Friday, August 24, 2007

A life without a lonely place, that is, a life without a quiet center, easily becomes destructive. When we cling to the results of our actions as our only way of self-identification, then we become possessive and defensive and tend to look at our fellow human beings more as enemies to be kept at a distance than as friends with whom we share the gifts of life.

In solitude, we can slowly unmask the illusion of our possessiveness and discover in the center of our own self that we are not what we can conquer, but what is given to us. In solitude we can listen to him who spoke to us before we could speak a word, who healed us before we could make any gesture to help, who set us free long before we could free others, and who loved us long before we could give love to anyone. It is in this solitude we discover that our life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared. It's there we recognize that the healing words we speak are not just our own, but are given to us; that the love we can express is part of a greater love; and that the new life we bring forth is not a property to cling to, but a gift to be received. ...Henri J. M. Nouwen photo

Astronomers Find a Hole in the Universe
The Associated Press
Friday, August 24, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Astronomers have stumbled upon a tremendous hole in the universe. That's got them scratching their heads about what's just not there. The cosmic blank spot has no stray stars, no galaxies, no sucking black holes, not even mysterious dark matter. It is 1 billion light years across of nothing. That's an expanse of nearly 6 billion trillion miles of emptiness, a University of Minnesota team announced Thursday.

Astronomers have known for many years that there are patches in the universe where nobody's home. In fact, one such place is practically a neighbor, a mere 2 million light years away. But what the Minnesota team discovered, using two different types of astronomical observations, is a void that's far bigger than scientists ever imagined.
the rest

CNN’s God’s Christian Warriors Leaves Viewers… Scared
Reporter Amanpour says she’s trying to “understand” Christian believers, but her special amounts to a call to arms against them.
By Robert Knight
Culture and Media Institute
August 24, 2007

One of these days, CNN will have to dispense with the ominous music it uses for Christian documentaries and go for the full effect, using the Jaws soundtrack.

Last night, in the third segment of a six-hour series called God’s Warriors, CNN served up a two-hour, heady brew of fear, distortion and manipulative media techniques to paint a scary picture of conservative Christians in America. The first two segments, featuring Muslims and Jews, reportedly racked up just over two million viewers per night. All three segments will air again late Saturday and Sunday evenings.
the rest

CNN airs 'one of the most distorted programs' ever

Presbyterian Church rebukes "lesbian evangelist"
Fri Aug 24, 2007
By Adam Tanner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The U.S. Presbyterian Church has rebuked one of its ministers who describes herself as a "lesbian evangelist" for presiding over two gay weddings, officials said on Friday.

Rev. Jane Adams Spahr, 65, in 1992 became the first openly lesbian Presbyterian minister to be appointed a local church pastor -- a move later overturned by the church's top judicial body. She since has been an outspoken advocate for gay rights -- and gay marriage rites.

She has challenged the church by presiding over hundreds of gay unions, many of which were not called marriages. She faced the church's judicial scrutiny after marrying two men in 2004 and two women in 2005.
the rest

Albert Mohler: Institutionalized Hypocrisy -- A Failure of Courage
Thursday, August 23, 2007

This week's question at
On Faith [Newsweek and The Washington Post] has to do with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's vote to encourage its bishops not to enforce the doctrines and standards of the church -- at least when it comes to the matter of homosexual clergy.

Churches and denominations that invite or allow their standards to be openly violated institutionalize hypocrisy. This usually indicates that the church lacks both the courage to change the standards and the conviction to enforce them.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [ELCA] has voted to encourage its bishops not to take punitive action against ministers who violate the denomination's ban on active homosexuals in the ministry. Last year, the Presbyterian Church USA [PCUSA] took a similar action, allowing local jurisdictions (presbyteries) to ordain candidates for ministry who violate a similar policy. Both cases represent tragic failures of leadership. Both churches failed to maintain their own standards and lacked the courage or consensus to change them.
the rest

Theocracy in America
CNN’s latest hype explores the three tiers of the God squad.
By Joe Carter
August 24, 2007

For several weeks CNN has been hyping their
miniseries God’s Warriors as an “unprecedented six-hour television event.” The series dedicates two hours each to “God’s Jewish Warriors,” “God’s Muslim Warriors,” and “God’s Christian Warriors.” Prior to the first airing, CNN invited several bloggers to preview a few clips from the series and to submit a question for Christiane Amanpour to be answered during a special webcast.

The three clips provided by CNN each highlighted one of the “fundamentalist” branches of the three Abrahamic faiths: the segment on Jews focused on theocratic Israeli settlers, including the man who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin; the segment on Muslims focused on theocratic British students, including the London subway bombers; the segment on Christians focused on Jerry Falwell and Liberty University.
the rest

Catholic bishops whereabouts unknown in China
Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo was arrested by Chinese communist authorities. China continues to persecute Christians not affiliated with churches recognized by the communist government.

Thursday, August 23, 2007
By Martin Barillas

Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, the underground Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Zheng Ding in Hebei Province, China, was arrested again by the Public Security and Religious Bureau on the morning of August 23, 2007. Reports about the reasons for the arrest by Chinese Communist officials were not clear. Bishop Jia had been released in April 2006 after an extended detention and was under surveillance. Zheng Ding is approximately 155 miles (250 kilometers) southwest of Beijing. the rest

AP Poll: God vital to young Amercians
By ERIC GORSKI and TREVOR TOMPSON, Associated Press Writers
Fri Aug 24

Among America's young people, godliness contributes to happiness.

An extensive survey by The Associated Press and MTV found that people aged 13 to 24 who describe themselves as very spiritual or religious tend to be happier than those who don't.

When it comes to spirituality, American young people also are remarkably tolerant — nearly 7 in 10 say that while they follow their own religious or spiritual beliefs, others might be true as well.
On the whole, the poll found religion is a vital part of the lives of many American young people, although with significant pockets that attach little or no importance to faith.
the rest

TLC: A Second Betrayal
The Rev. Samson N. Gitau

The leadership of The Episcopal Church seems intrigued as to why the Global South Anglican leadership has failed to buy into Western revisionism. The Episcopalians seem equally intrigued as to why the “poor” Global South church leaders, faced with multiple problems like HIV/AIDS, malaria and education, to name a few, refuse to take foreign aid, or even worse, why they have returned aid already received prior to the events of the infamous 2003 General Convention.

The apparent intrigue is coupled with the failure of the Global South leaders to embrace the popular Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) warmly embraced by Episcopal Church leadership. In short, why is the Episcopal social gospel falling on the rocky side of the Global South leadership soil?

To understand the Global South’s reaction and rejection of the no doubt attractive social gospel propagated by The Episcopal Church, one has to go back to the planting of the church in the Global South, especially in Africa. By the turn of the 20th century, Christianity was hardly known in most of Africa. However, that does not mean that Africans were not religious. In fact, in the words of a well-known African writer, before the missionaries came, “Africans were notoriously religious.” Every aspect of African life was permeated with religion. The only area that the Africans remained uninformed was the person of Jesus Christ and his role of redemption.
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Planned Parenthood Secretly Buys Land for New Offices
By Randy Hall Staff Writer/Editor
August 24, 2007

( - The nation's biggest abortion provider is seeking to avoid opposition when buying property or building new facilities through secrecy, or what one pro-life leader called "a series of cover-ups" in such places as Denver, Colo., Portland, Ore., and Aurora, Ill.

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) - a division of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America - announced this week it will break ground in November on a $4.2 million headquarters and clinic on northwest Denver property it bought secretly last year.

Planned Parenthood, which receives $305.3 million in tax dollars a year, is the largest abortion chain in the United States and has killed more than 3 million children by abortion, according to the American Life League.
the rest

Pro-Abortion Protestors Arrested for Harassing "40 Days for Life" Witnesses

Episcopal gay bishop to enter into civil partnership
London, Aug 23, 2007

CNA).- The openly homosexual Episcopal bishop, Bishop V. Gene Robinson, has planned to enter into a civil partnership with his long-term partner just weeks before next year's Lambeth Conference, reports the Church of England Newspaper.

Robinson, whose consecration as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 has placed the Anglican Communion on the brink of schism, unveiled his intention during an interview to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 next week, in a program entitled Choice.

In an interview with Michael Buerk, the bishop denied that his plan to hold the ceremony next June had been chosen to be deliberately provocative.

He said he and his partner decided to take advantage of the new civil union law that will come into effect in New Hampshire on Jan. 1 and were looking for a three-day weekend that would allow people to travel more easily.
the rest

Reston Event Shows Clout of N.Va. Muslim Voters
By Sandhya Somashekhar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 24, 2007

More than 50 candidates in this fall's elections are expected to appear in
Reston tomorrow at a political picnic organized by a group of Northern Virginia mosques, and organizers say the heavy turnout underscores the growing influence of Muslim voters in local politics.

The event, the group's seventh annual "family and civic picnic," has a dual purpose, organizers say. Through a voter registration drive, they hope to persuade more Muslims to become involved in local elections. In addition, they hope to show the candidates that "we're here, we care, and we do vote," said Shirin Elkoshairi, a spokesman for the
Sterling-based All Dulles Area Muslim Society, which has more than 5,000 members. the rest

Anger at Malaysia 'Jesus cartoon'
By Jonathan Kent
BBC News, Kuala Lumpur
Thursday, 23 August 2007

Malaysia saw protests over the Prophet Muhammad cartoonsA Malaysian newspaper is facing calls to shut down after it published an image of Jesus holding a cigarette and what appeared to be a can of beer.

Malaysia's Muslim-led government closed two publications last year for carrying controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Now some members of Malaysia's minority religions say they want the same treatment over this latest incident.
the rest

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hurricane Katrina Aid Remains a Focal Point for ADV Parishes

(August 23, 2007) – As the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) parishes have continued to give generously to support the victims of the disaster and the rebuilding effort. ADV is an association of Anglican congregations in Virginia and a part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA).

“ADV members continue to press forward with mission. In addition to the many foreign mission trips that our congregations have undertaken this year, we have sent several teams to aid in the ongoing reconstruction efforts of the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina. There remains a mountain of work to do, and our churches have been responding. We continue to be encouraged by the progress ADV members are making there and the lives that are being transformed,” said Jim Oakes, vice-chairman of ADV.
the rest

Albert Mohler: "What Does God Care What We Call Him?"
Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A retiring Roman Catholic bishop in the Netherlands has been making headlines around the world in recent days with his suggestion that Dutch Christians should pray to Allah.

Bishop Tiny Muskens of Breda, a former missionary to Indonesia, suggested that conflict between Christians and Muslims could be lessened if Dutch Catholics followed the lead of some Christians in Muslim-dominated lands and adopted Allah as the preferred name for God..

Catholic News:

Speaking on the Dutch TV programme Network on Monday evening, Bishop Muskens says it could take another 100 years but eventually the name Allah will be used by Dutch churches. And that will promote rapprochement between the two religions. Muskens doesn't expect his idea to be greeted with much enthusiasm. The 71-year-old bishop, who will soon be retiring due to ill health, says God doesn't mind what he is called. God is above such "discussion and bickering". Human beings invented this discussion themselves, he believes, in order to argue about it.
the rest

Nudity will be legal again in Brattleboro
By Associated Press
August 23, 2007

BRATTLEBORO -- It's back to clothing optional in Vermont's nudity capital.

A month after passing a temporary ban, the Brattleboro Selectboard rejected a proposed ordinance that would have made it permanent Tuesday. When the emergency ordinance expires next month, public nudity will be legal again.

To one Selectboard member, tolerance trumped all.
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Rome halts mosque conversion plan
By David Willey BBC News, Rome
Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Rome says it has many applications for religious centresAuthorities in Rome have refused to allow a building next to a Catholic church to be converted into a mosque.

The planned mosque, in a densely populated and multi-ethnic quarter in the centre of the Italian capital, was supposed to open next month.

Municipal police said the community of Bengali Muslims who were carrying out the building works did not have the necessary permit.
the rest

Real, Strange News: Thursday Breakfast Bender

Howard attacked for links to secret Christian sect the Brethren
By Kathy Marks in Sydney
Published: 23 August 2007

They describe themselves as "a Christian fellowship based on the Holy Scriptures", but others call them a sect, and they have meddled in elections in New Zealand and Australia.
So when the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, admitted that he had recently met leaders of the ultra-conservative Exclusive Brethren, his critics smelt something unsavoury.

The group, an offshoot of the Plymouth Brethren, with followers in Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the US, enforces a policy of separation, including from other Christians. Children are educated in Brethren-run schools; adults work in Brethren-owned companies. Brethren eat, drink and socialise only with other Brethren. Television, mobile phones and computers are banned.

But although members are also forbidden to vote, the group tries to mould the political landscape. Australian Federal Police are investigating expenditure of A$370,000 (£150,000) on advertisements supporting the Howard government by a company owned by Mark Mackenzie, a senior Breth-ren member, before the last election in 2004. the rest

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Reading the Signs of the Times
by Bishop David Bena

(via email)
Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Today as I was driving through the countryside near my home in upper New York State, I noticed the first trees beginning to change color. Some golds and yellows appeared where green used to be. It was a message loud and clear that although the temperature is high as a giraffe today, in just a few months, the temperature will be low as a snake. Although we are in for a beautiful and spectacular autumn, with fall foliage and delicious apples, the inevitable result will be dead leaves and crippling snow storms. So I have decided to enjoy the soon coming autumn and not think about the future numbing winter. Reading the earth and the sky?

Jesus said to the crowds, "...Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and sky. How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time?" (Luke 12:56). Much will be happening in the Anglican Communion over the next few months. Will we be able to "interpret this present time?"

Here is what I am getting at: The Episcopal Church House of Bishops will meet in late September. All the world will be watching. Will the HOB agree to repent and turn back from condoning a very loose systematic theology and an even looser sexual behavior policy? The Primates of the Anglican Communion have given the Episcopal Church HOB until September 30 to turn back. Will they? Recent statements and actions say that they will not. Their statements and actions say that the majority of Episcopal Church bishops are firmly committed to a "multi-truth theology" when studying God and salvation history, and are firmly committed to celebrating gay relationships on a par with marriage and the ordination of those practicing sex outside heterosexual marriage. Unless a miracle happens, the HOB is not going to back down from these positions. What they will do is attempt to give the Anglican world and leadership some assurance that they "are doing the best they can" to both staying in the Anglican Communion and "telling their truth" through a listening process, explaining that their polity does not allow them to comply with the Dar Es Salaam Communiqué. We sometimes call this way of handling the Communiqué as "fudge." Fudging the truth and the facts. In fact, the HOB CAN comply with the Communiqué if it votes that it will. And in fact, the HOB CAN indeed make decisions regarding whom they will ordain and what parameters will be placed on the blessing of relationships. But they will not do this.

While the House of Bishops is meeting in New Orleans, Archbishop Williams and a number of other primates will attend and dialogue with the American bishops. The plan, I'm sure, is to put such pressure on the Archbishop that he will have to accept the "fudge" by stating that the HOB and the Episcopal Church have complied in "most" of the demands of the Primates and so they should be given a pass. He will be pressured to say that the Americans and all other bishops (with a few exceptions, let the reader understand) should be able to sit at the Lambeth Conference in 2008 for a time of listening and understanding one another. This approach has been tried many times and found wanting by those who wish to clearly speak the Scriptures and the historic teachings of Anglicanism. I somehow think the Archbishop knows this in his heart. So let us pray for the Archbishop, that he sees the fudge and its vacuousness, that he refuses to accept it, and that he speaks the Truth on behalf of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, that the HOB has NOT complied with Dar Es Salaam.

Whatever happens at New Orleans, and whatever the Archbishop may or may not say about the HOB meeting, the Primates of the Anglican Communion will probably meet soon after and thoughtfully analyze the HOB statement - Comply? Not comply? and since the Archbishop of Canterbury is but one of the thirty-something Primates, he must join them as they form an opinion. It will be interesting to see how this all goes.

Interpreting this present time? We are at a New Reformation, brothers and sisters. This age can be compared with the times of the sixteenth century. Those of us in CANA are attempting, with a spirit of humility, to stand firm in our biblical faith, the faith of Anglicanism. We are saying, "this corruption of theology and behavior has been tolerated long enough in our Communion. We can no longer abide it. We need to reform our Communion by returning to Anglican biblical formation, and by moving with the Holy Spirit into world evangelization based on the Word of Jesus and the Works of Jesus.

But Reformations are messy, aren't they? And we are in a mess. The Episcopal Church, with its huge endowments (dead people contributing to what, if they were alive, would probably not!) is using millions of dollars to sue for the properties of disaffected Episcopalians. They have set a "NO NEGOTIATIONS" policy and advised all bishops to follow that policy. The attempt is apparent - destroy those who oppose the current trends of the Episcopal Church, and intimidate any others who wish to oppose them. To this, we can only say, "Here we stand; we can do no other." Let the New Reformation proceed!

By the time we meet at the First CANA Convocation Council November 1-3 at Epiphany, Herndon, Virginia, much of this will have played out. Let's be in fervent prayer as we prepare. While you pray, select your delegates and make your airline reservations to join us in Virginia. It will be autumn. We'll know that because we can interpret the earth and sky. But will we be able to interpret this present age?

Your Brother in Christ,
Bishop David Bena

Suffragan for CANA

Falling into the Gender Gap
By Suzanne Fields
Monday, August 20, 2007

So many books and surveys, so little time, and many are still wrestling with Freud's simple question, "What do women want?" The books and surveys are so loaded with contradictory opinions that no sociologist's "cohort" is likely to come up with a definitive answer.

Some women insist that the only thing for an educated woman to do is to work outside her home. Others defend the mom whose satisfaction comes from being with her children. Still others insist that mix and match is the best formula, for staying home when the kids are young.

My grandson, age 8, asked me the other day what his great-grandmother -- my mother -- "did." I wasn't sure what he meant. "Did, did, did," he repeated. "You mean as in 'work'?" I asked. "Yes, work."

Well, I told him, she spent a lot of time with her son and daughter and grandchildren when they were growing up. "She often picked up your mother at school when I couldn't, and she always had freshly baked cookies with her. She enjoyed making your great-grandfather happy." Such a granny sounded exotic to the young man, not at all like the mommies he knew, whose work determined their children's "play dates" and after-school activities.
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Hamas's approach to jihad: Start 'em young
The group takes a patient approach to deriving political support from religious conviction.

Dan Murphy
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
August 20, 2007

Gaza City, Gaza - As a weapon in its struggle with Israel, Nahool the Bee doesn't look like a particularly threatening addition to the Hamas arsenal. He doesn't even have a stinger.

But what the bright yellow star of "Tomorrow's Pioneers" on Hamas-owned Al Aqsa television lacks in muscle he makes up for in fervor. Speaking in a recent episode, Nahool vowed to help take back Jerusalem from the "criminal Jews" and expressed his hope that he and all of his listeners would grow up to become holy warriors.
the rest/photo

Of Church and Steak: Farming for the Soul
Published: August 22, 2007
Howard, S.D.

NEAR a prairie dotted with cattle and green with soy beans, barley, corn and oats, two bearded Hasidic men dressed in black pray outside a slaughterhouse here that is managed by an evangelical Christian.

What brought these men together could easily have kept them apart: religion.

The two Hasidim oversee shehitah, the Jewish ritual slaughtering of meat according to the Book of Leviticus. The meat is then shipped to Wise Organic Pastures, a kosher food company in Brooklyn owned by Issac Wiesenfeld and his family. When Mr. Wiesenfeld sought an organic processor that used humane methods five years ago, he found Scott Lively, who was just beginning Dakota Beef, now one of the largest organic meat processors in the country.

Mr. Lively adheres to a diet he believes Jesus followed. Like Mr. Wiesenfeld, he says the Bible prescribes that he use organic methods to respect the earth, treat his workers decently and treat the cattle that enter his slaughterhouse as humanely as possible.
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Google Earth to Get New 'Sky' Feature
Wednesday, August 22, 2007

LONDON — Popular mapping service
Google Earth will launch a new feature called Sky, a "virtual telescope" that the search engine hopes will turn millions of Internet users into stargazers.

Google (
GOOG), which created Google Earth to give Internet users an astronaut's view that can zoom to street level, said the service would be a playground for learning about space.

"Never before has a roadmap of the entire sky been made so readily available," said Dr. Carol Christian of the
Space Telescope Science Institute, who co-led the institute's Sky team. the rest image

Take the couch
Site links travelers, hosts in spirit of community

By Jeff Miranda, Globe Correspondent
August 22, 2007

SOMERVILLE -- On a recent Saturday morning, five twentysomethings huddle in a cozy living room to map out their day. Two are from Montreal. Another is from Chicago. The hosts, Jesse Fenton and Erin Benoit, have lived in the apartment for three years. The guests have had plans to visit for more than a month, but their only contact with their hosts has been through computer screens.

The five met through, an online network of travelers, mostly in their 20s, who are tired of staying in hotels and hostels and who want to see the world with a free place to crash -- often on someone's couch. But what sets apart from a bevy of similar free services such as is its focus on its mission, which according to the group's website "is not just about free accommodations" but about human interaction.

"It makes the world a smaller place," says Benoit, 25, a medical technologist at Boston Medical Center. "Eventually, we'll have friends all over the world."
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Coloradans warm up to yurt living

Tots Getting Internet Identity at Birth
The Associated Press
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

NEW YORK -- Besides leaving the hospital with a birth certificate and a clean bill of health, baby Mila Belle Howells got something she won't likely use herself for several years: her very own Internet domain name.

Likewise newborn Bennett Pankow joined his four older siblings in getting his own Internet moniker. In fact, before naming his child, Mark Pankow checked to make sure "" hadn't already been claimed.
the rest

Colorado Right to Life Committee ruled an exception to campaign finance rules
By: The Associated Press

Voter-approved campaign finance restrictions on a Colorado anti-abortion group are unconstitutional, a federal appeals court affirmed on Tuesday.

The Colorado Right to Life Committee had challenged parts of Amendment 27, which state voters approved in 2002 to prohibit corporations from using their general funds to make political contributions or to pay for electioneering materials.
the rest

'God does not discriminate'
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Star-Ledger Staff

A week before the grand opening of Plainfield's first hip-hop house of worship, Church 'N' the Hood, the Rev. LaDana Clark -- also known as "Lady Jam" -- sat in the basement of the Grace Episcopal Church, the place that would soon welcome her future parishioners.

She was calm despite the obvious excitement of others in the room, members of the community dedicated to helping with the church's debut. She smiled and listened as they talked about their hopes for the mission. Then she started to talk.

"God does not discriminate -- no matter if you're Jewish, Muslim, black, white, gay, straight, God loves you," she began, her voice quiet, but earnest.

Being gay and Christian don't have to be mutually exclusive events, Clark said.

"I am a Christian lesbian," she said, her sexual orientation a sticking point for some churches she has attempted to join. "For years, I felt ostracized because of that. But I've realized that everyone is entitled to the holy hook-up."
the rest

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn.
I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but not once for my thorn. I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensation for my cross: but I have never thought of my cross as itself a present glory. Thou divine Love, whose human path has been perfected through sufferings, teach me the glory of my cross, teach me the value of my thorn. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbow." ...George Matheson image

Mohler on CNN: U.S. awash in porn
Posted on Aug 21, 2007
by David Roach

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--America is saturated with sexual immorality, and the only solution is submitting to God's standards for sexuality, R. Albert Mohler Jr. told a CNN audience on Aug. 20.

"There is clearly a nation awash with pornography right now, and evangelical Christians are certainly concerned about that," Mohler said on the cable network's "God, Sex and Greed" special. "It's a sign of a culture that is increasingly seeking gratification in all the wrong places.

And pornography ... is a very glaring and graphic symptom of the problem we face in this country."Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., appeared in the opening segment of the hour-long program with author and media personality Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Irshad Manji, author of "The Trouble with Islam Today." Hosted by Roland Martin, the program focused on America's simultaneous fascinations with religion, lust and greed.
the rest

Prisoners denied baptisms
By Bobby Ross Jr.

The Christian Chronicle In Anchorage, Alaska, prison minister Dave Olson can name half a dozen state inmates who would love to be baptized.

But for these prisoners — and many other inmates across the nation — redemption must wait.

Citing security concerns and other reasons, government-paid chaplains often deny ministers’ requests to immerse inmates, The Christian Chronicle has learned.

“There are many, many chaplains that do not believe in baptism, and they’re not going to go out of their way to see that it’s done,” said William Crossman, an evangelist with the Church of Christ Prison Ministry in Leavenworth, Kan.

In New Mexico, one county jail recently started allowing baptisms twice a month, but only after a congregation enlisted the help of the Liberty Counsel, a religious liberties legal organization.
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One in four read no books last year
By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press Writer
Tue Aug 21

WASHINGTON - There it sits on your night stand, that book you've meant to read for who knows how long but haven't yet cracked open. Tonight, as you feel its stare from beneath that teetering pile of magazines, know one thing — you are not alone.

an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and seniors were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.

The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven.

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ADV Announces New Board Member

FAIRFAX, Va. (August 21, 2007) – The Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) announced that The Rev’d Phil Ashey, Rector of South Riding Anglican, has been appointed to the ADV Board of Directors. South Riding Anglican is an ecclesiastical member of ADV.

“We are excited that Phil will be partnering in ministry with us. His appointment confirms our desire to build a community of Anglicans who are passionately committed to spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ in Virginia and throughout the world. Phil brings a wealth of expertise and enthusiasm to further the mission of ADV,” said Jim Oakes, vice-chairman of ADV.

Since July 2002, Rev’d Ashey has served as rector of South Riding Anglican, a church plant in South Riding, Virginia. Today, more than half of South Riding’s congregation are “seekers” who have come to faith, or are in the process of coming to personal faith, in Jesus Christ. Over one third of its congregation are children.

For nearly two decades, Rev’d Ashey has served as a priest in several churches while ministering in unique ways, utilizing faith as well as his law degree from Loyola Law School. As chaplain of the Christian Legal Society, Rev’d Ashey is involved in an “apostolic-planting” ministry of developing and discipling Christian attorneys to establish large group evangelistic meetings and small discipleship groups to reach attorneys in the workplace.
the rest

Of Dogs and Babies
Cruelty and Outrage

By Chuck Colson
Christian Post Guest Columnist
Mon, Aug. 20 2007

Robert Byrd of West Virginia isn’t known for mincing words on the Senate floor. Still, even by his standards, his recent comments about a crime in the news were especially impassioned.

He repeatedly called the alleged crime “barbaric” and even volunteered to attend the execution of the accused. He told his colleagues that he is “confident that the hottest places in hell are reserved for the souls of sick and brutal people who hold God’s creatures in such brutal and cruel contempt . . .”

What prompted the senator’s ire? Genocide? Ethnic cleansing? No, cruelty to animals, specifically the indictment of NFL star
Michael Vick.

As you probably know, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback was recently indicted in connection with a dog-fighting ring allegedly operating out of his home in Virginia. The indictment included shocking details about the cruel way in which dogs that could no longer fight were disposed of.
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Missionaries Attacked During Film Showing in North India
A team of four missionaries was badly beaten last week during a Christian film showing for villagers.
by Dibin Samuel, Christian Today India Correspondent
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A team of four missionaries was badly beaten last week during a Christian film showing for villagers.

While the people outside the village gathered last Tuesday to watch the movie “Man of Mercy”, an Indian-made film portraying the life of Jesus, some anti-Christian elements disrupted the show and started beating the missionaries from the mission group Gospel for Asia.

The police reportedly confiscated the film equipment and started to beat the GFA missionaries, before arresting them.
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Nigerian Anglicans Mull Boycott over Gay Bishops
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Church of Nigeria gave its strongest indication yet on Monday that it would boycott next year's conference of global Anglicans to protest against what it called "intransigence" by pro-gay US and Canadian churches.

American liberals and conservatives from Africa, Asia and Latin America have been locked in a battle for the soul of the 77-million strong Anglican Communion for over a decade.

The dispute over the ordination of gay bishops and blessing of gay marriages is threatening to create a schism ahead of next year's Lambeth Conference, a meeting of more than 800 bishops which is meant to cement the global communion once a decade.
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Graham Suffers More Intestinal Bleeding
The Associated Press
Monday, August 20, 2007

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Evangelist Billy Graham experienced a second episode of intestinal bleeding but remained in fair condition Monday at a hospital near his home in the mountains of western North Carolina, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Graham, 88, was fully alert during the morning episode, said Merrell Gregory, a spokeswoman for Mission Health & Hospitals in Asheville. Doctors are performing tests to find the source of the bleeding, she said.

Graham has been hospitalized since experiencing an initial bout of intestinal bleeding on Saturday.
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CNN's Upcoming Miniseries "God's Warriors" Implies Pro-Lifers are Terrorists
by Matthew Balan
August 20, 2007 Note: Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 2003, and worked for the Heritage Foundation from 2003 until 2006, and for Human Life International in 2006.

CNN's upcoming miniseries "God's Warriors," hosted by left-wing bias exemplar Christiane Amanpour, looks like it will play the old liberal game of moral equivalence. Amanpour reportedly compares Christian chastity advocates to the Taliban in the miniseries.

Even the promos for the miniseries which have been running on CNN for the past few weeks demonstrate the probable "game plan" that Amanpour and CNN have in mind, grouping together pro-life Christian college students protesting in front of the Supreme Court, Jewish settlers on the West Bank, and Islamic radicals. To paraphrase an old children's jingle, "two of these things are not like the other."

An "unprecedented six-hour television event," the miniseries will examine "God's Jewish Warriors" on Tuesday night, "God's Muslim Warriors" on Wednesday night, and "God's Christian Warriors" on Thursday night.
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Planned Parenthood Sues to Strike Down Missouri Abortion Law
Monday, August 20, 2007

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to strike down a new Missouri law that it claims could eliminate abortion services in large parts of the state by subjecting clinics to stringent state oversight.

The federal lawsuit contends that the law, which takes effect Aug. 28, would infringe on abortion rights, and asks a judge for an injunction blocking it.

If the law takes effect, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri claims it will be forced to halt abortions at its Columbia and Kansas City offices — either permanently or while costly and "medically unnecessary" renovations are made.

That would leave the St. Louis area as the only place in Missouri with functioning abortion facilities, the lawsuit said, although Planned Parenthood also operates an abortion clinic just across the state line in Kansas.
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Nigeria: Anglican Church Reaffirm HIV Test Before Marriage
20 August 2007

Couples must first take an HIV test before they will be allowed to marry, the Anglican Church in Nigeria has reaffirmed.

The church noted that the move was to help parishioners make "informed choices" when choosing marriage partners.

The BBC News website learnt that many Christian churches in Nigeria impose similar tests on their members as a condition for marriage.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Our trials are great opportunities, but all too often we simply see them as large obstacles. If only we would recognize every difficult situation as something God has chosen to prove His love to us, each obstacle would then become a place of shelter and rest, and a demonstration to others of His inexpressible power.

If we would look for the signs of His glorious handiwork, then every cloud would indeed become a rainbow, and every difficult mountain path would become one of ascension, transformation, and glorification.

If we would look at our past, most of us would realize that the times we endured the greatest stress and felt that every path was blocked were the very times our heavenly Father chose to do the kindest things for us and bestow His richest blessings.

God's most beautiful jewels are often delivered in rough packages by very difficult people, but within the package we will find the very treasures of the King's palace and the Bridegroom's love.

... AB Simpson image

Dispute Over Monkey Meat Hits on Religious Freedom
Special to the Sun
August 20, 2007

What started as a late-night talk show joke topic — a New York woman originally from Liberia who was indicted for allegedly trying to smuggle steaks of monkey meat into America via John F. Kennedy International Airport — is shaping up into a potentially major religious freedom dispute.

The woman, who says she imported the monkey parts for religious ceremonies, has attracted pro bono legal assistance from a top law firm,
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. And a professor of African religious traditions at Harvard Divinity School, Jacob Olupona, may testify on her behalf. the rest

Rare dead star found near Earth
Monday, 20 August 2007

Neutron stars form when massive stars exhaust their fuelAstronomers have spotted a space oddity in Earth's neighbourhood - a dead star with some unusual characteristics.

The object, known as a neutron star, was studied using space telescopes and ground-based observatories.

But this one, located in the constellation Ursa Minor, seems to lack some key characteristics found in other neutron stars.

Details of the study, by a team of American and Canadian researchers, will appear in the Astrophysical Journal.
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Parish welcomes new priest and his family
By Patricia May
Arkansas Catholic

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Arkansas Catholic) - Students returning to St. Joseph School in Fayetteville will have something different this fall: They’ll be joined by the son of the parish’s new pastor.

Father Bradley Barber, 51, is a former Episcopal priest who has since converted and was ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. He is now pastor of St. Joseph Church in Fayetteville. Joining him in the church are his wife Jody and the couple’s four children.

While Father Barber’s family situation is still unusual, he definitely has the Church’s approval - all the way from Rome.

Catholic News Service reports that about 80 former Episcopal priests have been ordained since 1980 under a pastoral provision instituted by Pope John Paul II. The Barbers moved to Fayetteville from Corpus Christi, Texas. Father Barber is now the second priest in the state with a wife and kids. Father Alan Rosenau, an associate pastor and hospital chaplain in Hot Springs, was the first.
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Stand Firm: A Report from Truro
From Truro member and SF reader Sandra Bittner (via email):
August 20, 2007

Yesterday, our new rector, Tory Baucum preached his first sermon and much to our pleasure and surprise Bishop Akinola was there and offered words of encouragement and support. He reiterated what he had already stated in "
A Most Agonizing Journey towards Lambeth 2008." He emphasized that it was not his desire to see a split in the Communion, but that he would not back down on Tanzania. He referred the congregation to his statement on the Church of Nigeria website and asked that the churches reprint it and hand it out to their congregations.
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Bishop for the non-religious

Bishop John Shelby Spong is in Melbourne this week, promoting his new book,
Jesus for the Non-Religious, explaining again why he discounts almost everything in the Bible as unreliable but still believes Jesus has much to offer.

Bishop Spong, 76, the retired Episcopalian (Anglican) Bishop of Newark in New Jersey, has published some 20 mostly controversial books trying to construct his version of Christianity for the 21st century. The trouble for many Christians is that it doesn't contain anything recognisable as God, let alone a traditional Jesus. Spong admits that he is not a theist and rejects the idea of a personal God, but says that doesn't make him an atheist either. He dislikes simple categorisations.

Nevertheless, Bishop Spong addresses important questions for all people of religious faith - including those of a more traditional bent who should be prepared to examine and defend their beliefs.
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Mighty hurricane advances on Mexico
Chris Kraul in Caracas
August 21, 2007

IMMENSE and dangerous, Hurricane Dean slammed into Jamaica's southern shore on Sunday evening, ripping roofs from buildings and flooding coastal areas, before whirling towards Mexico.

The storm had caused nine deaths across the Caribbean yesterday, and the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson-Miller, said she was very concerned about the eastern parish of St Thomas, with which the national disaster preparedness office lost contact.

The hurricane, the most powerful in the region this season, remained on a course that could take it to Mexico's busiest tourist zone, the Yucatan Peninsula, by late last night and early this morning.
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Albert Mohler: Heresy Precedes Homosexuality
Monday, August 20, 2007

The mere fact that the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson is the Episcopal Church's first openly homosexual bishop ensures that he will be a media celebrity on both sides of the Atlantic. To a great extent, he has become a symbol to both conservatives and liberals in contemporary Christianity.

To conservatives, Bishop Robinson represents a near-total theological meltdown. An entire universe of the theological principles and doctrines of orthodox Christianity must be jettisoned or redefined before an openly homosexual bishop becomes imaginable. In order for this to happen, the tradition of the church must be sidelined and the authority of Scripture must be undermined.

For liberals, Bishop Robinson is a sign of hope. The liberal wing of institutional Christianity represents a call for theological revolution in order, they would argue, to liberate Christianity from repressive doctrines and an oppressive tradition. The election of Gene Robinson as the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire is, they sense, the shape of things to come. the rest

Terror analyst: NYPD report on jihadism in America long overdue
Jim Brown
August 20, 2007

An expert on global terrorism is questioning why the FBI or Homeland Security Department hasn't issued a report warning of the "emerging threat" from homegrown jihadists who draw their inspiration from al-Qaida.

A report released by the New York Police Department says the jihadi-Salafi ideology is motivating young Muslim men and women, born or living in the West, to carry out terrorist attacks against their host countries. The "radicalization" process, according to the report, is being driven by the Internet. the rest

Peru's Believers Hold onto Faith amid Mourning
By Jennifer Riley
Christian Post Reporter
Mon, Aug. 20 2007

Hundreds have died from
Peru’s magnitude-8 earthquake including an estimated 200 funeral attendants who died when the church roof collapsed. What wasn’t lost, however, was the faith of many surviving believers.

Coffins strewn the streets as nearby rescuers dug among the rubbles of San Clemente church in hard-hit downtown Pisco, Peru. Despite overwhelming devastation and reasons for mourning, nuns and a priest stood quietly and calmly outside the ruins of the 300-year-old church waiting for word of two of their sisters who were buried in the rubble, reported CNN correspondent Harris Whitbeck.

“I couldn’t understand how this man and these women of the cloth could remain so calm, their faith so apparently unshaken while they contemplated the ruins of the church and the loss of people so dear to them,” said Whitebeck. “I asked them about that faith.”

The priest responded, “It’s difficult times like this that it exists.”

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Christian relief heads for quake-hit Peru

NYT: In a Place of Solace, Finding Faith Among the Sorrow

40 Days of Anglican Prayer”

One of the greatest joys I’ve experienced since I delved into the world of blogging and started Lent & Beyond 3 1/2 years ago is the power of blogging and the internet to link like-minded people together. It has been such a blessing to get to know and collaborate with intercessors like Jill Woodliff, Torre & Jean Bissell and Tim Fountain, and many others I could name.

It is always exciting to discover new blogs or websites by those who share the same vision. And yesterday, thanks to a
post by Kendall Harmon atTitusOneNine, it’s happened again!

Please be sure to check out the website “
40 Days of Anglican Prayer.” It is focused on a 40 day prayer effort beginning this week: August 22 - September 30.

the rest at Lent and Beyond

NYT: The Politics of God
Published: August 19, 2007

I. “The Will of God Will Prevail”

The twilight of the idols has been postponed. For more than two centuries, from the American and French Revolutions to the collapse of Soviet Communism, world politics revolved around eminently political problems. War and revolution, class and social justice, race and national identity — these were the questions that divided us. Today, we have progressed to the point where our problems again resemble those of the 16th century, as we find ourselves entangled in conflicts over competing revelations, dogmatic purity and divine duty. We in the West are disturbed and confused. Though we have our own fundamentalists, we find it incomprehensible that theological ideas still stir up messianic passions, leaving societies in ruin. We had assumed this was no longer possible, that human beings had learned to separate religious questions from political ones, that fanaticism was dead. We were wrong.
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Ministry from on high
On a helicopter dubbed Prayer One, the faithful reach a new awareness of God and community.

By Stephanie Simon, Times Staff Writer
August 16, 2007

ENGLEWOOD, COLO. -- Scott Hastings so does not want to do this.His face looks pale as he trudges through gusts of grit to the helicopter.

In 11 seasons as a pro basketball player -- and in his current job as a TV analyst for the Denver Nuggets -- Hastings has grown accustomed to travel. Travel, that is, by big, solid plane. This helicopter looks too small to hold all 6-feet-10, 280 pounds of him, not to mention the pilot and four other passengers.

He's man enough to say he's terrified.

Then again, this is not just any helicopter. Christened Prayer One, it lifts monks and rabbis, imams and pastors, and ordinary people of faith up over Denver each Monday morning, up into a new perspective on life and love and God. Or so Hastings' friends tell him. Several have taken a ride on Prayer One; they've called it an amazing spiritual stretch. That seems worth a few clammy moments. Hastings, 47, squeezes into the front seat. Gently, steadily, Prayer One lifts into a sky of the most serene blue.
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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lord, teach me to listen. The times are noisy and my ears are weary with the thousand raucous sounds which continuously assault them. Give me the spirit of the boy Samuel when he said to Thee, "Speak, for Thy servant heareth." Let me hear Thee speaking in my heart. Let me get used to the sound of Thy voice, that its tones may be familiar when the sounds of earth die away and the only sound will be the music of Thy speaking. Amen.
...A. W. Tozer image

ELCA faces ‘profound disagreement’ on homosexuality
By JOE ORSO La Crosse Tribune
Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has thought about homosexuality for much of its 20-year history.

Since the early 1990s, the church has welcomed gay and lesbian people but hasn’t allowed ordination of people in same-sex relationships.

While those policies didn’t change at the 2007 Churchwide Assembly, which ended last weekend in Chicago, the assembly did encourage restraint in enforcing those policies for the time being.

A motion, passed by a 538-431 vote, “prays, urges, and encourages” restraint “in disciplining those congregations and persons who call into the rostered ministry otherwise-qualified candidates who are in a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship.”
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BBC forced to removed 'bastard' slur about Jesus from its website
18th August 2007

The BBC has been forced to remove statements from its website referring to Jesus as a 'bastard'.

It is the latest in a string of offensive comments that BBC editors have allowed members of the public to post.

The remarks have been allowed to remain for weeks, despite complaints from religious groups.
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Archbishop Peter Akinola writes to Nigerian Synods on the Journey towards Lambeth 2008
19th August, 2007

A Most Agonizing Journey towards Lambeth 2008

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1,3)

We have been on this journey for ten long years. It has been costly and debilitating for all concerned as most recently demonstrated by the tepid response to the invitations to the proposed Lambeth Conference 2008. At a time when we should be able to gather together and celebrate remarkable stories of growth and the many wonderful ways in which our God has been at work in our beloved Communion as lives are transformed new churches built and new dioceses established there is little enthusiasm to even meet.

There are continual cries for patience, listening and understanding. And yet the record shows that those who hold to the “faith once and for all delivered to the saints” have shown remarkable forbearance while their pleas have been ignored, their leaders have been demonized, and their advocates marginalized. We made a deliberate, prayerful decision in 1998 with regard to matters of Human Sexuality. It was supported by an overwhelming majority of the bishops of the Communion. It reflected traditional teaching interpreted with pastoral sensitivity. And yet it has been ignored and those who uphold it derided for their stubbornness. However, we have continued to meet and pray and struggle to find ways to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
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China's Rising Generation of Christian Musicians
By Hudson Tsuei
Christian Post Correspondent
Sun, Aug. 19 2007

“John” watched anxiously as his
students hungrily devoured meager portions of rice gruel and traditional, plain wheat buns – called “mantou” – during mealtime at the music school in Beijing.

Earlier, he solemnly apologized to his pupils that he was unable to buy better food. Chinese authorities were constantly monitoring the school. It was no longer safe for donors and patrons to stop by. The situation was growing desperate.

During prayer, a student recited the Bible verse from Psalms 23:5 – "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, and my cup overflows."
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Stand Firm: New Orleans House of Bishops Meeting Schedule

From Lost Boy to Episcopal priest
By Neela Banerjee
The New York Times

Grand Rapids, Mich. - About 7,000 miles separate Grace Episcopal Church here, where the Rev. Zachariah Jok Char preaches most Sundays, from the small town of Duk Padiet in Sudan, where he was born.

The tally of the miles started about 21 years ago when Char was 5 and militias backed by the Sudanese government attacked his town during the civil war in the south. He saw the explosions from the field where he was playing, and he fled. He met other boys who had escaped similar attacks, and they started walking.

"I still remember what I was wearing then: red shorts and a T-shirt," said Char, sitting in an empty pew one afternoon at the church. "I didn't have shoes. Some were naked."

The orphans, mostly boys, walked more than 1,000 miles to Ethiopia from Sudan over three months, Char said. Later, they were forced to walk to Kenya. Thousands died. The West called them the Lost Boys.
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