Saturday, November 27, 2010

Devotional: Fire of Advent

"Advent, like its cousin Lent, is a season for prayer and reformation of our hearts. Since it comes at winter time, fire is a fitting sign to help us celebrate Advent…If Christ is to come more fully into our lives this Christmas, if God is to become really incarnate for us, then fire will have to be present in our prayer. Our worship and devotion will have to stoke the kind of fire in our souls that can truly change our hearts. Ours is a great responsibility not to waste this Advent time." ...Edward Hays
 image by Benjamin Nussbaum

Saving grace: Consultants help rebuild struggling churches

By MICHELLE BOORSTEIN
The Washington Post
Saturday, November 27, 2010

St. Augustine's was facing a death sentence.

The little Episcopal church in Washington, D.C., on the waterfront had seen the signs. Since its founders proudly formed St. Augustine's as a racially integrated church in 1961, membership had wilted from 180 to 28. Key members passed away or moved. Paint peeled off the ceiling. Mold grew in the basement. The church couldn't pay its bills.

"It was literally dying," the Rev. Martha Clark said of her parish's state in 2007, when the regional bishop gave St. Augustine's three years to become self-sustaining or be shut down.

That's where Bob Gallagher came in. A former Episcopal priest, the gentle 60-year-old is a professional church savior, a consultant who travels the country trying to resuscitate houses of worship that are losing people and passion. With large swaths of organized religion in decline nationwide, Gallagher's dance card is full.

His initial meetings at St. Augustine's were emotional. He confronted people who had been focused on paying the mortgage with more wrenching questions: Do you really have a reason to be in this neighborhood, or could you move somewhere cheaper? What does it mean to be an Episcopalian? Could you merge with a church from another denomination? Do you agree on worship styles? Who are you? the rest

Most under-35s have not heard of the King James Bible

The Christian Institute
23 November 2010

More than half of young adults have never heard of the King James Version of the Bible, according to a new survey.

The influential translation, which will celebrate its 400th anniversary next year, is believed to be the biggest selling book ever produced.

But a new poll has revealed that 51 per cent of under-35s have never heard of the King James Bible, compared to 28 per cent for those over the age of 55. the rest

The Schullers: A tale of two churches


Family discord and financial shortfalls have plagued the opulent but bankrupt Crystal Cathedral, an operation some see as outdated. The founder's grandson has established his own, more intimate church, seeking to evolve with the times.
By Nicole Santa Cruz,
Los Angeles Times
November 27, 2010

Three miles from the Crystal Cathedral in an American Legion Hall, a 29-year-old pastor in a purple sweater and blue jeans takes the pulpit. He rocks from heel to toe, casually joking with the congregants — today they almost had to meet at the park because a pancake breakfast threatened their rented space.

His message? "You are welcome here."

That pastor is Bobby Schuller, grandson of the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, 84, the televangelist pioneer who founded the TV ministry "Hour of Power" and the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove. the rest 
image by Sylvain Leprovost

Bobby Schuller is an innovator like his grandfather, but the way he delivers his message of Christianity is drastically different. The stereotypical church, he said, is about a perfect building filled with perfect people, music and a perfect preacher.

"In other words, it's not like life," he said.

Survey: 300 “Doctors” Do Late Abortions, 140 When Baby Feels Pain

by Steven Ertelt
Washington, DC
LifeNews.com
11/25/10

With controversial late-term abortion practitioner LeRoy Carhart getting national attention over plans to expand his abortion business, a little-known 2008 study is gaining new attention.

The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research organization previously affiliated with Planned Parenthood, released a study in 2008 titled “Abortion in the United States: Incidence and Access to Services, 2005.”

The study found there were at least 1,787 abortion “doctors” in the United States but it revealed stark numbers when it comes to those who do abortions later in pregnancy.

Of the 1,787, the study found that “[t]wenty percent of providers offered abortions after 20 weeks [LMP], and only 8% at 24 weeks [LMP].”

Though the numbers seem small, that translates to at least 300 “doctors” who who will perform abortions after 20 weeks LMP like LeRoy Carhart and, of those, 140 willing to perform abortions at 24 weeks LMP. the rest
“The truth is, abortions in the fifth month of pregnancy and later are widely available,” she added.

Doctors say Medicare cuts force painful decision about elderly patients

By N.C. Aizenman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 26, 2010

Want an appointment with kidney specialist Adam Weinstein of Easton, Md.? If you're a senior covered by Medicare, the wait is eight weeks.

How about a checkup from geriatric specialist Michael Trahos? Expect to see him every six months: The Alexandria-based doctor has been limiting most of his Medicare patients to twice yearly rather than the quarterly checkups he considers ideal for the elderly. Still, at least he'll see you. Top-ranked primary care doctor Linda Yau is one of three physicians with the District's Foxhall Internists group who recently announced they will no longer be accepting Medicare patients.

"It's not easy. But you realize you either do this or you don't stay in business," she said. the rest

Friday, November 26, 2010

Devotional: By faith we are led...

We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thess. 1:3

By faith we are led, not against reason but beyond reason, to the knowledge of God Himself and therefore of ourselves.  By hope we are kept young of heart; for it teaches us to trust in God, to work with all our energy but to leave the future to Him; it gives us poverty of spirit and so saves us from solicitude.  And by love we are not told about God, we are brought to Him.  ...Gerald Yann image

A million marriages are 'invalid' because of Church of England blunder

By Steve Doughty, Social Affairs Correspondent
November 2010

 Two million husbands and wives are not lawfully married because of a Church of England blunder, it was revealed yesterday.

Their church weddings are legally invalid because the vicars who married them used the wrong form of words, CofE lawyers admitted.

The error affects more than a million weddings celebrated over the past 30 years in churches across England. the rest

United States Sees 53 Million Abortions Since Roe in 1973

by Steven Ertelt
Washington, DC
 LifeNews.com
11/26/10
Americans saw a political milestone this month as more pro-life lawmakers were elected to the House of Representatives than ever before, but the nation also quietly reached a less joyful mark.

In January, the National Right to Life Committee provided a new analysis of the total number of abortions done in the 37 years since the Roe v. Wade decision.

The Supreme Court handed down its controversial ruling — allowing virtually unlimited abortions at any time throughout pregnancy — in January 1973. The NRLC analysis found that 52 million unborn children had been killed in abortions as of January. the rest

Canterbury rejects African call to postpone Dublin primates meeting

The Church of England Newspaper
November 25, 2010
By George Conger

The Archbishop of Canterbury has rejected Africa’s call to suspend the Dublin primates meeting, a spokesman for Dr. Rowan Williams’ tells The Church of England Newspaper, and the meeting will go on as scheduled.

On Nov 17 Lambeth Palace confirmed that Dr. Williams had received a letter from CAPA chairman Archbishop Ian Earnest. This letter raised a “concern about the planning process for the Primates’ Meeting and request[ed] that it be postponed.”

“However, given the closeness of the time, and the fact that the majority of Primates have already indicated that they will attend, the Archbishop of Canterbury is not minded to postpone the meeting whose date was set two years ago,” the Lambeth Palace statement said. the rest

Hindus laud Queen Elizabeth II for talking about 'all faiths' at Church of England Synod

Fri, Nov 26, 2010

Hindus have applauded Her Majesty The Queen of United Kingdom (UK) Elizabeth II for acknowledging contributions of "all faiths" while inaugurating Ninth General Synod of the Church on England in Westminster (UK) on November 23.

Queen reportedly said on the occasion: "In our more diverse and secular society, the place of religion has come to be a matter of lively discussion. It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue and that the wellbeing and prosperity of the nation depend on the contribution of individuals and groups of all faiths and of none. Yet, as the recent visit of His Holiness The Pope reminded us, churches and the other great faith traditions retain the potential to inspire great enthusiasm, loyalty and a concern for the common good."

Prominent Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was remarkable on the part of the Queen, who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England, to speak about "all faiths" and "great faith traditions" instead of just talking about Church of England. the rest

The Story of Jonah

The story of Jonah from Corinth Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

New blog: Incline Your Heart


Dear Readers,

Over the years, I have had requests to compile the devotional posts on this blog or perhaps tag them in some way so they might be found more easily, but until now I never got around to taking the time and making the effort to do something about it. 

A couple of months ago, being prompted once again by a friend of Transfigurations (Thanks Georgia!), I decided to start a second blog mostly dedicated to compiling my devotional posts and adding other essays, videos, and teachings that pertain to the building up of the spiritual life. I named the new blog Incline Your Heart based on Proverbs 2:2  "...making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding."

So take the time to check it out-I hope you will be blessed!  
-Pat Dague

My first post there:

My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.

Proverbs 2:1-5 image by Sharon Mallerus

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Psalm for giving grateful praise...


Psalm 100

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Flowing Auroras Over Norway

Beautiful!

Unity document exposes Anglican divisions

Church of England votes in favour of new framework but conservatives condemn text of covenant as 'fatally flawed'
Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent
guardian.co.uk
Wednesday 24 November 2010

The turmoil in the Anglican church deepened today as conservative leaders said they could no longer sign a framework designed to restore unity, even as the Church of England rallied around the archbishop of Canterbury to back the plan.

Members of the General Synod agreed to support the Anglican covenant after listening to a morning of emotional debate.

But while the Church of England took one step closer to signing the covenant, other churches are retreating from it. In a statement, senior Anglican conservatives from countries including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria, said they now would not support the covenant, which they believe has been watered down and become too soft on more liberal attitudes. the rest

Book with exclusive interview of Pope Benedict XVI is published

Real death panels coming our way

Nov 24, 2010
By Nat Hentoff

Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner in economics and an influential New York Times columnist, also has a blog, "The Conscience of a Liberal." On ABC's "This Week" (Nov. 14), during a discussion on balancing the federal budget against alarming deficits, he proclaimed the way to solve this problem is through deeply cost-effective health-care rationing.

"Some years down the pike," he said, "we're going to get the real solution, which is going to be a combination of death panels and sales taxes." That would mean the U.S. Debt Reduction Commission "should have endorsed the panel that was part of the (Obama) health-care reform."

Sarah Palin was one of the first, and the most resounding, to warn us of the coming of government panels to decide which of us -- especially, but not exclusively, toward the end of life -- would cost too much to survive. the rest
Are these Obamacare cost-benefit boards and commissions -- for example, the so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board penetratingly judging Medicare's cost-effectiveness (without judicial review) -- not going to determine whether certain Americans are going to continue living?

Anglican Perspective November 24, 2010

China, Russia Quit Dollar

November 24, 2010
By Su Qiang and Li Xiaokun
(China Daily)

St. Petersburg, Russia - China and Russia have decided to renounce the US dollar and resort to using their own currencies for bilateral trade, Premier Wen Jiabao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin announced late on Tuesday.

Chinese experts said the move reflected closer relations between Beijing and Moscow and is not aimed at challenging the dollar, but to protect their domestic economies.

"About trade settlement, we have decided to use our own currencies," Putin said at a joint news conference with Wen in St. Petersburg.

The two countries were accustomed to using other currencies, especially the dollar, for bilateral trade. Since the financial crisis, however, high-ranking officials on both sides began to explore other possibilities. the rest

GAFCON: Oxford Statement of the Primates’ Council

Oxford Statement
November 24, 2010

Introduction

The leaders of the GAFCON movement are keenly aware of the crises of conscience that are pressing some people to shift their membership and ministry from the Anglican Church.

While we are greatly sympathetic that there are many areas of crisis that assault conscience, once again, we would offer that the theological clarity of the Jerusalem Declaration offers a solid foundation on which to engage with other Anglicans in the pursuit of Gospel mission.

Being able to link with those who not only form the majority of Anglicans in the world, but also those who affirm Biblical theological foundations of what Anglicans have always believed and practiced can provide concrete relationships and meaningful partnerships that are of more substance than the structures that have shown themselves to be flawed or compromised.

GAFCON provides a way to share Biblical Anglicanism that is in concert with what Anglicans have always believed, taught, and practiced...

The rest-statement

The Primates Council:
The Most Rev’d Gregory Venables, GAFCON/FCA Chair
The Most Rev’d Justice Akrofi, Archbishop, Anglican Province of West Africa
The Most Rev’d Robert Duncan, Archbishop, Anglican Church in North America
The Most Rev ‘d Emmanuel Kolini, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Rwanda
The Most Rev’d Valentino Mokiwa, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Tanzania
The Most Rev’d Nicholas Okoh, Archbishop, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
The Most Rev’d Henry Orombi Archbishop, Church of Uganda
The Most Rev’d Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya

The Most Rev’d Peter Jensen, Archbishop, Diocese of Sydney, Secretary

Excerpt:
3. We believe that we are now entering a new era for the Anglican Communion. New ways of living out our common life are emerging as old structures are proven to be ineffective in confronting the challenges of living in a pluralistic global community. We rejoice in the call of the Jerusalem Declaration for a renewed commitment to the authority of scripture and the centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sadly the rejection of these historic anchors to our faith has brought us to a crisis in the life of the Communion.

4. As we have made clear in numerous communiqués and meetings those who have abandoned the historic teaching of the Church have torn the fabric of our life together at its deepest level. We have made repeated attempts to bring repentance and restoration and yet these efforts have been rejected. We grieve for those who have walked apart and earnestly pray for them and the people under their care.

5. For the sake of Christ and of His Gospel we can no longer maintain the illusion of normalcy and so we join with other Primates from the Global South in declaring that we will not be present at the next Primates’ meeting to be held in Ireland. And while we acknowledge that the efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant were well intentioned we have come to the conclusion the current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate.

Anglican conservatives reject global unity plan

AP
posted Nov. 24, 2010

LONDON (AP) — Leaders of conservative Anglicans on Wednesday rejected a proposed covenant to hold their global communion together just as the Church of England gave preliminary approval to the plan.

The covenant, backed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, is intended to contain deep splits within the Anglican Communion over sexuality, the role of women and the authority of the Bible. The communion represents churches affiliated with the Church of England in more than 160 countries.

The Church of England's governing General Synod voted Wednesday to approve draft legislation that could lead to a final vote in 2012. The covenant will now be referred to dioceses for consideration.

The traditionalists dismissed the covenant as "fatally flawed," but the plan also has been attacked by liberals within the church. the rest

"While we acknowledge that the efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant were well intentioned, we have come to the conclusion the current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate," said the statement from leaders of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and the GAFCON movement.
The statement was endorsed by archbishops from West Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Australia and Anglican Church of North America, a breakaway group from the Episcopal Church.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Devotional: Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world...


Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world: It is not he who prays most or fasts most, it is not he who gives most alms or is most eminent for temperance, chastity or justice; but it is he who is always thankful to God, who wills everything that God wills, who receives everything as an instance of God's goodness and has a heart always ready to praise God for it. ...William Law
image by Alan Vernon

Archbishop Rowan Williams' Presidential Address - General Synod November 2010

Tuesday 23 November 2010

In his first Presidential Address to the new Synod, the Archbishop of Canterbury urges members to recognise the value of the Covenant for the life of the Anglican Communion:

"The Covenant text itself represents work done by theologians of similarly diverse views, including several from North America. It does not invent a new orthodoxy or a new system of doctrinal policing or a centralised authority, quite explicitly declaring that it does not seek to override any province's canonical autonomy. After such a number of discussions and revisions, it is dispiriting to see the Covenant still being represented as a tool of exclusion and tyranny."

He also warned of the consequences of the Church of England not engaging in the inevitable changes that will occur within the Communion, including the affect on Communion relations - which could in turn affect vulnerable churches:

"It is an illusion to think that without some changes the Communion will carry on as usual, and a greater illusion to think that the Church of England can somehow derail the entire process. The unpalatable fact is that certain decisions in any province affect all. We may think they shouldn't, but they simply do. If we ignore this, we ignore what is already a real danger, the piece-by-piece dissolution of the Communion and the emergence of new structures in which relation to the Church of England and the See of Canterbury are likely not to figure significantly. All very well, you may say; but among the potential casualties are all those areas of interaction and exchange that are part of the lifeblood of our church and of many often quite vulnerable churches elsewhere. These relations are remarkably robust, given the institutional tensions at the moment, and, as I've often said, many will survive further disruption. But they will be complicated and weakened by major fracture and realignment." the rest

Religious do not have monopoly on virtue, Queen tells synod
Believers and atheists equally able to contribute to country's prosperity, says monarch

Canada would become magnet for polygamy if law struck down, court told

WENDY STUECK VANCOUVER
 From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
 Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010

Striking down Canada’s polygamy law would make the country a magnet for polygamous immigrant families and open the door to societal harms resulting from the practice, a lawyer for the B.C. government said in opening remarks for a landmark case.

“The challengers [to the law] all urge the court to make Canada the sole Western nation to decriminalize polygamy,” Crown lawyer Craig Jones told a packed Vancouver courtroom Monday. “The reasonably apprehended result would be an influx of polygamous families who are presently barred from the country in addition to the practice’s domestic growth.” the rest

Court: Nurse Can’t Sue Hospital That Forced Her to Do Abortion

by Steven Ertelt Washington, DC
LifeNews.com
11/23/10

A court ruled today that a pro-life nurse doesn’t have the right to sue the hospital that forced her to participate in an abortion.

Since 2004, officials at Mount Sinai Hospital knew that Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo had deeply-felt pro-life views and would not consent to assisting in an abortion.

That didn’t stop hospital officials from threatening her with disciplinary measures if she did not honor a last-minute summons to assist in a scheduled late-term abortion in 2009. They said she would lose her nursing license and potentially her job by not participating. the rest

NYT: Lessons of Hate at Islamic Schools in Britain

By JOHN F. BURNS
November 22, 2010

LONDON — A British network of more than 40 part-time Islamic schools and clubs with 5,000 students has been teaching from a Saudi Arabian government curriculum that contains anti-Semitic and homophobic views, including a textbook that asks children to list the “reprehensible” qualities of Jews, according to a BBC documentary broadcast on Monday.

The 30-minute “Panorama” program quoted the Saudi government-supplied textbook as saying that Jews “looked like monkeys and pigs,” and that Zionists set out to achieve “world domination.” The program quoted a separate part of the curriculum — for children as young as 6 — saying that someone who is not a believer in Islam at death would be condemned to “hellfire.” the rest

One Third of U.S. Catholics Left Church

November 23, 2010
New York, New York

(AHN) - The new president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Monday the biggest task ahead for the clergy is to stem the mass exodus of Roman Catholics. New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who was elected last week, cited studies that said one-third of Americans born and baptized Catholics have left the fold in recent years.

However, to stop the mass transfer to other religions or sects, Dolan admitted the clergy must first set its house on order.

While exerting efforts to prevent the exodus, the archbishop maintained Roman Catholic Church officials would not be gagged on controversial social issues such as abortion, gay marriages and immigration.

The study showed that only 50 percent of young Catholics marry in church, while Sunday mass attendance had gone down to 35 percent from 78 percent in the 1960s. He rued that people would rather fall in line for a clothing line sale than hear mass. the rest

Anglican church faces 'piece by piece dissolution', warns archbishop

Rowan Williams tells warring factions to pull together for crucial General Synod vote on church's future
Stephen Bates and Riazat Butt
Tuesday 23 November 2010

Dr Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, warned of the risk of "piece-by-piece dissolution" of worldwide Anglicanism in a heartfelt personal plea today to warring factions in the Church of England.

At the opening of the church's general synod in London, he called for all parties to put aside their disputes and agree on a fresh framework for settling differences across the 70 million-strong international communion.

The synod votes tomorrow on the Anglican covenant, which has been seven years in the making, and sets the Church of England at a crucial crossroads. The church is already facing probable defections to Roman Catholicism by some priests opposed to the ordination of women bishops. the rest

U.S. Condemns North Korea's 'Belligerent' Attack on South


November 23, 2010
FoxNews.com

The White House condemned North Korea's "belligerent" artillery attack Tuesday against a small South Korean island, a strike that left at least two dead and set dozens of buildings on fire.

The attack on the island of Yeonpyeong was the latest in an escalating series of provocations from the communist country which is preparing for a leadership succession. South Korean officials said the North launched the attack after warning the country to halt military drills in the area.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a pre-dawn statement saying Washington is "in close and continuing contact with our (South) Korean allies" about the situation. the rest

Airport ‘Security’?

Thomas Sowell
November 23, 2010

The Obama administration would rather look under a nun’s habit than detain a jihadist imam for questioning.

No country has better airport security than Israel — and no country needs it more, since Israel is the most hated target of Islamic extremist terrorists. Yet, somehow, Israeli airport-security people don’t have to strip passengers naked electronically or feel strangers’ private parts.

Does anyone seriously believe that we have better airport security than Israel? Is our security record better than theirs?

“Security” may be the excuse being offered for the outrageous things being done to American air travelers, but the heavy-handed arrogance and contempt for ordinary people that are the hallmark of this administration in other areas are all too painfully apparent in these new and invasive airport procedures. the rest

Can you remember a time when a cabinet member in a free America boasted of having his “foot on the neck” of some business or when the president of the United States threatened on television to put his foot on another part of some citizens’ anatomy?

Blacks, Jews most likely victim of US hate crimes: FBI

Nov 22, 2010

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Blacks and Jews were the most likely victims of hate crimes driven by racial or religious intolerance in the United States last year, the FBI said Monday in an annual report.

Out of 6,604 hate crimes committed in the United States in 2009, some 4,000 were racially motivated and nearly 1,600 were driven by hatred for a particular religion, the FBI said.

Blacks made up around three-quarters of victims of the racially motivated hate crimes and Jews made up the same percentage of victims of anti-religious hate crimes, the report said.

Anti-Muslim crimes were a distant second to crimes against Jews, making up just eight percent of the hate crimes driven by religious intolerance. the rest

Hate Crimes Against Muslims "rare" Study Shows

Queen to open Church of England general synod

(UKPA)
posted November 23, 2010
The Queen will formally open the General Synod of the Church of England at Westminster Abbey as members prepare to debate the "Big Society" vision outlined by David Cameron.

Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen, who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England, will attend a service of Holy Communion at Westminster Abbey before giving an address to the 476 members of the ninth General Synod.

Her address comes as the Church's national assembly prepares to discuss the "Big Society" vision of increased voluntary work and greater community activism in a debate likely to raise the impact of spending cuts on the poorest and the most vulnerable. the rest

Church of England braced for fresh row over gay rights

The Church of England faces fresh divisions over same-sex marriages as new laws bring religious partnership ceremonies a step closer, its leading official has warned.
By Tim Ross, Religious Affairs Editor
23 Nov 2010

Homosexual couples could be allowed to register their civil partnerships in traditional religious ceremonies under reforms currently being considered by ministers.

Liberal Anglicans are likely to press for civil partnership registrations to be held in churches, according to William Fittall, secretary general of the Church of England's parliament, the General Synod.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's inauguration of the newly elected Synod by the Queen, Mr Fittall said: “The gay issue will not go away. the rest

Monday, November 22, 2010

Wi-Fi Makes Trees Sick, Study Says

Nov 19, 2010

Radiation from Wi-Fi networks is harmful to trees, causing significant variations in growth, as well as bleeding and fissures in the bark, according to a recent study in the Netherlands.

All deciduous trees in the Western world are affected, according to the study by Wageningen University. The city of Alphen aan den Rijn ordered the study five years ago after officials found unexplained abnormalities on trees that couldn't be ascribed to a virus or bacterial infection.

Additional testing found the disease to occur throughout the Western world. In the Netherlands, about 70 percent of all trees in urban areas show the same symptoms, compared with only 10 percent five years ago. Trees in densely forested areas are hardly affected. the rest
 image by Peter Curbishley

The Shadow Scholar

The man who writes your students' papers tells his story
 Jonathan Barkat
November 12, 2010

Editor's note: Ed Dante is a pseudonym for a writer who lives on the East Coast. Through a literary agent, he approached The Chronicle wanting to tell the story of how he makes a living writing papers for a custom-essay company and to describe the extent of student cheating he has observed. In the course of editing his article, The Chronicle reviewed correspondence Dante had with clients and some of the papers he had been paid to write. In the article published here, some details of the assignment he describes have been altered to protect the identity of the student.

The request came in by e-mail around 2 in the afternoon. It was from a previous customer, and she had urgent business. I quote her message here verbatim (if I had to put up with it, so should you): "You did me business ethics propsal for me I need propsal got approved pls can you will write me paper?"

I've gotten pretty good at interpreting this kind of correspondence. The client had attached a document from her professor with details about the paper. She needed the first section in a week. Seventy-five pages.

I told her no problem.

It truly was no problem. In the past year, I've written roughly 5,000 pages of scholarly literature, most on very tight deadlines. But you won't find my name on a single paper. the rest image
I do a lot of work for seminary students. I like seminary students. They seem so blissfully unaware of the inherent contradiction in paying somebody to help them cheat in courses that are largely about walking in the light of God and providing an ethical model for others to follow. I have been commissioned to write many a passionate condemnation of America's moral decay as exemplified by abortion, gay marriage, or the teaching of evolution. All in all, we may presume that clerical authorities see these as a greater threat than the plagiarism committed by the future frocked.

The Shock of Recognition

Newly defined and vigorously enforced rights have proliferated even as they are uprooted from any philosophic grounding
by R.J. Snell
November 22, 2010

In the matter of sexual mores we can note a tendency similar to that observed in Neuhaus’s Law, coined by the late Fr. Neuhaus, that “where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.” One might say that the law of changing sexual mores goes as follows: “Whenever the illicit becomes optional, the illicit will sooner or later oblige support.”

Popular attitudes on the use of contraception bear this out. Once thought immoral or illegal, contraception is now considered a moral responsibility. Not only may one use contraception, but one ought to use contraception if one is to be morally responsible. Similar changes are observable in the debates surrounding sexual activity outside of marriage or the nature of marriage itself. Premarital sex is “normal behavior” the research says, and we are left to wonder if normal describes a statistical or moral claim. Likewise, the reasoning of Judge Walker’s Proposition 8 ruling appears to treat the arguments against same-sex marriage as no more than the bigotry of tradition, thus lacking moral or legal force, and not the sort of position respectable and enlightened individuals could take seriously. Again, what was once illicit is now to be recognized and supported by all right-thinking persons.
the rest

“Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.” -Fr. Neuhaus

Our New Obamacare Masters

Meet the Independent Payment Advisory Board.
Nov 20, 2010
By WESLEY J. SMITH

The day after the Obama administration’s shellacking at the polls, Peter Orszag, former director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, defended Obamacare from the ramparts of the New York Times. Dubiously asserting that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a money saver, Orszag extolled the establishment of an arcane new commission to oversee the Medicare budget:

Perhaps most important, the legislation creates an Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel of independent medical experts who will look for more ways to improve Medicare’s cost-effectiveness. Under the law, any policy that the board issues takes effect unless legislation to block it is passed by Congress and signed by the president. This way, inertia works in favor of cost containment rather than against it.

In other words, the only way to stop the commission’s fiscal “recommendations” from taking effect is for Congress to act. Talk about creating a new level of raw bureaucratic power. the rest
Further demonstrating the Star Chamber-like powers of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, Congress cannot consider any bill or amendment that would repeal or change this fast-track congressional consideration process without a three-fifths vote (60) in the Senate. Not only that, but the implementation of the board’s remedy is exempted from administrative or judicial review.

Colson: Christ the King Sunday

Mon, Nov. 22 2010 By Chuck Colson
Christian Post Guest Columnist

Our brothers and sisters in liturgical churches know that Sunday was the last Sunday of the Church calendar. The new church year begins this week following the first Sunday of Advent.

As a fitting end to the year, Sunday celebrated the feast of Christ the King. It is a reminder that the Son of God who humbled himself by becoming human and dying on the cross is King of King and Lord of Lords for all eternity.

Christians have always understood that Jesus has three offices. He is our Prophet who fulfills the Old Testament and reveals the truth about God in the New. He is Priest because he offered himself as the final and complete sacrifice for our sins. And he is King, the lawgiver who protects and rules.

Christ’s dominion extends to everything. His rule is what the American founders referred to as Providence, the ordering of life and history to God’s intended end or telos. The King’s purpose for each of our lives and in history will be accomplished. We can count on it. the rest

Pakistani President Pardons Christian Woman on Death Row

Mon, Nov. 22 2010
By Ethan Cole
Christian Post Reporter

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday pardoned Asia Bibi (also referred to as Asia Noreen by some media), the first woman sentenced to death for blasphemy.

Bibi, who had been imprisoned for one-and-a-half years without being allowed to give her statement in court, was released soon after the presidential pardon.

“This is the only acceptable outcome to what has been a travesty of justice from the outset,” said Nasir Saeed, coordinator for U.K.-based Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS). “Asia Bibi should never have been charged with blasphemy, let alone found guilty and sentenced to death.”

Saeed added, “The ordeal faced by her and her family is unimaginable to most people outside of Pakistan who are largely unaware of the abuse and discrimination faced by the tiny Christian minority there.”
the rest

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British pupils taught how to carry out Sharia punishments at Islamic schools

 AFP
November 22, 2010

PUPILS at Islamic schools across Britain are being taught how to chop off a criminal's hand and that Jews are conspiring to take over the world, a BBC investigation has found.

Up to 5000 pupils aged between six and 18 are being taught Sharia law punishments using "weekend-school" text-books which claim those who do not believe in Islam will be subjected to "hellfire" in death.

A text book for 15-year-olds advises: "For thieves their hands will be cut off for a first offence, and their foot for a subsequent offence." the rest 
"The specified punishment of the thief is cutting off his right hand at the wrist. Then it is cauterised to prevent him from bleeding to death," it added.

Ground Zero mosque applied for a $5 million fund designed to rebuild lower Manhattan after 9/11

John Avlon
November 22, 2010

Developers of the controversial Park51 Islamic community center and mosque located two blocks from Ground Zero earlier this month applied for roughly $5 million in federal grant money set aside for the redevelopment of lower Manhattan after the attacks of September 11th, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

The audacious move stands to reignite the embers of a divisive debate that dominated headlines surrounding the ninth anniversary of the attacks this fall, say people vested in the issue.

The application was submitted under a “community and cultural enhancement” grant program administered by the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Corporation (LMDC), which oversaw the $20 billion in federal aid allocated in the wake of 9/11 and is currently doling out millions in remaining taxpayer funds for community development. The redevelopment board declined to comment on the application (as did officials from Park51), citing the still ongoing and confidential process of determining the grant winners.  the rest

Western NY: Episcopalians pick church historian as new bishop

Will succeed Garrison after a close vote
By Jay Tokasz
NEWS STAFF REPORTER
November 21, 2010
Area Episcopalians elected a church historian and former divinity school president as their 11th bishop Saturday evening after more than seven hours of voting.

The Rev. R. William Franklin, who has been a priest for just five years, but spent nearly 30 years in a variety of Episcopal lay ministry roles, received the majority of votes needed from both clergy and laity of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York on the seventh ballot.

Franklin edged out the Rev. Barbara J. Price, rector of St. Peter’s Church in Amherst and the only local candidate in the four-person race. the rest

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christ the King

File:Melkite-Christ-the-King.jpg
Let the whole militant Church of Christ be blessed; put power into all faithful ministries; convert this country; save it from abounding sin; let all the Nations of the Earth know the Lord... Bring the Church to break down all bonds of nationality, all limits of sects, and may we feel the blessed unity which is the very glory of the Church of Christ! Yea, let the whole Earth be filled with His glory! Our prayer can never cease until we reach this point: Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven! Nothing less than this can we ask for. ...CH Spurgeon image

It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the LORD
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it,
and many peoples shall come, and say:
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths."
For out of Zion shall go the law,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.
(Isa. 2:2-4).