Saturday, September 29, 2012

Inspiration...September 29, 2012

The Archangel Michael - Hans Memling
Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. image

Just Disconnect
It was said of John Henry Newman that he was never less alone than when alone. Newman liked the peace and quiet of isolation: it allowed him to read, to think and to write.

I confess to some sympathy for Newman on this. I do not like the hyperconnectivity of the current world. As an administrator at Westminster, I had a seminary cell phone. I had to upgrade it to a smartphone last year because Verizon indicated they would no longer support the vintage model I then possessed. I remember that, when I went in to exchange it, the man behind the counter looked at the phone, looked at me and then, choking back the laughter, declared "You're that guy!" Shamed into silence, I nodded mutely and mumbled my mandated request for a smartphone.

Now, having stepped down from the administration, I have rid myself of the thing and reverted to a phone that (and yes, this sounds terribly outdated, I know) simply allows me to phone people. You know, like they did in the olden days. Sadly, I am sure that the free market will ensure that it will be 'no longer supported' within a few years. At that point I will have to pay extra every month for a data package to provide data which I have no interest in receiving, but until then, I can resist, Canute-like, the incoming tide of things I really do not need or like but which others have determined that I apparently 'must have.'...

Changing the World Begins with Prayer
...The work of reaching and changing the world is, indeed, a work done on our knees. And, it is a work that takes on the nature of fierce and intense warfare. After all, one of Satan’s chief weapons is to cut off communication with God, communication that takes place in prayer. John Piper is certainly correct when he writes, “Prayer is meant by God to be a wartime walkie-talkie, not a domestic intercom … not for the enhancement of our comforts but for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom.”...

Crown Nominations Commission deadlocked

Selection of a new Archbishop of Canterbury delayed until the "Autumn"
September 28, 2012
By George Conger

The Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) has been unable to agree upon a candidate for the post of Archbishop of Canterbury.

This week’s third and final meeting of the CNC was to have provided two names to Prime Minister David Cameron – a first choice and an alternate. However, on 28 Sept 2012 the Church of England press office released a statement at the close of the three day meeting of the Commission that indicated it had not been able to agree upon a candidate. the rest

Scrolling around...September 29, 2012

Top Five Worst Obamacare Taxes Coming in 2013
Of the twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare, below are the five worst that will be foisted upon Americans for the first time on January 1, 2013:

The Obamacare Medical Device Tax – a $20 billion tax increase...
The Obamacare “Special Needs Kids Tax” – a $13 billion tax increase...
The Obamacare Surtax on Investment Income – a $123 billion tax increase: 

  This is a new, 3.8 percentage point surtax on investment income...
The Obamacare “Haircut” for Medical Itemized Deductions – a $15.2 billion tax increase...
The Obamacare Medicare Payroll Tax Hike -- an $86.8 billion tax increase...

The Voice of John: A Nurse Speaks Out on a Baby Born Alive After an Abortion
...Yet this is not a film for just Christians. The Voice of John is a wake-up call to the nation as a whole. Despite your religious affiliation – or lack of it – and despite your involvement on either side of the abortion issue, and despite your current beliefs, this documentary is a must-see. We must individually wake up to the truth and choose to stand up for innocent lives. We must choose to forgive, and not condemn. Christians must choose to live like Christians, not just claim to be Christians...

In the Shadow of Ahmadinejad’s Hotel
...Where is this all going? Usually I like strolling down Sixth Avenue on a warm evening in early autumn. Wednesday night, when I left the area of the Warwick Hotel, I was full of unease. I had the sense of looking in on an unnerving sliver of history — a UN gathering where the most memorable act of America’s president was to hand out White House gift souvenirs on daytime TV, while Iran’s messenger dispensed threats from the heart of Manhattan. It feels like a time of growing shadows. Churchill had a phrase for it: the gathering storm.

Priest says Coptic Christian families fleeing Sinai town due to Islamic militants’ threats
Coptic Christian families have fled their homes in a town in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, fearing for their lives after receiving death threats from suspected Islamic militants, a local priest said Thursday...

Has Christianity Become Intolerable?
There has been a demonstrable move away from Judeo-Christian faith and practice in Europe for a number of years. Just ask British hoteliers Peter and Hazelmary Bull.

What was once respected as authoritative is now considered Victorian, and what was widely embraced as a moral guide has been dismissed with the morals in which it guided people…all in the name of tolerance, mind you.

And so the Bulls have experienced the irony of ironies that Christianity is being forced out of the room by those who claim tolerance as their guiding principle...

Aetna Forced to Pay $15M for Making Companies Cover Abortions
Insurance company Aetna has agreed to pay a $1.5 million fine because it routinely provided coverage for elective abortions, contrary to Missouri law — making companies pay for abortion services...

Liberal pastors attack Hobby Lobby stand against abortion
A coalition of liberal Christian groups has come out against Hobby Lobby's lawsuit challenging federal health care guidelines that require companies to provide insurance that covers the "morning-after" pill...

Lawsuit: Organs taken from patients that doctors were pressured to declare brain dead
The New York Organ Donor Network pressured hospital staffers to declare patients brain dead so their body parts could be harvested — and even hired “coaches” to train staffers how to be more persuasive, a bombshell lawsuit charged yesterday.

The federally funded nonprofit used a “quota” system, and leaned heavily on the next of kin to sign consent forms when patients were not registered as organ donors, the suit charged...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Joy of Books

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The incentive to peacemaking is love...

The incentive to peacemaking is love, but it degenerates into appeasement whenever justice is ignored. To forgive and to ask for forgiveness are both costly exercises. All authentic Christian peacemaking exhibits the love and justice - and so the pain-of the cross. ...John Stott image by Ben

Night Skies of Yosemite

Aug 27, 2012

Yosemite's vast acreage and remote location protect some of the darkest night skies in the country. Astronomers, photographers and city dwellers flock to the park to take advantage of this unique opportunity to view planets, stars, and galaxies.

A.S. Haley: Virginia Supreme Court to Hear Falls Church Petition

September 25, 2012

Today, the Supreme Court of Virginia informed the parties that it would hear a brief oral argument on October 16, beginning at 1 p.m., on the petition filed by The Falls Church to review the judgment entered against it in Fairfax County Circuit Court. In Virginia, appeals from civil judgments are not a matter of right. Only the Supreme Court hears civil appeals, and it has discretion to refuse review. The purpose of the brief argument is to give the appellant's attorneys an opportunity to emphasize to the Court's writ panel (which will consist of just three of the Court's seven justices) the reasons why it should accept the case for review.

The argument is limited to just ten minutes. Only the appellant's attorneys (the ones who filed the petition seeking review) may argue, but the appellees, their attorneys, and members of the general public may attend and listen to the proceedings. There is more about the writ panel procedure at this link.

The last time this case was before the Virginia Supreme Court, in April 2010, only five of the Court's seven justices heard the case (including two retired senior justices), because four active justices recused themselves (most likely on the ground that they were Episcopalians). Of the active Justices who did not recuse themselves, Justice Cynthia D. Kinser is now the Chief Justice, and the former Chief Justice, Leroy R. Hassell, is no longer on the Court. The only other active Justice who sat on the prior appeal is Justice LeRoy F. Millette. The two senior justices who participated, Justice Elizabeth Lacy and Justice Lawrence Koontz, are still hearing appeals in the place of Justices who recuse themselves. the rest

Final meeting to choose the next Archbishop of Canterbury begins today

Three day meeting will nominate a successor to Rowan Williams
September 26, 2012
By George Conger

The Crown Nominations Committee starts a three day meeting today to finalize its selection of two names to present to the Primate Minister for appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury.

The location of the 26-28 September 2012 meeting has been kept secret as has its deliberations. Rumors as to the names under consideration have circulated freely over the past few months, with some candidates rising and falling in popularity among punters. The “favorites” at this stage of the process include the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, the Bishop of London, Dr. Richard Chartres, the Bishop of Durhan, Justin Welby, the Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, and the Bishop of Norwich, Graham James. the rest

Telegraph: Church leaders meet to elect new Archbishop of Canterbury

Christian Post: Church of England Leaders Deliberate on the Next Archbishop of Canterbury

Scrolling around...September 26, 2012

First Things: Harvard Theological Review Rejects “Jesus’ Wife”
The rumor is that Harvard Theological Review is now declining to publish Karen King’s paper (available here as a draft pdf) on the Coptic fragment she calls the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” ...
In theory, this is the sort of debate that should be carried out in journals over months and years, so scholarship can get it right. (Note the parallels with journalism: the pressure to get it first and the pressure to get it right work against each other.) In this case, I think Watson and others contesting the fragment’s authenticity are getting it right — I’m no papyrologist, but it seems to me most likely that the fragment is a modern forgery — and I think that their work has been careful and solid. Yet time and peer review are lacking. What if we will have been too hasty in dismissing the fragment?
Patients with dementia and psychiatric illnesses included as Dutch euthanasia cases rise steeply
According to Dutch media reports today, euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands in 2011 increased by 18% to 3,695. This follows increases of 13% in 2009 and 19% in 2010.

In fact from 2006 to 2011 there has been a steady increase in numbers each year with successive annual deaths at 1923, 2120, 2331, 2636, 3136 and 3695.

Euthanasia now accounts for 2.8% of all Dutch deaths.

In addition euthanasia for people with early dementia doubled to 49 last year and 13 psychiatric patients were euthanized, an increase of over 500% on the two reported in 2010.

But as alarming as these statistics may seem they tell only part of the full story...

Singer Andy Williams dies at age 84
Andy Williams, who charmed audiences with his mellow delivery of songs like "Moon River" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" in the 1950s and 60s, has died at his home in Branson, Missouri, his family said Wednesday. He was 84...

Out with colour: Islamists force Timbuktu women to wear black veils
To avoid being whipped, mutilated, and jailed, women in Timbuktu now have to wear black veils and loose-fitting clothing. Radical Islamists, who took control of the city months ago, are laying down their law – Sharia law – and for the first time since they’ve arrived, they’re specifically targeting women.
Over the past few weeks, Islamists from two armed groups – Ansar Dine and Mujao, who took over northern Mali in April – have increasingly made use of corporal punishment against the local population. This includes whipping, amputations, and even stoning people to death who do not obey Sharia law...

Rableh: 280 Christians held hostage
Christians kidnapped in the village of Rableh, on the border with Lebanon, in western Syria, spreads: after the maxi kidnapping which occurred yesterday, of 150 people (see Fides article 25/9), today another 130 civilians were detained and kidnapped by armed gangs in the area, creating a group of 280 hostages...

China facing one child policy dilemma

The Tip of the Iceberg of Christian Persecution
...Nadarkhani and Masih were certainly not released because their governments are acting according to universal standards of justice or reason. If so, they would not have been arrested in the first place. Nor do these releases suggest that Iran or Pakistan are rethinking their Islamic apostasy and blasphemy laws.

The fact is, there are many more Christians imprisoned in both countries for apostasy and blasphemy. Unlike Nadarkhani and Masih, however, the Western mainstream has never heard of these unfortunate Christians.

And that's the whole difference...

Pew survey: Catholics favor Obama by 15-point margin (unless they actually attend Mass)
...Among Catholics who attend Mass at least weekly, Romney holds a 51%-42% lead. Catholics who attend Mass “monthly” or “yearly” favor Obama by a 53%-39% advantage, while Catholics who attend Mass “seldom” or “never” back Obama by a 61%-32% margin... [So they are still considered "Catholic", I guess...]

Danish sperm donor passes genetic disorder to five children
A Danish sperm donor has passed a potentially severe genetic disorder to five children after a screening test failed to catch that he had the disease, health officials said Monday.
The donor transmitted the tumor-producing nerve disorder Neurofibromatosis type I, sometimes known as Von Recklinghausen's disease, to five babies he fathered, said the Copenhagen clinic where he gave sperm, Nordisk Cryobank...

Homosexuals in the military demand special privileges
...Senior military officials have allowed personnel in favor of repeal to speak to media while those who have concerns have been ordered to be silent. Two airmen were publicly harassed in a Post Exchange food court as they were privately discussing their concerns about the impact of repeal. A chaplain was encouraged by military officials to resign his commission unless he could “get in line with the new policy,” demonstrating no tolerance for that chaplain’s religious viewpoint. Another chaplain was threatened with early retirement, and then reassigned to be more “closely supervised” because he had expressed concerns with the policy change, again demonstrating no tolerance for that chaplain’s religious viewpoint...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The risen life of Jesus...

The risen life of Jesus is the nourishment and strengthening and blessing and life of a Christian. Our daily experience ought to be that there comes, wavelet by wavelet, that silent, gentle, and yet omnipotent influx into our empty hearts, this very life of Christ Himself.  ...Alexander MacLaren
image by Les Chatfield

Gloomy financial future facing the Anglican Church of Canada

Archbishop reports $900,000 shortfall for the first six months of 2012
September 25, 2012
By George Conger

A strict regime of cost cutting and layoffs has not cured the Anglican Church of Canada’s cash crunch, the primate Archbishop Fred Hiltz told members of the synod of the ecclesiastical province of Canada last week in Montreal.

Archbishop Hiltz stated that the close of the second quarter of 2012, the Anglican Church of Canada was running a deficit of C$900,000. The national offices of the Anglican Church of Canada are not the only institutions facing financial shortfalls, dioceses and church institutions are reporting a decline in income, and last week a seminary announced it was closing its doors. the rest
Between 1961 and 2001 the Anglican Church of Canada lost 53 per cent of its members, with numbers declining from 1.36 million to just 642,000. The rate of decline has increased in recent years, according to an independent report given to the Canadian House of Bishops in 2006 by retired marketing expert Keith McKerracher. Attendance statistics for recent years have not been released by the church.

Scrolling around...September 25, 2012

SAT scores show 43 pct of US high school seniors ready for college -study
Average national reading scores on the SAT college entrance exam fell to the lowest level in four decades and only 43 percent of 2012 high school seniors who took the test showed they were fully prepared for college, according to new data released on Monday...

Intel pulls funds from Boy Scouts over policy barring gay scouts and leaders
The Boy Scouts of America has lost one of its biggest corporate donors.
Earlier in September, Eagle Scout Zach Wahls launched a campaign urging Intel to pull funding from the Boy Scouts. It came following a report that revealed the company gave nearly $700,000 in volunteer matching grants to the Boy Scouts in 2010.
The campaign was based upon the Boy Scouts policy that bans openly gay

School lunch calorie limits leave bitter taste with some Kansas students
...The lunch included one cheese-stuffed bread stick, a small dollop of marinara sauce, three apple slices and some raw spinach. Kirkham supplemented the lunch with items from a salad bar, including cubes of ham, bacon bits and dressing, which were available only to teachers.

“I asked why the sauce had no meat and I was informed that due to the breadsticks containing cheese, the meat would put us over the guidelines for protein,” Kirkham wrote.

“Now think of a high school boy who works out at least three hours a day, not including farm work. … I’m furious. The ‘cheese’ inside the breadstick is approximately three bites. This is ridiculous.”...

France set to ban the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ from official documents
The move, which has outraged Catholics, means only the word "parents" would be used in identical marriage ceremonies for all heterosexual and same-sex couples.

The draft law states that "marriage is a union of two people, of different or the same gender".

It says all references to "mothers and fathers" in the civil code – which enshrines French law – will be swapped for simply "parents".

The law would also give equal adoption rights to homosexual and heterosexual couples...

On Bourbon Street you can show everything (but your faith)
On October 26, 2011, the city of New Orleans criminalized religious expression on Bourbon Street.

Subsequently, in May of this year, a preacher from Vieux Carre Assembly of God Church was told by police that he could not continue discussing religion on Bourbon Street, even though he had been preaching there for the past 30 years every Tuesday and Friday evening...

Chick-fil-A’s Dan Cathy: We have made no concessions
Following reports that Chick-fil-A had agreed to stop funding certain traditional family groups in order to get approval for a new Chicago restaurant, company President Dan Cathy said Friday the restaurant made no concessions and "we remain true to who we are."

Cathy's statement, posted on Mike Huckabee's website, came one day after the company released its own statement saying that its corporate giving has "been mischaracterized" for many months and that it will continue to fund programs that "strengthen and enrich marriages."...

Christian Families in North Sinai Face Threats, Refuse To Leave
Christian residents of Egyptian border towns Rafah and Al-Arish have so far refused to leave the city, as a local church had advised, after they received leaflets containing messages threatening to blow up their property if they do not leave within 48 hours...

California: No Doctor’s License Needed to Do Abortions Now
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law that makes it so nurses in California can do abortions, even though they do not have a valid medical license certifying them as a physician...

Cohabitation harms marriage, expert says
Cohabitating couples are 30 to 50 percent less likely to have successful marriages, statistics show.

"We now know unequivocally that cohabitation doesn't work. Churches -- the gatekeepers of weddings -- can delay no longer. They must educate, equip and elevate marriage to the position it deserves," Mike McManus wrote in his book "Living Together: Myths, Risks and Answers."...

The Nation of Alcatraz
President Clinton, wagging his finger in accusation, has said that the Republican philosophy of government is, “You’re on your own.” The sheer absurdity of the statement staggers the mind. I doubt there is a single person in the nation who knows, even approximately, the number of government programs at all levels instituted to assist the poor, the unemployed, the elderly, the handicapped, and others in special need. That is not counting the number of private institutions, more effective at what they do, established for the same purposes, nor to mention the charitable assistance afforded by other groups whose main purpose is something else, or assistance given informally by free associations of people, or privately, by individuals...

Something Is Wrong
Don't look now, but Islam is becoming the MSM's official religion of America...

Same-sex 'Marriage' Defeated in Australia
..."The overwhelming vote in the House of Representatives in favour of marriage between a man and a woman is greatly welcomed," says Chris Meney, director of the Archdiocese of Sydney's Life, Marriage and Family Centre. "It is also a vote affirming the truth of how marriage has always been understood," he commented in a news story published on the Web site of the Archdiocese of Sydney...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Let's knock holes in the darkness...

Robert Louis Stevenson, one evening, stood transfixed at his nursery window watching the lamplighter in the street. When his nanny asked the boy what he was doing he replied: "I'm watching the man knocking holes in the darkness." We live in a universe made dark by sin. Let's knock holes in the darkness.
...Selwyn Hughes image by Kevin Dooley

US CANA Bishop Julian Dobbs Reports Suffering and Killing of Christians in Nigeria

McLean, VA (September 21, 2012) - The Rt. Rev. Julian M. Dobbs, Anglican Bishop in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America has recently returned from a visit to Nigeria where he reports on the suffering of Christians as a result of the attacks orchestrated by Islamist group Boko Haram.

In a recent report, Bishop Dobbs talks of congregations in Bauchi being completely wiped out and described the situation as "butchery on a daily basis."

His video report can be viewed at this link

Bishop Dobbs spent time in the north of Nigeria where Christian homes and businesses have been destroyed, churches burnt and Christians killed. He met with survivors of these attacks and many of their church leaders. The Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion] is the largest Anglican province in the world with over 20 million Anglicans.

Dobbs reports that 25 churches in the Anglican Diocese of Jalingo have been destroyed, a recent bomb was detonated in the cathedral, and members of the diocese cannot find employment because they have Christian names.

"In Maiduguri, 100 bombs have exploded, fathers have been killed by their own children if they do not agree with their religious views, and schools have been blown up."

The Bishop of Maiduguri reported, "We will keep the faith...If we perish, we perish." the rest

Scrolling around...September 24, 2012

A New Age of Miracles
...Surely the New Testament tells us two crucial facts about miracles: Christian ministry is marked by them, but Christian ministry doesn't focus on them. That's a delicate balance that many get wrong. Some people make no place for miracles. Others act more interested in miracles than in Jesus...

Royal Observatory Picks Best Astronomy Photos of the Year

The Obamaized Flag Poster Suddenly Disappears from Campaign Store
Last week, President Obama's campaign paraphernalia store on his website was heavily criticized for having a poster of a U.S. flag that was Obama-ized by having the field of fifty stars replaced with an Obama logo. Over the weekend, the item was suddenly "disappeared" down the Internet memory hole...

Florida Kindergartners To Celebrate LGBT History Month
...Honoring gay history within the realm of K-12 education is still a groundbreaking (and potentially controversial) public statement. Unlike California, which last year added LGBT history to the state’s education curriculum, Broward’s resolution is nonbinding, and largely symbolic...

Letter to Liberal Children
...Anyway I promised you common sense analysis of my decision so here we go. I find myself on the “other side” of just about every action that Mr. Obama has taken. So numerous are my disagreements and disappointments in Mr. Obama’s policies that it is impossible for me to deal with all of them here. So I will concentrate on just a few of the larger issues. These issues are all interconnected, and in analyzing the issues individually and with their connections, I believe that any common sense individual will see things as I do. You can go through the exercise of extrapolating to the other less significant issues if you’re interested...

Suicide Bomb in Nigeria Church Kills Five, Injures Dozens
In yet another bombing targeting Christians in Nigeria, four people and the suicide bomber were killed and more than 48 people were injured outside a Catholic church in the northern city of Bauchi on Sunday.
The suicide bomber, suspected to be a member of the Islamist terror outfit Boko Haram, launched the attack on St. John's Catholic Cathedral Church in the state capital of Bauchi during the first mass on Sunday, local media reported... also here:
Woman and child die in Nigeria cathedral bombing

NYC schools give out morning-after pills to students — without telling parents
...School nurse offices stocked with the contraceptives can dispense “Plan B” emergency contraception and other oral or injectable birth control to girls without telling their parents — unless parents opt out after getting a school informational letter about the new program...