Saturday, July 21, 2007

"The bridge of grace will bear your weight, brother. Thousands of big sinners have gone across that bridge, yea, tens of thousands have gone over it. I can hear their trampings now as they traverse the great arches of the bridge of salvation. They come by the thousands, by their myriads, e'er since that day when Christ first entered His glory. They come and yet never a stone has sprung in that mighty bridge. Some have been the chief of sinners and some have come at the very last of their days but the arch has never yielded beneath their weight. I will go with them…trusting to the same support. It will bear me over as it has for them."
...CH Spurgeon photo

Too cute! Britain Got Talent - Connie Singing Over the Rainbow

Religion at heart of Turkish vote
Devout Muslims say they are marginalized in public life, while secularists fear an erosion of freedoms.
By Laura King, Times Staff Writer
July 21, 2007

ALANYA, TURKEY — Vacationing just a few miles apart on Turkey's Mediterranean coast, the economist from Istanbul and the engineer from Ankara could hardly have more divergent views of a nationwide vote Sunday that is expected to return the ruling party to power — and intensify an ongoing battle over the role of Islam in public life.

The ruling Justice and Development Party, which has roots in political Islam, is "just too Muslim, too radical," said Reha Guner, drinking tea in a cafe just off a crowded beach where European tourists sunbathed topless and beer flowed freely. "They want to hold the country back. That's why these elections are so important."

Down the road, at a resort that caters to religiously observant families, engineer Ahmet Alintuglu said pious Muslims like him often feel marginalized in a republic whose 8-decade-old founding principles mandate a strict separation of Islam and government.
the rest

Final 'Harry Potter' Hits Shelves … as a Christian Tale?
Kevin Jackson
Christian Post Reporter
Sat, Jul. 21 2007

Whether Christians may agree with it or not, the newest and final volume of the “Harry Potter” series has come full force into bookstores.

The tension had especially been built up over the past few weeks for the release of the “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” and that anticipation came to an end on Saturday at midnight for many.

“Speculation has been mounting for weeks, if not years in fan circles, as to how the final book will conclude the best loved story of the modern day,” explained Christian author Nancy Carpentier Brown in a statement. “Will Harry die? Is Snape really a good guy or bad guy? Will the dead Dumbledore play a part in the last book? Will Harry conquer the evil Lord Voldemort?”

While many Christians have criticized the boy wizard of occult magic, others have been quite impressed with the youth novels. And with all the press going towards the seventh book in the “Potter” series, Christian groups have been jumping in as well to promote Christian values that they feel are inherent in the fantasy tale.

The Church of England just recently came out with a study guide that goes along with “Harry Potter,” using the popularity of the literature to tie in with Christian themes.
the rest

Temperatures soar in Europe, 13 killed
Saturday, July 21, 2007

A heat-wave sweeping central and southeastern Europe has killed at least 13 people this week, with soaring temperatures causing forest fires and damaging crops.

In Romania, where temperatures reached about 40 degrees Celsius on Friday, at least nine people have died since Monday due to the heat wave.

In Austria, where highs in most parts of the Alpine country have hovered near or above 35 degrees C for days, the Health Ministry said the deaths of three people in the country's southeast on Thursday were likely heat-related.
the rest

Hail storm buries Mexican town just over the border

Drawing on religion
For better — and sometimes worse — animated series are no longer rare venues for sharing spiritual messages

Detroit Free Press

This isn't entirely a laughing matter.

When The Simpsons Movie opens next week, at least some of the folks flocking to theaters will be looking for spiritual messages among the hilarious exploits of America's most famous canary-hued family.

Among them will be Rabbi Daniel Wolpe of Congregation Beth Shalom in Oak Park, Ill. Over the years, he has used clips from the TV series to raise moral issues for teenagers in religious classes.

"The Simpsons occasionally makes fun of hypocrisy in religion, but not the ideals of religion," Wolpe said. "Some of the episodes that I like best might be called, 'Homer Learns a Lesson.' Usually in those episodes, Homer winds up with new respect for religious values."
the rest

Christian graphic novels are coming into their own
Robert Luedke's "Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit" is an award-winning example.

McClatchy Newspapers

FLOWER MOUND, Texas - Many Christians believe that graphic novels, best known for such superheroes as Spider-Man and Hellboy, are too edgy.

And many fans of graphic novels are suspicious of those with Christian themes. They like their larger-than-life superheroes just fine.

But the twin biases are changing, said Robert Luedke, whose 2006 graphic novel, "Eye Witness: Acts of the Spirit," took second place in the Graphic Novel/Drawn Book category at the 11th annual Independent Publisher Book Awards in June.
the rest

ENS: Global South Primates vow to continue violating Episcopal Church boundaries
By Mary Frances Schjonberg and Jan Nunley
July 20, 2007

[Episcopal News Service] At the end of a three-day meeting in London, the steering committee of a group of Anglican Communion primates from the Global South has issued a statement warning that they will continue to violate the boundaries of the Episcopal Church and exercise authority over dissident congregations.

In a statement dated July 18, the group claimed they had "no choice" but to exercise oversight for dissident Episcopalians in place of their American bishops, because the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops failed to embrace a "pastoral scheme" that would have provided dissident dioceses with an alternative to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. The scheme was proposed at the February meeting of the Primates in Dar es Salaam.

The Global South Primates Steering Committee consists of archbishops Peter J. Akinola (Nigeria) as president, Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda), Drexel Gomez (West Indies), Bernard Malango (Central Africa), and Gregory Venables (Southern Cone), and bishops John Chew (Singapore) and Mouneer Anis (Egypt). Archbishop Henry Orombi (Uganda) also participated in the London meeting.

There are a total of 38 Primates in the Anglican Communion.
the rest

Comments at Stand Firm

Comments at TitusOneNine

July 20, 2007

The American Anglican Council (AAC) applauds the recent statement from the Global South Steering Committee. The statement is "a clear warning to both Presiding Bishop Schori and Archbishop Williams," said AAC President and CEO the Rev. Canon David C. Anderson.

"The Global South and their 40 million congregants refuse to sit by and watch The Episcopal Church (TEC) defy Communion agreements and legally persecute those U.S. parishes that wish to remain faithful to the Gospel and church teaching," said Anderson.

The Global South Primates urged TEC to reconsider its rejection of the Dar Es Salaam Communiqué requests and principles and called for TEC's "heartfelt repentance and genuine change" in order to restore true communion. The statement also called the Anglican Church of Canada to task for their declaration that “same-sex blessing is not core doctrine” and their defiance of Windsor Report recommendations. The statement made clear the Global South's intention to continue extending pastoral care to U.S. based churches and to make similar provisions for biblically faithful churches in Canada. It also showed the Global South's resolve to not attend next year's Lambeth conference unless the Archbishop of Canterbury reconsiders his Lambeth invitations and allows for discipline in the Communion and true reconciliation.
the rest

Japanese Team May Have Found Stem Cell "Holy Grail"
By Hilary White

July 20, 2007

( - Since its publication in the journals Nature and Stem Cell on June 7, a report that Japanese researchers have produced embryo-like stem cells from the somatic cells of mice, have made headlines around the world and prompted speculation that the scientific community's brief obsession with cloning experiments for stem cell research is about to end.

Although the paper's author, Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University, urged researchers not to stop using embryos for research, he told the London Times in an interview, "Neither eggs nor embryos are necessary. I've never worked with either." Yamanaka is in Britain presenting his findings this week to a conference on stem cell research at the University of Manchester.
the rest

Chinese Police Disrupt Children Vacation Bible School
Hudson Tsuei

Gospel Herald Reporter
Thu, Jul, 19 2007

Police raided a children vacation Bible school in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu, July 11, 2007, arresting leaders and teachers, injuring several people and dismissing 150 traumatized children.

Officers from the State’s Public Security Bureau (PSB) – assisted by local policemen – entered the church where the bible school was held during the afternoon, according to China Aid Association, which released details on the raid Thursday.
the rest

The city of God that was built on pizza
July 21, 2007

In the town of Ave Maria, parents need not worry about which school their children will attend. The town has been built for Roman Catholics and all the schools guarantee a traditional Catholic upbringing.

The daily school run through this newly established enclave, funded by a Catholic billionaire and built on a slice of rural Florida that used to be a tomato farm, takes mums and dads along roads with names such as Anthem Parkway and Annunciation Street.

In Ave Maria, which opens its gates to the public today, there are morals to be upheld and souls to be saved, and the biggest secular temptation will probably prove to be the local ice-cream parlour.

Students at the town’s schools and its Catholic university, the first to be built in the US for more than 40 years, will be housed in single-sex halls of residence and encouraged to partake in more wholesome extracurricular activities than the usual late-night binge drinking and dormitory trysts – such as visiting the chapels attached to every block.
the rest photo

Missionaries kidnapped by Taleban warned they face death
Tim Albone in Kabul and Leo Lewis in Tokyo
July 21, 2007

Taleban militants threatened to kill a group of South Korean Christians yesterday unless their country withdrew its personnel from Afghanistan.

The Koreans were seized at gunpoint as they travelled by bus from Kabul, the capital, to the southern city of Kandahar, where their church, known for its evangelical zeal, said that they would work in a hospital.

The Taleban forbid Christians from entering Afghanistan to convert Muslims, under threat of death. Yesterday Sayed Murard Shrifi, a religious cleric who is head of the public court in Baghlan, said: “In terms of punishment the one who comes to a Muslim country to convert people to their religion must face the strongest punishment. The first choice is death and the second life in prison.”
the rest

Christian women seized by Taleban face stoning

San Diego Officially Declares July "Gay Pride Month"
By Elizabeth O'Brien
SAN DIEGO, July 20, 2007

( - At a hearing on July 17, the Mayor and City Council unanimously declared July 2007 to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month in the City of San Diego.

Despite the organized efforts of approximately 40 people who protested at the meeting, the city council unanimously voted in favor of the recent bill proposal by Mayor Jerry Sanders, Council President Scott Peters, and lesbian council member Toni Atkins.

During the hearing, Council President Scott Peters gave an unfair time advantage to homosexual representatives, the James Hartline Report (JHR) alleges. Each side of the debate was supposed to have 15 minutes speaking time. Former homosexual activist James Hartline was only allowed to speak for 5 minutes and 2 seconds by the clock, with Peters claiming that Hartline had used up the full amount. In addition, while many homosexual advocates were called on to speak, none of the opposition members were called upon until Peters was challenged on this point.
the rest

Little-noticed Pennsylvania case gives child 3 legal parents
Posted on Jul 20, 2007
by Michael Foust

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Did a little-noticed spring judicial ruling in Pennsylvania possibly help lay the initial groundwork for legalized polygamy?

A recent op-ed columnist in The New York Times thinks it might have.

In a column titled, "When 3 Really Is a Crowd," Elizabeth Marquardt of the Institute for American Values wrote about a case from April in which a Pennsylvania appeals court panel unanimously ruled that a child can have three legal parents -- two moms (separated lesbians) and a dad (the sperm donor). The case, Jacob v. Shultz-Jacob, essentially focused on child support payments -- the man was made a legal parent over his objections -- but the case nevertheless is dangerous in its possible precedence, Marquardt said. Although in this example all three legal parents live separately, in other instances, Marquardt noted, "the three adults might want to live together."
the rest

Schools win land dispute with church
Mount Telegram
Thursday, July 19, 2007

A court ruling has given the Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education possession of a local church's land, but a price for the property is undetermined.

The saga between Life United Pentecostal Church and the Board of Education began nearly a year ago when the board asked to buy the church's land in order to build a new Rocky Mount High School. No agreements were made, and the board invoked eminent domain in November, taking the 7.67 acres on Bethlehem Road.

At a hearing on Monday in N.C. Superior Court in Nash County, the church challenged the board's authority to take the land by eminent domain, but Judge Toby Fitch overruled the church's arguments.

the rest

Campus receives a new commandment
Judge says community college wrong to order preacher off campus

MARC PARRY, Staff writer
Friday, July 20, 2007

SCHENECTADY -- The school portrayed the preacher as a menacing zealot who shouted at the top of his lungs.

The Rev. Greg Davis' lawyer called him a gentleman who was only trying to spread the gospel on campus when Schenectady County Community College stomped all over his constitutional rights.

Davis won the court case that arose from the conflict. Last month, a Schenectady judge acquitted him of trespassing. This week, supporters trumpeted the verdict nationally as a victory for religious expression on campus.

"Because it's religious speech, it doesn't mean it has to be confined to inside a church," said Jim Trainor, Davis's Malta attorney. "I think it's important for anyone to realize that they have that right and should be able to exercise it in any public forum."

A federal lawsuit against the college and local officials is pending.

the rest

Radical Homosexuals Outline Strategy for Advancing their Agenda at UN
Muslims, Christians fear accepting term "sexual orientation" could deny religious freedom to criticize homosexual lifestyle
By Samantha Singson

July 18, 2007

Claiming that "the tide has turned" in favor of homosexual rights at international institutions, University of British Columbia professor Douglas Sanders' recent paper on "Sexual Orientation in International Law" published by the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) includes a detailed history on how homosexual rights have advanced in Europe and how the European example could be followed at the United Nations.

Sanders, the first openly gay individual to address the UN and deliver a speech on homosexual issues, concedes that "sexual orientation" and "gender identity are not mentioned in any of existing international human rights instruments" but that "through invoking provisions on personal privacy and general provisions on equality," homosexuals have been able to gain some recognition in the international human rights arena. Many Member States of the UN would disagree with Sanders analysis. The European Union is another story, though.
the rest

Friday, July 20, 2007

Now the Lord had said to Abram, "Get out of your country, from your family, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you." Genesis 12:1

"The most dramatic changes in your life will come from God’s initiative, not yours. The people God used mightily in Scripture were all ordinary people to whom He gave divine assignments that they never could have initiated. The Lord often took them by surprise for they were not seeking significant mandates from God. Even so, He saw their hearts, and He knew they were trustworthy.

The Lord spoke to Abram when He was beginning to build a nation dedicated to His purposes. Through this nation would come the Savior. God appeared to Moses at the very time he had purposed to deliver Israel out of slavery in Egypt. God found in Jesse’s youngest son David a godly man who could lead his people. God surprised Mary when He told her she would be the mother of the Messiah. God’s Son selected the twelve disciples, all ordinary, uneducated men, when He was ready to take the good news of his salvation to the world. Through the ages God has taken the initiative in the everyday lives of people to accomplish things through them that they never could have imagined.

The Lord may be initiating some new things in your life. When He tells you what His plans are, trust Him and walk closely with Him. Don’t let the busyness of your present activity keep you from experiencing all that God has in store for you. You will see Him accomplish things through your life that you never dreamed were possible.(Eph.3:20)."
...Henry Blackaby art Ephesians 3:20-21

Diocese, Congregation Announce Amicable Separation in Massachusetts

The Diocese of Massachusetts recently announced an amicable separation agreement with the Rev. William Murdoch and the majority of members at All Saints’ Church, West Newbury, who have left The Episcopal Church for the Anglican Church of Kenya.

In a statement released July 17, Fr. Murdoch, who along with the Rev. Canon Bill Atwood will be consecrated Aug. 30 as bishops suffragan of the Kenyan church to oversee their American congregations, stated that the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, Bishop of Massachusetts, will permit the congregation to worship at All Saints’ until Sept. 2.

Fr. Murdoch, who has served as rector of All Saints’ since 1993 and as dean of the Anglican Communion Network’s New England Convocation since 2004, told The Living Church he saw the agreement as a “blessing” that would enable the congregation “to go forward with not quite so heavy a heart.”

The agreement to part without threat of litigation or acrimony was evidence that “godly Christian leadership can prevail when carried out in humility and under the cover of careful prayer,” he said.

the rest at The Living Church

US Prison Bureau Suppresses Study Linking Child Pornography to Child Molesters
By Peter J. Smith
July 20, 2007

( - The Federal Prison Bureau has a new study indicating that 85% of convicted consumers of child pornography may have sexually molested a child. However the New York Times reports that the federal agency has suppressed the publication of the report out of concern that the public will misinterpret its conclusions.

The Times reports that the unpublished research was conducted by psychologists at the Federal Bureau of Prisons and that it constitutes the first in-depth survey of online sexual offenders' history - everything from indecent touching to rape - done by prison therapists who were actively performing treatment.
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"My New Dawn," Daniel Kirkley

Cancer's Unexpected Blessings
When you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change
Tony Snow

Commentator and broadcaster Tony Snow announced that he had colon cancer in 2005. Following surgery and chemo-therapy, Snow joined the Bush administration in April 2006 as press secretary. Unfortunately, on March 23 Snow, 51, a husband and father of three, announced that the cancer had recurred, with tumors found in his abdomen—leading to surgery in April, followed by more chemotherapy. Snow went back to work in the White House Briefing Room on May 30. CT asked Snow what spiritual lessons he has been learning through the ordeal.


Collection plates welcome credit cards
Churchgoers increasingly praise the Lord and skirt cash donations

By A.J. Miranda
Denver Post Staff Writer

Paper or plastic?

When it comes to collection-plate offerings, churches in Denver and throughout the nation are increasingly accepting both.

Declining use of cash and checks and inconsistent attendance have left many churches looking for more-reliable revenue streams.

The answer for many has come in the form of electronic giving, whether through scheduled credit-card charges, automatic bank withdrawals or card-swipe kiosks installed inside houses of prayer.

It's not clear how many churches in Colorado offer the electronic options. But Vanco Services, a Minnesota bank and credit transaction company, has close to 200 client churches in Colorado spanning 28 denominations, according to Len Thiede, its vice president of corporate sales.
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Global South Leaders Urge Emergency Primates’ Meeting

The leaders of the Global South coalition of Anglican Primates have called for an emergency primates meeting to determine the fate of The Episcopal Church and have urged the House of Bishops to put aside their “intransigence” and not force the break up of the Anglican Communion.

Meeting in London from July 16-18, the committee urged the House of Bishops to “reconsider their position” and conform to the recommendations of the primates’ February communiqué by halting the litigation campaign against breakaway congregations and by accepting a primates pastoral council to provide alternate pastoral oversight to recusant clergy and congregations.

The steering committee criticized Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams for accepting the invitation to attend part of the Fall House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans, saying it would undermine the integrity of the primates’ communiqué. They said the primates “must make any determination as to the adequacy” of the response by the House of Bishops to the communiqué. “We strongly urge the scheduling of a Primates’ Meeting for this purpose at the earliest possible moment,” they said.

the rest at The Living Church

Cambodia Bans Evangelism; Accuses Christians of 'Disrupting Society'
Ethan Cole
Christian Post Reporter
Wed, Jul. 18 2007

Christians in Buddhist-dominated Cambodia are officially banned from evangelizing because they “disrupt society,” officials said Tuesday.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Cults and Religions declared that “Christians are prohibited from visiting people’s houses by knocking on the door and waiting to say ‘the Lord has arrived,’” in a directive, according to Agence France-Presse.

In addition, Christians are restricted to only distributing religious literatures in churches. Moreover, the ministry demands that it authorize the construction of a church before it is built.

the rest

Two Pastors Martyred in Columbia - Persecution Blog

'Personhood' for unborn is proposed in Colorado
Amendment passes 2nd state test on planned path to voters in 2008

Posted: July 20, 2007

A proposal in Colorado that would decimate the foundation for the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade abortion ruling by declaring "personhood" for every unborn baby from the moment of conception has passed its second state test.

Officials said the language in the constitutional amendment proposed by
Colorado Equal Rights has been given tentative approval by a state board. It was the second review for the proposal under the complicated procedures Colorado demands for initiatives. the rest

Lone sentry on the wall
How do wealthy ministries spend the millions of dollars that Americans give them? Many of them won’t say, and few donors seem to know. That’s where Rusty Leonard and Wall Watchers come in

Jamie Dean

PHILADELPHIA— Early this summer, Paul Crouch of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) wrote to supporters, telling them that the network's spring "Praise-a-Thon" was a success. For five days, Crouch and a slate of other televangelists had raised money on-air for TBN, the largest Christian television network in the world. "TBN is debt free," Crouch wrote. "Free to invest every penny into expansion to the rest of the world!"

For TBN, that means investing in broadcasting its Christian-themed programs on thousands of cable systems and more than 5,000 television stations. But it also means investing in something else: Southern California real estate.

The 34-year-old ministry based in Santa Ana, Calif., owns a slew of real estate in Southern California, as well as a mobile home park in Florida. But it's not the mobile homes that have drawn national attention. Instead, the public's gaze has fallen on a pair of TBN-owned mansions in Orange County, Calif., that are reportedly worth millions.
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A Statement from the Global South Steering Committee
London, July 16-18, 2007

1. We are grateful for the prayers and witness of the millions of Anglicans around the world who live out their Christian faith in complex and sometimes hostile situations. Their lives and witness offer hope to a world that is in desperate need and we have been greatly encouraged by their testimony. Their commitment to the ‘faith once and for all delivered to the saints’ deepens our determination to stay true to the biblical revelation and our historic tradition.

2. We reaffirm our dedication to the vision of the church that has a passion to reach all those who have not yet come to a saving knowledge of Christ and one that is truly good news for the poor and freedom for those who are oppressed. We are saddened that the actions of a small part of our Communion family have caused such division, confusion and pain and we are grieved that our witness to the oneness of Christ and his Church has been sorely compromised.

3. We in the Global South remain committed to the underlying principles and recommendations of the Windsor Report and the various Communiqués that we have issued, especially the statement that was produced during the most
recent Primates’ meeting in Dar es Salaam. It was the result of enormous effort and heart-felt prayer and we remain convinced that it offers the best way forward for our beloved Communion. In particular, we are hopeful that the development and endorsement of an Anglican Covenant will help us move past this debilitating season into a new focus of growth and missionary zeal.
the rest

Comments at Stand Firm

Comments at TitusOneNine

The Members of the Global South Steering Committee are:

President: Most Rev’d Peter J. Akinola, Primate of All Nigeria
General Secretary: The Most Rev’d John Chew, Bishop of Singapore
Treasurer: The Rt. Rev’d Mouneer Anis, Bishop of Diocese of Egypt
Most Rev’d Emmanuel Kolini, Province of Rwanda
Most Rev’d Drexel Gomez, the Province of the West Indies
Most Rev’d Bernard Malango, Province of Central Africa
Most Rev’d Gregory Venables, the Province of the Southern Cone

Assoc Secretary: Bishop Martyn Minns
Asst Secretaries: Canon Wong Tak Meng, Canon Terry Wong

There are some others who served as support staff on the Secretariat. Other Global South Primates do participate in some of the meetings as and when the need arises. The Most Revd Henry Orombi (Uganda) participated in the recent meeting in London.
Found here

4.2-Magnitude Earthquake Hits San Francisco Area
Friday, July 20, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO — An earthquake jolted
San Francisco Bay area residents awake early Friday, breaking glass and rattling nerves, although there were no immediate reports of injuries.

The earthquake was recorded about 2 miles east of
Oakland and had a preliminary magnitude of 4.2, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It could be felt for up to 10 seconds on both sides of the San Francisco Bay after striking shortly after 4:40 a.m. the rest

Iris Seismic Monitor

Vatican welcomes new China bishop
Thursday, 19 July 2007

The Vatican has praised the man set to become the new bishop of Beijing, even though he was not selected by the Pope.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, said Father Joseph Li Shan was "very good, well-suited".

Father Li was nominated to the post by members of the Beijing diocese earlier this week and still needs approval from leaders of the state-controlled church.
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Must the US president believe in God?
By Matt Wells
BBC News, New York
Friday, 20 July 2007

God and power are firmly linked in the US political sceneThe most unpredictable presidential race for a generation is well under way in the US, and so far, issues of personal faith have never been far from the headlines.

In the last election, President George W Bush, a born-again Christian, won the support of the vast majority of evangelicals, while his Democratic opponent John Kerry talked as little as possible about his own Catholicism.

But in the crowded field of candidates this time, it is the Democrats who are finding it easier to describe how their faith in Jesus informs their political beliefs and experience.
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Thursday, July 19, 2007

If you...come to Christ, he will appear as a Lion, in his glorious power and dominion, to defend you. All those excellencies of his, in which he appears as a lion, shall be yours, and shall be employed for you in your defense, for your safety, and to promote your glory; he will be as a lion to fight against your enemies. He that touches you, or offends you, will provoke his wrath, as he that stirs up a lion. Unless your enemies can conquer this Lion, they shall not be able to destroy or hurt you. Unless they are stronger than he, they shall not be able to hinder your happiness. ...Jonathan Edwards image

How Not to Talk to Your Kids
The Inverse Power of Praise.

By Po Bronson

What do we make of a boy like Thomas?

Thomas (his middle name) is a fifth-grader at the highly competitive P.S. 334, the Anderson School on West 84th. Slim as they get, Thomas recently had his long sandy-blond hair cut short to look like the new James Bond (he took a photo of Daniel Craig to the barber). Unlike Bond, he prefers a uniform of cargo pants and a T-shirt emblazoned with a photo of one of his heroes: Frank Zappa. Thomas hangs out with five friends from the Anderson School. They are “the smart kids.” Thomas’s one of them, and he likes belonging.

Since Thomas could walk, he has heard constantly that he’s smart. Not just from his parents but from any adult who has come in contact with this precocious child. When he applied to Anderson for kindergarten, his intelligence was statistically confirmed. The school is reserved for the top one percent of all applicants, and an IQ test is required. Thomas didn’t just score in the top one percent. He scored in the top one percent of the top one percent.

But as Thomas has progressed through school, this self-awareness that he’s smart hasn’t always translated into fearless confidence when attacking his schoolwork. In fact, Thomas’s father noticed just the opposite. “Thomas didn’t want to try things he wouldn’t be successful at,” his father says. “Some things came very quickly to him, but when they didn’t, he gave up almost immediately, concluding, ‘I’m not good at this.’ ” With no more than a glance, Thomas was dividing the world into two—things he was naturally good at and things he wasn’t.
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Parish Divide Continues
Bishop's Call To Support New Pastor Fails To Persuade Breakaway Flock

Courant Staff
July 19, 2007

BRISTOL - Trinity Episcopal Church could be called a house divided: Its defrocked pastor led a heavily attended prayer and song service at the church Wednesday night, while Episcopal Bishop Andrew Smith tried to muster parishioners to meet with a new pastor at a church in Plainville.

Smith promoted his meeting in a letter to parishioners last week as a way to discuss the dispute between Trinity and the Episcopal Diocese and "begin to identify new leadership for the parish so that we can move forward in our life in Christ within the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church."

But the message didn't draw much of Trinity's membership, which earlier this year joined Pastor Donald Helmandollar in a defection from the Episcopal Church, related to its 2003 installation of a gay bishop.
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Hold Lightly What You Value Greatly
Ray Pritchard
Keep Believing Ministries

Excerpt: "Let me draw one simple application from all this and I will be done. I can state it this way. Hold lightly what you value greatly because it isn't yours anyway. In one of his books Watchman Nee said that we approach God like little children with open hands, begging for gifts. Because he is a good God, he fills our hands with good things — life, health, friends, money, success, recognition, challenge, marriage, children, a nice home, a good job, all the things that we count at Thanksgiving when we count our blessings. And so like children, we rejoice in what we have received and run around comparing what we have with each other. When our hands are finally full, God says, “My child, I long to have fellowship with you. Reach out your hand and take my hand. But we can’t do it because our hands are full. “God, we can’t,” we cry. “Put those things aside and take my hand,” he replied. “No, we can’t. It’s too hard to put them down.” “But I am the one who gave them to you in the first place.” “O God, what you have asked for is too hard. Please don’t ask us to put these things aside.” And God answers quietly, “You must.”

I learned this truth the hard way twenty years ago. It happened in another time and another place when I thought I was on top of the world. Everything looked so good to me. One day a friend dropped by to see me. “Do you have a few minutes to talk, Pastor Ray?” “Of course,” I replied, “Come in.” After a few minutes of conversation, she came to her point. “Pastor Ray, you have to let go. You’re holding on too tightly.”

How a Good Thing Becomes an Idol

It was one of those moments where from the first word of that sentence I knew exactly what she was going to say. And I knew she was right. Deep in my heart, I had known it for a long time but didn’t want to face the truth. I was holding on to something so tightly that it had become an idol to me, something dearer than life itself. Before you ask, let me say simply that the thing was not evil or bad. In fact, it was a good thing that had become an idol that I dared not give up (an idol is anything good that becomes too important in your life).

One year passed and things in my little world began to fall apart. Through a long string of circumstances I found myself facing a tragedy. Looking back I can see clearly that God was prying my fingers off that “thing” one by one. But when he got down to the thumb, I fought back. I didn’t want to give it up. But God is stronger than any man and eventually he pulled my thumb off. As the wise man said, your arms are too short to box with God. I gave my idol back to him, but when I gave it back, I saw clearly that it was no pagan idol, but something good that had become too important in my life. In the end God took back that which had always belonged to him in the first place. "

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Web Phone Called ooma
With its quirky version of Internet phone calls, a startup hopes to succeed in a business where others have failed
Olga Kharif
July 19, 2007

The secret that was "ooma" is out. Over the past few years, the stealth startup had managed to raise $27 million in funding from Silicon Valley heavyweights like Draper Fisher Jurvetson and The Founders Fund—all without divulging what product or service it was developing.

And so the innovative new concept behind the hush-hush is…an Internet phone?

Ooma, whose name is meant to evoke simplicity and approachability, announced July 19 that its first product is a new device for Web-based calling. Starting this fall,
ooma plans to compete head-on with the likes of Vonage (VG) and eBay's (EBAY) Skype, not to mention traditional phone and cable TV companies such as Verizon (VZ), Comcast (CMCSA), and AT&T (T).
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Most Portuguese doctors refuse to perform legal abortions
Jul. 18, 2007

(FIDES/ - More than 80% of Portugal's doctors will refuse to perform abortions, as a new law legalizing the practice comes into effect, the Fides news service reports.

Portugal's new law to depenalize abortion came into effect on 15 July. The law was approved in a February referendum, despite more than 50% public abstention. This revealed that the government's proposal does not have the support of the people.

The new law allows abortion until the 10th week of pregnancy at the mother's request. Although the law was approved by parliament, ratified by the president and published officially, heated discussion continues. Two appeals have been lodged at the Constitutional Court, by Portugal's Pro-Life Movement and by the Assembly of the autonomous region of Madeira which has refused to apply the law until the court passes judgment and the state assumes the costs of abortion.
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Peace camp exposes kids to religions
By Brian Saxton staff writer
Jul 13 2007

DANBURY -- People can find peace in themselves by replacing anger, greed, and ignorance with generosity, compassion and wisdom.

That was one of the basic lessons taught Thursday by a Buddhist priest to a group of local children who had signed up for an interfaith peace camp.

The Venerable Ocean of Wisdom Sakya, who is the abbot of the Middle-Way Meditation Center in Danbury, met with the 18 campers at St. James Episcopal Church as part of their weeklong tour of five different religious centers.

"I spoke to the children about how Buddhists promote peace," said Wisdom, 38, whose home in Danbury serves as his temple. "I told them that when there is peace in ourselves there is peace in the world."
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Democratic Candidates Pledges Support for Universal Coverage of Abortion
Mrs. Edwards says Clinton not strong pro-choice advocate for calling abortions tragedies
By Elizabeth O'Brien
WASHINGTON, DC, July 18, 2007

( - On Tuesday leading Democrat presidential candidates slammed the Bush administration and reaffirmed their commitment to promoting abortion in the United States.

Speaking before the Planned Parenthood Public Affairs Action Fund (PPPAAF) annual conference, leading Democrat contenders Senators Hillary Clinton of New York, Barack Obama of Illinois, and wife of presidential candidate John Edwards showed their determination to promote abortion through their comments on public policy and choices of Supreme Court Justice nominees.
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Sex Ed for Kindergarteners 'Right Thing to Do,' Says Obama

First Things: The First Openly Muslim Priest
By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
July 19, 2007

The day before the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops voted to confirm the church’s first openly gay bishop in the late summer of 2003, conservative humor website ScrappleFace satirized the move with a piece entitled “
Episcopal Church Appoints First Openly-Muslim Bishop.” It was a fine example of reductio ad absurdum humor: If the Episcopal Church sacrificed a long-held moral doctrine, would it next have a bishop of another faith? The point worked as humor, but would not work as argument precisely because the possibility seemed absurd. Yet less than four years later, the Episcopal Church has been faced (albeit briefly) with its first openly Muslim priest.

The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, who was ordained in 1984 and has been affiliated with St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle for the past six years, became Muslim in early 2006. Redding first became intrigued by Islam in the fall of 2005, when a local Muslim leader spoke at her cathedral. Her interest deepened after an interfaith class the following spring.
Redding told the Seattle Times that her mother died around that time, and she could not cope with that death except by “total surrender to God.” In March 2006 she recited the shahada, the declaration of faith that makes one a Muslim.

When Redding went public with her conversion fifteen months later, in June 2007, she felt that she did not need to relinquish her position at St. Mark’s. “I am both Muslim and Christian,” Redding said. “I’m 100 percent both.”
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Wal-Mart to Sell Line of Religious Action Figures
by Kevin Jackson,
Christian Today
US Correspondent
Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest corporation, has jumped on the faith-based bandwagon with representatives announcing Tuesday that they will begin to test-sell biblical action figures in their stores.

About one-eighth of the company’s discount stores – 425 out of a possible 3,376 – will now devote part of their toy aisle to One2believe, a Valencia, California-based company that creates action figures based on biblical heroes such as Samson.

The announcement is part of a larger trend among big companies towards investing into more religious and family-friendly products. Business leaders are beginning to see that they can make large profits from a majority of the population who have religious beliefs.

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Early Light
On pilgrimage to Ireland's first Christian sites.
Gary Gnidovic

For me, it all started with the music. My interest in Irish culture and history was sparked when a friend gave me a recording of Irish fiddle tunes. It was the beginning of a lifelong love. In Celtic music there seems to be a capacity for expressing great joy and exuberance, yet also a plaintive longing for something unseen.

In The Celtic Way of Prayer, Esther de Waal described the "Celtic refusal to deny darkness, pain, suffering and yet to exult in rejoicing, celebration in the fullness and goodness of life." Understanding this duality is key to understanding the Irish spirit.

What kind of culture spawned such passion? It wasn't until 1995 when my wife gave me a copy of Thomas Cahill's How the Irish Saved Civilization that I began to understand. Although the title overstates reality, Cahill's bestseller brought the story of Ireland's conversion to Christianity, the resulting societal transformation, and its enormous contributions to Western culture to millions of readers. The book motivated me to dedicated reading and research about this early Christian period, eventually leading to this photographic project.

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Click here to view the slideshow.

New U.K. PM Gordon Brown Promises Gays "Crack-Down" on "Homophobia"
Pro-family lobbyist says, "The agenda here is to make being 'gay' just as socially acceptable as being black or Jewish"
By Hilary White
LONDON, July 18, 2007

( - Newly appointed British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, writing to the homosexual online news centre, PinkNews, promised that his government would continue to promote the homosexual political agenda both at home and abroad.

Brown praised the work of Labour in forwarding the homosexual political aims: "I think this Government has made a huge amount of progress: for example, we've equalised the age of consent, repealed Section 28 [that banned promotion of homosexuality "as a pretended family relationship" in schools], and made it illegal to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation."

"I would like to think that my whole political life has been a fight for equality and a fairer society," he said.
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UK orders Christian convert returned to Iran despite death warrant
By StatGuy
18 July 2007

The British government has ordered the deportation to Iran of a young woman who converted from Islam to Christianity before fleeing her home country. Home Office officials turned down her application for asylum despite being alerted to a death warrant issued in her name by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Council saying she deserves to be stoned to death for apostasy. Samar Razavi was
supposed to be deported yesterday but received a last-minute reprieve after MP Ann Widdicombe raised her case in Parliament.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has
agreed to take another look at her situation.

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Anti-Humanism Gaining Traction
Wesley J. Smith
July 16, 2007

Here we go again. Newsweek reports--in surprisingly positive terms--on the movement to rid the earth of the vermin species--us:

Environmentalists have their own eschatology--a vision of a world not consumed by holy fire but returned to ecological balance by the removal of the most disruptive species in history. That, of course, would be us, the 6 billion furiously metabolizing and reproducing human beings polluting its surface. There's even a group trying to bring it about, the
Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, whose Web site calls on people to stop having children altogether...And "four out of five" of the people he's told about it, he estimates, thought the idea sounded wonderful. Since we're headed inexorably toward an environmental crash anyway, why not get it over cleanly and allow the world to heal? the rest

The chimera question
By Vivek Ramaswamy
July 16, 2007

WRITERS ranging from ancient Greek and Hindu poets to novelist Michael Crichton have all envisioned the fictional possibility of creating human-animal hybrids. The notion of "chimeras" was particularly horrifying to H.G. Wells, author of "The Island of Dr. Moreau." But over the past two years, the subject has quietly made its way into scientific journals. Unbeknownst to most Americans, today the creation of human-animal chimeras represents a valuable experimental tool that could revolutionize science and medicine.

However, the creation of these hybrid organisms also raises ethical questions: What rights should these organisms possess? Great Britain has already begun to take up the question; an official government report released last month backed the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos). US policymakers, however, are far from acting.

One of the main forces driving research in this area is the widespread interest in human embryonic stem cells. In vitro experiments suggest that these cells can differentiate into any cell type in the body, but whether they would retain that potential if implanted in an actual human body is not yet clear. Answering this question could well require experiments that would require the destruction of a developing human being at a point beyond what is acceptable to most people.
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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. Hosea 2:14

The goodness of God sees us allured by sin, and it resolves to try upon us the more powerful allurements of love. Do we not remember when the Lover of our souls first cast a spell upon us and charmed us away from the fascinations of the world! He will do this again and again whenever He sees us likely to be ensnared by evil.

He promises to draw us apart, for there He can best deal with us, and this separated place is not to be a paradise, but a wilderness, since in such a place there will be nothing to take of our attention from our God. In the deserts of affliction the presence of the Lord becomes everything to us, and we prize His company beyond any value which we set upon it when we sat under our own vine and fig tree in the society of our fellows. Solitude and affliction bring more to themselves and to their heavenly Father than any other means.

When thus allured and secluded the Lord has choice things to say to us for our comfort. He "speaks to our heart," as the original has it. Oh, that at this we may have this promise explained in our experience! Allured by love, separated by trial, and comforted by the Spirit of truth, may we know the Lord and sing for joy!
...CH Spurgeon photo

Four Retired Bishops Call for Financial Transparency on Litigation

Four retired bishops called on Executive Council to state how much The Episcopal Church has spent in recent years on litigation and to make public where the money is coming from in order to conduct litigation.

“The Episcopal Church is already involved in expensive lawsuits in Los Angeles, Virginia, Florida, San Diego, New York and elsewhere. Now the Executive Council is threatening even more legal action against four dioceses who affirm their membership in the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church,” the bishops wrote in an open letter dated July 14. “We would like to know where the money is coming from to conduct this litigation, especially in view of the fact that the program budget is being reduced because insufficient funds are being received from dioceses.”

The letter was signed by the Rt. Rev. C.F. Allison, retired Bishop of South Carolina; the Rt. Rev. Maurice Benitez, retired Bishop of Texas; the Rt. Rev. Alex D. Dickson, retired Bishop of West Tennessee and the Rt. Rev. William C. Wantland, retired Bishop of Eau Claire.
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Report: Christians crucified by terrorists in Iraq
Believers in Jesus said to be nailed to crosses, tied with ropes, set ablaze
Posted: July 17, 2007

Christians in Iraq, including converts from Islam and people involved in mixed-faith marriages, are being crucified by Muslim terrorists, according to a Dutch member of Parliament studying the war-torn country.

Several Iraqi Christians "are nailed to a cross and their arms are tied up with ropes. The ropes are put on fire,"
Joel Voordewind told BosNewsLife, an online news agency focusing on Christians and Jews in difficult circumstances.

According to the site, Voordewind described how a person, who "survived" a crucifixion, "even showed holes in his hands," apparently from nails.
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Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida: Gloria Dei Church seeks APO
The following is a statement from the Vestry of Gloria Dei Church that was presented to the congregation of Gloria Dei on Sunday, July 8, 2007


Excerpt: While we will remain open to the possibility of negotiation, it appears that our only options are to seek APO elsewhere. We declare ourselves as the loyal remnant of the Episcopal Church in The Diocese of Central Florida. This declaration may entail a cooperative effort with other Orthodox dioceses and parishes in consultation with primates of the Anglican Communion, to form a new Anglican Parish and Diocese in Central Florida. A second possibility would be for the Central Florida Diocese to take a commanding leadership position and to transfer to another existing Province of the Anglican Communion. A third possibility would be to seek the status of an injured parish and seek extra-provincial oversight either under the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury or under a Primate. Finally, other possibilities exist and we are continuing to fully explore all of those possibilities."

full statement

Bishop loses gay employment case
18 July 2007

A gay man has won his case for unlawful discrimination after he was refused a youth official's job by a Church of England bishop.

The employment tribunal said John Reaney, 42, was discriminated against "on grounds of sexual orientation" by the Hereford diocesan board of finance.

Mr Reaney, from Colwyn Bay, Conwy, said he was "delighted" at the decision.

The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, said he was "naturally disappointed" and may appeal.
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Albert Mohler: What Did Luther Do?
Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mary Zeiss Stange is a professor of women's studies and religion at
Skidmore College in New York and a member of USA Today's Board of Contributors. In an article published in the paper's July 9, 2007 edition, Stange suggests that mainline Protestant churches should ask, "What would Luther do?," on the issue of homosexuality.

The entire approach of her article invites trouble and mischief, for the truly informative question is not "What would Luther do?" but "What did Luther do?" In her article Professor Stange attempts to argue that Luther would respond to modern knowledge and the modern context by affirming homosexuality and same-sex relationships. The assumptions behind her ridiculous argument are based in any number of intellectual fallacies, but a closer look reveals that Luther, of all people, would recognize exactly what she is doing.

Stange begins by citing the Apostle Paul's statement in
Galatians 3:28 that in Christ "there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female," and asks: "Upon further reflection, might he have added, 'neither straight nor gay?'" the rest

Abstinence Education Faces an Uncertain Future
Published: July 18, 2007

HALLSVILLE, Tex. — When Jami Waite graduated from high school this year in this northeastern Texas town, her parents sat damp-eyed in the metal bleachers of Bobcat Stadium, proud in every way possible. Their youngest daughter was leaving childhood an honor graduate, a band member, a true friend, a head cheerleader — and a steadfast virgin.

“People can be abstinent, and it’s not weird,” she declared. With her face on billboards and on TV, Ms. Waite has been an emblem of sexual abstinence for Virginity Rules, which has risen from a single operation in nearby Longview to become an eight-county abstinence franchise.

For the first time, however, Virginity Rules and 700 kindred abstinence education programs are fighting serious threats to their future. Eleven state health departments rejected abstinence education this year, while legislatures in Colorado, Iowa and Washington passed laws that could kill, or at least wound, its presence in public schools.
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Church preparing to preach Potter’s missionary message
Dalya Alberge, Arts Correspondent
July 18, 2007

The Church of England is publishing a guide advising youth workers how to use Harry Potter to spread the Christian message.

Days before the release of J K Rowling’s seventh novel about the boy wizard, they were being told yesterday that they could use the popularity of the books and films to debate Christian themes. The guide, Mixing it up with Harry Potter, is published this week by Church House Publishing.

The Potter books and films have been attacked by evangelicals for allegedly glamorising the occult. But the Rt Rev John Pritchard, the Bishop of Oxford, said yesterday: “Jesus used storytelling to engage and challenge his listeners.

“There’s nothing better than a good story to make people think, and there’s plenty in the Harry Potter books to make young people think about the choices they make in their everyday lives and their place in the world."
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Homosexual Clergy Mainly Responsible For Sex Abuse Scandals

SAN DIEGO, July 18 /
Christian Newswire/ -- There has been many national news accounts over the past few years regarding the sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church. Most recently according to the Associated Press, "The nation's largest Catholic archdiocese has settled its abuse cases for $660 million, by far the largest payout in the church's sexual abuse scandal."

What is not being reported by the news media is that the majority of those who were sexually abused across the nation were most likely adolescent boys, which makes the case that these precious minors were abused by homosexual men. These conclusions can be drawn from a
major study that was conducted on behalf of the Catholic Church by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The study covered reported sexual abuse from 1950-2002, which showed that 81% of the overall percentage of victims were boys. the rest

Christian Fantasy Genre Builds Niche Without Hogwarts, Muggles or Spells
By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Could the next
Harry Potter be a devout Christian?

As the days tick down until Saturday, when a breathless world learns the fate of the teenage wizard, a new breed of fantasy fiction, with Potter-style stories, is emerging.

Like the Potter series, it has mystical creatures, macabre events, epic battles and heroic young protagonists.

But, unlike the Potter books, this genre has overt Christian tones: messiah-like kings who return from the dead, fallen satanic characters and young heroes who undergo profound conversions. What you won't generally find: humans waving wands and performing spells.
Christian fantasy, which had been a slow seller, has caught fire recently, industry analysts say, ignited by the success of the Potter series, which has sent some Christian readers looking for alternatives.
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No 10 site in mosque petition row
Tuesday, 17 July 2007

The Downing Street petition site was launched last yearMore than 255,000 people have signed a petition on the Downing Street website against any plans to build Britain's biggest mosque in East London.

The petition, currently the most popular on the No 10 site, calls for the "mega mosque" to be scrapped as it will "cause terrible violence".

But London mayor Ken Livingstone said it was part of a "vicious" campaign to spread untruths about the scheme.
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Christianity sparks China's new cultural revolution
Robert L. Moore Special to the Sentinel
July 15, 2007

Christianity in China has come a long way since 1870. That was the year that violent Chinese mobs in the city of Tianjin, enraged by rumors that French missionaries were kidnapping babies, massacred every Christian they could get their hands on. In those days, China's citizenry saw Christianity as a tentacle of Western imperialism, and as such viewed it as a threat to their country's very existence.

But the role of Christianity in China today could hardly be more different from what it was then. While doing research on Chinese society in Beijing this summer, I met a surprisingly large number of recently converted Chinese Christians. And I wasn't the only one aware of the rising tide of Christian conversions. When I visited the South Cathedral, Beijing's oldest and most famous church, a young priest bragged to me that 300 young people would be baptized after the coming Sunday's Mass. "That won't happen in the U.S.," he said.

The evidence is undeniable: Despite the government's official doctrine of atheism, its general disapproval of religion, and its occasionally ruthless suppression of those Christian groups that it views as threatening, millions of Chinese are now choosing to convert.
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For Episcopal Church, fissure deepens
Priest, flock to align with African group

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff
July 18, 2007

In a dramatic illustration of the unhappiness among conservative Episcopalians in the United States, an Episcopal priest from the North Shore has decided to become a bishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya.

The Rev. William L. Murdoch, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in West Newbury, will fly to Nairobi next month for his consecration as a Kenyan bishop, then return to Massachusetts to minister to other disaffected conservatives who are leaving the Episcopal Church over its 2003 decision to ordain an openly gay priest as the bishop of New Hampshire.

Murdoch's congregation, which averages about 300 worshipers each Sunday, will have to turn over its three buildings and a $1 million endowment to the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. The congregation is planning to buy a closed Catholic church in Amesbury and start over as All Saints Anglican, a local parish of the Kenyan church.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

God's means of delivering us from sin is not by making us stronger and stronger, but by making us weaker and weaker. That is surely rather a peculiar way of victory, you say; but it is the divine way. God sets us free from the dominion of sin, not by strengthening our old man but by crucifying him; not by helping him to do anything, but by removing him from the scene of action. ...Watchman Nee image