The Common Good

Blog Posts By Annalisa Musarra

Posted by Annalisa Musarra 2 years 12 weeks ago
William Blake, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Martin Luther King Jr. and even Helen Keller all found something to like in Emanuel Swedenborg.Emanuel who?A new book, “Swedenborg,” by author and former Blondie bassist Gary Lachman attempts to uncover the little-known Swedish scientist, philosopher and theologian.
Posted by Annalisa Musarra 2 years 12 weeks ago
Following Pope Benedict XVI's recent trip to Cuba, U.S. Catholic bishops are pushing the State Department to lift the 50-year Cuban embargo in order to improve religious liberty and human rights for the Cuban people. In a Tuesday (April 17) letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, the chairman of the bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, pressed the Obama administration to pursue “purposeful engagement rather than ineffective isolation” with Havana.
Posted by Annalisa Musarra 2 years 12 weeks ago
Belief in God is slowly declining in most countries around the world, according to a new poll, but the truest of the true believers can still be found in developing countries and Catholic societies.The “Beliefs about God Across Time and Countries” report, released Wednesday (April 18) by researchers at the University of Chicago, found the Philippines to be the country with the highest belief, where 94 percent of Filipinos said they were strong believers who had always believed.At the opposite end, at just 13 percent, was the former East Germany.
Posted by Annalisa Musarra 2 years 13 weeks ago
WASHINGTON -- Americans feel the "Christian faith" has a positive impact on help for the poor and raising children with good morals, according to a new poll, but it gets a bad rap on its impact on sexuality in society.In a new study conducted by Grey Matter Research, more than 1,000 American adults were asked if the Christian faith had a positive, negative, or no real impact on 16 different areas of society, such as crime, poverty and the role of women in society.
Posted by Annalisa Musarra 2 years 15 weeks ago
Religious leaders on Thursday (March 29) delivered more than 230,000 signatures to the office of Village Voice Media, demanding the company shut down the adult advertising section on its website, Backpage.com, where advertisements for sex with underage minors have appeared."As a mother and as a member of the clergy, I am outraged by Village Voice Media's continued refusal to shut down Backpage.com's adult section, even after being confronted with evidence that girls and teens have been advertised for sex on the site," said the Rev. Katharine Henderson, president of Auburn Seminary and a leader of the petition.
Posted by Annalisa Musarra 2 years 15 weeks ago
The recession and a sluggish recovery have made for a lighter collection plate in recent years, but a new study shows that giving to U.S. congregations bounced back in 2011 as the economy improved.According to the fourth annual "State of the Plate" survey released on Tuesday, 51 percent of churches last year saw an increase in giving, up from 43 percent in 2010 and 36 percent in 2009.The national survey, sponsored by MAXIMUM Generosity, Christianity Today and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), asked more than 1,360 congregations of different sizes to report on their donations and budgets.
Posted by Annalisa Musarra 2 years 16 weeks ago
WASHINGTON--Even as membership remains relatively stable in U.S. churches, the effects of the recession have caused contributions to drop by $1.2 billion. According to the 2012 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, the almost $29 billion contributed by church members represented a 2.2 percent decrease in terms of per capita giving. The $1.2 billion decline in 2010 was nearly three times as large as the $431 million in losses reported in 2009, and "provides clear evidence of the impact of the deepening crises in the reporting period," the Yearbook's editor, the Rev. Eileen Lindner, wrote. The Yearbook is produced annually by the National Council of Churches and is considered one of the most authoritative sources of church membership. The 2010 figures, released Tuesday (March 20), were collected from 228 U.S. denominations in 2011.
Posted by Annalisa Musarra 2 years 16 weeks ago
A new movie confronts a controversial topic by highlighting two words that don't typically go together: "abortion" and "survivor." "We didn't know there was such a thing," said Jon Erwin, who wrote and co-directed "October Baby" with his brother, Andrew. The film, the latest in a recent string of Christian-themed movies, opens Friday (March 23) and has broken into Hollywood despite rejection at first by many studios. The movie tells the story of Hannah, a 19-year-old college student who finds out that she not only is adopted, but she is a survivor of a failed abortion attempt, which explains why she has been suffering from health problems all her life.
Posted by Annalisa Musarra 2 years 16 weeks ago
Faith leaders and poverty experts Wednesday called the new House GOP budget proposal "immoral" and "irresponsible."The budget released the previous day by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., included deep cuts to programs that would unfairly burden the poor, middle-income families and senior citizens, said the Rev. Thomas Kelly, who participated in a phone conference with the media."Using the deficit as an excuse to pursue a radical agenda that punishes the poor is simply dishonest and immoral," said Kelly, a Catholic priest and Ryan's constituent, on the call hosted by the Center for American Progress.The Republican blueprint calls for cuts to Medicaid and other programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- also known as SNAP, or food stamps -- and would turn them into block grant programs, putting states in charge of tailoring them to local needs.The cuts also aim to reduce the nation's deficit by $4.4 trillion during the next 10 years.
Posted by Annalisa Musarra 2 years 18 weeks ago
As college basketball fans prepare for March Madness, a holier tournament already has Christians rooting and cheering this Lenten season.For three years running, "Lent Madness" has taken to the Internet as a competition between Episcopal saints in a single-elimination bracket tournament resembling the one followed by March Madness fans.This Lenten devotional, first created by the Rev. Tim Schenck on his blog, "Clergy Family Confidential," allows readers to learn about and vote for the saints presented daily on the website, with the winning saints moving closer to the coveted prize of the Golden Halo."I was looking for a fun way to embrace the Lenten season," said Schenck, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Hingham, Mass."Lent doesn't have to be all doom and gloom," said Schenck. His goal, he says, is to help people "connect with the risen Christ during this season" and to "have a bit of fun in the process."
Posted by Annalisa Musarra 2 years 18 weeks ago
When it comes to financial advice in these tough economic times, more Americans today would rather take advice from business mogul Donald Trump than from the Bible.According to a survey conducted in February by two biblically oriented nonprofits, 50 percent of Americans would choose Donald Trump as their financial adviser, despite his history of filing for bankruptcy, and only 32 percent look to the Bible."The Bible offers sound advice about managing money, avoiding debt and prospering in difficult times," said Lamar Vest, president of the American Bible Society, co-sponsor of the survey, but 94 percent of Americans are unable to pinpoint the verse from Proverbs about these themes.
Posted by Annalisa Musarra 2 years 19 weeks ago
A small Minnesota church is finding out the high cost of standing up for same-sex equality — as well as an unexpected lifeline from the very people it decided to support.When the Rev. Oliver White voted in favor of the United Church of Christ's endorsement of same-sex marriage in 2005, 72 percent of his predominantly African-American flock at Grace Community United Church in St. Paul couldn't stand with him.The UCC's 2005 vote, he said, was "the beginning of the end of many UCC churches." Predominantly black churches like his suffered the most, he said, because the black community "was, and still is, very homophobic."Because of White's vote, his church developed a reputation of being a "gay church" and people stopped coming. And stopped giving.
Posted by Annalisa Musarra 2 years 20 weeks ago
For the fourth year in a row, President Obama is proposing lower tax deductions for the wealthy on donations to churches and other nonprofit organizations. And for the fourth year in a row, nonprofit groups say the change would lead to a dramatic drop in charitable giving.The reduction, included in Obama's 2013 budget proposal, rankled the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America."We were hoping this would not come up again this year. We asked that they not renew it, but unfortunately the request was not taken," said Nathan Diament, the group's Washington director. "It's a real concern."
Posted by Annalisa Musarra 2 years 21 weeks ago
Dozens of members of Congress are upset that the Air Force has removed the Latin word for "God" from the logo of an Air Force acquisitions office.Led by Rep. J. Randy Forbes, co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, 36 lawmakers Monday (Feb. 6) sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz objecting to the removal of "God" from the logo of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO).The logo was recently removed, according to Forbes, after objections by the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers.