Saturday, June 07, 2008

It Really Is True

One of the jokes made by reasserters is that conversation in the Episcopal Church is them speaking and us listening. I have thought there was some truth to it, like all humour, but what it really was about was some bitterness and a lot of exhaustion.

Then I came across this essay in the Washington Post. The author is a writer and Episcopal priest, rector of a very large church in New York City. His main point is that it's unfair to criticize Obama's former preacher, the Rev. Wright, because we don't know the context. It's all very relativistic and wrong-headed.

But the headline made my pause for a second: "Preaching is an extended conversation". The Rev. Tully liked that phrase so much he used it again five paragraphs down. Preaching can be a lot of things. It can edifying or harmful, exciting or tedious, provocative or soothing. But what it can not be is conversation. Merriam-Webster defines conversation as the "oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas or an instance of such exchange". Sermons are monologues. Conversations must be at least a dialogue.

Once again, Johnson's third law of Episcopal thermodynamics is proven yet again: "Every joke you make about the Episcopal church eventually becomes true."

Maybe what the Episcopal Church needs more than remedial theological education is remedial English education. Could most of our problems be solved with mandatory vocabulary drills?

{H/T The Reformed Pastor}

Saturday Broadway

I'm not really a fan of Stephen Sondheim. He has written some good stuff (West Side Story and Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), but his later work is very much hit or miss.

This is one of his hits. The singer is Dean Jones of Disney fame. The song is "Being Alive" from Company. I loathe Company. But this performance hits a chord. There are better singers than Dean Jones (although he is a fine singer), but this is my favourite version of this song. He owns it.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Stormy Weather

The one and only Lena Horne from the move of the same name.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Thursday Bracer

The Fabulously Talented Nicholas Brothers

And that Cab Calloway isn't bad either.........


Office Worker Goes Absolutely Insane - Watch more free videos

Folks seem divided as whether this is real or a fake. The lack of cords on the monitors does seem to indicate fakery, but on the other hand, it looks awfully real.

{H/T The Lobster Pot}

Irony, defined

Check out this news story.

{H/T Instapundit}

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Story of a foreclosure

I know I am probably a broken record on the subject, but I thought discussing an actual foreclosure might be of some use.

It took me a while to come up with a foreclosed property that I could discuss. Apparently my firm is a bit more successful than I had realized in the REO market. Anyhow, the following property is one with which I have had absolutely no involvement. All the information I have is derived from public records.

Some background information: The property is a house and lot located in south Fulton County. Fulton County is the largest county in Georgia, both in size and population. Atlanta proper is located mostly in central Fulton County. North Fulton County is largely middle class to upper middle class suburbia. Many athletes and CEO's live in north Fulton County. South Fulton County was, until very recently, a backwater. There are actually still some working farms in south Fulton. Within the past five or so years, there has been a boom in affordable starter type housing construction in south Fulton.

Our purchaser, Mr Kelly, bought the property back in October of 2004 from a builder. He paid $167,000 for it. The property was a new house located in a brand new subdivision. To finance his purchase, he borrowed $127,500 on a first loan with an adjustable interest rate and $25,000 on a second with a fifteen year balloon payment. That means he was to pay interest only for fifteen years and the entire amount of the loan would be due at the end of the term. The interest rate on the first started at 5.125% and could potentially increase by one per centum every six months. Mr Kelly did not have to make any principle payments on his first note until 2014.

Since 2004, Mr Kelly accumulated a total of eight starter type houses, all in south Fulton. He, however, lives in New York City. Late last year his properties started to be foreclosed upon. So far, he has lost six of his eight properties. Our property was foreclosed on April 1, 2008. The lender on the first note bought it back in at auction for $140,000. The lender on the second note was cut off and lost everything.

For those who have difficulty following the math, Mr Kelly bought the property for $167,000. He financed $152,500 of his purchase, meaning he actually paid (cash) $14,500. This is not a happy story. A man bought a house, probably for speculative purposes, couldn't sell it and wound up losing his investment. A lender lent him money on a second and lost all of their money as well. The lender on the first note now has a house and lot that it likely will not be able to sell for anything close to what was lent on it any time soon.

It is a sad situation. My point is that, while it is typical, it bears little to no resemblance to the situation being presented in the media. To the best of my knowledge, Mr Kelly is not homeless. He actually had a decent interest rate on his first note. His credit rating is likely in tatters, but that is not the end of the world. And he still has two houses left.

Finally, I could find none of the indicia of bad faith anywhere. There were no gouging interest rates, no weird financing, fly by night lenders, powers of attorney to strangers, flip sales or stray documents.

The sub prime lending market makes a great story and sub prime lenders make great culprits, but, at least here in Georgia, what's driving the foreclosures is that the former owners bought investment property at the peak of the real estate cycle. Builders over built houses compared to demand. And lenders got over-excited about generating commissions for making loans. Housing prices are getting rational again and those who bought high are getting squeezed.

There is no solution needed. This is a self-correcting problem. In a few years, housing will exceed the stocks in demand and prices will rise again. No one need do anything at all.


Rick Hills has a provocative piece on why he is not an intellectual.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Arlene Dahl

It's not my favourite Western, but it is a wonderful scene.

Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Deadbeats Have Got To Go!

The first Tuesday of every month is foreclosure day in Georgia. Foreclosure auctions are generally held on the courthouse steps of the county where the property is located.

This morning I was in the Fulton County Courthouse. The Fulton County Courthouse is in downtown Atlanta and is three blocks away from the State Capitol and two blocks from Atlanta City Hall. as is often the case on foreclosure day, a group had decided to add to the press of people and have a little protest.

Marching up and down the street in front of the foreclosures were a total of twelve protesters when I entered the courthouse. Ten of them had very similar signs that read (more or less) "Abolish sub-prime loans. Stop illegal foreclosures." One protester had a sign that said simply "Stop obesity" against the background of a dollar bill. The last had a very verbose sign alleging someone named Angela is a political prisoner in the jail.

When I left the courthouse all twelve were still there. However, they were gathering in a tight group and there was a video crew with a talking head. So if anyone watches the evening news tonight and sees a protest group in Atlanta at the county courthouse, please remember there were only twelve of them.

With any luck they won't be chanting during the shoot. They were singing a hymn when I entered the courthouse and doing an excellent job of it. So you may be able to hear some good singing instead of the usual chanted drivel.

Monday, June 02, 2008

More for myself, than anyone else....

The Impotence of Proof Reading

Theological Music: N'Awlins Style

Clifford over at Red Stick Rant has posted an excellent video which he believes sums up the Episcopal Church's current theology. He may be right.

I prefer to think that this says it all:

The Episcopal Church: Come and Grow!

This article over at StandFirm made me reflect upon my church's former slogan.

The Episcopal Church: Come and Grow!

I've never really been sure what they meant by 'grow'.

It can not be spiritually. As an institution, the Episcopal church is moribund, if not deceased.

It can not be numerically. The membership is shrinking.

The only two possible answers are financially and chronologically.


We have either:

The Episcopal Church: Come and grow (richer) or
The Episcopal Church: Come and grow (older)

The problem with the money option is that the church wants your money. They wish to hold on to their own.

So what is left is:

The Episcopal Church: Come and grow old.