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Giving the trumpet a certain sound

September 2008

Pope Calls for Unity

During his trip to Australia in July, Pope Benedict XVI urged unity among religious leaders.

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Pope Benedict XVI on Friday urged religious leaders of all kinds to unite against those who use faith to divide communities an apparent reference to terrorism in the name of religion.

Benedict met with representatives of Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist faiths for about 40 minutes during the Roman Catholic Church's youth festival, which has drawn hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to Sydney.

"In a world threatened by sinister and indiscriminate forms of violence, the unified voice of religious people urges nations and communities to resolve conflicts through peaceful means and with full regard for human dignity," Benedict told a gathering of clerics from different faiths in Sydney. ...

The pope met separately with leaders of different Christian denominations, and said they, too, must work together more closely to ensure their beliefs stay a core part of society. On his way to Australia, the pope described the church in the West as being in crisis because people feel they have no need for God.

"I think you would agree that the ecumenical movement has reached a critical juncture," the pope said. "We must guard against any temptation to view doctrine as divisive and hence an impediment to the seemingly more pressing and immediate task of improving the world in which we live." ("Pope Emphasizes Unity Among Religious Leaders," the Associated Press at www.tbo.com (Tampa Bay Online), July 18, 2008)

Inspired commentary

Inspiration predicts that at some point those whose doctrines as seen as divisive will be subject to sanctions.

The wide diversity of belief in the Protestant churches is regarded by many as decisive proof that no effort to secure a forced uniformity can ever be made. But there has been for years, in churches of the Protestant faith, a strong and growing sentiment in favor of a union based upon common points of doctrine. To secure such a union, the discussion of subjects upon which all were not agreed however important they might be from a Bible standpoint must necessarily be waived. (The Great Controversy, p. 444)

When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result. (ibid. p. 445)

War in Georgia

On August 1 war broke out in the small country of Georgia on the southern border of Russia. The fighting has been going on for about 10 days at the time of this writing. The complexities of the situation are being analyzed in news sources, but the suffering is on the ground in the war zone. Although the fighting now appears to be winding down, the potential for additional conflict is still present.

Russian tanks roared deep into Georgia on Monday, launching a new western front in the conflict, and Russian planes staged air raids that sent people screaming and fleeing for cover in some towns.

The escalating warfare brought sharp words from President Bush, who pressed Moscow to accept an immediate cease-fire and pull its troops out to avert a "dramatic and brutal escalation" of violence in the former Soviet republic.

Russian forces for the first time moved well outside the two restive, pro-Russian provinces claimed by Georgia that lie at the heart of the dispute. An Associated Press reporter saw Russian troops in control of government buildings in this town just miles from the frontier and Russian troops were reported in nearby Senaki.

Georgia's president said his country had been sliced in half with the capture of a critical highway crossroads near the central city of Gori, and Russian warplanes launched new air raids across the country. ("Russia opens new front, drives deeper into Georgia," www.newsweek.com, Aug. 8, 2008)

Inspired commentary

For residents of the United States, the suffering of this conflict may seem far away and of little import. More thought, however, may lead to a certain apprehension. Certainly there should be prayer that peace will prevail in that area.

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Matthew 24:7,8

Credit Union Negative Equity

Although having sufficient operating capital, some large credit unions have reported negative net worth due to losses on mortgage securities.

Five of the largest credit unions in the U.S., including the U.S. Central Federal Credit Union have reported large losses on mortgage securities, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Those named include Western Corporate Federal Credit Union, Members United Corporate Federal Credit Union, Southwest Corporate Federal Credit Union, and Constitution Corporate Federal Credit Union.

While the losses suggest the housing crisis has spread to some of the more risk-cautious institutions, the federal regulator presiding over credit unions said these losses may well disappear when mortgage markets become more stable. The regulator also said that the credit unions have enough capital, according to the Journal.

The affected credit unions reported $5.7 billion of "unrealized" losses at the end of May this year, according to the Journal. Unrealized losses occur even when a security hasn't been sold, when the market value of a security drops. According to the Journal, the losses of the credit unions are enough to wipe out the next worth of each of them, given that their negative equity is $2.9 billion and that their debts exceed the market value of their assets.

Commercial banks and financial firms nationwide have taken more than $300 billion worth of writedowns since the credit crunch began. ("Credit Unions Falter in Face of Mortgage Woes," www.foxbusiness.com, Aug. 11, 2008)

Inspired commentary

The inordinate love of money has through the ages brought a lot of evil.

There are not many, even among educators and statesmen, who comprehend the causes that underlie the present state of society. Those who hold the reins of government are not able to solve the problem of moral corruption, poverty, pauperism, and increasing crime. They are struggling in vain to place business operations on a more secure basis. If men would give more heed to the teaching of God's word, they would find a solution of the problems that perplex them. (Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 13)

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