Saturday, April 21, 2012

Our whole being must be in our praying...

There is neither encouragement nor room in Bible religion for feeble desires, listless efforts, lazy attitudes; all must be strenuous, urgent, ardent. Inflamed desires, impassioned, unwearied insistence delight heaven. God would have His children incorrigibly in earnest and persistently bold in their efforts. Heaven is too busy to listen to half-hearted prayers or to respond to pop-calls. Our whole being must be in our praying.
...EM Bounds image by Nick Russill

Chuck Colson Dies at 80; Remembered for Dramatic Faith Conversion, Life

Remembered for Dramatic Faith Conversion, Life
By Michelle A. Vu
April 21, 2012

Chuck Colson, who became a born-again Christian amid the Watergate scandal and later became the most prominent advocate for the spiritual transformation of prisoners, died Saturday afternoon, according to Prison Fellowship ministry. He was 80.

"Evangelical Christianity lost one of its most eloquent and influential voices today with the death of Charles W. 'Chuck' Colson. The Prison Fellowship and Colson Center for Christian Worldview founder died Saturday afternoon from complications resulting from a brain hemorrhage," said Prison Fellowship ministry in a statement.

Colson had suffered from intracerebral hemorrhage, which resulted in him undergoing surgery about two weeks ago to remove the blood clot on his brain. Initially, his condition improved and he was able to talk to his wife and children. But late Tuesday, his condition took a turn for the worse and doctors had advised the Colson family to gather by his bedside in preparation for his departure. the rest

Lessons from Chuck Colson: A Heaven-Bent Transformer of this World

Remembering the Legacy of Chuck Colson (1931-2012)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Police Refuse to Stop Vandals Desecrating Pro-Life Cross Display

by Kristan Hawkins

Early this morning campus police at Western Kentucky University (WKU) refused to stop vandals from draping condoms on the top of small crosses in the stadium – these crosses, 3,700 of them, symbolize how many unborn children die through abortion each day in the US and were installed by the Hilltoppers for Life group on campus. The vandals were art students who claimed the condoms were part of an art project.

The Hilltoppers for Life group members, who had been keeping an eye on their display through the night in reaction to similar acts of vandalism to pro-life displays at other campuses including nearby Northern Kentucky University, asked the art students to stop and then called campus police. The students refused and the campus police just stood by and watched. The police claimed that they, “couldn’t do anything because the condoms aren’t actually vandalization,” even though the crosses are the property of Hilltoppers for Life and they have the administration’s permission for their display. the rest

The New Conversion: Why We 'Become Christians' Differently Today

Evangelicals are undergoing a sea change understanding when it comes to this pivotal moment in the believer's life.
Gordon T. Smith

It is not be an overstatement to say that evangelicals are experiencing a "sea change"—a paradigm shift—in their understanding of conversion and redemption, a shift that includes the way in which they think about the salvation of God, the nature and mission of the church, and the character of religious experience. Although there is no one word to capture where evangelicals are going in this regard, there is a word that captures what they are leaving behind: revivalism.

Revivalism is a religious movement heir to both the 17th-century Puritans and the renewal movements of the 18th century, but one that largely emerged in the 19th century. It was broadly institutionalized in the 20th century in the conservative denominations in North America as well as in parachurch and mission agencies that then in turn spread the movement within North America and globally. For evangelicals up until at least a generation ago, the language of conversion was the language of revivalism; it shaped and in many ways determined their approach to worship, evangelism, and spiritual formation.

Evangelicalism is certainly not monolithic; the points at which evangelicals differ among themselves is significant—both Baptists and Pentecostals see themselves as coming under this umbrella, along with Mennonites, and then also Calvinists and Wesleyans. But for all their diversity, the way in which they spoke of conversion and redemption was remarkably similar. Evangelicals took for granted that the language and categories of revivalism were the language and categories of the New Testament. Conversion was viewed to be a punctiliar experience: persons could specify with confidence and assurance the time and place of their conversion, by reference, as often as not, to the moment when they prayed what was typically called "the sinner's prayer."
the rest image by Chris Miuccio
This begs the question of what it means to be the church. The evangelical tradition is at a fork in the road and, given this sea change in the understanding of conversion and redemption, the most crucial issue at stake is what it means to be a congregation. Evangelicals will only be able to navigate these waters if they can formulate a dynamic theology of the church that reflects the Triune character of God, the means of grace—Spirit and Word—and a radical orientation in mission toward the kingdom of God.
Belonging Without Believing
While 84 percent of Irish people self-identify as Catholics, support for key Church teachings is at an all-time low...

The Decline of American Monuments and Memorials

April 2012
Michael J. Lewis

It is because of their ability to transcend time by connecting to primal human activities—passage, gathering, shelter—that the best monuments never look dated. John Russell Pope’s Jefferson Memorial does not make us think of 1940, but of Jefferson. It does this with its shape: To commemorate the author of the Declaration of Independence, Pope chose the most perfect of all forms—the sphere, a physical manifestation of the clarity of Jefferson’s mind. How different is the Lincoln Memorial, a foursquare citadel; here the theme is heroic fortitude—a cincture of closely spaced columns, huddled together about the windowless central shrine, expressing endurance. Different again is the monument to George Washington, a vehement founding gesture, a single bold mark against the sky. For this, the model was that greatest of architectural point-markers, the Egyptian obelisk.

Although Maya Lin’s Vietnam Memorial was roundly condemned for its radical innovations—the use of black granite rather than white marble, the stress on a void rather than a positive presence, the violent scar it seemed to make on the earth—it nonetheless presented the profoundly traditional image of a stone tablet inscribed with the names of the dead. Perhaps Lin’s most poetic gesture was how she solved the problem of how to list some 58,000 names. It was determined that they should appear in order of the date of death rather than alphabetically, but she did not simply start at one end in 1959 and continue on to 1975; instead she began and ended the timeline in the center, at the vertex, so that the name of the last to die would touch the name of the first. Here she gave the monument a point of resolution, the point where things begin and end, transforming the linear timeline into something cyclical and regenerative, thus making its central point a kind of altar.

Not long ago it was fashionable to sneer at these things. Frank Lloyd Wright found the Jefferson Memorial preposterous for its archaic expression. But true monumentality has little to do with style and everything to do with simplicity and grandeur of expression. Rodin, asked to define sculpture, supposedly said that it is what results when you roll a statue down the steps—that is, when everything extraneous breaks off. The word for a style of extremely laconic expression is “lapidary,” which comes from the Latin word lapis, or stone. This was the Roman term for the verbal compression necessary when one is carving an inscription in stone. And like the inscriptions they bear, the best of monuments are lapidary: They show a splendid economy of expression in saying one thing, and saying it monumentally. the rest image by Paul Simpson

The 'God Gap' in the First Presidential Polls

April 18, 2012
In a recent post we presented research indicating that President Obama could win re-election without winning a majority of the Catholic vote (which is historically rare and difficult to do). This is possible with the rising number of U.S. voters without a religious affiliation (i.e., Nones) who historically vote overwhelmingly for Democrats in presidential and congressional elections. We indicated that the president could go no lower than 44% support among Catholics and Protestants if he hopes to win re-election.

With the Republican nominee decided (in all likelihood), the first national head to head polls are coming out. Gallup surveys have shown President Obama trailing but this gap is within the margin of error. Today, Pew released results that also show a tight race with a slim lead for President Obama. It is still a long, long time before any of these polls are predictive of anything. But as a first look, the Obama campaign might be second guessing some of their recent decisions that may have alienated religious voters.

The Pew survey of 2,373 registered voters (landline and cell phone samples) was conducted April 4-15 (margin of error +/-2.3 percentage points). Among Catholics overall, Gov. Romney leads Obama 50% to 45% (he has gained 8 percentage points on Obama since March). This level of support is also consistent with what President Obama would need to make the electoral math work for him (although by just 1 percentage point). His bigger problem is among Protestants overall where his support dips to 43% (and even much lower among Evangelicals). This is too low to indicate a good chance for re-election. More problematic for his campaign is that his support among Nones has dipped below the 70% he needs to comfortably counter-balance poor support among Christian voters (67% now compared to 75% last month). The survey results also indicate that this is likely due to the respondents' overall concern about the economy rather than social issues, where Democratic Party policies attract the votes of Nones best. Social issues lag far behind the economy, jobs, health care, and the deficit in stated importance. the rest

Polygamy, Too

April 16, 2012
By David J. Rusin

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum got jeered for comparing the legalization of same-sex marriage to that of polygamy, but, whether or not the comparison is rationally sound, thoughts of the former’s facilitating the latter bring a smile to many Islamists. If the definition of marriage can evolve in terms of gender, some Muslims ask, why not in terms of number?

Islam sanctions polygamy — more specifically, polygyny — allowing Muslim men to keep up to four wives at once. Though marrying a second woman while remaining married to the first is prohibited across the Western world, including all 50 U.S. states, a Muslim can circumvent the law by wedding one woman in a government-recognized marriage and joining with others in unlicensed religious unions devoid of legal standing.

As Muslims have grown more numerous in the West, so too have Muslim polygamists. France, home to the largest Islamic population in Western Europe, was estimated in 2006 to host 16,000 to 20,000 polygamous families — almost all Muslim — containing 180,000 total people, including children. In the United States, such Muslims may have already reached numerical parity with their fundamentalist-Mormon counterparts; as many as 100,000 Muslims reside in multi-wife families, and the phenomenon has gained particular traction among black Muslims. the rest

New study indicates baby girls targeted for abortion in Ontario

by Peter Baklinski
Tue Apr 17, 2012

( – A new study supports previous research that unborn girls are being targeted for abortion by certain immigrant groups in Canada who culturally prefer a son over a daughter. Calling it a “concerning trend,” the study found that “male selection remains the most likely reason for the higher male:female ratios” in certain ethnic groups who have immigrated to Ontario.

“Our findings raise the possibility that couples originating from India may be more likely than Canadian-born couples to use prenatal sex determination and terminate a second or subsequent pregnancy if the fetus is female,” the authors of the study say.

The study, titled “Sex ratios among Canadian liveborn infants of mothers from different countries,” appeared online yesterday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Research was led by Dr. Joel Ray, a clinician scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.  the rest

IVF Babies May Face Later Cardiac Risks

By Chris Kaiser
April 19, 2012

Children conceived using assisted reproductive technology, including in vitro fertilization, may be at risk for premature cardiovascular disease, a small study found.

Compared with controls, healthy children born after the use of assisted reproductive technology had significantly smaller average flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery (6.7% versus 8.6%, P<0.0001), reported Urs Scherrer, MD, from University Hospital in Bern, Switzerland, and colleagues.

The children conceived with reproductive assistance also had significantly faster mean carotid-femoral pulse-wave velocity (7.8 versus 6.5 m/s, P<0.001) and greater average carotid intima-media thickness (410 versus 370 µm, P<0.0001), according to the study published April 17 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. the rest

Spain: Homosexual groups seek prosecution of bishop over sermon on homosexuality

by Matthew Cullinan HoffmanWed Apr 18, 2012 - Homosexual groups are seeking the prosecution of a Spanish bishop after he gave a sermon repeating the Catholic Church’s teaching associating the gay lifestyle with the suffering of hell, and then an interview in which he endorsed psychological treatment for homosexual behavior.

Bishop Juan Antonio Reig Plà of the diocese of Alcalá de Henares began the brouhaha on Good Friday earlier this month, when he gave a sermon on the death of the soul as a result of sin.

Referring to various kinds of sinful behavior, including adultery, theft, and failure to pay wages to workers, Reig Plà added homosexual behavior to the list as well. With regard to each example of sin, the bishop spoke of the act itself, and the resulting destruction of the soul.

With regard to homosexual behavior, Reig Plà said: “One must not corrupt people, not even with false messages. I would like to say a word to those people carried away by so many ideologies that end up failing to properly guide human sexuality. They think that since their childhood they have had an attraction to people of their same sex and, sometimes, to prove it they become corrupt and prostitute themselves or go to homosexual nightclubs. I assure you that (there) they find hell.”

After expressions of outrage regarding the bishop’s statement, which reflects the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church on sexual deviance, Reig Plà gave an interview to the Internet news service Religion en Libertad (Religion in Liberty), in which he explained his statement in more detail, and added that homosexual tendencies can be cured through therapy. the rest

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Albert Mohler: The Post-Christian Condition — Anders Breivik and the Limitations of Justice

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The trial of Anders Behring Breivik represents one of the greatest tests of human justice in decades. Breivik stood in an Oslo courtroom this week and declared: “I admit to the actions, but not to the guilt.” The “actions,” of course, were the killing of 77 people on July 22, 2011. Eight were killed in a car bomb in Oslo. Breivik then shot 69 people to death on Utoya Island — most of them teenagers and young people involved in a summer camp sponsored by one of Norway’s major political parties.

Breivik has celebrated his murderous actions in court, calling his massacre the most “spectacular” event in recent European history. Having admitted to the killings, Breivik told the court, “I would do it again.”

He may have an opportunity to do so. Norwegian law allows Breivik to be imprisoned for only 21 years, even if found guilty of all 77 killings. Officials in Norway have attempted to assure their fellow citizens that Breivik is unlikely to be released, but the law allows criminals to be held in captivity after their sentence only on psychological grounds that represent a threat, and Breivik has been found sufficiently sane to stand trial. the rest

A.S. Haley: Judge Bellows Puts Stay Hearing over to April 27

April 18, 2012

The reply brief attaches the latest annual report of the Episcopal remnant congregation as an exhibit, and it is very telling. While some 3,250 Anglicans attended Easter services at The Falls Church two weeks ago, the Episcopal parish's report shows that it has a total membership of exactly 178 as of the end of 2010, and that its total annual budget has income of $233,641, but expenses of $249,306 (i.e., it is out-of-balance by some $16,000). That is less than what has to be paid each year just to keep up the property -- let alone pay for salaries, insurance, retirement benefits and all the other expenses of operating a full-time parish.

But that reality does not stop the Episcopal Diocese from asking Judge Bellows to let it have every conceivable benefit from its victory, pending the appeal. Instead of settling simply the amount of the appeal bond, stipulating to a stay and allowing the appeal to go forward (or not, as the Virginia Supreme Court decides), Bishop Johnston and his Diocese are continuing to pay their attorneys to oppose the Anglicans in court every step of the way, by every argument imaginable, whether meritorious or not. the rest

Any kind of physical activity lowers Alzheimer's risk

By Janice Lloyd
posted April 19, 2012

Cleaning house and doing yardwork are taking on new importance. A higher level of physical activity — not just exercising — is linked to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease even in people over 80, suggests research published Wednesday in the journal Neurology.

Protective activities include washing dishes, cooking, cleaning, gardening — even playing cards. People who scored in the bottom 10% of physical activity were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's. Study participants did not have dementia at the start of the four-year study, which is part of the ongoing Memory and Aging Project at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

"The implication of this study is really astounding," says physician Aron Buchman, the lead author. "Exercise is good, without a doubt, but this study is about more than exercise. Older people who might not be able to exercise can tailor activities that are right for them." the rest image

Vatican seeks reforms of women's religious orders

Positions of nuns, sisters contrary to teachings, it says
By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel
April 18, 2012

The Vatican on Wednesday called for a reform of the nation's largest organization of women's religious orders, saying it promotes positions contrary to church teachings on such issues as abortion, homosexuality and the ordination of women.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the call as part of a Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents the vast majority of the 57,000 Catholic nuns and sisters in the United States.

Milwaukee Sister Florence Deacon of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, the conference's president-elect, was in Rome on Wednesday to receive the assessment and did not return an email seeking comment.

Several other local religious orders declined to speak. But a Washington-based sister whose social-justice lobbying group was cited in the assessment suggested that many women religious will continue to follow their consciences in the service of the church. the rest

Westerm MA: Episcopal Diocese set to announce 5 bishop nominees

New local leader will be elected June 2
By Bronislaus B. Kush

The process to find a replacement formally began last August with the appointment of Search and Transition committees.

“At this point, we’re coming near the end of our search for a new spiritual leader,” said the Rev. Tanya Wallace, the chairman of the Transition Committee and rector of All Saints Church in South Hadley.

Church officials released no information about the candidates, but, in a profile composed to help potential candidates learn more about the diocese, leaders and members said they wanted to become a more “faithful diocese.”

“And we seek a faithful bishop who will come among us not to be served but to serve with us in proclaiming and interpreting the good news of Jesus Christ in a changing world, someone who is willing to listen to all perspectives,” said the profile. the rest
Church officials said the new bishop will face daunting tasks, including turning around congregations with massive membership declines and repairing deteriorating church plants.

Over the past 10 years, average Sunday attendance has plummeted and 15 congregations have been deemed “at risk.”

A number of Episcopal churches have also closed over the past few years.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chuck Colson near death, associate says

Apr 18, 2012

WASHINGTON (BP) -- Prison Fellowship Ministries founder Chuck Colson is near death and doctors have urged his family to gather by his bedside, according to a statement from his ministry.

Colson -- a popular Christian author and speaker -- has been hospitalized since Friday, March 30, when his speech became slurred during a conference. Doctors performed surgery the next morning, removing a pool of clotted blood from the surface of his brain. He is 80.

It was thought in the subsequent days after his surgery that his health was improving, but a statement Wednesday (April 18) from Jim Liske, CEO of Prison Fellowship Ministries, said Colson's health had seriously degraded. Colson is a member of First Baptist Church in Naples, Fla.

Liske's full statement follows:

"It is with a heavy, but hopeful heart that I share with you that it appears our friend, brother, and founder will soon be home with the Lord. Chuck’s condition took a decided turn yesterday, and the doctors advised Patty and the family to gather by his bedside. the rest

Hummingbird eggs hatching!

Streaming video by Ustream
reposted April 18, 2012

This cam is located 3 miles from downtown Laguna Beach, in Southern California, USA and about 12 miles from Phoebe. You are watching WORLD OF HUMMINGBIRDS! (Emma's Nest)

(I'm reposting this because the eggs are hatching! -PD)

Amazon’s Secretive Cloud Carries 1 Percent of the Internet

By Robert McMillan
April 18, 2012

Amazon’s cloud computing infrastructure is growing so fast that it’s silently becoming a core piece of the internet.

That’s according to an analysis done by DeepField Networks, a start-up that number-crunched several weeks’ worth of anonymous network traffic provided by internet service providers, mainly in North America.

They found that one-third of the several million users in the study visited a website that uses Amazon’s infrastructure each day.

Most people still think of Amazon as the internet’s giant shopping mall — a purveyor of gadgets, books and movies — but it’s quietly become “a massive utility” that is either on the sending or receiving end of 1 percent of all of the internet traffic in North America, says Craig Labovitz, a well-known internet researcher and co-founder of DeepField. the rest image by Karin Dalziel

In Africa, daughter's testimony leads Muslim sheik to Christ

Apr 16, 2012
by Ava Thomas

EDITOR’S NOTE: The peoples of Ethiopia, northeast Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti number more than 100 million. Numerous people groups with no access to the Gospel in their heart language live in Ethiopia & northeast Kenya. Somalia currently has little or no Christian witness among its people. Believers are cruelly persecuted in Eritrea in an effort to stamp out any vital expression of faith. Islam among the peoples of Djibouti retains its stronghold. The following three stories, in conjunction with a month-long prayer emphasis set forth at, examine the Gospel challenge across the region.

But one day someone shared Jesus with Sarah, and she started to read what her holy book said about Him side by side with what the New Testament said.

"What the Bible said is true. I know this now," she said. "In the past, I was afraid and had trouble sleeping. Now I have peace in my heart."

But for a while, the decision didn't bring peace in her home. Her father beat her, knocking out some of her teeth and breaking her leg.

She fled.

But after years of hearing the Gospel, her father -- the Muslim sheik -- also came to faith in Jesus.

"Most Muslims think the story of Jesus is a lie, but more and more are coming to believe," Sarah said. "When I tell people the story of Adam and the story of Jesus -- that He healed people, died for our sin and was raised again -- some say this is bad, that it is a lie."

Those people, she said, have hard hearts. "But the ones with soft hearts, they listen." the rest

African man loses children because of his faith

More congregations turn to Facebook, Web, high-tech outreach

By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY
posted April 18, 2012

No matter where you live, you can go to church, so to speak, with Christ Fellowship. The McKinney, Texas, congregation is on board with almost every high-tech gambit under heaven.

Find the church by going online — the 21st-century version of sighting a steeple on the horizon. Beyond their website, Christ Fellowship has a Facebook page to give it a friendly presence in social media.

You can download the worship program by scanning their customized-with-a-cross QR code. The worship services are streamed online from their Internet campus — with live chat running so you can share spiritual insights in real time.

Afterward, says senior Pastor Bruce Miller, "someone will ask you, 'How did it go? Did God help you, today? How can we help you?' Just like we do when people come to our building in McKinney. We are here to help people find and follow Christ, wherever they are starting out from."

And wherever they are in the digital world. the rest

China subjects Catholic bishops, priests to 'political sessions'

April 17, 2012

Two Chinese bishops of the “underground” Church have been released by police after having been held for “political sessions” in which they were pressured to cooperate with the Catholic Patriotic Association. The AsiaNews service reports that dozens of priests are being temporarily detained to attend similar sessions.

Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin, coadjutor of the Wenzhou diocese, had been arrested and held for 4 weeks. During that time he was allowed to visit Lei Shiyin, a bishop who was ordained last July without permission from the Vatican and consequently excommunicated; Chinese authorities clearly were holding up Bishop Lei as a model for Bishop Shao to emulate.

Bishop Peter Jing Lugang Nanyang of Henan was taken into custody on Holy Thursday and released on Easter Sunday—too late to lead his diocese in the liturgical ceremonies of the Easter Triduum. Government officials told him during his “holiday” that he should join the Patriotic Association. the rest

Planned Parenthood moved to bar words ‘child’ and ‘baby’ from courtroom

by Kathleen Gilbert
Mon Apr 16, 2012

( – Planned Parenthood in Kansas moved to silence certain details of their abortion business while facing accusations of aborting babies beyond the gestational age legal in the state, according to documents unsealed last week.

Judge Stephen Tatum unsealed the documents in a criminal case brought by Kansas state prosecutors against the abortion group involving 58 counts related to illegal late-term abortions. Planned Parenthood, who originally faced charges alongside Kansas late-term abortionist George Tiller, is seeking dismissal of all charges.

According to records obtained by Operation Rescue, Planned Parenthood had moved to censor or cast doubt upon state prosecutors’ case under a long list of rationales.

Operation Rescue said that the abortion group had moved to ignore a 2005 law extending the statute of limitations, to question jurors about their religious beliefs, and to prohibit prosecutors from asking about the cost of abortions, handwriting discrepancies in abortion reports, or the weight of the unborn children aborted - and even from using the terms “late-term abortion,” “child,” “baby,” and “infant” in the courtroom, or referring to slain unborn children as abortion “victims.” the rest

Joint Statement from Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia


Truro Anglican Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced today a settlement that concludes five years of litigation that arose after Truro Anglican and other parishes left the Episcopal Church in 2006 to become part of what is now the Anglican Church in North America.

The settlement follows a January ruling in which the Circuit Court of Fairfax County held that all real and personal property held by the parishes at the time they left the denomination belongs to the Diocese.

Under terms of the settlement, the Diocese has given Truro Anglican a rent-free lease of the church buildings at 10520 Main Street in Fairfax, as well as two rectories, until June 30, 2013. Truro Anglican will deed the properties to the Diocese by April 30, 2012, and will pay the operating costs of the properties during the term of the lease. In addition, the Diocese has the option to use a small portion of the church building during the lease, as determined between the Rev. Tory Baucum, rector of Truro Anglican, and the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop of the Diocese of Virginia.

Additionally, Truro Anglican has agreed to pay $50,000 to resolve diocesan claims for liquid assets due under the court's order. The parties had already agreed on division of the tangible personal property held by Truro Anglican. the rest

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Celebrating 5000 entries at Lent and Beyond

Posted April 17, 2012
Lent and Beyond blog

It was just over a year ago that Jill wrote a post celebrating 4000 entries at Lent and Beyond. Today, we reach the 5000 post milestone on this version of the blog. (Actually we’ve published more than 8500 posts, when you count in the 3500+ posts at our original blogsite!)

It’s fun that I’m in a short season of renewed blogging and get to commemorate it myself and highlight some of my favorite posts from the past 8 years! I never could have imagined when I first started a Lent prayer campaignand associated blog in Feb. 2004 all that God would do in the years ahead, or that I’d still be blogging, albeit sporadically, 8 years later.

It has been hard work, (especially some of our intensive prayer efforts for Lambeth 2008, various ACC meetings, or for the 2006 and 2009 General Conventions.) I remember vividly, for instance, some very very late nights spent hunting the web for a few of the primates’ pictures for our Primates’ prayer brochure, or two seemingly-interminable Saturdays spent constantly hitting refresh on the election results as the diocese of Tennessee held marathon convention sessions for their bishop election a few years ago… !  the rest

(I am so thankful for Karen B. and the rest who post at Lent and Beyond!  Karen was my very first online Anglican blog friend who often encouraged me, esp. when I was a new to blogging in 2005.  The primary focus of Lent and Beyond has always been to call people to prayer and to point to places where one could find fresh oil for the spiritual journey.  May they continue in their work to bless and  keep our eyes focused on the Lord!  -Pat Dague)

The Population Control Holocaust

Robert Zubrin
posted April 17, 2012

Of the billions of taxpayer dollars that the U.S. government has expended on population control abroad, a portion has been directly spent by USAID on its own field activities, but the majority has been laundered through a variety of international agencies. As a result of this indirect funding scheme, all attempts to compel the population control empire to conform its activities to accepted medical, ethical, safety, or human rights norms have proven futile. Rather, in direct defiance of laws enacted by Congress to try to correct the situation, what has and continues to be perpetrated at public expense is an atrocity on a scale so vast and varied as to almost defy description. Nevertheless, it is worth attempting to convey to readers some sense of the evil that is being done with their money. Before describing some case studies, let us consider the primary characteristics manifested by nearly all the campaigns.

First, they are top-down dictatorial. In selling the effort to Americans, USAID and its beneficiaries claim that they are providing Third World women with “choice” regarding childbirth. There is no truth to this claim. As Betsy Hartmann, a liberal feminist critic of these programs, trenchantly pointed out in her 1995 book Reproductive Rights and Wrongs, “a woman’s right to choose” must necessarily include the option of having children — precisely what the population control campaigns deny her. Rather than providing “choice” to individuals, the purpose of the campaigns is to strip entire populations of their ability to reproduce. This is done by national governments, themselves under USAID or World Bank pressure, setting quotas for sterilizations, IUD insertions, or similar procedures to be imposed by their own civil service upon the subject population. Those government employees who meet or exceed their quotas of “acceptors” are rewarded; those who fail to do so are disciplined.

Second, the programs are dishonest. It is a regular practice for government civil servants employed in population control programs to lie to their prospective targets for quota-meeting about the consequences of the operations that will be performed upon them. For example, Third World peasants are frequently told by government population control personnel that sterilization operations are reversible, when in fact they are not.

Third, the programs are coercive. As a regular practice, population control programs provide “incentives” and/or “disincentives” to compel “acceptors” into accepting their “assistance.” Among the “incentives” frequently employed is the provision or denial of cash or food aid to starving people or their children. Among the “disincentives” employed are personal harassment, dismissal from employment, destruction of homes, and denial of schooling, public housing, or medical assistance to the recalcitrant.

Fourth, the programs are medically irresponsible and negligent. As a regular practice, the programs use defective, unproven, unsafe, experimental, or unapproved gear, including equipment whose use has been banned outright in the United States. They also employ large numbers of inadequately trained personnel to perform potentially life-endangering operations, or to maintain medical equipment in a supposedly sterile or otherwise safe condition. In consequence, millions of people subjected to the ministrations of such irresponsibly run population control operations have been killed. This is particularly true in Africa, where improper reuse of hypodermic needles without sterilization in population control clinics has contributed to the rapid spread of deadly infectious diseases, including AIDS.

Fifth, the programs are cruel, callous, and abusive of human dignity and human rights. A frequent practice is the sterilization of women without their knowledge or consent, typically while they are weakened in the aftermath of childbirth. This is tantamount to government-organized rape. Forced abortions are also typical. These and other human rights abuses of the population control campaign have been widely documented, with subject populations victimized in Australia, Bangladesh, China, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kosovo, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tibet, the United States, Venezuela, and Vietnam. the rest

MCJ's take and comments

Dr. Phil Show: “Mercy Kill” People with Disabilities

by Cassy Fiano

This week on the popular Dr. Phil Show, a mother named Annette Corriveau was featured. She’s special because she wants the right to be able to kill her children.

That’s right. She is the mother of two severely disabled adult children, and she feels that the moral thing to do would be to kill them by lethal injection, to end their “suffering.” Her children were diagnosed with Sanfilippo syndrome, causing them to lose motor function and be institutionalized. They cannot speak, and they have to be fed through feeding tubes. Any more information on their condition wasn’t made clear – probably because, as Annette admitted, she visits her children only once every two months. The people who actually work with her children every day, and see them on a regular basis, and could therefore give a better idea of what their lives are like, were not interviewed for the show. We had only Annette’s point of view, which is that – according to her – if her children could choose, they would choose suicide.

She admits that she doesn’t know if they are in pain. She doesn’t know if they’re deaf or blind. She doesn’t know if they recognize her or not, and she doesn’t know what actions and activities, if any, are comforting to them. She doesn’t know if they are able to communicate in any way. She says that they’ve never left the facility they’re in over the past twenty years, but she also doesn’t disclose if she’s done anything to try to take her children out on trips – although considering that she visits them only once every two months, my guess would be no. the rest

When religion and spirituality collide

By Diana Butler Bass
April 16, 2012

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the leader of the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion, recently announced that he would step down by year’s end. A few days later, the Church of England rejected a Williams-backed unity plan for global Anglicanism, a church fractured by issues of gender and sexual identity. The timing of the resignation and the defeat are probably not coincidental. These events signal Anglicans’ institutional failure.

But why should anyone, other than Anglicans and their Episcopal cousins in the U.S., care? The Anglican fight over gay clergy is usually framed as a left and right conflict, part of the larger saga of political division. But this narrative obscures a more significant tension in Western societies: the increasing gap between spirituality and religion, and the failure of traditional religious institutions to learn from the divide. the rest

15 reasons Mr. Rogers was best neighbor ever

By Mangesh Hattikudur
July 28, 2008

Here are 15 things everyone should know about Fred Rogers:

1. Even Koko the Gorilla loved him. Most people have heard of Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who could speak about 1000 words in American Sign Language, and understand about 2000 in English.

What most people don't know, however, is that Koko was an avid Mister Rogers' Neighborhood fan. As Esquire reported, when Fred Rogers took a trip out to meet Koko for his show, not only did she immediately wrap her arms around him and embrace him, she did what she'd always seen him do onscreen: she proceeded to take his shoes off!

2. He made thieves think twice. According to a TV Guide piece on him, Fred Rogers drove a plain old Impala for years. One day, however, the car was stolen from the street near the TV station. When Rogers filed a police report, the story was picked up by every newspaper, radio and media outlet around town.

Amazingly, within 48 hours the car was left in the exact spot where it was taken from, with an apology on the dashboard. It read, "If we'd known it was yours, we never would have taken it."

3. He watched his figure to the pound. In covering Rogers' daily routine (waking up at 5 a.m.; praying for a few hours for all of his friends and family; studying; writing, making calls and reaching out to every fan who took the time to write him; going for a morning swim; getting on a scale; then really starting his day), writer Tom Junod explained that Mr. Rogers weighed in at exactly 143 pounds every day for the last 30 years of his life.

He didn't smoke, didn't drink, didn't eat the flesh of any animals, and was extremely disciplined in his daily routine. And while I'm not sure if any of that was because he'd mostly grown up a chubby, single child, Junod points out that Rogers found beauty in the number 143.

According to the piece, Rogers came "to see that number as a gift... because, as he says, "the number 143 means 'I love you.' It takes one letter to say 'I' and four letters to say 'love' and three letters to say 'you.' One hundred and forty-three." the rest

(This is an older article, but it moves me because Fred Rogers was the same off screen as he was on his show-an example of a Christian life well lived to the end. -PD)

Islamic Extremists Beat, Mock Christians in India

Prayer group in West Bengal village is attacked less than one month after woman is driven out.
April 12, 2012

(CDN) — Islamic extremists in India attacked a Christian prayer meeting in West Bengal state, beating a 65-year-old widow and other women less than a month after they helped drive a young woman out of her home and village for her faith.

Islamists in Nutangram, Murshidabad district forced their way into the home of Gaffar Shaike on March 30 at around 2 p.m., as 11 Christians from Believers’ Church were gathered for lunch and worship. In the same area of Nutangram on March 9, Islamic extremists drove 22-year-old Rekha Khatoon out of her village because she dared to give thanks for healing in Christ’s name in the predominantly Muslim village; her parents helped the Islamists to beat her nearly unconscious. the rest

Ross Douthat on Rooting Out Bad Religion

Why the New York Times columnist wants to see America return to its confessional roots.
Interview by Sarah Pulliam Bailey

The biggest threat facing America is not a faltering economy or a spate of books by famed atheists. Rather, the country meets new challenges due to the decline of traditional Christianity, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat suggests in Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (Free Press). Douthat has taken his own personal tour of American Christianity: he was baptized Episcopalian, attended evangelical and Pentecostal churches as a child, and converted to Catholicism at age 17. He argues that prosperity preachers, self-esteem gurus, and politics operating as religion contribute to the contemporary decline of America. CT spoke with Douthat about America's decline from a vigorous faith, modern heretics, and why we need a revival of traditional Christianity.

What do you mean when you say we're facing the threat of heresy?
I try to use an ecumenical definition, starting with what I see as the theological common ground shared by my own Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations. Then I look at forms of American religion that are influenced by Christianity, but depart in some significant way from this consensus. It's a C. S. Lewisian, Mere Christianity definition of orthodoxy or heresy. I'm trying to look at the ways the American religion today departs from theological and moral premises that traditional Protestants and Catholics have in common.

How did America become a nation of heretics?
We've always been a nation of heretics. Heresy used to be constrained and balanced by institutional Christianity to a far greater extent than it is today. What's unique about our religious moment is not the movements and currents such as the "lost gospel" industry, the world of prosperity preaching, the kind of therapeutic religion that you get from someone like Oprah Winfrey, or various highly politicized forms of faith. What's new is the weakness of the orthodox Christian response. There were prosperity preachers and therapeutic religion in the 1940s and '50s—think of bestsellers like Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking—but there was also a much more robust Christian center. the rest

Cardboard cathedral planned in New Zealand

April 16, 2012

A cathedral made from cardboard.

The idea may sound flimsy, particularly given that cathedrals tend to be known for their solid presence: the flying buttresses, the soaring domes, the Gothic grandeur. But in the earthquake-devastated city of Christchurch, Anglican leaders believe it will deliver both a temporary solution and a statement about the city's recovery.

On Monday, they announced plans to build a 25-meter (82-foot) high cathedral constructed with 104 tubes of cardboard. The structure will be a temporary replacement for the iconic stone ChristChurch Cathedral, which was ruined last year in an earthquake that killed 185 people and destroyed much of the downtown. the rest image

Archbishop Chaput sees US trending against religious liberty

By Kevin J. Jones
Apr 17, 2012

(CNA) In an exclusive interview on his new eBook “A Heart on Fire,” Archbishop Charles J. Chaput says the recent contraception mandate points to a “pattern” of attacks on religious liberty in the U.S.

These attacks, he noted, are changing America into a country more hostile to religion in general and to Catholicism in particular.

“Our national leadership over the past few years has been much colder toward America’s traditional understanding of religious freedom than any administration in recent memory,” the Archbishop of Philadelphia told CNA April 16. the rest
While Americans presume that the Constitution guarantees their rights, he said, “in practice our rights survive or disappear based on how firmly we defend them.”

“It’s not hard to imagine a time in this country when sexual and reproductive ‘rights’ will take precedence over rights of conscience and freedom of religious expression. It’s happening elsewhere. It can happen here. We have no magic immunity.”

Monday, April 16, 2012

And this quality of quietness, ordinariness, simplicity...

There is no need for peculiar conditions in order to grow in the spiritual life, for the pressure of God’s Spirit is present everywhere and at all times. Our environment itself, our home and our job, is the medium through which we experience His moulding action and His besetting love. It is not Christian to try to get out of our frame, or to separate our outward life from our life of prayer, since both are the creation of one Charity. The third-rate little town in the hills, with its limited social contacts and monotonous manual work, reproves us when we begin to fuss about our opportunities and our scope. And this quality of quietness, ordinariness, simplicity, with which the saving action of God enters history, endures from the beginning to the end. 
...Evelyn Underhill image by Horia Varlan

Anglican Unscripted Episode 36


Back from Holy Week your Host Kevin and George discuss AMiA, the Occult, and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. David Ould joins us this week to talk about Clergy Protocol in the Australian Church and Dean Munday tackles Easter (the real one). Alan Haley talks about San Joaquin and the battle for paper documents.

Muslim British Peer Lord Ahmed suspended after offering bounty on Obama and Bush

A controversial British peer has been suspended from the Labour Party amid reports that he offered a £10 million bounty for the capture of President Barack Obama and his predecessor President George W Bush.
Nick Allen and Tim Ross
16 Apr 2012

Lord Ahmed, 53, who in 1998 became the first Muslim life peer, was reported to have made the comments at a conference in Haripur in Pakistan.

A Labour Party spokesman said: "We have suspended Lord Ahmed pending investigation. If these comments are accurate we utterly condemn these remarks which are totally unacceptable."

According to Pakistan's Express Tribune newspaper Lord Ahmed offered the bounty in response to a US action a week ago. the rest

Test of Fire: Election 2012

posted April 16, 2012

Video put out by Catholics Called to Witness (

Web freedom faces greatest threat ever, warns Google's Sergey Brin

Ian Katz
Sunday 15 April 2012

The principles of openness and universal access that underpinned the creation of the internet three decades ago are under greater threat than ever, according to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

In an interview with the Guardian, Brin warned there were "very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world". "I am more worried than I have been in the past," he said. "It's scary."

The threat to the freedom of the internet comes, he claims, from a combination of governments increasingly trying to control access and communication by their citizens, the entertainment industry's attempts to crack down on piracy, and the rise of "restrictive" walled gardens such as Facebook and Apple, which tightly control what software can be released on their platforms. the rest

NYT: The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage

April 14, 2012

Cohabitation in the United States has increased by more than 1,500 percent in the past half century. In 1960, about 450,000 unmarried couples lived together. Now the number is more than 7.5 million. The majority of young adults in their 20s will live with a romantic partner at least once, and more than half of all marriages will be preceded by cohabitation. This shift has been attributed to the sexual revolution and the availability of birth control, and in our current economy, sharing the bills makes cohabiting appealing. But when you talk to people in their 20s, you also hear about something else: cohabitation as prophylaxis.

In a nationwide survey conducted in 2001 by the National Marriage Project, then at Rutgers and now at the University of Virginia, nearly half of 20-somethings agreed with the statement, “You would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along.” About two-thirds said they believed that moving in together before marriage was a good way to avoid divorce.

But that belief is contradicted by experience. Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect.

Researchers originally attributed the cohabitation effect to selection, or the idea that cohabitors were less conventional about marriage and thus more open to divorce. As cohabitation has become a norm, however, studies have shown that the effect is not entirely explained by individual characteristics like religion, education or politics. Research suggests that at least some of the risks may lie in cohabitation itself.

As Jennifer and I worked to answer her question, “How did this happen?” we talked about how she and her boyfriend went from dating to cohabiting. Her response was consistent with studies reporting that most couples say it “just happened.”

“We were sleeping over at each other’s places all the time,” she said. “We liked to be together, so it was cheaper and more convenient. It was a quick decision but if it didn’t work out there was a quick exit.”

She was talking about what researchers call “sliding, not deciding.” Moving from dating to sleeping over to sleeping over a lot to cohabitation can be a gradual slope, one not marked by rings or ceremonies or sometimes even a conversation. Couples bypass talking about why they want to live together and what it will mean. the rest-Excellent! image by Trevor Hurlbut

Fewer sign up to race for the cure

By Lindsay Powers

A little more than a week before the Central Indiana Susan G. Komen for the Cure race on April 21 in Indianapolis, about 23,000 people had signed up — 30% fewer than at the same time before last year's race.

About 26,000 registrants are expected by race day. Nearly 37,500 people participated in the race last year, according to Dana Curish, executive director of the Central Indiana Komen affiliate. Curish said fundraising was also down 30% from the same pre-race time last year.

The Indianapolis race is among a growing number of Komen for the Cure events that have seen or are seeing a drop in registrants and fundraising this year, in the wake of the breast cancer-fighting organization's announcement in January of its controversial decision — quickly reversed — to suspend funding to sexual and reproductive health care provider Planned Parenthood while it was under congressional investigation. the rest

Huge increase in assisted suicide cases in Oregon and Switzerland sounds strong warning to Britain

Sunday, 15 April 2012

There has been a massive increase in cases of assisted suicide in both Oregon and Switzerland over recent years according to the latest figures.

The Oregon ‘Death with Dignity Act’ allows terminally-ill Oregonians ‘to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose’.

It also requires the Oregon Health Authority to collect information about the patients and physicians who participate in the Act, and publish an annual statistical report.

The latest figures show that cases of assisted suicide have gone from 16 in 1998 to 71 in 2011, an increase of 450% (see chart).

The US state of Oregon legalised assisted suicide in 1997 following a referendum. Thus far over 100 attempts to get other US state parliaments to change their laws have failed and only the state of Washington has followed suit, again on the basis of a referendum.

Switzerland has seen a 700% increase in assisted suicides over the same period. Swiss authorities have recorded a steady rise of assisted suicides in recent years, from 43 in 1998 to 297 in 2009. Earlier figures are not available, even though assisted suicide has been legal in Switzerland since 1942. the rest

Boko Haram threatens to bring down Nigerian government

16 April, 2012

Nigeria (MNN) ― In its most recent YouTube video post last week, Nigerian terrorist sect Boko Haram threatened that it would bring down the federal government by June.

Boko Haram is responsible for several attacks on Christians, including a bombing April 8, Easter Sunday, which killed over 45 people.

The new threat comes just weeks after President Goodluck Jonathan vowed his regime would have Boko Haram under control by June. Jonathan has notoriously defended Christians throughout his time in office.

The video also included renewed promises to dispose of all Christians and to eliminate Christianity from Nigeria completely. Hundreds of believers have died at the hands of Boko Harm over the past few years. the rest

Chuck Colson Talking, Showing Slow Progress After Surgery

By Lillian Kwon
April 14, 2012

Two weeks after brain surgery, evangelical leader Chuck Colson is able to talk to family members and continues to show progress, but he remains in the Intensive Care Unit, according to the latest update.

Jim Liske, CEO of Prison Fellowship Ministries which Colson founded, said Thursday that there has not been much change in Colson's condition since last week when he gave doctors a thumbs up.

Liske assured supporters, however, that the influential evangelical "is in one of the best medical centers in the country for the issues he is facing right now." The Christian Post learned earlier that Colson is staying at a northern Virginia hospital.

Colson, 80, fell ill while speaking at the Breaking the Spiral of Silence conference on March 30 in Lansdowne, Va. the rest

Christians 'vilified,' Anglican leader says

Values 'banned,' says ex-archbishop
By John Bingham,
April 16, 2012

Christians are being "persecuted" by the courts and "driven underground" in the same way that homosexuals once were, a former Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.

Lord Carey says worshippers are being "vilified" by the state, treated as "bigots" and sacked simply for expressing their beliefs.

The attack is part of a direct appeal to the European Court of Human Rights before a landmark case on religious freedom.

In a written submission seen by The Daily Telegraph, the former leader of more than 70 million Anglicans warns that the outward expression of traditional conservative Christian values has effectively been "banned" in Britain under a new "secular conformity of belief and conduct".

His comments represent one of the strongest attacks on the impartiality of Britain's judiciary from a religious leader. the rest

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Beethoven, 5th Symphony

A new dream in Belfast's historic Titanic Quarter

The Titanic was called the “ship of dreams”. A hundred years after it sank, a church in the Belfast dock where the great ship was built has a new dream for a boat that will bring people together and give them new life.
by Charlene Winkel
Saturday, April 14, 2012

According to Reverend Chris Bennett everyone needs a “BHAG“. That is a "Big Hairy Audacious Goal“. The vicar's BHAG is to buy an old boat and launch a church on the same dock where the Titanic was constructed.

When thinking of Belfast one of the first associations is the “The Troubles“. The other, in this centenary year, is the tragedy of the Titanic built by the city’s men in what is today known as the Titanic Quarters. The sinking of the White Star Line’s prized ship on its maiden voyage a hundred years ago and strife in the name of religion have indeed cast long shadows over this down-to-earth city.

However, Belfast is changing and it is the Titanic Quarters which have undergone the greatest change, transforming from a post-industrial area to what Rev Chris calls "the heart of the new Belfast”.

As chaplain to the Titanic Quarters, he plays a major role in this new development. Together with representatives from other mainstream churches in Northern Ireland, he founded The Dock. The dream of the church group is to buy an old boat based in the Titanic Quarter and revamp it into a community hub and cafe for the whole community. The idea of a chaplaincy centre based on a boat goes along with the idea of creating a space for chaplains to meet and connect in a neutral setting that does not resemble a church building from any denomination. the rest

Traditionalist Anglican leaders to meet over homosexual bishops 'crisis’

A high-powered group of traditionalist Anglican church leaders are to gather in London to address a growing “crisis” over openly homosexual bishops.
By Edward Malnick
15 Apr 2012

They want to restore “orthodox” values to the worldwide Anglican Communion and outlaw liberal church leaders who have rejected traditional teaching.

They will meet for the first time since more than 200 bishops boycotted an official summit for Anglican leaders in 2008 in protest at the presence of bishops from the US Episcopal Church, which consecrated the first openly homosexual Anglican bishop.

The decision by the leaders to hold talks in Britain is likely to increase tensions between the traditionalists and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who will this year step down amid criticism he has failed to heal divisions over sexuality.

Its timing means that it will provide traditionalists with an opportunity to call for Dr Williams’s successor to be sympathetic to traditionalists.

The gathering of 200 clergy and laity will be led by Dr Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney, who is General Secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), the body set up by traditionalists at their 2008 “alternative” Lambeth Conference in Jerusalem. the rest

UK: Schools told to put witchcraft and druids on RE syllabus

By Jonathan Petre
14 April 2012

Paganism has been included in an official school religious education syllabus for the first time.

Cornwall Council has told its schools that pagan beliefs, which include witchcraft, druidism and the worship of ancient gods such as Thor, should be taught alongside Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

The requirements are spelled out in an agreed syllabus drawn up by Cornwall’s RE advisory group.

It says that from the age of five, children should begin learning about standing stones, such as Stonehenge. At the age of 11, pupils can begin exploring ‘modern paganism and its importance for many in Cornwall’.

The syllabus adds that areas of study should include ‘the importance of pre-Christian sites for modern pagans'. the rest