Saturday, December 31, 2011

Drum skit dance

posted December 31, 2011

Fred Astaire at his best!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Hidden tide of 'honour' violence in Britain's communities

The number of women from Britain’s ethnic communities coming forward to report so-called “honour” attacks has more than doubled in three years, new figures show.
By John Bingham
28 Dec 2011

But campaigners warn that recorded cases may be just the “tip of the iceberg” with thousands of incidents going unreported each year because of fear of reprisal, family pressure or inconsistent police recording.

Police figures also suggest that a significant proportion of victims drop their cases after initially coming forward.

It follows the launch of a Government consultation on plans to make forced marriage a criminal offence in Britain.

The proposal, backed by David Cameron, has been opposed by some groups on the grounds that it could “stigmatise” some communities.

It follows a string of high profile cases in which girls or young women were beaten, abducted and even murdered for supposedly bringing “dishonour” on their family by falling in love with someone they disapproved of. the rest

Military wives turn to Bible for marriage advice

poste December 30, 20121
Associated Press

With husbands deployed or off preparing for war, some young wives at this sprawling Army installation have spent much of their marriages so far alone.

Faced with long periods of separation and worry over the next combat tour, a group of wives mostly in their late 20s and early 30s are drawn together weekly to seek spiritual support to bolster the strength of their marriages.

Mya Parker, 27, saw both sides of the average military marriage and the strain that years of combat duty can do to a relationship. She served in the Army for four years on active duty before helping to start the Lantern, a nondenominational faith group for military wives and girlfriends outside Fort Campbell, Ky. the rest
"The military, because of the complexities of the deployment, can have more uncertainties," she said. "The reason God is the answer is because scripture says that He has never changed. From the beginning of time to the end of time, He is unchanging."

Authorities: Abortion Doctors Charged With Murder

December 30, 2011

ELKTON, Md. (AP) –Two out-of-state doctors who traveled to Maryland to perform late-term abortions have been arrested and charged with multiple counts of murder under the state’s viable fetus law, authorities said.

Dr. Steven Brigham, of Voorhees, N.J., was taken into custody Wednesday night and is being held in the Camden County jail, according to police in Elkton, Md. Authorities also arrested Dr. Nicola Riley in Salt Lake City and she is in jail in Utah. Each is awaiting an extradition hearing.

The two doctors were indicted by a grand jury after a 16-month investigation, police said.

The investigation began in August 2010 after a botched procedure at Brigham’s Elkton clinic. An 18-year-old woman who was 21 weeks pregnant had her uterus ruptured and her bowel injured, and rather than call 911, Brigham and Riley drove her to a nearby hospital, where both were uncooperative and Brigham refused to give his name, authorities said.

A search of the clinic after the botched abortion revealed a freezer with 35 late-term fetuses inside, including one believed to have been aborted at 36 weeks, authorities said. the rest

Virginia Gov. McDonnell signs stricter abortion clinic rules

2012 Christianity Today Book Awards

Judges whittled 390 submissions down to 12 winners.

Bookworms fret inconsolably about how little time there is to read all the books they would like to read. As Christianity Today's book review editor, and a bookworm myself, I can testify to this mindset. Sometimes, contemplating the unread volumes under which my shelves perpetually groan, I wish the publishing industry would take a few years' intermission, so I can begin catching up.

I suspect music lovers share in this anguish. Think of all the songs stored in our friends' iPods, the CDS stocked at entertainment retailers, and the vinyl records housed in our grandparents' attics. How can anyone listen to everything they might enjoy hearing?

This relentless accumulation of intellectual and artistic output goes some way toward explaining why we experience these "year's best" features as both blessing and curse. Anyone fond of books and music (check back next month for CT's movie awards) will want to know which authors and musicians distinguished themselves over the preceding year. We just wish the objects of our fondness wouldn't multiply quite so quickly.

So why would CT pile another stack of recommendations atop the already overwhelmed? Why, if you come to our awards issue weary and heavy laden, will we not give you rest? the rest

Apologetics/Evangelism | Christian Living | Biblical Studies | Christianity and Culture | Spirituality | History/Biography | Missions/Global Affairs | The Church/Pastoral Leadership | Fiction | Theology/Ethics

Bishops Say Rules on Gay Parents Limit Freedom of Religion

December 28, 2011

Roman Catholic bishops in Illinois have shuttered most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in the state rather than comply with a new requirement that says they must consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents if they want to receive state money. The charities have served for more than 40 years as a major link in the state’s social service network for poor and neglected children.

The bishops have followed colleagues in Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts who had jettisoned their adoption services rather than comply with nondiscrimination laws.

For the nation’s Catholic bishops, the Illinois requirement is a prime example of what they see as an escalating campaign by the government to trample on their religious freedom while expanding the rights of gay people. The idea that religious Americans are the victims of government-backed persecution is now a frequent theme not just for Catholic bishops, but also for Republican presidential candidates and conservative evangelicals.

“In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated,” said Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., a civil and canon lawyer who helped drive the church’s losing battle to retain its state contracts for foster care and adoption services. the rest

Jesus Saves, But Does He Shave? Christian Kitsch Becoming More Popular

Thu, Dec. 29 2011
By Gabrielle Devenish

Show your electronics that Jesus saves and ring in the New Year with a piece of Jesus toast; freshen your breath with one of the famous Testa-Mints (found in your nearest Christian bookstore) before slapping on your Jesus Save sandals to go buy a bobblehead football Jesus.

Are these items harmless, or humorless and offensive? Christian kitsch is becoming a mainstream commodity, making waves in Christian retail on Internet sites featuring odd items.

“There are some disconcerting side effects to watch out for in the world of Christian advertising,” noted James Beverley, in an interview with The Christian Post. “Any promotion that uses Gospel symbols to sell non-spiritual products increases the chances of non-Christians thinking that all Christians are interested in is money.

“There is also the danger of cheapening the value of Christian symbols by direct connection with various products of modern capitalism,” said Beverley, professor of Christian thought and ethics at Tyndale University in Toronto, Canada. the rest

Amazing underwater life


Fox TV alopogizes for poll: Do you think the Jews killed Jesus?

Popular news networks' Latin America outlet Poll apologizes for poll asking readers who they think is responsible for the death of Christ: Pontius Pilate, The Jewish People, or the High Priests.
By The Associated Press
December 30, 2011

Fox Latin America has apologized for a poll on whether Jews killed Jesus Christ that one of its staffers put on a Facebook page promoting the National Geographic Channel's Christmas special.

The poll asked readers who they think is responsible for the death of Christ: Pontius Pilate, The Jewish People or the High Priests.

The Simon Weisenthal Center in Buenos Aires calls it a defamatory reference to Vatican propaganda that "resulted in the persecution and murder of Jews for two millennia." the rest

Europe's Perishing Parishes: Dutchman Helps to Liquidate Dying Churches

A drastic exodus from the church is underway in the Netherlands. With two churches shuttered each week, one man has become the country's top advisor on how to repurpose the once holy buildings. Some are demolished, while others find new life as mosques, stores and even recreation centers.
By Benjamin Dürr

The church pews will be sold according to size. The shortest ones, at 3.6 meters (12 feet) long, can be purchased for €40 ($52), the longer six-meter pews for €60. Churchgoers in the Dutch town of Bilthoven have already carried 17 pews out of their sanctuary.

The pews will not be a problem, says Marc de Beyer. But the organ and the baptismal font weighing hundreds of kilos at the back of the church will be more difficult.

Marc de Beyer is an art historian in Utrecht, located about a half an hour by train from Amsterdam, but one could also call him a liquidator. He's a man who shuts down churches. When a parish is dissolved, when a church is shuttered, de Beyer is there. And he has a lot to do.

Some 4,400 church buildings remain in the Netherlands. But each week, around two close their doors forever. This mainly affects the Catholics, who will be forced to offload half of their churches in the coming years.

"And that's just the beginning," says de Beyer. the rest

For years the number of faithful has been declining. The trend has swept across all of Western Europe, with churches forced to close in France and Belgium too. But in the Netherlands, Christianity's retreat from society has been particularly drastic. The Protestant Church alone loses some 60,000 members each year. At this rate, it will cease to exist there by 2050, church officials say.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Egypt Muslim group orders Christian TV station off air

29 December, 2011

An offshoot of Egypt's top religious institution, Al Azhar, has called on the government to take a Christian television station off the air, allegedly for offending Muslims, the semi-official Al-Ahram newspaper reported Thursday.

The Islamic Research Centre, which made the demand, is headed by Ahmed al-Tayeb, the sheikh of Al Azhar, which is the Sunni Muslim world's oldest seat of religious learning.

The centre accused US-based Christian broadcaster Al Karma (Vineyard) of insulting Islam and inciting sectarian divisions in Egypt, at a meeting late Wednesday, the newspaper reported. the rest

A prosthetic eye to treat blindness

20 December 2011
Sheila Nirenberg on

Churches Bring Custom Apps to Their Flocks

DECEMBER 29, 2011
Andrea Davis has created a new wing of her church: her car.

When Ms. Davis, 45 years old, has downtime from her job helping manage parking for University of Tennessee-Knoxville sporting events she'll settle in to her Honda Civic to catch up on sermons via audio and video from her church's free, custom-made smartphone app.

"I feel that anywhere you go, you should carry that spirit with you," says Ms. Davis, who holds a second job as a teaching assistant and lives 45 minutes away from Faith Promise Church located in Knoxville, Tenn. "It's like I'm there and not missing anything."

App developers say more than 150 churches across the U.S. have had customized smartphone and tablet apps created to connect with their members. The church apps are a relatively new twist on the broader influx of technology into religious life that includes popular apps for prayer and even making confessions.

Pastors and parishioners say the technology can enable people to uphold the call to stay religiously involved at all times, not just on Sunday. App developers expect thousands of churches to develop the apps in coming years to meet demand from worshipers. the rest

Sexting: Youth Pastors Deal With New Challenge

Danish Polar Bear Cub Siku Conquers the Internet

posted December 29, 2011


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Muslim Extremists in Uganda Throw Acid on Bishop

December 28, 2011

(CDN) — Islamic extremists threw acid on a church leader on Christmas Eve shortly after a seven-day revival at his church, leaving him with severe burns that have blinded one eye and threaten sight in the other.

Bishop Umar Mulinde, 37, a sheikh (Islamic teacher) before his conversion to Christianity, was attacked on Saturday night (Dec. 24) outside his Gospel Life Church International building in Namasuba, about 10 kilometers (six miles) outside of Kampala. From his hospital bed in Kampala, he told Compass that he was on his way back to the site for a party with the entire congregation and hundreds of new converts to Christianity when a man who claimed to be a Christian approached him.

“I heard him say in a loud voice, ‘Pastor, pastor,’ and as I made a turn and looked at him, he poured the liquid onto my face as others poured more liquid on my back and then fled away shouting, ‘Allahu akbar [God is greater],’” Mulinde said, still visibly traumatized two days after the assault. the rest

Churches overflow this year in the largest Christmas celebrations in Nepal’s history

More than 2,000 people, including hundreds of non-Christians, attend Mass in Kathmandu’s Assumption Cathedral. For the first time, the service was held with open doors despite the danger of attacks.
by Kalpit Parajuli

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – This year’s Christmas celebrations were the largest in the country’s history, Christian leaders said. Thousands of non-Christians attended Mass in the country’s Catholic and Protestant churches.

A crowd of more than 2,000 people came to Mass at Assumption Cathedral in Lalitpur District, Mgr Anthony Sharma, bishop of Kathmandu, said. The building was the target of a terrorist attack some time ago.

Although the building can only hold up to 1,000 people, many followed the service outside, the prelate said. Security guards were forced to keep the doors open; they had been kept closed in recent years because of the danger of attacks. the rest

Irish broadcast journalist quits over women priest bar

By Paul Ainsworth
December 28th, 2011

A VETERAN Irish broadcast journalist has publicly parted ways with the Catholic Church over its refusal to ordain female priests.

Olivia O’Leary, one of Ireland’s best known current affairs presenters, blasted the church on its record of refusal to accept the notion of women priests and celebrated Christmas in Dublin’s Church of Ireland cathedral, St Patrick’s.

The 61-year-old, who was schooled by Catholic nuns and has clergy in her family, has also cited the cover-up of child sex abuse by church authorities as a “proximate factor” in her decision to renounce the Catholic faith. the rest
Despite her celebrating Christmas in the Church of Ireland, she made no commitment to officially joining the Irish branch of Anglican faith.

“I can stand tall, because the Church of Ireland, whether I join it or not, accepts my full humanity; it ordains women,” she said.

Why Christianity Lost America

Christianity lost America because 20th-century evangelicalism branded itself as the party of faith. By default Secularism (science, university, media) became the party of truth. This is one reason why 70% Christian youth give up meaningful involvement with the church when they grow up.
Vishal Mangalwadi
December 10, 2011

Pentecostals, Jehovah Witnesses, and Baptists are the poorest communities in America. According to a study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life,[ii] less than 20% followers of these religious groups make more than $75,000 a year. By comparison, 67% of the Reformed Jews, 65% percent Hindus, and 57% Conservative Jews earn more than $75,000/year. The finding that American evangelicals[iii] are poorer than the Roman Catholics surprised Pew Researchers who had thought that the economic miracle of the “modern” age was Protestantism’s fruit.

The study raises questions such as: Has American evangelicalism lost Protestantism’s original DNA? Do American missions still carry the “good news for the poor?” (Luke 4:18) Or, is their success, spectacular in some countries, a tribute to the original and still-lingering image of Protestantism? Why did Christianity lose the power that gave it influence over education and economy, government and law, press and entertainment? How can the Church recover the power to prevail over the forces of evil?

In November 2011, I met an American missionary who has served in Guatemala for 36 years. He described a recent (unpublished) doctoral study examining Protestantism in one part of Guatemala. The Hispanic scholar had hoped to substantiate Max Weber’s thesis on the connection between Protestantism and economic development. The data, however, drove him to conclude that the gospel taught by present-day American missions makes no perceptible difference to the economic life of the believing communities. the rest
In November 2011, I visited two classes at a Christian university in North America. I asked both: “How many of you would still believe Christianity if you found out tomorrow that Christianity was not true. That is: God never became a man; Jesus did not die for our sin; or, that he did not rise from the dead?”

Twelve hands went up in each class of about 25 and 45 students. These sincere and devout students had grown up in Christian homes, gone to church all their lives and studied in Christian schools. Some had been in that Christian university for three years! They respected their elders who taught them that Christianity was all about faith with little concern for truth. 

Christianity lost America because 20th-century evangelicalism branded itself as the party of faith. Secularism (science, university, media) became the party of truth. This is one reason why 70% Christian youth give up meaningful involvement with the church when they grow up.

In the second class, only one in four students perceived Christianity as disconnected with truth. This was because my host professor had taught them to believe because Christianity is true. Some professors and pastors do teach that, yet the “truth-less” brand is common perception because it is reinforced by most pastors, Bible teachers, and some Christian professors.

Nike unveils new integrated uniform system for Oregon Ducks in Rose Bowl

Science meets performance when the University of Oregon debuts the latest Nike Pro Combat system of dress technology.
December 27, 2011

Nike will celebrate the Ducks’ return to the Rose Bowl with the debut of its latest Nike Pro Combat system of dress – the most advanced football uniform system ever assembled.

This fully integrated uniform system, debuted in its first iteration by the University of Oregon during last years’ BCS National Championship Game, incorporates the pinnacle in performance innovation and design from the world’s most renowned athletic outfitter. The new uniform provides enhanced thermoregulation and more durability with the inclusion of Nike Chain Maille Mesh – a lightweight ultra-breathable material – used in both the jersey and pant.

While the uniform certainly makes the team more recognizable, it’s their commitment to innovation and building better athletes that allows the University of Oregon to take its place among the nation’s most elite programs.

“Nike’s relationship with the University of Oregon represents a forward-thinking approach to innovation and design. Our goal is to help build better athletes by providing them with state-of-the-art-innovation combined with a deep knowledge and understanding of their heritage” said Todd Van Horne, Nike’s Creative Director for Football. The latest Nike Pro Combat system of dress uniform delivers more on-field performance benefits than ever before while pushing the limits on creativity and design. The Oregon Ducks truly represent Nike's approach in developing athletes from the inside-out.”  the rest

Priests brawl in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity

28 December 2011

Scuffles have broken out between rival groups of Greek Orthodox and Armenian clerics in a turf war at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity.

Bemused tourists looked on as about 100 priests fought with brooms while cleaning the church in preparation for Orthodox Christmas, on 7 January.

Palestinian police armed with batons and shields broke up the clashes.

Groups of priests have clashed before in the church, built on the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born. the rest-shameful!

Tarzan co-star Cheetah dies at Palm Harbor sanctuary

December 27, 2011

Cheetah the chimpanzee, who acted in classic Tarzan movies in the early 1930s, died of kidney failure Saturday at Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, a sanctuary spokeswoman said.

Cheetah was roughly 80 years old, loved fingerpainting and football and was soothed by nondenominational Christian music, said Debbie Cobb, the sanctuary's outreach director.

He was an outgoing chimp who was exposed to the public his whole life, Cobb said today.

"He wasn't a chimp that caused a lot of problems," she said.

Cheetah acted in the 1932-34 Tarzan movies, Cobb said. Movies filmed during that timeframe starred Johnny Weissmuller and include "Tarzan and His Mate" and "Tarzan the Ape Man," according to the Internet Movie Database. the rest

Literacy Matters—In Church

December 28, 2011
Deborah Van Duinen

Recent national studies report that the majority of American teens identify as Christians and claim that their religious views are important to them. This is good news for churches and church youth ministries.

Unfortunately, it's not the whole story. These national studies also report that these same teens have difficulty articulating their beliefs. When these teens do talk about their Christian beliefs, they express a sort of "moralistic therapeutic deism," a cacophony of feel-good and self-serving beliefs that look very different than those within traditional Christianity.

For those of us involved and interested in teens' faith formation—parents, pastors, youth leaders, church members—these findings raise some interesting questions. What's happening here? Where are teens picking up on these "feel-good" beliefs? Who's to blame? the rest

Perhaps in our efforts to attract and maintain teens' attention in youth group activities we focus too much on "fun" and not enough on substantive content. Perhaps in our efforts to help teens make connections between Scripture and their daily lives we overemphasize the role that their personal experiences play in their faith development.

Hundreds more Church of England defections expected

Hundreds more disaffected Anglicans will cross over to the Roman Catholic Church this year as the Church of England prepares to take another important step towards the ordination of women bishops.
By Martin Beckford, Religious Affairs Editor
28 Dec 2011

At least 20 clergy and several hundred of their parishioners are already lined up to join the Ordinariate, the new structure set up by the Pope a year ago that allows them to remain some of their Anglican heritage while entering into full communion with the Holy See.

But many more members of the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England are likely to defect following a critical meeting of its governing body, the General Synod, if traditionalists who cannot accept the ordination of women are denied special provision.

The head of the Ordinariate, Mgr Keith Newton, told The Daily Telegraph: “There are in the region of 15 to 20 people who I think will be coming over this year. These are ordained Anglicans who wish to petition the Holy See for ordination.” the rest

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

'Stinging rebuke' of ECUSA head

Charlie Butts

The Episcopal Church of Sudan has turned thumbs down to the head of the church in America.

Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori had been invited there, but the Episcopal Church of Sudan has now disinvited her, citing the American church's "flagrant disregard" for biblical teaching. Jeff Walton of the Institute on Religion & Democracy tells OneNewsNow the invitation retraction was specifically because the Episcopal Church USA has strayed from biblical teaching on human sexuality.

"The Episcopal Church of Sudan has distanced itself from the leadership of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church," he shares, "and it has also reaffirmed or recognized its relationships with both conservative, biblically orthodox parishes within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America, the rival conservative body [to ECUSA]."

According to Walton, the move represents a significant break in the relationship.

"The Episcopal Church of Sudan has not made those distancing moves so far. They've criticized the Episcopal Church in its decisions, but they have not cut off any contact or they haven't rebuked in any public way actual people within the Episcopal Church -- even though they have criticized the decisions made by those officials." the rest

"Santa" who murdered family on Christmas morning was Muslim

December 27, 2011

Aziz Yazdanpanah, a Muslim, didn't like his daughter's non-Muslim boyfriend and was exhibiting stalker behavior. “She couldn’t date at all until she was a certain age, but when he was going to let her date she couldn’t date anyone outside of their race or religion.”

Again and again we have seen honor killings in which fathers kill daughters who are dating non-Muslims or have supposedly besmirched the family honor by some sexual indiscretion. Lt. Todd Dearing says that motive isn't important -- which is generally only the case when Islam is involved.   the rest

Three Ugly Truths Exposed by the Tebow Assault

December 27, 2011
By Timothy Gordon

The ongoing imbroglio with Denver Bronco quarterback Tim Tebow has made plain three really unflattering facts about the secular-progressive ("sec-prog") movement in this country. Tebow's straightforward and unapologetic Christianity has been received by NFL mensae magnae (contradiction in terms?) as a type of threat. These folks have responded by building upon the previously gathered strength of the anti-Christian movement in this nation. Such a movement, by the way, is far more prevalent than it formerly appeared.

First truth: the sec-progs have meatier game in sight than we used to think. That is, when sec-progs start out declaring that they aim merely to set a plain whereupon all religions can fairly "coexist," they really contemplate an end-game where religions fade permanently out of view. Have a look at the emergent history of the jurisprudence: "No federal religion" became "no state religions"; this became "no government entanglement with religion"; this became "no governmental support for religion"; this became "no governmental mention of religion"; this led to the phase that the Tebow debacle currently evinces: "no popular mention of religion in any public sphere, including private affairs which get viewed on TV." One can easily imagine the last few steps in this phenomenology of disappearance.

Coming back to Tebow, let's remember that his comparatively subtle iconographic decorum has managed to stir up the hornets' nest to a startling degree: recent betrayals by active (Lions players Stephen Tulloch and Tony Scheffler) and especially retired (Merrill Hodge and Jake Plummer) players lack all response-to-stimulus proportionality and sound more like personal defensive responses to some governmental actor threatening the players' own religious liberty. That is, all such ugliness over Tebow taking to his own knee in thanks, or occasionally mentioning the J-word after a game, exposes a fetid, rotten sort of secularism at the heart of what most popular accounts -- derivative largely of the accounts by complete outsiders to the sports world, the sacerdotal order of pale, effeminate, urban-dwelling media-poseurs -- name "America's game." the rest

How happy the Europeans are (if they’re religious)

A study conducted by the University of Navarra in 24 European countries shows the link between religious faith and “level” of happiness
Marco Tosatti

On average, happiness in 24 European countries has an average value of 7.26, but with great variances - from 5.54 in Ukraine to 8.32 in Denmark. Scholars have found different meanings in religious variables. The countries with the lowest proportion of individuals belonging to a particular religion are Estonia and the Czech Republic, while those with the highest number are Greece, Portugal, Poland, and Ireland. And there is also evidence of differences between “religious faith” and “religious practice.” For example, the proportion of people in Spain who belong to a religion is 74%, 12 points above the standard average, even though the number of individuals who participate in services and prayer is actually below the European average.

But given this, when scholars looked for a correlation between religion and happiness in Europe, they found some very interesting results. First of all, belonging to a religion has a significant effect on happiness. Those who belong to a religion indicate levels of happiness greater than those who say they are non-religious.

Furthermore, the choice of religion or religious denomination has an important effect on happiness. Protestants, Catholics, and other Christian denominations indicate higher levels of happiness, while Orthodox and Eastern religions show the lowest.

It seems that there is a positive relationship between a person’s religiosity and their happiness. The more religious a person is, the happier they feel. However, those who consider themselves “not religious at all” (0) have levels of happiness comparable to those who give themselves a 5 on the scale of religiosity. the rest

Monday, December 26, 2011

Poll: Churchgoers as digitally engaged as U.S.

Dec 23, 2011 |
by Michael Foust

 (BP) -- American churchgoers are just as likely to use Twitter, Facebook and the Internet as non-churchgoers, according to a new study that shows the impact that technology can have on spreading a church's message.

The landline and cell phone survey of 2,303 adults by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project showed that:

-- 9 percent of those actively involved in religious groups use Twitter, the same percentage as the general population.

-- 46 percent of those in religious groups use social networking sites -- almost identical to the 47 percent of all adults.

-- 60 percent of both groups use text messaging.

-- 79 percent of those actively involved in religious groups use the Internet while 76 percent of all adults do so. the rest image by Joi Ito

Nigerian leaders criticized for weak response to deadly church bombings by Islamists

Dec 26, 2011
By Felix Onuah and Camillus Eboh

ABUJA – Nigeria lacks competent leaders to tackle its security problems, a former military ruler said on Monday, following Christmas Day bomb attacks on churches by Islamist militants that killed more than two dozen people.

Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner who lost the last presidential election in April to incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, said in a statement in a Nigerian daily that the government was slow to respond and had shown indifference to the bombings.

The Boko Haram Islamist sect, which aims to impose sharia law across Africa’s most populous country, claimed responsibility for three church bombings, the second Christmas in a row it has caused carnage at Christian houses of worship. the rest

US Pledges Help in Finding Nigeria Christmas Bombers

Pope Benedict Denounces Christmas Attacks in Nigeria

Nigeria: Three churches "reduced to rubble," pastor and child killed in latest Boko Haram rampage

Albert Mohler: Those Who Walk in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light: The Wonder of Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2011

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” [Isaiah 9:2] Those words from the prophet Isaiah told of the coming Prince of Peace, and of the light and life He would bring.

Christmas arrives again with all the promise of remembrance and celebration. Christians celebrate Christmas because the light did dawn. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was not only the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, but the dawn of a new age. As the angels declared to the shepherds, this infant is “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

This is the very essence of Christmas: The birth of the Savior. To understand Christmas is to know that the ultimate peace the Savior would bring would be established by His death and resurrection. Even as Jesus came to save His people from their sins, Christ’s birth points towards His cross and the fulfillment of His saving work. 
the rest image

“Laws of Christian Thermodynamics”

by John L Allen Jr
Dec. 23, 2011

I happen to groove on population statistics, but I realize that for most people they rival watching paint dry, or the heartbreak of psoriasis, as a good time. Faced with a new report from the Pew Forum on the global Christian population, therefore, let's start with a few deliberately bold assertions to get the blood moving.

Based on the study, here are three rules of thumb about Christian growth and decline -- extrapolations which go well beyond the contents of the Pew report, but which can be supported by the data it contains:

•If you want Christianity to shrink, give it wealth and privilege and back it up with the power of the state.
•If you want Christianity to show surprising resilience, suppress its structures and persecute its people.
•If you want Christianity to thrive, drop it into a free market environment and force it to hustle.

One might call these conclusions “Laws of Christian Thermodynamics”, meaning generalizations about how Christian systems change when they interact with their environment. Pondering the massive Pew report released Monday, titled “Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population," it's tough not to find them persuasive.

Here's why.

Europe, the erstwhile capital of Christendom, has lost its pride of place. A century ago, two-thirds of all Christians lived in Europe; today, only a quarter of the world’s 2.18 billion Christians are on the old continent. In ultra-secular Western Europe, majorities still identify as Christian, but the percentage share of the population is down sharply.

Despite decades of state-imposed atheism, Christianity is doing remarkably well in Communist lands (either former or current.) Two in three Russians still identify as Orthodox, and some analysts believe there’s a renaissance afoot in Russian Orthodoxy. China is experiencing a spiritual boom, and today China is the third-largest Protestant nation in the world, trailing only the United States and Nigeria.

Christianity’s greatest growth is in Africa, a wide-open spiritual marketplace marked by stiff competition among religious alternatives. During the past century, Christianity in Africa grew by an astonishing 6,000 percent, from 8.5 million to 516 million. Christians were nine percent of the African population in 1910; by 2010, they were 63 percent. Over the same span, sub-Saharan Africa went from 1.4 percent of the global Christian total to 24 percent.

Put all that together, and the Laws of Christian Thermodynamics look pretty solid. In any event, it’s food for thought during the holiday season. the rest

Army bows to Hamas-linked CAIR, allows hijabs, turbans in Junior ROTC

December 25, 2011

The whole idea of a uniform is to convey a sense of singleness of purpose, both to those within the organization and to those who encounter members of it. So if one group is allowed variations on the uniform, all other groups should be allowed them as well, and the very purpose of a uniform is destroyed. Hijabs and turbans in the JROTC will create a sense that the wearer has another allegiance and a different purpose from those of the rest of the outfit, rather than being dedicated primarily to the organization's mission and goals.

But what is most disturbing about this story is Leon Panetta's rush, and the Army's rush, to placate the Hamas-linked Muslim Brotherhood group CAIR. Hamas-linked CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case -- so named by the Justice Department. CAIR operatives have repeatedly refused to denounce Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist groups. Several former CAIR officials have been convicted of various crimes related to jihad terror. CAIR's cofounder and longtime Board chairman (Omar Ahmad), as well as its chief spokesman (Ibrahim Hooper), have made Islamic supremacist statements. Its California chapter distributed posters telling Muslims not to talk to the FBI. the rest

Army to allow hijabs, turbans in Junior ROTC

Obama's Muslim Soldiers - Women Jr. ROTC's Allowed To Wear Hijab

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Welcome! All wonders in one sight!

Welcome! All wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span!
Summer in winter, day in night!
Heaven in earth, and God in man!
Great little One, whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops Heaven to earth!
...Richard Crashaw image