Thursday, May 29, 2008

Jumping to conclusions

Paranoia runs deep in the land of CANA. (Dateline May 29, 2008)

Prior installment here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

When is a nonprofit not a nonprofit?

How much wealth can an organization accumulate and still be considered a charity? The New York Times
Authorities from the local tax assessor to members of Congress are increasingly challenging the tax-exempt status of nonprofit institutions — ranging from small group homes to wealthy universities — questioning whether they deserve special treatment.

One issue is the growing confusion over what constitutes a charity at a time when nonprofit groups look more like businesses, charging fees and selling products and services to raise money, and state and local governments are under financial pressure because of lower tax revenues.

And there are others: Does a nonprofit hospital give enough charity care to earn a tax exemption? Is a wealthy university providing enough financial aid?
Congress has threatened to impose a requirement that wealthy universities make minimum payouts from their endowments and raised questions about whether nonprofit hospitals are really all that different from their for-profit — and tax-paying — competitors.

And, concerned about the way some churches are spending money, the Senate Finance Committee has asked for detailed financial information from six evangelical ministries asking them to justify their tax exemptions.

Others are questioning whether some tax-exempt nonprofits, primarily universities and hospitals, have accumulated so much wealth that they should no longer be considered charities. In Massachusetts, where Harvard’s endowment has reached $35 billion in assets, legislators are weighing whether to impose a 2.5 percent annual assessment on universities with endowments of more than $1 billion.

The idea behind tax exemptions is that the organizations provide a public service or substantially reduce the burdens of government. Standards from property-tax exemptions are set by the states, while the federal exemption means charities are not taxed on their income.
Donors may ask the same questions. Why give to an organization that is accumulating wealth rather than using it?

Carroll Bogert, the associate director of Human Rights Watch, and a member of the Harvard class of 1983, in an op-ed in the New York Times
At Harvard, where I’m on my way for my 25th reunion, I’d have to be drunk to fall for their pitch. The university’s endowment stands at $35 billion and is likely to hit $100 billion in a decade.
If you ask Harvard’s president, Drew Gilpin Faust, why in the world she needs your $1,000 — as I did recently, at one of those pre-reunion cocktail parties in someone’s staggering Fifth Avenue duplex — she has a ready answer: alumni giving covers one-third of Harvard’s operating budget. What she doesn’t mention is that earnings from the endowment last year could cover the entire operating budget while still growing at a healthy rate.
A few hundred alumni have formed Harvard Alumni for Social Action, to try to channel 25th-reunion giving to destitute universities in Africa. In three years, we’ve raised $425,000 — a lot for the University of Dar es Salaam but hardly a match for our annual class “gift.” And evidently not enough to win the respect of President Faust, who has begged off meeting the group. Harvard clearly doesn’t like any effort that might divert a dollar away from its Cambridge coffers.
And what about churches that spend more on inreach than outreach -- where inreach includes plush facilities that make it difficult to distinguish the institution from a private club? Some churches do -- in my opinion -- abuse the tax privileges afforded them under the cover of separation of church and state.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Books read, unread or only started

From In a Godward Direction who got it from [....]

What we have below is a list of the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing users. Bold the ones you've read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish.

Bold the ones you've read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
Angels & Demons
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything (audio version)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid (excerpts in school)
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Friday, May 16, 2008

CANA claims opponents use "vulgar tactics"

A press release from CANA Central:
ALERT: Scam Defaming CANA

Please be aware that some who oppose CANA are apparently resorting to rather vulgar tactics. Earlier this week Bishop Bena was contacted by a landlord in Minnesota who informed us that he had received a query from a supposedly potential tenant who claimed to be from a St Lukes in Southampton England and who claimed that he was coming to the States in order to work for Bishop Minns, Bishop Bena, and CANA for about two years. The tenant further told the landlord that they were going to send a large check in excess of the rent with the request that the landlord cash it and buy furniture for the foreign tenant who would not be able to bring furnishings with them from England. Later this week another landlord from Florida called the CANA Headquarters with the same scenario.

This is a hoax by those who oppose CANA. [...]

My emphasis.

What you have here in all likelihood is a scam by experienced scam artists whose only agenda is making money the easy way. In this age of email spam we've all seen jillions of scams not unlikely these. All they're looking for is a sucker who will fall for the pitch.

I believe CANA is the one resorting to "vulgar tactics" by using the scam to suggest that it must be perpetrated by opponents of CANA. (Either that, or paranoia strikes deep in the heart of CANA.) Which opponents?

CANA should put out an alert about the scam; it hurts its own credibility by using the public service announcement - in the opening sentence, no less - to turn it into a self-serving statement.

Again. Which opponents? CANA is the defamer. CANA is the hoaxer.

CANA congregations continue to look to Episcopal bishops

The funny thing about CANA congregations is that they continue to look to Episcopal dioceses for support -- such as programming and advice of teaching Sunday School, etc. This shouldn't really be surprising. Churches are comprised of people, and old habits and networks don't just die when a group of dissidents leaves the Episcopal Church for CANA. But does reaching out for support also apply to deployment?

Here's a report that is uncorroborated at this point -- it's in the category of rumor rather than news. Mad Priest passes along the story,
There is a parish in the far reaches of our diocese that decided to affiliate with Peter Akinola and the Nigerians. They are now looking for a new rector.

A woman from the search committee contacted the bishop of this diocese and asked him to send an interim rector.

The bishop of this diocese told her he could not do so and that they would have to ask Akinola to send them an interim rector.

The lovely little lady then said they didn't want to do that because they are afraid Akinola will send them a black person.

While I give the bishop credit for this, I cannot forget that he is also very much in favor of discrimination against GLBT Episcopalians in this diocese. He considers himself a "Windsor Bishop," but unlike most of the "Windsor Bishops," he has read the part about avoiding schism.
Here's one list of Windsor Bishops. Here's a list of CANA congregations. I don't know any that are currently searching for a rector.