Friday, March 17, 2006

Dear Readers,
I am having great difficulty getting my posts to publish. Blogging may be sporadic until it gets fixed. Thanks for your patience!

Pat Dague

Commit every particle of your being in all things, down to the smallest details of your life, eagerly and with perfect trust to the unfailing and most sure providence of God.
Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Conservative Presbyterians Call against Acquittal of Gay 'Marriage' Blesser
Friday, Mar. 17, 2006 Posted: 3:22:10PM EST

Conservative Presbyterians are seeking an appeal of a controversial church ruling that acquitted a minister on charges that she violated denominational law when she wed two same-sex couples.
The decision by the California Redwoods Presbytery Permanent Judicial Commission is “schismatic and a threat to the very fabric of our constitutional connection,” the Presbyterian Forum said in a statement this week.

The Redwoods Presbytery in early March ruled that the Rev. Jane Adams Spahr committed no offense and acted “within her right of conscience” when she blessed the “marriages” of gay and lesbian couples in 2004 and 2005.

Dozens of renewal groups within the denomination immediately criticized the decision, calling it contradictory to the church’s Book of Order, which defines marriage as a gift of God and a covenant between a woman and a man.
The rest

Orality at Home
The language of postmodernism.
by Dawn Herzon Jewell
posted 3/17/2006 09:30 a.m.

Much of the world's oral majority can read, but doesn't. Sound familiar? The National Endowment for the Arts reported in 2004 that more than half of American adults no longer engage in literary reading. They are what the 2004 Lausanne paper "Making Disciples of Oral Learners" calls "secondary oral learners," people who choose to be entertained, to learn, and to communicate via oral means.

"The storytelling around the campfire that we view as the practice of the ancients has been replaced by storytelling from the flickering light of the television screen," says Grant Lovejoy, the Southern Baptists' director of oral strategies.
The rest

Fears for Anglican Communion Continue over California Gay Bishop Nominees
Controversy continues in the Anglican Communion following the inclusion of two openly gay candidates on the shortlist for the next Bishop of California.
Posted: Friday, March 17 , 2006, 10:31 (UK)

Turmoil continues to reign over the Anglican Communion following the announcement last month of openly gay candidates on the shortlist for the next Bishop of California.

In defiance of the recommendations of the Windsor Report, which called for a moratorium on the appointment of gay bishops in the Anglican Communion, the Diocese of California took the highly controversial step of including the Very Rev Robert Taylor, the openly gay Dean of Seattle, and the lesbian Rev. Bonnie Perry, Rector of All Saints’ Church in Chicago, on the list of nominees up for election in May.

The Rev. Nick Wynne-Jones, the secretary of the Church of England Evangelical Council, came out at the weekend to condemn the inclusion of the two actively homosexual candidates as both “provocative” and “in defiance” of the wishes of the rest of the Anglican Church.

“It just seems that they are determined to pursue their own particular agenda," he said. "If they persist in that line it seriously jeopardises the future of the Anglican Communion as it's currently constituted.
the rest

Apostle to the Irish: The Real Saint Patrick
Chuck Colson
March 17, 2006

If you ask people who Saint Patrick was, you’re likely to hear that he was an Irishman who chased the snakes out of Ireland.

It may surprise you to learn that the real Saint Patrick was not actually Irish—yet his robust faith changed the Emerald Isle forever.

Patrick was born in Roman Britain to a middle-class family in about A.D. 390. When Patrick was a teenager, marauding Irish raiders attacked his home. Patrick was captured, taken to Ireland, and sold to an Irish king, who put him to work as a shepherd.

In his excellent book, How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill describes the life Patrick lived. Cahill writes, “The work of such slave-shepherds was bitterly isolated, months at a time spent alone in the hills.”
The rest

"Total Truth"--A Bold Manifesto for the Christian Worldview
Albert Mohler
Friday, March 17, 2006

Books come and go, with hundreds of new titles released each week. Most of these books will quickly go out of print, make their way to remainder tables, and eventually be forgotten. On the other hand, sometimes a book comes along that demands immediate attention and will earn long-term influence. That is certainly the case with Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey, which may well be one of the most important Christian books of our times. Total Truth, subtitled "Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity," is a manifesto for Christian worldview thinking in the 21st century. The book is a masterpiece of cultural analysis and intellectual engagement, tracing the odyssey of its author even as she provides virtually an entire education in Christian worldview understanding in a single volume. This is no small achievement.

Nancy Pearcey is a gifted writer, and one of the brightest minds serving evangelical Christianity. Raised in a Scandinavian Lutheran home, she grew to know about Christianity as a child without coming to faith in Christ. She eventually became an adult convert to Christianity, but only after an intellectual and spiritual pilgrimage that took her from one side of the Atlantic to the other--including time at Francis Schaeffer's L'Abri, a study center for young people asking big questions.
the rest

Protestant gatherings raided in Uzbekistan
March 17, 2006

(MNN)--Conditions for Christians have deteriorated over the last year in Uzbekistan as the government enacted measures restricting religious freedom.

Missionary activity and unregistered religious communities are considered illegal. A spike in raids on churches over the last six weeks suggests this is likely to continue.Forum 18 reports raids on February 11, 26 and again March 5. The gatherings in question were unregistered house churches. However, registration is not permitted for communities with less than one hundred members.The rest

UK Gov't Names Abortion Nurse - Innovative Nurse of the Year
By John-Henry Westen

LONDON, March 17, 2006 ( - British Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt awarded a nurse specializing in abortion with the Nurse of the Year Award in the category of 'Innovative Practice in Sexual Health'. Sue Bush, a senior nurse at King's College Hospital NHS Trust's abortion service was awarded due to her innovations in speeding the abortion process.

The UK Life League was shocked at the "deeply offensive" award. "This woman is a cold-hearted baby murderer and the only reward she deserves is life in prison," said a release from the organization. "Susan is a different sort of nurse. Unlike a midwife that assists a mother giving birth and helps deliver new life into the world, Susan kills the babies."
The rest

Kenya church makes Aids apology
Kenya's Anglican Church has issued a public apology for previously shunning those with HIV/Aids.

"Our earlier approach in fighting Aids was misplaced, since we likened it to a disease for sinners and a curse from God," said Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi.

He was speaking to a group of HIV positive Christian and Muslim clergy.

The BBC's Gladys Njoroge in Kenya says there has been lots of church discrimination against those with HIV - some have been excommunicated.

The rest

Buddhism comes to Bible Belt
Practitioners look for an inner peace, discipline, harmony with world
Friday, March 17, 2006

Times Faith & Values Editor

For Glen Adams, it was a movie. For Jeff Simson, it was a with-it teacher at his high school. And for Jim Gordon, it was a time of crisis in his marriage 17 years ago that propelled him into the self-help and spirituality sections of the bookstore to save the marriage and his own peace of mind.

But once they'd stumbled across Buddhism, all three men were surprised to find a personal resonance with ancient traditions of meditation and philosophy.

Being Buddhist in America takes a certain amount of philosophical adventurousness - or desperation, Gordon says.
the rest

Political Bloggers Face Regulation
March 16, 2006
(Christian Science Monitor)
by Gail Russell Chaddock.

If you're one of the nation's 30 million-plus bloggers - or among the 75,000 joining their ranks every day - keep an eye on Thursday's House vote on the Online Freedom of Speech Act.

Unless the bill passes, you may need a lawyer, if you discuss politics online. If it passes, you may still need a lawyer, if you spend more than $250 a year on your blog.

If all that seems confusing, you're not alone. Both critics and supporters of this bill, sponsored by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, claim to want to protect bloggers and "small speakers" from onerous federal campaign regulation.

Four people hospitalized for possible avian flu
By Assaf Uni,
Ran Reznick and Amiram Cohen,
Haaretz Correspondents, Agencies and Haaretz Staff

Four people were taken to hospital Friday for treatment of possible bird flu. Three workers at two Negev kibbutzim where more than 1,000 turkeys were found dead Thursday were taken to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva for treatment. An individual who works at Moshav Sde Moshe, near the southern town of Kiryat, was taken to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon on Friday after feeling ill.

The bird flu was suspected of spreading to both Moshav Sde Moshe and Kibbutz Nachshon, 25 kilometers from Jerusalem.

One of the patients, a Thai laborer who works at Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, is being held in isolation. The other two, Bedouin from the Tel Arad region who work at Kibbutz Holit, said they had been feeling sick for the past few days but could not get off work. Hospital administrators said test results for the three kibbutz workers would be ready by Sunday.
The rest

Couple sue council over police interrogation
Date: Mar 17

A CHRISTIAN couple are suing their local Council and police force for breaching their human rights after they were interrogated by police over their belief that homosexual practise is wrong.
Joe Roberts, 73, and his wife Helen, 68, from Fleetwood in Lancashire, were reported to the police for making a complaint about the gay rights policy of Wyre Borough Council. They questioned the bid to improve equality, part of which would see gay lifestyle magazines distributed around staff areas.

The Council told the police that they had displayed “potentially homophobic attitudes” and asked the police to “educate” the retired couple out of their beliefs. In a letter to the Council, Mr Roberts said: “If gay people made the decision not to think gay, they would not act gay."
the rest

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Into the Breach
Matt Kennedy+

The diocesan deputies to General Convention will be in town this evening for a “listening session.” The purpose of this meeting is to let the deputies hear from the “people in the pews.”

As many of you know I am persuaded that we moved past the “listening” point in Minneapolis 2003.
However, a vestry member I greatly respect feels it our duty to bear witness one last time. And others agreed. They seem to feel somewhat like Jeremiah must have, called and compelled to speak the truth to people who will not listen.

And so we’re going. We’ve drafted a statement (below) and have prepared our people. The meeting is (naturally) going to be held in the most radical parish in the diocese.

the rest at Stand Firm

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace. St. Augustine photo

Jason Kranzusch: G.I. Joe on Pilgrimage
This is the seventeenth in a series of daily Lenten devotionals by a group of Anglican bloggers and friends. Today’s entry is by Jason Kranzusch of the Axegrinder blog. You can read other entries in the series here.

Excerpt: "It is amazing how often what we read in the Scriptures can be boiled down to the two greatest commandments: love God with all your being and love your neighbor as yourself. Lent is for us; the second greatest commandment assumes that we love ourselves. Lent is for others; we want God’s grace in our lives so that “his ways may be made known in the earth and his salvation to all nations.” Lent is for God; our bodies are for God as he is for our bodies. We want to rid ourselves of anything that indicate otherwise. "

The rest at Lent and Beyond

Church Report Concludes Reconciliation Unlikely in Pennsylvania

A report prepared by the Presiding Bishop’s Office for Pastoral Development finds little likelihood that mediation will resolve the dispute that has led the diocesan standing committee to call for the Rt. Rev. Charles E. Bennison, Jr., to step down as Bishop of Pennsylvania.

The Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews, executive director of the Office of Pastoral Development and Ms. Woodriff Sprinkel
reported on March 7 that “given the depth of divisions that have been created over many years, the repeated leadership style preference of the bishop, and the unanimous opinion that the bishop is incapable of entering into any process without being in control of it; we cannot recommend any process of conciliation or any ‘rigorous long-term process for addressing problems’.”

Bishop Matthews and Ms Sprinkel recommended that “if the standing committee and the bishop still insist that some process be devised for them to address the issues that have been raised and/or to work on terms of separation through formal mediation, then the Presiding Bishop’s office will assist as long as the ground rules are defined by outside persons to insure that neither party tries to control the process.”
The rest

Anglican Evangelism must marry corporate worship with the saving message of Jesus Christ
by Matt Kennedy

I sat in the bishop’s office, intimidated by the purple shirt, pectoral cross, oaken desk, and the absolute power the man behind all three seemed to exercise over my future.

This was my first interview with the bishop, one of the initial steps in the process toward ordination. This interview would determine whether I would be accepted as an aspirant, the first fiery hoop in the circus-like process to become an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church.

The bishop looked me in the eye and asked a question that I had not anticipated, but one that I welcomed all the same.

“What do you know about evangelism?”
The rest at Stand Firm

Church and Jesus Are Inseparable, Says Pope
MARCH 15, 2006

( Benedict XVI has begun a new cycle of catecheses at the general audiences, dedicated to explaining the "mystery of the relationship between Jesus and the Church."

"Between Christ and the Church there is no opposition: They are inseparable, despite the sins of the people who make up the Church," the Pope told the 30,000 people gathered today for the audience in St. Peter's Square.

"Therefore, there is no way to reconcile Christ's intentions with the slogan that was fashionable a few years ago, 'Christ yes, the Church no,'" he continued.

The Holy Father based his meditation on the third chapter of the Gospel according to St. Mark in which he presented Jesus' calling of the Twelve Apostles.

"The Church," Benedict XVI explained, "was initially established when some fishermen from Galilee met Jesus; they allowed themselves to be won over by his gaze, his voice and his strong and warm invitation, 'Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.'"
the rest

The Roberts effect?
Supreme Court: Some believe new chief justice John Roberts is ushering in a new era of collegiality on the Supreme Court
Lynn Vincent

From a court where intellectual harmony in recent decades could be measured on a range from fractured to feuding, an intriguing unanimity suddenly is springing forth. In Rumsfeld v. FAIR, the court on March 6 unanimously rejected the claim of some liberal law schools that having to choose between forgoing certain federal funds and allowing military recruiters on campus violated the schools' free speech rights. Writing his first high court opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts ruled that FAIR had "attempted to stretch a number of First Amendment doctrines" and, in trying to "cast themselves as just like" schoolchildren and the Boy Scouts (litigants who had previously prevailed in high court free-speech claims), had exaggerated the reach of First Amendment precedents.

Only the latest in a string of unanimous opinions, the Rumsfeld ruling sparked discussion: Is Justice Roberts ushering in a new era of collegiality on the court?
The rest

Many Americans Unbalanced in Faith, Lifestyle, Says Study
Wednesday, Mar. 15, 2006
Posted: 10:51:59AM EST

Americans are largely committed to family – what more than half listed as their top priority, according to a recent study – but commitment to faith falls well under half the population who listed it as the most important priority in their life.

The latest Barna Group survey found that 51 percent of adults identified family as their first priority and only 16 percent listed faith, making it a runner-up. Among the different people groups measured, evangelicals were twice as likely as non-evangelical born again adults and almost five times more likely than notional Christians to place faith at the top of the list.

Further in the study, however, the small percentage who placed faith as their highest life priority were among Americans who largely think of themselves as being highly spiritual. According to the survey, 59 percent of adults described themselves as a "full-time servant of God" but only 25 percent listed faith as their most important priority. And only one out of every four who consider themselves "deeply spiritual," ranked faith first.

"Spirituality is in vogue in our society today," said George Barna, founder of the research institute that bears his name. "It is popular to claim to be part of a 'faith community' or to have a spiritual commitment but what do Americans mean when they claim to be 'spiritual?'"
The rest

Adam & Eve -- Were They Real?
Astonishing New DNA Evidence Points to Eden
Kathleen Campbell

The question of human origins is at the center of one of the most hotly contested debates of our time.

Did human beings emerge through evolutionary processes from ape-like ancestors or are we a special creation? Does belief in a creator demand that we reject or ignore science or is it possible that science and faith can be allies rather than enemies?

Answers to these and other questions are discussed in the best-selling new book by Dr. Fazale ‘Fuz’ Rana, Who Was Adam?

In Who Was Adam? Dr. Rana presents cutting-edge discoveries about the human fossil record, ‘junk’ DNA, Neanderthals, and the connections between humans and primates.

“Recent genetic and archeological findings show that human beings did not evolve from ape-like creatures,” contends internationally respected biochemist, Dr. Fazale ‘Fuz’ Rana.

“With the discovery of what scientists have aptly named Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve, new genetic and DNA evidence with the fossil record show very clearly that modern humans are not related to previously existing hominids as once believed.

“There is astonishing new evidence to support the position that homo sapien sapiens exploded onto the scene less than 100,000 years ago from a single man and a single woman.

“Even more astounding is that scientists now know that human origins had their beginning in a particular geographical area—the same area identified by most biblical scholars as the physical location of the Garden of Eden. Belief in a literal and historical Adam and Eve as recounted in the Bible has greater scientific credibility today than at any other time in human history.
The rest

Observers Foresee a Europe Divided Along Muslim / Non-Muslim Lines
By Chad Groening
March 15, 2006

(AgapePress) - The director of the group
Jihad Watch says things have gotten so bad in Europe that the only solution to the Islamic problem might be to divide the continent into Muslim and non-Muslim enclaves.

Much has been made of the growing Muslim presence in Europe. According to 2005 statistics, roughly 10 percent of the population in France is Muslim -- percentages in Bulgaria and Russia, says, are even higher (12 and 19 percent, respectively). And in Southern Europe, there are considerably higher percentages in Macedonia (30), Bosnia Herzegovina (60), and Albania (70). By comparison, estimates place the Muslim presence in the United States at around two percent of the population.

Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch notes there are already vast areas surrounding major European cities like Paris that have been completely taken over by Muslims. Spencer, who describes this as a "very dangerous situation," says there is much pessimism about how things are going to play out.
The rest

Faithful believers continue sharing Christ's love despite increased persecution.
March 15, 2006

India (MNN) -- The number of Christians facing harassment and persecution is growing every day. In fact the amount of persecution has increased especially in the last 30 days.

Gospel for Asia's President KP Yohannan is confused by the number of problems their workers are facing, because many thought the change of government would give Christians more freedoms. "When the BJP government was in power, honestly, we didn't have this much persecution. It is since the new government, the Congress government, is now in power, that we have seen such an incredible increase in persecution everywhere. And I don't know why. Maybe the when BJP government was in power they were more sensitive to toward portraying minorities in the light of the international community. But it looks like with the Congress government, we seem to be experiencing an incredible escalation in persecution."

Yohannan believes the extremists fear losing power over the poor. And as many people find freedom in Christ, accusations of forced conversions abound. Yohannan says, much of the persecution is because, and they see that happening as many are being liberated by Christ. Yohannan says they're not telling them, "Hey, we'll give you food and clothes and shelter if you become Christians." No! It is a matter of truly demonstrating Christ's love.
The rest

Blogger's how-to for abortions stirs debate
Newhouse News Service

A feminist blogger has posted explicit directions online for a surgical abortion, in reaction to the new South Dakota law all but banning the procedure.

Her action troubles activists on both sides of the issue: Is it a harbinger of a return to the era of secret, illegal abortions?

At her "Molly Saves the Day" Web log, the 21-year-old Florida resident uses the pseudonym Molly Blythe. Given the volatility of the abortion debate, she requested that her real name and city of residence not be used in this story.

In an interview, the blogger said South Dakota's ban on abortion — even in cases of rape and incest — prompted her post, "For the Women of South Dakota: An Abortion Manual." The blogger, who has no medical background, said she has been compiling instructions for several years.
The rest

X-rated 'children's' books outrage students' parents
Titles on required-reading lists, offerings in libraries include bestiality, sex drawings
Posted: March 15, 20061:00 a.m. Eastern
By Ron Strom

Parents across the nation are taking action against both school districts and libraries that feature books, some of them required reading, that include sexual issues and obscenity many believe are inappropriate for school children.

In Overland Park, Kan., parents have organized to protest the inclusion of obscene books on children's assigned reading lists in the Blue Valley School District. The parents took action after a few of them researched the books kids were being asked to read.

"[My son] is a 14-year-old freshman boy, and [the book] had references to oral sex and homosexuality. … I thought it was a mistake!" Janet Harmon, one of the Blue Valley parents, told activist group
Concerned Women for America.
The rest

Scientollywood's A list
March 15, 2006

You can take the Scientologist out of the hit show, as singer-actor Isaac Hayes demonstrated this week by quitting the ''South Park" cast over an episode that satirized his religion. But taking show biz out of Scientology is a trickier proposition, given the number of celebrities who've been advertising their ties to the controversial church lately.

Leading the pack are Tom Cruise, described in a recent Los Angeles Times story as ''the public face of the church," and John Travolta, producer and star of the $80-million clunker ''Battlefield Earth," based on a novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. But the list of celebrity Scientologists extends well beyond them. Former or current practitioners include Kirstie Alley, Beck, Jenna Elfman, Al Jarreau, Kelly Preston (Travolta's wife), Juliette Lewis, Karen Black, Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, Nicole Kidman (Cruise's ex), Anne Archer, Chick Corea, Chaka Khan, and Nancy Cartwright, who voices Bart Simpson. By 1993, the Hubbard-Hollywood axis was strong enough to inspire two journalists to coin the term ''Scientollywood."
The rest

RFID tags vulnerable to viruses, study says
Attacks could soon come in the form of a SQL injection or a buffer overflow attack
News Story by Jeremy Kirk
MARCH 15, 2006

(IDG NEWS SERVICE) - Three computer science researchers are warning that viruses embedded in radio tags used to identify and track goods are right around the corner, a danger that so far has been overlooked by the industry's high interest in the technology.

No viruses targeting radio frequency identification (RFID) technology have been released live yet, according to the researchers at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands. But RFID tags have several characteristics that could be engineered to exploit vulnerabilities in middleware and back-end databases, they wrote in a
paper presented today at a conference in Pisa, Italy
"RFID malware is a Pandora's box that has been gathering dust in the corner of our 'smart' warehouses and home," the paper stated.

The attacks can come in the form of a SQL injection or a buffer overflow attack even though the tags themselves may only store a small bit of information, the paper said. For demonstration purposes, the researchers created a proof-of-concept, self-replicating RFID virus.

Kansas School Board Votes Parents Must Permit Sex Ed
Wednesday, March 15, 2006

TOPEKA, Kan. — School districts in
Kansas must get parents' written permission before teaching their children sex education, the state Board of Education decided Wednesday.
The board adopted the policy in a 6-4 vote. Up to now, most Kansas districts had an "opt-out" policy — they enrolled children in sex ed unless a parent objected in writing.

Only a few other states have such "opt-in" requirements on sex education, according to the
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, a group that promotes sex education. Among them: Arizona, Nevada and Utah.

Board members who voted for the new policy said some parents told them they did not know their children were taking sex education until the classes had started.

"It's about empowering parents. That's the bottom line," said board chairman Steve Abrams.
The rest

Defunct German synagogue hosts gas chamber exhibit, sparks outrage

The German Jewish community is outraged at a controversial performance artist who has turned a synagogue into a gas chamber.

Santiago Sierra, a Spanish artist, set up an exhibition in which automobile exhaust is channeled into the sanctuary of the defunct Pulheim-Stommeln Synagogue. Visitors must don gas masks and be accompanied by a fireman to take a tour of the building, which hosts art exhibits but not longer serves as a house of worship.

"The art project of Santiago Sierra is a scandal. This is a base provocation at the expense of victims of the Holocaust," declared Stephan Kramer, the secretary-general of the Central Committee of Jews in Germany, in a statement.

He called the exhibit a "shameless abuse of artistic freedom" and a "tasteless artistic spectacle that insults the dignity not only of victims of the Holocaust but also the Jewish community, [and has] absolutely nothing to do with the culture of memory and memorials."
The rest

Religious group merges with gay rights task force
1,400 'welcoming' congregations are represented -- hopes for 10,000 in 5 years
Wyatt Buchanan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The gay rights movement has found God.

After decades of working to change secular institutions, the national movement, which has largely convinced society that homosexuality is neither a mental disorder nor a crime, is focusing on what its leaders say is their last, and biggest, challenge: convincing believers that it's not a sin.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the country's oldest gay rights organization, announced Monday that a religious organization representing 1,400 Protestant congregations that unconditionally welcome gays and lesbians has merged with the task force.

Over the next five years, the task force wants to increase membership in the Institute for Welcoming Resources to 10,000 congregations.

"It's a very proud and happy day for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which is based in New York. "We see this as a critically important step in reclaiming the language of faith and moral values from those on the right that attempt to hijack faith and moral values."
The rest

Baptist Church Sued When Active Homosexual Barred from Wedding Party
by Hilary White
March 14, 2006

( - The Observer, the local paper for Sarnia/Lambton Ontario, reports that the pastor of a local church is in hot legal water for his defence of Christian principles.

Tamara Bourgeois, 29, and Jerry Condie, 34, were to marry in June 2007 at Sovereign Grace Community Church and have told the Observer that they are considering legal action against Pastor Glenn Tomlinson when he refused to allow an active homosexual to be part of the wedding party.

Tomlinson said he believes that allowing an unrepentant homosexual in the ceremony is tantamount to sanctioning homosexuality. "I'm OK with a gay person attending in the congregation. We are all sinners," Tomlinson told The Observer. "But the key to me is that a gay man is standing up in an official capacity. If we allowed that, we'd be sanctioning something in the actual ceremony."
The rest

New migration fills British pulpits
Poland is bucking the Europe-wide decline in vocations, and its priests are in demand
Luke Harding in Krakow
Wednesday March 15, 2006
The Guardian

After working for 12 years in a village near Krakow, Richard Swider headed off last week to the airport. The 50-year-old Pole got on a Ryanair flight and two hours later arrived in Glasgow, en route to a new life in the north of Scotland.

He is not the proverbial Polish plumber. Instead of dealing with Britain's blocked U-bends, he has come to cater for a market that has opened up for Poland's ever-mobile population - pastoral care. Father Swider is one of dozens of priests arriving each month to look after British parishes, and to minister to the growing number of Polish migrant workers, because the supply of home-grown priests in Britain has dried up. "I'm happy because there is a big need," Father Swider said. "In Scotland I can serve God, the diocese, and the people. And it's interesting work."
The rest

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Just as the salt water of the sea is drawn upwards by the hot rays of the sun, and gradually takes on the form of clouds, and, turned thus into sweet and refreshing water, falls in showers on the earth (for the sea water as it rises upwards leaves behind it its salt and bitterness), so when the thoughts and desires of the man of prayer rise aloft like misty emanations of the soul, the rays of the Sun of Righteousness purify them of all sinful taint, and his prayers become a great cloud which descends from heaven in a shower of blessing, bringing refreshment to many on the earth.
Sadhu Sundar Singh photo

From “Prydain”: Alexander McLaren on “David’s Cry for Pardon”
This is the sixteenth in a series of daily Lenten devotionals by a
group of Anglican bloggers and friends. Today’s entry is by Will of the Prydain blog. You can read other entries in the series here.

Excerpt: "Think of all the patient, pitying mercy of our Father, with which He has lingered about our lives, and softly knocked at the door of our hearts! Think of that unspeakable gift in which are wrapped up all His tender mercies—the gift of Christ who died forus all!"

the rest at Lent and Beyond

Christians remain as world forgets tsunami victims
March 14, 2006

Asia (MNN) -- Thousands remain homeless and millions are still feeling the affects of the tsunami that hit East Asia 15 months ago. However, that hopelessness is giving way to anticipation as the rebuilding is now in full-swing.

The Southern Baptist
International Mission Board raised nearly $17-million dollars for tsunami relief. Of that, $6.7 million has been dispersed among Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia, while another $4.5 million has been spent on reconstruction in South Asia. The remaining $5.6 million will be available for use in 2006.

The drector of world hunger and relief ministries for the International Mission Board, estimates 125 relief projects are now underway throughout Southern Asia and the Pacific Rim.
the rest

Gay Teens Are Using the System
Students fight personal cases of discrimination through the courts and political activism.
By Seema Mehta, Times Staff Writer
March 12, 2006

Gay high school students across California are increasingly using the courts and political activism to fight individual cases of discrimination and to promote tolerance.The moves, educators and legal observers say, come at a time of exponential growth in the number of gay student clubs and an acceptance of homosexuality on high school campuses that would have been unheard of a decade ago.

"It's a reflection of the students' desire to not just not be beat up, but to actually have full equality," said Carolyn Laub, executive director of the Gay Straight Alliance Network in San Francisco. "They want to be treated just the same" as their straight classmates.

Recent examples abound: A lesbian teen sued Garden Grove educators to defend her right to kiss her girlfriend on campus. Bakersfield students sued their district after a principal barred the school newspaper from printing articles about homosexuality that identified gay students by name — even with their parents' permission. Los Angeles Unified settled a harassment suit brought by students by pledging to provide antibias training to students and staff at Washington Prep High School.

Homosexual Activists Get Cold Shoulder at Christian Schools
By Nathan Burchfiel Correspondent
March 14, 2006

( - A busload of homosexual activists is running into some roadblocks on a cross-country trip to protest at Christian and military colleges.

The seven-week Equality Ride takes more than 30 young adults to 20 religious and military college campuses that the group says "ban the enrollment of GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) students.

"The activists plan to hold vigils, Bible studies, classroom discussions, community forums and press conferences to oppose "the false notion that homosexuality is a 'sickness and a sin,'" according to the group's website.

The tour began on March 10 with a stop at Liberty University in southwest Virginia, where the activists were arrested by campus police for trespassing. Liberty President Jerry Falwell had previously told the group they would not be welcome on campus, according to a report in a local newspaper.
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Thieves prey on NW churches
By Matthew Cella
March 14, 2006

Metropolitan Police are investigating a series of robberies at congregations in Northwest in recent weeks where thieves are suspected of casing churches and stealing cash, credit cards, computers, televisions and even a vacuum cleaner -- sometimes during the worship services.

"Whoever is doing this knows how churches operate," said the Rev. Amy Butler, senior pastor at the Calvary Baptist Church in Northwest. "It seems like somebody is making a really studied approach." Mrs. Butler said her office was robbed on a Sunday about two months ago. She said she thinks the robbery occurred during a church service.
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Anglican Head to Visit Pope as Hopes Rise for Unity Among Churches
The spiritual head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Dr Rowan Williams is expected to make his first formal visit to Roman Catholic Church head, Pope Benedict in Rome this year.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14 , 2006, 9:58 (UK)

The spiritual head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Dr Rowan Williams is expected to make his first formal visit to Roman Catholic Church head, Pope Benedict in Rome this year.

The motive behind the visit is to heal a rift that has existed between the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches for centuries.It is reported that the two leaders will attend at least one service together, however, the meeting remains to be confirmed by the Vatican. The joining of the two Church heads will be used to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the meeting in 1966, between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Ramsey, who was the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury.

During that visit the Pope gave a ring to Dr Ramsey, which has been passed on from Archbishop to Archbishop, and remains with Dr Williams today.Britain’s senior Catholic Church leaders have openly admitted that relations between the two Churches has seemed to have reached a “plateau”. However, many are hoping that the present meeting could bring about a new ecumenical era between the Churches.
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Google Launches Interactive Map of Mars
By ALICIA CHANG AP Science Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- First there was Google Earth, then Google Moon. On Monday, Google Inc. expanded its galactic reach by launching Google Mars, a Web browser-based mapping tool that gives users an up-close, interactive view of the Red Planet with the click of a mouse.

The Martian maps were made from images taken by NASA's orbiting Mars Odyssey and Mars Global Surveyor.

Google Mars doesn't provide driving directions, but users can see the planet in three different formats: The Martian elevation map is color-coded by altitude; the visible-imagery map shows the surface in black-and-white pictures; the infrared map indicates temperature, with cooler areas dark and warmer areas bright.

Users can also zoom in on any of the three maps to view geographical features such as mountains, canyons, dunes and craters. The maps also pinpoint the locations of unmanned space probes that have landed on Mars.

Google Mars:

Catholic Charities pulls out of adoptions
By Cheryl Wetzstein
March 14, 2006

The recent decision by Catholic Charities of the Boston Archdiocese to stop offering adoption services to avoid placing children with homosexuals is reverberating through child welfare circles and sparking fears that other Catholic Charities agencies may follow suit.

"Everyone's still reeling from the decision," Marylou Sudders, executive director of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC), said yesterday.

"Ultimately, the only losers are the kids," said Maureen Flatley, a Boston adoption consultant and lobbyist. If other Catholic Charities agencies withdraw from public adoption, "you can't even begin to talk about what the impact of that will be nationwide," she said.

On Friday, leaders of the Boston Catholic Charities said they would not be renewing their nearly 20-year-old contract with the Massachusetts Department of Social Services (DSS) to provide adoption services, citing state law that says homosexuals must be allowed to adopt.
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Archaeologists Find Ancient Israel Tunnels
Associated Press Writer

JERUSALEM — Underground chambers and tunnels used during a Jewish revolt against the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago have been uncovered in northern Israel, archaeologists said Monday.

The Jews laid in supplies and were preparing to hide from the Romans during their revolt in A.D. 66-70, the experts said. The pits, which are linked by short tunnels, would have served as a concealed subterranean home.

Yardenna Alexandre of the Israel Antiquities Authority said the find shows the ancient Jews planned and prepared for the uprising, contrary to the common perception that the revolt began spontaneously.

"It definitely was not spontaneous," Alexandre said. "The Jews of that time certainly did prepare for it, with underground hideaways here and in other sites we have found."
The underground chambers at the Israeli Arab village of Kfar Kana, north of Nazareth, were built from housing materials common at the time and hidden directly beneath the floors of aboveground homes _ giving families direct access to the hideouts. Other refuges found from the time of the revolt are hewn out of rock.
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Gay men gain "confidence," lose control with meth use
By Amy Herdy
Denver Post Staff Writer

Like an increasing number of gay men, Jason Fail was attracted to methamphetamine because it lifted his mood.

"I call it snorting pure confidence," said Fail, 25, of the drug he was addicted to for four years in his youth.

In metro Denver and nationwide, more gay men are using meth, drawn by its reputation as a party drug that enhances every nerve ending - especially during sex.

In Denver, recent surveys show meth use among gay men to be double the rate of use in the general population. Nationally, the trend has been noted in cities from Los Angeles to New York.
Meth use among gay men is becoming a serious public health issue because it encourages behavior that is risky for contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The liberal baby bust
Progressives are less likely to have children than are conservative folks. In fact, fertility rates in Bush states were 11% higher than rates in Kerry states in 2004. What might this mean for America?
By Phillip Longman

What's the difference between Seattle and Salt Lake City? There are many differences, of course, but here's one you might not know. In Seattle, there are nearly 45% more dogs than children. In Salt Lake City, there are nearly 19% more kids than dogs.

This curious fact might at first seem trivial, but it reflects a much broader and little-noticed demographic trend that has deep implications for the future of global culture and politics. It's not that people in a progressive city such as Seattle are so much fonder of dogs than are people in a conservative city such as Salt Lake City. It's that progressives are so much less likely to have children.
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Why Dialogue with Revisionists is Impossible
March 13th, 2006
by Alice C. Linsley

Christians who profess the historic Faith find it nearly impossible to dialogue with those who hold revisionist views. For some time I thought this was because modernism has eroded the foundations upon which the Faith rests. Empiricism excises the soul from the mind-body-soul question. Relativism poses Christian creedal faith as just another religion among many world religions, and individualism values self-gratification over a relationship with God. These trends erode and threaten to eviscerate the core of true Christian catechisms, but is modernism the real problem?

Were modernist trends the primary cause of ECUSA’s radical revision of Christianity then dialogue would be possible, at least on intellectual or philosophical grounds. That there is no longer thoughtful discussion of issues suggests that the real cause of revisionism isn’t ultimately philosophical, theological or even intellectual. It must be something else.

The rest at Pontifications

John Yates: “The Episcopal Church 2006 – Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

In the last year I have been approached from time to time by a few parishioners concerned that our Vestry might be giving serious thought to our exiting the Episcopal Church. “Can it be so bad, John, that this is necessary? The last thing the church needs is more division. Let’s stay in and continue to work from within, for renewal and reform as you, John, have always taught us.”

The question deserves a thoughtful answer. Understand, we are not at this time taking action to leave ECUSA – is it a possibility one day? It is certainly possible. None of knows what will happen in the future, and our Vestry has made no definite plans. We are, however, considering carefully all contingencies that we can imagine and attempting to be prepared with various strategies, depending on what happens in the future, and we are in regular discussion both with Bishop Lee as well as with leaders of a coalition of 25 or so other Virginia churches that share our deep concerns.

The rest at titusonenine

Monday, March 13, 2006

Faith is not a refuge from reality. It is a demand that we face reality, with all its difficulties, opportunities, and implications. The true subject matter of religion is not our own little souls, but the Eternal God and His whole mysterious purpose, and our solemn responsibility to Him.
... Evelyn Underhill, The School of Charity Dave's Pics

Rick Harris: Fools for Christ
This is the fifteenth in a series of daily Lenten devotionals by a
group of Anglican bloggers and friends. Today’s entry is by Rick Harris of the Stand Firm Alabama blog. You can read other entries in the series here.

Excerpt: "Indeed. We think ourselves the better judges of what the world needs. Sometimes we even dare diagnose what is wrong with the Body of Christ, and prescribe the medicine that we are sure will cure it. We say we believe that God has a plan, but then we act as if God needs our power to protect his plan from being thwarted. We are ever so willing to serve God by those efforts that we think He needs us to make, and so unwilling to do something that doesn‘t make sense. We may just as well say, “Anything, God. I’ll do anything You ask. Just don’t make me be a fool.” We won’t give up on using our own power. And so we usurp God’s sovereignty. "

The rest at Lent and Beyond

Polygamists, Unite!
They used to live quietly, but now they're making noise.
By Daphne Merkin

So, you thought you'd seen everything those alienated types who create hit TV series had up their hipster sleeves. We were all fascinated with the Six Feet Under clan, dragging their twisted inner lives and even more meshugeneh realities all over their widowed mother's spotless linoleum kitchen floor, leading her to take up smoking pot. Now Tony Soprano and his stewpot of gangland cronies are back, beguiling us with their vulgar blood-spilling and messy coke-snorting ways. And, as if that weren't enough, right after The Sopranos there's Big Love, featuring Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton), a guy with multiple wives and seven children who's moved across the street into three adjacent households that share a single backyard, pretending to be the head of a normal American family under the very noses of the law-abiding folk who live in his Salt Lake City suburb.
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Survey, Archbishop Carey Draw Presiding Bishop's Ire

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold has written to the House of Bishops discouraging their participation in a three-question
survey endorsed by a former Archbishop of Canterbury and distributed by a previously unknown organization, “Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion.”

In his letter to the bishops, Bishop Griswold said he has also written privately to the Most Rev. George Carey, who retired as Archbishop of Canterbury in 2001, chiding him for allowing himself to be used by others whose political ambition is to sow division.

The authors of the survey offered few clues as to their identity in the mailing, except to disavow affiliation with any Church organization beyond their local parish. In an e-mail dated March 8, Bishop Griswold said he was “suspicious of anything that is anonymous and that the questions themselves lead me to believe the intention of those who have asked [Archbishop Carey] to circulate the questionnaire is far from benign.”
The rest at The Living Church

Archbishop Akinola Declares March 27-28 National Mourning Days for Nigerian Christians
Cartoon Killings: CAN Declares Two-Day National Mourning
By Uchenna Awom
Source: Daily Independent
National Assembly Correspondent, Abuja

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Sunday directed all Christians to stay at home and observe a two-day national mourning for the “fallen brethren” in the cartoon riots throughout the country on March 27 and 28.

The umbrella Christians body also requested the law enforcement agencies and the judiciary not to treat those arrested in connection with the recent wanton destruction with kid gloves, adding that they must be treated for who they are: criminals, murderers and arsonists.

President of CAN, Most Rev. Peter Akinola, read a statement entitled: “A Call To National Mourning” at the inauguration of the League of Anglican Media Practitioners (LAMP) in Abuja.

He said CAN watched with sadness and utter dismay the recent crises in some states in the North where many Christians were ruthlessly killed and churches and other property wantonly destroyed by some criminals, murderers and arsonists hiding under the guise of religion and therefore resolved to set aside the two days for national mourning and sober reflection. It is also to declare that Nigerian Christians have no other place they can call their own, except Nigeria.
The rest at the AAC blog

The Big News: Shrinking Reportage
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 13, 2006

An explosion of media outlets means we now have more coverage and carping about every conceivable event than ever before in history.

But we also have less reporting.

Hundreds of cable and radio commentators, and millions of bloggers, can sound off about the news in real time. But the number of old-fashioned fact-gatherers is dwindling, and will almost certainly continue to shrink.

In the Philadelphia area, for instance, the number of newspaper reporters has fallen from 500 to 220 in the last quarter-century. Most of the local television stations have cut back on traditional news coverage. Five AM radio stations used to cover news; now there are two.
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More Evangelicals Say Go See The Da Vinci Code
Monday, Mar. 13, 2006
Posted: 4:09:16PM EST

Evangelicals are coming out left and right with what Lee Strobel calls a "mini-industry of books" debunking Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, especially as the best seller is slated to open in theaters nationwide.

While the film adaptation stirred protests among Catholics and Protestants alike, more Christians are encouraging people to go watch the movie.

Internationally known speaker and author Josh McDowell will be releasing his book, The Da Vinci Code: A Quest for Answers , for Christians to use as a witnessing resource.

"May 2006 presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to equip believers to answer the challenging questions raised by the movie about the deity of Christ and his Word," said a statement released by Campus Crusade for Christ, which is promoting McDowell's new book. "If we approach this with a positive readiness, we can seize this as an opportunity to open up compelling dialogue about the real and relevant Christ.

"In the same way, best-selling author Dr. James L. Garlow saw the upcoming film release, which is scheduled for May 19, as an evangelical opportunity with his own written tool.
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US Bishops Correct 55 Representatives on Abortion
by Hilary White
March 13, 2006

( - The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has responded to the Statement of Principles' issued last week in which 55 Catholic members of the House of Representatives exposed themselves as being pro-abortion. The bishops’ statement was signed by Cardinals William Keeler of Baltimore and Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, both of whom are regarded as liberal on social and moral issues.

The USCCB statement welcomed the Representatives’ for their "efforts that seek to examine how Catholic legislators bring together their faith and their policy choices."

The Representatives claimed last week that their priority was to create the social conditions necessary in which women did not feel the need to resort to abortion. This circuitous approach has been favored in the Democratic party since their defeat in the last presidential election when exit polls showed their militant support for abortion on demand was not shared by the majority of the electorate.

The Representatives wrote, "We agree with the Catholic Church about the value of human life and the undesirability of abortion, we do not celebrate its practice." The Church, however, does not teach that abortion is merely "undesireable" but that it is "an unspeakable crime" that "cries to heaven" for justice and that it must be vigorously and unequivocally opposed by all people of good will.
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Chicago Man Creates Jesus Comics
A 29-year-old man in Chicago will distribute a comic book titled "Loaded Bible: Jesus vs. the Vampires" just a few days before Easter.
Posted: Monday, March 13 , 2006, 8:53 (UK)

A 29-year-old man in Chicago will distribute a comic book titled "Loaded Bible: Jesus vs. the Vampires" just a few days before Easter.

With the Islamic world uproar over Danish political cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed still in the air, comic book writer Tim Seeley and his art is being talked about by peers in the industry and already have been attacked by Christian e-mailers.

However, Seeley says that the comic books are "under a veneer of a really fun, over-the-top-crazy, sacrilegious idea." He is subtly criticising the mutual manipulations of organised religion and government since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"There is a trend right now where people are using religious themes and religious ideas because they make great stories," said Ben Avery, 31, a high school English teacher in South Bend, Indiana. In his spare time, he is editor in chief of Community Comics, a four-person Christian studio that is creating a Christian fantasy, "ArmorQuest," as a graphic novel in three 72-page volumes.
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Parishes Rebel from Church Following Israel Investment Decision
Parishes across Britain are being urged to withdraw their money from the Church of England after its election to continue its current investment in Caterpillar, a company accused of destroying Palestinian homes.
Posted: Monday, March 13 , 2006, 15:06 (UK)

Parishes across Britain are being urged to withdraw their money from the Church of England after its election to continue its current investment in Caterpillar, a company accused of destroying Palestinian homes, reports The Church of England Newspaper.

Fifteen groups have united together and have written to dozens of other churches asking them to take out their funds from the Church’s Central Board of Finance (CBF) until such a time that it ends its contributions with companies related to the occupation of the Palestinian lands in the Middle-East.

The campaign has gained momentum, and Rev Stephen Sizer, the Vice Chair of Friends of Sabeel UK, has expressed his hope that the number backing the boycott could rise to hundreds.Recently the Church of England reassured the Jewish community that it did not plan to pull out of its £2.3 million investment in Caterpillar.
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Bethlehem Calling

Soon it will be springtime in Bethlehem. The Christian heart of the Middle East will be bathed in warm sunlight, wild flowers blooming in its fertile valleys and birds singing in the Shepherds’ Field. It is a glorious time of year. But the sun shines down on a town struggling to breathe.

The markets should be bustling with international tourists, Christian pilgrims, and day-trippers from Hebron and Ramallah. Shoppers and traders should be haggling over the price of apricots, fig jam, toasted almonds and bright green olive oil. But Manger Square is quiet these days. The few tourists that do visit Bethlehem this Easter will find a town battered and bruised by the occupation, but refusing to lose hope.

According to a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs (OCHA) of December 2004, Bethlehem is surrounded by 78 physical obstacles, including illegal Israeli settlements, settler-only roads, checkpoints and military roadblocks, and of course the Wall.
The Wall, which snakes its way throughout the West Bank, takes the form of a nine-metre high concrete wall through Bethlehem’s northern and western sides, effectively annexing 13 per cent of the town’s fertile lands and separating Bethlehem from her sister city, Jerusalem.
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Are All Lives Worth Living? A Dangerous Idea Moves Front and Center
Albert Mohler
Monday, March 13, 2006

In 1967, the New Jersey Supreme Court rejected a "wrongful birth" claim and framed its decision in an eloquent affirmation of human dignity:

"The right to life is inalienable in our society. A court cannot say what defects should prevent an embryo from being allowed life such that the denial at the opportunity to terminate the existence of a defective child in embryo can support a cause of action . . . A child need not be perfect to have a worthwhile life . . . . The sanctity of the single human life is the decisive factor in this issue in tort. Eugenic considerations are not controlling. We are not talking here about the breeding of prize cattle. It may have been easier for the mother and less expensive for the father to have terminated the life of their child while he was an embryo, but these alleged detriments cannot stand against the preciousness of the single human life to support a remedy in tort."

In other words, the New Jersey Court affirmed that every single human life, whatever its circumstances or genetic condition, is worthy of existence, and that existence is to be prized over nonexistence as a matter of principle.
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Failing women of the Third World
By Suzanne Fields
March 13, 2006

March is Women's History Month, and Laura and George W. Bush celebrated International Women's Day with a White House reception for women of Third World countries.

"Our history was altered because strong women stood up and led," the president told his gathering. "These women broke down barriers to equality."

He's right. The suffragettes and the second wave of feminists pushed hard for the vote, for breaking down doors to enable women to exploit opportunities that had long been denied to them.

But the feminist movement, if not authentic feminism, has become soft, selfish, insular, marginalized and irrelevant. Phyllis Chesler, who fought in the hard battles of the decades just past, is one of the few feminists with the courage to challenge her soft sisters for having "failed their own ideals and their mandate to think both clearly and morally."
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Holocaust Cartoon Contest Draws 200 Entries
Monday, March 13, 2006 3:17 p.m. EST

An Iranian newspaper's contest for Holocaust-related cartoons has drawn entries from 200 people, with some drawings mocking the World War II slaughter: One entry shows Jews going into a gas pipeline.

Most contest entrants are Iranian, but six are Americans, and a few cartoons have been submitted from as far away as Indonesia and Brazil, according to the Hamshahri newspaper. A few of the drawings have been posted online.

Hamshahri began the contest last month as a test of the West's readiness to print cartoons about the Nazi killing of 6 million Jews in World War II. The contest, which runs through May 15, comes in response to caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that sparked protests across much of the Muslim world.
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By J. Grant Swank, Jr.
Mar 13, 2006

Her skin was flawless, her manner graceful, her laugh infectious. Further, she came from an upper-middle class Christian home. She had attended a Christian college. Her boyfriend went to her church.

When she sat with my wife and me, however, her glance was anxious. And her hands twisted one another. Her shoulders bent under troubling weight. How else does one look after having had an abortion?

"We sat in the clinic," she said, "and we saw others from my college." She and her boyfriend had huddled together in the outer room of the abortion trade. There had been none of their usual laughter, only embarrassed eyes touching one another, then glancing off onto beige walls.

"My family must never know," she said. "They'd die. They would. . ." She began to cry. Speaking in half sentences had become common that night. Confusion mixed with hurt overwhelmed language. Grammar was molded to fit the wounds inside.
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Conservative Groups Boycott Ford Motor Co. Over Gay Rights Support
Monday, March 13, 2006

WASHINGTON — Nineteen conservative groups said Monday they would reinstate a boycott of
Ford Motor Co., contending the automaker reneged on an agreement to stop supporting gay rights organizations.

The groups set up a Web site urging supporters not to buy Ford vehicles after the automaker said last December it would continue running advertisements in gay publications. The
American Family Association, which is leading this latest effort, had originally called for a boycott of Ford last year but suspended it for six months at the request of some Ford dealers.

"Ford has the right to financially support homosexual groups promoting homosexual marriage, but at the same time consumers have a right not to purchase automobiles made by Ford," said AFA Chairman Donald Wildmon in a statement.
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Negative Perception Of Islam Increasing

A handwringing article from the Bandar Beacon, otherwise known as the
Washington Post, bemoans the fact that more Americans in 2006 think that Muslims are disproportionately prone to violence than they did in 2001. According to various people named Cole and others quoted in this story, it's all the fault of politicians and the media. And gee whiz, there are some swell Muslims out there, so that means that the Americans who believe that Islam is violent are wrong, doesn't it?

Sometimes I wonder if the Post writers believe they are writing for adults. Of course there are millions of wonderful people out there who are Muslims. That is actually irrelevant to the question of whether or not Islam teaches violence. And while the assembled experts in this article spend a lot of time talking about how politicians and the media can improve public perceptions of Islam, no one mentions anything about what Muslims might be able to do.
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Ancient city found at 'Kana of the Galilee'
Mar. 13, 2006 21:08

In a rare find, remnants of an ancient Israelite city that dates back three thousand years have been uncovered during excavations in the Israeli Arab village of Kfar Kana in the Lower Galilee, Israel's Antiquities Authority announced Monday.

The area, located north of Nazareth, is revered by Christians as the site where Jesus is said to have performed his first miracle.

The settlement being unearthed existed at the time of the United Kingdom of King Solomon and the Kingdom of Israel following the split between Israel and Judah, in the 10-9th centuries BCE.

A section of the ancient city wall and remains of buildings were exposed during recent excavations at the site, which began three months ago, the director of the excavation at the site, Yardenna Alexander said.
the rest

Trashing the Troops
By Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu
March 13, 2006

It is now becoming a repeated but no less discomfiting phenomenon in American politics that when support for the war cools, snide attacks on soldiers grow. When troops came home from Korea – never a popular war in the post-WW II euphoria - they were considered “suckers” by many for going to the war that wasn’t. Harry Truman, who sent troops to fight, denigrated the war, calling it a “police action.” From that point forward Americans gave it little attention or credibility.

As a result of intense, bitter fighting Korea in three years ate up almost as many American soldiers as Vietnam did in a decade. But upon return, soldiers found a country that had gone on without them, simply ignoring their sacrifice. Hollywood managed to make two good films on Korea – Pork Chop Hill and The Bridges of Toko-ri. The next time film portrayed Korea it was in the anti-war satire M*A*S*H. That is the only image of the Korean War most Americans hold today if they recall it at all. Little wonder veterans feel that they were in the “Forgotten War.”
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Billy Graham Returns With Big Easy Sermon

In his first public sermon in nine months, evangelist Billy Graham delivered his message of repentance and salvation Sunday to an overflow arena crowd in this city slowly recovering from devastation.

The 87-year-old required a walker to get to the podium but was greeted with a standing ovation and screams from the capacity crowd of 16,500 inside New Orleans Arena. Another 1,500 people watched on a large screen on a concourse at the neighboring Superdome - an evacuation center where flooding and rancid conditions reigned the week after Hurricane Katrina hit Aug. 29.

Graham told the crowd he watched television with shock as it became clear that Katrina and the broken flood system had destroyed much of the city and caused so much suffering.
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Anti-Semitism seen rising among France's Muslims
By Colin Nickerson, Globe Staff
March 13, 2006

BAGNEUX, France -- In the bleak housing project where a young Jew named Ilan Halimi was held captive and tortured before being dumped in a vacant lot to die, there's scant sympathy for the victim.

''It's too bad this happened, because we immigrants are always blamed," said Ibrahim Ag Ahmalou, a lanky man of West African heritage who shares his girlfriend's apartment in the project. ''But Jews have all the money and power. Everyone knows this and resents them. That's why they have these problems."

Last week there were three more attacks on Jews by Arab and African immigrants in suburban Paris, according to police. None of the latest victims was seriously injured, but the attacks heightened the nervousness of French Jews. There is alarm that the antipathy of French Muslims toward Jews, long based on opposition to Israel, is reverting to the even more sinister prejudices that once pervaded Europe, making Jews the scapegoats for all social ills.
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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Going Out with Joy
And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out. (Deuteronomy 33:18)

The blessings of the tribes are ours; for we are the true Israel who worship God in the spirit and have no confidence in the flesh. Zebulun is to rejoice because Jehovah will bless his "going out"; we also see a promise for ourselves lying latent in this benediction. When we go out we will look out for occasions of joy.

We go out to travel, and the providence of God is our convoy. We go out to emigrate, and the Lord is with us both on land and sea. We go out as missionaries, and Jesus saith, "Lo, I am with you unto the end of the world." We go out day by day to labor, and we may do so with pleasure, for God will be with us from morn till eve.

A fear sometimes creeps over us when starting, for we know not what we may meet with; but this blessing may serve us right well as a word of good cheer. As we pack up for moving, let us put this verse into our traveling trunk; let us drop it into our hearts and keep it there; yea, let us lay it on our tongue to make us sing. Let us weigh anchor with a song, or jump into the carriage with a psalm. Let us belong to the rejoicing tribe and in our every movement praise the Lord with joyful hearts.
CH Spurgeon photo