Saturday, March 14, 2009

Devotional: Guide me, O Lord...

Guide me, O Lord, in all the changes and varieties of the world; that in all things that shall happen I may have an evenness and tranquility of spirit; that my soul may be wholly resigned to thy divine will and pleasure, never murmuring at thy gentle chastisements and fatherly correction; never waxing proud and insolent, though I feel a torrent of comforts and prosperous successes. ...Jeremy Taylor image

Wake judge orders home schoolers into public classrooms

Mar. 12, 2009

Raleigh, N.C. — A judge in Wake County said three Raleigh children need to switch from home school to public school. Judge Ned Mangum is presiding over divorce proceeding of the children's parents, Thomas and Venessa Mills.

Venessa Mills was in the fourth year of home schooling her children who are 10, 11 and 12 years old. They have tested two years above their grade levels, she said. the rest

Friday, March 13, 2009

Devotional: Jesus, Thy boundless love to me...

Jesus, Thy boundless love to me
No thought can reach, no tongue declare;
Unite my thankful heart with Thee
And reign without a rival there.
To Thee alone, dear Lord, I live;
Myself to Thee, dear Lord, I give.

O, grant that nothing in my soul
May dwell but Thy pure love alone!
Oh, may Thy love possess me whole,
My joy, my treasure, and my crown!
All coldness from my heart remove;
My every act, word, thought, be love.

In suffering be Thy love my peace,
In weakness be Thy love my power;
And when the storms of life shall cease,
Jesus, in that important hour,
In death as life be Thou my guide,
And save me, who for me hast died.
...Paul Gerhardt

Israel chides US Presiding Bishop

Friday, 13th March 2009
By George Conger

Claims that the Israel discriminated against Jerusalem’s Anglican and Lutheran bishops by blocking their attempt to enter Gaza last month are unfounded, the Israeli government has declared.

On March 10, the Israeli Embassy in Washington released a statement chiding US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Lutheran Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson for erroneously concluding the two bishops had been singled out.

The two church leaders wrote Ambassador Sallai Meridor on Feb 6 to express their “grave concerns” and to seek an explanation for “the denial of entry to Gaza” on Feb 4 of the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, the Rt Rev Suheil Dawani, and the Lutheran Bishop of Jordan and the Holy Land, the Rt Rev Munib Younan.

“Although they had received assurances from the Israeli government that they would be allowed to enter, and while the other three members of the delegation were allowed to proceed” the two bishops were prevented from carrying out their “pastoral” visit to Gaza. the rest

TitusOneNine: Resolutions of the Diocese of South Carolina Convention

Resolution 1 Passed at the South Carolina Convention Today
Proposed Anglican Covenant

Resolution 2 Passed at the South Carolina Convention Today
A Resolution on the Uniqueness of Christ

Resolution 3 Proposed But Not Passed at the South Carolina Convention Today
A Resolution Requesting that General Convention 2009 be Suspended

Resolution 4 Passed at the South Carolina Convention Today
A Resolution Requesting Withholding of Consent from the Episcopal Election in Northern Michigan

Richard John Neuhaus: The Radical Conservative

Richard John Neuhaus helped inspire a generation of evangelicals to participate boldly in the public square.
Timothy George

If ideas have consequences, Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009) will be remembered as the most serious Christian thinker and the most consequential public theologian in America since Reinhold Niebuhr. As editor in chief of First Things, a journal he founded in 1990, and as director of the Institute on Religion and Public Life, an influential think tank that addresses issues of moral and social concern, Neuhaus placed his considerable gifts as a writer, thinker, and networker in the service of reasoned discourse and the common good.

T. S. Eliot described the art of writing as a "raid on the inarticulate." Neuhaus was a brilliant raider, and never wrote a boring sentence. His many books and essays, like those of G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis, will be studied for generations to come. His death in New York City at age 72 early this year marks the end of an era in America far more tellingly than the defeat of John McCain. And despite his conversion to Roman Catholicism, he remained one of the most influential "evangelicals" of the past 50 years. the rest image

Syracuse basketball beats UConn in 6-overtime thriller in the Big East Tournament

Big East Tournament, Day 3: SU's Post-Game News Conference

Friday March 13, 2009

It took six overtimes, 30 extra minutes of play, and 127 points for Sixth-seeded Syracuse to defeat No. 3-seed Connecticut in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament on Thursday night.

The game ended at 1:25 a.m., almost four hours after it started, becoming the longest game in Big East Tournament history. The NCAA record for most overtimes is seven, set by Cincinnati and Bradley in 1981.

It was, "the greatest game in history," SU coach Jim Boeheim declared after the final buzzer. the rest

Mike Waters: Syracuse out-lasts Connecticut in 6-OT thriller

College backs down on order banning two pro-life students from campus after outcry from students, faculty and alumni

Political retribution
March 13, 2009

CLAREMONT /Christian Newswire/ -- Pomona College banned two pro-life students from campus last week after they videotaped the question-and-answer session during a Planned Parenthood representative's talk and asked the representative tough questions about recent Planned Parenthood scandals. Pomona rescinded its ban this week after facing strong opposition from students, faculty, and alumni.

The pro-life students, David Daleiden, 20, and Kyle Kinneberg, 21, are members of the youth-led right-to-life advocacy group Live Action.

Daleiden and Kinneberg both attend Claremont McKenna College, part of the Claremont College Consortium together with Pomona and three other undergraduate institutions. A hand-delivered letter from Pomona's Dean of Women Marcelle Holmes notified the students of the ban, claiming their videotaping had been "against college policy." the rest

Pope Admits Online News Can Provide Infallible Aid

March 12, 2009

MADRID — The letter released Thursday in which Pope Benedict XVI admitted that the Vatican had made “mistakes” in handling the case of a Holocaust-denying bishop was unprecedented in its directness, its humanity and its acknowledgment of papal fallibility.

But it also contained two sentences unique in the annals of church history.

“I have been told that consulting the information available on the Internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on,” Benedict wrote. “I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news.”

In other words: “Note to the Roman Curia: try Google.” the rest

Shunned for 3 Years, Bishop Bane Joins ACNA

March 12, 2009

After a long and fruitless search for an opportunity to continue active ministry within The Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. David C. Bane, Bishop of Southern Virginia from 1998-2006, has “joyfully and gratefully” accepted an invitation from Archbishop Gregory Venables to be received as a bishop in the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. He will serve in the Anglican Church of North America as an assisting bishop in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Long-simmering divisions in the Diocese of Southern Virginia culminated in Bishop Bane’s decision to resign in 2006. In a March 9 letter to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop Bane said he believed that his “remaining as bishop would prevent the diocese from healing and moving forward as so much of the blame and animosity continued to be focused on me personally.” He said his decision to resign also was predicated on assurances that there would still be opportunities for him to exercise his vocation within The Episcopal Church. The Living Church received a copy of Bishop Bane’s letter.

Before he and his wife, Alice, relocated to the Diocese of East Carolina and joined an Episcopal parish near their new residence, Bishop Bane said he contacted that diocese’s bishop, the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel. He said he had to contact Bishop Daniel three times before he was able to arrange a meeting and that since then, Bishop Daniel has initiated no contact, nor has he returned his phone calls or letters. Bishop Daniel also has refused to include him on the clergy mailing list. Bishop Bane said he learned second hand that Bishop Daniel had intervened to remove his name from consideration as an interim at a nearby parish. the rest

Dio. of PA: Good Shepherd: Fighting For Orthodox Anglicanism

By Arthur Waldron, For The Bulletin
Friday, March 13, 2009

In what will be a heartbreak for its parishioners and clergy alike, the landmark Church of the Good Shepherd, which has stood since 1894 just south of Lancaster Pike and now across from Rosemont Plaza shopping center, could be closed within the next few months as the result of a lawsuit brought by the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania. Good Shepherd attempted to negotiate the differences between itself and the Diocese, but the Diocese and the national Church would prefer to see an empty building, i.e. St. James the Less in East Falls. Indeed, Mrs. Katherine Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, has testified that she would prefer to see an Episcopal church converted to a saloon rather than be used as an orthodox Anglican church. With other Episcopal churches in the Diocese losing members, the Diocese knows that an empty building will result from their “successes” in the litigation.

The saga of Good Shepherd is both deep Main Line and part of a drama now being played out in the worldwide Anglican Communion, which looks to the Archbishop of Canterbury as its head. the rest

ANiC Bp. Donald Harvey's address to a Fringe Meeting at the Church of England General Synod

March 13th, 2009

On February 12, Bishop Donald Harvey, Moderator, Anglican Network in Canada, spoke at the Anglican Mainstream gathering, Church of England General Synod. Today the Church Times publishes a short article by him on the situation of the Church in Canada. This speech serves as further resource and information about what is taking place.

Anglican Mainstream

Obama's Poll Numbers Are Falling to Earth

MARCH 12, 2009

It is simply wrong for commentators to continue to focus on President Barack Obama's high levels of popularity, and to conclude that these are indicative of high levels of public confidence in the work of his administration. Indeed, a detailed look at recent survey data shows that the opposite is most likely true. The American people are coming to express increasingly significant doubts about his initiatives, and most likely support a different agenda and different policies from those that the Obama administration has advanced.

Polling data show that Mr. Obama's approval rating is dropping and is below where George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001. Rasmussen Reports data shows that Mr. Obama's net presidential approval rating -- which is calculated by subtracting the number who strongly disapprove from the number who strongly approve -- is just six, his lowest rating to date.

Overall, Rasmussen Reports shows a 56%-43% approval, with a third strongly disapproving of the president's performance. This is a substantial degree of polarization so early in the administration. Mr. Obama has lost virtually all of his Republican support and a good part of his Independent support, and the trend is decidedly negative. the rest

Thursday, March 12, 2009

ENS: Bishop Bennison appeals ecclesiastical court's decision

By Jerry Hames
March 12, 2009

[Episcopal News Service] The decision by an ecclesiastical trial court that found Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Charles Bennison guilty of two charges of conduct unbecoming a cleric and recommended that he be deposed from ordained ministry will now go before a higher appeals court of the church.

James Parabue, legal counsel for the bishop, said Bennison had exercised his right of appeal after the original trial court last month rejected a request to modify its sentence. The notice of appeal filed by the bishop's legal counsel cites 19 reasons, including the sentence of deposition, which it says is against the weight of the evidence and contrary to applicable law.

The Court for the Trial of a Bishop upheld its decision of Sept. 30, 2008, that deposition was appropriate "in recognition of the nature of the offense and because [Bennison] has failed to demonstrate that he comprehends and takes responsibility for the harm that he has caused." the rest

The 'Sleeping Giant' Awakes: Connecticut Church Rallies Against 1098

Thursday, March 12, 2009
by Elizabeth Ela

The Connecticut legislation that proposed to strip administrative authority from Catholic priests and bishops has clearly woken a “sleeping giant” – the state’s Catholic population.
That was the opinion of more than one person – and at least one speaker – at a rally at the State Capitol in opposition to the bill.

On what would have been the day of Bill 1098’s public hearing in the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, bishops from the state’s three dioceses, along with other speakers, including Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Connecticut-based Knights of Columbus, addressed a crowd of more than 5,000 Catholics and others concerned for religious freedom.

The overall theme of the rally: that Bill 1098 should never have been raised, that it smacked of anti-Catholicism and that the Catholic Church in Connecticut strongly supported the bishops and priests threatened by the legislation. the rest

Divided flock

The love that dare not speak its name is tearing local church congregations apart
By Ted Cox

Last year, Raymond Hess, head pastor of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on the northern edge of Elk Grove, thought that his church should reach out to the surrounding community.

After studying the demographics of their community, church members saw that their congregation didn’t reflect the diversity of the neighborhoods around them. Guided by a new outreach plan, called ReVision!, members formed a committee to draw new worshippers into Sunday services: Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans and young people.

Soon, though, a difficult question emerged: Should the church reach out to gays and lesbians as well? Hess, and a handful of other members, believed they should.

Hess felt that openly gay men and women should be welcomed into the congregation. “I don’t see myself on the far end of either end of the spectrum,” explained Hess. “But I’m certainly not on the way conservative end of the spectrum.”

But not everyone agreed. Hess said that some of the more conservative members of the church didn’t share his viewpoint. the rest

Grace church trial is over, but decision won't come for 4 weeks

March 11, 2009

After four weeks and dozens of witnesses, the trial to determine who owns a $17 million Gothic church and other property at 601 N. Tejon St. ended Wednesday as attorneys presented their closing arguments.

But Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Larry Schwartz is not expected to issue his decision for at least four weeks.

The trial, which started Feb. 10, pitted two entities that had once been united: the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and Grace Church & St. Stephen's, which broke its affiliation with the Episcopal Church in 2007, but has continued to worship in the building. The group that stayed with the Episcopal Church, Grace & St. Stephen's Episcopal, has been worshiping in another downtown building.

The breakaway parish - the plaintiff in the case - maintains that it is a separate corporation from the diocese and therefore has legal rights to the property. the rest

Springs church battle up to judge: The Episcopal diocese and breakaway members each claim to own the landmark

Sebelius: Obama's Messenger for Moral Incoherence

March 11, 2009
By Michael Gerson

WASHINGTON -- There is a common thread running through President Obama's pro-choice agenda: the coercion of those who disagree with it.

Obama has begun providing federal funds for international groups that promote or perform abortions overseas. He has moved to weaken conscience protections for health care professionals. And he has chosen the most radical possible option on the use of embryonic stem cells -- a free license for researchers, with boundaries set only by the National Institutes of Health.

Taxpayers will now likely fund not only the use of "spare" embryos from in vitro fertilization, but also human lives produced and ended for the sole purpose of scientific exploitation. Biotechnicians have been freed from the vulgar moralism of the masses, so they can operate according to the vulgar utilitarianism of their own social clique -- the belief that some human lives can be planted, plucked and processed for the benefit of others.

It is the incurable itch of pro-choice activists to compel everyone's complicity in their agenda. Somehow getting "politics out of science" translates into taxpayer funding for embryo experimentation. "Choice" becomes a demand on doctors and nurses to violate their deepest beliefs or face discrimination. the rest

ACI, Communion Partner Bishops Mull Petition in Pittsburgh

March 11, 2009

A friend-of-the-court petition filed in the ongoing litigation in Pittsburgh by the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor represents a new, serious challenge to the long-standing polity of The Episcopal Church, according to a joint statement to be issued March 12 by the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) and the Communion Partner bishops.

“The historic episcopate has long been recognized as an essential, non-negotiable element of Anglican identity,” the statement notes. “The polity of The Episcopal Church, clearly expressed in its name, its constitution and its history, is that of dioceses and bishops meeting in a general convention as equals. The Presiding Bishop and the Executive Council are the agents, not the superiors of dioceses.”

The statement is signed by Communion Partner bishops D. Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana and John Howe of Central Florida and by the Rev. Canon Christopher Seitz, the Rev. Philip Turner, the Rev. Ephraim Radner and Mark McCall of the ACI. According to Fr. Seitz, the statement presages a longer, more scholarly paper that will flesh out the two organizations’ concerns. He said leaders of the two organizations have not ruled out the possibility of filing a friend-of-the-court petition of their own. the rest

Use aborted foetus organs in transplants, urges scientist

By Fiona Macrae
11th March 2009

Kidneys and livers from aborted foetuses could be given to the desperately ill and ease the organ donor shortage, a leading scientist has claimed.

Professor Sir Richard Gardner, an Oxford University stem cell expert, said foetal tissues may offer a more realistic solution to the lack of organs than other technologies being developed.

But the proposal has horrified pro-life and Christian groups, who say it is 'morally abhorrent', and raises the prospect of abortions being timed to suit transplant patients. the rest

Fetal Farming, Here We Come: UK Scientists Say to Use Aborted Fetuses as Sources of Organs

First Things: Proclaiming The Good News

By John Jay Hughes
Thursday, March 12, 2009

“Preaching is communication of Jesus Christ himself,” Fr. Alvin Kimel writes. In an earlier age pulpits often displayed inside, for the preacher to see, the text from John 12:21: “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” That is the deepest desire of the people of God, even if many are unable to articulate it. To fulfill that desire, preachers must themselves “know” the Lord, not just with the head, but with the heart. Acquiring that knowledge takes place outside the worshipers’ view: in the “secret place” recommended by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:6).

Even the casual reader of the gospels cannot fail to note the time that Jesus spent in solitary, private prayer. It was in those hours alone with his heavenly Father that Jesus developed the spiritual power which enabled him to say to rough working men, “Come, follow me” –and have them obey him on the spot. It was in prayer that Jesus became the preacher of whom Mark writes: “And they were astonished at his teaching, for he spoke to them with authority and not like the scribes” (Mark 1:22). If Jesus needed those times alone with God, we preachers are fools and guilty fools if we neglect prayer.

If preachers want to speak with an authority like his (and which of us does not?), we must spend time alone with God, waiting upon him in silence, day in and day out, week after week, month after month, year after year–even when, indeed especially when, God seems to answer only with silence. the rest

When Does Life Begin?

by Tim Drake
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

“How do you know when a baby’s life begins?”

That’s the worthy question that starts off this scene from the film “Come What May,” which is available on DVD beginning next week.

Produced by the Advent Film Group, a core team of 40 home-educated students from 16 different states worked on the movie, which examines the issue of life.

It’s a film our President should watch. the rest

Obama Proposes a Toast

Wednesday, 11 March 2009
By William Saunders

In 1942, C. S. Lewis published The Screwtape Letters, advice from a senior “tempter” to a novice about how to confuse us poor mortals, which may be summed up in a single sentence: “Your job is to fuddle them, not to encourage them to think.”

In 1959, Screwtape appears again, in an essay titled, “Screwtape Proposes a Toast,” in which the senior tempter reflects on the state of the world and on what can be done to make it even worse. Those who listened to President Obama’s Oval Office address on March 9 lifting President Bush’s restrictions on stem cell research may be pardoned for thinking the old tempter has returned.

Under Bush, restrictions were placed on federal funding of research using stem cells derived from human embryos after August 10, 2001, the date on which he imposed the ban. But that was all – it was a ban on federal funding of research using those lines. It was not a ban on that research as such, which could still be conducted in any state (e.g., California) which did not ban it, and which could be conducted with state government or private funds. Nor was it a ban on research using pre-August 10 lines (though many of us felt it should have been), or on scientific research using other sources, such as adult stem cells, which pose no ethical concerns. the rest

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Devotional: As out of Jesus' affliction...

As out of Jesus' affliction came a new sense of God's love and a new basis for love between men, so out of our affliction we may grasp the splendor of God's love and how to love one another. Thus the consummation of the two commandments was on Golgotha; and the Cross is, at once, their image and their fulfillment. ...Malcolm Muggeridge image

Shari'a making inroads in the West

Mar 11, 2009

Pakistan recently gave in to the pressure of Islamist militants. Indeed to buy off peace, Pakistani authorities allowed the imposition of Shari'a (Islamic law) in the Swat Valley.

How long the cease-fire will last is anyone's guess. But in any case, Pakistan has allowed a precedent that could extend to other provinces; in fact the Swat Valley is only about 160 kilometers from Islamabad, the capital. But Shari'a is not making inroads only in Pakistan - it is creeping into the West.

One area particularly touched by this phenomenon is the judicial system in Europe. Two recent cases in Italy and France are particularly troublesome. the rest

Chilling free speech: Mapping political persecution

March 12, 2009

Dotting the streets on a certain online map are hundreds of red teardrops. Click on a teardrop at a particular address, and come up with the words, “Patricia Greenwood. Insurance agent. $100.”

Miss Greenwood had better watch her back. Angry supporters of same-sex “marriage” are using Google Maps to tell the world exactly where she lives, and that she donated money to support Proposition 8—the California initiative banning same-sex “marriage.” Now, I made up the name Patricia Greenwood, but the names and addresses on this map belong to real people.

The only point of identifying Proposition 8 supporters is to encourage people to harass them. And the tactic is working. the rest

Abortuary Underemployment

posted March 11, 2009

In the age of skyrocketing unemployment, it is good to know that there are still jobs that are hard to fill.Did you know that March 10th is National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers? It seems that the poor dears are very under appreciated these days. Katha Pollitt, writing at The Nation, laments that baby boomer baby killers are beginning to hang up their hangers and they are increasingly difficult to replace. In a stunning paragraph, even for these people, Pollitt manages some of the more gruesome callousness you are likely to see, at least until Obama does something else to legitimize baby killing. the rest

Abortionist Appreciation Day and Why I Don't Appreciate Them Very Much

UK: Muslim hate preacher ridicules troops abused in anti-war protests

By Michael Seamark, Andrew Levy and Matt Sandy
11th March 2009

A Muslim preacher of hate today ridiculed British soldiers who were abused during a homecoming parade - branding them cowards who have an 'uncanny knack for death by friendly fire'.

Firebrand preacher Anjem Choudary praised the Muslims who had protested at yesterday's parade for the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment in Luton.

And in an inflammatory message posted on an Islamic extremist website, Choudary viciously mocked their comrade who was killed by friendly fire in Iraq. the rest

Google ad service raises privacy fears

Is Google's new targeted advertising service a boon to users, or is it Big Brother in disguise?
Murad Ahmed, Technology Reporter
From Times Online
March 11, 2009

Google knows more about you than any organisation in human history. It can give you a bird’s eye view of your house, allow friends and family to track your every move through their mobile phones, and through its search engine - knows your likes, dislikes and even your vices.

Google’s influence over our lives is set to grow further after it anounced yesterday that it will track millions of people as they move through the internet in order work out what their interests are. Using that information, it will then provide targeted advertising to suit users' individual tastes.

The move was met with fierce criticism. MPs described the new system as the introduction of “big brother” advertising, and leading privacy campaigners said the development was “dangerous”, calling on the government to launch an investigation into the activities of the company to see whether it was becoming too powerful. the rest

Everyone Against Abortion Raise Your Hand, New Pro-Life Video Grabs Attention

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 11, 2009

Washington, DC ( -- A new pro-life video sponsored by Priests for Life is making the rounds across the Internet and is grabbing the attention of thousands. Titled, "Everyone Against Abortion Please Raise Your Hand," the video features a non-graphic image of a person holding the hand of a baby victimized by abortion.

"Let us mourn for these children," the video says. "May our hearts be broken enough for God to enter and stir us to action to defend their lives."

The video is part of a concerted effort from Father Frank Pavone to have Americans confront the reality of how abortion destroys the lives of babies before birth and to do so in a respectful way.

Pavone tells the video has "sparked a response like no other I've seen" and that he is getting positive reaction from the nearly 23,000 people who have seen it on YouTube and thousands more who have viewed it on the Priests for Life web site. the rest

(I'm posting the video again because it is so powerful!-PD)

Bill giving laity control of parish finances killed in Connecticut

By Catholic News Service

HARTFORD, Conn. (CNS) -- At the request of its proponents, a bill that would have given laypeople financial control of their parishes in Connecticut has been withdrawn and is dead for this legislative session.

In a joint statement March 10, the co-chairmen of the Connecticut Legislature's Judiciary Committee, Sen. Andrew J. McDonald of Stamford and Rep. Michael Lawlor of East Haven, announced the cancellation of a scheduled March 11 hearing on the controversial bill.

There was no immediate comment on the bill's demise from the Catholic bishops of Connecticut, who had strongly opposed the legislation and urged Catholics to turn out at the hearing in large numbers.

"At the request of the proponents who are advocating this legislation, we have decided to cancel the public hearing for tomorrow, table any further consideration of this bill for the duration of this session, and ask the attorney general his opinion regarding the constitutionality of the existing law," said McDonald and Lawlor, both Democrats and Catholics. the rest

Albert Mohler: Dying without God -- The Absence of Belief at Life's End

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Of course, the power of cultural Christianity explains why so many others expect a Christian funeral even as they show no evidence of Christian commitment. The disappearance of this expectation marks the erosion of cultural Christianity.

Authentic Christianity sets the issues in bold relief. The Good Friday service in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer famously includes this prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death between your judgment and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and grace to the living; pardon and rest to the dead; to your holy Church peace and concord; and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen.

"Now and in the hour of our death." To be human is to contemplate death. To think of death without thinking of God is to inhabit an almost purely secular world of meaning. The fact that 27% of Americans expect a secular funeral should tell us that millions of Americans are distanced from Christianity by a huge gap of understanding and meaning.

To die without belief in God is to die without fear of judgment and without hope of resurrection. To die without God is to die utterly alone. To die without even the expectation of a religious funeral of any form is to die in the stark admission of unbelief." the rest

The New Blacklist: Freedom of speech--unless you annoy the wrong people

by Maureen Mullarkey

Strange times we live in when it takes a ballot initiative to confirm the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Stranger still when endorsing that definition through the democratic process brings threats and reprisals.

In November, the San Francisco Chronicle published the names and home addresses of everyone who donated money in support of California's Proposition 8 marriage initiative. All available information, plus the amount donated, was broadcast. My name is on that list.

Emails started coming. Heavy with epithets and ad hominems, most in the you-disgust-me vein.

Several accused me, personally, of denying the sender his single chance at happiness after a life of unrelieved oppression and second-class citizenship. Some were anonymous but a sizable number were signed, an indication of confidence in collective clout that belied howls of victimhood. New York's Gay City News asked for an interview because I was "one of only four New Yorkers who contributed more than $500."

I ignored the request, trashed the emails, and forgot about them. But the West Coast bureau chief of the New York Daily News did not forget. the rest

Stay Away from Starbucks on April 15th!

Same Sex Kiss Day at Starbucks
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

As much as many of you may be absolutely addicted to that cup-o-joe in the mornings, on April 15, I would strongly advise you not to take your kids in or near a Starbucks. Otherwise you might be stuck explaining a few things that you probably believe they are not yet ready to be confronted with.

the rest image

Small-business owners come out swinging against Obama’s tax plan

Small manufacturers cry uncle

Stew McMillan, president of Task Force Tips, a 200-employee manufacturer of fire hose nozzles based in Valparaiso, Ind., said there’s a grim new joke going around.

“How many more things can the people who make over $250,000 pay for?”

He and other small-business owners, along with their advocates in Washington, are coming out swinging against President Barack Obama’s plan to let income tax rates for America’s wealthiest rise in 2011, saying it is an ill-timed attack on small businesses that will stymie job growth. the rest

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Devotional: Faith...

Faith is like radar that sees through the fog - the reality of things at a distance that the human eye cannot see.
...Corrie Ten Boom image

2010 California Ballot Initiative eliminates marriage

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The California Catholic Daily reports:

Supporters of same-sex marriage in California are moving quickly to undo Proposition 8 in case the state Supreme Court does not strike it down. Two proposed initiatives have been filed with the attorney general’s office for the 2010 elections – one would simply repeal Prop 8, the other would abolish civil marriages altogether.


Study reports ‘stunning’ U.S. Catholic population shift alongside growing secularization

Hartford, Conn., Mar 10, 2009

(CNA).- A new study on American religion finds that Catholicism is facing a “stunning” decline in the northeast United States as the population center of U.S. Catholics shifts towards the southwest. Secularism continues to grow in all regions, while mainline Protestant denominations face the most significant population decline.

The study, titled the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), was conducted by the Program on Public Values at Trinity College.

According to the ARIS report, Catholic numbers and percentages rose in many states in the South and West mainly due to immigration.
the rest

Libya ‘tortures four Christian converts’

Tuesday, 10th March 2009
By Judy West

The campaigning group International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that Libyan intelligence officials have detained and tortured four Christians for converting from Islam. The Christians have been imprisoned for the past seven weeks in Tripoli, Libya's capital.

Libya's External Security Organization is believed to be behind the detention and torture of the Christians, according to their sources. They say that security agents have barred the families from visiting the detained converts and are putting severe physical and psychological pressure on the Christians in order to force them to reveal the names of other converts. Fearing for their lives, converts from Islam are on the run.

The detention and the torture of the Christian converts come at a critical time in Libya's relations with the international community. The country has been improving its relations with the international community following the lifting of sanctions imposed on it due to its involvement in the bombing of an American airliner in which 270 people were killed. the rest

First Things: Trading Truth for Unity

By J. Daryl Charles
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It is the issue that simply will not go away—at least not in the post-Christian, post-consensus West. It is the issue that breeds a nasty recurring tendency to divide, and divide, and then divide some more. It is the issue to which (seemingly) every General Assembly, every major synod, and every Protestant mainline ecclesiastical convocation leads these days. And, it shows no signs of abating. What’s a poor bishop to do?

Happily, the answer arrives in the March 2009 issue of The Atlantic. In his essay “The Velvet Reformation,” writer Paul Elie, a senior editor with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, wishes to instruct us—as well as any “listening” church bishop out there. Elie offers a highly sympathetic look at the acute “dilemma” presently facing the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who is arguably the second most influential bishop on the planet. This particular dilemma, it should be pointed out, is not the one that arose from Williams’ scandalous comments in a February 2008 address on “Civil and Religious Law in England,” delivered at the Royal Courts of Justice. Therein, it will be remembered, the Archbishop of Canterbury sought to make common cause with Muslim clerics by considering the permissibility of a “softer” form of shari’a law, a concession that, in the words of the esteemed British historian Michael Burleigh, would “wholly undermine the Common Law of England while paving the way to ‘hard’ shari’a law in the future.” Most assuredly, the Archbishop’s remarks created a major “dilemma”—one which will reverberate for decades to come, given his position as a “bishop” representing Christendom worldwide. But this conundrum, in Elie’s view, is of no major concern and decidedly secondary in nature.

Of course, these days the Anglican Church, the world’s third largest communion after the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, is described—perhaps somewhat promiscuously by one of its own celebrated bishops and media darlings who resides in South Africa—as a “hugely untidy but very lovable” body. Which is like saying that some debris was spotted in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. But for the moment, let us grant the euphemism: The Anglican Communion is “untidy.” the rest

Experts: Churches Big and Small Need Security Plan

By Associated Press Writer
Cheryl Wittenauer
Tue, Mar. 10 2009

ST. LOUIS – Megachurches with large audiences have long planned for emergencies, but smaller churches often aren't ready for a crisis, experts say.

First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., where the Rev. Fred Winters was shot and killed during a sermon Sunday was an exception. It initiated a security and emergency plan six months ago, but church officials would not say what it entailed.

The plan did not prevent an attack. Terry J. Sedlacek, 27, was charged Monday with first-degree murder and aggravated battery in the assault that killed Winters and left Sedlacek and two congregants who tackled him with stab wounds.

Still, emergency plans are important, said First Baptist associate pastor Mark Jones. the rest

Obama’s Embryo Destruction Extremism: Time for Obama’s Pro-Life Supporters to Face the Facts

By Yuval Levin, Ethics and Public Policy Center
March 9, 2009

Amidst the fawning press coverage of President Obama’s overturning of the Bush stem cell funding policy, it is important to understand a few basic facts about what he has and has not done.

First, the stories about this decision suggest Obama has restored federal policy to what it was before George W. Bush’s 2001 stem cell policy announcement. This is simply not true. The federal government has in fact never before-even under President Clinton-used taxpayer dollars to encourage the destruction of human embryos, as it will now begin to do. Obama’s decision is an unprecedented break with the longstanding federal policy of neutrality toward embryo research. Before 2001, not one dollar had ever been spent to support embryonic stem cell research, and when George W. Bush provided funds for the first time, he did so in a way that made sure tax dollars did not create an incentive for the ongoing destruction of human embryos. President Obama’s new policy will do precisely that: it will tell researchers that if they destroy a human embryo, they will become eligible for federal dollars to use in studying its cells; establishing an obvious and unprecedented incentive. And the president has not established any moral constraints whatsoever on funding: he has instructed the NIH to create the rules, so it’s safe to expect that they will permit not only the use of embryos “left over” after IVF, but also those created solely to be destroyed for research, including those created by cloning. This is well beyond what even most advocates of overturning the Bush policy have tended to argue for in public.

Second, the coverage suggests the Bush policy was a ban on embryonic stem cell research. In fact, again, the Bush policy provided federal funds for the first time, and it placed no limits on the conduct of embryo research with private sector dollars, except in requiring that those funds not be mixed with federal money. President Bush made clear that he believed embryo research was unethical, but his powers to act to constrain it were limited, and the policy he pursued sought to establish clear bounds for the use of taxpayer funds while at the same time encouraging the development of alternatives to the destruction of embryos. He believed-rightly, as it turned out-that if policymakers carved out the proper channels for this research, it could be directed away from unethical practices... the rest-excellent!

Conn. Legislature Moves to Regulate Catholic Church in Suspected "Payback" for Marriage Stance

Monday March 9, 2009
By Kathleen Gilbert

HARTFORD, Connecticut, March 9, 2009 ( - The Connecticut Judiciary committee Thursday proposed a bill stripping Roman Catholic bishops of their authority to govern fiscal and administrative diocesan affairs - an unprecedented attempt to regulate the Catholic Church, that critics are calling "payback" for the Church's efforts to prevent the legalization of same-sex "marriage" in the state.

The explicit intent of S.B. 1098 is, "To revise the corporate governance provisions applicable to the Roman Catholic Church and provide for the investigation of the misappropriation of funds by religious corporations."

Referring specifically to structures of the Roman Catholic Church, the bill states: "The corporation shall have a board of directors consisting of not less than seven nor more than thirteen lay members. The archbishop or bishop of the diocese or his designee shall serve as an ex-officio member of the board of directors without the right to vote."
the rest

Added: McKinney: Cancel Hearing on Catholic Church Controversy

Shredding the First Amendment in the Constitution State

Archbishop of Denver warns that Conn. bill threatens Catholics everywhere

Episcopalians Believe [del] Anything

By fitsnews
March 3, 2009

We’re all for religious freedom and letting people hook it up with whoever they want behind closed doors, but we’re pretty sure Episcopalians have gone off the friggin’ deep end.

And not just because they think openly gay bishops can marry and get married, people.

Episcopalians are now actually electing bishops who walk “dual spiritual paths.” the rest

Google software bug shared private online documents

Mar 10, 2009

Google has confirmed that a software bug exposed documents thought to be privately stored in the Internet giant's online Docs application service.

The problem was fixed by the weekend and is believed to have affected only .05 percent of the digital documents at a Google Docs service that provides text-handling programs as services on the Internet.

"We've identified and fixed a bug where a very small percentage of users shared some of their documents inadvertently," Google Docs Product Manager Jennifer Mazzon wrote in a message at the firm's website on Saturday. the rest

Monday, March 09, 2009

Devotional: God has called us to shine...

God has called us to shine, just as much as Daniel was sent into Babylon to shine. Let no one say that he cannot shine because he has not so much influence as some others may have. What God wants you to do is to use the influence you have. Daniel probably did not have much influence down in Babylon at first, but God soon gave him more because he was faithful and used what he had. ...Dwight L. Moody image

Tea Parties? What Tea Parties?

Predictably, Established Media Coverage of Tea Party Protests Is Sparse
By Tom Blumer
March 8, 2009

Coverage of "tea party" protests in various cities around the country (this March 4 Pajamas Media press release, HT to FreeRepublic, cited 22 locations on February 27 and seven this weekend) has been sparse to non-existent, especially at major establishment media outlets.

Most notably, based on a seach on "tea party" (not in quotes) at its home page at about 10:00 a.m., there has been no coverage of this weekend's or last weekend's protests by the Associated Press, the self-described "essential global news network":

What's more, even though over 20 of the protests had already taken place, the AP's David Bauder, in his coverage of a dispute over the prominent use of CNBC's Rick ("Rant Hear 'Round the world") Santelli's name at a protest web site (the March 2, 8:06 p.m. item above), either did not know that the protests had occurred, or didn't care to inform his readers that they had. the rest

Albert Mohler: The Floodgate is Now Open -- President Obama and the Vulnerable Embryo

Monday, March 09, 2009

President Barack Obama today signed an executive order that reverses the Bush administrations restrictions on federal funding for research that involves the destruction of human embryos. In a White House ceremony, President Obama said that Americans “have come to a consensus that we should pursue this research; that the potential it offers is great, and with proper guidelines and strict oversight the perils can be avoided.”

The President had promised to take this action as a candidate, but in the weeks just after his inauguration he had made comments suggesting that he would prefer that Congress would deal lift the Bush restrictions by legislation. Nevertheless, today's White House ceremony was thoroughly orchestrated and media had advance notice as of last Friday.

The President's new policy means that federal funding will now go to researchers whose work with human embryonic stem cells involves the destruction of additional human embryos. This represents a monumental moral shift. The United States government is now in the business of supporting the destruction of human embryos through federal funding of stem cell research. the rest

Perpetuating a Needless Stem-Cell War

Obama's decision is bad ethics, bad science, and bad politics
by Ryan T. Anderson

President Obama today fulfilled his campaign promise to lift federal-funding restrictions on research involving the destruction of human embryos. He couldn't have done so at a more inappropriate time, for just last week scientists made headlines again announcing yet another breakthrough in what is known as "induced pluripotent stem-cell" technology. Following up on the initial breakthrough in November 2007 that allowed scientists to produce the biological equivalent of embryonic stem cells without creating, using, or destroying any human embryos, scientists have continued to refine their methods. Last week's announcement was the latest in a long string of developments. If Obama truly wants to find honorable compromises that the entire nation can accept in good conscience and even endorse, he should be promoting these alternative sources.

During the ceremony this morning, Obama announced that by signing this executive order "we will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research." Of course there never was a ban on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. President Bush was, in fact, the first president in history to fund embryonic stem cell research. The compromise Bush reached, however, put restrictions in place that prevented the further destruction of human embryos. It is these restrictions protecting human life that Obama has lifted. the rest image

Hawaii Senators Hesitate On Rescue Of Gay Civil Unions

By Carlos Santoscoy
March 09, 2009

Hawaii senators who had vowed to rescue a stranded gay civil unions bill from a deadlocked committee and pass it this legislative session have begun to backpeddle.

House Bill 444, which would grant gay and lesbian couples all the rights of marriage, was marooned on February 25 when it deadlocked on a 3-3 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The final tally came after a grueling 18 hour marathon hearing session that ended at 3AM...

... massive anti-gay show of force leading up to and during the committee proceedings appears to have given senators pause to reconsider. The majority of testimony heard at the hearing was against the bill.

A 6,000-strong crowd of protesters attended a church-backed rally held at the Capitol the Sunday before the committee convened. Participants wore red to symbolize the blood of Jesus Christ and cited Scripture as reason for their opposition to civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. the rest

New England: Where liberals failed, Baptists plant churches

By G. Jeffrey MacDonald
The Layman
Thursday, March 5, 2009

WEST PAWLET, Vt. – Four years ago in this remote valley hamlet, the last eight members of the financially strapped United Church of West Pawlet voted to disband the congregation. Tad Perry remembers the wrenching vote as “one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.”

But now on a nine-degree Sunday morning, a steady plume rises once again from the chimney behind the steeple.

Inside, nearly 50 people singing catchy hymns with piano accompaniment help make the tiny sanctuary feel close to full. And the voice from the pulpit bespeaks what’s taking place—not only here, but in formerly vacant, old church buildings across northern New England.

“The mission of this church is to see lost people saved throughout this region and to disciple the saved,” says Pastor Lyandon Warren in a thick Southern accent that gives away his Waynesville, N.C., roots. His drawl also meshes with the new, Southern Baptist affiliation of the church, which reopened in May 2007 as Mettowee Valley Church. the rest

15 Percent of Americans Have No Religion

Fewer Call Themselves Christians;
Nondenominational Identification Increases
By Michelle Boorstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 9, 2009

The percentage of Americans who call themselves Christians has dropped dramatically over the past two decades, and those who do are increasingly identifying themselves without traditional denomination labels, according to a major study of U.S. religion being released today.

The survey of more than 54,000 people conducted between February and November of last year showed that the percentage of Americans identifying as Christians has dropped to 76 percent of the population, down from 86 percent in 1990. Those who do call themselves Christian are more frequently describing themselves as "nondenominational" "evangelical" or "born again," according to the American Religious Identification Survey. the rest image

Rowan Williams: Don't blame the bankers - deregulation and spending caused it too

by Sam Jones
The Guardian
Monday 9. 2009

Blaming the greed of individual bankers for the financial crisis was too easy and people should instead be asking profound questions about how poorly regulated economies obsessed with ever-growing consumer choice have skewed the judgments of entire countries, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

The Right Rev Rowan Williams used a lecture in Cardiff at the weekend to deliver a wide-ranging attack on a globalised economic system which had been "spectacularly successful in generating purchasing power" but which had also led us to "the most radical insecurity imaginable".

As economists struggle to find technical solutions to the recession, which has brought interests rates to their lowest level in 300 years and forced the government to cut VAT in an effort to get shoppers back into the high street, he said ordinary people had to ask themselves difficult questions about their own lives. the rest

Lutherans consider gay clergy

The Associated Press
March 08, 2009

The nation's largest Lutheran denomination will consider allowing individual congregations to choose whether to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy, an attempt to avoid the sort of infighting that has threatened to tear other churches apart.

A task force of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recommended that course at the end of February in a long-awaited report on ministry standards. The panel, however, said the church needs to clarify a number of questions before overhauling its gay clergy policy.

The report, issued at the same time as a broader church social statement on human sexuality, seeks balance on an issue dividing many Protestant churches. Both documents will be considered in August in Minneapolis at the biannual church convention. the rest

Lutheran panel proposes road map to permit partnered gay clergy

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Devotional: And when you do yield yourself in absolute surrender...

And when you do yield yourself in absolute surrender, let it be in the faith that God does now accept of it. That is the great point, and that is what we so often miss-that believers should be thus occupied with God in this matter of surrender. I pray you, be occupied with God. We want to get help, every one of us, so that in our daily life God shall be clearer to us, God shall have the right place, and be "All in all." And if we are to have that through life, let us begin now and look away from ourselves, and look up to God. ...Andrew Murray image

Wikipedia scrubs Obama eligibility

Mention of citizenship issues deleted in minutes, 'offending' users banned
March 08, 2009
By Aaron Klein
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

Wikipedia, the online "free encyclopedia" mega-site written and edited entirely by its users, has been deleting within minutes any mention of eligibility issues surrounding Barack Obama's presidency, with administrators kicking off anyone who writes about the subject, WND has learned.

A perusal through Obama's current Wikipedia entry finds a heavily guarded, mostly glowing biography about the U.S. president. Some of Obama's most controversial past affiliations, including with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and former Weathermen terrorist Bill Ayers, are not once mentioned, even though those associations received much news media attention and served as dominant themes during the presidential elections last year. the rest

When Engineers Have Pets

Catholics Argue For Right To Refuse Goods, Services

The Hartford Courant
March 7, 2009

No one is arguing that a Catholic priest should have to perform a gay marriage.

But the church says that doesn't go far enough.

The Connecticut Catholic Conference is asking lawmakers to expand the category of those who don't have to comply with the state's new same-sex marriage law if their religion holds that such unions are wrong.

People such as florists, wedding photographers and justices of the peace. the rest

Pastor Shot During Service

Man Approached Pulpit and Fatally Shot Pastor; Stabbed Self and Parishioners
March 8, 2009

A shooting during a morning church service outside St. Louis has left one person dead -- the church's pastor -- and several others wounded, officials said.

The Rev. Fred Winters was at the pulpit at the First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., at 8:15 a.m. local time today when a man wearing dark clothing approached the pulpit and fired four shots, the first of which hit the pastor's Bible, Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent said at a news conference late today.

One of the shots from the gunman's .45 caliber pistol hit Winters in the chest, killing him, before his gun jammed, said Trooper Ralph Timmins of the Illinois State Police, which is handling the investigation.
The rest/image

Episcopal Church to be asked to make marriage service gender-neutral

Sunday, 8th March 2009
By George Conger

The General Convention of the US Episcopal Church will be asked to authorize rites for the blessing of same-sex unions at their triennial meeting in July. On Jan 31 the Diocese of Newark synod endorsed a resolution asking the General Convention to amend the national Church’s canons governing Holy Matrimony, making them gender-neutral.

Newark’s Resolution 2009-05 asks the national church to amend Canon 18: Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony, substituting the words “two persons” where the words “a man and a woman” now appear, and to amend Canon 19: Of Regulations Respecting Holy Matrimony, to substitute the word “spouse” where the words “husband or wife” appear.

Delegates to the Newark synod also asked their diocesan clergy to henceforth record services solemnizing same-sex civil unions in the parish register “in a manner identical to the recording of marriages,” and stated the diocese’s intention of asking the national Church to amend its canons making this innovation church wide. the rest

Pastoral Visitors are unveiled, but traditionalists are sceptical

March 8, 2009
by George Conger written with Matt Creswell

AMERICAN Church leaders claimed this week that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s new group of Pastoral Visitors is ‘too little, too late’. As the number of lawsuits between the Episcopal Church (TEC) and breakaway conservative groups approaches 60, some say the initiative - intended to help repair the torn fabric of the Anglican Communion- lacks integrity.

On March 2 Lambeth Palace announced that the team of three retired bishops, two clergymen, and a retired British army general had their first meeting from Feb 25-28 at the Virginia Theological Seminary outside Washington.

Created in response to the recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group, on Feb 5 Dr Williams told a press conference in Alexandria the “pastoral visitors” would “act as consultants in situations of stress and conflict” across the Communion. But the Rev Philip Ashey, Chief Operating Officer for the American Anglican Council, a grouping of conservative Anglicanism, was deeply concerned about Lambeth’s response. Speaking from Atlanta, Georgia, he said: “Every pastoral visitor programme suggested so far has admitted the participation of the parties who have been aggrieved, those people who have left TEC.” the rest

Protestants to wrestle with issue of ordaining gay clergy

All signs point to a less acrimonious outcome than at Grace Episcopal in 2007
By Bill Thompson
Staff writer
Sunday, March 8, 2009

Thirteen months ago the controversy over allowing openly gay clergy to minister to the faithful literally tore one of the city's oldest churches in two.

Led by the Rev. Don Curran, more than 400 members of Grace Episcopal Church, a fixture on Ocala's religious landscape for 155 years, divorced themselves from the national Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. because of deviations from biblical teaching and tradition.

Specifically, the local discontent was rooted in decisions by national church elders to consecrate an openly homosexual bishop, bless same-sex unions and shrink away from evangelizing to non-Christians. The dissidents later settled elsewhere in town as Christ the King Anglican Church. the rest

Episcopal clergy lead the way in rejecting Christian doctrine

Episcopal clergy take lead in staking out progressive positions
By Mary Frances Schjonberg
March 06, 2009

[Episcopal News Service] A survey by Public Religion Research released March 6 shows that mainline Protestant clergy are much more likely to identify themselves as liberal and Democrat than conservative or Republican.

The "Clergy Voices" survey showed that clergy of The Episcopal Church, which it included in its definition of mainline Protestants, and the United Church of Christ (UCC)--66 percent and 74 percent, respectively--were the most likely to call themselves liberal. Overall, 48 percent of the clergy surveyed chose that label.

Robert P. Jones, the research group's founder and president, said during a March 6 telephone briefing that the survey showed that Episcopal Church and UCC clergy were "really staking out more progressive views" than the rest of the clergy who responded. the rest