Saturday, December 03, 2005


Light of lights!
All gloom dispelling,
Thou didst come to make thy dwelling
Here within our world of sight.
Lord, in pity and in power,
Thou didst in our darkest hour
Rend the clouds and show thy light.


Praise to thee in earth and heaven
Now and evermore be given,
Christ, who art our sun and shield.
Lord, for us thy life thou gavest,
Those who trust in thee thou savest,
All thy mercy stands revealed.

St Thomas Aquinas
art

Does Anyone Actually Play Music?
Does it Matter to the Church?
by Albert Mohler
Posted: Friday, December 02, 2005 at 2:58 am ET



Charles Rosen, an influential music critic, reviews Robert Philip's new book, Performing Music in the Age of Recording in The New York Review of Books. The article raises a number of important questions and issues. [Read Rosen's article, "Playing Music: The Lost Freedom."]

Before 1900 in Europe and America, it was at home that music was most often experienced, by family members who played some instrument or sang, and by, willingly or unwillingly, the rest of the family and friends. (In Western society among the lower middle class and upward, most music was made by women, who were generally expected to learn to cook, sew, and play the piano. The majority of professional musicians may have been male, like the majority of professional cooks, but most of the cooking and piano play-ing was the lot of women. Music, like breakfast and dinner, was part of life at home.) More exceptionally, music could be heard in some public places--concert hall, opera house, or church. The public realm was essentially a complement to the private. It set standards and added glamour.

The rest

Has feared mutation of avian flu arrived?
Doctors in Thailand, Indonesia see1st signs of human-to-human spread
Posted: December 2, 200510:10 p.m. Eastern

Officials in at least two nations now suspect the avian flu bug has mutated into a virus that is being transmitted from human to human – a development world health authorities have estimated could result in the deaths of tens of millions.

Thai health officials have expressed concern that the country's two latest confirmed victims may be the beginning of the much feared human-to-human transmission.

Dr. Charoen Chuchottaworn, an avian-flu expert at the Public Health Ministry, said doctors reviewing the cases were alerted by the very mild symptoms present in both patients, neither of whom had had any recent contact with birds or poultry.
The rest

Pharmacists disciplined over morning-after pill
Walgreen workers violated state rule by refusing to fill prescriptions
Updated: 2:50 p.m. ET Dec. 1, 2005

ST. LOUIS - Walgreen Co., the nation’s largest drugstore chain by revenue, said it has put four Illinois pharmacists in the St. Louis area on unpaid leave for refusing to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception in violation of a state rule.

The four cited religious or moral objections to filling prescriptions for the morning-after pill and “have said they would like to maintain their right to refuse to dispense, and in Illinois that is not an option,” Walgreen spokeswoman Tiffani Bruce said.

A rule imposed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich in April requires Illinois pharmacies that sell contraceptives approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to fill prescriptions for emergency birth control. Pharmacies that do not fill prescriptions for any type of contraception are not required to follow the rule.
The rest

Preserving the word: How the faithful deal with battered Bibles and stolen scriptures
By GLENN EVANS
Saturday, December 03, 2005

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper (in the thing) whereto I sent it. – Isaiah 55:11

The faithful worldwide believe their sacred texts hold eternal truths, but the paper and ink that convey these messages are subject to this corruptible world.

The pages fray and decay, the ink fades and replacements are eventually needed. And – gasp! – people have been known to swipe the Gideon's Bible they find in a motel room.
Story

Five Chinese Nuns Hospitalized After Land Dispute
By Philip P. Pan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, December 2, 2005; Page A17

BEIJING, Dec. 1 -- At least five Catholic nuns resisting a government plan to sell land claimed by their church to a real estate developer are hospitalized in the Chinese city of Xian after thugs armed with sticks and clubs assaulted them, a witness and others familiar with the incident said Thursday.

One of the nuns, identified as Cheng Jing, 34, was blinded in the attack and has recovered the use of only one eye, and another nun was scheduled for surgery on her spine, according to people who have visited them. A third was recovering with a broken arm, and two others incurred serious head injuries.
Story


Torture found rife in China
December 3, 2005
From combined dispatches

BEIJING -- A United Nations rights investigator said yesterday that torture was still widespread in China and accused authorities of trying to obstruct his work on a historic fact-finding mission.

"Torture is on the decline, but it is still widespread," Manfred Nowak, the U.N. Human Rights Commission's special rapporteur on torture, told reporters at the end of his two-week trip.

"There is much that still needs to be done; there is a need for many more structural reforms," said Mr. Nowak, a law professor in Vienna, Austria.

Torture methods he cited include the use of electric-shock batons, cigarette burns, submersion in pits of water or sewage and exposure to conditions of extreme heat or cold.
The rest

Scandinavia: Moral Wasteland
December 02, 2005 07:56 PM EST
By Thomas E. Brewton

The self-righteous Norwegians, no longer having a moral compass, have hired a philosopher to tell them what to do. Any people who could award the Nobel Peace Prize to Yasser Arafat are so debauched by anti-religious, secular materialism that recognizing the difference between good and evil is beyond their capacities.

From the Middle Ages until the 20th century, Scandinavia was home to decent, moral, and hard-working people with a strong sense of right and wrong conduct. No longer.

In the second half of the 20th century, the Scandinavian countries sank into the cesspool of socialism's secular materialism. Sexual promiscuity, anti- Christian attitudes, sloth, and welfare-state dependency are synonyms for what passes as personal character in these Baltic nations.

Scandinavian parents are happy to see their children experimenting with sexual promiscuity. After all, to the "pure of heart" socialist, there is no right or wrong.
The rest

New U.S. textbook aims to teach Bible
Thursday, December 1, 2005;
Posted: 10:04 a.m. EST (15:04 GMT)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Since the U.S. Supreme Court banned the promotion of religion in public schools in 1963, the Bible has virtually disappeared from most American classrooms.
But in recent years, as evangelical Christians have grown in numbers and gained political clout in the United States, Bible studies have been creeping back into schools.

Now, a new textbook for high school students aims to fill a gap by teaching the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, in a non-sectarian, nonreligious way as a central document of Western civilization with a vast influence on its literature, art, culture and politics.
Story

Friday, December 02, 2005

Our Holiest Example

I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. (Psalm 16:8)

This is the way to live. With God always before us, we shall have the noblest companionship, the holiest example, the sweetest consolation, and the mightiest influence. This must be a resolute act of the mind. "I have set," and it must be maintained as a set and settled thing. Always to have an eye to the Lord's eye and an ear for the Lord's voice—this is the right state for the godly man. His God is near him, filling the horizon of his vision, leading the way of his life, and furnishing the theme of his meditation. What vanities we should avoid, what sins we should overcome, what virtues we should exhibit, what joys we should experience if we did indeed set the Lord always before us! Why not?

This is the way to be safe. The Lord being ever in our minds, we come to feel safety and certainty because of His being so near. He is at our right hand to guide and aid us; and hence we are not moved by fear, nor force, nor fraud, nor fickleness. When God stands at a man's right hand, that man is himself sure to stand. Come on, then, ye foemen of the truth! Rush against me like a furious tempest, if ye will. God upholds me. God abides with me. Whom shall I fear?

CH Spurgeon

S. Africa's Top Court Blesses Gay Marriage
Parliament Given One Year to Amend Law
By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, December 2, 2005; Page A16

JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 1 -- South Africa's highest court on Thursday recognized the marriage of two Pretoria women and gave Parliament a year to extend legal marital rights to all same-sex couples.

The ruling, greeted with jubilation by gay men and lesbians but with frustration by some church leaders, will make South Africa the first country to allow marriages between gay people on a continent where homosexual activity is widely condemned and often outlawed.
Story

Diocese of CNY: A letter from Tony Seel to his parish-St. Andrew's Church, Vestal, NY

Friday, December 02, 2005

Rector's Fisherman Letter:The following is my letter to St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Vestal NY. It was published in the December issue of our Fisherman newsletter. I wrote it because even in our parish there are many people who don't know what is going on in ECUSA these days. I present it here because there are people in parishes in our Diocese of Central NY and around the country that know even less about what is going on. For some people this is deliberate - they really don't want to know. For others, it is that their parish priest and their bishop would prefer that they not know. I hear from parishioners from other churches in the Diocese of Central NY either directly or through our parishioners that the issues that confront ECUSA are not discussed in their parishes. Two weeks ago we managed to go through an entire diocesan convention without having any serious discussion of the issues that confront our diocese and ECUSA. I mentioned General Convention 2003 at a microphone during the Friday afternoon session. The chancellor of the diocese made a report that our diocese has not studied the Windsor Report. That was it. We have an elephant in the living room where the coffee table used to be and everyone is talking around it as if it isn't there. ed.

letter here

Christian perfection is not, and never can be, human perfection. Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship to God which shows itself amid the irrelevancies of human life. When you obey the call of Jesus Christ, the first thing that strikes you is the irrelevancy of the things you have to do, and the next thing that strikes you is the fact that other people seem to be living perfectly consistent lives. Such lives are apt to leave you with the idea that God is unnecessary, by human effort and devotion we can reach the standard God wants. In a fallen world this can never be done. I am called to live in perfect relation to God so that my life produces a longing after God in other lives, not admiration for myself. Thoughts about myself hinder my usefulness to God. God is not after perfecting me to be a specimen in His show-room; He is getting me to the place where He can use me. Let Him do what He likes.

Oswald Chambers

The spiritual life is a stern choice. It is not a consoling retreat from the difficulties of existence, but an invitation to enter fully into that difficult existence, and there apply the Charity of God, and bear the cost.

Evelyn Underhill

Theological Education That Transforms, Part One
Friday, December 02, 2005

Theological education has become an exotic and mysterious enterprise, at least to the general public. Most Americans think seldom of theological seminaries, if at all, and most conceive of them as something like graduate schools for religious professionals--teaching religious people to do whatever it is that religious people do.

Even inside the church, some confusion about theological education clouds the picture. Laypersons often assume that the seminary exists as a factory to turn out preachers--freshly minted and ready for immediate call--ready to be wound up and set in motion. The view from the pew is of interest, for it reveals the widespread impression that seminaries can do everything necessary for the preparation of ministers, even if the churches have given little attention to their own responsibility.

The most malignant confusion about theological education exists within the seminaries, and is writ large across the accrediting agencies and coalitions of seminaries. This is not a recent development. Writing in 1954, H. Richard Niebuhr found little clarity as he presented a survey of theological education in America: "Great confusion prevails in some quarters about theological education. What, it is asked, is the meaning of this ministry? For what purpose are we educating? The situation in some circles of theological educators seems to be similar to the one found among certain foreign missionaries and sponsors of foreign missions. They know what they are doing is important, but an understanding of the strategy of their work, a relatively precise and definite understanding of its meaning, is lacking."

The rest-Albert Mohler

Think the Universities Are Bad? Beware Your Christian College ...
By Matt Friedeman
December 1, 2005

(AgapePress) - I'll give this to the University of Kansas -- when I wanted to do a largely evangelical dissertation on Jesus, they let me. And, they afforded me enormous latitude in bringing the project to completion. My professors and advisor didn't flinch.

Since it was my third degree from that institution, I was, frankly, elated with the outcome. I had attended the school for seven years as a theological, political, cultural and moral conservative. In other words, I learned necessary survival skills at this "Berkeley of the Midwest": keep your head down, save your breath in debate, and recognize that the opinions from the administration to the classroom to the school paper were going to consistently be way left of center. Public resistance would not be rewarded.

The year is now 2005. The Kansas State Board of Education decided to include more criticism of evolution in its standards for science teaching and hence treat intelligent design with more respect. The religious studies department of the University of Kansas has decided to retaliate with a course called "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies."
Story

Muslim Mob 'Terrorizes' Children in Indonesian Sunday School
By Sherrie Gossett
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
December 02, 2005

(CNSNews.com) - Approximately 30 Christian children fled in panic after a mob of Islamic militants raided and vandalized their Sunday school class, which was being held in a private home last weekend in Curug, Indonesia, according to a Christian group called Voice of the Martyrs (VOM).

The violence came less than a month after three teenaged Christian schoolgirls were attacked and beheaded as they walked through a cocoa plantation on their way to school. One girl's severed head was reportedly placed in front of a church, eight miles from where the bodies were found, in what locals viewed as a stark warning to Christians.
The rest


Christians evicted to make way for Muslims in Pakistan, says bishop
Posted on 12/01/2005 5:06:50 PM PST by
bloggodocio

LONDON (CNS) -- Hundreds of Christian families in Pakistan are being kicked out of their homes to make way for Muslims left destitute by the Kashmir earthquake, a Catholic bishop said.
Bishop Anthony Lobo of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Pakistan, said the Pakistani government has evicted Christians to solve the problem of how to house some 3 million people left homeless by the disaster.
The Oct. 8 earthquake killed more than 73,000 people, but those left homeless continue to be threatened with death from exposure to single-digit winter temperatures.
Bishop Lobo told the British branch of Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity, Nov. 29 that Christians in the neighboring Sind province, which was unaffected by the earthquake, might now also perish because they were being turned onto the streets without alternative accommodation provided for them.
the rest


House Church Pastor Abducted and Murdered in Iran

According to a November 28 report from Compass Direct, an Iranian convert to Christianity was kidnapped on November 22 from his home in Gonbad-e-Kavus. A few hours later, Ghorban Tori's body was dumped outside of his home. The 50-year-old pastor of an independent house church had been stabbed to death. Ghorban's congregation is made up of Muslim coverts to Christianity and in the past year he had received numerous threats from Islamic militants vowing to kill him if he did not stop sharing his faith.

Within hours of his murder, the secret police raided Ghorban's home in search of Bibles and other banned Christian books. They then proceeded to raid the homes of all the known Christians in the city. One source states that ten other Christians in several Iranian cities were arrested and tortured in the days following the murder. All were later released. Middle East Concern reports that other house church leaders have been visited by members of the Ministry of Security and Intelligence and warned that they are being watched.
Story

Ancient royal tomb is uncovered

Experts believe they have uncovered the tomb of England's King Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey.

Archaeologists using radar have also discovered a series of royal tombs dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries in under-floor chambers.

The discoveries were made as experts investigated the construction of the Abbey's 13th-century mosaic pavement.
Consultant archaeologist Dr Warwick Rodwell said it was "of historical interest unparalleled anywhere else".

Story

Christmas is our present to the rest of the world, says Archbishop
. . .By Ruth Gledhill and Tosin Sulaiman

THE Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, spelt out the meaning of Christmas last night. “Christmas is the Christian’s Christmas present to everybody else,” he said. “Christmas, for a Christian, tells us why people matter.”

Dr Williams was speaking at a ceremony opposite the Old Vic theatre in South London to switch on the Christmas lights for Lambeth Council.

Lambeth was the first council this year to get caught up in the annual “Christmas is banned” news story, the religious equivalent of the perennial winter weather story. For fear of offending ethnic minorities, council officials had decreed last month that the lights should not be Christmas lights but “winter lights” and “celebrity lights”.

the rest

Homosexuality - Rome and the Episcopal Church
by Peter Toon

Even though there are vocal "gay" priests both in the Roman Catholic and Episcopal Churches, the official teaching of the two churches concerning homosexuality & the priesthood is vastly different. In fact, it seems hard at times to believe that they are reading the same Bible, living in the same world and considering the same natural law.

For the Roman Church, the revealed Word of God, sacred tradition and natural law all combine to teach that genital sexual acts between two persons of the same sex are always wrong and are always a sin against God under any conditions. Strong inclinations and desires to perform such acts represent a grave disorder in the affections of a person, for a mature person's affections in sexual attraction are naturally ordered towards the opposite sex.

In the case of the priest his affections are ordered by grace towards the congregation of Christ's flock, which is the Bride of Christ, and he is a spiritual father to the flock. This means that a man who is active as an homosexual or even a man who is not mature in his affections (though he is celibate) should not to be ordained to the priesthood.

For the Episcopal Church, the Bible and modern experience [ = active human experience of homosexual acts in the context of the judgments of scientists, doctors, state legislators etc.] combine to teach that genital, sexual acts between two persons of the same sex are normally wrong and always sinful; however, when the two persons are bound in same-sex affection and in a covenanted partnership based on faithfulness to one another, then they can be holy and blessed of God.

The rest at Connecticut Six

Thursday, December 01, 2005

God is our true Friend, who always gives us the counsel and comfort we need. Our danger lies in resisting Him; so it is essential that we acquire the habit of hearkening to His voice, or keeping silence within, and listening so as to lose nothing of what He says to us. We know well enough how to keep outward silence, and to hush our spoken words, but we know little of interior silence. It consists in hushing our idle, restless, wandering imagination, in quieting the promptings of our worldly minds, and in suppressing the crowd of unprofitable thoughts which excite and disturb the soul.

François Fénelon

Catholics should not marry Muslims, say Italian bishops
From Richard Owen in Rome

ITALIAN bishops gave warning yesterday against Catholics marrying Muslims, citing cultural differences and fears that children born to mixed marriages would shun Christianity.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the president of the Italian Bishops Conference, said: “In addition to the problems that any couple encounters when forming a family, Catholics and Muslims have to reckon with the difficulties that inevitably arise from deep cultural differences.”

Story

Ruling: Pregnant moms can harm babies at will
Court says unborn children not 'human,' mothers can't be prosecuted for conduct
Posted: November 30, 200511:14 p.m. Eastern
By Joe Kovacs

The
Supreme Court of Hawaii has ruled that unborn children are not "human beings," and therefore women cannot be prosecuted for causing the death of babies by harmful behavior during their pregancies.

The
unanimous decision overturns the manslaughter conviction of 32-year-old Tayshea Aiwohi, who was found guilty in connection with the death of her newborn son by smoking crystal methamphetamine shortly before his birth. The rest


Studies denying abortion-cancer link debunked
Professor's review of latest research upholds causal relationship
Posted: December 1, 20051:00 a.m. Eastern
By Ron Strom

Ten studies touted by those who claim there is no link between abortion and breast cancer have been debunked in a new analysis being released today.
Published in the winter edition of the
Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, the findings were compiled by Joel Brind, Ph.D., president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute and a professor at Baruch College of the City University of New York. Brind's paper is an update of a similar analysis he completed in 1996. Story

Jesus” Film to be Shown in Public Schools Across Europe
A children's version of the "Jesus" film is to be shown in schools across Europe as part of the religious education that schools must provide according to goverenment requirements.
Posted: Thursday, December 1 , 2005, 8:29 (UK)

Numerous schools across Europe have approved the showing of the “Jesus” film in their schools as part of government requirements to teach religion, reports Mission Network News.

The “Jesus” film is being used by the schools throughout Western Europe to help fulfil the quota allotted to the teaching of Christianity, which sometimes gets a greater focus owing to the rich Christian heritage on the European continent.

The “Story of Jesus for Children” incorporates 40 minutes of the original “Jesus” film into a new drama about a fictional group of children who lived in A.D. 30, the approximate date of the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.

The children’s version has also been translated into more than 40 languages.
Story

Swedish priests will ignore Church decision
Date: Dec 2, 2005

Over 800 priests of the Church of Sweden have repudiated the Swedish Church Assembly decision to bless gay unions, saying they it is contrary to the word of God and that they will “resist the new order”.

On October 27, the Kyrkomötet, the Swedish Church Assembly, voted to amend its prayer book, changing the section on “Marriage” to “Marriage and Blessings” and appointed a committee to draw up the appropriate rites, as we reported on November 2.

“As priests, we are bound by the promises of faithfulness to Holy Scripture and to the confession of the church which we made at our ordination. We therefore totally reject this order,” the Nov 1 declaration, endorsed by 863 of Sweden’s 5000 active and retired clergy, stated.
The rest

Sandy Millar consecrated as Ugandan bishop to England
Date: Dec 2, 2005

An atmosphere reminiscent of England’s reclaiming of the Ashes surrounded the consecration of Sandy Millar in Uganda last Sunday.

An estimated 7,000 people filled the grounds of an unfinished cathedral to sing and dance to drums and trumpets in a five-hour ceremony, writes Chris Sugden.

Archbishop Henry Orombi consecrated Joel Obetia (48) as Bishop of the Diocese of Madi/West Nile and Prebendary Sandy Millar (65) as Bishop of the Church of Uganda to serve as Assistant Bishop for Mission in the Diocese of London.

The consecrations took place in Arua, a town of 60,000 in North West Uganda near the borders with Sudan and the Congo. The diocese, with 800 churches and 200 clergy in a population nearing 2 million, is also a springboard for mission in those countries and has been a haven for refugees.
Story

Ex-Anglican vicar's same-sex 'marriage'
Number: 5797 Date: Dec 2, 2
A former Church of England vicar will become one of the first people in the country to be married in a 'gay ceremony.'


Simon Long -- who was priest-in-charge of the Six Circa Holt parish, covering six villages deep in the heart of rural Leicestershire in 1990 -- will marry his 54-year-old former social worker partner, Kevin Crowe, on December 21. This will be the day that civil partnerships become legal.

The couple met 16 years ago, but their relationship created a Fleet Street scandal in 1998, when news of their relationship broke in The Times newspaper. The then Rev Long, who is now 65, spoke out to The Times after Anglican bishops ruled that gay relationships were unscriptural.

His published statement against the ruling caused a furore, with national newspaper cameramen and reporters camped out on his doorstep: "I'm glad I spoke out," said Simon, "because I was up-front and honest and there were no secrets. But it was very uncomfortable because Kevin and I were the focus of incandescent anger. The rest

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Advent 2005

Dear Readers,


There are some wonderful opportunities over at

Lent and Beyond to help make your Advent journey fruitful!
Advent readings:
here
Sites for Advent calenders:
Here-really neat!

Check them out-you'll be blessed!
Pat Dague


Why is it so important that you are with God and God alone on the mountain top? It's important because it's the place in which you can listen to the voice of the One who calls you the beloved. To pray is to listen to the One who calls you "my beloved daughter," "my beloved son," "my beloved child." To pray is to let that voice speak to the center of your being, to your guts, and let that voice resound in your whole being.

Henri J. M. Nouwen
Nouwen Centre

Televangelists on Unusual Side in Indecency Debate
By Jube Shiver Jr., Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Trying to preserve their electronic pulpits, the nation's religious broadcasters find themselves in the unusual position of fighting an effort by anti-indecency groups to thwart channels offering racy programming.

The issue involves a debate over whether cable companies should continue offering subscribers mainstream and niche channels in bundles, or let them buy what they want on an a la carte basis.

Consumer groups are pushing to let people choose their channels rather than pay for ones they don't watch. One Federal Communications Commission study showed people on average regularly watch only 17 of the more than 100 cable channels they typically receive.

But what started largely as a consumer issue has now morphed into a larger controversy involving whether cable operators should be required to continue exposing subscribers to niche channels, including religious ones, that people might not order on their own.

"We don't just want to preach to the choir; we want to reach the unchurched," said Paul Crouch Jr. of Trinity Broadcast Network in Santa Ana. "The bottom line is that we want to be everywhere on cable."
The rest

Dad Outraged Over ISU Policy Allowing Cohabiting Resident Staff
By Jim Brown and Jenni Parker
November 29, 2005

(AgapePress) - Some parents with students at Illinois State University want the school to reverse its policy permitting professional staff to engage in unmarried cohabitation in student dormitories.

One father, Greg Myers, says he was outraged to learn that the school's Student Affairs Office allowed his daughter's dorm supervisor to cohabitate with his girlfriend in ISU's Watterson Hall.
Myers' daughter, a senior at ISU, is a resident assistant in the dorm. Like her father, she objects to the staff cohabitation policy because of her Christian beliefs. The university's Housing Services office also permits staff members with same-sex romantic partners to live together in student dorms.
The rest

Swedish Pastor Accused of Hate Crimes Not Guilty
Christian groups were grateful that a Pentecostal pastor in Sweden was found not guilty of hate speech charges stemming from 2003 comments he made for criticising homosexuality.
Posted: Wednesday, November 30 , 2005, 10:02 (UK)

Christian groups were grateful that a Pentecostal pastor in Sweden was found not guilty of hate speech charges stemming from 2003 comments he made for criticising homosexuality.

Pastor Ake Green, who had denounced homosexuality as a "cancerous tumor" in comments from the pulpit and had been scheduled to serve for one month in prison, was acquitted by the Supreme Court in Stockholm under protection of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“Pastor Green was preaching straight from the Bible on the moral degradation of homosexual behaviour,” said Robert Knight, Director of the Culture and Family Institute for Concerned Women for America. Knight noted that Green was warning his congregation against "what God clearly calls sin" and invited others to repent like any other sinners.

At the centre of the controversy were Hate Crime laws passed by Swedish lawmakers in 2003. In the summer of the year, Green was arrested at his church and charged with “hate speech against homosexuals.” Prosecutors had sought to increase the sentence to six months in jail, even as the case began drawing attention from all over the world.
The rest

'Extinct' Parish Challenges U.S. Episcopal Church, Refuses Handover
Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2005
Posted: 11:56:35AM EST

The Episcopal Diocese of Rochester is asking for the keys to the church property of a parish that was recently dissolved in its opposition to the denomination's homosexual agenda.

All Saints Episcopal Church in Rochester, N.Y., now declared "extinct," refused to give up its property despite its being dismissed from the diocese for not paying its dues.


"He (Bishop Jack McKelvy) asked for the keys to the church," said Attorney Raymond Dague, who will represent All Saints if sued by the diocese, according to Agape Press. "He wanted possession of it; he wanted to install his pastor there. And we politely told him, 'No, you're not going to do that.'"

After the 2003 ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson – a practicing homosexual – in New Hampshire, conservative member churches were outraged. All Saints halted its annual payment to the diocese, protesting the denomination's move away from Scripture and the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Rochester congregation offered an alternative of putting the money in an escrow account until 2006, when the homosexual agenda would be assessed at the Episcopal National Conference. The diocese council rejected the offer. Rochester's Episcopal diocese voted on Nov. 19 to dissolve All Saints with its assets to be turned over to the trustees of the diocese.

the rest

Knights entitled to deny lesbians, tribunal says
By ROBERT MATAS
Wednesday, November 30, 2005

VANCOUVER -- The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruled yesterday that a Roman Catholic men's group, the Knights of Columbus, was entitled to turn away a lesbian couple who wanted to hold a wedding reception in their facility.

But in a decision that upset both sides in the dispute, the three-member tribunal also decided that the Catholic group had affronted the same-sex couple's dignity, feelings and self-respect, and that it should pay $2,000 to the two women to compensate for their injuries.
Story

That incredible shrinking Advent-Christmas season

Twenty-one years in Washington, D.C., should have rendered me impervious to the bizarre. But I confess to having been taken aback in mid-October when, inside a grocery where I was vainly searching for some decent Peccorino Romano, I saw an enormous Christmas display with ersatz snow and all the trimmings. It was bad enough when stores started putting out the Christmas decorations (or, as they now say, “holiday decorations”) a nanosecond after sweeping their shelves of leftover candy corn and other Halloween goodies beloved of dentists with medical school bills to pay. But Santa and the elves two weeks before Halloween?

It works the same way at the other end, so to speak. The estimable Father John Jay Hughes reports that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a feature article last December 26 on how to disassemble and store Christmas decorations. As Father Hughes commented, “In my childhood, thanks to my Anglican priest-father, we were never permitted to put up the tree or any Christmas decorations until Christmas Eve. And once up, they stayed there until at least the Octave of Epiphany” (which, I’d perhaps better note, would be January 13 — if, that is, the bishops hadn’t moved Epiphany from its proper date to a nearby Sunday, a folly surpassed only by the biblical absurdity of Ascension Thursday Sunday).

The rest

Christian hostages called 'spies'
By Sharon Behn
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
November 30, 2005

BAGHDAD -- Al Jazeera television yesterday aired a video of four aid workers kidnapped over the weekend, apparently being held by a previously unknown terrorist group called the "Swords of Righteousness."

The four -- two Canadians, an American and a Briton, members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) -- sat with their backs against a wall, and looked calm.

A taped statement by the terrorists accused the four of being "spies of the occupying forces." Previous hostages charged with being spies have been beheaded or shot.

The abductions of the four, plus a German woman kidnapped on Friday, is driving up fears that insurgents are expanding their terror campaign to the civilian expatriate population in Iraq in the weeks leading up to the Dec. 15 national elections.
The rest

School bans its pupils from using the C-word
By Ben Hoyle

CHRISTMAS frenzy arrives earlier every year, with tinsel appearing in shop windows in September and Slade playing in supermarkets long before the clocks go back.

But for one headmistress it has become a matter of principle to shield her pupils from the full force of the hype. Sue Lines has won praise from parents for keeping Christmas off the syllabus at Piper’s Vale primary school in Ipswich until December 7.
story

US abortion rights in the balance?
By Clare Murphy
BBC News

On Wednesday, America's highest court will consider whether a New Hampshire state law which restricts teenagers' access to abortion is constitutional.

If it votes to reinstate the law, the case will mark a fresh limitation on Roe v Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling which established a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy.
But in some states - notably Mississippi - local laws have already rendered the 1973 ruling all but irrelevant.

The southern state of three million has just one abortion clinic - compared with 400 in California. While some hospitals do offer the procedure in extremely limited circumstances, the majority of women wanting an abortion leave the state to get one.

For the US anti-abortion movement, Mississippi is an excellent example of how to achieve the aim of curbing terminations without waiting - potentially in vain - for the Supreme Court to overturn the historic ruling which made them legal.
the rest


The Perverse Logic of Abortion
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Abortion is back as front-page news and is once again in the forefront of the nation's concern. The nomination of Judge Samuel L. Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court's consideration of an important abortion case this week have focused attention on the issue and energized both sides in the controversy.
Nevertheless, the issue of abortion is not merely a major front in the nation's culture war. It is also a deeply personal tragedy. Every single abortion terminates an innocent human life, and each abortion represents an individual moral catastrophe. Yet the vast majority of Americans go about their everyday lives, even as the death toll from abortion continues to rise.
A poignant and chilling perspective on the issue of abortion has been provided by an article published in the November 29, 2005 edition of the Los Angeles Times. In "Offering Abortion, Rebirth," reporter Stephanie Simon takes readers into the life and logic of one of the nation's most notorious abortion providers.
Simon focuses on Dr. William F. Harrison of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Dr. Harrison has performed abortions at his clinic on College Avenue in Fayetteville for more than twenty years. Now, at age seventy, Harrison estimates that he has terminated at least twenty thousand pregnancies.

The rest-Albert Mohler

Professor says sorry for intelligent design email
Associated Press in Kansas
Wednesday November 30, 2005
The Guardian

A University of Kansas professor apologised for an email that referred to religious conservatives as "fundies" and said a course describing intelligent design as mythology would be a "nice slap in their big fat face".

Prof Paul Mirecki's department has removed the reference to mythology in the course title and he said he would teach it "as a serious academic subject".

Intelligent design - the belief that a higher power created the universe - was added to the curriculum after the Kansas education board decided to include more criticism of evolution in science teaching.
link

High hopes for new archbishop
By Robert Pigott

BBC Religious Affairs correspondent

The Church of England celebrates the appointment of its first black archbishop with a feast of sound and colour at York Minster to inaugurate John Sentamu as Archbishop of York.

What is expected of Ugandan-born Dr Sentamu now he is the Church's second in command?
Never before has an archbishop approached his new cathedral with a fanfare to match John Sentamu's - a boat up the River Ouse to the beat of African drums, a walk through the medieval streets of York to the Minster and a service including a Ugandan dance of rejoicing.

No enthronement has echoed to drums and lilting African songs and then ended with the release of doves and balloons.
The rest

Brazilian Bishops to Canterbury: Don't Allow Reinvention of Communion
11/29/2005

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) has written to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams questioning his impartiality over the Recife crisis.

In a Nov. 14 letter, 12 active and retired IEAB bishops defended the deposition of Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti of Recife for “disregard” of his fellow bishops and for performing an illicit confirmation in the Diocese of Ohio in 2004. Bishop Cavalcanti’s trial by the Brazilian House of Bishops conformed to canon law, and should be recognized by the wider Church, they said.

The bishops also defended the deposition without trial of 32 Recife clergy, saying the canons permitted the priests’ removal for “abandoning the communion of this Church” after they had refused to disown Bishop Cavalcanti and support the replacement named by them.

The rest

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Eternal Lord, how faint and small
Our greatest, strongest thoughts must seem
To Thee, who overseest all,
And leads us through Life's shallow stream.

How tangled are our straightest ways;
How dimly flares our brightest star;
How earthbound is our highest praise
To Thee, who sees us as we are.

Our feet are slow where Thine are fast;
Thy kiss of grace meets lips of stone;
And we admit Thy love at last
To hearts that have none of their own.
... Robert MacColl Adams


Rest in the Lord; wait patiently for Him. In Hebrew, "Be silent in God, and let Him mould thee." Keep still, and He will mould thee to the right shape.
... Martin Luther

God on the Internet
Jonathan V. Last

Excerpt: "One hundred and twenty-eight million Americans use the web, and it has been integrated, if only as a formality, into nearly every facet of modern life. Law firms, politicians, manufacturers, charities, elementary schools—one is hard-pressed to find an entity without a web appendage.

This is true even—or perhaps the word is, particularly—for religious life. According to
a 2004 Pew survey, 64 percent of Internet-using Americans—82 million people—say they use the web for religious purposes. They are more likely to be female, white, middle aged, and college educated. Catholics and Jews tend to use the Internet slightly more heavily than Protestants. Half of these users report that they attend church at least once a week."

The rest at First Things-excellent!

Parental Notification for Abortion Faces High Court
Monday, Nov. 28, 2005
Posted: 10:12:50AM EST

Should parents be notified before their underage daughter gets an abortion? That’s the main question the U.S. Supreme Court will be faced with on Wednesday, when it hears a case not focused on the legality of abortion, but what restrictions may be placed on it.

In 2003, the New Hampshire legislature passed a law requiring parental notification 48 hours in advance of the abortion, but a federal appeals court struck down the law because the law did not contain an exception to protect the health of the mother in emergency situations. The law did contain a “judicial bypass” to allow a court to decide if the procedure could go on without parental consent.

Planned Parenthood, an organization which provides women and teens with access to abortions, sued the State of New Hampshire before the law could take effect, arguing that the emergency medical exception was not sufficient. Although the mother’s life would not be at stake, the mother’s health could be severely compromised under that law, the group argued.
Story

Feelings trumping rights
Nov 29, 2005
by
David Limbaugh

Did you hear about the University of Wisconsin -- Eau Claire (UWEC) banning resident assistants (RAs) from leading Bible studies in their own dormitories? That's the subject of my latest e-mail blast from the ever-vigilant Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

This outrageous, indefensible assault on Christian religious liberties provides a perfect opportunity for the church-state separation crusaders to prove they're really devoted to religious liberty, as they claim. Let's see if they protest.

An UWEC official sent RAs a letter forbidding them from leading Bible studies because students might conclude that such RAs were not "approachable." Don't laugh. Violators, warned the letter, would be subject to disciplinary action. Of course, the letter also purported to prohibit Koran and Torah studies, but it appears such studies were not even at issue.
the rest

Massachusetts Turns in Two Times the Necessary Signatures to Repeal Gay “Marriage” on 2008 Ballot
By Terry Vanderheyden

BOSTON, November 28, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A family advocacy coalition has submitted double the required number of signatures necessary to ensure voters have an opportunity to overturn a 2003 activist court decision by voting on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex “marriage” during the 2008 general election.

VoteOnMarriage.org collected over 120,000 signatures in time for the Wednesday deadline. “I credit this phenomenal effort to thousands of citizen volunteers and over 1,200 communities of faith – including Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim – who have worked tirelessly to give every citizen in the Commonwealth a voice in how marriage is defined in Massachusetts,” said Kris Mineau, president, Massachusetts Family Institute and spokesman, VoteOnMarriage.org.

Presently, 19 states have passed constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Several more have “Defense of Marriage” laws that preclude their states from recognizing same sex marriages and/or civil unions performed in other states. Federally, the Defense of Marriage Law, passed by President Clinton, precludes the federal
government from recognizing same sex marriages.

Story

The Church of Oprah Winfrey--A New American Religion?
Tuesday, November 29, 2005

By any measure, Oprah Winfrey is one of the most successful women in America. Her net worth is now thought to exceed one billion dollars, and her expanding media empire is one of the great success stories of the modern entertainment industry. She recently celebrated the twentieth anniversary of "The Oprah Show," and is committed to a contract that will take the show through its twenty-fifth season. She regularly appears at the top of the "Most Admired Women" listings and has become a cultural icon, complete with her own magazine and product lines. But is there more to the meaning of Oprah Winfrey?

Commentary-Albert Mohler

Narnia True to the Book, Says Hollywood Christian Exec
By Mary Rettig
November 28, 2005

(AgapePress) - An official with an organization that trains Christians for Hollywood says parents need to take their children to see
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when it is released in early December.

The widely acclaimed epic, based on C.S. Lewis' beloved literary classic series The Chronicles of Narnia, opens in theaters on Friday, December 9. The Disney/Walden Media movie, nearly 13 years in the making and rated PG (for battle sequences and "frightening moments," says MPAA), features computer-generated animation and special effects as its transports the audience to the imaginary land of Narnia.
The rest

Stockholm Mosque Calls for Exterminating Jews
17:55 Nov 28, '05 / 26 Cheshvan 5766

(IsraelNN.com) Swedish Radio News (SRN) reported today that a Stockholm mosque is selling cassettes calling for a genocidal holy war against the Jews.

According to SRN, the cover of one of the cassettes shows a picture of the Statue of Liberty draped in a burning American flag.Sales of cassettes promoting genocide are illegal in Sweden. A spokesman for the mosque blamed volunteers for stocking the mosque bookstore with the cassettes.

link

No more 'holiday' trees at Capitol
By Gary Emerling
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
November 29, 2005

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert has told federal officials that the lighted, decorated tree on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol -- known in recent years as the "Holiday Tree" -- should be renamed the "Capitol Christmas Tree," as it was called until the late 1990s.

The Capitol's senior landscape architect confirmed the name switch yesterday for The Washington Times.

"It was known as the 'Holiday Tree' for several years and just recently was changed back to the 'Capitol Christmas Tree.' This was a directive from the speaker," said Capitol architect Matthew Evans.
Story

Vatican publishes edict prohibiting ordination of homosexuals
Tue Nov 29, 4:58 AM ET

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - The
Vatican published an instruction approved by Pope Benedict XVI banning bishops across the world from ordaining homosexuals into the priesthood.

The prohibition applies to seminarians involved in homosexual practices as well as those displaying "deeply ingrained homosexual tendencies," or those who support "gay culture."

News of the ban first emerged in early November when an Italian newspaper published leaked details of the edict, saying it had been signed by the pope over the summer and drawn up by the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education, which has responsibility for running seminaries.

The leak provoked outrage among some Catholics in Europe and the United States.
The rest


Boston Archbishop to Homosexuals: "Because we love you, we cannot accept your behavior."

By John-Henry Westen

BOSTON, November 28, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley wrote a pastoral letter last week calling on Catholics to show true love to persons with homosexual tendencies. This is done he said by telling them that homosexual acts are sinful, he said. Otherwise, the bishop continued, we are dangerously "deceiving people."

After clarifying that the Catholic Church does not tolerate unjust discrimination towards persons with homosexual tendencies, the leader of the Catholic Church in Boston reminded Catholics that although Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, he did however - after saving her life - tell her "Go and sin no more."Story

Monday, November 28, 2005

I saw that the kingdom must be interior before it can be exterior, that it is a kingdom of ideas, and not one of brute force; that His rule is over hearts, not over places; that His victories must be inward before they can be outward; that He seeks to control spirits rather than bodies; that no triumph could satisfy Him but a triumph that gains the heart; that in short, where God really reigns, the surrender must be the interior surrender of the convicted free man, and not merely the outward surrender of the conquered slave.

Hannah Whitall Smith


I lay my head upon Thy infinite heart,
I hide beneath the shelter of Thy wing;
Pursued and tempted, helpless, I must cling
To Thee, my Father; bid me not depart,
For sin and death pursue,
And Life is where Thou art!

Anonymous

ROCHESTER, NY: Gay priest speaks out about Episcopal Church controversy
by Joylynn Whitfield
WROC-TV


"I really don't give my sexuality a second thought here. I think for the most part my parishioners don't either. To them I' m a Priest, and I happen to be gay," said Rev. Michael Hopkins.

Father Michael Hopkins pastors St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene in Downtown Rochester. He has a personal interest in the current debate over church and sexuality.

"I understand there are going to be people in my church who don't agree with me, in fact who don't think I should be ordained," said Rev. Hopkins.

Among them are the members of the All Saints congregation in Irondequoit. All Saints was kicked out of the diocese because it refused to make its annual payment to the Diocese after the national Episcopal Church supported the ordaining of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003.


The rest at Virtueonline

Hannity igniting revolt against left-wing profs
Sick of indoctrination, Sean urges students to expose propaganda
Posted: November 28, 20051:00 a.m. Eastern
By Joe Kovacs

College students bombarded with the personal political views of their professors are being urged by talk-show host
Sean Hannity to fight back with hard evidence of purported indoctrination.
"All you college kids out there, check your state laws, check your campus laws," said Sean Hannity on his national radio program.
"Get your little tape recorders if legal, and I want you to start recording these left-wingers. Bring it to this program and we'll start airing it every single time on this program. I'm sick of this indoctrination. I'm sick of this left-wing propaganda."
Story


The naked truth on campus
Nov 28, 2005by
Suzanne Fields

College has always been about pranks, the more bizarre the better. Swallowing goldfish shocked the home folks in Grandpa's day. Panty raids scandalized generations that followed, and then came stuffing a half-dozen co-eds, as the young women were once quaintly called, into a telephone booth. (Ain't we got fun?)
Stealing panties is hardly shocking when boys and girls live together, sharing bedrooms, bathrooms, closets and everything else, no doubt occasionally even panties. Animal-rights fanatics would shut down the campus now if someone even suggested snacking on a goldfish. Everybody's got a cell phone, and no one can remember a telephone booth.
Nevertheless, Joe College and Carolyn Campus must find something dumb enough to shock the grown-ups who pay the bills. The difference is that pranksters on the contemporary campus take the prank seriously, mixing political perversity with sexual exhibitionism. Or is it mixing sexual perversity with political exhibitionism? Students at Columbia University, for example, ape contemporaries at Yale and Brown with a bash with only one rule, that everything you wear to the party has to be left at the door.
The rest

Ireland's Largest University Prevents Abortion Survivor Speaking
DUBLIN, Ireland, November 28, 2005

(LifeSiteNews.com) - Gianna Jessen, a 28-year-old woman who survived a saline abortion when she was 7 months in utero, has been prevented from speaking at Ireland's largest university - University College Dublin (UCD).

Despite her cerebral palsy, which she has described as a gift and is a legacy of the abortion, Jessen has traveled the world with her powerful testimony. She is living evidence of the humanity of the unborn child and the fact that abortion takes a human life.

'Ultrasound', the pro-life student network formed by the pro-life group Youth Defence, was delighted when Jessen agreed to undertake a tour of Irish colleges. Bookings and arrangements were made and materials printed and distributed in Ireland's largest universities.
The rest

Battles have put the court in Christmas
By Eric Gorski Denver Post Staff Writer

Somewhere at an undisclosed location in Denver is a symbol of the city's truce in the Christmas wars.

Workers with the Downtown Denver Partnership, with the guidance of Protestant and Catholic leaders who are paying the bill, are finishing off a new float for the annual Parade of Lights this Friday and Saturday.

No twinkling candy canes, Santa Claus or Frosty the Snowman here. This float will re-create the scene of Jesus' birth, complete with sequined angels and a swaddled doll as the Christ child.

The private, downtown booster group caved to community pressure and lifted a ban on religious entries this year after a proposed float by Faith Bible Chapel of Arvada was turned away a year ago, creating a controversy that attracted national attention.
Story

A Postmodernist Before His Time -- Thomas Jefferson on Jesus
Monday, November 28, 2005

The effort to separate the "Jesus of History" from the "Christ of Faith" is one of the hallmarks of theological liberalism -- and a point of contact between liberal theology and postmodern secularism. Made famous by successive "quests" for a merely historical Jesus, this effort represents an attempt to recover Jesus as a figure in history, stripped of all claims to deity.

The Jesus presented by those committed to this methodology is not the incarnate Son of God, deity in human flesh. To the contrary, he is a Judean folk philosopher, a radical religious reformer, or a teacher of enlightened morality.

The miracles, claims to deity, and supernatural dimensions are simply denied -- relegated to those who believe in the "Christ of faith." Out are the virgin birth, all miracles and healings, the resurrection, and the forgiveness of sins. What remains is a secularized and humanized Jesus -- a religious teacher whose teachings may still retain value -- not the Christ of historic biblical Christianity.

The rest-Albert Mohler

In Philippines, watchful eye on converts
Most are peaceful, but some former Christians help Islamic terrorists, slipping by police.
By Simon Montlake
Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Four years ago, Joey Ledesma went home and told his mother, a devout Roman Catholic, that he had "returned" to Islam.

Her reaction was shock and anger; they argued and fought. In the room where he prayed, she stuck pictures of the Virgin Mary to the wall facing Mecca. A cousin asked him, "Why are you acting so crazy? You're one of us."

Mr. Ledesma, who now calls himself Yousuf, has since separated from his Catholic wife after a tug-of-war over the religious upbringing of their young son.

As his family ties frayed, Ledesma found a stronger sense of community and purpose at the mosque. In particular, he bonded with other converts, known as 'Balik Islam,' or returnees to Islam. Their shared belief is that Filipinos were originally Muslims before Spanish colonizers imposed Catholicism, so they are returning to their faith.
The rest


Reformers work to rid 'diet of hate' from Muslim textbooks
November 27, 2005
BY BRIAN MURPHY

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Page after page, self-appointed hate hunters underline passages in Pakistani schoolbooks.

They flag hard-edged Muslim views toward other faiths, such as those describing past efforts by Hindus and Christians to ''erase'' Muslims. They note sections that speak of martyrdom and the duty to battle perceived religious enemies.

''We are fighting for the future of Islam. Children are sometimes being force-fed a diet of hate, anger and intolerance,'' said Ahmad Salim, leader of a campaign to push Pakistan's education system to remove what activists consider extreme language and images from the curriculum.
Story


Charity cash for Palestinian poor was siphoned to suicide bombers
By Eric Silver in Jerusalem
Published: 28 November 2005

Millions of pounds donated by British and other European charities to help the Palestinian poor were unwittingly diverted to fund terror and support the families of suicide bombers, Israeli prosecutors claimed yesterday.

Ahmed Salatna, 43, a Hamas activist from the West Bank town of Jenin, was remanded in custody by a military court charged with distributing €9m (£6.2m) for such purposes over the past nine years. The recipients are alleged to have included the family of a young man who blew himself up at the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem in August 2001, killing 15 people and wounding 107. Hamas and Islamic Jihad acknowledged responsibility.
the rest

John Gibson Is Right About The War on Christmas
November 27, 2005 11:58 PM EST
By Michael J. Gaynor

On the first Sunday after Thanksgiving 2005 I visited Manhattan to go to Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral and to see the displays in the front windows of two famous Fifth Avenue department stores, Lord & Taylor and Sax Fifth Avenue.

The windows were artistically decorated, but certainly not for Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, not children's fairy tales or general concepts.

The Lord & Taylor windows were dedicated to fairy tales, like Rumpelstiltskin, The Princess and the Pea, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Snow White was there, but not the Virgin Mary. There were a few decorated trees in some of the windows, but no Jesus, not even the word Christmas. It was the same at Sax, where the windows focused on concepts like unity, harmony and beauty. Nothing about Christmas.
The rest

The landlord, the saint, the archbishop and the holiday
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

A PATRIOTIC pub landlord will go to the High Court today in his battle to get St George’s Day recognised as a national holiday.
Tony Bennett, of the Otter pub in Thorpe Marriott, near Norwich, is seeking leave for a judicial review to challenge the decision of magistrates who refused him a late licence to celebrate St George’s Day on April 23 this year.

The case will be heard just days after Dr John Sentamu, the new Archbishop of York, also called for St George’s Day to be celebrated properly by the English. Uganda-born Dr Sentamu, who will be enthroned at York Minster on Wednesday as Britain’s first black archbishop, gave warning of the dangers of multiculturalism. He told The Times that the English should show more pride in their national culture.
Story

Wicca's World
Looking Into the Pagan Phenomenon

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, NOV. 26, 2005 (
Zenit.org).- Witchcraft is moving into the mainstream in the Netherlands. A Dutch court has ruled that the costs of witchcraft lessons can be tax-deductible, the Associated Press reported Oct. 31.

The previous month, the Leeuwarden District Court confirmed the legal right to write off the costs of schooling -- including in witchcraft -- against tax bills. The costs can be substantial, according to one witch interviewed for the article.

Margarita Rongen runs the "Witches Homestead" in a northern province. Her workshops cost more than $200 a weekend, or more than $2,600 for a full course. Rongen claims she has trained more than 160 disciples over the past four decades.

In England, meanwhile, Portsmouth's Kingston Prison has hired a pagan priest to give spiritual advice to three inmates serving life sentences, the Telegraph reported Nov. 1. The prisoners have converted to paganism and, according to prison rules, are allowed a chaplain in the same way as those with Christian or other religious faiths. Denying them a pagan chaplain would infringe their human rights, said John Robinson, the prison governor.
The rest

Attacks leave churches gutted and religious minorities living in fear
Mob's rampage in Pakistan after rumours of Qur'an desecration worries communities that usually live in peace
Declan Walsh in Sangla Hill
Monday November 28, 2005
The Guardian

The enraged mob had already scaled the walls of the Roman Catholic compound in Sangla Hill as Fr Samson Dilawar hurriedly ushered his charges to safety.

Nuns, teachers and 23 terrified schoolgirls crammed into a small upstairs room of the besieged convent as more than 1,500 men, incensed by rumours of Qur'an desecration, swarmed outside. Fr Dilawar watched from the roof as they smashed the altar of the parish church, tore up copies of the Bible and shattered the stained-glass windows. They sprayed fuel over his house and a girls' school next door. Minutes later flames were licking the walls and black smoke filled the sky.

Finally they crashed through the heavy convent door, sending the priest running for safety into the room where nine nuns were praying. "They tried to break the door down but did not succeed. Otherwise we could have all been killed," he said. The rest

Roman women are converts to convents
By Hilary Clarke in Rome
(Filed: 28/11/2005)

Growing numbers of educated Italian women are throwing away their high heels and lipstick and opting for the austere life of nuns in closed convents.

A surprising 550 women in Rome chose to withdraw to cloisters this year compared with 350 two years ago, it emerged at a conference organised by the Vicariate of Rome and Italy's Union of Mother Superiors (Usmi).

Most of the country's 7,500 cloistered nuns have traditionally come from regions such as the Marches, making the sudden rise in the city of la dolce vita even more surprising.

Until recently, most women entering closed convents in Rome were third world immigrants with little education. Now the recruits are all Italians with university degrees.

"They are realising that what the world has to offer to them is not all it is made out to be," said Sister Pieremilia Bertolin, the secretary general of Usmi.
Story

Sunday, November 27, 2005

O Jesus, Splendor of eternal glory, Consolation of the pilgrim soul, with You my lips utter no sound and to You my silence speaks. How long will my Lord delay His coming? Let Him come to His poor servant and make him happy. Let Him put forth His hand and take this miserable creature from his anguish. Come, O come, for without You there will be no happy day or hour, because You are my happiness and without You my table is empty. I am wretched, as it were imprisoned and weighted down with fetters, until You fill me with the light of Your presence, restore me to liberty, and show me a friendly countenance. Let others seek instead of You whatever they will, but nothing pleases me or will please me but You, my God, my Hope, my everlasting Salvation. I will not be silent, I will not cease praying until Your grace returns to me and You speak inwardly to me, saying: "Behold, I am here. Lo, I have come to you because you have called Me. Your tears and the desire of your soul, your humility and contrition of heart have inclined Me and brought Me to you."

Lord, I have called You, and have desired You, and have been ready to spurn all things for Your sake. For You first spurred me on to seek You. May You be blessed, therefore, O Lord, for having shown this goodness to Your servant according to the multitude of Your mercies.


Thomas a Kempis
The Imitation of Christ