Saturday, January 01, 2011

Devotional: The march, not the dirge, has ever been the music of Christianity...

I do not advise that we end the year on a somber note. The march, not the dirge, has ever been the music of Christianity. If we are good students in the school of life, there is much that the years have to teach us. But the Christian is more than a student, more than a philosopher. He is a believer, and the object of his faith makes the difference, the mighty difference. Of all persons the Christian should be best prepared for whatever the New Year brings. He has dealt with life at its source. In Christ he has disposed of a thousand enemies that other men must face alone and unprepared. He can face his tomorrow cheerful and unafraid because yesterday he turned his feet into the ways of peace and today he lives in God. The man who has made God his dwelling place will always have a safe habitation. ...AW Tozer
 image by Stig Nygaard

First Anglicans are received into the Roman Catholic Church in historic service

The first Anglicans have received into the Roman Catholic Church under a scheme set up by Pope Benedict XVI. By Jonathan Wynne-Jones,
Religious Affairs Correspondent
01 Jan 2011

Priests and worshippers from around 20 Church of England parishes converted to Catholicism on Saturday at a ceremony in Westminster Cathedral.

Three former bishops were among those confirmed at the service, which saw the first wave of Anglicans defecting to Rome to join the Ordinariate.

The Pope introduced the structure in 2009 to welcome disillusioned Anglicans into the Catholic fold after secret meetings were held at the Vatican with Church of England bishops, as The Sunday Telegraph revealed a year earlier.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, admitted the move had put him in “an awkward position”, but more recently he said he respected the decisions of those who decided to leave.

While around 50 clergy are expected to defect to the Catholic Church over the coming months, it has been predicted that thousands of traditionalist worshippers will join the exodus, particularly if they are given no concessions once women are made bishops. the rest

Snowflakes Under an Electron Microscope

twohexagons1
By Brandon Keim
December 27, 2010

If you've ever wondered what snowflakes truly look like, spend a few moments with these images from the Electron Microscopy Unit of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland.

At the EMU, where other areas of focus include crop pathogens and livestock diseases, "studying the structure of snow is vital to several areas of science as well as to activities that affect our daily lives."

That's no doubt true. But for the rest of us, snow's structure is just beautiful. Enjoy!

More here!

O Antiphons – the hidden message

December 23, 2010
By Maggi Dawn

In each of the O Antiphons there has been the plea to God: Come…
Does God answer our prayers? Look backwards at them in reverse order:

O Emmanuel
O Rex
O Oriens

O Clavis
O Radix
O Adonai
O Sapientia

The capital letters (which in medieval texts were, of course illuminated) spell ERO CRAS, which in Latin means ‘Tomorrow I will come!”. Often when we pray we feel somehow that it’s a one-way conversation; our words disappearing into oblivion, as we hope (and sometimes doubt) that God hears us. Hidden in the O Antiphons is the indication that God not only hears, but is in dialogue with us. Advent is a period of waiting, but even as we wait his answer is hinted at in a hidden and inaudible whisper: Tomorrow, I will come.

When we pray, hope, doubt, wonder whether it’s worth it, whether God will ever hear us or act on our behalf, we can remember this Advent principle. The answer is in the future, in the Maranatha, yes. But the answer is already promised. Before you look forward for the answer to prayer, look backwards to the waiting. Somewhere, hidden in your conversation wth God, even though it feels like a monologue, there is the whisper of an answer. Here

2010: The Year in Pictures

New York Times: 2010-The Year in Pictures

Peggy Noonan: The origin of the New Year's anthem—and what it means to us


December 31, 2010

Excerpt:
"Auld Lang Syne"—the phrase can be translated as "long, long ago," or "old long since," but I like "old times past"—is a song that asks a question, a tender little question that has to do with the nature of being alive, of being a person on a journey in the world. It not only asks, it gives an answer.

It was written, or written down, by Robert Burns, lyric poet and Bard of Scotland. In 1788 he sent a copy of the poem to the Scots Musical Museum, with the words: "The following song, an old song, of the olden times, has never been in print." Burns was interested in the culture of Scotland, and collected old folk tales and poems. He said he got this one "from an old man"—no one knows who—and wrote it down. Being a writer, Burns revised and compressed. He found the phrase auld lang syne "exceedingly expressive" and thought whoever first wrote the poem "heaven inspired." The song spread throughout Scotland, where it was sung to mark the end of the old year, and soon to the English-speaking world, where it's sung to mark the new. the rest

Suspected suicide bomber kills 17 at Egypt church

Sat Jan 1, 2011
By Yasmine Saleh
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt

(Reuters) - A bomb killed at least 17 people outside a church in the Egyptian city of Alexandria early on New Year's Day and the Interior Ministry said a foreign-backed suicide bomber may have been responsible.

Dozens of people were wounded by the blast, which scattered body parts, destroyed cars and smashed windows. The attack prompted Christians to protest on the streets, and some Christians and Muslims hurled stones at each other.

Egypt has stepped up security around churches, banning cars from parking outside them, since an al Qaeda-linked group in Iraq issued a threat against the Church in Egypt in November. the rest

Nigeria: 2nd bomb explosion hits Abuja church
...Another bomb explosion rocked a church in Abuja, capital of Nigeria, on Friday.

The Stealthy Spread of Socialism in the U.S.

By K.E. Campbell
January 01, 2011

The biggest challenge facing Republicans in the 112th Congress is not Barack Obama. It is not Harry Reid and the Democrat-controlled Senate. It isn't high unemployment, repealing ObamaCare, the threat of Islamism and shariah in America, the deficit, or the looming insolvency of several (mostly blue) states. These, broadly speaking, are symptoms. The disease is socialism or, at the very least, a pervasive socialistic mindset.

According to a February 2010 Gallup poll, "61% of liberals say their image of socialism is positive" and "53% of Democrats have a positive image of socialism." Overall, 36% of Americans view socialism favorably.

Winston Churchill aptly described socialism as "a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." As economist Thomas Sowell put it, "Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it." the rest

Pope to hold peace summit with religious heads

By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY
Sat Jan 1, 2011

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict, worried over increasing inter-religious violence, will host a summit of world religious leaders in Assisi in October to discuss how they can better promote peace, he announced on Saturday.

Benedict told pilgrims and tourists in St Peter's Square the aim of the meeting would be to "solemnly renew the commitment of believers of every religion to live their own religious faith in the service of the cause for peace."

He made the announcement hours after a bomb killed at least 17 people in a church in Egypt in the latest attack on Christians in the Middle East and Africa.

The Assisi meeting will take place on the 25th anniversary of a similar encounter hosted by the late Pope John Paul in 1986 in the birthplace of St Francis. the rest

Anglican leader focuses on 'big picture' in New Year

posted Jan. 1, 2010

LONDON — The leader of the world's Anglicans said people needed to reflect on the "big picture" in 2011, however remote it might seem as they battle personally with the global financial downturn's repercussions.

In his New Year message delivered Saturday, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams celebrated the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, saying its rich language still helped people to see "the big picture" in life.

"It's good for us to have some long-lasting furniture in our minds, words and images that have something a bit mysterious about them and that carry important experiences for us that we can't find words of our own for," the Church of England leader said. the rest

Happy New Year 2011!

"The God of Israel will be your rereward." Isaiah 52:12

Security from Yesterday. "God requireth that which is past." At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise from remembering the yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of God's grace is apt to be checked by the memory of yesterday's sins and blunders. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them in order to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual culture for the future. God reminds us of the past lest we get into a shallow security in the present.

Security for To-morrow. "For the Lord will go before you." This is a gracious revelation, that God will garrison where we have failed to. He will watch lest things trip us up again into like failure, as they assuredly would do if He were not our rereward. God's hand reaches back to the past and makes a clearing-house for conscience.

Security for To-day. "For ye shall not go out with haste." As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.

Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him. ...Oswald Chambers image

Friday, December 31, 2010

Church of Scotland faces threat of split in row over gay ministers

30 December 2010
By IAN SWANSON

DESPERATE efforts are under way to prevent the Church of Scotland splitting over the issue of gay ministers.

New official figures suggest a clear majority of Kirk representatives in Edinburgh would back a more liberal attitude.

A special commission is due to report to the General Assembly in May on whether practising gays and lesbians should be accepted into the ministry.

A consultation among ministers and elders in the Kirk's Edinburgh presbytery found a majority of two to one in favour of allowing gays who were in civil partnerships to become ministers, though there was an almost 50-50 divide on whether those who were in a non- formalised same-sex relationship should be ordained. the rest

The Spirituality of Children of Divorce

Elizabeth Marquardt
December 22, 2010

Excerpt:
Young people from divorced families told me they had to grow up traveling between two worlds, literally and metaphorically. When their parents divorced the tough job of making sense of the differences between the parents' values and beliefs did not go away. Rather, this job was handed to the child alone. When it came to the big questions in life - Who am I? Where do I belong? What is right and wrong? Is there a God? - those from divorced families more often felt like they had to struggle for the answers alone.

Young people from divorced families felt just as spiritual as those from intact families, but their spiritual journeys were more often characterized by loss and suffering. For children, there is a kind of elemental wholeness in being with both of your parents, an experience that evokes the place where God is present. That experience becomes foreign for children of divorce. the rest

Australian floods extend across Queensland


Australia Floods to Worsen in East As Cyclone Looms in West

Thursday, December 30, 2010

How's That Religion of Peace Doing These Days?

December 29, 2010 By Eileen F. Toplansky

Only a few days remain until 2011, and still there is no end to Islamic hatred in the world.

Christmas was celebrated in an unusual way in Indonesia this year. Since sharia forbids the construction of any new churches, hundreds of members of Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Parung, West Java, Indonesia decided to celebrate Mass "in a tent set up in the parking lot of the Marsudirini Elementary School." Although on paper, Indonesia's constitution states that "no one has the right to prohibit any religious community from practicing its faith" the rising influence of Islamic radicals is obliterating all this. the rest

If Christians Were Treated Like Muslims
by Gary Bauer
12/28/2010
Few Americans would deny that Judeo-Christian beliefs and values informed the Founding of this country and that they continue to shape much of American life today. Nor would many of us deny that Americans who embrace Islamic values are a distinct minority here.
I raise these two facts because of an emerging reality: that, in a variety of contexts, American Muslims are treated better than American Christians. That might seem like a bizarre assertion, so think about it in another way: What if the Christians were treated like Muslims in America, and Muslims like Christians?

If Muslims were treated like Christians in America, Muslims would have to tolerate the defamation of their holiest images in our national museums, acts which would be called "artwork" -- and, if particularly provocative, even given taxpayer-funded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. They would also have to accept Korans being burned and thrown into toilets, which instead of inciting worldwide outrage and retribution would provoke a collective shrug of the shoulders. the rest

Marriage: Merely a Social Construct?

by Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson and Robert P. George
December 29, 2010

A response to Northwestern Law Professor Andrew Koppelman.

We are grateful for Andrew Koppelman’s recent reply to our argument in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy that marriage is the conjugal union of husband and wife. Thanks to his honesty and candor, the ensuing exchange should set in stark relief the implications of redefining civil marriage.

Professor Koppelman graciously credits our article with having “done [readers] a service with [a] succinct and clear exposition” of the arguments for conjugal marriage “that is accessible to the general reader.” Noting that “the most prominent response to [our] paper, by NYU Law Professor Kenji Yoshino, doesn’t really engage with any of [our] arguments,” Koppelman writes, “Here I will try to do better.”

Koppelman has indeed contributed importantly to the debate. Besides providing an opportunity for us to defend a core premise of our view, he has forthrightly admitted—he might say, embraced—the less politically palatable implications of rejecting our position.

Against our view that marriage is a pre-political form of relationship (albeit one that the state has compelling reasons to support and regulate), Koppelman holds that marriage is merely a social and legal construction—the pure product of conventions. the rest-links at site

King James Bible's 400-year reign

Quadricentennial of KJV to get royal treatment
By Mark A. Kellner
The Washington Times
Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Its cadence is found in the speeches of Abraham Lincoln and the lyrics of Paul Simon. Renowned narrator Alexander Scourby and country music legend Johnny Cash have recorded spoken versions of the text. It's estimated that 1 billion copies have been printed since the first volume rolled off the press in 1611.

The King James Version of the Bible, also known as the "Authorized Version," marks its 400th anniversary in 2011, and by any measure, it has had a lasting impact on the world and on the language into which it was sent. The "authorized" moniker comes from a title-page declaration that this Bible was "authorized to be read in churches."

"The sheer poetry of the King James Version, not to mention its almost half-millennium of absolute authority, militates against its slipping into obscurity any time soon," declared Phyllis Tickle, longtime religion editor at Publishers Weekly magazine. the rest image

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pope invites hundreds of homeless to Vatican for lunch


Event marks the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s birth

Lux Aurumque


Light,
Warm and heavy as pure gold
And the angels sing softly
To the new-born baby.
(h/t the Anchoress)

Nigeria Christmas violence death toll rises to 80

by Ethan Cole, Christian Post
Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The death toll for the Christmas Eve bombings in central Nigeria and the Christian-Muslim clash that ensued has risen to at least 80 people.

Police initially said 32 people were killed in the coordinated bomb explosions in Jos on Christmas Eve. The latest death toll includes those killed in the connected conflict between Muslim and Christian youths on Sunday in central Nigeria. Another 100 people were wounded and are in the hospital.

On Christmas Eve, two bombs exploded near a busy market where people were Christmas shopping in Jos, the capital of Plateau state. Another blast occurred in a predominantly Christian neighbourhood and a fourth bomb exploded near a road leading to the main mosque in Jos. the rest

Pro-Life Groups: Stop Abortion Funding in 2011

Tue, Dec. 28 2010
By Stephanie Samuel
Christian Post Reporter

EAs the New Year edges closer, conservative and religious policy experts have established anti-abortion legislation as its top agenda item for the 112th Congress set to be confirmed in January 2011.

More specifically, legislative and policy experts from pro-life and pro-family groups are looking to stop abortion funding.

Many pro-family groups have backed down off of calls to repeal the health care reform bill and converged behind efforts to expressly prohibit taxpayer money from paying for abortion provider initiatives. the rest

San Diego: Church walks away from Episcopal diocese

By Christopher Cadelago Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Rev. Canon Lawrence Bausch expects to surrender the keys to his Ocean Beach church to the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego on Thursday, closing a chapter in an international conflict intensified by the election of an openly gay bishop.

The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson’s consecration seven years ago in New Hampshire underscored a cleft in the worldwide Anglican Communion. About 350 congregations have since voted to leave the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the communion, and align themselves with more conservative Anglican leaders overseas.

The rift has tested personal and professional relationships, spurred protracted court disputes over church property and prompted efforts to create a rival North American province. the rest

Baby boomers near 65 with retirements in jeopardy

By DAVE CARPENTER
AP Personal Finance Writer
Monday, December 27, 2010


Through a combination of procrastination and bad timing, many baby boomers are facing a personal finance disaster just as they're hoping to retire. Starting in January, more than 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65, a pattern that will continue for the next 19 years.

The boomers, who in their youth revolutionized everything from music to race relations, are set to redefine retirement. But a generation that made its mark in the tumultuous 1960s now faces a crisis as it hits its own mid-60s. the rest
"The situation is extremely serious because baby boomers have not saved very effectively for retirement and are still retiring too early," says Olivia Mitchell, director of the Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Research at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ireland: Many same-sex couples plan to register civil partnerships

The Irish Times
Monday, December 27, 2010

DOZENS OF same-sex couples are making plans to apply to register their civil partnerships in the new year following the coming into force of the Civil Partnership Act.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has signed the commencement order allowing the law to come into force on January 1st.

The Act provides for the legal recognition of same-sex relationships and for granting certain protections to cohabiting couples when they break up through separation or death. It provides for similar rights for same-sex as for married couples in relation to property, social welfare, succession, maintenance, pensions and tax. It also provides for the dissolution of such partnerships. the rest

British legal system protecting rights of minorities over Christians – bishop

The Bishop of Winchester has spoken of his concern for the religious freedom of Christians in Britain.
by Jenna Lyle
Monday, December 27, 2010

The Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt told the BBC’s World This Weekend there was an “imbalance” in the legal system with regards to the freedom of Christians and people of other faiths pursuing the calling of their faith in public life.

He expressed concerns over rulings being handed down by court judges in cases involving Christians as he warned of “a lack of religious literacy” in Parliament and among those in the judiciary.

It was becoming, he added, increasingly “difficult” for devoted believers to work in the public services and even in Parliament. the rest

December 2010 Blizzard Timelapse


December 2010 Blizzard Timelapse from Michael Black on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Devotional: When the song of the angels is stilled...


When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
then the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal those broken in spirit,
to feed the hungry,
to release the oppressed,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among all peoples,
to make a little music with the heart…
And to radiate the Light of Christ,
every day, in every way,
 in all that we do and in all that we say.
Then the work of Christmas begins.
...Howard Thurman image by Greg Knapp

End-of-Life Decisions and the Bureaucracy

By Wesley J. Smith
December 27, 2010

When I learned today that the federal bureaucracy had promulgated a rule compensating physicians for the time they spend counseling patients on end-of-life health-care decisions, I wasn’t surprised. A similar provision was dropped from the Obamacare bill, but anyone who understands the profoundly bureaucratic nature of contemporary government knew that that was not necessarily the end of it. The 2,700-page law is destined — if it is not rolled way back or repealed — to generate over 100,000 pages of enabling regulations. In such a milieu, that which can’t be obtained legislatively, can often be gotten through the bureaucratic back door. In fact, as I’ve noted elsewhere, one commission created by the law, the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board, can even enact laws over the president’s veto.

The new regulation is not alarming in and of itself. In fact, we should all have these discussions with our doctors and loved ones, and we should all prepare advance medical directives. (I recommend a durable power of attorney for health care that appoints a trusted person to be your surrogate decisionmaker.) So long as the discussions are purely voluntary and not coercive, all is well.

The original policy became controversial out of the reasonable fear that in the drive to cut costs, the “counseling” could become “pressure” to refuse care. The assisted-suicide advocacy group Compassion and Choices, for example, bragged that it helped author the legislative provision — which would also have permitted outside experts to be delegated the counseling task. I am convinced that Compassion and Choices hopes to become the Planned Parenthood of death, and being paid by the government to counsel on end-of-life decisions would be a big step in that direction. the rest

Political End Runs

December 28, 2010
By Thomas Sowell

The Constitution of the United States begins with the words "We the people." But neither the Constitution nor "we the people" will mean anything if politicians and judges can continue to do end runs around both.

Bills passed too fast for anyone to read them are blatant examples of these end runs. But last week, another of these end runs appeared in a different institution when the medical "end of life consultations" rejected by Congress were quietly enacted through bureaucratic fiat by administrators of Medicare.

Although Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Senator Jay Rockefeller had led an effort by a group of fellow Democrats in Congress to pass Section 1233 of pending Medicare legislation, which would have paid doctors to include "end of life" counselling in their patients' physical checkups, the Congress as a whole voted to delete that provision.

Republican Congressman John Boehner, soon to become Speaker of the House, objected to this provision in 2009, saying: "This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia." the rest
It is not only members of Congress or the administration who treat "we the people" and the Constitution as nuisances to do an end run around. Judges, including Justices of the Supreme Court, have been doing this increasingly over the past hundred years.

American Fortunes and the Feast of the Holy Innocents

Matt Kennedy+ at Stand Firm
Tuesday, December 28, 2010

'Today, December 28th, is the Feast of the Holy Innocents in which the western Church remembers the massacre of children under 2 years old in Bethlehem (Matt 2:16) and in the surrounding regions by order of Herod the "Great". Herod, acting on information gleaned from the Magi paired with his knowledge (or that of his resident scholars) of the prophetic writings (Micah 5:2), hoped to kill off any future rivals to his family's royal claim. For this act Herod the Great is remembered as a very small man, a murderous thug with a penchant for building projects.
I can't help but wonder what history's verdict will be with regard to the American empire. A nation governed by laws intended to protect both life and freedom has become a nation bathed in innocent blood legally spilled because "freedom" for some has come to mean the murder of others. Whatever good we have done in the world is forever darkened by the sanctioned slaughter of our own babies. Fifty million tiny rivals to individual prosperity and autonomy have been killed off in our corporate striving for, of all banalities, uninterrupted lives. Their blood cries out to God. the rest image

For 2011: Unwrap the Silence

Dec 28, 2010
Elizabeth Scalia

The silence, of which we sing so wistfully at Midnight Mass, is at an all-time premium at Christmas; it is so difficult to find a silent night, let alone sit within one and become immersed in it, that the possibility of a seasonal soothing of the heart—a quietening of the grief of the world—seems the stuff of illusion and myth.

Christmas has, in too many ways, become the equivalent of an overdone theme-park vacation. By its end, one is knock-kneed with exhaustion and desperately in need of a genuine opportunity to rest.

A Christmas snow, like the one we’ve just had, does wonders to cull the silence. A few inches of white powder brings an unusual and welcome softening of sound—in cities, the hum of traffic is muffled; in the suburbs even the broom of the ubiquitous snowblower is reduced to a faint and unintrusive whir, one that remains mostly beneath the surface of one’s awareness. the rest-don't miss this! image
We have allowed silence to become a gift forgotten, one we only consent to unwrap when all of our alternative bows and strings have been unraveled, and our diversions have been utterly played out. Our inability to be silent puts our minds and our souls at a disadvantage, because it robs us of the ability to wonder, and if we are not wondering at the impossible perfection of the world in its creation—if we are not wondering at spinning atoms and Incarnations—then we are lost to humility, and to experiencing gratitude.

And, without gratitude, we cannot develop a reasoned capacity for joy.

Unintended effects: —How the ELCA’S aim for unity fractured the church

Dr. Robert Benne
posted Dec. 28, 2010

In its 2009 Churchwide Assembly in August of 2009 the Evangelical Lutheran Church took the momentous step to allow for the blessing of gay and lesbian unions as well as for the ordination of gays and lesbians in partnered relationships. It was the first major confessional church to take those steps. In anticipation of much disagreement about its decisions, the church struck what it thought was a compromise so that we could “journey together faithfully” even though there was no consensus on these issues. The instrument for compromise was the “bound-conscience” doctrine. Realizing that we now had no authoritative teaching on homosexual conduct, the Sexuality Task Force proposed and the Assembly agreed that all of us respect each other’s “bound-conscience” on these matters as we went about the life of our church. Also, since the official line of the church was that these issues were not church-dividing anyway, we could live with such a settlement. (It was unexplained why the ELCA should be immune to the church-dividing nature of these issues when many churches in America and in the world were experiencing painful divisions over them. Indeed, the leaders of the ELCA mistakenly projected their own assessment on the church at large.)

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Since there is now no authoritative teaching and since we can claim “bound-conscience” on whatever teaching we prefer, this means that each parish and ultimately each individual has to decide which teaching is normative for them. In one fell swoop the Assembly turned the ELCA into a collection of congregations and individuals. the rest
A far larger number of churches—perhaps even the majority of parishes in the ELCA—try to duck the challenge. Their pastors or laypersons say: “this is not an issue in our parish,” which can mean a number of things...

Canada: Lose the religion or lose the subsidy

LYSIANE GAGNON
Globe and Mail
posted Dec. 28, 2010

This is a textbook case of going from one extreme to the other. For decades, the Quebec government slept in the bed of the Roman Catholic Church. Nowadays, its secularist agenda is so radical it applies to three-year-old kids.

Earlier this month, Family Minister Yolande James announced a ban on religious instruction in subsidized daycare centres. Ms. James’s ministry will triple the number of inspectors, to 58, and violations will be punished by the suppression of funding, which amounts to $40 a day per child, since parents pay no more than $7 a day.

More of the same How will these bureaucrats make the distinction between culture and religion? Showing an amazing lack of subtlety, Ms. James seemed to think that would be easy enough. For instance, a daycare centre would be allowed to display a Christmas tree (a cultural symbol, she decreed – which is highly debatable since Christmas is a Christian holy day). The teachers could set up a Nativity scene but couldn’t tell the kids who the baby doll in the manger was.

Presumably, by the same token, a Jewish daycare centre could have a menorah but would be forbidden to tell the children why one candle should be lit every day. And Muslim toddlers couldn’t be told why their parents don’t eat when the sun is up, since Ramadan is a religious, rather than a cultural, custom. the rest

UK: Muslim population has grown from 1.65 million to 2.87 million since 2001

What does this mean for liberal Britain?
By Damian Thompson
 December 28th, 2010

There is a remarkable statistic in today’s main Daily Telegraph leader:

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life estimates that there are 2,869,000 Muslims in Britain, an increase of 74 per cent on its previous figure of 1,647,000, which was based on the 2001 census. No demographic statistics are reliable in an era of open borders, but such an expansion is unprecedented.

The figure of 2.87 million was first published by Pew in a little-noticed press release last September, announcing a report on Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe. The Pew Centre, based in Washington DC, is one of the most respected demographic research bodies in the world; its methodology is scrupulous and its approach non-partisan. The new total for British Muslims means that, so far as this country as concerned, Pew’s major 2009 report Mapping the Global Muslim Population is already spectacularly out of date.  the rest

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cardiologist writes book about God's presence with dying patients

By Electa Draper
The Denver Post
12/27/2010

When Littleton cardiologist Mark Sheehan steps into the room of a dying person he feels as if he should take off his shoes.

"It's holy ground," Sheehan said. "God always shows up."

When a patient lies near death in a hospital, Sheehan calls it "a dying room." It's a place where suffering, pain, humility, fear and soul-searching lead to what he calls "a special brokenness" or openness to God.

"It becomes a place where the sacred replaces the mundane," he wrote in his just-released book, "Healing Prayer On Holy Ground," co-authored by his son Chris Sheehan.

Yet, Mark Sheehan said, no one wants to go into the room of dying patients, who are often — for a time — angry with doctors, family or friends. They are often depressed, inconsolable or afraid.

In the dying rooms, he said, he often feels unworthy. the rest

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Obama To Institute Death Panels Beginning January 1st.

Obama Returns to End-of-Life Plan That Caused Stir By ROBERT PEAR
 December 25, 2010

 WASHINGTON — When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

Congressional supporters of the new policy, though pleased, have kept quiet. They fear provoking another furor like the one in 2009 when Republicans seized on the idea of end-of-life counseling to argue that the Democrats’ bill would allow the government to cut off care for the critically ill. the rest-NYT

38 Killed in Nigeria Christmas Weekend Attacks

Sun, Dec. 26 2010
By Ethan Col
Christian Post Reporter

At least 38 people have been killed since Christmas Eve in attacks across Nigeria, including assaults against two churches.

Local police suspect radical Muslim group Boko Haram, which has a history of anti-Christian violence, in the church attacks.

In the northern town of Maiduguri, armed men dragged the pastor of Victory Baptist Church out of his home and then shot him to death. Two men rehearsing for the carol service at the church and two people walking nearby were also killed. Afterwards, the mob set the church and pastor’s house on fire, according to The Associated Press.

Also within the same city and on the same day, another group of men attacked the Church of Christ in Nigeria and killed an elderly security guard. the rest

Bombing wounds 11 at Christmas Mass in Philippines

Suicide bomber kills at least 42 seeking food aid in Pakistan

For some Iraqi Christians, this may be last Christmas in Baghdad

Christians 'are denied human rights by our courts,' claim bishop and top judge

By Tim Shipman
26th December 2010

An Anglican bishop and Britain’s former top judge yesterday launched an impassioned defence of the rights of Christians in an increasingly secular society.

The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, said judges wrongly discriminate against people of faith because they are ignorant of religious beliefs

He said failure to support the beliefs of Christians and other religious people could drive them from their jobs and blamed the Human Rights Act for allowing them to be victimised. the rest

Huge Blizzard Halts Travelers on East Coast

By ROBERT D. McFADDEN December 26, 2010

A monster two-day blizzard barreled up the coast and invaded the New York region and the Northeast on Sunday with barrages of wind-driven snow that closed airports, disrupted rail and highway travel and transformed a dozen states into enchanted and borderless white dreamscapes.

With the great abyss of winter yet to be crossed, forecasters in advance were reaching for superlatives, saying it was likely to be one of the biggest blows of the season, with wind gusts up to 55 miles an hour and snow two feet deep in spots. The National Weather Service predicted snowfalls of 16 to 20 inches in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut by Monday afternoon, when the storm was to taper off.

Its timing was diabolical — too late for a white Christmas, but just in time to disrupt the travel plans of thousands trying to get home after the holiday, to return unwanted gifts or to take advantage of post-holiday bargains at stores. Schools were not in session, but millions of commuters were told to expect nightmarish slogs in and around the cities. the rest