Communing a dog

Consider not only this unspeakable sacrilege but the reason given for commiting it:

St. Peter’s Anglican Church has long been known as an open and inclusive place.

So open, it seems, they won’t turn anyone away. Not even a dog.

That’s how a blessed canine ended up receiving communion from interim priest Rev. Marguerite Rea during a morning service the last Sunday in June.

According to those in attendance at the historical church at 188 Carlton St. in downtown Toronto, it was a spontaneous gesture, one intended to make both the dog and its owner – a first timer at the church — feel welcomed. But at least one parishioner saw the act as an affront to the rules and regulations of the Anglican Church. He filed a complaint with the reverend and with the Anglican Diocese of Toronto about the incident – and has since left the church.

“I wrote back to the parishioner that it is not the policy of the Anglican Church to give communion to animals,” said Bishop Patrick Yu, the area bishop of York-Scarborough responsible for St. Peter’s, who received the complaint in early July. “I can see why people would be offended. It is a strange and shocking thing, and I have never heard of it happening before.

“I think the reverend was overcome by what I consider a misguided gesture of welcoming.”

via Can a dog receive communion? –

HT: Joe Carter

I realize that many churches do not have a high view of Holy Communion and so would not think this is a big deal. But Anglicans DO have a high view of Holy Communion! Not as high as Lutherans, but still. . . .

Predicting the future by projecting the present

That post about the Post Office contained an intriguing concept.  It accuses the USPS of acting like Kodak, which hung onto its chemical film business even after the digital camera was invented.  The syndrome is “looking at the future as a variant of the present.”

This is how most predictions of the future are made.  Take a current fact or trend and project it into the future and extrapolate it into infinity.  I think of the “Tomorrowland” features on the old Walt Disney show that I used to watch as a kid, predicting what life would be like in the year 2000.  Air transportation really had taken off in the early 1960′s, so we would have individual jet packs to fly around with by the year 2000.  Food technology–nutritional analysis, manufacturing, packaging–was exciting at the time, so by the year 2000 we could get our nutrition from pills and squeeze tubes.

None of these came true, of course.  The predictions ignored what is unchanging in human nature (our desire for safety and security; our love of eating) and they basically just were commentaries on their own, now dated, times.  Disney, of course, could not have predicted what computers would actually be used for (not housekeeping or as personal butlers, in that age when people were impressed with new housekeeping technology such as toasters and vaccuum cleaners), much less the invention of the internet.

I see this projection of the present into the future in political analysis, demographic studies, public policies , and cultural studies (such as those that predict where the church will be in the next decades).  Can you give examples?

End mail delivery?

The U.S. Postal Service is having financial problems again and is proposing higher postage feeds and cutting out Saturday deliveries.  What, though, do you get in your mail these days?  In an age of e-mails and electronic banking, do we even need snail mail anymore?  Yes, we need delivery of packages for what we order online–something done profitably by Fed-Ex and UPS–so why not make that the business of the USPS, with those who still send paper correspondence paying for them as little packages?  Or why not let the government-subsidized post offices go out of business and let the private companies do it all?  Here is a proposal and rationale:

The Postal Service projects deficits of $238 billion — roughly the current gross domestic product of Portugal — through 2020. Raising rates slightly and reducing delivery would make tiny dents — and that’s the best possible outcome; in the worst, the changes would accelerate the service’s problems. Meanwhile, the debate obscures the fact that digital communications are fast eliminating the need for mail delivery.

To understand what could happen to the Postal Service, look at Kodak, whose 130-year history includes the kind of dominance that USPS long enjoyed. Even as the long-term threat from digital photography became clear in the 1990s, Kodak temporized. It tinkered with its traditional film, paper and chemicals businesses, never acknowledging that digital would all but eliminate them. Kodak continually predicted growth, even as it fell from being one of the most profitable companies in the world to one that’s essentially worthless.

The Postal Service, too, is looking at the future as a variant of the present. USPS, convinced of the long-term need for physical mail delivery, has been relying on increases in volume, according to a Government Accountability Office report published in April. Yet delivery volume for first-class mail fell 22 percent from 1998 through 2007, tumbled an additional 13 percent last year and was down 3 percent in the first half of this year despite heavy mailings from the Census Bureau.

Step one in avoiding Kodak’s fate is for the Postal Service to acknowledge that its future will have almost no connection to the present. Anything that can be conceived of as information will, in time, be sent electronically. The Internet is faster, cheaper and more convenient for the sender and the receiver.

E-mail has already supplanted letters, but that’s just the start. More people will send money via PayPal or other electronic services rather than mail checks. As is increasingly the case, people will download their movies and books, check their bills online, receive information about their investments electronically, and so on.

USPS’s future lies in things that need to be delivered physically: shoes, computers and other objects. On those items, the Internet can’t compete, and USPS has assets that could let it take on UPS and FedEx (which, unencumbered by USPS’s declining business, are in splendid shape; UPS reported Thursday that its second-quarter profit had nearly doubled, to $845 million, from a year earlier).

via Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui – How the U.S. Postal Service can save itself.

How funds this blog

Speaking of buying that Bo Giertz novel through this blog reminded me to thank all of you who are using Cranach as your Amazon portal.  Going to that site from here, using the Amazon search box in the sidebar, gives this blog a commission on whatever you buy.  The commission starts at 4% (though I’m getting 6% because of how much I’ve sold).  That’s not much, but you all really buy a lot of books.  And since now sells about everything, some of you are buying major appliances, such as ovens, through my site, giving my earnings a big boost!  I’m making from $25 to $100 every month, which more than covers the expenses of this little hobby.  (Cranach readers buy more books than click Google ads.  Those are making me nothing.  But that’s a sign of your sophistication.)  So thanks to everyone who has been patronizing my virtual department store. And for those of you who haven’t, if you ever need a book. . . or an oven. . .I’d be much obliged if you would start your Amazon search from that widget below the Lucas Cranach information.

If you want to get in on this action on your own blog or website, go here.

No more secrets

Last week the Washington Post outed thousands of top-secret security agencies, to the point of publishing an on-line map so that they can be located.  Now an online group WikiLeaks has released thousands of classified documents about the war in Afghanistan:

U.S. and Pakistani officials are condemning the publication of leaked documents that are said to be secret U.S. military files about the Afghanistan war.

The website WikiLeaks posted tens of thousands of documents online Sunday, and said it has another 15,000 documents that will be released “as the security situation in Afghanistan permits.”  It says the files cover the period between January 2004 and December 2009.

White House National Security Advisor James Jones issued a statement calling the leaks “irresponsible,” saying they not only put the lives of Americans and their partners at risk, but also threaten national security.

The leaked documents are said to include records detailing raids carried out by a secretive U.S. special operations unit against what U.S. officials call “high-value” insurgent and terrorist targets.  Some of the raids are said to have resulted in unintended killings of Afghan civilians.

Also included are documents allegedly describing U.S. fears that Pakistan’s intelligence service was aiding the Afghan insurgency.

Jones said WikiLeaks made no effort to contact the U.S. government, which learned about the release from news organizations.  Those include The New York Times, London’s Guardian newspaper and the German weekly Der Spiegel.

via Thousands of ‘Secret’ Afghan War Files Released on Internet | News | English.

It is certainly difficult to keep secrets in the age of the internet.  Should we just accept all of this “transparency” and embrace a totally free marketplace of information?  Of course, the exposure of government secrets simply follows the exposure of personal secrets that the internet also makes possible.  Do we need to find a way to allow for both individual privacy and national security secrets, or do we just need to find a way to live with the new information environment?

War games are “on” in Korea

Despite North Korean threats to go nuclear, the U.S. and South Korea are going on with their naval exercises.  See S. Korea, U.S. stage anti-sub exercises in 2nd day of joint naval drills.