Saturday, December 22, 2007

If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: "God with us." We tend to focus our attention at Christmas on the infancy of Christ. The greater truth of the holiday is His deity. More astonishing than a baby in the manger is the truth that this promised baby is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth!
...John F. MacArthur, Jr. image

Judas Was a "Demon" After All, New Gospel Reading Says
Stefan Lovgrenfor
National Geographic News
December 21, 2007

Judas was a traitor—even a "demon"—according to a new translation of the recently revealed Gospel of Judas.

The new interpretation contradicts the first translation, released by the National Geographic Society in April 2006. But the debate is far from settled.

That initial interpretation of the newfound gospel says that
the apostle was following Jesus' orders when he gave Jesus up to enemy soldiers.

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The great awakening
By Anshel Pfeffer

Excerpt: "Israel is in the throes of a major religious awakening, reaching deep into all parts of society, but no one has been told about it yet. This renaissance of Jewish learning is going unreported and largely unremarked upon because it has not resulted in a perceptible shift toward one religious stream or denomination. There is no new mass movement, and none of the charismatic rabbis or teachers has turned into a guru with a following of thousands." the rest

The Bishop of San Joaquin Writes The Presiding Bishop
Posted by Kendall Harmon
Received via email:

Dear Bishop Schori,

Thank you for your letter of December 14, 2007 asking for clarification of my status. Much has happened in the past few weeks that have a bearing on that status. I am proud of the people of the Diocese of San Joaquin. Last year when the vote was taken to change the Constitution, that first vote was not only required by Canons but, in essence, was a "straw vote". Little was at stake, for truly no action had –or could– be taken.

This year the delegates to the Annual Convention came fully cognizant of what has taken place in Virginia and Southern California where litigation has been pursued vigorously against those who oppose the innovations of The Episcopal Church and who, consequently, have stood up for their faith and remain protective of the property they have built, purchased and maintained with no help either from The Episcopal Church on a national level nor –in most instances– from the local diocese either.
the rest at TitusOneNine

Canada: Bishops meet with clergy to discuss network
Solange De Santis and Marites N. Sison

staff writers
Dec 22, 2007

Since the Anglican Network in Canada held a conference in late November to announce a new church structure for parishes conservative on the subject of homosexuality, several bishops have called clergy in for clarification of their intentions, but no priests have been disciplined.

Three dioceses – Ottawa, Montreal and Hamilton, Ont.-based Niagara – last fall voted to permit church blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples, moves that some Anglicans oppose.
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Uncertain at best
We serve God better when we don't wait for 100 percent certainty

Andrée Seu
December 29, 2007

I hope you will accept a New Year's revolution in lieu of a New Year's resolution. I want to share one of the most helpful things I learned in 2007, which will get a workout from me in 2008, and for the duration. It concerns liberation from the fallacy of 100 percent.

Let me explain that there has long been a troubling gap between my theology and my life. The Bible just doesn't reach where the rubber meets the road. It says I am given "all things I need for life and godliness," but my opinion has been that I am given only "some things." I find in Scripture general principles like "love your neighbor," "be slow to speak," and "do not cast pearls to swine."

General principles are fine if you live in a general world. But I live in an insistently specific world where the issues are:

"Should I take this job?" "Should I marry this man?" "Should I skip writing today to be with my Mom?" "Should I let Calvin learn on the stick shift?" "Christian school or homeschool?" "Milk without the bovine growth hormones and antibiotics at $4.19/half gallon, or with the undesirables at $1.95/half gallon?"
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Blair converts to Catholicism
Posted: Saturday, December 22, 2007

LONDON - Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, now the Middle East peace envoy, has converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism, the head of Britain's Catholics said on Saturday.

Blair, whose wife and children are Catholic, was received into full communion with the Catholic Church by Cardinal Cormac Muphy-O'Connor on Friday.

"I am very glad to welcome Tony Blair into the Catholic Church," Murphy-O'Connor said in a statement.
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Anglican District of Virginia Churches Remain Confident
ADV Files Brief in Case to Prevent Church Property Seizure
(via email)

FAIRFAX, Va. (December 21, 2007) – The 11 Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) churches filed a brief in the Fairfax County Circuit Court regarding the Multi-Circuit Property Litigation. The brief explains the validity of the Virginia Division Statute (Va. Code § 57-9) in determining that the Virginia congregations are entitled to keep their church property due to the division within The Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Virginia, and the Anglican Communion. (Case No. CL-2007-0248724)

“As our brief today explains, the evidence at the trial strongly demonstrated that our congregations have satisfied each of the core requirements of this law. There has been a ‘division’ in The Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Virginia (“Diocese”), and the worldwide Anglican Communion, and our congregations have joined a ‘branch’ of the divided body created as a result of that division,” said Jim Oakes, Vice-Chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia.

“This division occurred as a result of The Episcopal Church and the Diocese separating themselves from the historic Christian faith by deciding to reinterpret Scripture on a number of different issues. Although the reasons for the division involve important issues of biblical truth, the existence and effects of the division are plain and evident for all to see, without regard to religion.

“The evidence also showed that this law was applied no less than 29 times to recognize the legal rights of congregations to keep their property. Over the years, the Virginia General Assembly has made various amendments to the Virginia Code as it relates to religious organizations, but it has not seen fit to narrow or repeal the Division Statute. The General Assembly continues to believe that when congregations separate from a denomination, the neutral and objective principle of majority rule should govern ownership of property. In addition, The Episcopal Church admitted in its complaint that it does not hold title to any of these eleven churches, and that the churches' own trustees hold title for the benefit of the congregations.

“As the Global South Primates said in 2004, The Episcopal Church has ‘willfully torn the fabric of the communion at its deepest level and as a consequence openly cut themselves adrift.’ We are sorry that The Episcopal Church has moved away from the historic teachings of the church, but we should not be forced to go with them,” said Oakes.

The Anglican District of Virginia ( is an association of Anglican congregations in Virginia. Its members are in full communion with constituent members of the Anglican Communion through its affiliation with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a missionary branch of the Church of Nigeria and other Anglican Archbishops. ADV members are a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a community of 77 million people. ADV is dedicated to fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples while actively serving in three main capacities: International Ministries, Evangelism, and Strengthening Families and Community. ADV is currently comprised of 21 member congregations.

To schedule an interview with an ADV representative, please contact Kelly Oliver (ext. 140) or Caitlin Bozell (ext. 119) at (703) 683-5004

Friday, December 21, 2007

Justice and Judgment are thy throne
Yet wondrous is thy grace;
While truth and mercy joined in one,
Invite us near thy face.
Isaac Watts image

TLC: Bishop Schofield: ‘Not My Wish to Leave’
December 21, 2007

Not long after he was consecrated Bishop of San Joaquin in 1988, the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield recalls traveling to the Episcopal Church Center in New York City on business and being mistaken for Bishop Calvin Schofield, who was Bishop of Southeast Florida at the time.

“They were expecting this tall, trim, handsome bishop and there was a brief look of dismay when they realized I obviously wasn’t the strapping athletic person they were expecting,” he said laughing at the memory.

Episcopalians have seemingly been mistaking Bishop Schofield for someone else ever since. Even before Dec. 8, when he presided at the diocesan convention, which voted to leave The Episcopal Church and
affiliate with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, some of his critics accused him of being reckless, schismatic, or even dishonest. the rest

Hotel Drinking Glasses Video Gains Global Attention

You need to watch this if you've ever stayed in a hotel!!!

Matt Kennedy+: I just don’t want to hear you say the word ‘Christmas’ again
December 21, 2007

This Thursday Anne [Kennedy] was reprimanded at work. She works part-time as a cashier at a newly opened store here in Binghamton. After one of her transactions, a customer wished her a Merry Christmas. Anne responded in kind, "Merry Christmas."

One of her managers was standing nearby and overheard Anne. She stepped into Anne’s cashier booth and whispered, “We don’t say that here.”

“Say what?” Anne asked.

“We don’t say Merry Christmas. We don’t want to be offensive. You need to say ‘Happy Holidays’”.

“I’m sorry, I don’t say that.”
the rest at Stand Firm

It's a Wonder-Full Life
It takes a special kind of birth to grab the world's attention.

Eugene Peterson

Birth: wonder … astonishment … adoration. There can't be very many of us for whom the sheer fact of existence hasn't rocked us back on our heels. We take off our sandals before the burning bush. We catch our breath at the sight of a plummeting hawk. "Thank you, God." We find ourselves in a lavish existence in which we feel a deep sense of kinship—we belong here; we say thanks with our lives to Life. And not just "Thanks" or "Thank It," but "Thank You."

Most of the people who have lived on this planet Earth have identified this You with God or gods. This is not just a matter of learning our manners, the way children are taught to say thank you as a social grace. It is the cultivation of adequateness within ourselves to the nature of reality, developing the capacity to sustain an adequate response to the overwhelming gift and goodness of life.
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Kirk Franklin details his Fight in living a Christian life
Associated Press
Dec. 21, 2007

NEW YORK — Kirk Franklin has no problem reminding his predominantly Christian audience that he is not the perfect Christian.

His gospel tunes often reflect the difficulty of keeping the faith in trying times. He's talked candidly about past struggles with temptation. And asked if he wanted relationship with his estranged father, he said: "You don't really want to know my answer — because my answer is going to be very un-Christian."

Yet for all Franklin's admitted flaws, he hasn't strayed from his path to someday be that perfect Christian — a journey he depicts on his new CD, The Fight of My Life, out this week.
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Christian or not, Nativity captures artisans' fancy
Couple's collection shows global appeal of creche-making

By Crystal Yednak Special to the Tribune
December 21, 2007

In the eyes of one Italian artist, Joseph, not Mary, holds the baby Jesus on his lap.

In Krakow an artist chose to show the Holy Family sitting in a dazzling castle, while in Singapore two Taoist brothers presented Mary in the likeness of their own faith's goddess of mercy.

All three works of art interpret the singular moment of the birth of Christ. But filtered through the prism of the artist's own culture, custom and faith, the scene can be reflected back in a hundred different ways, as evidenced by an exhibit at the Loyola University Museum of Art.
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Risky Sex Returns Syphilis to Europe
Dec 20, 2007
AP Medical Writer

LONDON (AP) - Syphilis is back: The sexually transmitted disease long associated with 19th Century bohemian life is making an alarming resurgence in Europe.

"Syphilis used to be a very rare disease," said Dr. Marita van de Laar, an expert in sexually transmitted diseases at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. "I'm not sure we can say that anymore."
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Albert Mohler: Some Thoughts about The Kite Runner
Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The film version of The Kite Runner, now showing in theaters nationwide, is attracting considerable attention. Given the blockbuster sales of Khaled Hosseini's novel of the same title, that attention was quite predictable.

As a novel, The Kite Runner "works" at many levels. The plot is compelling, the characters are authentic, and the background context of Afghanistan before and after the coming of the brutal Taliban regime is both fascinating and horrifying. Both the novel and the movie divide the story into two major parts -- one dealing with two young boys in Kabul as boys and the other dealing with the surviving boy as a young man with a troubled soul in America and back in Afghanistan.
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The Economist: The cross and the crescent
Dec 19th 2007 ISTANBUL

Why Christians feel under threat in today's Turkey

THIS has been a bad year for Orhan Ant. As a Protestant missionary in Samsun, on the Black Sea, he has had death threats and his church has been repeatedly stoned. Local newspapers called him a foreign agent. A group of youths tried to kidnap him as he was driving home. His pleas for police protection have gone unheeded.

Mr Ant is not alone. All over Turkey, Christians are under attack. In January Hrant Dink, an ethnic Armenian newspaper editor, was shot dead in Istanbul by a teenager who said he had “insulted Turkishness”. In April two Turks and a German, all evangelists, were murdered in Malatya. Their killers bound and tortured them before slitting their throats. In December an Italian Catholic priest was knifed by a teenager in Izmir. Another Italian priest was shot dead in Trabzon in 2006.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day. We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us. We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom. We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence. We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!" ...Henri J. M. Nouwen image

India's Legal Abortions Kill 80,000 Women Annually, Local Expert Says
by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 20, 2007

New Delhi, India ( -- A medical expert in India says an estimated 80,000 women die from legal abortions there on an annual basis. The figures provide further evidence that abortion does not became safer if legalized, as unlicensed and unregulated abortion practitioners pose as much of a threat to women's health as illegal abortions.
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ENS: Common Cause Leadership Council outlines plans for an 'Anglican union'
Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan elected as moderator

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
December 19, 2007

[Episcopal News Service] A self-selecting group of clergy and lay people announced late on December 18 that they had "created the structure necessary for building a federation of orthodox Anglicans in North America."

Meeting in Orlando, Florida, the Common Cause Leadership Council said in a news release that the council, composed of three delegates from each of the Common Cause partners, elected Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan as its "moderator."
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TLC: San Joaquin Vicar Questions Bishop Schofield’s Visitation
December 20, 2007

Three Bishops Seek Lambeth Invitation for Bishop Robinson
December 20, 2007

Common Cause Elects Officers at Council Meeting
December 19, 2007

U.S. Senate Report:
Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007
December 20, 2007

Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called "consensus" on man-made global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore.

The new report issued by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s office of the GOP Ranking Member details the views of the scientists, the overwhelming majority of whom spoke out in 2007.

Even some in the establishment media now appear to be taking notice of the growing number of skeptical scientists. In October, the Washington Post Staff Writer Juliet Eilperin conceded the obvious, writing that climate skeptics "appear to be expanding rather than shrinking." Many scientists from around the world have dubbed 2007 as the year man-made global warming fears “bite the dust.” (
LINK) In addition, many scientists who are also progressive environmentalists believe climate fear promotion has "co-opted" the green movement. (LINK)
This blockbuster Senate report lists the scientists by name, country of residence, and academic/institutional affiliation. It also features their own words, biographies, and weblinks to their peer reviewed studies and original source materials as gathered from public statements, various news outlets, and websites in 2007. This new “consensus busters” report is poised to redefine the debate.
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Porn becoming mentally mainstream for 'emerging adults'
Ed Thomas
December 20, 2007

The preliminary findings of a Brigham Young University study on pornography showed increased acceptance and use by college students -- including women.

The data from 813 individual surveys appear to support the recent statements of a well-known researcher who links female exposure to pornography to an increase in sex crimes committed by women. The study, called "Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance and Use Among Emerging Adults," also indicated an acceptance of pornography as a means of sexual expression by nearly 50 percent of females surveyed.
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Godman will be viewed by millions
20 December, 2007

India (MNN) ― Hindu extremists have been attacking Christians in India more than ever before. Some statistics indicate there is an attack on a Christian almost every other day. However, Christians are moving forward with a showing of the Godman on Indian television over the Christmas holiday.

Book of Hope International's India Directors Joel and Karen Hayes describes the outreach. "Over the Christmas weekend we are actually going to be broadcasting The Godman to over a billion people in India, parts of Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Butan, and Sri Lanka. So it's a tremendous opportunity." the rest image

Numerous Nativity Scenes Vandalized Nationwide
By Randy Hall Staff Writer/Editor
December 20, 2007

( - With Dec. 25 only days away, a central image in the celebration of Christmas -- the manger scene featuring replicas of Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus -- has become the focus of attacks by vandals and leaders of "the secular Left," Christian groups charged on Wednesday.

While the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights was erecting a nativity scene in New York City's Central Park, the group issued a news release condemning three dozen instances in which manger scenes were vandalized or stolen from Antioch, Calif., to Leesburg, Va., this Christmas season.
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A Christless Christmas Is Senseless, Says Pope
Notes That Without God-Made-Man, It's an "Empty Holiday"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2007 A Christmas celebrated without mention of the birth of Christ is an "empty holiday," said Benedict XVI in a meditation given during the final days of Advent.

"What sense does it make to celebrate Christmas if we don't acknowledge that God has become man," the Pope asked today upon delivering a reflection on Christmas at the general audience in Paul VI Hall.

The Holy Father began his address with a commentary on justice. "We all await justice," he said, but "the Christian significance of waiting for justice, implies that we begin to live under the eyes of the Judge, according to the criteria of the Judge."

Being vigilant during Advent, said the Pontiff, "means to live under the eyes of the Judge and to prepare ourselves and the world for justice. By living under the eyes of the God-Judge, we can open the world to the arrival of his Son, preparing our heart to welcome 'the Lord who comes.'"
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Vatican blasts "Golden Compass" as Godless and hopeless
Wed Dec 19, 2007
By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican on Wednesday condemned the film "The Golden Compass," which some have called anti-Christian, saying it promotes a cold and hopeless world without God.

In a long editorial, the Vatican newspaper l'Osservatore Romano, also slammed Philip Pullman, the bestselling author of the book on which the family fantasy movie is based.

It was the Vatican's most stinging broadside against an author and a film since it roundly condemned "The Da Vinci Code" in 2005 and 2006.
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First Things: Icons Will Save the World
By Susan Cushman
Thursday, December 20, 2007

Excerpt: "I have a dear friend from a life-long evangelical background who has been visiting my parish for several years. Although she usually goes with her family to their Presbyterian church on Sundays, she frequents St. John for some of the weekday services. She has told me that, as much as the prayers themselves (usually Third Hour, a short service of Psalms and prayers observed at nine on weekday mornings) bless her, it’s the icons that are having such a powerful effect on her heart. Sitting alone in the nave after the prayers, gazing at the icon of Christ on the cross—the one the priest carries in procession on Holy Friday—she is sometimes moved to contrition. At other times, she feels a longing for a deeper relationship with Christ. She is almost always filled with a sense of his love and peace, on a deeper level—one that transcends emotions. And yes, sometimes her eyes are filled with tears.

Anton Vrame would say that my friend has had an encounter with icons, that the icon actually invites a response: “There is a psychological dimension to the icons in that they sanctify vision, and through it, all bodily senses, pointing to a holistic approach to knowledge and Christian living.”
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Former Episcopal Priest Explores Christianity and Druidry in New Novel
December 17th, 2007
by suzanne evans

On March 22nd 2005, The Rev Walter William Melnyk was forced out of the priesthood of the US Episcopal Church after facing charges of “holding private opinions inconsistent with the teachings of the Church.” This allegation, effectively a heresy charge, ended his 23 year-strong vocation as a priest, even though his only transgression was to look into Celtic Christianity and its connection with pre-Christian Druidry.

Now, Walter William Melnyk has delved further into those links in a new novel written with Druid priestess Emma Restall Orr, who, as head of the international Druid Network, has written extensively on Druidry and Paganism and lectures and teaches worldwide.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

60,000 pilgrims to arrive in Israel for Christmas
Number of Christian tourists expected to visit holy places during holiday 50% higher than 2006

Danny Sadeh

Some 60,000 Christian pilgrims are expected to arrive in Israel for the Christmas holiday, the Tourism Ministry reported Tuesday. This is an estimated 50% increase compared to last year.

Until the end of the year, about 1 million Christian tourists are expected to visit the country, half of them pilgrims. This figure represents a 30% increase compared to 2006.
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Bishop Makes YouTube Appeal to Combat Sexualization of Children
By Patrick Goodenough International Editor
December 19, 2007

( - In a new effort to raise awareness about the sexualization of children in the media and marketplace, a senior Australian churchman has turned to the popular online video-sharing site YouTube to decry the issue and call for a national inquiry.

The bombardment of advertising aimed at children carries a cost, Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne Philip Freier said in a message read against a backdrop of advertising images, magazine covers and children's faces.He cited climbing levels of chronic depression and eating disorders among children and adolescents.
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(see video)

Common Cause Partnership's Website Here

The Pope’s Anti-Political Politics
By Samuel Gregg D.Phil
Christian Post Contributor
Tue, Dec. 18 2007

“Hope.” Like the word “love,” it's overused today, but that’s the fundamental theme of Benedict XVI’s new encyclical Spe Salvi. Just as his first encyclical Deus Caritas Est explored the subject of love, Catholicism’s theologian-pope has chosen to focus on an indispensible dimension of the Christian message.

Today hundreds of theologians insist upon talking about everything except the essences of Christian faith, regarding such matters as “not relevant” to contemporary concerns.

In Spe Salvi, Benedict demonstrates perhaps without intending to - how wrong such assumptions are. A powerful theme of this encyclical is that a world without hope, or which reduces hope to creating earthly utopias, facilitates a view of politics that not only enslaves, but kills.

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Vatican: Pope's talks with Muslims scares al Qaeda

Linus, The Gospel and the ACLU
Posted by Brent under Culture , Entertainment

My family and I watch the Charlie Brown Christmas show once a year as part of our holiday traditions. Every year that we watch it, I’m struck by how such a blatantly Christian message escapes the censors and the ACLU who wants to relegate everything to the bland blanket of “Happy Holidays” without ever specifying what any of those holidays are. I must say that I am tremendously grateful that the show does continue to air.
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Spanish Socialist Leadership Urges Rethinking of Abortion Policy as Scandal Grows
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
MADRID, December 18, 2007

( - In the face of an exploding scandal involving illegal late term abortions at private clinics, socialist president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is urging his party to reexamine the issue of abortion.

In recent weeks, Spain has been rocked by revelations of numerous late-term abortions done in violation of Spanish law at clinics in Barcelona and Madrid. Television news networks and national newspapers have revealed to the public the horrifying reality of abortion in Spain: fetuses at five to eight months gestation poisoned with saline solution, chopped to pieces and thrown into the trash or flushed into the sewer (see recent LifeSiteNews coverage
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Time Magazine Poll Finds 55% of Americans Oppose 96% of Abortions

"Q" joins GLBT in Sexual Chaos
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

If you keep tabs on the homosexual agenda, you may have noticed a new letter lately - "Q." "Q" has been slipped onto the back end of GLBT, the acronym commonly utilized by advocates of homosexual behavior to represent those for whom they advocate. Advocates of homosexual behavior understand that there is strength in numbers, so they have combined "Gay," "Lesbian," "Bisexual," and "Transgender" into one force designed to reshape our country's attitudes towards sexual behavior. With the neatly packaged "GLBT," purveyors of deviance have created and successfully marketed a capsule of sexual abnormality that is now regularly and easily swallowed by the unsuspecting American consumer. If most citizens were truly educated on the truth behind the GLBT notion, they wouldn't be buying.

Enter now the mysterious "Q." The "Q" stands for "Questioning," and its new inclusion in the acronym of sexual immorality is quite telling, as it makes remarkably clear what we've been saying all along, that homosexual behavior is just that-behavior. Do an internet search on LBGTQ, and you'll see that the "Q" is now standard phraseology at our country's educational institutions, including: Brown, Arizona State, Colgate, George Mason, Toronto, Wisconsin, Chicago, Hawaii, Manhattan, North Carolina, and Georgetown, just to name a few. See also the Wikipedia definition, where other acronyms like LGBTQQ, LGBTQ2, LGBU, LGBTI, LGBTT, LGBTA, LGBTTTIQQA, FABGLITTER, etc., are fully described. Like Pinocchio's nose, the acronym grows longer with each added lie.
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Straight No Chaser - 12 Days
(found at TitusOneNine)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Watchman, tell us of the night,
What its signs of promise are.
Traveler, o’er yon mountain’s height,
See that glory beaming star.
Watchman, does its beauteous ray
Aught of joy or hope foretell?
Traveler, yes—it brings the day,
Promised day of Israel.

Watchman, tell us of the night;
Higher yet that star ascends.
Traveler, blessedness and light,
Peace and truth its course portends.
Watchman, will its beams alone
Gild the spot that gave them birth?
Traveler, ages are its own;
See, it bursts o’er all the earth.

Watchman, tell us of the night,
For the morning seems to dawn.
Traveler, darkness takes its flight,
Doubt and terror are withdrawn.
Watchman, let thy wanderings cease;
Hie thee to thy quiet home.
Traveler, lo! the Prince of Peace,
Lo! the Son of God is come!
...John Bowring

Muslim pilgrims mass at peak of haj
Tue Dec 18, 2007
By Jonathan Wright

MUZDALIFA, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Millions of Muslim pilgrims moved to Muzdalifa on Tuesday evening after spending the afternoon on the plain of Arafat east of Mecca at the peak of the annual haj pilgrimage.

A stream of hundreds of thousands of people moved under the night sky along a special highway served by huge floodlights towards the next stage of the ancient rites in Saudi Arabia.

At Muzdalifa they will collect small pebbles for throwing at a set of walls on three occasions over the next three days in an act that represents defiance of the devil.
the rest

Abusive Churches: Leaving Them Behind
Written by Patrick Zukeran

Painful Exit Process

In a previous article called Abusive Churches (
here), I discussed the characteristics of abusive churches.{1} As a result of the questions and feedback I have received, I felt it might be helpful to share some positive steps to recovery from an abusive church experience.

Leaving an unhealthy church situation can leave some very deep scars. One example of the collateral damage is a very painful exit process. Those who leave an unhealthy church situation suffer isolation, bitterness, embarrassment, grief, and anger. This is coupled with confusion and wondering how God could let this happen. They also chide themselves for getting into such a group and staying in the organization as long as they did.

One man who left an unhealthy situation stated, "I am confused over the emotions I feel. At times, I am glad to have left the organization. I enjoy the new freedoms I have in Christ and relief from the burdens I was carrying for many years. At other times I suffer the pain over the lost years and lost friendships. It's like experiencing a death in the family." The Ryans, who left an abusive situation, state, "Spiritual abuse is a kind of abuse which damages the central core of who you are. It leaves us spiritually disorganized and emotionally cut off from the healing love of God."{2}
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Churches That Abuse-by Ronald Enroth (pdf file)

NOW PEACEMAKING is a divine work. For peace means reconciliation, and God is the author of peace and of reconciliation. … It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the particular blessing which attaches to peacemakers is that "they shall be called sons of God." For they are seeking to do what their Father has done, loving people with his love.
...John R. W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount image

White House told to detail Christian leader visits
Mon Dec 17, 2007
By Randall Mikkelsen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge ordered the Secret Service on Monday to disclose records of visits by nine prominent conservative Christian leaders to the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's residence.

The ruling, in response to a legal watchdog group's suit, could shed light on the influence leaders like James Dobson of Focus on the Family have had on President George W. Bush's administration. It may also affect legal efforts to force the release of visiting records of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and other similar cases.
the rest

Revealed: 'Gay' plans to target 2-year-olds
5th-grade students could be handed 'Coping With Sexual Orientation'
December 17, 2007
By Bob Unruh

Children as young as two years of age are in the bull's-eye of coming changes in California's school curriculum, which "gay rights" advocates now admit will alter the very foundation of information presented to public school classrooms.

A list of school resources, sponsored by a homosexual-advocacy group called Safe Schools Coalition, suggests that for those who are only two years old, there's "Felicia's Favorite Story," which tells how she was "adopted by her two mothers."

The list also promotes a book called "Are You a Girl or a Boy?" by Karleen Jiminez, a resource for children ages 4-8 when advocating homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism and other alternative lifestyle choices.
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Abortion Poll Finds Americans' Attitudes Moving in Pro-Life Direction
by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 17, 2007

Washington, DC ( -- A new poll on the topic of abortion finds that the attitude Americans have on the controversial political issue is moving in the pro-life direction. The Washington Post /ABC news survey find a six percent shift in public opinion towards the pro-life direction in the last six months.

The media outlets conducted a poll from December 6 to 9 of 1,136 American adults and the survey contained a three percent margin of error.
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Florida: Gay marriage ban headed for statewide vote this November
By Susannah Bryan South Florida Sun-Sentinel
December 18, 2007

A proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is headed directly to the November ballot — setting the stage for a vigorous battle between gay rights advocates and opponents.

"We aren't advocating anything new or radical here," said John Stemberger, an Orlando attorney and chairman of, the group pushing the ban. "We're just saying keep things as they are. We want the institution [of marriage] to be protected for centuries."

Stemberger claims the group has collected more than the 611,009 petition signatures needed to place the amendment on the ballot.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

YOU keep us waiting.
You, the God of all time,
Want us to wait
For the right time in which to
Who we are, where we are to go,
Who will be with us, and what we
must do.
So thank you … for the waiting time.
...John Bell

A Return to Tradition
A new interest in old ways takes root in Catholicism and many other faiths
By Jay Tolson
Posted December 13, 2007

Excerpt: "Something curious is happening in the wide world of faith, something that defies easy explanation or quantification. More substantial than a trend but less organized than a movement, it has to do more with how people practice their religion than with what they believe, though people caught up in this change often find that their beliefs are influenced, if not subtly altered, by the changes in their practice.

Put simply, the development is a return to tradition and orthodoxy, to past practices, observances, and customary ways of worshiping. But it is not simply a return to the past—at least not in all cases. Even while drawing on deep traditional resources, many participants are creating something new within the old forms. They are engaging in what Penn State sociologist of religion Roger Finke calls "innovative returns to tradition."
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Suffocating the Faithful
Will the last Mideast church leader be sure to turn off the lights?

David Aikman

American Christians love to hear about areas of the world where Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds. Conversions are daily statistics in many African nations, as in South America, India, and China. According to some credible estimates, China's Christian population has multiplied by an astounding 3,200 percent since 1949, now nearing 130 million believers.

The growth story should always delight us. But we should be simultaneously distressed about the decline story, especially that of Christianity in the Middle East. No one knows precisely how many of the Middle East's 293 million people are Christians, but nearly everyone acknowledges that Middle Eastern Christianity has been in steady decline for decades. In some local areas, officials record declines of 75 percent or more. Recent violence in the region is accelerating that decline. Some observers estimate that the region's population of 10 to 15 million Christians will continue to spiral downward during the next 50 years.
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Redskins Great Darrell Green Talks About His Faith
December 14, 2007

Darrell Green collected a lot of accolades during his 20-year career with the Washington Redskins. The cornerback, who was Washington’s top pick in the 1983 draft, went on to win two Super Bowls and to be voted to seven Pro Bowls. He also won four NFL “fastest man” competitions. In his first year of Pro Football Hall of Fame eligibility, Green is one of 26 semifinalists, and some think a potential first-ballot inductee.

Yet, Green wants you to think of him as more than a guy who could run fast and intercept passes. In our conversation about his faith, he talks about how God told him to remain in Washington, how Marty Schottenheimer tested him and how Joe Gibbs facilitated but didn’t lead Christian fellowship at the Redskins.
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Technion releases first ever
Dec 17, 2007

The entire vowelled-Hebrew text of the Bible has been inscribed by Technion scientists on a gold-coated silicon surface smaller than the head of a pin.

This is not an attempt to make the holy book more portable, but an exercise meant to arouse public interest in nanotechnology. It was part of an educational program developed at the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at Haifa's Technion-Israel Institute of Technology aimed especially at young people.
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Synthetic DNA on the Brink of Yielding New Life Forms
By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 17, 2007

It has been 50 years since scientists first created DNA in a test tube, stitching ordinary chemical ingredients together to make life's most extraordinary molecule. Until recently, however, even the most sophisticated laboratories could make only small snippets of DNA -- an extra gene or two to be inserted into corn plants, for example, to help the plants ward off insects or tolerate drought.

Now researchers are poised to cross a dramatic barrier: the creation of life forms driven by completely artificial DNA.

Scientists in Maryland have already built the world's first entirely handcrafted chromosome -- a large looping strand of DNA made from scratch in a laboratory, containing all the instructions a microbe needs to live and reproduce.
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Abortion Drastically Increases Risk of Pre-Term and Low-Weight Births
by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 17, 2007

Richmond, VA ( -- Women who have one or more abortions face a drastically increased risk of giving birth to a pre-term or low birthweight baby in a subsequent pregnancy.

That's the conclusion a team of scientists from Virginia Commonwealth University drew in a new report published in the latest issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The researchers examined data on over 45,500 mothers giving birth in the United States and found that about 11 percent of all women had low birthweight infants and 14 percent had premature births.
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Wiccan symbol joins Green Bay nativity
Others request space for display of religious items
By Paul Srubas

December 15, 2007
Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers

GREEN BAY — A Wiccan symbol now stands alongside the Christmas manger scene on the roof of City Hall's northwest entrance.

The new display is an evergreen wreath, about 3 feet in diameter, encircling a five-pointed star. It's called a pentagram and is a symbol in the Wiccan religion, which is associated with witchcraft.

The wreath and star are mounted on an easel that stands a few feet from a statue of Mary in the nativity setting that Common Council President Chad Fradette installed Wednesday night. the rest

Second Lambeth Conference a blow to Williams
By Jonathan Petre

Conservative Anglican leaders are secretly planning a meeting next summer for the hundreds of bishops expected to defy the Archbishop of Canterbury by boycotting the Lambeth Conference, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The unprecedented event will be widely seen as an "alternative Lambeth", further damaging Dr Rowan Williams's hopes of averting a formal schism over homosexuals.

Aides of the Archbishop said that any such gathering, which is due to be held just before the official conference, would be perceived as a symbol of division and would send out a "negative" message.
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Sunday, December 16, 2007

The prayers of holy men appease God's wrath, drive away temptations, resist and overcome the devil, procure the ministry and service of angels, rescind the decrees of God. Prayer cures sickness and obtains pardon; it arrests the sun in its course and stays the wheels of the chariot of the moon; it rules over all gods and opens and shuts the storehouses of rain; it unlocks the cabinet of the womb and quenches the violence of fire; it stops the mouths of lions and reconciles our suffering and weak faculties with the violence of torment and violence of persecution; it pleases God and supplies all our need. ...Jeremy Taylor image

Egyptian police arrest 7 after Christian shops burned
Sun 16 Dec 2007

CAIRO (Reuters) - Police arrested at least seven Egyptian Muslims after a riot in the southern city of Isna on Sunday that left at least 13 Christian-owned shops smashed up or burned and a church front damaged, security sources said.

They said a car and a motorcycle owned by Christians were also burned and it appeared the rioters had attempted to burn the church.

Tensions have been high in the city for several days with a number of incidents threatening to escalate into sectarian clashes. Police have upgraded their presence.
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Priest stabbed in Turkey

A New Emphasis for the Ministry: Management Skills
December 15, 2007

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — For the last four years, Wendy Samuels has worked in a remote village in Jamaica for Mustard Seed Communities, a Roman Catholic nonprofit group that helps disabled children.

The work is both rewarding and heartbreaking. But some of the most difficult moments came as she managed well-meaning staff members who did not always do their jobs properly.

“If someone is not performing their job, how do you deal with it when there is still so much to be done?” Ms. Samuels said. “I kept wondering, How do you manage persons in a third-world country who work for a charitable organization?”
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Anglicans at a Deadlock; Archbishop Pursues More Talks
Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Sun, Dec. 16 2007

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said it is "practically impossible" to expect a clearer response from the American church which had earlier agreed to halt the ordination of openly gay bishops.

In a lengthy Advent letter addressed to the global Anglican Communion, Williams - Anglican spiritual head - delivered a long-awaited response to the current crisis dividing the 77 million-member body. The letter was released Friday.

"It is practically impossible to imagine any further elucidation or elaboration coming from TEC (The Episcopal Church) after the successive statements and resolutions from last year's General Convention onwards," Williams wrote.
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After Death Threats, Student Beat Unconscious for Traditional Views
Matthew J. Schmitz
December 15, 2007
Princeton, NJ

After receiving multiple death threats, a Princeton student was beat unconscious last Friday in what appears to be a politically-motivated assault. The attack came after emails saying, "WE WILL KILL YOU," were sent to the officers of a student group that promotes traditional views of marriage and sexual ethics.

Francisco Nava '09, suffered serious abrasions, bleeding, and a light concussion after being beat until he lost consciousness this Friday. The attack, which occured within blocks of Princeton's campus, appears to be connected to multiple death threats received by Nava and other officers in the Anscombe Society, a student group that advances traditional ideas of marriage and family. Nava was assaulted on Witherspoon Street near the Princeton campus while walking to the home of a local youth he mentors through a student volunteer organization.The attackers did not take any of Nava's belongings.
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The Godless Delusion
December 16, 2007

We haven’t yet solved the problem of God,” the Russian critic Belinsky once shouted across the table at Turgenev, “and you want to eat!”

Charles Taylor would prefer that we feast upon the 874 pages of his new book “A Secular Age,” which offers musings and perceptions from every field of knowledge except knowledge of God, which he leaves off the menu. Taylor’s quarrel is with secularism — the idea that as modernity, science and democracy have advanced, concern with God and spirituality has retreated to the margins of life. Calling this thesis “very unconvincing,” Taylor seeks to prove that God is still very much present in the world, if only we look at the right places and allow the mind to open itself to moral inquiry and aesthetic sensibility rather than traditional theology as the gateway to religion. the rest

Boy Scouts' banishment threatens Catholic Church
Philly precedent could be used against museums, radio station

December 14, 2007
By Bob Unruh© 2007

Pro-homosexual Philadelphia officials' campaign to evict the
Boy Scouts of America from their long-held regional headquarters on city-owned ground will create a precedent that could endanger dozens of other groups in the city, including the Catholic Church, as well as museums and a public radio station.

The issue: The City Council has decided the Boy Scouts, because they prohibit participation by open homosexuals, do not comply with the city's anti-discrimination policies and can no longer rent their headquarters for $1 a year, as they have since the city approved its original resolution on the plan 80 years ago.
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