Thursday, October 30, 2008

+Ackerman and Forward in Faith

More on Bishop Ackerman's retirement from Forward in Faith, one of the reasserter/traditionalist groups in the Anglican Communion:
Bishop Keith Ackerman will remain as President of Forward in Faith North America
Oct 30, 2008

Further to the announcement yesterday of his retirement as Bishop of Quincy, The Right Reverend Keith Ackerman SSC wishes to make it clear that he will be remaining in office as President of Forward in Faith North America. Indeed, it is his intention during his retirement to devote himself more fully than has been possible hitherto to this ministry.

Stephen Parkinson
Forward in Faith International

Bishop Ackerman Retires

Just caught this shocking news a few minutes ago on Stand Firm:
The Right Reverend Keith L. Ackerman, VIIIth Bishop of Quincy, has announced to the Standing Committee his retirement as Diocesan Bishop effective November 1st, 2008. Bishop Ackerman has reached this decision after much thought and prayer. The Bishop and his wife Jo conferred with his physicians, many trusted friends, and the Standing Committee before making this decision.

While Bishop Ackerman is retiring from his administrative duties as executive officer of the Diocese, he plans to remain in the area of the Diocese for some time and will make himself available, under arrangement with the Standing Committee, to perform Episcopal acts and provide spiritual counsel to members of the Diocese, as have Bishop Donald Parsons and Bishop Edward MacBurney, the VIth and VIIth Bishops of Quincy.

Under diocesan canons, the Standing Committee will continue to act as the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese, as they have since the Bishop’s sabbatical began in late August. Day to day operations of the diocese will continue to be handled by the various officers and department heads.

Bishop Ackerman wants to assure everyone that he has no intention of abandoning the diocese but will continue to provide spiritual and pastoral support as asked by the Standing Committee.
According to TitusOneNine, this is a message from Quincy's Standing Committee.

Bishop Ackerman has been on sabbatical since the Lambeth Conference, and has not been in the best of health for well over a year. I won't even begin to speculate on the meanings of this. The Quincy priests I know love and respect him very much and cherish his ministry. How well they have been prepared for this, I don't know -- but there was no hint of anything like this at the Peoria Deanery's pre-Synod convocation a week ago Sunday.

Observers will note that the agenda of the upcoming Synod (the end of next week) includes votes to disassociate from The Episcopal Church and associate with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone until a new, more orthodox Anglican province is established for North America.

As for my personal regard for Bishop Ackerman, click the Quincy category label on the right column. And do join me in prayer for a godly bishop and and a faithful diocese. This is very difficult news. Yet we remain in Christ's care.

Let's Hear It for Hunters!

That's Canoga Park Hunters.

a comment posted by "Anonymous" about Rudy Lugo's funeral. (Note: the photo is from one of my yearbooks; yes, he looked like that when he was my 10th grade PE teacher.)
At yesterdays services at Our Lady of The Valley you could see the many lives he had touched and you could sense the history of love that coach has left behind as his legacy. There were generations of Hunters going all the way back to the early 60’s to the current class of 2009, old classmates in football jerseys and lettermen’s jackets and new and retired faculty.

Topanga Canyon blvd was closed from Sherman Way to Vanowen St so that coach could make on last trip around the football field in the hearse along with the current football team and its coach.
You can read the rest of that comment here -- and other recent responses about Coach's impact in life and death in the comments to my first post about him.

a current Canoga High senior has submitted the video below to LA Time Warner Cable's "My First Vote Project." The grand prize for one Los Angeles area high school student is a trip for two to Washington DC during the Inauguration. Your vote for her video would be much appreciated.

This video was submitted as part of the Time Warner Cable's "My First Vote" Contest

(Disclaimers: 1) the young Hunter is one of my sister-in-law's students and 2) her video includes comments from one of my CPHS history teachers and a current teacher I've known since he was born, who is also one of the singers -- though I might not have guessed that except for this.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Switch to Digital TV

I entered the digital TV age when, at the beginning of the year and in preparation for my convalescence from prostate surgery (good news, my PSA level is still immeasurable and, while I still tire too easily, I'm doing a lot more to get there), I bought a DVD player that has both a VCR and a digital tuner. There I discovered that a Peoria resident does not have to hook up to cable TV to get the CW affiliate (CW 4) or the PBS affiliate (WTVP 47) after midnight. They are broadcast over the air using digital transmissions, the CW being on WHOI 19's subchannel. I also discovered the 2 subchannels for WTVP and NBC's WeatherPlus (the subchannel for WEEK 25), which enabled me to discover the very-pleasing-to-the-eye Samantha Davies (whom the Urban Dictionary describes as "smokin hot chick."

The bad news with digital is that you either get the signal or you don't. No more in-between, where with a weak (analog) signal you get a somewhat (or severely) snowy picture. And that is particularly annoying in the Parsonage because TV signals here, even with an amplified antenna, have a habit of suddenly becoming shadowy, especially (but not necessarily) where there is a major weather change. A channel comes in just fine for weeks, then suddenly the signal goes kablooey and I spend weeks realigning the antenna to get as many of our over-the-air channels as possible clearly. It's pretty rare that all 6 analog signals come in decently, though usually I can get 4 very good and 1 quite acceptable with one set up. WYZZ 43 (Fox) or WAOE 59 (My TV) throw fits the most, but it can happen with any of the Peoria area channels, the afore mentioned stations or WMBD 31 (CBS).

The TV stations are also busy promoting the changeover to digital and I have gotten my converter boxes, one for the living room TV (the "big" 20-inch one connected to the DVD/VCR -- heck, it's a perfectly good 12-year-old Zenith) and one for the upstairs TV -- a 23-year-old 13-incher which is a bit fiesty on UHF (which is what all the local channels are) but with the converter works just fine on Channel 3. Except, naturally, I can't get all 6 digital signals no matter what direction I put the (regular rabbit ears) antenna. Well, I don't use that TV set much anyway.

Nevertheless, a digital converter box enables me to continue resisting the evil cable company. This video guide to the conversion is more useful that others:

Meanwhile, NBC is pulling the plug on Weatherplus. But you can watch the lovely Samatha Davies here. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lugo Inspired Players for 4 Decades

More on what Rudy Lugo means for Canoga Park High School from today's Daily News:
His eyes were puffy and red, his heart heavy. Every step assistant coach Chris Lugo took out on the Canoga Park High football field Friday night made the lump in his throat grow bigger.

But this is where he was supposed to be. His father, longtime Canoga Park football coach Rudy Lugo, who died Tuesday at age 60 after a two-year battle with lung cancer, would want it that way.

"This field," said Chris Lugo, "is the place we shared the best times of our lives."

Both teams observed a moment of silence for Rudy Lugo before Canoga Park's game against Firebaugh of Lynwood on Friday night. The players on the other side of the field had probably never heard of the man known affectionately in these parts as "Mr. Canoga," the guy who grew up down the street from the school, starred for the Hunters as a baseball player and football player, came back to teach and coach just as soon as he graduated from college, then never left the sidelines for the next four decades. ...
Firebaugh High School is one of the newest high schools in the LA area, opening in 2005. Current seniors will make up its first graduating class -- a quaint detail for this football game at one of the Valley's oldest schools, no? More on Canoga High and Mr. Lugo...
Canoga Park has always been one of the Los Angeles Unified School District's smallest high schools. But most people here look at that as a good thing. The kind of place where four generations of the same family would go to school. Where guys like Danny Argott and his brother Arthur Argott come to cook hamburgers and hot dogs for the booster club every Friday night long after their own sons and daughters have graduated.

"I was born right down the street and you could hear the football games every Friday night," Danny Argott said.

For the past 40 years, Rudy Lugo was the patriarch of that big family. The guy parents trusted to teach their sons right from wrong, the guy a troubled kid went to for help when he got into a tough spot.

"To me, he was just my dad. I don't know if I ever understood the magnitude of the situation. How much everyone cared about him," Lugo's daughter Melissa said. "But I do now. Every day he lived his passion, every day he made a difference. ... You know how people say someone lived a good, long life. Well, my dad didn't live a long life, but he lived a good life."

In his obituary Wednesday, it was written that Lugo was a wrestling coach, football coach and teacher at Canoga Park. It's amazing how inadequate words can be sometimes.

"He was a great man, and he taught all of us to be men," senior football player Jeffrey Monico said. "He treated all of us like sons. And he taught us how to be men. He taught us about respect, about life, how to respect and treat women. He talked to us about being a good father."

As a coach he was tough, but respected. When he spoke, the entire locker room was silent. If he yelled, you could hear it from across the field.

Then later that night, you'd get a phone call around 10:30. It was Lugo, calling to apologize for yelling, making sure you knew he did it out of love.

"I got a few of those calls," Manary said. "When he'd yell at you, you'd get like the fear of God. But what he was saying was always right. And you knew he loved you."

It was a little strange then, to celebrate Lugo with a moment of silence.

That big, booming voice was as much a part of Lugo as his generous heart.

But maybe this was just one of his inspirational speeches. One that made every player in the locker room grow silent. On this night, in one quiet moment, the silence did the talking.
Read it all here. I'll confess to being slightly annoyed that I couldn't find the score at the Daily News. But that rather fits with this Jan. 14, 2003, article the paper links as part of "remembering Rudy Lugo."
Coach all right without all-stars

The Daily News recognizes the top high school football players and coaches in the region today with our annual All-Area team.

The group of standouts we've selected represents the best of the best this year from a region that consistently produces major-college standouts and future professional stars.

No one from Canoga Park High is on the team.

And as far as Hunters coach Rudy Lugo is concerned, that's perfectly fine.

While schools like Birmingham of Lake Balboa, Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks and Hart of Newhall produce championships and stars, Lugo's mission is to produce good people. If he succeeds, he reasons, he's as successful as any coach anywhere.

Sure, Lugo would like to win like those other guys. But the Hunters simply don't have the players. The school's relatively small size (2,000 students) and the fact open enrollment allows the best players to transfer to other schools make it a long shot to win a championship.

With that in mind, Lugo stresses the value of commitment, discipline, teamwork and effort with no guarantee it will ever be rewarded. And, every once in a while, little Canoga Park will upset a big, bad team to show the players it's OK to dream.

Making the most of a little, the Hunters finished 4-6 last season. Hardly a disgrace, particularly if you take Lugo's perspective.

"It would be nice to have Division I college players," Lugo said. "But that probably won't happen. So you work with what you've got, and there is nothing wrong with that. If you're working as hard as you can to be the best you can be, no matter how good that happens to be, you have nothing to be ashamed of. That goes for players and coaches."

As all good coaches do, Lugo painstakingly prepares his players for each game. The players might not know at the time but, if they're paying attention, they absorb a lot more than a series of schemes.

That's where the losses can come in handy, as tools to teach critical lessons that winning can't provide.

"Our responsibility is to help teach kids to deal with all the situations they'll experience in life," Lugo said. "It's attitude. It's about how do people react to situations. That's the most important thing because that enables a person to deal with the daily frustrations of life. So what they learn on a football team, which is a family, they can take to their own family should they encounter problems with finances or health or even disagreements among themselves.

"Hopefully, some of the habits and work ethic they take from their experience playing football will help them in the future."
Read it all here.

Oh, I found the score in the Long Beach Press-Telegram: "Canoga Park 26, Firebaugh 6: Tim Wilson ran for 190 yards and two TDs to lead the Hunters (3-6) over the Falcons (1-7)."

Meanwhile, folks are writing their remembrances, thank yous, and farewells on a board set up at the school.

And after Tuesday's funeral mass, all are invited to a funeral potluck meal at the school.

Yeah, that's my high school. We're Les Libres, the Class of 1977.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rudy Lugo: Mr. Canoga

Eric Sondheimer writes in today's Los Angeles Times
Rudy Lugo, a teacher who coached football and wrestling at Canoga Park High School for many years, died Tuesday at his home in Canoga Park after a two-year battle with lung cancer. He was 60.

"They called him Mr. Canoga," said history teacher Richard Tibbetts.

Born Nov. 22, 1947, Lugo graduated from Canoga Park High in 1965 and played baseball at what is now Cal State Northridge.

After earning his degree, he returned to Canoga Park High as an assistant coach in 1969 and became a physical education teacher in 1972.

Lugo coached wrestling from 1975 to 1996, and became the head football coach in 1986, giving up the position after the 2006 season because of complications from lung cancer.
Read it all here. And, yes, that history teacher in my little brother.

In the Los Angeles Daily News, which is the San Fernando Valley's newspaper, Ramona Shelburne writes:
Rudy Lugo, the beloved teacher, football and wrestling coach at Canoga Park High, died Tuesday at his home in Canoga Park after a two-year battle with lung cancer. He was 60.

Lugo wore Hunters green nearly his whole life. He grew up around Canoga Park, starred as a football and baseball player there from 1962-65, returned to the sidelines almost as soon as he graduated from San Fernando Valley State (now Cal State Northridge) in 1969 and virtually never left until after the 2006 season, when he handed the program over to current head coach Ivan Moreno and his son Christopher Lugo, who is an assistant.

"He was Mr. Canoga," Canoga Park athletic director Lori Thomas said of Lugo. "He was my teacher, my friend, my colleague. I don't think there's anyone who didn't learn something from Rudy. He fought his cancer like he played his football games, he would never allow a running clock because that meant giving up. And he did the same thing with his cancer, he battled it all the way to the end."

Lugo's teams often took on his personality: Gritty, tough, hard-nosed and fearless. Canoga Park is generally one of the smallest schools in the district, but you'd never know it by the way its football and wrestling teams performed under Lugo. Or, in the tough kids Lugo made a point of trying to turn around.

"He was never afraid of anyone," said Jake Gwin, Canoga Park's boys' soccer coach and a close friend of Lugo's. "He had this great, deep reverberating voice that you'd swear you could still hear in the hallways after he spoke. When he talked to you in a stern voice, it got to your soul. And all those gangsters and hoodlums who heard that voice, man, it got to them because they knew there was a sincerity to it.

"You know, I think Rudy could be the world-record holder in converting gangsters and hoodlums into good, strong young men."
Read it all here, and check out some photos, too. Lori (Giacopuzzi) Thomas is (like Richard and me) also a second generation Hunter, being 2 years ahead of me at our K-12 schools. (Connections, connections, connections.)

A rosary for Coach Rudy Lugo will be held Monday at 7:30 pm Monday; his funeral is Tuesday at 10 am. Both will be at Our Lady Of The Valley Catholic Church in Canoga Park (just a couple blocks up Topanga Canyon from the school).

In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to: The Rudy Lugo Fund, c/o Canoga Park HS Booster Club, 6850 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park, CA 91303.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Canoga High's Rudy Lugo Dies

The news came in a phone call this morning out of the blue from a schoolmate I'd not heard from in years. Here's how it appears on the Canoga Park High School website:
RUDY LUGO 1947-2008

It is with great sadness that the family of Canoga Park High School announces the passing of Rudy Lugo.

After a long courageous battle with cancer, Rudy passed away at home with his family and friends present.

Rudy Lugo was a graduate of Canoga in 1965, and began his career as a teacher and coach for Canoga in 1972. His life was devoted to the students and staff of his beloved school, and he was a huge influence on our entire community. Rudy was a teacher, a coach, and a friend to the highest degree. He was also a devoted son, husband, and father. And to GENERATIONS of young people, he was a tremendous role model for how they should conduct their lives. His lessons and legacy will continue to live on in them.

Funeral arrangements are pending.
The Daily News blog reports he died yesterday.

I'd written about Coach Lugo here 2 years ago and it was that blog entry and this one that prompted the phone call, as they show up pretty quickly in a Google search. That's the way it happens, no? Sad news brings old friends and family back together. It was good to catch up with you, Bill. Who'da thunk we Hunters of the late '70s would be all over the nation?

Coach Lugo, who was honored this spring by the Guadalupe Center in Canoga Park, will be honored during half-time at the Homecoming game November 7. Says that announcement:

Please join us in showing gratitude to Coach Lugo for the positive influence he has had on generations of young people. He retired from Canoga last year, and we wish to honor him for his long career of service to the community.
The Homecoming Game will be Friday, November 7th, at 7:00 pm. Come out early (about 6:00 pm) and watch our students in their annual Homecoming Parade. Two years ago, a large group of Coach Lugo's former athletes marched in the parade, and we'd love to see "Lugo's Legends" one more time!

Please make your plans to help us FILL THE STADIUM on this night to remember!!

Tickets for the game are $8.00 for adults, and $5.00 for students with school ID.

We look forward to seeing you back home again!
Well, I won't make it back home. But I sure wish I could be there. Thanks again, Rudy, for all you taught me.

    In paradisum deducant te angeli:
    in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres
    et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.
    Chorus angelorum te suscipiat,
    et cum Lazaro quondam paupere aeternam habeas requiem.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's More than the Economy

Yes, the economy is important, though I fail to see how trying to blow more air into a popped bubble (as the President, Congress, and both major Presidential candidates endorse) is anything close to a wise use of over a trillion present and future U. S. taxpayer dollars.

That said, the lay Lutheran journalist-theologian, Uwe Siemon-Netto offers a chilling commentary on what the polls suggest about the electorate:
This column requires a caveat: I am not an American citizen and therefore neither a Republican nor a Democrat. But as a German residing permanently in the United States I believe I have a duty to opine on at least one aspect of the upcoming elections - the question whether years from now Americans will have to wrestle with collective shame, just as I have had to deal with collective shame over what has happened in Germany in my childhood for my entire life.

It was West Germany's first postwar president, Theodor Heuss, who coined the phrase, "collective shame" contrasting it with the notion of collective guilt, which he rejected. No, I cannot be expected to feel guilty for crimes the Nazis committed while I was still in elementary school. But as a bearer of a German passport I have never ceased feeling ashamed because three years before I was born German voters elected leaders planning the annihilation of millions of innocent people.

I am certain that in 1933 most Germans did not find the Nazis' anti-Semitic rhetoric particularly attractive. What made them choose Hitler, then? It was the economy, stupid, and presumably injured national pride, and similar issues. This came to mind as I read the latest Faith in Life poll of issues Americans in general and white evangelicals in particular consider "very important" in this year's elections.

Guess what? For both groups, the economy ranked first, while abortion was way down the list. Among Americans in general abortion took ninth and among white evangelicals seventh place, well below gas prices and healthcare. Now, it's true that most evangelicals still believe that abortion should be illegal, which is where they differ from the general public and, astonishingly, from Roman Catholics even though their own church continues to fight valiantly against the ongoing mass destruction of unborn life. Still, 54 percent of Catholics and 60 percent of young Catholics have declared themselves "pro choice," according to the Faith in Life researchers.

What I am going to say next is going to make me many enemies, of this I am sure: Yes, there is a parallel here between what has happened in Germany in 1933 and what is happening in America now. The legalized murder of 40 million fetuses since Roe v. Wade in 1973 will one day cause collective shame of huge proportions. So what this wasn't a "holocaust?" This term should remain reserved for another horror in history. But a genocide has been happening in the last 35 years, even if no liberators have shocked the world with photographs they snapped of the victims as the Allies did in Germany in 1945. And it has the open support of politicians running for office next month....

My Lutheran approach would be ... [to] argue natural law, the law God has written upon the hearts of all human beings, including non-believers. Unless they really have undergone a moral lobotomy they should be open to this story: Down in Wichita, Kansas, there is a physician by the name of George Tiller. On his website he boasts that he has already performed 60,000 abortions, mostly late-term, and week after week he is killing 100 more unborn babies.

Dr. Tiller does not think of these fetuses as clusters of cancerous cells. He knows they are human because he baptizes some of them before he incinerates them in his own crematorium. You don't baptize non-humans. Dr. Tiller knows that. He is a practicing Lutheran. His former congregation, Holy Cross of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, excommunicated him as an unrepentant sinner. But the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, which belongs to the ELCA, communes him.
Read the entire article at VirtueOnline. Dr. Siemon-Netto, a layman with a Master of Arts from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (ELCA) is Director of the Center for Lutheran Theology & Public Life at Concordia Theological Seminary (LCMS).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rev. Redding, Still Clueless, Is Inhibited

I last mentioned the case of Dr. Ann Holmes Redding here. She's the woman who, while serving as the director of faith formation at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, Olympia, Washington, became a Muslim. As I've earlier reported, the then-Bishop of Olympia seemed to think with was an exciting interfaith possibility. Fortunately, Dr. Redding's own Bishop, Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island, recognized otherwise and issued Redding a Pastoral Direction "to reflect on the doctrines of the Christian faith, her vocation as a priest, and what I see as the conflicts inherent in professing both Christianity and Islam," and preventing Dr. Redding from acting as an Episcopal Priest.

Now Episcopal Life Online reports that Bishop Wolf has inhibited Dr. Redding, giving her until March 31, 2009, to "reclaim" her Christian faith, If she does not, she will be defrocked. In the article, Dr. Redding is quoted, saying,
“It’s still a mystery as to why, on March 25, 2006, which happens to be my ordination date and the annunciation, I felt called to say the Shahadah with the intention of becoming a Muslim. I’m continuing to explore what it means to be both a Muslim and a Christian, and I expect to be the rest of my life. Being a Muslim makes me a much better Christian, and being a Christian makes me the kind of Muslim I want to be. I see as my calling and privilege witnessing the deep reality of one God.”

“I’m grateful for the chance to meet with Ann twice and to speak with her several times on the phone,” said Wolf. “She’s a very bright person, and I cannot say enough about the depth of her integrity. Hers is not a superficial decision, and this is why I been very deliberate and have taken over a year to talk things through. We’ve been in dialogue since June, 2007.

“However, I believe that Islam and Christianity have enough differences to make it impossible to adhere to them both with integrity. The church wants to be diverse and inclusive, but we’re decidedly Christian. We’re Christ-followers,” said Wolf.

“Despite my respect for and genuine like of Bishop Wolf, I do not believe the canons were written with this situation in mind,” said Redding. “I think the people who wrote them were thinking of other Christian denominations. So my situation gives the church an opportunity to re-examine what it means to be in communion. If we want to survive as a Church, and be faithful witnesses of Christ, I believe all the people of the world must be in communion.”
Again, read it all here. Seems to me that Bishop Wolf is bending over backwards to put a best construction on Dr. Redding's thought process which, if not superficial, is certainly fundamentally confused.

Hat tip to TitusOneNine.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Unintentional Commentary

In the "Life in Grace" rollo I presented during the Via de Cristo I served this last weekend, I made mention of the Big Eight Accounting firms -- which reflected the state of accountancy in my university days. That link tells of how the Big Eight became the Big Four; a significant part of that story is how the accounting firms lowered their professional standards in search of greater profits. The collapse of Arthur Anderson in the Enron scandal, for instance, followed a couple of decades of abandoning the principles that, well, I was taught as an accounting major at CSUN.

Then there is the announcement that showed up in my inbox today from the Accounting and Information Systems section of the CSUN Alumni Association:
This message is to invite you to upcoming November events for the CSUN AIS Alumni:Association

Monte Carlo Night on Friday evening, November 7;
  • Doors open: 5:30 PM, Games: 6:00 PM-10:00 PM, Raffle at the end of the evening
  • Roulette ♣ Craps ♥ Blackjack ♠ Texas Hold' em ♦
  • Refreshments / Appetizers
  • Faculty and current Alumni Members: $30 General Public: $40
I'm trying to imagine those who taught me accounting sponsoring a Monte Carlo Night. Then again, I try to imagine those who taught me banking leveraging entire banking companies on home loans that clearly could not ever be paid off.

Apparently I don't have quite enough of an imagination to have been an accountant or banker in 2008. Given what's happened, I don't think I have anything to be ashamed of.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free House

Okay, I've not quoted its subtitle quite correctly. But The Recession Reader over at offers you the opportunity to learn how the Panic of 2008 was no surprise. And even if everything falls apart, maybe we can learn something for the future.

The Recession Reader

There is No Such Thing as a Free House

Someone once remarked that the best indicator of a recession is the number of times "Mises" "Hayek" or "Austrian" appear in the newspapers. During the boom, no one wants to listen to the lessons of the Austrian economists. No one wants to hear that we need to live within our means – that the Federal Reserve does not have the power to print us into prosperity by artificially creating credit. So while the writers of were warning against the housing bubble and the inflationary nature of the Fed, the mainstream was touting the economic wisdom of Bernanke and Greenspan. When this recession hit, it seems everyone except the Austrians was caught off guard. Commentators, bureaucrats, and politicians began panicking, "Something must be done! This is Something…therefore it must be done!"

Instead of looking to the mainstream for answers to this crisis, why not look to those who saw it coming?

For those new to Austrian economics, this reader will offer an introduction to this unique school of thought. It is unlike any other school of economics you have likely come across. Instead of focusing on unrealistic mathematical models, the writers here build their thinking on human action and observations of how the economy actually runs.

What’s important is not necessarily the specific political opposition to this bailout, but rather educating people about the dangers of nationalization, central banking, and government regulation. Only when people recognize the dangers of the government’s "socialism for the rich" will we be able to get back on the road to prosperity. Unfortunately, a correction is necessary. There is no such thing as a free house. The more the government intervenes, the longer and more painful it will be. But this crisis gives the country a chance to rethink its previous assumptions about the economy and the government’s role in it. Hopefully, this reader will be a first step for many into an exciting, growing branch of economic thought.

Find the resources, which includes essays and links to books, here. MInd you, they don't pull their punches. Hat tip to Gary North's Specific Answers, where Dr. North suggests that, if you can't read it all, pick one link in each category.

And if you want more, see
The Bailout Reader which offers a similar education from the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Mistaken Principles

Pastor Zip tries to stay out of politics on this blog. I'm not always successful, but I try. Not that I don't think about matters political, for I do and have over the last 40 years (Sammy Iacobellis and I marched around the school playground as 3rd graders cheering for Nixon) developed some strong opinions about issues great and small.

But I try to leave them out of this blog because Pastor Zip is, well, a Christian pastor whose vocation is to preach the Gospel so that the Holy Spirit may bring people to faith in Jesus Christ. Politics and governing are, from a Lutheran perspective, perfectly honorable vocations. But while they are both ruled by God for society's benefit (this comes from Luther's Two Kingdoms doctrine, which might be described as a very early version of what we call "the separation of church and state"), they are different and we cross kingdoms (or that "line" of separation) at our peril.

Of course, that "line" between the kingdoms -- not always very clear even in Luther's day -- is ferociously blurred in a republican democracy (I'd have written "democratic republic," but that term was ruined for generations by Stalinist communist regimes). And as an American citizen I have rights and responsibilities. But speaking politically can easily get in the way of preaching the Gospel, so I do my best to keep them separate. If you want my more politically-minded thoughts, see the 21st Century Whig. Even there, though, I aim to address principles more than specific current issues -- and I hope that, if you head over there you'll find that my recent entries (over there and, yes, here) on the response to the Financial Panic of 2008 point to principles.

Yet principles (or the lack thereof) have their consequences. (Yes, that's drawn from Richard Weaver's Ideas Have Consequences.) And I'm particularly struck by an article by Steve Salier that, while offering another analysis of how we got into this financial mess, also speaks of the ELCA and (whatever is left of) mainline protestantism. Don't be put off by his title, "Karl Rove—Architect Of The Minority Mortgage Meltdown", but read it in light of the "reigning ideology of multiculturalism and diversity" that is also the ELCA's. Yes, Saliers is talking politics, partisan politics. But the parallels to the same failed ideology in the within the ELCA and its sphere are, well, startling.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Presbyterian Minister Cleared

Hat tip to TitusOneNine:
Pastor who wed gay couple is cleared

A church court of Pittsburgh Presbytery ruled 9-0 that the Rev. Janet Edwards did not violate scripture or the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) when she conducted what she has always said was the marriage of two women in 2005.

Since church and state define marriage as between a man and a woman, she cannot have done what she was accused of, the court ruled yesterday.

"It can't be an offense to the constitution to attempt to do the impossible," said the decision, read by the Rev. Stewart Pollock, chairman of the Permanent Judicial Commission of Pittsburgh Presbytery.
The full story appears in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; read it here.

And you though sophistry was something left behind in the Middle Ages...

Taxpayers Lose

Wall Street has been bailed out -- for the moment. $700 billion (or more!) is going to be borrowed by the Federal Government in the name of "fiscal responsibility" and "opening the credit markets." My pension plan has been "saved." But will it actually buy anything when I retire?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Blaming the Free Market

Last Monday on the site of the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, economist Mark W. Hendrickson, Adjunct Professor of Economics Education at Grove City College, rubutted charges that the financial mess is a failure of "deregulation" and the free market. spt+

Blaming the Free Market

Guest Commentary: Mark W. Hendrickson

It’s finger-pointing time, folks. Whose fault is the ongoing financial crack-up that has hurt, angered, and frightened so many people? There is plenty of blame to go around, and the American people deserve to know the culprits. Simple justice, though, demands that the innocent not be condemned with the guilty. Already there is one innocent that has been unfairly maligned as a cause of the debacle—the free market.

As previously explained ("Anatomy of a Financial Crisis: Part I" and "Part II"), the current crisis began with a real-estate bubble that morphed into a financial house of cards. The real-estate bubble was generated by the expansionary credit policy of the Federal Reserve System. The Fed, having been created by Congress to act as Uncle Sam’s banking agent, and the Fed’s policies, are emphatically not free-market phenomena.

Neither are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Congress gave Fannie and Freddie a privileged status that had these effects: first, enriching their top executives along with key congressional allies (time for some ethics hearings on Capitol Hill!); second, becoming the dominant player in what historically had been a private market for home mortgages; and third, sticking the American taxpayers with hundreds of billions of dollars of bad mortgage debt. Thanks, Uncle Sam.

That having been said, the Wall Street titans that have headlined the financial crisis this year (Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, AIG, etc.) were not created by government. However, the problems in the financial industry have resulted from a political failure, namely, improper regulation.

Liberals repeatedly accuse conservatives of being ideologically opposed to regulation. What nonsense! Neither “free markets” nor “deregulation” mean “no rules.” On the contrary, they assume the rule of law. What they oppose is excessive, stifling, and costly overregulation. The Latin root of “regulation”—regula—means “rule” and also connotes regularity, that is, predictability and constancy as opposed to arbitrariness and privilege. No market can function without clear rules of the game, and no true defender of free markets is dogmatically “anti-regulation.” That would be absurd.

The crisis today isn’t due to an absence of regulation, but the presence of mistaken regulation. For example, the Clinton administration, invoking the Community Reinvestment Act, imposed new regulations that penalized lending institutions if they didn’t lend “enough” money in low-income neighborhoods, regardless of the credit-worthiness of the borrowers. This regulatory regime undermined the traditional, market-based practice of risk-assessment that is the primary fiduciary duty of lending institutions. Regulators forced lenders to abandon financial prudence in subservience to a political goal, and then compounded the risk by allowing the proliferation of zero-down and no- or low-documentation mortgages. These regulatory blunders have come back to haunt us. They are responsible for the current wave of mortgage defaults and foreclosures, which in turn have torpedoed mortgage-backed securities and the many layers of financial derivatives based on them.

Another instance of regulatory failure occurred in 2005, when Republicans sought to diminish the risk of an eventual collapse of Fannie and Freddie by imposing stricter capital standards on them. That attempt was blocked on a party-line vote by Democrats.

What kind of rules does a market economy need to function well? In a society of free people, the primary rule is that one person’s freedom ends when it intrudes on another person’s rights. Thus, the right of free speech doesn’t include the right to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Similarly, we have a right to seek profit, but not if our actions would wreck the entire financial system and ruin others.

We need rules against dangerous excesses—things like giant investment banks leveraging shaky debt instruments by a factor of over 30-to-1 or creating hundreds of trillions of dollars’ worth of financial derivatives. In 1998, the firm Long Term Capital Management (LTCM) shook the foundations of our financial system when its $1 trillion portfolio of derivatives started to implode. That was our warning that we needed rules to protect innocent people from the fallout of a financial nuclear explosion. Sadly, we didn’t heed that warning. Firms far larger than LTCM have created over $100 trillion in derivatives, threatening the viability of our country’s financial structure. Why was this permitted?

We face a financial cataclysm, not because of market failure, but due to political failure. Government interference with free markets, combined with government’s failure to perform its primary function of protecting the people, have brought us to the brink. In the desperate attempt to postpone the day of reckoning, the only solutions being proposed are additional government interventions, even partial nationalizations, and less reliance on markets. When things continue to worsen, please, just don’t blame “free markets.” They no longer exist.

# # #

Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson is a faculty member, economist, and contributing scholar with the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College,

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Veteran pianist takes reins

Mel White has been one of Zion's organists for some 17 years and, prior to that, accompanied Zion's choir for many, many years. The following article appeared in last Sunday's edition of the Peoria Journal Star, and is posted it its entirety here for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license.

Veteran pianist takes reins

By THEO JEAN KENYON of the Journal Star
Posted Sep 27, 2008 @ 10:11 PM

PEORIA — Name a musical, any musical that's been performed in the Peoria area, and chances are you've heard Mel White at the piano or seen him on stage.

When White sits down at the piano for the Caterpillar Employees Mixed Chorus production of "The Music Man," opening Thursday at East Peoria Community High School, it will be his 157th show.

And he'll also be conducting the eight-piece orchestra.

Most of his shows have been performed in Peoria with Peoria Players and Corn Stock Theatre, but he's also performed as accompanist, director or actor in shows at Conklin's Barn II Dinner Theatre in Goodfield, the former playhouse in Farmington, at Bradley University and even one gig of 2 1/2 months in Venice, Fla.

Some of his favorite shows, he says, have been "My Fair Lady," "The King and I" and "G.I. Jukebox," a USO-style show performed earlier this year at Conklin's.

"It was all that music from World War II, about 90 percent music and 10 percent dialogue," White says of "G.I. Jukebox."

The Caterpillar Employees Mixed Chorus called him this spring to take over as accompanist and orchestra director for "The Music Man."

White previously had accompanied the mixed chorus shows for 26 years while working in the accounting department at Caterpillar Inc. until retiring after "32-plus" years.

He still thinks the chorus is a remarkable idea.

"They take everybody, and for a lot of people it may be their only chance to make it on stage," he says. "We've had a blind person in the show, and it took extra people to guide him on stage."

This year the show suffered a plague of summer colds during rehearsals, and White himself caught one from others in the cast.

But he showed up anyway.

"I've never missed a rehearsal," he insisted to music director Helen Ferguson.

"At 84, he makes us all look bad," says Ferguson whose husband, Alan Ferguson, is making his directorial debut with "The Music Man."

"I'm not a classical or technical player," says White. "I studied in grade school, where we had those cardboard keys, and I had a year and a half of private lessons."

"But my grandmother and the grandmother of Betty Merkel were in the same set, and when my grandmother heard that Betty had been enrolled in a dancing class, my grandmother enrolled me, too," he recalls of his early introduction to music and dance.

Merkel, who died in 2003, grew up to become a well-known local dance instructor and choreographer who owned and operated the Betty Merkel Ford Dance Studio in Peoria for more than 40 years.

White says of that early class he took with Merkel: "I do know dancing."

Although White graduated in accounting at Bradley University and made that his career, he has been playing and performing ever since on one stage or another.

White says "The Music Man" has "a wonderful score." He dug out the one he used when the Caterpillar chorus first produced it several years ago and found the new one has more pages and some changes, but noted that Willson's memorable songs are still in the same key.

Now in his 80s, White admits his back gives him some trouble when walking or standing.

"But sitting is no problem," he says, and he'll be sitting at the piano starting Thursday.

Theo Jean Kenyon can be reached at (309) 686-3190 or

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