence reported in Nigeria

A pattern of violence initiated through Christmas Eve bomb attacks that killed 32 and injured more than 70 continues to resound in Jos, capital city of Nigeria's Plateau State.

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Sunday Social Hour

New for Sunday Social Hour: We'll post a question on Facebook (and Twitter, once we get the hang of this) to get your feedback, and then on Sunday we'll round up the answers (as best we can when there are a lot).

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A few Bible-based info-graphics

Courtesy KOREuk's photostream on Flickr:

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Help Matt's Trees

Grandmere Mimi has called our attention to a deeply moving story, and challenged us to do something about it.

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RPPI's Top Ten for 2010

The year's Top Ten findings from the Public Religion Research Institute:

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The pastor as detective

Bruce Epperly, in this week's missive from the Alban Institute says:

New pastors are most successful in the transition from seminary to their first congregation when they expect and accept imperfection as an essential ingredient in the art of ministry.

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Here is Where We Meet

Andrew Sullivan points us to this wonderful excerpt from a column by Barbara J. King at Bookslut:

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Bibles: Ancient and Modern

UPDATED:
Giles Fraser, in The Guardian, writes about the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible in A Fetish for the Bible. He pleads for protection from all those who would make an idol of this book:

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2010: top 10 stories
from Episcopal Café

The end of the year is the time to list top 10 news stories, so your Lead team has come to a consensus on what we see as our top 10. We also have the stats for what our readers read and which stories gathered the most comments. What do you think?

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CoE Bishops attack equality legislation, again

Thinking Anglicans reports that former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey and Bishop Michel Scott-Joynt are in the news attacking UK equality legislation, The Human Rights Act.

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Politicians fuel Nigeria bombings

BBC News reports that religious leaders, both Christian and Muslim, are blaming politicians for the unrest and violence in the Jos area of Nigeria:

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Harry Potter: Christian?

CNN Belief Blog features a new book, God and Harry Potter at Yale: Teaching Faith and Fantasy Fiction in an Ivy League Classroom, on the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.

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"Suddenly, we felt young,”

"Suddenly, we felt young"...91 year-old groom marries 87 year-old bride at Christ Church Episcopal in Lake Oswego, Oregon

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Dan Martin receives Standing Committees' consents

The Rev. Dan Martins, Bishop-Elect in the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield has received the necessary consents from Standing Committees across The Episcopal Church. No word yet on consents from Diocesan Bishops.

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Patrick Cheng reviews the year

Professor Patrick Cheng of Episcopal Divinity School adds his opinion on the year in review at the Huffington Post.

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Flipping the religious news stories of the year

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, the former president of Chicago Theological Seminary (1998-2008), reflects on the religion news stories of the year in The Washington Post. Currently, Thistlethwaite is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

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The Facebook double life

Might it be a good thing if clergy (or other quasi-public figures) keep two Facebook identities? What might they (we!?) have to hide? Or, is it perhaps just about boundary-setting? What do you think? Should we have one Facebook account for the public side of our life and another for the private?

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Gallup: Religion losing influence

New Gallup survey finds near-record numbers of people see religion losing influence in America:

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Dawkins likes the KJV

Richard Dawkins likes the poetry of the King James Bible.

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Does Religion cause healthy behavior?

Religiosity and healthy behavior are correlated according to a recent Gallup poll.

Economix explains:

The nation’s most pious tend to lead healthier lives, according to new findings from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

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Assorted links

IHOP v. IHOP, Polygamy and drinking, Tea Party astro-turfed, New Humanist takes on L. Ron Hubbard, biggest return to education starts at birth.

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Musing about the KJV

James Naughtie writes,

The idea of a new translation was meant to be an instrument for sorting out the wild politics of the Church of England as much as it was a book that could be read aloud in every church, understood and even enjoyed. It turned out to be a stroke of kingly brilliance.

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At the intersection of Catholic politics and American healthcare

Writing in the Guardian, Becky Garrison says:

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Give back your tax cut

Are you unhappy with the tax cut deal that Obama struck with Republicans? Two Yale economists have made it easy to put your feelings into action.

In the recent tax deal, modest support for middle class Americans was combined with massive tax cuts for the rich. This is unfair: the rich don’t need the help. It is also inefficient: the rich will save rather than spend their tax cuts, so that cutting their taxes yields little stimulus per dollar of deficit. Can citizens adjust their conduct to counteract such wrong policy?

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Managing the lists on December 31st

Everybody goes list-crazy on December 31st. Seeing as how it's the end of a year whose digits terminate in "10," we seem to have gone list-crazy for the decade as well. No one with a web site is immune, as evidenced by the fact that even the Café editorial staff couldn't help putting in its $0.02 as to what mattered the most to the Anglican Communion in 2010.

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Happy New Year!

Thanks for visiting with us in 2010. We had more than 275,000 visitors and more than 985,000 visits according to Google Analytics. About a quarter of our visitors dropped in for the first time, and about a quarter of our visits came from loyal friends who had visited more than 200 times. We enjoyed your company, and we hope you will keep coming back.

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