Saturday, April 08, 2006

And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. Luke 19:29-30

It is indeed the lowliest of all memorable processions which He plans, and yet, in its very humility, it appeals to ancient prophecy, and says onto Zion that her King cometh unto her. The monarchs of the East and the captains of the West might ride upon horses as for war, but the King of Zion would come unto her meek, and sitting upon an ass, upon a colt, the foal of an ass. Yet there is fitness and dignity in the use of "a colt whereon never man sat," and it reminds us of other facts, such that He was the firstborn of a virgin mother, and rested in a tomb which corruption never soiled.

Thus He comes forth, the gentlest of the mighty, with no swords gleaming around to guard Him, or to smite the foreigner who tramples Israel, or the worse foes of her own household. Men who will follow such a King must lay aside their vain and earthly ambitions, and awake to the truth that spiritual powers are grander than any which violence ever grasped.
G.A. Chadwick

Come Up Higher: A Response to the Report of the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion
Ephraim Radner

"One Baptism, One Hope in God's Call: The Report of the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion" is a significant, if quite imperfect step, in the process that ECUSA must follow if this church is to maintain its integrity as both a witness to the Gospel and an existing and thriving institution, and if she is to contribute constructively to the same future for the Anglican Communion. But it is only a step, and if allowed to function as a destination by our General Convention, it will prove not only a disappointment, but an ecclesial quagmire, perhaps even a disaster.

It is important to note two political factors that should limit our understanding of both the actual and intended influence of this Report. First, the Commission that was chosen to write it was extraordinarily unrepresentative of ECUSA (let alone of Communion-oriented members of ECUSA), and highly over-represented by those who favor the decisions of GC 2003 that precipitated the crisis this Commission was designed to address. Second, another committee - a "special legislative committee" - has already been appointed to provide the actual resolutions that will go to the floor at Convention, making use of the Commission's recommendations as they choose. This Special Committee, while still not exactly balanced, is far more representative of both ECUSA and her interests in Communion life. The fact that the Commission came out with the Report it did, especially in its theological orientation (see below) is a cause for thanks, not disdain, and it represents hard work and good faith on the part of members from often opposing viewpoints. But there is obviously much more work and struggle in store.

the rest at Connecticut Six

Friday, April 07, 2006

A chasm is opening between the men who believe their Bibles and the men who are prepared for an advance upon Scripture. Inspiration and speculation cannot long abide in peace. Compromise there can be none. We cannot hold the inspiration of the Word, and yet reject it; we cannot believe in the atonement and deny it; we cannot hold the doctrine of the fall and yet talk of the evolution of spiritual life from human nature; we cannot recognize the punishment of the impenitent and yet indulge the "larger hope." One way or the other we must go. Decision is the virtue of the hour. Charles Haddon Spurgeon

"Tolerance is the virtue of those who don't believe anything." G. K. Chesterton

ECUSA's Proposed Resolutions
(together with long-winded report)
Their attempt to stay in the Anglican Communion while still placating the homosexual lobby

Found here

Proposed resolutions start on page 24 of this 61-page pdf file.

Comments at titusonenine

Integrity is happy

The weird and relentless creep of paganism into the Episcopal left
by Greg Griffith

by Greg GriffithIt seems almost quaint now, but nearly two years ago there was a
gathering of pagans in Michigan that shocked Epicopalians with seminars such as "Sex & Spells: Gender and Political Activism in the Witchen Community." It was sponsored by Oasis, the California-based pro-gay activist group devoted to advancing the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-gendered agenda in the Episcopal Church.

Then there was the much-publicized dust-up over
William Melnyk, the Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, who was asked to resign his post as rector after it became clear he was moonlighting as a Druid priest, alternately going by the names "Oakwyse" and "Bran." Melnyk's Druidism was revealed when he and his wife submitted a decidedly pagan liturgy - complete with references to raisin cakes and sweet red wine (associated in the Old Testamant with worship of the pagan god Baal) - to the Episcopal Church's call for "women's liturgies." The Episcopal Church's web site published the liturgy, but later pulled it under pressure from traditional Episcopalian web sites.

the rest at Stand Firm

Peres Says Pope Considering Israel Visit
The Associated Press
Thursday, April 6, 2006; 3:29 PM

ROME -- Pope Benedict XVI is considering visiting Israel in the first part of 2007, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres said Thursday after meeting the pontiff at the Vatican.

"He indicated that he may do it in the first part of next year," Peres told a news conference after renewing an invitation first made by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last year.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls confirmed the invitation had been extended but gave no details on the pope's response.

Peres said he did not think a dispute between the Vatican and Israel over taxation of church properties would stop a papal visit. Some analysts have suggested the pope might not make the trip until the issues are worked out.
The rest

Massive 100-Day Effort for Rwanda Marks First Day
Friday, Apr. 7, 2006 Posted: 9:02:32AM EST

Christians from around the world on Friday began the first day of a 100-day effort to replace the painful memories of the Rwandan genocide with compassion, love, and renewed hope.

Humanitarian aid organizations, musicians, and Christian leaders will combine their efforts in support of the Hope Rwanda project beginning from Apr. 7 – the day that marks the 12th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide that killed nearly one million people – to July 15, matching the exact 100 days of the genocide.

“Hope Rwanda is very much about working closely with Rwandan community leaders,” said Mark Zschech. “We can’t do this without them.”

Joining in the effort of global compassion for the Rwandan people are well known Christian leaders, musicians, and aid and humanitarian organizations. Among those participating are Joyce Meyer, Brian Houston, Darlene Zschech, Compassion, Samaritan’s Purse and Hillsong United.
the rest

Christians Highlight Personal Relationship above Medical Prayer Study
Thursday, Apr. 6, 2006 Posted: 10:08:11AM EST

Results from the largest study to examine the effects of intercessory prayer have caused waves of skeptical reaction among Christians who refuted the conclusions drawn from the multimillion dollar investigation.

Featured on the American Heart Journal, the Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) found that having people pray for heart bypass surgery patients had no effect on their recovery and that patients who knew they were being prayed for had a slightly higher rate of complications - findings that Christians are refuting.

"I don't think everything can be proved subjectively," widely-recognized author and prayer specialist T.W. Hunt told The Christian Post.

"My reaction is that [the effects of intercessory prayer] can only be understood personally by the many people who have seen personal healing that was unquestionably from God."

Attorney: Shielding Children from Obscenity 'Common Sense,' Not Censorship
Oklahoma Legislation Would Restrict Sexually Explicit Material to Adults-Only Access
By Allie Martin and Jody Brown
April 7, 2006

(AgapePress) - State representatives in Oklahoma have approved proposed legislation that would require public libraries to place sexually explicit materials in a separate section and to distribute such materials only to adults.

Should House Bill 2158 become law, it would keep tax dollars from libraries that refuse to protect children from sexually explicit library materials. Representative Sally Kern's bill passed 60-33 and now heads to the Oklahoma Senate.

The bill states that unless a library has taken action to place "all children and young adult materials that contain homosexual or sexually explicit subject matter" in an area apart from the children and young adult sections, the state's Department of Libraries Board will not allocate state funds to that library. Says Kern, children deserve a period of "protected innocence" during which they are shielded from such material. Associated Press earlier quoted Kern as observing that contemporary advertisers apparently "can't sell toothpaste without sex," and that even the American Library Association is "out to sexualize our children."
the rest

Lesbian Sues Pro-Family Activists for Exposing Truth About Pro-Homosexual Event
By Jim Brown and Jenni Parker
April 7, 2006

(AgapePress) - A lesbian who was fired for her role in the notorious "Fistgate" conference at Tufts University has brought a civil suit against two Massachusetts pro-family activists who attended the 2000 conference and then proceeded to expose what went on at the pro-homosexual event.

The statewide conference that took place March 25 of that year was actually called "Teach-Out," and was sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Education, the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. The event's scandalous nickname comes from one of the many sexually explicit topics discussed at the conference before audiences that included children and teens.

Several presenters tried to foster "open discussion" by familiarizing their listeners with graphic details about homosexual sex and sexuality. At one point in the conference, "fisting" was discussed by one Teach-Out presenter, who described the practice as "an experience of letting somebody into your body that you want to be that close and intimate with ... [and] to put you into an exploratory mode."

Many concerned parents learned about "Fistgate" and its sexually graphic content through the efforts of Massachusetts pro-family activists Brian Camenker and Scott Whiteman, who attended the "Teach-Out" specifically to bear witness to and gather evidence of what went on there. That is why the two men are now facing legal action, along with the Parents Rights Coalition, which is also named in the civil suit.
the rest

California panel backs teaching 'sexual diversity'
By Joyce Howard Price
April 7, 2006

The California State Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill this week that would require public schools to teach students in all grades about the contributions homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals have made to society.

SB 1437, which passed Tuesday by all three Democrats on the Senate panel, would also mandate that California schools buy textbooks that "accurately" portray "the sexual diversity of our society."

The bill initially prohibited the state school board or any governing board from adopting any "textbook or instructional materials ... that reflect adversely" on any sexual behavior. But it was later specifically amended to require positive portrayals of homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals in all curricula.

Gospel of Judas Pages Endured Long, Strange Journey
Brian Handwerk for
National Geographic News
April 6, 2006

After 1,700 years, the Gospel of Judas is lost no more. And the twisting tale of the document itself is nearly as surprising as the story it tells.

"We can consider it a real miracle that [such an ancient literary work]—especially one threatened by the hatred of the great majority of its contemporary readers, who saw it as a shame and a scandal, destined to be lost … would suddenly appear and be brought to light," said scholar Rodolphe Kasser.
the rest

From Traitor to Hero? Responding to “The Gospel of Judas”
Albert Mohler
Friday, April 07, 2006

Headlines around the world are announcing the publication of a "long lost" and "suppressed" ancient document, known as The Gospel of Judas. The National Geographic Society announced the publication at a major media event on Thursday, just in time to boost publicity for its Sunday night special on the National Geographic Channel.

The announcement led to a frenzy of media coverage, ranging from responsible reports to outrageous sensationalism. According to some commentators, the publication of this new document will force a complete reformulation of Christianity and our understanding of both Judas and Jesus. In reality, nothing of the sort is in view. The document is highly interesting, however, offering an ancient and authoritative source into the thinking of heretical groups who offered alternative understandings of Christianity.
the rest

A Message from the President of the American Anglican Council

Beloved in Christ,

It has been said that redundancy is the key to communication, and for the past three years, the global Anglican Communion has been trying to communicate with the American Episcopal Church (ECUSA) leadership, or indeed, whoever is at home here in ECUSA. Although the real illness within ECUSA is heterodoxy over the key issues of who Jesus is and the authority of Holy Scripture, the presenting symptom that has engaged the world’s attention is sexuality, and more specifically homosexuality. Much of the Anglican Communion is still unaware of how far from historic Christianity ECUSA has actually drifted, but the issue of a homosexual bishop in New Hampshire—and the likelihood of more homosexual bishops to come—has brought the crisis to a boiling point.

All four of the “instruments of unity” of the Communion have spoken clearly to the American Church asking them not to go down this road; nevertheless, ECUSA has, with one excuse after another, brushed them all aside. Now, finally, on the eve of the next General Convention, enough evidence has accumulated to garner the attention of the liberal elite of ECUSA. For starters, over the past 139 weeks since the close of General Convention 2003, more than 140 congregations have departed from the Episcopal Church and come under the oversight of overseas Anglican primates and bishops. That is a fairly steady rate of one per week. The numbers are starting to add up; the revenues of affected dioceses are going down; and a future of unending legal battles and expenses are part of the present reality. Additionally, recent remarks by the Archbishop of Canterbury with regard to sexuality and remarks of the Bishop of Exeter to the American House of Bishops, acting as Canterbury’s spokesman, have caused a great light to suddenly be turned on in the minds of the great center, both those theologically revisionist as well as those modestly orthodox. It has dawned on them that (a) if the hard-core revisionists have their way, there will be no slowing down, and there will be more homosexual bishops elected and confirmed; and (b) the entire Episcopal Church will likely be thrown out of the Anglican Communion. This is not the preferred future they had envisioned, and suddenly they are scrambling to see if things can’t be fixed.

Since the conclusion of the House of Bishops meeting in Kanuga, N.C., in late March, several Episcopal bishops on various sides of the issues have offered their opinions and reflections. Two of these bishops, the Bishops of Arizona and the Rio Grande, sent emails to their dioceses which have been circulated among the various blogs and email lists. The media picked up on these bishops’ messages, causing headlines in the past week or so to speculate that there will be a “slowdown” in the gay agenda’s push at General Convention 2006 in June. Within days, ECUSA’s Special Commission on the Anglican Communion will produce a statement recommending the actions and positions General Convention should take regarding the ordination of homosexual bishops and blessings of same-sex unions, as well as (consequently) the Church’s position within the Communion. Until this statement is published, we do not know what the commission will recommend; furthermore, as the AAC has constantly reiterated, we must remember that the issue at stake is much broader than homosexuality. While news reports, such as the Washington Times article below, contain useful considerations, I encourage you to remain cautious when reading them. Also, consult the AAC blog for the original bishops’ statements on which the news reports are based. We will offer analysis of the commission's recommendations when its report is released.

Blessings and Peace,

The Rev. Canon David C. Anderson
American Anglican Council President and CEO

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Humility of Christ

"Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who emptied Himself; taking the form of a servant; and humbled Himself; becoming obedient even unto death. Wherefore God also highly exalted Him. "Phil. 2: 5-9.

In this view it is of inconceivable importance that we should have right thoughts of what Christ is, of what really constitutes Him the Christ, and specially of what may be counted His chief characteristic, the root and essence of all His character as our Redeemer.

There can be but one answer: it is His humility. What is the incarnation but His heavenly humility, His emptying Himself and becoming man? What is His life on earth but humility; His taking the form of a servant? And what is His atonement but humility? "He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death." And what is His ascension and His glory, but humility exalted to the throne and crowned with glory? "He humbled Himself, therefore God highly exalted Him." In heaven, where He was with the Father, in His birth, in His life, in His death, in His sitting on the throne, it is all, it is nothing but humility. Christ is the humility of God embodied in human nature; the Eternal Love humbling itself, clothing itself in the garb of meekness and gentleness, to win and serve and save us. As the love and condescension of God makes Him the benefactor and helper and servant of all, so Jesus of necessity was the Incarnate Humility. And so He is still in the midst of the throne, the meek and lowly Lamb of God.
Meditation-Andrew Murray

An Email From Bishop Howe On the House Of Bishops Meeting

Shared with his permission:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am grateful for the discussion on this thread.

I want to offer a couple of opinions. Please note: my opinions.

First, the Special Commission appointed by Frank Griswold and George Werner was heartily criticized as being far too “liberal,” but I think virtually all of the bishops were surprised by how “conservative” the (preliminary) report we received from it actually was! The Commission’s recommendations will reach about as far in the direction of Windsor as this Church can possibly reach.

Unfortunately (in my opinion) not far enough.

Windsor said: no more sexually active gay bishops. The Commission recommends that we pass a Resolution that urges “extreme caution” before confirming the election of another sexually active gay bishop.

Immediately, the questions of some of our bishops were: “And would it be possible for us to exercise ‘extreme caution’ and still confirm the election of a sexually active gay bishop?” “Surely you are not FORBIDDING the confirmation of a sexually active gay bishop, are you?” etc.

The rest at Drell's Descants

More comments at titusonenine

Maybe Three Trimesters Is Not Enough?

Chicago Theological Seminary president Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, a United Church of Christ clergyperson,
recently told Planned Parenthood's Clergy Advisory Board that abortion restrictions indicate that America has "lost its soul."

Rev. Thistlethwaite suggests the abortion issue is inherently theological, coming down to one's view of "ensoulment," when the soul is imparted to the human body. Pro-life Christians see this "ensoulment" at conception; she sees it at birth. Therefore, according to Thistlethwaite, the state should guarantee abortion rights so as not to interfere in such a theological matter.

The most chilling line of the
Religion News Service article on Thistlethwaite's comments, however, comes at the end:

"Ensoulment is a lifelong project but individuals and nations can not only gain their souls but lose it,"said Thistlethwaite. "The U.S. no longer knows it is or what it stands for."

Commentary at Touchstone

Escalating depravity
Movies that “disturb and disgust” appeal to the “tang of evil”
Gene Edward Veith

A new breed of movies makes the old slasher and horror flicks look like Disney cartoons.

As film critic Glenn Whipp of the Los Angeles Daily News describes them, movies like Hostel, Wolf Creek, and The Devil's Rejects feature "intense scenes of torture, mutilation, and depravity." Their very purpose, according to Darren Lynn Bousman, director of the Saw franchise, is to "disturb and disgust."

The first Saw movie was about helpless people being forced to commit unspeakable cruelties to each other, else they and their families would be killed. To free herself from a bear trap about to spring on her head, a woman has to cut open a man and rummage around in his intestines to find a key.
the rest

Montreal Woman Receives $45,000 for “Failed” Abortion of Twins
By Gudrun Schultz

MONTREAL, Quebec, April 5, 2006 ( – A woman who tried to abort her twin babies has been awarded $45,000 in damages by a Quebec court, after a Montreal hospital left her still pregnant.

Russian-born Saoudat Batoukaeva underwent an abortion procedure at St. Luc’s hospital on March 26, 1999, the Toronto Star reported yesterday. Three weeks later, the hospital discovered she was still pregnant after a routine tissue analysis.

Hospital officials were unable to reach Ms. Batoukaeva, who had moved to Toronto. She discovered she was pregnant with twins after an examination in July, and gave birth to the babies two weeks later. The children were born prematurely at 25 weeks.
the rest

Techno-Thriller Pits Islamic Holy Jihad Against Christian Freedom
By the Sword
by Mike Yorkey and Rick Myatt

(AgapePress) - The arresting cover art looks you in the eye and beckons you inside. The jolting murder spree holds you captive through the first chapter. Then it's too late to turn back. You have to read on.

By the Sword (Broadman & Holman, 2006) is the first fiction work by authors Mike Yorkey and Rick Myatt, but they demonstrate a masterful command of what makes a good story. Yorkey and Myatt (Yorkey's pastor) began working on their novel in early 2000, yet the action-packed thriller is eerily reminiscent of headline news beginning with 9/11, 2001.

Protagonist Amber Robbins is an American investigative reporter for the Washington National. She is stationed in Jerusalem, and through her eyes the realities of persecution, murder, jihad and political intrigue evoke the kind of impact more often experienced through the visual arts -- film or a stage drama. Yorkey and Myatt use dialogue extensively and effectively to propel the story and create that sense of live-action drama.
The rest

Doctor flies into South Dakota to perform abortions
By Drew Griffin and Kira KayCNN
Wednesday, April 5, 2006

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (CNN) -- Not a single doctor in South Dakota will perform an abortion, which is why Dr. Miriam McCreary has come out of retirement.

Once or twice a month, the 70-year-old grandmother takes a 45-minute flight from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to perform abortions at the last clinic in the state willing to offer the procedure.

"I want every child that's born, to be born into a family that wants a child. I don't want children to be born into a family where they are not wanted and can't be cared for carefully. That's the tragedy," McCreary said.

Rahman One Among Many Persecuted Converts, Says Religious Freedom Expert
Wednesday, Apr. 5, 2006
Posted: 10:10:57AM EST

For some, the Afghan Christian convert story ended with the release of 41-year-old Abdul Rahman. However, a religious freedom expert is urging people to keep in mind the countless number of persecuted Christian coverts worldwide who face death under their country’s laws on apostasy.

Dr. Paul Marshall, a senior fellow at Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom, says that there are many apostates in similar situations to Rahman that the world is ignoring in an article titled “Apostates from Islam” appearing in the Apr. 10 issue of The Weekly Standard. Marshall fears that the world will forget about converts similar to Rahman now that he has been granted asylum in Italy.

“Abdul Rahman's plight is merely the tip of the iceberg,” writes Marshall in the article. “Like the violence over the Danish cartoons of Muhammad, or the Ayatollah Khomeini's demand that Salman Rushdie be killed for blasphemy, it reveals a systematic, worldwide attempt by Islamists to imprison, kill, or otherwise silence anyone who challenges their ideology.”

As example that the case of the convert is not a unique situation, the religious freedom expert points out that two other Afghan converts to Christianity were arrested in March while other converts in February had their homes raided by police.
the rest

Courting Abroad
The use and abuse of foreign law by the U.S. Supreme Court.
by Jeremy Rabkin

PRESUMABLY, IT WAS NOT quite the debate Justice Ginsburg had in mind. But then, it's not clear that what she really wanted was a debate. Maybe we should have one, anyway.

At the beginning of February, Ruth Bader Ginsburg traveled to South Africa, where she gave a public address on "The Value of a Comparative Perspective in Constitutional Adjudication." She defended the Supreme Court's recent practice of taking guidance from foreign law when interpreting the U.S. Constitution. She acknowledged that the practice has been criticized. She expressed concern at bills before Congress condemning the practice.

Justice Ginsburg has given this sort of speech before, as have several of her colleagues on the Court. She tried to give more edge to this speech by noting that dismissive treatment of foreign opinion had also featured in the Supreme Court's 1857 decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford, which proclaimed a constitutional right to hold slaves--whatever Congress or international opinion might say. If that were not enough to stigmatize modern-day critics, Ginsburg added that congressional protests "fuel the irrational fringe." A posting on an Internet "chat" site, she explained, had denounced Justice O'Connor and herself for citing foreign law in their opinions and then called on "commandos" to see that "those two justices will not live another week."
the rest

Will The Supreme Court Rewrite The Bill Of Rights?
by Phyllis Schlafly
April 04, 2006 08:50 PM EST

The most controversial case for the new Roberts-Alito Supreme Court this term does not concern abortion, gay rights, the death penalty, or even the detention of enemy combatants. No, the hottest legal issue is based on an argument between Hershel Hammon and his wife about their daughter going to a boyfriend's house.

For this, the Bush Administration filed a special friend-of-the-court brief, and even insisted on participating in oral argument before the Supreme Court despite the complete lack of any federal issue at stake.

The decisions in this case, Hammon v. Indiana, and in a very similar case heard the same day, Davis v. Washington, will reveal whether the justices believe that Americans are entitled to all the rights spelled out in the Bill of Rights, or believe that the Supreme Court can push the delete button on one of those rights.
The rest

Couric's 'Liberal Bias' Moves to CBS Evening News
Jim Meyers,
Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Katie Couric's move from the "Today" show to "The CBS Evening News" brings a "journalist" long known for a distinct liberal bias into the anchor chair once occupied by the revered Walter Cronkite.

"Since becoming co-host of NBC's 'Today' in April 1991, Katie Couric has often used her perch to salute her liberal heroes (including Hillary Clinton and Jimmy Carter) or complain about "right-wing conservatives,'" notes the Media Research Center, a media watchdog group.

In one recent example of Couric's anti-conservative stance, she was openly hostile to Domino's Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan's plan to spend $400 million to create a Catholic town in Florida "open to anyone aspiring to live in communion with traditional values," writes Brent Bozell of the MRC.
the rest

Yes, It's Anti-Semitic
By Eliot A. Cohen
Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Academic papers posted on a Harvard Web site don't normally attract enthusiastic praise from prominent white supremacists. But John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" has won David Duke's endorsement as "a modern Declaration of American Independence" and a vindication of the ex-Klansman's earlier work, presumably including his pathbreaking book, "Jewish Supremacism."

Walt and Mearsheimer contend that American national security dictates distancing ourselves from the state of Israel; that U.S. support for Israel has led to such disasters as America's status as the No. 1 target for Islamic terrorists; and that such an otherwise inexplicable departure from good sense can be accounted for only by the power of "The Lobby" (their capitalization), an overwhelmingly Jewish force abetted by some Christian evangelicals and a gentile neocon collaborator or two, who have hijacked American foreign policy and controlled it for decades.
the rest

Episcopalians consider freeze on gay bishops
By Julia Duin
April 5, 2006

U.S. Episcopal leaders will try to safeguard their membership in the worldwide Anglican Communion by holding back, at least until 2008, on electing new homosexual bishops and on allowing same-sex unions, according to two Episcopal bishops.

Church leaders are even considering "repentance" for the 2003 consecration of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, an active homosexual, according to Arizona Bishop Kirk S. Smith.

He and Rio Grande Bishop Jeffrey Steenson divulged these details in e-mails to their dioceses describing a March 17-22 summit of Episcopal bishops in western North Carolina.

"Very considerable caution" will be used in electing more homosexual bishops, Bishop Smith said in his March 24 e-mail, "until a wider consensus emerges." Bishop Smith is identified with the church's liberal wing; Bishop Steenson is a conservative.

There is no consensus in the 70-million-member Anglican Communion, where 22 Anglican provinces have partially or totally severed relations with the Episcopal Church over its 2003 consecration of Bishop Robinson, a divorced man living with his homosexual lover.
the rest

Speaking to Bones
by Jill Carattini

My experience with the oboe had magnificent beginnings. In fact, it was far more magnificent than I first realized. I was in high school and had played in concert band for years, but I had never heard of the double-reeded instrument, much less the haunting sounds it made. Yet here in front of me was a woman with an oboe, a friend of a relative, offering to play for us. The sound was rich and beautiful. It was exactly the sound I imagined Mr. Tumnus playing on his flute for Lucy--the Narnian tune that made her "want to cry and laugh and dance and go to sleep all at the same time." I came home and immediately announced to my band director my intention of switching instruments.

But I soon learned the oboe was capable of sounds in great distinction from the ones I had heard that day. I spent no more than a month struggling with the nasally, often out-of-tune notes on my borrowed oboe before I turned it back in, completely defeated.

I'm still not sure why I thought it would come so easily. Maybe it was the ease with which the instrument was initially played before me, or my imagination of magical flutes in stories I loved. I had heard the tune of a master and convinced myself that I could mimic it. But the music was a gift that required years of labored mastering. The oboist I had met that afternoon was a member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

The rest of the meditation here-Excellent!

Federal Court in Central NY Prohibits Discrimination by Public School of Christian Message
Fundraising bricks were free speech, not establishment of religion, federal judge rules.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
By Fred A. Mohr Staff writer

The Mexico school district has been ordered to reinstall bricks bearing evangelical Christian messages in its high school sidewalk.

U.S. District Judge Norman Mordue, in a 31-page ruling last week, said the bricks - which carry messages such as "Jesus Christ the only way" and "Jesus Saves" - don't endorse a particular religious view by the district and that removing them violated the rights of the people who paid for them.

The issue arose in February 2000 when the school, acting on a complaint, removed nine bricks bearing religious messages from the sidewalk leading up to Mexico High School in Oswego County. The bricks were part of a fundraiser for the Class of 1999.
the rest

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Divine Christ

Only when a man tries to live the divine life can the divine Christ manifest Himself to him. Therefore, the true way for you to find Christ is not to go groping in a thousand books. It is not for you to try evidences about a thousand things that people have believed of Him, but it is for you to undertake so great a life, so devoted a life, so pure a life, so serviceable a life, that you cannot do it except by Christ, and then see whether Christ helps you. See then whether there comes to you the certainty that you are a child of God, and the manifestation of the child of God becomes the most credible, the most certain thing to you in all of history. Phillips Brooks

We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed. Brother Lawrence

Pope Benedict is very much his own man
By NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press Writer

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope John Paul II's death a year ago - April 2, 2005 - left many Roman Catholics expecting that their church would take an even harder, more conservative line if the College of Cardinals picked early favorite Joseph Ratzinger as the next pontiff.

They got Ratzinger - now Pope Benedict XVI.

Yet the Vatican's German-born chief orthodoxy watchdog has hardly acted like the man saddled with the nickname "God's Rottweiler."

Instead, the faithful got a pope who rode around in St. Peter's Square in traditional papal headgear that resembled a Santa Claus hat. The man described as a "dour Bavarian" wrote his first encyclical on love.

That's not to say that Benedict has changed his doctrinal tune. On the contrary, he has reaffirmed church teaching on everything from sexuality to the sanctity of life.
the rest

New Barna Report Reveals 'Unusual' Increases in Spiritual Activities
Tuesday, Apr. 4, 2006 Posted: 7:25:48AM EST

The Barna Group observed ''significant'' and ''unusual'' increases in many measures of spiritual activity in the last year. Rather than a growth in one or two religious activities, a new survey found growth in a majority of the core religious behaviors studied by the Barna group.

The combination of so many measures of spiritual activity growing at the same time is unusual, said George Barna, whose company has underwritten and conducted such research for more than 20 years.

"It is typical for us to see one or maybe two measures surge forward in a given year, only to stabilize or perhaps retreat to prior levels in subsequent years," the founder of the research institute added.

In 2006, however, there were increases in five of the seven core spiritual activities. Bible reading jumped to 47 percent of adults reading Scripture during a typical week after several years of stalled growth. Once at a 20-year low of just 31 percent in 1995, Bible readership made gradual increases and hit the highest level this year since the 1980s.
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What to Make of 'Scientific' Studies on Prayer?
Albert Mohler
Posted: Tuesday, April 04, 2006 at 2:16 am ET

When studies in recent years purported to show that prayer "works," quite a few Christian leaders championed the research as evidence that prayer can be scientifically and medically verified and validated. I did not join in that celebration for three reasons. First, I do not believe that Christians should look for any validation of prayer (or any other Christian doctrine or discipline, for that matter) from the world of science or empirical research. Second, I do not believe that Christians should accept a generic definition or conception of prayer in the first place. Those earlier studies made reference to prayer without stipulating to whom the prayer is addressed. Third, Christians do not believe that prayer heals, but that God heals. Prayer is often involved in the healing that God grants, but it is not the prayer that heals.

Now, a flurry of media reports follows the release of a major new study that claims to prove that prayer doesn't work. These reports should not concern any believing Christian. The efficacy of prayer is beyond the reach of scientific investigation, and Christians offer intercessory prayers because we are commanded by God to do so, not because we believe in a mechanistic deal with the Deity. We trust our sovereign God to do what is right. We do not place our faith in prayer as an end in itself.
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Poll: Youth Find Many Uses for Cell Phones
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Young adults and minorities are leading a revolution in how Americans use their cell phones. People from age 18 to 29 and minorities are more likely to use their phones as personal computers, digital music players, cameras and more, an AP-AOL-Pew poll found.

"We've got everything on my phone," said Mark Madsen, a 24-year-old college student from Chattanooga, Tenn. "I use it mostly for the phone, but I also play video games and use the MP3 player. I pretty much use it all the time."

Almost two-thirds of young adults use their phones to send text messages. More than half use them to take pictures and almost half to play games. They use these features, as well as Internet connections, about twice as often as cell phone users overall.

Iran's spies watching us, says Israel
By Con Coughlin

Defence and Security Editor, on Israel's northern border
(Filed: 04/04/2006)

Iran has set up a sophisticated intelligence gathering operation in southern Lebanon to identify targets in northern Israel in the event of a military confrontation over its controversial nuclear programme.

Senior Israeli military commanders say Iran has spent tens of millions of pounds helping its close ally, Hizbollah, the Shia Muslim militant group that controls southern Lebanon, to set up a network of control towers and monitoring stations along the entire length of Israel's border with south Lebanon.

Some of the new control towers, which are made of reinforced concrete and fitted with bullet-proof reflective glass, are less than 100 yards from Israeli army positions and are clearly visible for long stretches along Israel's border.

"This is now Iran's front line with Israel," a senior Israeli military commander said. "The Iranians are using Hizbollah to spy on us so that they can collect information for future attacks. And there is very little we can do about it."
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Straight Out of Science Fiction: Organs Engineered in a Lab

April 3, 2006 — The news is being hailed as a medical milestone: Several years after receiving new bladders engineered entirely in a laboratory, seven young patients are all still healthy.

It marks the first long-term success of total-organ tissue regeneration, an area of medicine that until now was more the stuff of science fiction than clinical reality.

Dr. Anthony Atala, the director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, reports in tomorrow's issue of the medical journal The Lancet on the success of the new procedure, which was performed on children born with birth defects that resulted in damaged bladders.

Yale wins Campus Outrage Award
By Eric Pfeiffer
April 4, 2006

The Collegiate Network has given its annual award to highlight the negative influence of political correctness to Yale University for enrolling a former Taliban official with a fourth-grade education.

"Yale pursued [Sayed Rahmatullah] Hashemi's admission in the name of that sacred cow, diversity, which now appears to extend not only to people of various sexes, creeds, races, ethnicities, sexual preferences and practices, but also to enemy combatants who make war upon the United States," the conservative group said.

The winner of the second-place 2006 Campus Outrage Award, also called the Polly Award -- "Polly" being an abbreviation of the term "political correctness" -- was DePaul University, which suspended adjunct professor Thomas Klocek, without a hearing, after he attempted to debate students handing out pro-Palestinian literature.
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Proposed Gay Games Event Divides Ill. Town

Among the items on the City Council's agenda seems a simple matter: Whether to give rowers a permit to have a boat race this summer on a small man-made lake.

But because the rowers are gay - participating in something called the Gay Games - what would normally be a mundane debate about parking and street closures is instead a heated battle between those who see the event as a threat to their small-town way of life and those who see such views as simply small-minded.

On Tuesday, the City Council was scheduled to discuss whether to allow the Olympics-style Gay Games to hold its rowing event in this bedroom community of 40,000 about 50 miles northwest of Chicago.
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'Marriage' strategies divide gay advocates
April 4, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- As homosexual "marriage" advocates battle through the courts for the legal right to "wed," a split has emerged over the best strategy to win.

Two homosexual California men plan to ask a federal appeals court this week to declare that they have a right to "marry" under the U.S. Constitution, but heavyweights in the fight for same-sex "marriage" think that legal tactic is misguided.

Groups such as the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union are withholding funding and other support for the case, saying a U.S. Supreme Court ruling is a likely loser and would set bad precedent.

"We have been very active in trying to win the freedom to marry for same-sex couples," said Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda. "We think there is a smart way to do that and a less smart way to do that."

Lambda and other groups are waging their campaigns in state courts in California, Iowa, Washington, New Jersey, New York and elsewhere, seeking similar rulings to the one that led to legal homosexual "marriages" in Massachusetts.
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CENTRAL NEW YORK: Episcopal Priest Faces Two Charges of being a Pedophile
Former St. Paul's Priest Allegedly Renounces Orders then Retracts Confession
By David W. Virtue

SYRACUSE, NY (4/3/2006)--A retired Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Central New York who was accused of pedophilia by another priest, has apparently confessed his crimes and allegedly renounced his orders to Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams and Fr. John Martinicchio, Chairman of the sexual abuse, "Pastoral Response Team". However, he later retracted his confession. The bishop has allegedly threatened a presentment against him.

The priest who revealed the alleged sexual activities of the priest Fr. Ralph Johnson is Fr. David Bollinger, priest for 20 years at St. Paul's, Owego, NY. He himself has been inhibited by the bishop for alleged financial irregularities and for allegedly whistle blowing on Fr. Johnson.

Chris Peterson a vestryman at St. Paul's, Owego, NY, told VirtueOnline, that Johnson, now living in Gibson, PA got a visit recently by Bishop Adams and Fr. John Martinicchio, rector of Christ Church, Binghamton, where the priest allegedly confessed his crimes and renounced his orders during this meeting. This confession supports the allegations that were raised over two years ago by Fr. David Bollinger, then rector of St. Paul's.

Peterson wrote VirtueOnline saying that when a second person came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct of several decades ago, the Diocese of Central New York obtained the services of a forensic psychologist, who verified that the allegations were, in fact, true.

the rest at Virtueonline

Monday, April 03, 2006

Sensitive to Warning
Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord. (2 Kings 22:19)

Many despise warning and perish. Happy is he who trembles at the Word of God. Josiah did so, and he was spared the sight of the evil which the Lord determined to send upon Judah because of her great sins. Have you this tenderness? Do you practice this self-humiliation? Then you also shall be spared in the evil day. God sets a mark upon the men that sigh and cry because of the sin of the times. The destroying angel is commanded to keep his sword in its sheath till the elect of God are sheltered: these are best known by their godly fear and their trembling at the Word of the Lord. Are the times threatening? Does infidelity advance with great strides, and do you dread national chastisement upon this polluted nation? Well you may. Yet rest in this promise: "Thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace: and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place." Better still, the Lord Himself may come, and then the days of our mourning shall be ended.
CH Spurgeon

Mormonism thriving in heavily Catholic US Northeast
Mon Apr 3, 2006 8:43 AM ET
By Jason Szep

BELMONT, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Stepping into a Mormon temple is like watching a cinematic take on heaven: everything glows in white -- from the rich upholstery to the ivory outfits of worshipers and polished marble floors.

It's also a step more people are taking in the heavily Roman Catholic U.S. Northeast, where Mormon numbers have jumped 37 percent in 10 years, nearly double the religion's national growth rate of 21 percent, church data show.

"The number of new members here is just utterly amazing," said Allan Barker, president of the Massachusetts temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the faith is formally known.

The once-isolated sect based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is now one of the world's fastest-growing and affluent religions, with 12.3 million members globally. More than half live outside the United States, including a flourishing Latin American flock.

High School Traditional Values Club Wins Equal Rights Victory
By Allie Martin
April 3, 2006

(AgapePress) - A conservative student club at one Michigan high school has won a major free-speech victory. After initially resisting the idea, school administrators recently allowed the group to display its flag alongside the rainbow colored flag of the school's Diversity Club.

Two years ago, members of the Traditional Values Club (TVC) at Howell High School in Howell, Michigan, approached the school's administration and asked permission to display their club's flag in the main school hallway. School officials refused the request, however, saying the flag could not be flown because the student group was not officially recognized by the school -- nor could it be recognized until it found a faculty advisor willing to sponsor it.

Steve Crampton is chief counsel with the American Family Association
Center for Law & Policy, which assisted the TVC. He says the Howell High School faculty has been resistant to the student group's existence from its beginning and was initially reluctant to sponsor the club.

"The reason there was no one willing to serve as faculty sponsor, in my opinion, is because the school had already condemned the club, at one point calling them a hate group," Crampton asserts. "What faculty member, knowing that the administration has firmly stated that this is a hate group, wants to be affiliated with it?"
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The Abortion-Rights Side Invokes God, Too
Published: April 3, 2006

In any given week, if you walked into one of Washington's big corporate hotels early in the morning, you would find a community of the faithful, quite often conservative Christians, rallying the troops, offering solace and denouncing the opposition at a prayer breakfast.

So you might be forgiven for thinking that such a group was in attendance on Friday in a ballroom of the Washington Hilton. People wearing clerical collars and small crucifixes were wedged at tables laden with muffins, bowing their heads in prayer. Seminarians were welcomed. Scripture was cited. But the name of the sponsor cast everything in a new light: the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

To its critics, Planned Parenthood is the godless super-merchant of
abortion. To its supporters, it is the dependably secular defender of abortion rights. But at this breakfast, God was everywhere, easily invoked by believers of various stripes.

"We are here this morning because, through our collective efforts, we are agents in bringing our fragile world ever closer to the promise of redemption," Rabbi Dennis S. Ross, director of Concerned Clergy for Choice, told the audience. "As clergy from an array of denominations, we say yes to the call before us. Please join me in prayer: We praise you, God, ruler of time and space, for challenging us to bring healing and comfort to your world."

"Amen," the audience responded. the rest

Gaining a Dose Of Humility, One Washed Foot at a Time
By William Wan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 2, 2006

As they prepared for the holy ritual, the churchgoers had all the essential items: latex gloves, nail clippers, chlorine and antibacterial soap. The only things missing were the feet, and soon enough they poured into the church by the dozen.

Many were callused and cracked from cold nights spent on the streets. Some were sore and infected. What they needed was some old-school -- we're talking centuries here -- Christian doctrine in action. So volunteers at Centenary United Methodist Church in Richmond got down on their knees and scrubbed.

Road to Temple Mount uncovered

The main road that ran from Jerusalem's City of David to the Temple Mount during the time of the Second Temple has been uncovered by Israeli archeologists, those involved in the dig said Thursday. The road connected the Shiloah pool in the City of David to the Temple Mount compound.

The 2,000-year-old road was discovered adjacent to the Shiloah pool during ongoing excavations at the site, said Israeli Antiquities Authority archeologist Eli Shukrun. He is directing the dig together with University of Haifa archeologist Prof. Ronny Reich.

The road was used by the tens of thousands of people who came to Jerusalem for the Jewish pilgrimage holidays during the Second Temple Period, who immersed themselves in the Shiloah pool before entering the Temple Mount, Shukrun said. He said the road showed the centrality of both the Temple and the pool for life in the city at the time.
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"Vision" of the Diocese of CNY

Our Vision:
"To be the passionate presence of Christ for one another and the world we are called to serve."

Our Mission: "To restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ" (BCP p. 855, from An Outline of the Faith).

We will do this by:

Being committed not to mere survival, but by being a vibrant, vital Church for the people of the 21st century. We will be a Church grounded in the mystery of Christ; deeply prayerful; prophetic (as in daring to speak the truth even when difficult); offering radical hospitality; and, filled with infinite respect.

Addressing the spiritual crisis in our midst. The main thing has too often ceased to be the main thing, as in keeping ourselves centered on God. We must be a clear vehicle of the Holy Spirit for the transformation of ourselves and all God's people. Our Diocesan Formation Program will be central in training leadership, lay and ordained, for this age. We will reclaim our baptismal promises as the basis for our ministry, reclaim our passion as the people of God and once again astonished by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Diocesan Board owning its call "to articulate the mission of the Diocese, formulate strategies to carry out that mission?" We will be willing to encourage and enable all of us to make the at times hard decisions necessary to better live out the ministry of the Gospel in Central New York.

Being clear about who we are as a Diocese. No longer are we working primarily a one priest/one parish model. In addition, out of 105 churches, 69 are part-time, 60 are in some sort of decline.

Always becoming more mission oriented. We will develop mission teams in cooperation with district structures to better support ongoing ministries and strategize for newly forming ministries arising among us. To this end we will exercise flexible deployment policies. The Diocesan Formation Program will prepare people for ministry who are committed to this perspective. One of our mission priorities needs to be with youth, 21 years and younger.

Seeking to live by the example of Jesus as we seek to touch and be touched by the lives of the alienated, the un-churched, the least, the so-called unclean, disenfranchised and marginalized.

Having a Commission on Ministry that incarnates Title III of the Canons of the Episcopal Church to be more deeply faithful as we better prepare people for living out the ministry of all the baptized for this time.

Supporting and developing a viable ministry of the diaconate that will be a cornerstone for ministry in Central New York. We will have deacons in every parish who will assist us in being the Church's conscience for interpreting the needs of the world to the Church and keeping us connected to the communities we are called to serve. They will enable the ministry of all the baptized.

Continuing to develop a Diocesan Staff each of whom clearly understands her or his role as servant, being available to the parishes of the Diocese to assist the people of God in the work they are called to do. In so doing we will help instill confidence among us in the stewardship of our resources; the development of faith-filled and excellent leadership; communication to share the stories of God working among us and how we live together as the Body of Christ in Central New York; ministry to and with youth that continues gathering young people from around the diocese, yet is focused on locally based ministry; new mission opportunities for service and growth; and, deployment strategies which recognize the needs of individual parish communities along with the wider mission of the Diocese and the realities of Central New York.

Beginning preparation for a capital campaign to develop the resources necessary to carrying out our vision.

Having a clear and unwavering commitment to being a Safe Church for everyone who walks through our doors and all to whom and with we minister in Christ's name.

New Survey Reveals U.K. Christians' Lack of Basic Bible Knowledge
Monday, Apr. 3, 2006
Posted: 8:57:07AM EST

LONDON – Less than a quarter of Christians in the United Kingdom possess enough knowledge of the Bible to be able to place key events in the order they appear, according to the results of a new survey by the Bible Society released last week.

The Christian evangelical organization carried out a survey of regular churchgoers, which revealed that 76 percent of people were unable to put a series of ten popular Bible stories in the order that they appear in the Bible.

Events used in the survey included Noah’s Ark, Solomon’s building of the Temple, and Jesus feeding the five thousand, among other similar incidents.

The survey was carried out by asking the questions in a quick-fire quiz style, and was designed to assess the common assumption that Christians possess an in-depth knowledge of the Bible.

The rising tide of anti-Semitism
Apr 3, 2006
by Suzanne Fields

Anti-Semitism is an ancient virus, ebbing with time but never going away. Napoleon liberated the ghettoes in the countries he conquered, but the monarchs of Europe put them back as soon as the little corporal was sent into exile.

Jews were tormented in the Middle Ages as "Christ killers," but in the 21st century Christians and Jews in the West have for the most part made peace with each other. Jews thrived in the Ottoman Empire as diplomats, doctors and writers; today the Islamists are virulently anti-Semitic. They not only want to erase Israel and the Jews from the map, but they want to revive anti-Semitism throughout the world as the means to do that.

They're making progress.
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Competing Christianities—Matthew Fox and His “New Reformation”
Albert Mohler
Monday, April 03, 2006

The conventional wisdom reminds us that a man is often known by his enemies. The same is true for Christianity and, through centuries of heresy, schism, and apostasy, Christianity has collected a good number of enemies.

Now comes Matthew Fox, a former Dominican priest and current controversialist, who sets himself against orthodox Christianity and calls for "a new reformation" that would transform Christianity for the twenty-first century. Of course, it would also transform Christianity into something other than Christianity, but that is precisely what Fox intends.

Matthew Fox is no stranger to tumult and conflict. Born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1940, Fox was ordained a Roman Catholic priest of the Dominican order in 1967. After graduating from Aquinas Institute and the Institut Catholique de Paris, Fox became known for his method of combining non-Christian spiritualities with Christian symbolism. Fox's syncretism and rejection of core Christian beliefs led to conflict with the Vatican. From 1989 to 1990, Fox was officially silenced by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Just three years later, he was expelled from the Dominican order.

In a statement published in his most recent book, Fox's conflict with the Vatican is described like this: "The principled objections to Fox's work on the part of the Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith were that he is a 'feminist theologian,' that he calls God 'Mother,' . . . that he prefers 'Original Blessing' to 'Original Sin,' that he calls God 'child,' that he associates too closely with Native Americans, and that he does not condemn homosexuals."
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For those who don't know who he is-from Wikipepia: here

Born Timothy James, Fox was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1940. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1967. He received Masters Degrees in both philosophy and theology from Aquinas Institute, and later earned a Ph.D. in spirituality, summa cum laude, from the Institut Catholique de Paris. Due to his controversial teachings, he was censured by the Vatican in 1989 and forbidden to teach, and later dismissed from the Dominican order. He was later received as an Episcopal priest by Bishop William Swing of the Episcopal Diocese of California.

Desperate mothers throw away 20 babies a week as Zimbabwe starves
Christina Lamb from Harare

Mugabe refuses to seek food aid

THE first time Knowledge Mbanda found a dead baby in the drains of Harare, he was horrified. “It is completely against our culture to abandon children,” he said. “I thought it must be of a woman who had been raped or a prostitute.”

But now he and fellow council workers find at least 20 corpses of newborn babies each week, thrown away or even flushed down the lavatories of Zimbabwe’s capital.

The dumping of babies, along with what doctors describe as a “dramatic” increase in malnourished children in city hospitals, is the most shocking illustration of the economic collapse of a country that was once the breadbasket of southern Africa.
The rest

Muslim scholars in US push for change
Seek harmony between Islamic, democratic values
By Charles A. Radin, Globe Staff
April 3, 2006

An increasingly prominent group of Muslims and former Muslims in the United States -- ranging from soft-spoken Islamic scholars to outspoken intellectuals and professionals -- are defying death threats and ostracism to campaign for changes in the way their religion is practiced.

In the process, they are directly challenging the virtual monopoly on interpreting Muslim traditions that has been held by conservative clergy for 200 years.

Much attention in the media and the non-Muslim community is being directed at critics such as Irshad Manji, a brash Muslim lesbian author who is a fellow at Yale University; and Wafa Sultan, a Syrian-born psychiatrist in Los Angeles whose recent condemnation of Muslim attitudes toward violence on the Arabic satellite station Al Jazeera created an international furor.

Within the Muslim community, a larger, more cautious group is also speaking up: people who remain devout even as they call for a reexamination of subjects ranging from the role of women to national loyalties to the governance of mosques.
the rest

US bishops set for U-turn on gay 'marriages'
By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
(Filed: 03/04/2006)

The liberal leadership of the American Anglican Church is preparing for an unexpected climb-down over homosexuality which could save the worldwide Church from schism.

Three years after consecrating Anglicanism's first openly gay bishop, the American bishops appear close to bowing to international pressure and shelving their radical agenda at a conference in June. Leaks from a private meeting of the bishops in North Carolina last week suggest that they will "repent" for plunging Anglicanism into turmoil by consecrating Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

They are also likely to come into line with the rest of the worldwide Church by backing an indefinite ban on the blessing of gay "marriages" and they may even apologise for having authorised them in the past. Though they appear reluctant to impose an outright bar on the future election of gay bishops, the majority seem willing to back a call for dioceses to exercise "very considerable caution" before doing so.

According to several bishops who attended last week's meeting, they would block the consecration of a second openly homosexual bishop if the diocese of California elects a lesbian or a gay man in May. Three of the seven candidates for the high-profile post have gay partners.
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Sunday, April 02, 2006

"If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and He shall give him Life for them that sin not unto death." 1 John 5:16

If we are not heedful of the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hypocrites. We see where other folks are failing, and we turn our discernment into the gibe of criticism instead of into intercession on their behalf. The revelation is made to us not through the acuteness of our minds, but by the direct penetration of the Spirit of God, and if we are not heedful of the source of the revelation, we will become criticizing centres and forget that God says - ". . . he shall ask, and He shall give him life for them that sin not unto death." Take care lest you play the hypocrite by spending all your time trying to get others right before you worship God yourself.

One of the subtlest burdens God ever puts on us as saints is this burden of discernment concerning other souls. He reveals things in order that we may take the burden of these souls before Him and form the mind of Christ about them, and as we intercede on His line, God says He will give us "life for them that sin not unto death." It is not that we bring God into touch with our minds, but that we rouse ourselves until God is able to convey His mind to us about the one for whom we intercede.

Is Jesus Christ seeing of the travail of His soul in us? He cannot unless we are so identified with Himself that we are roused up to get His view about the people for whom we pray. May we learn to intercede so whole-heartedly that Jesus Christ will be abundantly satisfied with us as intercessors.
Oswald Chambers photo

Fr. Binks - “Busted Sticks & Smokey Wicks”

Excerpt: "Despite the endless contemporary misunderstandings about “Judge Not” Jesus no more forbids godly judgment than he forbids competent paramedics, judicious magistrates, wise scholars, skilled pilots, or precise surgeons. Christian character, prayerfulness, discernment, and ‘emergency spiritual preparedness’ fortifies us and others around us for the spiritual or other battles and crises or victories we may face. Ya never know.. but souls and lives may hang in the balance. Let your light so shine.. that others may see it, and glorify our heavenly Father."

The rest at Lent and Beyond

'Contagious Joy' Hits Thousands of Women in Shreveport
Sunday, Apr. 2, 2006 Posted: 10:35:41AM EST

Thousands of women have caught on to the laughter that began earlier this year at the largest women’s conference in the nation. Women of Faith opened its 11th year spreading "Contagious Joy" to women in two of 27 scheduled city stops for 2006.

"I want the contagious joy," said women in a Women of Faith promotional video.

Coming with church groups, friends and family, women throughout the Shreveport, La.-area packed into the CenturyTel Center on Friday to experience what more than three million women have encountered in the past 10 years. This year, the national conference, already known for its inspiration and humor, has made "joy" a connecting point for women.

As a weekend just for girls, the two-day conference has drawn first-time attendants, women who have never encountered the message of Christ, and faithful believers who have returned year after year for renewal and a good time.

"It's really fun to have a weekend where we all just get together and find out little more about what we think about faith, but also have a great time, just laugh and have a good time, a weekend away with the girls," said Nichole Masker, one of the conference organizers, according to KTBS.
The rest

How the GOP Became God's Own Party
By Kevin Phillips

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Now that the GOP has been transformed by the rise of the South, the trauma of terrorism and George W. Bush's conviction that God wanted him to be president, a deeper conclusion can be drawn: The Republican Party has become the first religious party in U.S. history.

We have had small-scale theocracies in North America before -- in Puritan New England and later in Mormon Utah. Today, a leading power such as the United States approaches theocracy when it meets the conditions currently on display: an elected leader who believes himself to speak for the Almighty, a ruling political party that represents religious true believers, the certainty of many Republican voters that government should be guided by religion and, on top of it all, a White House that adopts agendas seemingly animated by biblical worldviews.
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Is Tony Blair Becoming a Catholic?
Sunday, April 2, 2006 3:24 p.m. EDT

Persistent rumors that British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a Protestant, may convert to Roman Catholicism got a strong boost when the Times of London revealed Sunday that a Franciscan friar has been conducting Mass for the Blair family at Number 10 Downing St., the prime minister's official residence. Blair, nominally an Anglican, Britain's official religious denomination, has repeatedly denied reports that he plans to convert to Catholicism, his wife's religion. The Times notes that Blair participates in the Mass but does not take Holy Communion. Attending Mass has been a longtime practice of the prime minister. All of his four children share their mother's Catholicism, and the family has been quietly attending Mass not only at at home, but also at their official country residence, Chequers, since 2003, when they had to stop going to Westminster Cathedral and to other Catholic churches because of security concerns. Blair has previously denied he plans to convert to Catholicism, something that not too long ago would have been considered an outrage and a crime against the Queen, who is the official head of the Anglican Church. He says he only attends Catholic services so his family can worship together.

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