Saturday, August 29, 2009

Devotional: God is a master artist...

God is a master artist. There are aspects of your life and character-good, quality things-He wants others to notice. So without using blatant tricks or obvious gimmicks, God brings the cool, dark contrast of suffering into your life. That contrast, laid up against the golden character of Christ within you, will draw attention…to Him.

Light against darkness. Beauty against affliction. Joy against sorrow. A sweet, patient spirit against pain and disappointment-major contrasts that have a way of attracting notice. You are the canvas on which He paints glorious truths, sharing beauty, and inspiring others so that people might see Him. ...Joni Eareckson Tada
image-Neville Longmore

Fetuses found to have memories

By Jennifer Harper
Thursday, July 16, 2009

They weigh less than 3 pounds, usually, and are perhaps 15 inches long. But they can remember.
The unborn have memories, according to medical researchers who used sound and vibration stimulation, combined with sonography, to reveal that the human fetus displays short-term memory from at least 30 weeks gestation - or about two months before they are born.

"In addition, results indicated that 34-week-old fetuses are able to store information and retrieve it four weeks later," said the research, which was released Wednesday.

Scientists from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Maastricht University Medical Centre and the University Medical Centre St. Radboud, both in the Netherlands, based their findings on a study of 100 healthy pregnant women and their fetuses with the help of some gentle but precise sensory stimulation. the rest

U.S. is 15 years behind South Korea in Internet speed

Saturday, August 29, 2009
The Business Review (Albany)
by Steven E.F. Brown

A report on Internet speed in the United States says the country isn’t likely to catch world leader South Korea for 15 years.

Or for much longer — at current growth rates, the United States will only reach South Korea’s speed today in 15 years.

The report, by the Communications Workers of America, details Internet download and upload speeds all over the United States and some of its affiliated territories. In the last year, the average upload speed in the United States “barely changed,” the report said, and download speed only grew a little, from 4.2 megabits per second in 2008 to 5.1 megabits per second in 2009.

In South Korea, average download speed is four times faster — 20.4 megabits per second. The United States also lags Japan (15.8 mbps), Sweden (12.8 mbps), the Netherlands (11 mbps) and 24 other countries. the rest

'Walking Bible' gets people's attention with amazing memory

By TRACIE SIMER

Ask Charles Matlock to recite a random Bible passage, and he'll think for a second before delivering the verses as if reading from the book.

Because of his photographic memory, Matlock, 59, has been able to memorize most of Christianity's holy book.

He is known as the "Walking Bible of West Tennessee." The Savannah native can recite whole books or chapters by request.

"I started when I was very young, sharing about Jesus Christ whenever I could," he said. "Memorizing the Bible is a great opportunity to know Christ and share him with others." the rest

GOP senator signals fading hopes on health care

By JIM KUHNHENN
posted August 29, 2009

WASHINGTON — A leading GOP negotiator on health care struck a further blow to fading chances of a bipartisan compromise by saying Democratic proposals would restrict medical choices and make the country's "finances sicker without saving you money."

The criticism from Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., echoed that of many opponents of the Democratic plans under consideration in Congress. But Enzi's judgment was especially noteworthy because he is one of only three Republicans who have been willing to consider a bipartisan bill in the Senate.

In the Republicans' weekly radio and Internet address on Saturday, Enzi said any health care legislation must lower medical costs for Americans without increasing deficits and the national debt.

"The bills introduced by congressional Democrats fail to meet these standards," he said. the rest

Albert Mohler: "The Disposition Decision" -- What to Do With the Embryos?

Friday, August 28, 2009

For most Americans, the moral status of the human embryo is a question that seems quite remote. Even as hundreds of thousands of "excess" human embryos are now stored in American fertility clinics and laboratories, to most Americans these frozen embryos are out of sight and out of mind. Thus, one of the most important moral challenges of our day remains largely off the screen of our national discourse. The issue cannot remain out of sight or out of mind for long.

Indeed, for hundreds of thousands of couples (and in many cases, just individuals) this crucial moral question grows more difficult to ignore by the day. For those whose progeny are now frozen in fertility clinics, the "disposition decision" will eventually have to be made. The decision about the eventual disposition of these human embryos will reveal what these couples truly believe about human dignity and the sanctity of human life. On the larger landscape, the pattern of these decisions and the policies adopted by medical practitioners will reveal the soul of our culture as well. the rest

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cape Town defers decision on same-sex marriages

Friday, 28th August 2009
By George Conger

The Diocese of Cape Town’s triennial synod deferred action last week on a motion that sought to place same-sex relationships on the morally equivalent footing as marriage, pushing the matter onto the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa for review.

On Aug 22, delegates from St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, whose dean the Rev Rowan Smith is the only “out” gay clergyman in the South African church, asked synod to request that it commend to Archbishop Thabo Makgoba that the church give “serious and prayerful consideration to the acceptance of gays and lesbians in their committed partnerships as valued members of our parishes".

The basis for accepting committed same-sex partnerships within the life of the church arose from the “long-standing tradition within the Anglican Communion of respect for individual conscience, in seeking to be faithful disciples of Jesus,” the resolution said. the rest

Festival Critic: Invitation to Bishop Robinson Shows Bias

August 28, 2009

Organizers of England’s Greenbelt Christian arts and music festival, which is expected to draw some 20,000 people to Cheltenham this weekend, are facing criticism for invited Bishop Gene Robinson to address the gathering.

The Bishop of New Hampshire is scheduled to make his presentation, “Homosexuality: What the Bible Says and Why it Matters,” on Monday, the festival’s closing day.

The Rev. Canon Chris Sugden of the traditionalist advocacy group Anglican Mainstream, said that while Greenbelt has often been a forum for exploring new ideas, Bishop Robinson’s views will be the only ones presented on the issue of human sexuality.

“Gene Robinson was invited because he’s a controversial celebrity,” Canon Sugden told the BBC. “The festival will be full of families with teenage children, a ready audience who might be persuaded by his sophisticated presentation technique. I suggest it’s a sign of prejudice by Greenbelt that they haven't invited other speakers.” the rest

A New Sexual Ethic: Coming to a Parish Near You

American Anglican Council
August 28, 2009
By Ralinda B. Gregor

A recent Huffington Post editorial by Unitarian Universalist minister Debra Haffner noted this has been a "stunning year for LGBT equality in the life of the Protestant churches."

However, she lamented that the focus on "lifelong committed relationships" by the Lutheran Church (ELCA) leaves out single adults (including clergy) who choose to have sex outside of marriage.

It is within this framework that she presents her pitch for a "new sexual ethic" proposed by the organization she heads, the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing, which seeks to "change the way America understands the relationship of sexuality and religion." the rest

The Decline and Fall of the Anglican Church of Canada

Aug 26th, 2009
Anglican Essentials

One of life’s little mysteries is that the Anglican Journal is still delivered to my door for me to peruse and inwardly digest. There is an interesting number mentioned in the September edition’s editorial – I can’t point to it because it isn’t online yet. The editorial states that there are now around 325,000 people in Canada that attend an ACoC church twice or more per month; hitherto, I had only seen the 2001 figure of 658,000 quoted.

In 1961, 1.3 million people attended an ACoC church; that means the average yearly number of those exiting the ACoC is around 20,300 people. If we assume a constant number of people exiting per year, we end up with no-one left by the year 2025.

It could be argued that the rate of decline is a better measure and that might be slowing; there isn’t much reason to believe this though, since attendance was halved between 1961 and 2001 – 40 years – and halved again between 2001 and 2009 – 8 years. the rest

Bauckham: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony



Found here

Mother's goodbye saves her baby

Thursday, August 27, 2009

When Carolyn Isbister put her 20oz baby on her chest for a cuddle, she thought that it would be the only chance she would ever have to hold her.

Doctors had told the parents that baby Rachel only had only minutes to live because her heart was beating once every ten seconds and she was not breathing.

Isbister remembers:

I didn’t want her to die being cold. So I lifted her out of her blanket and put her against my skin to warm her up. Her feet were so cold.

It was the only cuddle I was going to have with her, so I wanted to remember the moment.” Then something remarkable happened. The warmth of her mother’s skin kick started Rachael’s heart into beating properly, which allowed her to take little breaths of her own.
the rest

Church of England ready to fight for its presence in the House of Lords

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Church of England has fought back against suggestions that it would give up its seats in the House of Lords without a fight, reports have said.

A spokesman for the Church has told politics.co.uk that such a move would be a “retrograde step”.

The rebuttal has come following comments by the British justice secretary Jack Straw that indicated bishops may no longer be welcome in the House of Lords. the rest

Pope was right about AIDS: Harvard scientist

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The director of Harvard's AIDS Prevention Research Project, Edward Green, has told a Rome conference that Benedict's position on AIDS and condoms is correct.

Green stated this in an address at the 30th annual Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples in Rimini, sponsored by the lay movement, Communion and Liberation, ZENIT reports.

Green, an expert on AIDS prevention, said that "as a scientist he was amazed to see the closeness between what the Pope said last March in Cameroon and the results of the most recent scientific discoveries." the rest

Gay US bishop attacks treatment of gay and lesbian clergy by Church of England

Gene Robinson chides Archbishop of Canterbury for talk of two-tier Anglican communion
Aida Edemariam
guardian.co.uk,
Friday 28 August 2009

The first openly gay bishop in the Anglican communion has launched an outspoken attack on the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Gene Robinson, the Episcopalian bishop of New Hampshire, criticised the policy of the Church of England towards gay and lesbian clergy. Alluding to the significant number of clergy who are gay, he said: "I think gay clergy in the Church of England are thought of as a problem to be solved or at least lived with, rather than a gift from God."

Robinson, who is in Britain to speak at the Greenbelt festival at Cheltenham Racecourse this weekend, added that he could not accept the archbishop's recent comments that if the Episcopal church refused to uphold the current moratorium on consecrating actively gay bishops or blessing civil unions, the communion might have to be reorganised into a two-tier, or "two-track" model. "I can't imagine anything that would be more abhorrent to Jesus than a two-tier church," he said. "Either we are children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ, or we aren't. There are not preferred children and second-class children. There are just children of God." the rest

Bill would give president emergency control of Internet

August 28, 2009
by Declan McCullagh

Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.

They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.

The new version would allow the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for "cybersecurity professionals," and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license.

"I think the redraft, while improved, remains troubling due to its vagueness," said Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance, which counts representatives of Verizon, Verisign, Nortel, and Carnegie Mellon University on its board. "It is unclear what authority Sen. Rockefeller thinks is necessary over the private sector. Unless this is clarified, we cannot properly analyze, let alone support the bill." the rest

Episcopal church's last rites in Englewood fueled by gay divide

St. George's will dissolve, the latest in Episcopal exodus
By Electa Draper
The Denver Post
08/28/2009

After a farewell service on Sunday, St. George's Episcopal Church will close its doors just short of its 100th anniversary — the latest parish to disintegrate in part because of the ordination of gay and lesbian priests.

The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado will officially deconsecrate the Englewood church, more recently called Holy Apostles, after its short-lived merger with another struggling congregation failed to save it.

"St. George's has been a church in turmoil for decades," said Rosamond Long, a 35-year member of the church. "We managed to get it back on its feet every time. This time, we're not going to be able to do it."

The remaining 30 or so congregants will scatter among other churches.

Even though these traditional, loyal and older Episcopalians did not object to the church's growing acceptance of openly gay clergy, they say, their former priest did.

The Rev. Roger Bower, who came to the church about two years ago along with members of the Church of the Holy Spirit, a startup congregation, left St. George's at the end of June. the rest

Confessions of a Health Care Rationer

First Things
Aug 28, 2009
Eric Chevlen, M.D.

Excerpt:
"As Congress and the people consider restructuring the American healthcare system, they must keep in mind that rationing health care may not be undeniable, but it is unavoidable. To claim that Congress will devise a new federal healthcare plan that will not involve rationing is like claiming that it will invent a triangle that doesn’t have three sides. Currently, within the private sector of health care, we have a large number of private insurance companies vying for the business of their customers. They ration health care on the basis of evidence-based medical necessity. The Obama health plan, the details of which are still being worked out, will also ration health care. The alternative to that is an accelerated escalation of aggregate healthcare costs. But the single-payer system to which Obama’s plan will lead will have no competitor and no pressing financial incentive to please its customers. No competitor for the single payer means no alternative for the patient. We can reasonably expect that a single-payer system of rationing will be largely implicit rather than explicit, and governed as much by cost and political considerations as by medical evidence. Such a system would likely combine the fiscal responsibility of the Postal Service, the customer friendliness of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and the smooth efficiency of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

You can bet your life on it." Full essay

Obamacare: A Pretext for Centralized Government Intrusion Into Personal Privacy
Now, in the name of health reform, all of our tax information will be made available to our health overseers.

Who Owns Your Body? Under Obamacare, not you.
The system now congealing in Congress for health care is not informed by such principles. Access to the most intimate personal information, direct interaction with bank accounts, and mandated Procrustean protocols remain features of the various schemes under consideration. Such programs would be managed by impenetrable, impersonal, and unaccountable bureaucracies. Do we wish to place such profound coercive powers in the hands of anyone, much less those who now stand expectant and eager to receive them?

R.I.P. Senator Kennedy: Let us Honor the Dead by Protecting the Living

By Deacon Keith A Fournier
8/28/2009
Catholic Online

Excerpt:
"Back then the word “liberal” was associated with noble ideals. It involved having a concern for the poor and a bedrock belief that there were fundamental, inalienable human rights which must be recognized in the civil (positive) law because they were endowed by the Creator and revealed in the Natural Law.

As the years have past, the word has changed in its meaning and that claim has been eroded. However, it was that kind of noble “liberalism” which I thought characterized the late Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy when I was a younger man. I still remember that he began his political career as a strong defender of the rights of children in the womb. For example, in 1971, Senator Kennedy described his strongly Pro-Life position in these words: "While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized -- the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grown old.” the rest

How Support for Abortion Became Kennedy Dogma

The Ministerium In Schism, A Church Divided

Pastor Jeff Ruby
Status Confessionis, ELCA pastor
posted on August 28, 2009

A week from the first vote in Minnesota that altered the landscape of the ECLA forever, I have had some time for a few reflections. I don't pass myself off as some deep thinking theologian, nor do my words reflect anything other than that of the parish pastor. A parish pastor who day in and day out ministers to the people, preaches the Word and administers the sacraments, and understands he is simul justus et peccator, at one and same time sinner and saint.

There are many of us, in fact probably a great majority, who simply cannot comprehend what happened last week. I was a voting member and I am not sure I understand. But we do know that the decisions made will ripple down and probably signals the end of the ELCA as a potent denomination in American Lutheranism.

I am not getting into the scriptural debates that have raged for the entire life of the ELCA on this issue. I think in all reality we have been operating with two diferent hermeneutics of scriptural interpretaion for a long, long time. It is why we have been obsessed with this for the entire life of the ELCA. Last week, I really wanted to talk about world hunger. About caring for the homeless. About why our church has lost half a million members in six years. About evangelism. There was little, if any , discussion on these topics. I do want to say this.

Most of us who struggle with this are not extremists on either side. We do not demonize those who think differently from us, nor do we hate people because of their sexual orientation. Many of us have gay friends and know people who struggle with sexual identity. As a pastor for 21 years, I have counseled many people who struggle in that arena. I have not judged them, nor condemned them, but tried to share God's love in all things. the rest

Judge Denies Oakland's Request to Deny Pro-Life Pastor's Free Speech Rights

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 27, 2009

Oakland, CA (LifeNews.com) -- A judge has denied a motion form officials with the City of Oakland to permanently prevent a pro-life pastor from presenting abortion alternatives to women outside an abortion center. Pastor Walter Hoye has been fighting with the city over the black minister's efforts to reach out to local women.

Hoye had appeared outside the Family Planning Specialists abortion center until the city council approved an ordinance that targets the free speech rights of pro-life advocates.

It places a “bubble zone” in place within eight feet of women entering any local abortion business.

Attorneys from the Life Legal Defense Foundation, a pro-life legal group, challenged the law in court as an unconstitutional infringement on the First Amendment rights of Hoye and other pro-life advocates.

After initially losing his case and spending weeks in prison, Hoye received a victory. the rest

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Devotional: Oh, for the baptism of fire!

Oh, for the baptism of fire! Oh, for the living coal upon the burning lips of love! 0h, for men and women God-possessed and self-surrendered, grasping God's great idea and pressing forward toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. ...AB Simpson image by polandeze

After Kennedy's Death: Silence from the Pope

By Jeff Israely
Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009

There was a poignant footnote to President Obama's historic July 10 meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. Behind closed doors in the papal library, Obama handed Benedict a letter that Senator Edward Kennedy had asked him to personally deliver to the pontiff. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs later told reporters that nobody — not even the President — knew the contents of the sealed missive. Obama himself asked Benedict to pray for Kennedy, and called the ailing Senator afterward to fill him in on his encounter with the 82-year-old Pope.

The letter, most likely already re-sealed and tucked away in the Vatican archives, was probably just a dying Catholic's request for a papal blessing. In the eyes of the traditionalist wing of the Church, however, Kennedy should have been asking the Pope for forgiveness. The Vatican's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano reported Kennedy's death, praising his work on civil rights and fighting poverty, but noted that his record was marred by his stance on abortion. As of yet, unlike some other world leaders, Pope Benedict has not commented or issued an official communique in response to Kennedy's death. One veteran official at the Vatican, of U.S. nationality, expressed the view of many conservatives about the Kennedy clan's rapport with the Catholic Church: "Why would he even write a letter to the Pope? The Kennedys have always been defiantly in opposition to the Roman Catholic magisterium." Magisterium is the formal expression for the authority of Church teaching.

Since Kennedy's death on Aug. 25, commentators have been poring over the Liberal Lion's many legislative achievements and the details of his biography. But it is also worth remembering that for four decades Ted Kennedy remained the nation's most prominent Roman Catholic politician, and brother of America's first and only Catholic President. Ted Kennedy received his first communion directly from Pope Pius XII, and his marriage in 1958 was performed by Cardinal Francis Spellman, the influential Archbishop of New York. His mother, Rose Kennedy, once reportedly said that she'd dreamed that her youngest son Teddy would become a priest rather than a politician, destined to ultimately rise to bishop status. the rest

Presiding Bishop Defends ‘Heresy’ Address

August 27, 2009

Asserting that the task of Christians is “to be in relationship with God and with our neighbors,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori offered a detailed defense of her July 7 opening address to General Convention, in which she called individualism the “great Western heresy.”

Writing for Episcopal Life, Bishop Jefferts Schori said the address had received “varied reactions from people who weren’t there, who heard or read an isolated comment without the context.”

Bishop Jefferts Schori said her definition of individualism is “the understanding that the interests and independence of the individual necessarily trump the interests of others, as well as principles of interdependence.” This she called “basically unbiblical and unchristian.”

“The spiritual journey, at least in the Judeo-Christian tradition, is about holy living in community,” she said. Pointing to Jesus’ summary of the Torah in Matthew 22, Bishop Jefferts Schori suggested that “this means our task is to be in relationship with God and with our neighbors.” the rest

A.S.Haley: A Glimmer of Hope for San Joaquin

August 27, 2009

This order, entered by the Fifth District Court of Appeal yesterday, affords a glimmer of hope for Bishop John-David Schofield in the San Joaquin litigation that the Court will agree to review the decision granting summary adjudication by Superior Court Judge Corona, which I discussed in this earlier post. Bishop Schofield had filed a petition for review with the Court on Friday, August 21.

Bishop Lamb and his attorneys now have until September 15 to file an "informal" response to Bishop Schofield's petition, and the latter will then have until Monday, October 5 in which to file a reply. (Monday, October 5 will also be a red-letter day in other Episcopal Church litigation. It is the first Monday in October, when the United States Supreme Court officially returns from its summer recess, and thus is probably the day on which we shall learn whether or not the Court has agreed to review the decision by the California Supreme Court in the litigation between the Parish of St. James in Newport Beach and the Diocese of Los Angeles.)

the rest

USA: Over Two Thousand Dams Near Population Centers Need Repair

August 26, 2009

More than 2,000 dams near population centers are in need of repair, according to statistics released this month by the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. [High hazard potential repairs are needed.]

The National Inventory of Dams (NID), which is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), shows that the number of dams in the U.S. has increased to more than 85,000, but the federal government owns or regulates only 11% of those dams.

Responsibility for ensuring the safety of the rest of the nation’s dams falls to state dam safety programs. Many state dam safety programs do not have sufficient resources, funding, or staff to conduct dam safety inspections, to take appropriate enforcement actions, or to ensure proper construction by reviewing plans and performing construction inspections. For example, Texas has only 7 engineers and an annual budget of $435,000 to regulate more than 7,400 dams. Alabama does not have a dam safety program despite the fact that there are more than 2,000 dams in the state. And in some states many dams are specifically exempted from inspection by state law. In Missouri there are 740 high hazard potential dams that are exempted because they are less than 35 feet in height. the rest image by gull@ cyberspace

ABC, NBC Won't Air Ad Critical of Obama's Health Care Plan

The refusal by ABC and NBC to run a national ad critical of President Obama's health care reform plan is raising questions from the group behind the spot -- particularly in light of ABC's health care special aired in prime time last June hosted at the White House
By Joshua Rhett Miller
FOXNews.com
Thursday, August 27, 2009

The refusal by ABC and NBC to run a national ad critical of President Obama's health care reform plan is raising questions from the group behind the spot -- particularly in light of ABC's health care special aired in prime time last June and hosted at the White House.

The 33-second ad by the League of American Voters, which features a neurosurgeon who warns that a government-run health care system will lead to the rationing of procedures and medicine, began airing two weeks ago on local affiliates of ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS. On a national level, however, ABC and NBC have refused to run the spot in its present form.

"It's a powerful ad," said Bob Adams, executive director of the League of American Voters, a national nonprofit group with 15,000 members who advocate individual liberty and government accountability. "It tells the truth and it really highlights one of the biggest vulnerabilities and problems with this proposed legislation, which is it rations health care and disproportionately will decimate the quality of health care for seniors." the rest

10 Episcopal nuns in Archdiocese of Baltimore to join Catholic Church

By George P. Matysek Jr.
Aug 27, 2009

After seven years of prayer and discernment, a community of Episcopal nuns and their chaplain will be received into the Roman Catholic Church during a Sept. 3 Mass celebrated by Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien.

The archbishop will welcome 10 sisters from the Society of All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor when he administers the sacrament of confirmation and the sisters renew their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in the chapel of their Catonsville convent.

Episcopal Father Warren Tanghe will also be received into the church and is discerning the possibility of becoming a Catholic priest.

Mother Christina Christie, superior of the religious community, said the sisters are “very excited” about joining the Catholic Church and have been closely studying the church’s teachings for years. Two Episcopal nuns who have decided not to become Catholic will continue to live and minister alongside their soon-to-be Catholic sisters. Members of the community range in age from 59 to 94. the rest

China Gives Secret Order to Attack Major House Churches

By Ethan Cole
Christian Post Reporter
Wed, Aug. 26 2009

The Chinese government has reportedly issued a secret directive to crack down on at least several major house churches in Beijing, a U.S.-based group reported Tuesday.

ChinaAid Association, a religious freedom group with a focus on house churches in China, was informed by sources inside the country that the public security bureau has ordered the Beijing Huajie Plaza to terminate its rental contract with the Beijing Shouwang house church.

The Shouwang house church is one of the largest house churches in the area with more than 1,000 members. For a few years now, it has rented two floors for worship service and Sunday school at the Huajie Plaza. Most of the members are intellects from nearby universities.

This is not the first time authorities have pressured the church. Last May authorities raided the church and most recently in April, government officials forcibly shut down Shouwang Church’s Web site. the rest

The death of ecumenism

August 26, 2009
Grand Rapids Catholic Examiner
Christopher Nowak

“Ecumenism” has been the driving force in relations between the Catholic Church, those in Protestant communities, and those of other faiths for the past half-century. However, due to the continual surrender of mainstream Protestant communities to the culture and the reassertion by the Church that there is one path to salvation, this era appears to be coming to an end.

The Anglican/Episcopalian Communion has long led the way in retreating before an aggressive secularism. In 1930 the Lambeth Conference approved the use of contraceptives, defended this decision in 1958, admitted women to holy orders as deacons (1968), priests (1978), and bishops (by 1998). Now they are defending the acceptance of homosexuality, even among their clergy.

The ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) has just voted to join in the abandonment of biblical condemnations of homosexual acts. At the same time the UMC (United Methodist Church) must now decide whether to continue the recently approved moves toward full communion, or to likewise abandon Scripture as the core of their faith. the rest

Auschwitz blueprints given to Israeli PM

By DAVID RISING,
Associated Press Writer David Rising
posted August 27, 2009

BERLIN – Architectural plans for the Auschwitz death camp that were discovered in Berlin last year were handed over Thursday to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for display at Israel's Holocaust memorial.

The 29 sketches of the death camp built in Nazi-occupied Poland date as far back as 1941. They include detailed blueprints for living barracks, delousing facilities and crematoria, including gas chambers, and are considered important for understanding the genesis of the Nazi genocide.

The sketches are initialed by the head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, and Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoess. the rest

Must read: MCJ: Hell post based on this story
image by luminare

UK: 'Cruel and neglectful' care of one million NHS patients exposed

One million NHS patients have been the victims of appalling care in hospitals across Britain, according to a major report released today.
By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
27 Aug 2009

In the last six years, the Patients Association claims hundreds of thousands have suffered from poor standards of nursing, often with 'neglectful, demeaning, painful and sometimes downright cruel' treatment.

'Appalling care' cost up to 1200 lives in Staffordshire The charity has disclosed a horrifying catalogue of elderly people left in pain, in soiled bed clothes, denied adequate food and drink, and suffering from repeatedly cancelled operations, missed diagnoses and dismissive staff.

The Patients Association said the dossier proves that while the scale of the scandal at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust - where up to 1,200 people died through failings in urgent care - was a one off, there are repeated examples they have uncovered of the same appalling standards throughout the NHS. the rest

U.S. Court Rules 'Sexual Orientation' Laws Include Former Homosexuals

Wednesday August 26, 2009
By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 26, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a case that is the first of its kind, a federal court has ruled that laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in the District of Columbia must also include former homosexuals as a protected class.

The Superior Court of the District of Columbia has ruled that under the D.C. Human Rights Act, a former homosexual must have the same protections as an active homosexual against discrimination based on sexual orientation. The decision handed down by Judge Maurice Ross says that the D.C. Office of Human Rights (OHR) was wrong to dismiss the discrimination complaint of "Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays" against the National Education Association (NEA) on the basis that ex-homosexuals were not covered by the HRA's anti-discrimination protections, because they were no longer practicing homosexuals.

"We are gratified that the ex-gay community in Washington D.C. now has the same civil rights that gays enjoy," said Regina Griggs, executive director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays. the rest

Abortion Is New Front in Health Battle

AUGUST 27, 2009
By FAWN JOHNSON and LAURA MECKLER

WASHINGTON -- Anti-abortion groups are gearing up for a battle in the fall over health-care legislation, another headache for Democrats who already face concerns about the measure's cost and reach.

Most versions of the Democratic health plan would create subsidies for lower-income people to buy private health insurance. If that insurance includes coverage for abortion, as many existing private plans do, it effectively means federal taxpayers are subsidizing abortion, critics of the legislation argue.

While it gets less attention than some other parts of the plan, abortion has often been raised by critics at town-hall meetings during the August congressional recess.

Abortion opponents are funding advertisements targeting key lawmakers. The Family Research Council is running television and radio ads in several states that are home to swing-vote Democratic senators, while the National Right to Life Committee is targeting pro-life Democrats in the House who likely will take the first vote on the measure in September. the rest

Episcopal Church adopts trans-inclusive policies

by Chuck Colbert
08/27/2009

They were a party of eight, four transgender women, two transmen, a gay man, and straight woman ally. They told friends, "We're going to Anaheim," not too far away from Disneyland.

They were also change agents. By the end of their church's triennial gathering last month this band of sisters and brothers made Episcopalian history with the advent of trans-inclusive action and convention-floor testimony from a 19-year-old man believed to be the first openly transgender deputy.

"Members of TransEpiscopal made an incredible difference by giving incarnational witness to the "T" in LGBT and – in the process – moving the Episcopal Church further toward its goal of being a truly inclusive and welcoming church," said the Reverend Susan Russell of All Saints Church in Pasadena, California.

Russell is president of Integrity, the denomination's LGBT advocacy group. the rest

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Health Care and Religious Freedom: Forced to Choose?

By Chuck Colson
August 26, 2009

Yet again, a religious institution may be forced to choose between obeying the government or staying true to its beliefs. Find out the alarming details.

What word comes to your mind when we talk about a Catholic college that won’t allow abortion, sterilization, and contraception to be covered by its employees’ health care plan?

Is “conservative” a good word? How about “faithful”? After all, the church teaches that abortion, sterilization, and contraception are immoral. So it makes sense that a conservative Catholic college would make sure that its health plan doesn’t cover such practices.

Well, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a different word for Belmont Abbey College: “sexist.”

Using reasoning that could only be concocted by a consummate bureaucrat, the director of the agency’s Charlotte office has said that denying contraception is sexist “because only females take oral prescription contraceptives. By denying coverage, men are not affected, only women.” the rest

NH court orders home-schooled child into government-run school

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

LACONIA, N.H. — An Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney filed motions with a New Hampshire court Monday asking it to reconsider and stay its decision to order a 10-year-old home-schooled girl into a government-run school in Meredith.

Although the marital master making recommendations to the court agreed the child is “well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising, and intellectually at or superior to grade level” and that “it is clear that the home schooling...has more than kept up with the academic requirements of the...public school system,” he nonetheless proposed that the Christian girl be ordered into a government-run school after considering “the impact of [her religious] beliefs on her interaction with others.” The court approved the order.

“Parents have a fundamental right to make educational choices for their children. In this case specifically, the court is illegitimately altering a method of education that the court itself admits is working,” said ADF-allied attorney John Anthony Simmons of Hampton. “The court is essentially saying that the evidence shows that, socially and academically, this girl is doing great, but her religious beliefs are a bit too sincerely held and must be sifted, tested by, and mixed among other worldviews. This is a step too far for any court to take.” the rest

First New Bishop for the Anglican Church in North America

Aug 26, 2009

Bishop Jack Leo Iker writes:

It was my joy and privilege on Saturday, Aug. 22, to share in the consecration of the Rt. Rev. William H. Ilgenfritz, the first new bishop for the Anglican Church in North America. Archbishop Robert W. Duncan was the chief consecrator, and the other co-consecrators were Bishop Keith Ackerman, Bishop Edward MacBurney, and Bishop William Wantland, who also preached at the service. Thirteen bishops participated in the apostolic laying on of hands in the historic ceremony.

Bishop Ilgenfritz continues to serve as Rector of St. Mary's Anglican Church in Charleroi, Pa., in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The service took place at the local Roman Catholic parish a few blocks away, called Mary, Mother of the Church. The new bishop previously served here in the Diocese of Fort Worth as Rector of St. John's Church in Brownwood from 1990 to 1994.

It is important to recognize that this first consecration was of a Forward in Faith Bishop and that it creates a new diocese for FIF congregations across the country. This new Missionary Diocese of All Saints begins with about 13 congregations and is charged with planting new churches for traditional anglo-catholics in the United States and Canada. Bishop Ilgenfritz continues to serve as Vice-president of Forward in Faith, North America.

This consecration fulfills the vision of the Episcopal Synod of America, formed in 1989 here in Fort Worth, to create a non-geographic diocese or province for congregations upholding the faith and practice of the historic catholic church, including the tradition of an all-male priesthood. It secures a continuing line of apostolic succession for traditional anglo-catholics, which is no longer possible in The Episcopal Church in the United States.

Please continue to pray for Bishop Ilgenfritz and this new missionary diocese.

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
Aug. 25, 2009
link

NHS Meltdown: Women in Labor Turned Away at the Inn

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Wesley J. Smith

I had a jaw-dropping moment the other week when UK officials lept to the NHS’s defense in an attempt to help Obamacare. Longtime readers of SHS know that I have been detailing the many travesties of health care in the UK–such as patients being forced to wait hours in ambulances because bureaucrats required they be treated within a certain time, but the clock doesn’t start until they are actully in the ER. Scores of examples can be easily accessed here. Just search under the “NHS Meltdown” label.

I was planning to go through some of those when I got the time, but a new report from the UK popped up on my radar about women being forced to give birth in elevators and bathrooms that vividly makes the point about the utter mess the UK’s public option has become. From the story:

Thousands of women are having to give birth outside maternity wards because of a lack of midwives and hospital beds. The lives of mothers and babies are being put at risk as births in locations ranging from lifts to toilets – even a caravan – went up 15 per cent last year to almost 4,000.Health chiefs admit a lack of maternity beds is partly to blame for the crisis, with hundreds of women in labour being turned away from hospitals because they are full.

the rest

The Anchoress: Ted Kennedy, Healthcare & Purgatory

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The Anchoress

Excerpt:
I expect, though, that beyond health care, and beyond the inevitable hagiography and histrionics in the press (and the competition between the Clintons and the Obamas as to who can best-use this moment) Ted Kennedy’s death will do what every Kennedy death does: shine a spotlight on Catholicism, its rituals and rites and rubrics. There will be lots of people -both Catholic and non-Catholic- who will declare themselves “shocked and scandalized” that Kennedy would be given a Mass of Christian Burial. Some will declare that he should have been “thrown out of the church” a long time ago; others will insist that his Funeral Mass brings shame to us.

Some will focus on his personal sins -the assumed repentance or lack of same (of which they will likely have no real knowledge, just hunches) and some will presume to know the state of his soul, but those will be the inveterates, working from long-habit. Most Christians will, I think, understand that “the favors of the Lord are not exhausted, his mercies not over and done” and will simply pray in hopes that Kennedy had made a contrite and humble confession of his failings and sins.

Others, of course, will suggest that Kennedy’s pro-abortion positions, in and of themselves, should damn him forever in the eyes of God.

Thankfully, God knows more, and sees more, than the rest of us, because eventually we’ll all need to count on his mercy, as we face his justice. For all that we know of Kennedy, there is much we do not know. A family member who works with the very poor once told me that when he was in a real fix and unable to find help for, for instance, a sick child in need of surgery, a phone call to Kennedy’s office would set the “Irish Mafia” of professional people -doctors, lawyers, pilots and such- into brisk motion. I think an examination of the life of every “great” person (and I mean “great” in terms of power and influence) will expose deep flaws and surprising episodes of generosity. the rest image

Why Catholics Should Care about their Lutheran and Anglican Brethren

This IS a 'Catholic' issue because part of being a Catholic is having a concern for all Christians
By Deacon Keith Fournier
8/26/2009
Catholic Online

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) – I recently wrote an article entitled “Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Succumbs to Heresy” because it involved significant news. I also did so because I am a Catholic. As a Catholic, I believe I should be concerned about other Christians who are struggling within the communities which descended from the Protestant Reformation. Though the article was well received, there were some disapproving comments.

They ranged from the reader who wondered why such an article was “even published on a Catholic Web Site”, to others which used the term “schismatic” in reference to all Protestant Christians. Some objected to my use of the term, "orthodox' to distinguish those Lutherans who adhered to what C.S. Lewis would have called "Mere Christianity" by accepting the fundamentals of the Christian faith and those who have succumbed to heresy. Others wanted to bring up the obvious, that these communities erred in their inital division with the Catholic Church. I agree, after all, I am a Catholic by choice. That was not the point of the article. Rather, it was the recent sad turn of events. Something similar happened when I reported on the assault on the basics of Christian doctrine within the Anglican/ Episcopal communities. the rest

CNY: Rep. Dan Maffei supports "public option"

by Mark Weiner
The Post-Standard
Wednesday August 26, 2009

After hearing from all sides in the debate about health care reform, U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei has reached one conclusion: He will vote for a bill only if it includes an option for public health insurance.

"If there is no public option, I don't see that bill passing the House," Maffei said Tuesday at a meeting of The Post-Standard's editorial board. "I would not support a bill that doesn't have a strong public option, just as I wouldn't support bills that don't have private options."

It was the first time that Maffei, D-DeWitt, has said that a lack of a public option would be a deal-breaker when it comes to his vote.
the rest-check out the comments image

Charlie Rangel failed to report $660K more in assets

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vote on gay clergy may cause rift in Lutheran denomination

By Mark Pattison - Catholic News Service
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
A vote to permit the ordination of homosexuals in committed monogamous relationships for the United States' largest Lutheran denomination may provoke a rift among its members and leaders.

The 559-451 vote Aug. 21 during the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's biennial churchwide assembly in Minneapolis approved a resolution to allow gays in "publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships" to serve as clergy. The denomination had previously permitted celibate gay men and women to be ordained.

The 4.6-million-member denomination joined the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ in accepting sexually active homosexuals as clergy.

The Episcopal Church in July adopted a resolution that all ordained ministries, including the office of bishop, are open to all the baptized, including gays and lesbians. The United Church of Christ officially accepted the ordination of actively gay men and women in 1980.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has twice defeated such a move, and the United Method Church also has rejected the ordination of gays.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls homosexual acts "intrinsically disordered," but adds that those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies "must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity" and that "every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided." the rest

Banned Methodist hymn sing indicates Fiji church-state conflict is worsening.

Sounds of Silence
C.L. Lopez
8/25/2009

Fiji remained silent on a day that should have been filled with songs of praise.

The government canceled an annual Methodist choir festival scheduled for Saturday in Suva, the archipelago's capital. The decision to cancel the 160-year-old competition fueled tensions in the South Pacific nation, where the interim military-installed government has taken action against church leadership.

The Methodist Church is the largest religious group in Fiji, comprising one-third of the island's nearly one million inhabitants. An estimated 70 percent of Methodists are indigenous Fijians, according to Kerry Enright, a pastor in Australia's Uniting Church.

"We believe the Fijian government is out to cripple the Methodist church in Fiji," Enright said in an interview with Radio Australia's Pacific Beat. the rest image by miguel sancheese

Canadian Court Rules Canadians Must Pay Taxes which Fund Abortion

By Patrick B. Craine

FREDERICTON, New Brunswick, August 20, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Canadian pro-life man convicted in 2007 for refusing to file tax returns over taxpayer funded abortion has lost his second appeal, in a decision released Thursday from the New Brunswick Court of Appeal.

Mr. David Little, 65, formerly of Fredericton, now living in Alberton, P.E.I., is a Roman Catholic and pro-life activist who has committed to not filing his taxes because tax money is used in Canada to fund abortions. While convicted for not filing from 2000-2002, Little has, in fact, not filed since 1999.

In 2003, Little was ordered by Revenue Canada to file the missing tax returns. He was charged in 2005 and then convicted by the New Brunswick Provincial Court in 2007.

Little contends that his Charter right to freedom of conscience and religion is violated by the Income Tax Act, which requires him to fund, through his taxes, a practice that he considers morally and religiously reprehensible. The trial judge found that Little had not adequately established a religious requirement to not file taxes, and stated that this obligation did not impede his religious rights. the rest

Freedom of Conscience for Pro-Life Taxpayers

Anglicans address the challenge of Islam

Allie Martin
OneNewsNow
8/25/2009

A conservative Anglican organization is launching a campaign to teach others about the true nature of Islam.

The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) calls the initiative the "Church and Islam Project." It is an education-focused project designed to help Anglicans understand Islam and the challenge it poses to the church and its mission.

Minister Julian Dobbs is leading the project, which is designed to educate people on the truth about Islam and also provide a biblical witness to Muslims.

"I continue to believe that a world which is racked with so much pain and violence needs to hear the gospel message. Yet the challenge for us in North America is, Muslim sources report that 100,000 people in this country alone turn to Islam," he points out. "We'd like to reverse those challenges and see many of those individuals come to a living faith in Jesus Christ."

CANA has blasted Episcopal bishops and other leaders of the denomination who allow mullahs (Muslim scholars) to teach in their churches. Here

End "O" Life Counseling Center


(Feel free to use and pass along!)

Church changes signage after controversial vote on homosexualilty

Minister at St. Timothy blasts vote on gay-clergy issue
Monday August 24, 2009
by Charlotte Ferrell Smith
Daily Mail staff

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As parishioners approached St. Timothy Lutheran Church on Sunday morning, something unusual was apparent.

On the signs outside the church, the word "Lutheran" was draped in black. Only the words "St. Timothy" remained visible.

"I asked that be done because I'm ashamed," the church's pastor, Richard Mahan, told the congregation later Sunday morning. "I'm ashamed of what the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has done to a church I've loved for 40 years." the rest

Senator Wants Hearings on Obama Admin Veterans Guide Promoting Euthanasia

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 24, 2009

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- A senator says he wants Congress to hold hearings on a new Obama administration document that some say promotes euthanasia. The Department of Veterans Affairs have revived a guide called "Your Life, Your Choices" that was first published during the Clinton administration.

Last year, bureaucrats at the VA's National Center for Ethics in Health Care brought back a 52-page end-of-life planning document that was suspended during virtually all of the Bush administration.

It was promoted as the VA's preferred living will throughout its vast network of hospitals and nursing homes but, as Jim Towey writes in the Wall St. Journal, "the Bush White House took a look at how this document was treating complex health and moral issues and suspended its use." the rest

Up to 200,000 Abortions Annually in Serbia

Belgrade
24 August 2009
Bojana Barlovac

Health officials report that between 150,000-200,000 abortions are carried out every year in Serbia, news-site Mondo reported Monday.

Every twelfth woman between the ages of 15-49 years has had an abortion. Most had not used contraception.

The head of the Family Planning Centre of Serbia, Dr. Katarina Sedlecki, told Mondo that in 80-90 per cent of cases abortions were performed on "women older than 20 who are already married and have a kid, or kids".

Sedlecki considers the abortion situation in Serbia as severe as every fourth abortion was carried out on women who had already had four or more abortions. the rest

Well-Known Convert Struggles to Stay Alive in Egypt

By Ethan Cole
Christian Post Reporter
Mon, Aug. 24 2009

These days, one of Egypt’s most well-known converts to Christianity is living a mobile lifestyle, but not by choice.

Maher El Gohary, the second Egyptian to legally request to change his religious status, and his 15-year-old daughter, Dina, are living like “fugitives,” the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday.

Every few months, the father and daughter move to a new apartment to escape the Muslim extremists who want them dead for leaving Islam. No matter where they are, Gohary is always in suspense and tries to be as low-key as possible to escape the attention of neighbors.

“I'm not so much afraid of the government anymore,” Gohary told the Times. “It's conservative Muslims who worry me. Some of them believe whoever kills me is rewarded. When I go to court, I'm surrounded by police protection." the rest

Quangos blackball ... oops, sorry ... veto ‘racist’ everyday phrases

The Sunday Times
August 23, 2009
Chris Hastings

It could be construed as a black day for the English language — but not if you work in the public sector.

Dozens of quangos and taxpayer-funded organisations have ordered a purge of common words and phrases so as not to cause offence.

Among the everyday sayings that have been quietly dropped in a bid to stamp out racism and sexism are “whiter than white”, “gentleman’s agreement”, “black mark” and “right-hand man”.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has advised staff to replace the phrase “black day” with “miserable day”, according to documents released under freedom of information rules.

It points out that certain words carry with them a “hierarchical valuation of skin colour”. The commission even urges employees to be mindful of the term “ethnic minority” because it can imply “something smaller and less important”. the rest

Monday, August 24, 2009

Devotional: Somewhere in this trial...

Somewhere in this trial His will must be hidden, and you must accept His will whether known or unknown...Say "Thy will be done!" again and again. Shut out every thought but the one thought of submission to His will and of trust in His love.
...Hannah Whitall Smith image by clairity

Senior cleric: gay clergy row could tear us apart

Monday, 24 August 2009

The debate over appointing practicing homosexuals to clergy positions is unlikely to be resolved in the near future, the new head of the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) has warned.

The issue needs to be addressed without any “blurring” or “fudging”, said the new Primus of the SEC, the Most Revd David Chillingworth.

The SEC is part of the world-wide Anglican Communion along with the Episcopal Church in the United States, which recently decided to allow the ordination of “partnered gays” as bishops.

The decision sparked further warnings that the issue could be pushing the Anglican Church towards schism. the rest

US Lutherans consider implications of gay clergy vote

Ecumenical News International
Chris Herlinger
Aug 24, 2009

Supporters and opponents of a decision by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to allow men and women in open and monogamous relationships with persons of the same sex to be ordained as clergy, say they are considering the implications of the vote for the future of the denomination.

"It takes time for a religious community to wrestle with moral questions," James Martin-Schramm, a professor of Christian ethics at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, told Ecumenical News International in an interview about actions taken during the ELCA's Aug. 17 to 23 Churchwide Assembly.

By a 559-451 vote, the highest legislative body of the 4.6-million-member U.S. denomination voted on Aug. 21 to change denominational rules. The changes would "open the ministry of the church to gay and lesbian pastors and other professional workers living in committed relationships", the ELCA News Service reported.

Martin-Schramm, a supporter of the changes, said he thought the ELCA may avoid the intense intra-denominational divisions that have marked the recent experiences of the U.S. Episcopal (Anglican) Church. He noted that the issue had been formally studied and debated within the denomination for eight years. the rest

Women in SD Must be Told Unborn Child is a Human Being: Federal Judge

By Hilary White
PIERRE, South Dakota
August 24, 2009

(LifeSiteNews.com) - A Federal Court has upheld the constitutionality of a South Dakota law requiring doctors to inform patients that abortion kills a human being. U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier handed down the ruling on Thursday in a lawsuit against the state filed by Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota objecting to the 2005 law requiring that full information be given to women seeking abortions.

Judge Schreier said that although doctors must use the term 'human being,' it can be used in a "biological sense" and not an "ideological" one. The law specifies that a woman must be told that abortion "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."

In the same ruling Schreier, who had issued an order in 2005 preventing the law from coming into effect, overturned a requirement that women be informed that abortion increases the risk of suicide
and suicidal thoughts. Schreier called these disclosure provisions "untruthful and misleading."
the rest

Introducing the "New Mass"

Sunday, August 23, 2009

As the church gathers for another Sunday, it's worth noting that the US bishops have upped the profile of the revised Mass-texts in English in recent days with the rollout of an extensive web portal detailing the changes that'll come with the implementation of the new Roman Missal.

Coming soon (read: 2011-ish) to a parish near you, among other pieces of interest on the page is a side by side comparison of the current and future lines that've been reworked, those of the celebrant and assembly alike.

Unlike its predecessors, the impending text will be universal across the English-speaking world. the rest

Bishop Spong says Archbishop of Canterbury is wrong

Monday, 24th August 2009
By George Conger

The Archbishop of Canterbury is on the wrong side of history and ignorant of the scientific and social realities of homosexuality, retired Bishop Jack Spong has declared.

Writing in the Aug 8 on-line issue of Newsweek’s “On Faith” section the controversial former Bishop of Newark has also rejected US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s contention that nothing had changed as a result of the 76th General Convention’s votes on gay bishops and blessings.

“The battle over homosexuality in the Episcopal Church is over,” Bishop Spong wrote.

“The vote at the last General Convention was overwhelming. The sacred unions of gay and lesbian people are to be blessed and enfolded into liturgical patterns in the same way that the sacred unions of heterosexual people have been honoured for centuries. The ministry of this church is to be open to gay and lesbian people who are qualified and chosen in the process by which this church makes such decisions,” he said.

Bishop Spong rejected Dr Williams’ contention that acting upon same-sex attractions was a free-will decision, saying “homosexuality is not a choice” but a component of “human individual identity” akin to race or gender. The condemnation of homosexual behaviour was “discrimination” built upon “prejudice based on ignorance,” he said. the rest

Top 20 Cash for Clunkers Quotes

posted August 24, 2009

This is a list of 20 quotes from people that dare to challenge that assumption that the Cash for Clunkers program is a success — by pointing out he obvious flaws few talk about. Here
photo

Abortion in the Name of God

By Macey Geis
August 20, 2009

President Obama likes to trot out wolves and declare that they are sheep. For instance, his recent nominee for Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, is touted as a devout Catholic whose religious values affect her every day decisions. However, one needs only to look at how she reconciles her Catholic beliefs with her pro-abortion agenda to see that this sheep looks suspiciously like a sharp-toothed wolf.

White House spokesman Reid Cherlin claimed that Benjamin “supports the president’s position on health care issues.” Unfortunately, Obama’s position on reproductive issues includes a pro-abortion agenda at the top of his list. His pro-abortion views are especially worrisome considering his huge influence on the current overhaul of our health care system.

The Obama administration has done nothing to indicate that they want to rule out abortion in health care reform, even if abortion is funded with taxpayer dollars. In fact, one Representative brazenly admits that abortion will be covered. Aside from explicitly stating that he is pro-abortion, Obama opposed legislation that prohibited partial-birth abortion while he served in the United States Senate. the rest

Anaheim Statement Continues to Gain Supporters

August 24, 2009

The Anaheim Statement endorsed by 34 bishops at the close of the 76th General Convention in Anaheim, Calif., has added two more bishops to its list of supporters.

The Rt. Rev. Charles E. Jenkins, III, Bishop of Louisiana, and the Rt. Rev. Harry W. Shipps, retired Bishop of Georgia, have endorsed the letter affirming their loyalty to the Anglican Communion in the wake of the adoption of resolutions C056 and D025 ending the moratoria forbidding the consecration of partnered gay clergy as bishops and the authorization of rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.

However, Bishop Jenkins also was one of the bishops who voted against D025 but in favor of C056. He later said he voted for C056 because his colleagues had responded well to his plea for graciousness. “I felt I was honor-bound to vote for it because these bishops had done what I had asked them to do," he said. " I felt that the process was a ray of hope for The Episcopal Church.”

In a series of letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury and primates of the Anglican Communion written at the close of General Convention, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson have disputed the characterization of the adoption of the two resolutions as having ended the moratoria or a “walking apart” by the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion. the rest

Albert Mohler: Wearing the Disguise of Faithfulness

Monday, August 24, 2009

Meeting barely a month after the Episcopal Church voted to end its ban on the consecration of openly homosexual bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [ELCA] has taken similar steps. Meeting last week in Minneapolis, the Lutherans voted first to adopt a comprehensive statement on human sexuality that at least allows for the recognition and blessing of same-sex relationships in the church. Beyond this, it establishes a platform for the eventual acceptance and affirmation of same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Then, acting just as the week came to an end, the denomination voted to eliminate barriers that had prevented non-celibate homosexual ministers from serving in ELCA churches. The vote to affirm the new statement on human sexuality was close -- receiving the exact number of positive votes necessary for passage -- but, taken together, the two actions signal a massive seismic shift, not only in the ELCA, but also in the larger denominational world. For advocates of the normalization of homosexuality, the votes in Minneapolis represent a clean sweep of votes their way.

The churches and denominations of mainline Protestantism are being torn asunder over the issue of homosexuality. Denomination after denomination becomes the focus of national attention as it meets for crucial votes and decides its future. Observers of the ELCA had seen this process extended through years of study and controversy. In the view of many, the process mostly served to postpone the inevitable. The inevitable happened in Minneapolis. the rest

LCMS Leader Greets ELCA Delegates with 'Heavy Heart'

Sunday, August 23, 2009

An alternative Big Mac index

How many minutes to earn the price of a Big Mac?
Aug 20th 2009
From Economist.com

THE size of your pay packet may be important, but so is its purchasing power. Helpfully, a UBS report published this week offers a handy guide to how long it takes a worker on the average net wage to earn the price of a Big Mac in 73 cities. Fast-food junkies are best off in Chicago, Toronto and Tokyo, where it takes a mere 12 minutes at work to afford a Big Mac. By contrast, employees must toil for over two hours to earn enough for a burger fix in Mexico City, Jakarta and Nairobi. Here image

Wisconsin requiring Catholic institutions to provide contraceptives coverage

Madison, Wis.,
Aug 23, 2009

(CNA).- The bishops of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC) have issued a statement to the state’s Catholic faithful expressing their “deep concern” about a state provision that requires providers of health insurance include contraceptive services. The rule will force Catholic dioceses and other agencies to pay for a “gravely immoral” service, the conference says.

A provision in the new state budget mandates the coverage as a “benefit.”

Signatories of the August 20 WCC letter were Bishop of Green Bay David L. Ricken, Bishop of Madison Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of La Crosse Jerome E. Listecki, Bishop of Superior Peter F. Christensen and Bishop William P. Callahan, the Administrator for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. the rest

Book Review: The New Shape of World Christianity by Mark Noll

August 23, 2009
Christianity In Culture Examiner
Daniel Seatvet

Mark A. Noll. The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2009. $25.00. Hardcover. 212 pgs. ISBN: 978-0-8308-2847-0.

It’s indeed true that for quite a long time the “crux” of Christianity and Spirit-filled revival took place in the West—Europe and North America. It’s also true that for the past hundred or so years there has been a shift of Christian conversion to the “global south” --- specifically, South America, Africa, and Asia. Among a select few of academic observers, there is Mark Noll who has penned a wonderfully researched and thought provoking work on The New Shape of World Christianity.

His posited inference and theme of the book is that, “American form rather than American influence has been the most important American contribution to the recent world history of Christianity.” (pg. 15) In other words, many people tend to think that the American-way-of-doing-things is the correct way to go about “it”, not just in the sense of fast food (McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc.) or popular culture (Hollywood, Facebook, etc.) but also within religion--- Christianity specifically, and the orthopraxy of the Church and its relevance to societies and the individual.

It is this juxtaposed misinformation (hubris?) that Americans possess (and obsess over) that Noll is responding to. And not just responding to, but as his thesis above demonstrates, also offering an alternative explanation to the reality of the Christian movement from North-West of the globe to….. well, everywhere else. Americans like to think that we can put our systematic theologies and finely tuned church practices in a FedEx package and send it off to Nigeria where the otherwise disillusioned locals open up their package and their lives change instantaneously to reveal truth, ultimate reality, 20 minute sermons, and Vacation Bible School--- just as their American counterparts have it. the rest image

Three Questions for the Right Rev. Mark Andrus

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, has been one of the Bay Area's most prominent religious figures, pushing for civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from inside and outside of the church. His positions have drawn ire from religious conservatives in the United States and abroad, who say he embodies the wayward path of the Episcopal Church. Chronicle staff writer Matthai Kuruvila spoke with Andrus, who was in Anaheim at the national church's biennial gathering. the rest

Intercommunicable Diseases: ELCA & the Questions It Raises

August 22, 2009
James M. Kushiner

Two question nagged me after the ELCA stories yesterday. First, from the ELCA website :

The 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted today to open the ministry of the church to gay and lesbian pastors and other professional workers living in committed relationships."

Earlier the assembly also approved a resolution committing the church to find ways for congregations that choose to do so to "recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships," though the resolution did not use the word "marriage."

The actions here change the church's policy, which previously allowed gays and lesbians into the ordained ministry only if they remained celibate.

So: a man may be a pastor in the ELCA if he "has sex" with another man, as long as it is in a "committed relationship"? What does "committed" mean? (The same thing as a bishop's commitment to uphold the apostolic faith?) Does it mean, "really, really seriously intend to stay together"? If another man, a pastor, who is not married, "has sex" with a women--in a similarly committed relationship, is that a problem? And, officially, is there anything wrong--and why if there is--with sex outside of marriage generally, for both single and married lay persons. Of course, the "mere Christian" teaching is that sexual relations belong nowhere except between a man and a woman married to each other. the rest

A Christian on the run in Egypt

Maher El Gohary is something his Muslim compatriots can't fathom: a convert to Christianity. He and his daughter live like fugitives, moving frequently to avoid those who'd like to see him dead.
By Jeffrey Fleishman
August 23, 2009

Reporting from Alexandria, Egypt - It is a clear day along the coast, but in a bungalow off the beach, Maher El Gohary sits behind a locked door with an open Bible and a crystal cross, suspicious of every voice and sandal scraping past outside.

He and his daughter, Dina, live like refugees, switching apartments every few months, not wanting to get close to neighbors. Gohary's life has been threatened, his dogs have been killed, and it's been suggested that he's insane or possessed by spirits.

He is a man this Muslim nation cannot fathom: a convert to Christianity. the rest