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Archives for September 2008

This page lists our postings from earlier in September

For an index to all our reports and analyses
on the 219th General Assembly

For links to all our archive pages, listed by months, click here.

So what about all this money business?

Your WebWeaver is far from being an expert in economics. (But then, have we seen anybody lately who really understands what’s going on?)

I was struck yesterday by one economist who pointed out that the strength of the U.S. dollar rests not on mountains of gold backing it up, but is quite simply “faith-based.” [James Grant, editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, and author of the forthcoming Mr. Market Miscalculates: The Bubble Years and Beyond.]

So what happens if we try to consider this truly dangerous situation from a faith perspective — if we dare to ask that frighteningly simple question, “What would Jesus do?”

I have no intention of offering my own analysis, but I’d like to point to three commentators that dare to view the situation from a faith-based and justice-oriented perspective. You may find these interesting and helpful. And I invite you to add your own comments, arguments, laments, cries of outrage, or whatever seems appropriate.

But let’s not allow this crisis to wash over our world without some reflection, some prayer, some action.


An opportunity for a “new New Deal”

Sakia Sassen, who is the Robert S. Lynd professor of sociology and member of the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University, sees this crisis as an opportunity for a “new new deal,” which would work “to the immediate benefit of tens of millions of people across the land, and of the long-term sustainability of their social and environmental livelihoods.”

She elaborates: 

What would this counter-plan involve? The most important item would be to focus on the kind of work the economy needs desperately but seems unable to perform, work that involves wide sectors of the population and of the economy. A rebuilding of the country's infrastructure is a prime example. There are vast numbers of essential tasks waiting to be done: repairing flood defenses and unsafe bridges, environmental clean-ups, developing alternative-energy sources, introducing suburban train systems, rebuilding devastated inner-cities, creating urban parks and green belts, helping low- and modest-income households to acquire foreclosed properties; and allowing recently foreclosed on households to recover their homes. There is so much more. 

These tasks alone would require the creation of huge numbers of jobs and enterprises of all sizes, in almost all economic sectors. This in turn would feed directly into GDP growth and heave a healthy effect eventually on the value of the dollar. At present, actual economic growth is more urgent than lowering the interest-rate so that households can borrow more; households need income and employment, firms need buyers of their goods and services. In this dispensation, banks would do the lending through conventional loans rather than financial firms selling high-risk structured financial instruments.

Her full essay >>


Rabbi Michael Lerner advises:

Just Say "No" to Any Immediate Bailout – Don't try band-aids to keep the Tower of Babel Standing

Rabbi Michael Lerner – the founder of Tikkun magazine and of the Network of Spiritual Progressives – compares the current world market economy to the ancient effort of human to build “a Tower of Babel that would allow people to storm heaven as a symbol of human hubris and technological power gone crazy. It was globalization for the sake of power, not for the sake of kindness or goodness, so, according to the Bible, God ensured that the whole thing would collapse.”

So, he argues, “Our contemporary capitalist system and its globalization of selfishness has evolved into a similarly grotesque distortion as people are increasingly socialized into the goals of the system: accumulate as much money and power as possible, and refuse to allow any other ethical goals into the public sphere (we are allowed to pursue them in our own ‘private lives’ but not together in social space). The human suffering that results is not only for the poor.”

He continues:

This is an extraordinary moment, a crisis like this is a precious thing and should not be wasted. If we had any ethically or spiritually visionary leadership, they would reject any immediate bailout, and instead, talk of ethical and spiritual reconstruction of the society in accord with a New Bottom Line: that every institution should be judged efficient, rational and productive not only to the extent that they maximize money and power, but also to the extent that they maximize love and caring for others, generosity and kindness, ethical and ecological sensitivity, and awe and wonder at the grandeur of the universe. 

To start that process, we should demand that any corporation receiving help from our government give a corresponding level of ownership and control of their venture to the people of this country. ... [Thus] any corporation with an income of more than $50 million a year must get a new corporate charter once every ten years, to be granted only if it can prove a satisfactory history of social responsibility as measured by an Ethical Impact Report and as decided by a jury of ordinary people whose task is to represent the interests of the common good. 

Meanwhile, the rest of us should be protected as the Tower of Babel collapses. So the hundreds of billions of dollars being thrown recklessly by our Congress into the hands of the very people and corporations that fostered the current meltdown, should instead be used to create a national bank that would provide mortgage assistance at affordable rates, buy up and restart in the hands of the people who work within them any at-risk corporations providing socially useful functions ..., recreate ... pension funds for families with incomes under $300,000/yr., create a single-payer universal health care system ..., and provide strong incentives for alternative energy-oriented investment and a minimum wage that rises with inflation to ensure adequate compensation for working people.

Lerner’s full essay (which is shorter than most of his) >>


Arianna Huffington offers typically sharp advice to Barack Obama:

Bailout Bill: Obama Needs to Lead, Not Be One of the Bailout Bipartisan Musketeers

Excerpts from her brief article:

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: bipartisanship in service of bad legislation is not a good thing.

And, make no mistake, this bailout bill – at least if the details that are trickling out are accurate – is going to be very bad legislation indeed. And by that I mean very bad for the American people, whose interests are by no means identical to Wall Street's. ...

Last night, he announced that he'd urged Democratic leaders in Congress not to pursue efforts to include an economic stimulus package in the bailout, or to push for a provision giving bankruptcy judges the power to rework mortgage rates because it might derail a deal.

That's the kind of thinking that prompted White House press secretary Dana Perino to applaud the candidates for trying to take the politics out of the equation.

But, as David Sirota, asks: "When did a crisis suddenly mean that giving away taxpayer cash is laudably apolitical, but spending taxpayer money on taxpayers is inappropriately 'political?'"  ...

So will it be Obama, as the standard bearer of the Democratic Party, making a deal that, in the end, adopts the overriding trickle down essence of the original Paulson plan: give Wall Street what it wants, cross our fingers, and hope that the crisis is averted?

Instead of siding with Bush and Paulson on far too many deal points, Obama should draw a line in the sand and refuse to cross it.

Voters are not looking for smiling post-partisan photo ops. They are looking for a leader willing to fight for a bailout plan that more directly protects the interests of the American people.

Huffington's full essay >>

What are your thoughts, concerns, hopes??
Please just send a note,
and we'll do some thinking together here.

Try this out for a solution. Wouldn't it be wonderful?!?

Already comes this delightful idea, sent by Witherspooner Bill Coop.

The Birk Economic Recovery Plan

I'm against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG.

Instead, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a We Deserve It Dividend.

To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens 18+.

Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child.

So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..

So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $850 billon that equals $425,000.00.

My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It Dividend.

The rest of the plan >>

Ooooops!  See correction here >>

Readers comment on these discussions of the economic crisis and the "bailout"

One note corrects the faulty math (which I tried to check, but all those zeroes led me astray) underlying the Birk Economic Recovery Plan.

Is the bailout needed? Many economists say "No"

Kevin G. Hall, of McClatchy Newspapers, writes:

A funny thing happened in the drafting of the largest-ever US government intervention in the financial system. Lawmakers of all stripes mostly fell in line, but many of the nation's brightest economic minds are warning that the Wall Street bailout's a dangerous rush job. President Bush and his Treasury secretary, former Goldman Sachs chief executive Henry Paulson, have warned of imminent economic collapse and another Great Depression if their rescue plan isn't passed immediately.

More >>


Presbyterians called to join in monthly fasting in response to global food crisis

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — at the behest of the denomination’s 218th General Assembly — is inviting its congregations to engage in a monthly, churchwide fast to discern faithful responses to the global food crisis.

The call to action comes as approximately 854 million people worldwide are going hungry and soaring food prices are putting another 100 million people at risk of starvation while others live with plenty to spare.

The fasts will typically take place on the first weekend of every month, beginning on Friday evening and ending with Communion or a communal meal on Sunday. Those who are physically unable to fast may eat simple meals.    The full story >>

Peacemakers offer observations on police actions during the Republican National Convention

There has been no shortage of opinions on the police actions during the recent Republican Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Especially for those of us living in the Twin Cities, the media have provided a wide range of opinions, from comparisons with Nazi Germany to justifications in the name of public order.

One group with a unique perspective was the Minnesota Peace Team, whose volunteers, numbering about a hundred, underwent training and then attempted during the week to put themselves between demonstrators and police, and sometimes counter-demonstrators as well.

A local group, Friends for a NonViolent World, was one of the main organizers and trainers for the Peace Team. And now that the dust has settled about, Matthew Hunter, Executive Director of FNVW, has posted his report on the whole experience. I think it’s worth a good look.

His report begins:

We Have a Great Opportunity Before Us!

Dear Peacemakers,

As you know, our town of St. Paul, Minnesota just spent five days squirming under the international spotlight brought by the Republican National Convention. A city known best for Garrison Keillor and the Minnesota State Fair is now known, at least for a little while, for pepper spray and mind-blowing police force. Nagging questions kept bubbling up for me during convention week:

    * What does it say about our current political process when party conventions are held in domestic versions of green zones?

    * Should residents of St. Paul and the United States be concerned about Hummers full of troops patrolling the streets surrounding the Xcel Energy Center? About snipers placed on downtown roofs? About National Guard troops firing chemical weapons at unarmed U.S. citizens?

    * Is democracy and free speech served when police practice pre-emptive intimidation (i.e., squadrons of helicopter gun ships doing maneuvers above individuals assembling for the nonviolent Veterans for Peace march, police officers showing up to peaceful gatherings already wearing their riot gear, U.S. Coast Guard gun boats patrolling the Mississippi River, preemptive raids on houses inhabited by journalists and videographers)?

    * What should people committed to nonviolence say about the diversity of tactics used in civil disobedience, including sit-ins, obstruction of traffic, and breaking of windows?

    * How best can nonviolent activists hold the small number of violent protesters accountable while not deflecting our intense scrutiny on weapon-laden, well-staffed security forces? Police in Riot Gear Line Much of the Peace March Route

    * How can we move local and federal police away from the worst-case scenario mindset that seeks to justify the showing and use of extreme force, regardless of threat level?

The rest of his report >>

Freedom under fire

Gun violence jeopardizes American way of life in costly ways, speaker says at Stony Point conference

Presbyterian News Service has reported on a conference held Sept. 15-17, 2008, at the Stony Point Center in upstate New York, on the subject of “Gun Violence and Gospel Values.”

The report begins:

Gun violence threatens the nature of society, costing us in ways that is difficult to quantify but affects us all deeply, a leading expert told about 40 Presbyterians gathered here for a conference on the topic Sept. 15-17.

“There are real dollar costs in hardening our society [against gun violence], in making airports secure, in making schools secure,” said Dr. Garen J. Wintemute, a professor of emergency medicine and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine in Sacramento, CA.

“But the larger costs I think are intangible, they’re indirect. Gun violence threatens the nature of our society as a free and open society,” Wintemute continued. “It scares us. We live our lives to a greater or lesser extent with fear because of gun violence.”

The full report >>

More on concerns for gun violence and gun control >>

More on Charles Darwin and the teaching of the Church

We've received a couple interesting comments on John Tindal's questions about how the church responds to the theory of evolution and all its implications, as the 200th anniversary of his birth will be commemorated next February.   Read the comments >>

Two ministers defend “biblical orthodoxy” against PC(USA) actions

Two minister members of Beaver-Butler Presbytery have drafted an open theological declaration to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) with the intention of confronting the denomination for its "deviation from orthodox Christian faith."

The Rev. Albert Rhodes Stuart of Highland Presbyterian Church in Slippery Rock, Pa., and Patrick McElroy of Park United Presbyterian Church in Zelienople, Pa., are taking action to discern what they believe to be "multiple errors" coming from the denomination's 218th General Assembly, a biennial meeting that took place in June.

"These errors must be labeled and opposed lest we be guilty of failing to raise alarm or of leading 'the least of His little ones astray,'" the declaration reads. "We cry out with fervent voices that the flock is under attack and we, individually and collectively, must return to the shepherd immediately."     The rest of the story >>

A Presbyterian friend asks us to think about ...

Charles Darwin and the Teaching of the Church

Charles Darwin was born on 12 February 1809. Next year we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth. The Church of England is taking steps to recognize his birth and his contributions to the advancement of science. Click here for one report from The Guardian.

The theory of evolution impacts on some basic Christian beliefs such as "original sin" and Paul's teaching regarding "original sin."   

It raises questions: If evolution is true, when did men and women acquire immortal souls? If evolution is true, does this not mean that other species also have souls? Indeed, in Mark 16:15, didn't Jesus say: "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation."  

What is the Presbyterian Church doing to harmonize its theology with modern science? What are we teaching our children? Do we leave it up to the children to harmonize what they learn in church with what they learn in the secular world? Is it not time for the church to rethink its theology – bringing it into the 21 century? If not now, when?   

John Tindal  
Sumter, South Carolina

Mr. Tindal added another note from the Anglican Church, pointing to this report:

Church of England issues 'apology' to Darwin

A spokesman for the Church of England has said the church misunderstood Charles Darwin's work nearly 150 years ago and that "by getting our first reaction wrong," has continued an on-going misunderstanding.

At the end of an essay titled "Good religion needs good science," the Rev. Dr. Malcolm Brown, the Church of England director of mission and public affairs, addressed Darwin directly, saying that nearly 200 years after his birth "the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still."   The rest of the story >> 

And a little note from your WebWeaver:

I'm no expert on this huge subject, but here are a few quick thoughts:

We have mentioned before (and borrowed from!) John Shuck's very lively blog, which he calls "Shuck and Jive." He deals with lots of different subjects, but the evolution-vs.-creationism question is one of them. For one sample, click here >>

Also, the Presbyterian Church has a study group on "science, technology and the Christian faith." Click here for an introduction to the group. You’ll find more on their own website >>

So, friends, here’s an invitation to join one thoughtful and concerned Presbyterian in dealing with an issue which has been with us for some years, and has been revived lately with Gov. Sarah Palin’s nomination for Vice President.

What thoughts (or concerns or questions) do you have on the apparent tension between scientific and traditional Christian views of creation and evolution?

Please send a note,
to be shared here!

For more on evolution and creationism and all that >>

America’s values are changing — and will change our politics

Writing on the Op Ed page of the New York Times, Mark Mellman, who is a Democratic pollster, says:

Voters not only express a desire for change in the coming election, they themselves have changed, and their shifting values are likely to alter the course of future policy debates.

For more than 25 years, three core questions have animated our political discourse:

• What should be the role of government?

• Should moral absolutism or moral relativism guide our actions?

• Should our foreign policy primarily pursue unilateral interest through military power or a multilateral approach grounded in diplomacy?

Almost every major policy controversy in the past quarter-century involved at least one of these fundamental values; more often than not, conservatives prevailed by convincing Americans that their positions were in sync with voters’ ideals.

But it could be different in 2009 and beyond. Public commitments have shifted, most profoundly on the role of government, but also on morality and unilateralism — transforming the trajectory future policy disputes will follow.      The rest of his essay >>

More on U.S. politics >>

Theology of Palin’s church comes under scrutiny

Presbyterian News Service has posted a story from Religion News Service, dated Sept. 16, 2008, which begins:

A church that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her family called home for more than 20 years has links to a controversial Pentecostal ideology that emphasizes prophesy, miraculous healing and “spiritual warfare” with demons.

Several Web sites and blogs — including Talk2Action, the Huffington Post and The Revealer — have been busily discussing whether Palin has been influenced by this theology, known alternately as Third Wave, the New Apostolic Reformation, Latter Rain and Kingdom Now.

You might take a look at one example from each of the web sites listed by RNS


Huffington Post offers Bruce Wilson on “Sarah Palin's Churches and The Third Wave: New Video Documentary”

One short note from The Revealer

While some connections may be dubious at best, Palin nonetheless sought the advice of at least one of her pastors on the eve of becoming governor, and that has raised questions about how Third Wave ideology might influence her thinking if she were vice president.

“What are the political implications if you say problems are demonic and we are going to address them through spiritual warfare?” asked Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret of Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, an examination of Third Wave theology.

The rest of the story >>

More on the current election contest >>



An important message from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture:

Please contact your Senators tomorrow morning, Tuesday, September 16, 2008!

The Senate is currently debating the FY 2009 Defense Authorization bill, and one of the pending amendments, Amendment Number 5369, would provide the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with access to all detainees.  The ICRC functions as an independent observer whose function is to ensure that prisoners are not denied their basic human rights.  Allowing the ICRC access would help to end the use of torture and other abusive practices.

Please call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to speak with each of your Senators' offices.  Tell them that you would like the Senate to vote on Amendment Number 5369 to the FY 2009 Defense Authorization bill, and that you hope that they will support providing the International Committee of the Red Cross with access to all U.S.-held detainees.

Thank you for your good work in the fight to end torture.


Rev. Richard Killmer
Executive Director, NRCAT

Bill Moyers Journal looks at hate on the airwaves

One focus is on Knoxville, Tennessee, where the recent shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church has left the pastor asking what role hateful speech from popular right-wing media personalities may have played in the tragedy.  (See our earlier reports.)

The PBS announcement: "What happens when America's airwaves fill with hate? ... a tough look at the hostile industry of 'Shock Jock' media with a hard-hitting examination of its effects on our nation's political discourse."

Tonight, Friday, September 12, at 9:00 PM (EDT) on PBS (check local listings here).

It's not pleasant reading, but click here to read a full transcript of the show >>

Oklahoma court rules that Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery is legal owner of Tulsa church’s property

2,600-member Kirk of the Hills sued in 2006 to keep property when it left

Presbyterian News Service reports:

An Oklahoma district court in Tulsa has ruled that the Presbytery of Eastern Oklahoma of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is the legal owner of the property of breakaway Kirk of the Hills, a 2,600-member congregation that bolted to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in August 2006.

In his Sept. 9 ruling, Judge Jefferson Sellers denied Kirk of the Hills petition for a summary judgment and ordered the church to “convey its real and personal property” to the presbytery, as per the decision of the presbytery’s administrative commission, which concluded in March 2007 that Kirk of the Hills was “in schism.”

Kirk of the Hills attorney John O'Connor told the Tulsa World that the decision will be appealed.

The full story >>

For the full text of the District Court decision >>

Witness for Peace urges:

Support Victims of Hurricanes Ike and Gustav

Lift restrictions on Cuba, help victims in Cuba and sign the petition to Bush

This pioneering peace group, in a note to its supporters, says:

As you know, devastating Hurricanes Ike and Gustav ripped through Cuba leaving a path of destruction. And now a 47 year old, worn-out, futile, draconian U.S. policy toward Cuba stands in our way of reaching out to our Cuban sisters and brothers at this time of need. Witness for Peace joins the Latin America Working Group in advocating for an end to restrictions that prevent us from coming to the aid of Cubans during this time. In the LAWG appeal you will find instructions on how to pressure policy makers to lift restrictions for aid, how to help victims in Cuba, and how to sign a petition to President Bush.

Please act today.

The Witness For Peace Team

Go to the Latin America Working Group website for more information, and ways to communicate to policy makers.

Whole Foods and CIW reach agreement

Stated Clerk praises pact to improve wages and working conditions for farmworkers

Presbyterian News Service reports that Whole Foods Market has struck an agreement with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)-backed Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to help raise wages and improve working conditions for Florida’s tomato pickers.

The Texas-based organic and natural foods grocer is the latest to join the coalition’s Campaign for Fair Food, agreeing to pay a penny more per pound for tomatoes it purchases from Florida growers. The extra money would be passed along to the harvesters.

The CIW, a Florida-based farmworkers group, receives strong support from the PC(USA) and other faith groups.

The Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the PC(USA) General Assembly, issued a statement commending Whole Foods and the coalition on the agreement, which was signed this week.

The full story and photo >>

We care about social justice, right?

Well, try the Social Justice Quiz 2008

Bill Quigley, a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans, offers a little quiz to see how much we see the issue through the eyes of those who have much less that most of us.

He introduces the quiz:

We in the US who say we believe in social justice must challenge ourselves to look at the world through the eyes of those who have much less than us. Why? Social justice, as defined by John Rawls, respects basic individual liberty and economic improvement. But social justice also insists that liberty, opportunity, income, wealth and the other social bases of self-respect are to be distributed equally unless an unequal distribution is to everyone's advantage and any inequalities are arranged so they are open to all.

Therefore, we must educate ourselves and others about how liberty, opportunity, income and wealth are actually distributed in our country and in our world.

The first two questions:

    1. How many deaths are there worldwide each year due to acts of terrorism?

    Answer: The US State Department reported there were more than 22,000 deaths from terrorism last year. Over half of those killed or injured were Muslims. Source: Voice of America, May 2, 2008. "Terrorism Deaths Rose in 2007."

    2. How many deaths are there worldwide each day due to poverty and malnutrition?

    A: About 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations. - Hunger and World Poverty. Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes - one child every five seconds. Bread for the World. Hunger Facts: International.

Try the quiz for yourself, and see what you might learn.

From the Presbyterian Washington Office:

for September 8, 2008

Congress returns from recess this week with a short timetable and a long list of things to do before adjourning again on September 26.

This week’s message deals with the following topics

Help Iraqi Refugees: Support Bipartisan Effort to Address Their Needs

Congress Should Enact Mental Health Parity Before Adjourning

Call in for National Kickoff Call: Fight Poverty with Faith Week of Action, September 9 – 16, 2008.

Isaiah 1:16-17 – Make Yourselves Clean

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your doings
from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
seek justice,
rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
plead for the widow.

Click here for excerpts on each of these points, on this website.

To download the full WITNESS IN WASHINGTON WEEKLY issue for September 8, 2008, Click here.


The National Religious Campaign Against Torture has sent a new communication to its supporters, suggesting very specific things we can do over the next few months to end U.S. sponsored torture. The main focus of these actions is to urge members of Congress to support NRCAT’s "Declaration of Principles for a Presidential Executive Order on Prisoner Treatment, Torture and Cruelty," which calls for an Executive Order by the President of the United States to put an unequivocal end to all US sponsored torture, secret prisons and rendition for torture.

The full letter >> 

From More Light Presbyterians ...

Answering God's Call to Serve:
218th GA Ordination Overture 08-B

The National Board of Directors of More Light Presbyterians unanimously and joyfully affirmed its support of the 218th General Assembly's Ordination Overture 08-B and the following statement on September 6, 2008 during its recent board meeting in Santa Fe, NM. 

Ordination Overture 08-B is being considered by the presbyteries for ratification over the next nine months. A simple majority vote is needed for ratification.   The full statement >>

Has McCain been studying Napoleon on scamming working people?

Berry Craig, long-time Witherspoon member and frequent contributor to this website, has just sent an interesting reflection on John McCain’s use of religion to oppose labor rights – and compares him to Napoleon in the process.   His essay >>

More comments on the “mission study” of the Washington Office

We have received more comments on Gene TeSelle's discussion of the planned review of the work of the Presbyterian Washington Office.

More thoughts on the “mission study” of the Washington Office

Yesterday we posted a report from the Presbyterian News Service on the steps being taken for a new review of the work of the Presbyterian Church’s Washington Office. Later in the day we added an essay by Witherspoon’s Issues Analyst, Gene TeSelle, offering some clarification of the mission and work of that office, and of the objections to its work from some people on the conservation side of the PC(USA).

Now we are adding a bit more to TeSelle’s essay, as he has thought further on the subject.

And we’re happy to add also two helpful comments which came within hours after our posting yesterday, both of which support and add to his expressions of concern about the study.

Reflections on the planned "mission study" of the Washington Office

We posted just a couple hours ago the announcement of a planned "wide ranging mission study designed to enable the larger church to review the scope and function of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office."

We are now happy to add some comments from Witherspoon Issues Analyst Gene TeSelle, regarding some of the concerns that seem to be involved in the review, and some of the important background and purposes of the Washington Office and how it works.

Two comments to brighten the current campaign

Two friends have shared with us this observation. One reports seeing it as a bumper sticker, the other as a comment from a community organizer:

Jesus was a community organizer.
Pontius Pilate was a Governor.

And for a painfully funny little video in the style of the “jib-jabbing” of a couple years ago, take a look at “It’s time for some campaignin’ ”

Indian Christians call for Sept. 7 as Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace and Goodwill in response to violence against Christians in state of Orissa

from Presbyterian Peacemaking Program

The National United Christian Forum in India has called for Christians in India and around the world to observe September 7 as a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace and Goodwill in response to the violence directed against Christians in the state of Orissa.

Read more on the Peacemaking Program website  or on their Swords into Plowshares blog

For more information from the National Council of Churches in India >>

A special order of prayer, from the National Council of Churches in India >>    Scroll down the page through the story to find the prayers.

More background on the violence, from NCCI >>

One report from The Times of India >>

A comment by John Shuck, on his blog Shuck and Jive: "The one thing all religions seem to agree upon is the duty to kill for your god."

Washington Office mission study announced

Eileen Lindner to serve as study consultant

Presbyterian News Service reports that "a wide ranging mission study designed to enable the larger church to review the scope and function of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office" has been announced by the Rev. Tom Taylor, General Assembly Council deputy executive director for mission.

The Witherspoon Society is providing some commentary on this action, which we will post shortly.

For an index to all our reports and analyses
on the 219th General Assembly

For links to all our archive pages, listed by months, click here.


GA actions ratified (or not) by  the presbyteries   

A number of the most important actions of the 219th General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book of Order.

We're providing resources to help inform the reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.

Our three areas of primary interest are:

bullet Amendment 10-A, which would remove the current ban on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.

bullet Amendment 10-2, which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions.

bullet Amendment 10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government that was approved by the Assembly.

If you like what you find here,
we hope you'll help us keep Voices for Justice going ... and growing!

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Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

Mitch Trigger, PVJ's Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!

You can post your own news and views, or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.


Voices of Sophia blog

Heather Reichgott, who has created this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:

After fifteen years of scholarship and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy, students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and thoughtful community.


John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Flushing, NY.


John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive

A Presbyterian minister, currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.


Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!


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