Saturday, September 12, 2009

Devotional: Compassion means to suffer with...

Compassion means to suffer with, to live with those who suffer. When Jesus saw the woman of Nain he realized, This is a widow who has lost her only son, and he was moved by compassion. He felt the pain of that woman in his guts. He felt her pain so deeply in his spirit that out of compassion he called the son to life so he could give that son back to his mother.
...Henri Nouwen
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Today: Washington DC Tea Party



Anti-Government Protests Draws Tens of Thousands to D.C.

Orissa Christians are 'Prisoners' in India, Says Ministry

By Ethan Cole
Christian Post Reporter
Fri, Sep. 11 2009

Indian Christians in the eastern state of Orissa live as if they are prisoners, reported a co-worker of a ministry supporting persecuted churches.

More than 4,000 Christians in Orissa still are seeking refuge in relief camps and are unable to return to their villages for fear of death or forcible conversion to Hinduism.

Though this number is down from about 50,000 displaced persons earlier this year, it is still an unacceptable figure given the government has had a year to ensure security for the Christian community in Orissa.

“These people are prisoners on their own land,” reported a co-worker of Open Doors who recently visited a village in Orissa. the rest

Albert Mohler: The Heavens (and the Hubble) Are Telling the Glory of God

Friday, September 11, 2009

The images now flowing from the Hubble Space Telescope are simply stunning. Vast nebulae appear as delicate butterflies and the vast reaches of the universe are coming into new focus. All this comes after a feat of modern engineering and expertise as a rescue mission to the telescope last spring replaced two cameras and repaired broken equipment. The rescue mission cost approximately $1 billion, but the life of the orbiting telescope was extended at least five years.

No one envisioned this kind of longevity for Hubble when the telescope was first put into orbit in 1990. Named for astronomer Edwin P. Hubble (1889-1953), the telescope's location in orbit around the earth avoids the distortions of the earth's atmosphere.

Now, with images streaming from the Hubble, scientists are elated and NASA is relieved. "The hair was standing up on the back of my neck to see the potential of this telescope," said John Grunsfeld, one of the astronauts who fixed the telescope back in the spring. Heidi Hammel of the Space Science Institute said, “We’re giddy with the quality of the data we’re getting." Astronaut Mike Massimino simply said, "Thank God, we didn't break it." the rest image

Ancient synagogue found in Israel

September 11, 2009
By Kevin Flower
CNN

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- In what was slated to be the site of a new 122-room hotel, archaeologists say they have discovered one of the world's oldest synagogues in Northern Israel.

A large carved stone found during excavations of the recently uncovered synagogue.

The site, which was unearthed as preparations were being made for construction of the hotel near the Sea of Galilee, is believed to date back some 2000 years from 50BCE to 100CE.
In the middle of the 120 square meter main hall of the synagogue archaeologists discovered an unusual stone carved with a seven branched menorah . "We are dealing with an exciting and unique find," said excavation director and Israeli Antiquities Authority archaeologist Dina Avshalom-Gorni.

The menorah engraving is the first of its kind to be discovered from the Early Roman period according Avshalom-Gorni who said the site joins just six synagogue locations that are know to date from the same time. the rest

The Children of 9/11 Grow Up

College students talk about how the attack shaped their lives.
by Peggy Noonan
SEPTEMBER 12, 2009

It is eight years since 9/11, and here is an unexpected stage of grief: fear that the ache will go away. I don't suppose it ever will, but grieving has gradations, and "horror" becomes "absorbed sadness." Life moves on, and wants to move on, which is painful for those who will not forget and cannot be comforted. Part of the spookiness of life, part of its power to disorient us, is not only that people die, that they slip below the waves, but that the waves close above them so quickly, the sea so quickly looks the same.

I've been thinking about those who were children on 9/11, not little ones who were shielded but those who were 10 and 12, old enough to understand that something dreadful had happened but young enough still to be in childhood. A young man who was 14 the day of the attacks told me recently that there's an unspoken taboo among the young people of New York: They don't talk about it, ever. They don't want to say, "Oh boo hoo, it was awful." They don't want to dwell. They shrug it off when it comes up. They change the subject. the rest

Mt. Pleasant Rector: “You Never Know What God Might Say”

September 10, 2009

One of the largest congregations in The Episcopal Church, St. Andrew’s Church of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., may by December become one of the largest congregations to renounce its Episcopal ties.

On Oct. 11, St. Andrew’s will begin a 40 Days of Discernment program to discuss whether it should sever ties with The Episcopal Church. The congregation will vote on Dec. 9-16, after spending a week in prayer and fasting.

The Rev. Steve Wood, rector of St. Andrew’s since 2000, wrote to all members of the parish on September 4 to announce the program. The letter included the signatures of 36 other congregational leaders, including all current staff and nine senior wardens whose service dates back to 1989.

“Since 2003 I have felt compromised by continued association with a denomination that I consider to be apostate,” Fr. Wood told The Living Church. the rest

UK: Historic Christian cemetery bulldozed to make way for mosque

September 7, 2009

The bloodless genocide and ethnic cleansing of the British people and culture continues apace with the latest example being the ripping up of a century old Christian cemetery to make way for a mosque in Manchester.

The grave desecrations, being carried out with a large Komatsu earthmover in the graveyard of the St John the Apostle and Evangelist church at the corner of Holmfirth Street and St John’s Road, is part of the re-opening of this nineteenth century church as the Dar-ul-Ulum Qadria Jilania “Islamic Centre.”

A sign on the door says clearly that the “Islamic Centre” is already “open for prayer” — showing that by Islamic centre the colonisers actually mean mosque. the rest

Cases of euthanasia jump in Belgium after new law

By CONSTANT BRAND
September 9, 2009

BRUSSELS — Cases of euthanasia in Belgium's Flanders region soared to nearly 2 percent of all deaths in 2007 after the country legalized the practice a few years earlier, a medical study has shown.

The survey, conducted by an end-of-life research group at the Brussels-based Free University, said the rise was mainly due to Belgium's 2002 euthanasia law, which gave terminally ill patients more choices.

"We found that the enactment of the Belgian euthanasia law was followed by an increase in all types of medical end-of-life practices, with the exception of the use of lethal drugs without the patient's explicit request," the group said in a letter published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine. the rest

Pro-Life Advocates Condemn Shooting of Abortion Protestor James Pouillon

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
September 11, 2009

Owosso, MI (LifeNews.com) -- Several pro-life organizations have issued statements today condemning the shooting of pro-life advocate James Pouillon. The local abortion protester was standing outside a high school in this small Michigan city when a shooter drove by in a vehicle and shot him multiple times.

Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, knew James, who has been described as a peaceful pro-life sign guy.

"We are stunned by Jim's murder. We extend our condolences to the family and share in their grief over his loss," Newman told LifeNews.com after the shooting. "His life was characterized by his love and concern of the vulnerable, and he will be greatly missed."

"We denounce this senseless act of violence in the strongest terms, and pray that this murderer will be swiftly brought to justice," he said.

The shooting comes at a time when pro-life groups have been receiving high numbers of death threats in the wake of the shooting of late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller of Kansas and the strong pro-life opposition to the government-run health care bills pending in Congress that open the door for massive abortion funding. the rest

Brandon Baptist church pulls plug on Pepsi products

By LAURA FRAZIER
The Tampa Tribune
September 9, 2009

BRANDON - A mega church that draws several thousand worshippers to Sunday services has pulled the plug on Pepsi products.

The last of 10 Pepsi vending machines were wheeled out the door this week at Bell Shoals Baptist Church and replaced with Coke machines, but the switch wasn't spurred by a taste test.

Terry Kemple, a member of Bell Shoals Baptist and president of the Community Issues Council, said the church's decision to boycott Pepsi products came after months of failed discussions with the soft drink company.

The council, formed "to promote and protect Judeo-Christian values" according to its Web site, and church officials asked the soft drink company to curb its support of groups, events and legal issues that "oppose traditional family values," Kemple said.

The company, Kemple said, sponsors major gay pride parades and events across the country. the rest image by Simon Shek

Dem: Prevent abortion funding, or I'll block healthcare

By Eric Zimmermann
09/09/09

A leading pro-life Democrat in the House is threatening to block healthcare reform if Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) doesn't allow a vote that would prevent the bill from funding abortions.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), co-chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus, says the Democratic leadership must allow a vote adding the "Hyde Amendment" to the bill. That amendment prevents federal dollars from going to abortion funding.

"First of all, you have to give us our vote," Stupak told CBN News, repeating the message he's relaying to the Democratic leadership. "If you don't give us our vote, everything's off the table." the rest

1934 Chicago Tribune political cartoon

Here-click on picture to enlarge

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A.S. Haley: Hearing in Fort Worth Continued to Next Week

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The following is a statement just received from Bishop Iker's office (I have added the bold for emphasis):

In a hearing this morning before Judge John Chupp in the 141st District Court in Tarrant County, our attorney filed a motion that requires the lawyers who have brought litigation against us to prove that they had the legal authority to bring the suit. They moved for a continuance, which the Judge denied.

At 10 a.m. Judge Chupp adjourned the hearing due to the fact that a jury trial in another case was scheduled to resume in his court. The hearing on our Rule 12 motion will reconvene at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

Please continue to keep this situation in your daily prayers, and pray for Judge Chupp and attorney Shelby Sharpe by name. As you did last Sunday, please pray during worship this week. For those who are able, fasting as well as prayer will be appropriate and appreciated on the 16th.

Bishop Iker

The plaintiffs in the Fort Worth litigation claim to be the authentic "Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth" and the "Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth." The defendants are given different designations in the lawsuit, but the fact is that they are the true and continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and its associated Corporation. The District Court is thus faced with the spectacle of two entities, each of whom as plaintiff is suing itself and the other as defendants. (That is the plaintiffs' chosen strategy, as I explained in this earlier post.)

The defendant entities filed a motion under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure which challenged the authority of the plaintiffs' attorneys to bring a lawsuit in their names. The attorneys had requested a continuance so that the court could address the summary adjudication motion which they filed late Friday afternoon. They argued, rather inconsistently in this observer's opinion, that the Court could resolve the matter of their authority to bring the lawsuit by deciding the summary adjudication motion as a matter of law, while it would take a lengthy factual hearing to resolve the defendants' motion challenging their authority. the rest

US Church cannot sign Covenant, say Wright and American critics

11 September, 2009

THE Episcopal Church in the United States cannot in conscience sign the Anglican Covenant, a group of con­servatives says. The group includes the Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright.

The criticism of the Episcopal Church comes in a 27-page position paper, “The Anglican Covenant: Shared Discernment Recognized by All”, published on Thursday of last week. The signatories are Dr Wright and four US conservatives: Canon Professor Christopher Seitz, the Revd Dr Philip Turner, the Revd Dr Ephraim Radner, and Mark McCall.

The group contends that the ongoing Covenant process, designed to bring some structure to the Anglican Communion, has inter­dependence at its heart. This ex­plicitly involves accountability — defined as being open to correction — to other provinces in matters that affect the whole Communion. The obvious case in point is the debate about the blessing of same-sex couples and the consecration of gay priests and bishops.

The paper states: “Without ac­counta­bility there is no commu­nion, and a Church that is unac­countable by definition has ordered its life outside the Communion of Churches.” the rest

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Secrets of the centenarians: Life begins at 100

07 September 2009
by Ed Yong

THIS year, the number of pensioners in the UK exceeded the number of minors for the first time in history. That's remarkable in its own right, but the real "population explosion" has been among the oldest of the old - the centenarians. In fact, this is the fastest-growing demographic in much of the developed world. In the UK, their numbers have increased by a factor of 60 since the early 20th century. And their ranks are set to swell even further, thanks to the ageing baby-boomer generation: by 2030 there will be about a million worldwide.

These trends raise social, ethical and economic dilemmas. Are medical advances artificially prolonging life with little regard for the quality of that life? Old age brings an increased risk of chronic disease, disability and dementia, and if growing numbers of elderly people become dependent on state or familial support, society faces skyrocketing costs and commitments. This is the dark cloud outside the silver lining of increasing longevity. Yet researchers who study the oldest old have made a surprising discovery that presents a less bleak vision of the future than many anticipate. the rest

Newport Beach: Breakaway Episcopalians look to US high court

By MICHELLE RINDELS (AP)
posted Sept. 9, 2009

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Marcia Kear's three daughters were married at St. James Anglican Church. Her mother's funeral was there. She said she found the Holy Spirit there.

But she may have to give up the bayside sanctuary, where sunlight filters through watery blue stained-glass windows and glints off the flawless copper pipes of an organ purchased with parishioners' tithes.

Kear is among theologically conservative breakaway Episcopalians fighting over parish property in a long-running rift over how churchgoers should interpret what the Bible says about gay relationships and many other issues. the rest

Hubble Opens New Eyes on the Universe

September 9, 2009

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is back in business, ready to uncover new worlds, peer ever deeper into space, and even map the invisible backbone of the universe. The first snapshots from the refurbished Hubble READ: Junior version of this article Learn about this story in the Star Witness, a science newspaper available on our sister site, Amazing Space. showcase the 19-year-old telescope's new vision. Topping the list of exciting new views are colorful multi-wavelength pictures of far-flung galaxies, a densely packed star cluster, an eerie "pillar of creation," and a "butterfly" nebula. With its new imaging camera, Hubble can view galaxies, star clusters, and other objects across a wide swath of the electromagnetic spectrum, from ultraviolet to near-infrared light. A new spectrograph slices across billions of light-years to map the filamentary structure of the universe and trace the distribution of elements that are fundamental to life. The telescope's new instruments also are more sensitive to light and can observe in ways that are significantly more efficient and require less observing time than previous generations of Hubble instruments. NASA astronauts installed the new instruments during the space shuttle servicing mission in May 2009. Besides adding the instruments, the astronauts also completed a dizzying list of other chores that included performing unprecedented repairs on two other science instruments. the rest image

Obama and the Bureaucratization of Health Care

The president's proposals would give unelected officials life-and-death rationing powers.
By SARAH PALIN
SEPTEMBER 8, 2009

Writing in the New York Times last month, President Barack Obama asked that Americans "talk with one another, and not over one another" as our health-care debate moves forward.

I couldn't agree more. Let's engage the other side's arguments, and let's allow Americans to decide for themselves whether the Democrats' health-care proposals should become governing law.

Some 45 years ago Ronald Reagan said that "no one in this country should be denied medical care because of a lack of funds." Each of us knows that we have an obligation to care for the old, the young and the sick. We stand strongest when we stand with the weakest among us.

We also know that our current health-care system too often burdens individuals and businesses—particularly small businesses—with crippling expenses. And we know that allowing government health-care spending to continue at current rates will only add to our ever-expanding deficit.

How can we ensure that those who need medical care receive it while also reducing health-care costs? The answers offered by Democrats in Washington all rest on one principle: that increased government involvement can solve the problem. I fundamentally disagree. the rest

Doctors leave a premature baby to die

'Doctors told me it was against the rules to save my premature baby'
By Vanessa Allen and Andrew Levy
09th September 2009

Doctors left a premature baby to die because he was born two days too early, his devastated mother claimed yesterday.

Sarah Capewell begged them to save her tiny son, who was born just 21 weeks and five days into her pregnancy - almost four months early.

They ignored her pleas and allegedly told her they were following national guidelines that babies born before 22 weeks should not be given medical treatment. the rest

Daughter claims father wrongly placed on controversial NHS end of life scheme

How to Leave the Church AND Keep the Deed

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In 2006, two long-serving Benedictine Sisters from Wisconsin renounced their vows and left their order. The Vatican concurred in releasing them.

Nothing surprising there - Religious leave their orders all the time. What is unique about this case is that the two women figured out how to take all of their former order’s assets with them. In October, a group of leaders from men’s and women’s religious orders will learn how to do the same.

Here’s the background. In 2007, Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Laurie Brink gave the keynote address at the annual convention of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious held in Kansas City. Titled, "A Marginal Life: Pursuing Holiness in the 21st Century"(pdf), her talk looked at different ways various communities of women religious were dealing with decline and evolving. One possible way was to be a “sojourner”: the rest

Israeli Pro-Life Organization Warns of Demographic Threat to Nation's Survival

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
JERUSALEM
September 8, 2009

(LifeSiteNews.com) - EFRAT, an Israeli pro-life organization that works with women contemplating abortion by providing emotional and material support, is warning that the demographic implications of abortion in the nation are the greatest danger to Israel today.

"Israel has lost more than one and a half million Jewish children to abortion since 1948. In a country of about 5.5 million Jews this number has great demographic significance. Imagine how much stronger Israel would have been today with one million more Jews," a statement from Efrat says.

Over 50,000 abortions are performed yearly in Israel, according to Dr. Eli Schussheim, director of Efrat. the rest

Russia's Patriarch Increasingly Becoming Major Force In Politics

September 06, 2009
By Brian Whitmore

When Patriarch Kirill visited Russia's largest shipyard in late August, he was greeted with full military honors.

As a brass band played at the Northern Shipyard in Severodvinsk, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church strolled past a row of sailors in dress uniform, boarded a nuclear submarine, and presented the crew with an icon of the Mother of God.

He later said Russia's defense capabilities need to be bolstered by Orthodox Christian values.

"You should not be ashamed of going to church and teaching the Orthodox faith to your children," the patriarch told the Severodvinsk workers. "Then we shall have something to defend with our missiles."Kirill's comments linking sacred Christian faith and secular nuclear might raised eyebrows, particularly among Russia's religious minorities. The event, analysts say, also served to illustrate the patriarch's growing political profile. the rest

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Devotional: Most of us labor under the delusion...

Most of us labor under the delusion that we have every right to our lives; that we have the right to go where we wish, do as we please, live as we choose, and decide our own destiny. We do not. We belong to God. He made us for himself. He chose us in Christ out of love, from before the foundation of the earth to be his own. He has bought us twice over, both through his generous death and also by his amazing resurrection life. ...Phillip Keller
image by untitled blue

Communion Partners Statement

September 7, 2009

A Report of the meeting of the Bishops of Albany, Dallas, North Dakota, Northern Indiana, South Carolina, West Texas and Western Louisiana with the Archbishop of Canterbury on September 1, 2009:

As seven representatives of the Communion Partner bishops, we are grateful to have met with the Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss our concern in light of the recent actions of General Convention and the subsequent episcopal nominations of candidates “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion” (General Convention 2006, Resolution B033).

At this meeting we expressed our appreciation for his post-Convention reflections, “Communion, Covenant, and Our Anglican Future,” and were especially interested in his statement about whether “elements” in provinces not favorably disposed to adopt the Anglican Communion Covenant “will be free … to adopt the Covenant as a sign of their wish to act in a certain level of mutuality with parts of the Communion.” the rest

Communion Partner Bishops Urge Support of Covenant

September 8, 2009

Seven bishops who met with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace on Sept. 1 have issued a statement urging widespread support for the Anglican Communion Covenant, which is still in draft form.

The statement came from Bishops Mark J. Lawrence (South Carolina), Gary R. Lillibridge (West Texas), Edward S. Little, II (Northern Indiana), William H. Love (Albany), D. Bruce MacPherson (Western Louisiana), Michael G. Smith (North Dakota) and James M. Stanton (Dallas).

The statement was released Sept. 7 by Bishop MacPherson.

The seven bishops, who all belong to Communion Partners, asked “bishops, priests, deacons and laypersons of The Episcopal Church who support the adoption of the Anglican Communion Covenant to record such endorsement on the Communion Partners website.”

The bishops also expressed their hope that General Convention will approve the covenant in 2012. the rest

The Mission of the Church: Christianity as a Worldview

By Chuck Colson
September 08, 2009

Today I want to tell you about a major new effort to renew the Church and transform the culture.

What is the vision of the Church? That was the sermon topic one Sunday a dozen years ago or so when I visited a friend’s church. But as I listened, I found my mind wandering. I had just signed a contract to write a book on Christian worldview, and I was experiencing writer’s remorse. Did this book really need to be written?

Suddenly the pastor’s words caught my attention. The mission of the Church, he said, is to prepare for Christ’s return in five ways: prayer, Bible study, worship, fellowship, and evangelism. In that instant, all doubts about writing the book vanished. Of course, these five spiritual exercises are central to the Church’s life, but we can never overlook our responsibility to redeem all of culture as well. Though well-intentioned, the pastor’s words were a prescription for the continued marginalization of the Church. the rest

De Facto Parents: Now children can have multiple legal parents without biology, adoption or marriage

August 31, 2009
By William C. Duncan

In his 1988 book Silent Revolution, Herbert Jacob described how one of the most significant changes to family law in the 20th century, no-fault divorce, began in California and spread through the states with very little public debate or controversy. This remarkable transformation was presented, and largely accepted, as routine policymaking in the domain of legal experts.

Similarly, a revolution in the legal understanding of parenthood seems to have quietly begun with little or no public debate or discussion. This dramatically transformative development is the statutory recognition of “de facto” parenthood — the notion that an unrelated individual (usually the unmarried partner of a biological parent, but potentially any adult) can be designated as the legal “parent” of a child by virtue of an agreement with a biological or adoptive parent, or even just a relationship with the child. In some cases, three or more people may be designated “parents” of the same child. While a handful of state courts have endorsed the idea in the context of disputes between same-sex couples jointly raising children, not until very recently has a legislature endorsed it. the rest

New Documentary "Blood Money" Seeks to Expose the Abortion Business


By Matt Anderson

August 25, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A group of filmmakers have recently filmed a documentary that aims to expose the terrible reality of abortion, focusing on the financial aspect of the multimillion dollar abortion industry.

The film, entitled "Blood Money," includes numerous interviews with leaders of the pro-life movement, in which they lay out the facts about the abortion industry and the effects that abortions have on women. the rest

Documentary to examine ‘Blood Money’ motive in abortion industry

UN wants new global currency to replace dollar

The dollar should be replaced with a global currency, the United Nations has said, proposing the biggest overhaul of the world's monetary system since the Second World War.
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor
07 Sep 2009

a radical report, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has said the system of currencies and capital rules which binds the world economy is not working properly, and was largely responsible for the financial and economic crises.

It added that the present system, under which the dollar acts as the world's reserve currency , should be subject to a wholesale reconsideration.

Although a number of countries, including China and Russia, have suggested replacing the dollar as the world's reserve currency, the UNCTAD report is the first time a major multinational institution has posited such a suggestion.

In essence, the report calls for a new Bretton Woods-style system of managed international exchange rates, meaning central banks would be forced to intervene and either support or push down their currencies depending on how the rest of the world economy is behaving. the rest

Q & A with Episcopal Bishop Jefferts-Schori

Katharine Jefferts Schori visits central PA this week.
By MELISSA NANN BURKE
Daily Record/Sunday News
09/08/2009

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, will visit the 24-county Diocese of Central Pennsylvania from Friday through Sunday.

She spoke by phone Sunday about her upcoming visit and the larger church.

Q: What are you hoping to see and learn while you're touring the diocese?

A: Part of my role is to visit each of the 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church, and when I come I hope to see something of the mission and ministry in the local diocese, ways in which I can connect with the church locally and connect the church locally with the broader church.

Q: In the diocese, membership has dropped by more than 14 percent since 1997 to about 15,000. What can be done to stanch these losses?

A: It's important to understand the reasons for reduction in membership. Sometimes, it's simply demographic. Communities shrink for economic reasons, and I understand that is the case in particularly the northern part of the diocese.

Other responses certainly include solid faith formation for young people, so that children growing up understand their role in the church and they're welcomed as full members of the church from the very beginning.

Part of the role of the church also is to reach out to others in the community who do not have a faith tradition or an active Christian membership to spread the gospel there.
the rest

The Creeping Culture of Euthanasia

Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Wesley J. Smith

I was asked by the National Review to write a story for the magazine on the recent advances made by the assisted suicide movement. It is the cover story. There is no link, but here are few excerpts:

The assisted-suicide movement has come a long way in just a couple of decades. Consider, for example, this recent item from the San Francisco Chronicle: “Charlotte Shultz [the wife of former secretary of state George Shultz] accepted the invitation to be honorary co- chair (with Dianne Feinstein) at a Nov. 5 luncheon and program for Compassion & Choices of Northern California, saying, ‘I’m glad to support the cause, but I’m in no hurry to use the services.’” the rest

Monday, September 07, 2009

Devotional: Our heavenly Father...

Our heavenly Father never takes anything from his children unless he means to give them something better. ...George Muller image by Kjetil Skogli

Albert Mohler: The Obama School Speech Controversy -- What to Think?

Monday, September 07, 2009

The controversy over President Barack Obama's speech to America's school children scheduled for Tuesday morning continues to incite controversy. On the surface, this seems incredible. Why would a speech calling for students to remain in school and set personal goals for themselves incite any controversy at all? Is this just another eruption of the Culture War?

At first glace, that seems to be exactly what this fracas is all about. Much of the controversy is reckless, baseless, and plainly irrational. Some have called the speech an effort to recruit America's children into socialism. Others have argued that any presidential speech piped into classrooms is illegitimate. But a presidential speech to students is hardly unprecedented. This speech by this president has led to an unprecedented uproar. the rest

Religious groups face financial crisis as donations diminish

With contributions slowing, many are reporting millions of dollars in reduced income, necessitating staff layoffs and program cuts.
By Larry B. Stammer
September 7, 2009

Excerpt:
With donations slowing, religious groups across the theological spectrum are reporting millions of dollars in reduced income that is resulting in staff layoffs and program cuts.

Jewish and Christian seminaries also are feeling the pinch. Eight seminaries for the nation's largest Lutheran denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, are undergoing staff reductions and budget cuts.

In Los Angeles, consideration was given this spring to closing the Los Angeles campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, a seminary serving the Jewish Reform movement. Ultimately, college officials opted to keep the campus open, but only after cutting staff and entering into cooperative arrangements with other institutions and seminaries.

But college officials confirmed there is ongoing discussion of how millions more could be saved, including preliminary talks about selling the campus to the adjacent USC and leasing it back.

Meanwhile, 69 long-term foreign missionaries and 350 short-term missionaries for the Southern Baptist Convention will remain home this year because of reduced giving by local congregations to the denomination's cooperative program. Southern Baptist officials also report a $29-million drop in an annual Christmas offering on which half the program's budget depends. the rest

Church of England refuses to leave legislature

Monday, 7th September 2009
By Matt Cresswell

The Church of England has rejected suggestions from Jack Straw it will give up its seats in the House of Lords without a fight.

Ending the association would be a "retrograde step", a spokesman told politics.co.uk, after heavy hints from the Justice Secretary last week that bishops may no longer be welcome.

Mr Straw told an Unlock Democracy seminar the exclusive presence of the Church of England among Britain's religions in parliament was "anomalous" but refused to indicate whether he believed, in a predominantly elected House of Lords, their historic place should be protected.

He said he hopes a transition to an elected House of Lords will take place over three parliamentary cycles, meaning the decision on whether to go to an 80 per cent or 100 per cent elected chamber will not have to be taken for some years. "My own guess is the Church of England may come to a view [over the next 10 years] that it is not appropriate for bishops to be in the legislative chamber," the Justice Secretary suggested. the rest

Fake Pro-Life Group Third Way Claims Health Care Bills Will Reduce Abortions

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
September 7, 2009

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- The fake pro-life group Third Way is pushing a disingenuous argument that the government-run health care plans Congress is considering would somehow reduce abortions even though it could open the door to funding hundreds of thousands of abortions annually.

Third Way is the coalition of liberal religious activists whose work is used as a cover to promote pro-abortion legislation and candidates like President Barack Obama.

Organizations such as Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United, which have both praised Obama and his pro-abortion record, have both formal and informal ties with Third Way. the rest

Islam Has Its Luthers, Too. But Reform Is Far Away

At the heart of the current crisis in the Muslim world are the different conceptions of tradition. And the refusal to interpret the Qur'an with scientific as well as theological methods. The lesson of a great Islamologist, Michel Cuypers
by Sandro Magister

ROME, September 7, 2009 – The Oasis foundation dedicated its last annual study meeting to the question of the Christian and Islamic religious traditions: how they should be interpreted and lived in their respective communities, especially when they are in the minority, Christians in Muslim countries and Muslims in Europe.

The meeting, held in Venice, was attended – in addition to a few cardinals and bishops – by about seventy Muslim and Christian scholars from East and West.

The question of tradition – and therefore also of education, of the transmission of the patrimony of faith to the new generations – is one of the crucial questions in the Christian and Catholic camp. The Italian episcopal conference, for example, has put it at the center of its own program for the next ten years. The pontificate of Benedict XVI itself acts according to and is guided by the light of tradition, which in turn is an object of dispute. the rest

Jones' Resignation May Embolden Administration Critics

Now that White House green jobs adviser Van Jones has stepped down, Republicans are raising concerns about the administration's reliance on "czars."
FOXNews.com
Monday, September 07, 2009

The resignation of White House green jobs adviser Van Jones could ultimately embolden conservatives who are critical of the Obama administration for its reliance on "czars" -- the nickname for special advisers who do not need congressional approval.

Jones resigned late Saturday following mounting criticism over his past statements and associations. The tipping point came when it was discovered that he signed a petition in 2004 supporting the "9/11 truther" movement, which believes the Bush administration may have been complicit in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

But even before his resignation, critics said the controversy surrounding Jones was indicative of the fundamental problem with the administration's reliance on such advisers. the rest

Malkin: The resignation (and coming MSM/left-wing martyrdom) of Van Jones

What the Van Jones Story Is Really About

Labor Day Marked by Highest Unemployment Rate in 26 Years

Concern About Job Losses Remain Despite Stimulus
By JONATHAN KARL and HUMA KHAN
Sept. 7, 2009

The White House says the stimulus is working, but some economists are doubtful.
On this labor day, unemployment stands at 9.7 percent, the highest it has been in 26 years.

Nearly 216,000 jobs were lost last month, and in some states, unemployment figures have reached double digits.

The Obama administration says the stimulus money has helped curb layoffs and offered more help to those who are unemployed in the form of extended benefits. the rest image by zaphodsotherhead

Too many Americans working part time

ELCA leader urges flock to continue conversation

by Joshua A Goldberg,
Christian Post
Monday, September 7, 2009

“I opened our recent Churchwide Assembly with these questions: ‘What shall be our witness?’ ‘What stories shall we tell?’” noted ELCA’s presiding bishop, the Rev Mark S Hanson, in a video message posted on the newly launched "Our Faithful Mission Together" section of the denomination's website. “Those questions remain before us.”

Last month, during the triennial gathering of ELCA’s chief legislative body, delegates voted 559-451 to approve a resolution allowing gays and lesbians in “life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships” to be ordained.

Delegates also adopted a new social statement on human sexuality with exactly the number of votes (676 or two-thirds) needed to pass it. The statement, which emphasises two principles – trust and bound conscience – addresses a spectrum of topics relevant to human sexuality, including social structures, cohabitation, sexual exploitation, abuse, and homosexuality. the rest

People Power: A wake-up call for America's political elites

by Matthew Continetti
09/14/2009

Excerpt:
Two issues are at the center of the present discontent. The first is the state of public finances. The activists and other concerned citizens who showed up at the first tea parties last spring weren't protesting Obamacare (yet). They were protesting Obama's bailouts, budgets, and deficits. Obama's expansion of the state is an offense to liberty, but also to equity. People understand that as the government grows, they will have less opportunity to dispose of their income as they see fit. So the deficit is more than a number or a "structural imbalance." It's a symbol of unrestrained and irresponsible governance.

The second thing that is motivating the new public outcry is a sense of estrangement from political decisionmaking. The worry that Obamacare will result in fewer personal choices and more government fiat is legitimate. That's what Obamacare is set up to do. The debate is not merely a matter of which inputs will produce--voilà!--the desired outcomes, as the Obamacrats think. It's about freedom and responsibility. It's about a family's ability to control its fate, an individual's ability to shape his nation's future. the rest

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Pastors split over new gay policies

Local leaders distance themselves from national Lutheran, Episcopal groups
by Jason Foster
Sunday, Sep. 06, 2009

Recent decisions by national Lutheran and Episcopal groups to make their churches more accepting of homosexuals have some York County pastors trying to distance themselves from stances they say go against biblical teaching.

Last month, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — the largest Lutheran group in the nation — voted to allow gays and lesbians who are in committed relationships to serve as clergy. The group also decided to find ways to support monogamous same-sex couples within the church.

That followed earlier decisions by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church to approve resolutions that address homosexuality, including one that says “God has called and may call” gay people in committed relationships to be ordained in the church. the rest