Saturday, December 20, 2008

Devotional: There is no short cut to the life of faith...

There is no short cut to the life of faith, which is the all-vital condition of a holy and victorious life. We must have periods of lonely meditation and fellowship with God. That our souls should have their mountains of fellowship, their valley of quiet rest beneath the shadow of a great rock, their nights beneath the stars, when darkness has veiled the material and silenced the stir of human life, and has opened the view of the infinite and eternal, is as indispensable as that our bodies should have food. Thus alone can the sense of God's presence become the fixed possession of the soul, enabling it to say repeatedly, with the Psalmist, "Thou art near, 0 God." ...FB Meyer image

7 students suspended for refusing anti-Christian class

Officials are 'veering into creepy Orwellian political territory here'
December 20, 2008
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

Seven Christian students in Quebec have been handed suspensions in the last few days – and could face expulsions – for refusing to participate in a new mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture course that, according to a critic, is a "superficial mishmash of trendy theoretical platitudes" with the goal of convincing children that "all religions – including pagan animism and cults – are equally 'true.'" the rest

Ken Starr Joins Proposition 8 Legal Defense Team

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Dec. 19 /Christian Newswire/ -- The official proponents of Proposition 8 and their campaign committee, ProtectMarriage.com – Yes on 8, filed written briefs with the California Supreme Court today defending the voter-approved initiative against legal challenges. The three anti-Prop 8 lawsuits were initiated by opponents the day after the measure passed in the November General Election.

Joining the legal defense of Proposition 8 is Kenneth W. Starr. Starr formerly served as a Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, and as U.S. Solicitor General, he argued twenty-five cases before the Supreme Court. He remains active in the professional and educational legal community. As lead counsel, Starr will argue the case before the California Supreme Court on behalf of Proposition 8's official proponents. the rest

Sixth-Grader Penalized For Mentioning Jesus in His Christmas Paper at School

December 18, 2008S

Hattiesburg, MS – Eleven-year-old Andrew White wrote a poem about Christmas but received a deduction for writing about Jesus. His teacher, Latasha Atkins, insisted that mentioning Jesus was not allowed and asked him to write a new poem.

Andrew and his classmates were assigned a creative expression paper for the Winter Writer’s Board as part of his sixth-grade language class at Thames Elementary School in the Hattiesburg Public School District. He could choose among three topics, and he chose to write a poem about “what Christmas means to me.” After turning in his rough draft, Atkins circled the word “Jesus” and deducted one point from his grade. The teacher explained to Andrew that he was not allowed to mention Jesus at school and would need to rewrite the poem for his final draft without using the word “Jesus.” He attempted to rewrite the paper according to the teacher’s instructions. the rest

(Click on picture to enlarge)

Catholics to form 30% of incoming US Congress

December 19, 2008

Catholics will account for 30% of the American legislators taking their seats in Washington when the 111th Congress convenes in January, a Pew Forum survey finds. That figure is up slightly from the 28% Catholic representation in the last (110th) Congress, and dramatically higher than the 19% in 1961. Catholics are by far the largest single religious body in Congress, outnumbering the second-largest religious group, the Baptists, by more than 2-to-1. The Catholic presence on Capitol Hill is stronger than in the general US population; Catholics make up slightly less than one-fourth of the American adult population. Most of the Catholics in Congress are Democrats, with 115 being identified with the majority party and only 46 Republicans. the rest

Rare first century half shekel coin found in Temple Mount dirt

By Nadav Shragai
Haaretz Correspondent
19/12/2008

A rare half shekel coin, first minted in 66 or 67 C.E., was discovered by 14 year-old Omri Ya'ari as volunteers sifted through mounds of dirt from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The coin is the first one found to originate from the Temple Mount.

For the fourth year, archaeologists and volunteers have been sifting through dirt dug by the Waqf, the Muslim authority in charge of the Temple Mount compound, in an unauthorized project in 1999. The dig caused extensive and irreversible archaeological damage to the ancient layers of the mountain. The Waqf transported the dug up dirt in trucks to another location, where it was taken to Emek Tzurim. 40,000 volunteers have so far participated in the sifting project, in search of archaeological artifacts, under the guidance of Dr. Gabriel Barkay and Yitzhak Zweig.

The project is sponsored by Bar Ilan University and funded by the Ir David Foundation with the assistance of the National Parks Authority. the rest

Fears of new anti-Christian violence in Orissa

Saturday, 20th December 2008
By Judy West

Indian Christian leaders have expressed concerns about a new outbreak of anti-Christian violence after rightwing Hindu organisations in Orissa confirmed they will hold a bandh (strike) on Christmas Day.

The All India Christian Council issued a statement today after the announcement on Dec 17, that ultra-nationalist Hindutva groups said they will observe a state-wide shut-down for 12 hours on Christmas Day, after it was reported The Hindu newspaper.

The protest is due to the failure of authorities to arrest the killers of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati who was assassinated on Aug. 23, 2008. The Orissa Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, opposes the bandh, and the newly appointed Minister of Home Affairs in New Delhi, P. Chidambaram, publicly assured Christians they’ll be safe. the rest

Rick Warren Praises Obama's Courage amid Uproar

By Michelle A. Vu
Christian Post Reporter
Fri, Dec. 19 2008

Amid a firestorm of criticism from pro-choice and gay marriage supporters, Pastor Rick Warren has called President-elect Barack Obama courageous for taking the risk of choosing him to deliver the inaugural invocation.

“I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn’t agree on every issue, to offer the Invocation at his historic inaugural ceremony,” Warren said in a statement Thursday evening.

“Hopefully individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both of us have shown a commitment to model civility in America.”

Liberals and gay rights activists have hammered Obama for giving someone who openly opposes gay marriage and abortion such an important position at his inaugural event. They accused Obama of being insincere in his commitment to the advancement of the homosexual agenda. the rest

'Bible Illuminated': The latest Word

The book uses pop culture images to spread the gospel.
By Jessica Gelt
December 20, 2008

If God made man in his own image, then does God look anything like Arnold Schwarzenegger? That's a question you might mull over when you come across a picture of a much younger topless governator flexing in the pages of a glossy edition of the New Testament called "Bible Illuminated: The Book." ¶ Created by a group of Swedish advertising and corporate executives, "Bible Illuminated" resembles a fashion magazine except that its cover model looks a lot like the creepy white-faced Satan in Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ." Inside you'll find the text of the Good News translation of the New Testament without verse numbers, interspersed with a mixed bag of richly colored pop culture-driven photographs. ¶ Published by the Swedish firm Illuminated World, "Bible Illuminated" stands out in the ever-expanding universe of look-at-me-I'm-super-jazzy Bibles in that it's made by secular folks for secular folks. If you can get past the secular-Bible oxymoron, a couple of interesting questions arise: In this post-ironic age, are the secular beyond the reach of religious rhetoric? And if not, at what point do marketing and aesthetics entirely subsume the message of the most vaunted narrative of Western civilization?

In the book, photos of stars like Angelina Jolie and Muhammad Ali stand in stark contrast to pictures of famine and poverty in the Third World. Random images -- such as underwear draped over high heels and a kitschy "Holy Family" set of plastic dolls -- are meant to draw the reader into the text via pull-out quotes. the rest

Coffee-Table Bible Too 'Cool' For Christians?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Devotional: High o'er the lonely hills...

High o'er the lonely hills black turns to gray,
Bird-song the valley fills, mists fold away
Gray wakes to green again,
Beauty is seen again,
Gold and serene again dawneth the day.


So, o'er the hills of life, stormy, forlorn,
Out of the cloud and strife sunrise is born;
Swift grows the light for us,
Ended is night for us,
Soundless and bright for us breaketh God's morn.

Hear we no beat of drums, fanfare, nor cry,
When Christ the herald comes quietly nigh;
Splendor He makes on earth;
Color awakes on earth;
Suddenly breaks on earth light from the sky.

Bid then farewell to sleep: rise up and run!
What though the hill be steep? Strength's in the sun.
Now you shall find at last
Night's left behind at last,
And for mankind at last, Day has begun!
... Jan Struther
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A Russian church for a Saudi mosque?

December 03 2008
BY Julia Duin

This delightful story just came in thanks to getreligion.org: The Saudis have recently asked permission to build a mosque in Moscow, a city where there are only four mosques and 2 million Muslims. The Russians, however, are saying they want, in return, an Orthodox church in Saudi Arabia.

As we all know, the Saudis have a habit of constructing mosques in dozens of world capitals while forbidding houses of worship for any religion whatsoever outside its Wahabist brand of Islam. They've gotten some bad PR locally for some of the hate language in textbooks at the Saudi Academy in northern Virginia. Not only are hapless Christians terrorized and jailed for daring to hold private prayer services in Saudi Arabia, but God help them should they try to convert someone to their religion. And that's for a fellow People of the Book: One can only guess at what the treatment of Buddhists and Hindus must be like. the rest

Severed Cables in Mediterranean Disrupt Communication

By Malcolm Fried and Lars Klemming
December 19, 2008

(Bloomberg) -- Internet and telephone communications between the Middle East and Europe were disrupted after three submarine cables between Italy and Egypt in the Mediterranean Sea were damaged.

The failures cut the flow of ``data of various kinds'' between Europe and the Middle East, and there's no timeframe for when communications will be restored, said Sanjeev Gaur, director of assurance at Reliance Globalcom Ltd. in India. France Telecom SA, which plans to send a maintenance boat to fix the problem, said the situation should be back to normal by Dec. 31.

Three cable systems carrying more than 75 percent of traffic between the Middle East, Europe and America have been damaged, according to the U.K.'s Interoute Plc, which operates a fiber- optic data network connecting 92 cities. The cables run from Alexandria in northern Egypt to Sicily in southern Italy. In January, an anchor severed the cables outside Alexandria after bad weather conditions forced ships to moor off the coast. the rest

India suffers massive internet disruption after undersea cables break

Statement from CANA Bishop Martyn Minns

HERNDON, Va. (December 19, 2008) – The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns issued the following statement in response to the Fairfax County Circuit Court ruling in the church property trial between The Episcopal Church and eleven former congregations, now affiliated with the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) and CANA, today:

“The Court’s decision is a great victory for religious freedom. It makes it clear that we cannot be forced to leave our churches and our foundational Christian beliefs because of the decision by the leadership of The Episcopal Church (TEC) to change the core components of our faith.”

“While on paper this has been a battle about property, the division within our church has been caused by TEC’s decision to walk away from the teaching of the Bible and the unique role of Jesus Christ. They are forging a prodigal path – reinventing Christianity as they go – which takes them away from the values and beliefs of the historical church here in the United States and the worldwide Anglican Communion as a whole.

“Our position has always been that we have a right to continue to hold dear the same things that our parents and most of the leaders of the Anglican Communion have always believed. The Bible is the authoritative word of God and is wholly relevant to all Christians today and for generations to come.

“We hope and pray that TEC will refrain from causing all of our congregations to spend more money on further appeals. The money could be used instead to provide more help to the least, the last, and the left out in our communities.” link

Judge Rules in Favor of Breakaway Va. Congregations

Associated Press
Friday, December 19, 2008

Nearly a dozen conservative church congregations in Virginia have won a long-running lawsuit in which they sought to split from the U.S. Episcopal Church in a dispute over theology and homosexuality.

A Fairfax County judge made the final rulings today. He said the departing congregations are allowed under Virginia law to keep their property as they leave the Episcopal Church and realign under the authority of conservative Anglican bishops from Africa.

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia argued it was the true owner of the church property and that the congregations' votes to leave the Episcopal Church were invalid.

The diocese said it will appeal the rulings.

Several previous rulings in the case also had gone in favor of the departing congregations. the rest

Anglican District of Virginia wins church property case

Statement of the Diocese of Virginia

Written Opinions

Added: Conservatives win court case in Va. church dispute

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Devotional: Our hope and expectation, O Jesus, now appear!

Our hope and expectation, O Jesus, now appear!
Arise, Thou Sun so longed for, over this benighted sphere!
With hearts and hands uplifted, we plead, O Lord, to see
The day of earth’s redemption that brings us unto Thee.

Ye saints, who here in patience your cross and sufferings bore,
Shall live and reign forever, when sorrow is no more.
Around the throne of glory the Lamb ye shall behold;
In triumph cast before Him your diadems of gold!
...Lau­ren­ti­us Lau­ren­ti
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Catholic U Outing: Dinner at a Gay Bar, A Sexually Graphic Play and Mass with the Obama-Supporting Pastor Pfleger

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
NOTRE DAME, Indiana
December 18, 2008

(LifeSiteNews.com) - Notre Dame University students participating in the Cultural Diversity Seminar, sponsored by the university's Center for Social Concerns, spent their Fall Break in Chicago in order to be "immersed in the subcultures of the city," a report by the university's student newspaper, The Irish Rover, states.

The goal of the outing was to "increase awareness of the variety of approaches and strategies employed by ethnic organizations, churches and others to improve social conditions."

To this end, the field trip opened with Mass at St. Sabina’s Catholic Parish, known for its "unique restructuring of the Mass" as well as for its pastor, Father Michael Pfleger, who gained national notoriety for supporting Barack Obama's presidential candidacy and for his sermon mocking Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at rival Barack Obama's former church.

the rest

Pope says Vatican must be on Internet with word, sound, images

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican media must unite their efforts to provide packages of word, sound and images to proclaim the Gospel to modern Internet users, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"Today the Internet calls for a growing integration of written, audio and visual communications and therefore challenges the media at the service of the Holy See to enlarge and intensify their collaboration," the pope said Dec. 18 during a meeting with employees of the Vatican Television Center.

The meeting marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the center, which is responsible for filming papal events, making documentaries and providing them to Catholic and other television outlets.

Pope Benedict told the employees that, because the Catholic Church cannot allow its message to be outside "the spaces in which numerous young people navigate in search of answers and of meaning for their lives, you must seek ways to spread voices and images of hope in new formats." the rest

New Rule Shields Health Workers Who Object to Abortion

DECEMBER 18, 2008
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration, in its final days, has issued a federal rule reinforcing protections for doctors and other health care workers who refuse to participate in abortions and other procedures because of religious or moral objections.

Critics of the rule say the protections are so broad that they limit a patient's right to get care and accurate information. For example, they fear the rule could make it possible for a pharmacy clerk to refuse to sell birth control pills and face no ramifications from an employer.

Under longstanding federal law, institutions may not discriminate against individuals who refuse to perform abortions or provide a referral for one. The administration's rule, issued Thursday, is intended to ensure that federal funds don't flow to providers who violate those laws.

"Doctors and other health care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience," said Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt. the rest

US Census Bureau: Now they’re re-defining “parent”

The US Census Bureau has redefined the word “parent”, according to a New York Times story on a spike in the percentage of black children being raised in two-“parent” families.

The point of the story is to tout this gain, which may be entirely due to a re-definition of terms and not any actual change in society. Other possible drivers of the “trend” include more immigrants with traditional family structures who are part of the group known as the “black population” and an emerging black middle class. Yet, without giving us a breakdown, the bureau drops this bomb in the middle of their report, which to my mind invalidates the conclusions.

The Census Bureau attributed an indeterminate amount of the increase to revised definitions adopted in 2007, which identify as parents any man and woman living together, whether or not they are married or the child’s biological parents. the rest

Milwaukee to Form Gay-Friendly Middle School

December 17, 2008
Jessica Calefati

The Milwaukee Public School System will expand the services provided by its gay-friendly high school and apparently become the nation's first school system to create a gay-friendly middle school.

At a meeting two weeks ago, a subcommittee of Milwaukee's Board of Education unanimously approved the Alliance School's proposal to serve sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. The proposal gained unanimous approval from the full board by default when the item was not pulled for further discussion or a vote at last night's meeting. Alliance School lead teacher Tina Owen said the public charter school will begin accepting new applicants eligible for middle school in the 2009-2010 school year immediately.

Milwaukee's response to gay-friendly schools has been much different from other cities'. In Chicago, community leaders' concerns about creating a gay-friendly high school stalled plans to bring such a proposal before the city's school board. In New York City, protesters greeted students of the gay-friendly Harvey Milk High School in Manhattan's East Village on its first day of classes five years ago. But in Milwaukee, the Alliance School's birth as a high school and expansion to serve middle school students passed with no real opposition. Calls from social service organizations and parents urging Owen to create the middle school more quickly are the only responses she has received from the community, Owen said. the rest

Vatican signals there will be no enclave for former Anglican clergy in Rome

December 18, 2008
by George Conger

The Vatican will not create an enclave within the Roman Catholic Church for Anglicans opposed to women clergy and the ‘gay agenda’, Rome’s La Civiltà Cattolica predicts.

In an October article entitled Catholic Anglican Relations after the Lambeth Conference (La Relazione tra Cattolici e Anglicani dopo la Conferenza di Lambeth) the semi-official Jesuit bi-weekly stated the “corporate unity” under discussion between the Vatican and traditionalist Anglicans “will not be a form of uniatism as this is unsuitable for uniting two realities which are too similar from a cultural point of view as indeed are Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholics.”

“The Holy See, while sympathetic to the demands of these Anglo-Catholics” for corporate reunion, “is moving with discretion and prudence.” Opposition to the ordination of women to the ordained ministry and to gay bishops and blessings “is not enough,” the newspaper said. Anglo-Catholics should be motived not by a rejection of Anglicanism but by the “desire to join fully the Catholic Church,” Fr. Paul Gamberini SJ wrote.

Anglican - Catholic relations have been in a downward spiral in recent years, prompting some traditionalists to quit the Anglican Communion for Rome. A number of Anglo-Catholic groups have also petitioned the Vatican to allow whole communities—parishes, religious orders, dioceses to be received en masse, and allowed to maintain their Anglican orders and liturgical forms. the rest

Episcopal Presiding Bishop: Battle Vs. Schism Continues

by Nicholas F. Benton
Thursday, 18 December 2008

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA, speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, assured reporters and others that the legal battle between her denomination and defectors who've formed an alternative body and claimed control over Episcopal properties in Virginia will be appealed to the state's Supreme Court, no matter circuit court outcome.

The Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, commenting on the case and others elsewhere in the U.S., noted that in Virginia's suit, the defectors have based their claim on what she called "a Civil War law that permitted the division of churches based on their attitudes toward slavery."

While the Fairfax Circuit Court has ruled the law is applicable in the suit pitting defectors occupying the historic Falls Church downtown in the City of Falls Church, and others, against the Diocese of Virginia, its constitutionality remains at issue. The ultimate outcome of that ruling, whether at the state or U.S. Supreme Court level, will be profound for all major church denominations dealing with schismatic pressures.
the rest

DUIN: Witnessing theology from inside

Julia Duin
Thursday, December 18, 2008

Two years ago this week, nine Episcopal churches staged a dramatic walkout from the Diocese of Virginia, followed by two more the following month.

On the afternoon of Dec. 17 at Truro Church, about two dozen clergy showed up to say they and their churches were parting ways with a diocese they saw as compromised on Scripture and the role of homosexuality in the church. Three years before, the entire Virginia delegation to the Episcopal General Convention in Minneapolis had approved the election of a gay Episcopal bishop: V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

All of the 11 departing churches had gone through a 40-day discernment process during the fall of 2006 on whether to leave the denomination and the diocese. the rest

Anglican, or Episcopalian?

By Jordan Hylden
Thursday, December 18, 2008

“Are you Anglican, or Episcopalian?” As an Episcopalian interloper studying at a Methodist seminary, I get the question a lot from my puzzled friends. Each time I’m asked, part of me wants to launch into a mini-primer on Anglican ecclesiology—to wit, that Episcopalians are Anglicans, since the Episcopal church is just the American province of the global Anglican communion. Which means that, technically, the question shouldn’t even make sense—it’s sort of like asking, “Are you American, or Texan?” But, of course, I know just what the question means—it does make sense, because it reflects the sad divisions that have roiled the church over the past five years. Quite simply and sensibly, my Methodist friends want to know whether I’m a member of the liberal Episcopal church, or one of the conservative Anglican groups that broke off. And as saddening as it is to admit, I’ve come to think that their common-sense perception is more accurate than my attempts at ecclesiological theory. Their question can only be asked, and answered, because of the reality on the ground in the United States: Episcopalians are one thing, and Anglicans are another.
the rest

Bp. Martyn Minns: A New Start for the Anglican Church in North America

December 17, 2008

Once upon a time, the Anglican Church was a powerful presence in the U.S.A.­ known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. or more recently as The Episcopal Church.­ It claimed a large percentage of the population (16% in 1789) and an even larger representation among the leaders of our great nation.

The language of its liturgy shaped much of our culture and its cathedrals and churches were a witness to the community. Today however, it is wracked with internal conflict, shrinking numbers (less than three-tenths of one percent of Americans regularly worship in Episcopal Churches) and is known more for its rejection of biblical authority and its willingness to litigate against its own clergy and congregations than for its passion for Christ. But that isn't the end of the story.

A growing number of Anglican Christians have realized that they cannot continue down this path. On December 3, as the Bishop of CANA (the Convocation of Anglicans in North America) I joined the bishops and representatives of 14 other Anglican dioceses and networks to introduce the provisional constitution of a new Anglican Church in North America.

We are making a new start. This new Church already represents more than 700 congregations across the nation with a diverse leadership that is committed to the centrality of Christ and the trustworthiness of the Bible as we seek to live out our faith in an authentic way. We are convinced that our Anglican heritage with its balance of Word and Sacrament, historical roots and present day concerns, has a great deal to offer to the challenges of our contemporary culture. the rest

Bishop Henderson to leave the Episcopal Diocese helm

By Ron Barnett
December 17, 2008

The Rt. Rev. Dorsey F. Henderson, who has led the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina since 1995, announced today that he is calling for the election of a successor.

Henderson will be a year away from the mandatory retirement age of 72 at the end of next year and said he feels he has done all he can do for the diocese.

Henderson, who played a key role in the national controversy over the ordination of a gay bishop, doesn't believe any more parishes in Upper South Carolina will be splitting away from the denomination and believes things are in good shape going forward without him.

Henderson voted against the ordination of a gay bishop and led a committee that studied the issue. His role in that controversy absorbed some physical, emotional and spiritual energy, and dulled somewhat the edge of my creativity," he wrote in a letter to Upstate Episcopalians. "It has not, however, reduced my love of the Lord and the Lord’s Church, nor the sheer joy I have as a deacon, priest and bishop."
the rest

Obama’s All-Abortion Transition

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another day, another pro-abortion appointment.

That’s the depressing reality, as President-elect Barack Obama continues to assemble his cabinet and White House staff.

Today, in fact, Obama appointed not one, but two pro-abortion-rights Catholic Democrats to his cabinet: Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack.

Salazar and Vilsack will become Obama’s Interior and Agriculture secretaries, respectively.

They join a long list of earlier pro-abortion appointments.

the rest

Albert Mohler: Many Paths to Heaven?

December 18, 2008

Are American evangelicals abandoning the exclusivity of the Gospel? A new report out from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that many evangelical Christians are, at the very least, badly confused about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As Cathy Lynn Grossman of USA Today reports:

Most American religious believers, including most Christians, say eternal life is not exclusively for those who accept Christ as their savior, a new survey finds.

Of the 65% of people who held this open view of heaven's gates, 80% named at least one non-Christian group - Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists or people with no religion at all- who may also be saved, according to a new survey released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

This most recent report, released today, clarifies a report issued earlier this year. That earlier report became the cause of some controversy because some researchers questioned the accuracy of the responses, since some of those surveyed may have confused other Christian denominations for other religions. the rest

It is “Illegal” to Stop Food and Hydration of Vulnerable Patients: Top Italian Minister

By Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
ROME, December 17, 2008

(LifeSiteNews.com) – A high-level minister in the Italian government has called “illegal” the proposal to starve and dehydrate to death vulnerable patients in the care of the country’s nationalised health service. The news comes within hours of Italian media confirming that Eluana Englaro, known as Italy’s Terri Schiavo, was to be moved this week to a clinic that is willing to participate in her killing by removing her feeding and hydration tube.

Maurizio Sacconi, Italy’s Minister of Labour, Health and Social Policies, told a press conference that it is “illegal” for health care facilities funded by the government to remove the food and hydration of vulnerable patients with the intention of killing them. He referred to Article 25 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that says to stop feeding and hydration is discrimination against disabled people.
the rest

Gay man backed for Navy secretary

Foes cite 'Don't ask, don't tell'
Stephen Dinan
Thursday, December 18, 2008

Some top retired military leaders and some Democrats in Congress are backing William White, chief operating officer of the Intrepid Museum Foundation, to be the next secretary of the Navy - a move that would put the first openly gay person at the top of one of the services.

The secretary's job is a civilian position, so it would not run afoul of the ban on gays serving in the military, but it would renew focus on the "don't ask, don't tell" policy as President-elect Barack Obama prepares to take office. the rest

Interview: Rowan Williams

James Macintyre
18 December 2008

Over the course of a turbulent year the Archbishop of Canterbury had a series of meetings with James Macintyre during which he spoke about sharia law, capitalism, the disestablishment of the Church, and his love of The West Wing

On a bleak afternoon in November, a delegation of senior religious leaders from Britain filed out of an exhibit room at Ausch witz in Poland. One man stopped, and stayed staring intently through the glass. Before him was a mass of human hair from those killed in the gas chambers. This man was Dr Rowan Williams and he was praying, silently.

Asked to write an inscription at the memorial, he chose words from Psalm 130: "Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice!" Dr Williams walked around the former Nazi extermination camp, a remote figure, keeping a ring of space around him. After the first round of exhibits, one of the party tried to speak to him. He merely shrugged and shook his head; there was nothing adequate to say. the rest

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Devotional: God is a great King above all kings...

God is a great King above all kings, and has a throne above all the thrones of earthly princes. The rise and fall of princes, the issues of war, and all the great affairs of state, which are the subject of the consultations of wise and great men, are no more above God's direction than the meanest concerns of the poorest cottages are below his notice. It is not without the divine permission that the devil deceives men, and even thereby God serves his purposes. ...Matthew Henry image

Archbishop: disestablishment of Church of England not 'the end of the world'

The Times
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
December 18, 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury believes it would not be "the end of the world" if the Church of England was disestablished.

But he does not wholeheartedly back such a move, arguing that, ultimately, the advantages of establishment outweigh the disadvantages.

Dr Rowan Williams, whose previous post was as Archbishop of the disestablished Church in Wales, was asked if he recognised the case for disestablishment. He said: "The answer's yes."

The Archbishop, speaking to James Macintyre for the Christmas edition of the New Statesman, was born in south Wales and said his views were influenced by growing up in a disestablished Church. the rest

Rick Warren to give inaugural invocation

December 17, 2008

(CNN) — President-elect Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony will feature big names like minister Rick Warren and legendary singer Aretha Franklin, the Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies announced Wednesday.

Warren, the prominent evangelical and founder of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, will deliver the ceremony's invocation. The minister hosted a presidential forum at his church last summer that challenged both Obama and Arizona Sen. John McCain on a host of faith-related issues. Warren did not endorse either presidential candidate. the rest

Presiding Bishop's Address to the National Press Club

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Audio

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Comments at TitusOneNine

Mutilated Christian girl, 10, forgives attackers

'They were out of their minds, they do not know the love of Jesus'
December 16, 2008
By Chelsea Schilling
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

Hindu extremists may have burned a 10-year-old Christian girl's face, inflicted shrapnel wounds on 40 percent of her body and forced her family to hide in a forest and flee to a refugee camp in Orissa, India, but her plight hasn't shaken her faith and thankfulness to God this season.

"Christmas is a time to thank the baby Jesus who saved me from the fire and saved my face which was disfigured and wounded," Namrata Nayak told Asia News. the rest

Plan sent to Obama transition team reveals ‘abortion industry bailout’

Washington DC
Dec 16, 2008

(CNA).- A strategy document from a coalition of abortion rights groups which outlines their agenda for an Obama administration has been made public. Asking for more than $1 billion in funding, the plan seeks to overturn restrictions on the use of taxpayer funds for abortions and aspires to place pro-abortion partisans in judicial and political positions.

One pro-life organization characterized the plan as an "abortion industry bailout."

The 55-page plan, titled "Advancing Reproductive Rights and Health in a New Administration," was published on the web site of President-elect Barack Obama. It bears the label "produced by an outside party and submitted to the Obama-Biden transition project." the rest

Obama’s New School Chief Supported Creating Gay High School in Chicago

Obama's gay band linked to lewdness

Obama Attorney General Choice Helped Improperly Free Terrorists

Obama's energy team has its own 'inconvenient truths'

Head of US Episcopal Church Open to Being Wrong on Her Stance about Homosexuality

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 /Christian Newswire/ -- Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States, Katharine Jefferts Schori, has spoken approvingly of the consecration of an openly homosexual bishop and of her church's affirmation of same sex unions. Today Bishop Jefferts Shori addressed the National Press Club in Washington DC during which she alluded to these positions and others in conflict with biblical and traditional Christian moral teaching.

Following her speech Rev. Rob Schenck, (pronounced SHANK), President of the National Clergy Council and it's lay affiliate Faith and Action asked Bishop Jefferts Shori if she is open to being wrong on the question of the morality of homosexual behavior. The bishop answered, "Yes, of course, yes."

Rev. Schenck then questioned further "Should you discover you are wrong, what might you do about it?" Bishop Jefferts Shori responded "I think I will have to reserve that answer for another time." the rest

New numbers for Episcopal church attendance

Why California Central Valley broke away
December 17, 2008

Since the consecration of openly homosexual (and partnered) bishop Gene Robinson in 2003, Episcopal church attendance nationwide has suffered. 10 percent left between 2003 and 2007 and another 5 percent left between 2006 and 2007.

According to a December 12 report from the website Virtueonline.org, two hard-hit dioceses are in California: El Camino Real (based in Monterey) saw a 21 percent drop in attendance, and San Diego experienced an 18 percent drop from 1997-2007. the rest

Canadian Church ‘approves’ Anglican Covenant

Wednesday, 17th December 2008
By George Conger

The Anglican Church of Canada’s Council of General Synod (CoGS) has given its cautious approval to the principle of an Anglican Covenant, but has reserved judgment pending a review of the final text.

At its Fall meeting in Toronto last week, CoGS, the Canadian church’s governing body between meetings of the triennial General Synod gave an affirmative response to the question posed by the ACC/Primates Joint Standing Committee whether it cold “give an ‘in principle’ commitment to the covenant process at this time, without committing itself to the details of any text.”

The 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion have been asked to respond to the current “St Andrew's Draft” of the covenant by March. The Covenant Design Group is scheduled to hold its final meeting in London next April and issue a final revision for presentation to the May meeting of the ACC in Jamaica. the rest

Pope: the economic crises is an opportunity to rediscover the real meaning of Christmas

12/17/2008
VATICAN

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The difficulties of an economic crises that have hit so many families “can become an opportunity and a stimulus” to free Christmas from the “accumulations of consumerism” which reduce it to an occasion for the sole purpose of buying and exchanging gifts” and help us to “rediscover the warmth of solidarity, of friendship” the “warmth of Christmas”, the “message if Christ’s birth”. The “rediscovery” of the true meaning of Christ’s birth, as “an opportunity to welcome as a personal gift the message of hope that irradiates from Christ’s birth” was the appeal that Benedict XVI launched today to five thousand people present at the general audience, during which Christmas hymns resounded throughout the Paul VI hall, courtesy of a group of “zampognari”, pipe players from Northern Italy.

For the Church the beginning of the Christmas novena is moment in which it “prepares to unite itself to the joyous chorus of the angels” that “on that night invited the shepherds to make their way to the stable”. And Christmas, revealed the Pope “is a universal feast and even non believers perceive something extraordinary, something transcendent in this season, which speaks to the heart. Christmas is a feast that speaks of the gift of life. The birth of a child is always something that brings great joy, and the embrace of a newborn moves one to tenderness”. “How can we not think of those many children born into poverty throughout the world – he added -to those newborns who are rejected and not welcomed, those who will not survive because of lack of care and attention, those families who yearn for the joy of a child and have yet to see this realised”. the rest

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Devotional: What a day...

What a day for this poor old sin-ruined, storm-torn, heart- broken, groping-in-the-dark blind world, when He shall take His rightful throne and reign in all hearts and over all lives for ever and ever! ...Elmer Ellsworth Helmes image

Presbyterians to Address Risks of Churches Leaving, Property Disputes

By Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Tue, Dec. 16 2008

The departure of congregations from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) poses major risks, including the threat to both church unity and independence from the state, says one leader in the denomination.

Kears Pollock, moderator of the Pittsburgh Presbytery, has invited fellow Presbyterians to join an "informative" convocation, titled "Our Freedom of Religion at Risk – A Presbyterian Crisis," next year amid an exodus of a growing minority of congregations from the PC(USA).

"The unity of the church is at risk from within and from without," Pollock states in his invitation to the Feb. 19, 2009, event. "The current activities of some congregations and ministers encouraging division within the church can lead to subordination of the church to the state particularly when congregational sessions/trustees file civil suits against Presbyteries."

Pollock was addressing the court battles between congregations that left the denomination and their presbyteries – regional bodies of the PC(USA) – over church property ownership. the rest

Second Indiana Planned Parenthood Covers Up Statutory Rape of 13-Year-Old


Dec. 16, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS, Dec 16, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Undercover footage from a second Indiana Planned Parenthood clinic shows an emerging pattern of abuse, as more clinic counselors evade their legal responsibility to report the statutory rape of young girls. The new footage is the second video in Live Action Film's "Mona Lisa Project," a series of investigations documenting how secret abortions keep young girls trapped in cycles of sexual abuse.

In the video, shot undercover this summer at a Planned Parenthood in Indianapolis, two employees state they "don't care" about the age difference between a 31-year-old man and the 13-year-old girl he was reported to have impregnated. A previously released video shot at a Bloomington Planned Parenthood showed similar results. Neither the Bloomington nor Indianapolis clinics reported the rape and both clinics counseled the 13-year-old to obtain a secret abortion across state lines where no parental consent laws applied. the rest

Destroying the Foundations of the West

Bill Muehlenberg
14.12.08

Summary

To speak about the tremendous achievements and accomplishments of Christianity is of course not to deny that damage has been done in the name of this faith. There have been some negative aspects indeed. But on the whole, the Christian faith has been a tremendous source of good in the world, and the West would be unrecognisable today without it.

Which is why the vehemence and antagonism of the atheists against religion in general and Christianity in particular is so bizarre. Their hatred of religion and Christianity is both irrational and unfounded. But doubtless the advance of atheistic missionary work will go unchecked. And as they seek to more and more eradicate or isolate the influence of Christianity, they will of course be cutting off the very branch upon which they are sitting.

So let them seek to eradicate the faith from the public arena. It will only result in them – and everyone else – suffering accordingly. As T. S. Eliot warned in 1948: “If Christianity goes, the whole of our culture goes. Then you must start painfully again, and you cannot put on a new culture ready made. You must wait for the grass to grow to feed the sheep to give the wool out of which your new coat will be made. You must pass through many centuries of barbarism. We should not live to see the new culture, nor would our great-great-great-grandchildren: and if we did, not one of us would be happy in it.”

Full Essay

Colson: The Bible and Proposition 8

Mockery and Bigotry
By Chuck Colson
12/16/2008

The passage of Proposition 8, the ballot measure that banned same-sex “marriage” in California, has stirred the ire of gay activists like little else. Besides thuggish vandalism of church property, that anger is being translated into mockery of the faith community.

Nowhere do we see it more clearly than the viral video, “Proposition 8: The Musical,” created by “Hairspray” composer Marc Shaiman, which has now been seen by 2 million people online. In it the religious characters sing, “It's time to spread some hate/ And put it in the constitution.”

The short video is full of distortions, and even lies. As radio commentator Dennis Prager of the Hoover Institution puts it, “Hatred based on ignorance is known as bigotry.”

But Shaiman isn’t alone. This week Newsweek magazine has come out of the closet with a one-sided support of gay “marriage.” The article, entitled “Our Mutual Joy,” runs with this teaser, “Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side.” the rest

Barack Obama-san

December 16, 2008
WSJ

As January 20 nears, Barack Obama's ambitions for spending on the likes of roads, bridges and jobless benefits keep growing. The latest leak puts the "stimulus" at $1 trillion over a couple of years, and the political class is embracing it as a miracle cure.

Not to spoil the party, but this is not a new idea. Keynesian "pump-priming" in a recession has often been tried, and as an economic stimulus it is overrated. The money that the government spends has to come from somewhere, which means from the private economy in higher taxes or borrowing. The public works are usually less productive than the foregone private investment.

In the Age of Obama, we seem fated to re-explain these eternal lessons. So for today we thought we'd recount the history of the last major country that tried to spend its way to "stimulus" -- Japan during its "lost decade" of the 1990s. In 1992, Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa faced falling property prices and a stock market that had sunk 60% in three years. Mr. Miyazawa's Liberal Democratic Party won re-election promising that Japan would spend its way to becoming a "lifestyle superpower." The country embarked on a great Keynesian experiment: the rest

Birth certificates to reflect NY gay-marriage move

Both parties in same-sex couple may list names
Dec 15, 2008

State officials will now let married same-sex couples list both their names on their children's birth certificates in a policy shift deeply important to many gays and lesbians.

The decision, which echoes similar provisions in states that allow gay marriages or civil unions, is one of many changes since Gov. David Paterson ordered state agencies in May to respect out-of-state gay marriages.

The state Health Department said Friday it had agreed to the change, which came after a lesbian couple who are expecting a baby filed a lawsuit. The change would apply statewide except in New York City, which is considering revamping its own birth certificate forms to accommodate same-sex couples. the rest

The Banana Republic of New York

They're Having Babies. Are We Helping?

By Patrick Welsh
Sunday, December 14, 2008

The girls gather in small groups outside Alexandria's T.C. Williams High School most mornings, standing with their babies on their hips, talking and giggling like sorority sisters. Sometimes their mothers drop the kids (and their kids) off with a carefree smile and a wave. As I watch the girls carry their children into the Tiny Titans day-care center in our new $100 million building, I can't help wondering what Sister Mary Avelina, my 11th-grade English teacher, would have thought.

Okay, I'm an old guy from the 1950s, an era light-years from today. But even in these less censorious times, I'm amazed -- and concerned -- by the apparently nonchalant attitude both these girls and their mothers exhibit in front of teachers, administrators and hundreds of students each day. Last I heard, teen pregnancy is still a major concern in this country -- teenage mothers are less likely to finish school and more likely to live in poverty; their children are more likely to have difficulties in school and with the law; and on and on. the rest

A life thrown into turmoil by $100 donation for Prop. 8

Steve Lopez

Excerpt:
Well, Christoffersen was a manager at El Coyote, the Beverly Boulevard landmark restaurant that's always had throngs of customers waiting to get inside. Many of them were gay, and Christoffersen, a devout Mormon, donated $100 in support of Proposition 8, the successful November ballot initiative that banned gay marriage.

She never advertised her politics or religion in the restaurant, but last month her donation showed up on lists of "for" and "against" donors. And El Coyote became a target.

A boycott was organized on the Internet, with activists trashing El Coyote on restaurant review sites. Then came throngs of protesters, some of them shouting "shame on you" at customers. The police arrived in riot gear one night to quell the angry mob.

The mob left, but so did the customers.

Sections of the restaurant have been closed, a manager told me Friday during a very quiet lunch hour. Some of the 89 employees, many of them gay, have had their hours cut, and layoffs are looming. And Christoffersen, who has taken a voluntary leave of absence, is wondering whether she'll ever again be able to work at the restaurant, which opened in 1931 (at 1st and La Brea) and is owned by her 92-year-old mother. the rest

Monday, December 15, 2008

Devotional: The teacher of humility...

The teacher of humility, who shared our weakness and gave us a share in his own divinity, came to earth in order to teach us the way, even to be the Way himself. It was his humility, above all else, that he impressed upon us. He willingly submitted to baptism at the hands of one of his servants, so that we might learn to confess our own sins and to become weak in order to be truly strong, repeating with the apostle: "When I am weak, then I am strong." ...Augustine of Hippo image

Vermont Bishop Thomas Ely on the future of the Episcopal Church

Monday December 15, 2008
Jane Lindholm

The split within the Episcopal Church in America intensified recently when conservative congregations took the unprecedented step of splitting away to form their own province. The division stems largely from a decision five years ago to ordain a gay bishop in New Hampshire. VPR's Jane Lindholm talks with Vermont Episcopal Bishop Thomas Ely about the future of the church. link

Listen

Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas Message to the Anglican Communion

December 15, 2008
ACNS

Human beings, left to themselves, have imagined God in all sorts of shapes; but – although there were one or two instances, in Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt, of gods being pictured as boys – it took Christianity to introduce the world to the idea of God in the form of a baby: in the form of complete dependence and fragility, without power or control. If you stop to think about it, it is still shocking. And it is also deeply challenging.

God chose to show himself to us in a complete human life, telling us that every stage in human existence, from conception to maturity and even death, was in principle capable of telling us something about God. Although what we learn from Jesus Christ and what his life makes possible is unique, that life still means that we look differently at every other life. There is something in us that is capable of communicating what God has to say – the image of God in each of us, which is expressed in its perfection only in Jesus.

Hence the reverence which as Christians we ought to show to human beings in every condition, at every stage of existence. This is why we cannot regard unborn children as less than members of the human family, why those with disabilities or deprivations have no less claim upon us than anyone else, why we try to makes loving sense of human life even when it is near its end and we can hardly see any signs left of freedom or thought. the rest

Dan Martins: Church Property Disputes & Common Sense

Saturday, December 13, 2008

There's been a tempest raging today over on HoB/D over the amount of money (some $2 million, apparently) that the Episcopal Church has spent so far in legal fees trying to recover property held by congregations (and now dioceses) that have elected to sever their ties with "this church." The original poster opined that it is sinful to spend that kind of money taking other Christians to court. "Why not rather be defrauded?" as St Paul put it to the Corinthians. That poster subsequently got piled on by those putting forth the view that it's a simple matter of thievery (that is, on the part of "leaving" congregations); they're taking property that was intended to manifest the life and work of the Episcopal Church in perpetuity, and they must be resisted by every available means. I finally weighed in as follows: the rest

A.S. Haley: Lawsuits Are a Symptom; the Disease Is Terminal

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Excerpt:
Recently, however, facts about the Dennis Canon have emerged which tend to cast the foregoing argument in a slightly different light. For one thing, from what appears in the official records of the 1979 General Convention, the Canon may not have been adopted in the same form by both Houses concurrently, as would be required for it to take effect. And for another thing, it does not appear that the enactment of the Canon was reported to the parishes that were directly affected; the first mention of the Canon in the Episcopal News Service Archives does not occur until 2001---some twenty-one years after its supposed adoption. (I have commented in this post on the disconnect between the deputies elected to General Convention and the parishes that elect them.)

What we have here is a form of "prescriptive right" to parish property that was established in a rush under questionable circumstances, in the waning days of the 1979 General Convention, and then lay dormant for years until a property dispute required its disinterment in 2001. The recognition it has received in some courts in the years since has tended to give it full legitimacy in the eyes of those who invoke it.

But those court decisions simply assumed, without deciding, that the Dennis Canon was a properly enacted provision of Church canon law. The question has now been squarely presented to a trial court in New York, which is one of the States whose highest court has assumed the legitimacy of the Canon heretofore as a given. (Indeed, New York is unique in also having a statute that assumes the existence of the Canon, and purports to legitimize the trust relationship it claims to establish.) No matter what the trial court decides, there is certain to be an appeal; and the question ultimately will have to be decided anew in each State where it arises. Talk about having to fund litigation---just you wait!

the rest-do not miss this!!!

Happy Birthday Raymond!


He has shown you, O man, what is good. What does Yahweh require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
John 3:8

Love,Pat

Bishop faces rebellion over women clergy

A senior bishop is facing a rebellion from his clergy over his attempt to create a haven for opponents of female priests.
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent
13 Dec 2008

On one side of the row is the Rt Rev John Hind, the Bishop of Chichester, who has a black belt in judo and a staunch opponent of the ordination of women.

In the opposing corner is a growing group of clergy and worshippers in his diocese, who are dismayed by the bishop's intransigence.

Bishop Hind has told his diocesan synod that when he appoints a new junior bishop, they will not be permitted to ordain women.

He has been bombarded with letters of protest against his stance, and faces a growing revolt. Behind closed doors, influential figures in the diocese are holding clandestine meetings to consider what action to take. Several of his priests have also already written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, believing that the bishop's attitude discriminates against women. the rest

Avery Cardinal Dulles

By Times of London
Monday, December 15, 2008

Excerpt:
After his consecration as a cardinal in Rome on February 21, 2001, the Gregorian University hosted a meal in his honor. Over the rattle of after-dinner coffee cups, various high-ranking ecclesial figures rose to praise Dulles’ life and work. The most revealing moment, however, may have come when, unexpectedly, one of his Dulles cousins stepped to the podium.

An aristocrat of that strange, old American variety—tall and puritanically thin, well but primly dressed, a daughter of stern Protestant New England—she explained that she had overheard as a child the outraged family discussions of the young Avery’s conversion. Uncle Allen, Aunt Eleanor, John Foster, all the senior family members gathered around to complain that the best and brightest of the family’s next generation seemed determined to throw his promising life away. “And, of course, they were right,” she said. “He did throw that life away. He threw it away for God.”

Full essay

God can mend broken Britain, says Archbishop

by Jennifer Gold
Monday, December 15, 2008

God can mend all of the social problems afflicting Britain, but it might not necessarily happen in the way some people expect, says the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Speaking to around 50 young people at the Solace pub church in Cardiff at the weekend, Dr Rowan Williams said God’s way to mend Broken Britain “is through us”.

“God doesn’t step down out of the sky, shooting thunderbolts out of his fingers. He comes down at a human level and says ‘You are going to do this, I trust you’,” he was quoted as saying by the South Wales Echo.

“That’s how God mends – through you and me.” the rest

Albert Mohler: How to Use a Study Bible

Monday, December 15, 2008

One of the most memorable purchases I made as a teenager was The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible in its original King James Version edition, complete with blue leather cover. I still have it, of course, though it now finds itself surrounded by a host of other Bibles on the shelf nearest to my desk. That study Bible opened the Word of God to me in a whole new way, helping me to make connections in the text and to see how subjects and themes run throughout the Bible.

That was my introduction to a study Bible. The chain-reference notes in that Bible took me throughout the Scriptures, reading text alongside text. This was a great improvement, I recognized, on the Bibles that contained only a minimal index and a few maps in the back.

Today, there are several significant study Bibles, ranging from the most minimal, offering only cross-references, to others that offer the equivalent of several hundred pages of supplemental helps.

How should a study Bible be used? the rest

Arson suspected in fire at Palin's church

FRIDAY NIGHT BLAZE: As many as 40 volunteer firefighters helped out; single service scheduled today.
By WESLEY LOY and RINDI WHITE

Anchorage Daily News
December 14th, 2008

WASILLA - A Friday night fire at Gov. Sarah Palin's church caused an estimated $1 million in damage, and investigators say it could be the work of an arsonist.

Firefighters were called to Wasilla Bible Church about 9:40 p.m. and found flames and smoke coming out windows at the back of the three-story structure, said James Steele, chief of the Central Mat-Su Fire Department.

Five women, and possibly a couple of children, were inside the church working on crafts, but everyone got out safely after a fire alarm alerted them to trouble, Steele said. the rest

Pro-Homosexual Media Going Bankrupt

By Cliff Kincaid
December 14, 2008

Even if the AIDS money were being spent legitimately, it would still be objectionable.
Before Newsweek created a controversy with its laughably absurd cover story that the Bible supports homosexual marriage, lame duck President George W. Bush declared in an interview with Cynthia McFadden of ABC News that he doesn’t believe the Bible to be the literal word of God. So Adam and Eve could just as easily be Adam and Steve? We needed a follow-up from McFadden.

Bush spoke with conviction during the interview about how Jesus Christ has changed his life while McFadden played “gotcha” journalism on the subject of evolution, which has nothing to do with his record as president. What should be addressed is one of his precious few “legacies”―that of promoting the acceptance of homosexuality―which some conservatives do not want to admit or address. It is a record that Barack Obama will build and expand upon.

Bush would prefer to call it “compassionate conservatism,” but there is nothing compassionate about wasting taxpayer dollars promoting a “lifestyle” that spreads disease and death. the rest

Bella Babies

By Mark Earley
12/11/2008

When Christian actor Eduardo Verastegui devoted his career to serving God, he had no idea what might come out of his decision. He certainly couldn’t have imagined that his widely acclaimed movie Bella would literally save lives and souls. But that’s the story that author Tim Drake tells so well in his book Behind Bella.

As the book shows, God’s hand was on Eduardo and on the making of the movie from the very beginning. To prepare for his role in Bella, Eduardo wanted to find a real-life Nina—the co-lead in the film struggling with her unwanted pregnancy. So Eduardo paid a visit to a local abortion clinic.

Outside the clinic, a Mexican couple who had come to have an abortion recognized Eduardo from his acting days in Mexico. They approached him, and soon Eduardo found himself counseling them against having an abortion and telling them about the story of Bella. They talked for over an hour and on the phone in the days ahead.

A few months later, Eduardo received a phone call from the young man. He explained that his girlfriend had just given birth to the baby—a boy—and he asked for permission to name him Eduardo. the rest image

Tonawanda: With regrets, several hundred local worshippers leave Episcopal Church

‘Sometimes God calls us out of our comfort zone.’— Rev. Arthur Ward Jr.
By Jay Tokasz
12/15/08

Don and Gladys Miller worshipped weekly for 53 years in the sanctuary at 1064 Brighton Road.
But Sunday, the Millers walked away from the Town of Tonawanda church building they’ve known as their spiritual home since 1955.

“We’ve been here a long time, and it’s hard to leave,” said Don Miller, dabbing at tears. “We decided a long time ago that we would move with the church.”

The Millers are joining an expected several hundred parishioners of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in a highly unusual journey: Not only are they moving into a new facility, they’re also leaving the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Western New York.

Henceforth, the members of St. Bartholomew’s will be known as Anglicans, not Episcopalians, and they’ll worship in a former synagogue on Eggert Road, less than a mile away from the former site at Brighton and Fries roads. the rest

North America: new Anglican Church in U.S. and Canada draws conservative dissenters

Richard Cimino
15 Dec 2008

The formation of the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) in early December (still to be ratified in 2009) is seen as a fulfillment of a declaration signed in Jerusalem last summer by the same prelates calling for a new era of the Anglican Communion. The organizers of the denomination seek the approval of leaders in the global Anglican Communion as a separate yet connected “province” of the church. It is not known if the new church will ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to recognize the ACNA as an official member of the Anglican Communion.

But the idea is that the ACNA will serve as a non-geographical province for orthodox Anglican alongside the mainline Episcopal and Anglican bodies in the U.S. and Canada. Episcopal and some international Anglican leaders are likely to resist recognizing such a province, although there may likely be a gradual and defacto recognition by a segment of bishops, writes journalist David Virtue on his website Virtue Online.

the rest

LATimes: Putting the Episcopal rift in a historical context

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States says the current controversy over gays mirrors past conflicts that the global church has managed to overcome.
By Duke Helfand December 15, 2008

Since its founding more than two centuries ago, the Episcopal Church has often struggled to keep disparate factions unified under its diverse umbrella.Repeated controversies -- over slavery, the ordination of women and even the role of children in church life -- have threatened to tear at its religious fabric.

Now, the church faces one of its most daunting challenges yet, with hundreds of conservative congregations forming a separate North American church amid a dispute with liberal Episcopalians over homosexuality and Scripture.Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori sees the latest discord in historical terms, a view that sheds light on Episcopalians' religious and cultural DNA. the rest

Pope Benedict XVI under-fire for 'negative' statements

Times Online
December 15, 2008
Richard Owen in Rome

Pope Benedict XVI has come under fire from a leading Vatican watcher as "The Pope who says No" following a series of "negative" Vatican statements on homosexuality, the disabled and bio-ethics.

On Friday the Vatican made its most authoritative statement on bio-ethics for twenty years, condemning artificial fertilization, human cloning, "designer babies" and embryonic stem-cell research. The document, "Dignitas Personae" (Dignity of the Person) was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which the Pope headed as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before his election as pontiff.

The document also condemned the "morning-after pill" and the drug RU-486, which blocks the action of hormones needed to keep a fertilized egg implanted in the uterus. It said such drugs, as well as the IUD (intrauterine device), fell "within the sin of abortion" and were "gravely immoral". the rest

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Holiday music is inescapable. Daniel J. Levitin on the ancient drive to listen to familiar songs, the psychological effects of music and why 'Little Drummer Boy' is so annoying.
By DANIEL J. LEVITIN
DECEMBER 12, 2008

December. Joy, goodwill toward men, long lines, the unwanted wet kiss from a drunk co-worker at the office party. Along with the candy canes and mistletoe, music will be there in the background wherever we go this month, as sonic wallpaper, to put us in the right festive mood. No holiday music is more annoying than the piped-in variety at shopping malls and department stores. Can science explain why the same song we enjoy singing with relatives or congregants drives us to visions of sugar-plum homicide when it blares across the public-address system Chez Target?

Our drive to surround ourselves with familiar music during life cycle events and annual celebrations is ancient in origin. Throughout most of our history as a species, music was a shared cultural experience. Early Homo sapiens coupled music with ritual to infuse special days with majesty and meaning. Before there was commerce, before there was anything to buy, our hunter-gatherer ancestors sat around campfire circles crafting pottery, jewelry and baskets, and they sang. Early humans didn't sit and listen to music by themselves -- music formed an inseparable part of community life. So much so, that when we sing together even today, our brains release oxytocin, a hormone that increases feelings of trust and social bonding. the rest image

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Google cranks up the Consensus Engine

Google this week admitted that its staff will pick and choose what appears in its search results. It's a historic statement - and nobody has yet grasped its significance.
By Andrew Orlowski
12th December 2008

Excerpt:
That Google was impartial was one of the articles of faith. For if Google was ever to be found to be applying subjective human judgment directly on the process, it would be akin to the voting machines being rigged.

For these soothsayers of the Hive Mind, the years ahead looked prosperous. As blog-aware marketing and media consultants, they saw a lucrative future in explaining the New Emergent World Order to the uninitiated. (That part has come true - Web 2.0 "gurus" now advise large media companies).

It wasn't surprising, then, that when five years ago I described how a small, self-selected number of people could rig Google's search results, the reaction from the people doing the rigging was violently antagonistic. Who lifted that rock? they cried.

But what was once Googlewashing by a select few now has Google's active participation. the rest