Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Advent 2005

Dear Readers,

There are some wonderful opportunities over at

Lent and Beyond to help make your Advent journey fruitful!
Advent readings:
Sites for Advent calenders:
Here-really neat!

Check them out-you'll be blessed!
Pat Dague

Why is it so important that you are with God and God alone on the mountain top? It's important because it's the place in which you can listen to the voice of the One who calls you the beloved. To pray is to listen to the One who calls you "my beloved daughter," "my beloved son," "my beloved child." To pray is to let that voice speak to the center of your being, to your guts, and let that voice resound in your whole being.

Henri J. M. Nouwen
Nouwen Centre

Televangelists on Unusual Side in Indecency Debate
By Jube Shiver Jr., Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Trying to preserve their electronic pulpits, the nation's religious broadcasters find themselves in the unusual position of fighting an effort by anti-indecency groups to thwart channels offering racy programming.

The issue involves a debate over whether cable companies should continue offering subscribers mainstream and niche channels in bundles, or let them buy what they want on an a la carte basis.

Consumer groups are pushing to let people choose their channels rather than pay for ones they don't watch. One Federal Communications Commission study showed people on average regularly watch only 17 of the more than 100 cable channels they typically receive.

But what started largely as a consumer issue has now morphed into a larger controversy involving whether cable operators should be required to continue exposing subscribers to niche channels, including religious ones, that people might not order on their own.

"We don't just want to preach to the choir; we want to reach the unchurched," said Paul Crouch Jr. of Trinity Broadcast Network in Santa Ana. "The bottom line is that we want to be everywhere on cable."
The rest

Dad Outraged Over ISU Policy Allowing Cohabiting Resident Staff
By Jim Brown and Jenni Parker
November 29, 2005

(AgapePress) - Some parents with students at Illinois State University want the school to reverse its policy permitting professional staff to engage in unmarried cohabitation in student dormitories.

One father, Greg Myers, says he was outraged to learn that the school's Student Affairs Office allowed his daughter's dorm supervisor to cohabitate with his girlfriend in ISU's Watterson Hall.
Myers' daughter, a senior at ISU, is a resident assistant in the dorm. Like her father, she objects to the staff cohabitation policy because of her Christian beliefs. The university's Housing Services office also permits staff members with same-sex romantic partners to live together in student dorms.
The rest

Swedish Pastor Accused of Hate Crimes Not Guilty
Christian groups were grateful that a Pentecostal pastor in Sweden was found not guilty of hate speech charges stemming from 2003 comments he made for criticising homosexuality.
Posted: Wednesday, November 30 , 2005, 10:02 (UK)

Christian groups were grateful that a Pentecostal pastor in Sweden was found not guilty of hate speech charges stemming from 2003 comments he made for criticising homosexuality.

Pastor Ake Green, who had denounced homosexuality as a "cancerous tumor" in comments from the pulpit and had been scheduled to serve for one month in prison, was acquitted by the Supreme Court in Stockholm under protection of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“Pastor Green was preaching straight from the Bible on the moral degradation of homosexual behaviour,” said Robert Knight, Director of the Culture and Family Institute for Concerned Women for America. Knight noted that Green was warning his congregation against "what God clearly calls sin" and invited others to repent like any other sinners.

At the centre of the controversy were Hate Crime laws passed by Swedish lawmakers in 2003. In the summer of the year, Green was arrested at his church and charged with “hate speech against homosexuals.” Prosecutors had sought to increase the sentence to six months in jail, even as the case began drawing attention from all over the world.
The rest

'Extinct' Parish Challenges U.S. Episcopal Church, Refuses Handover
Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2005
Posted: 11:56:35AM EST

The Episcopal Diocese of Rochester is asking for the keys to the church property of a parish that was recently dissolved in its opposition to the denomination's homosexual agenda.

All Saints Episcopal Church in Rochester, N.Y., now declared "extinct," refused to give up its property despite its being dismissed from the diocese for not paying its dues.

"He (Bishop Jack McKelvy) asked for the keys to the church," said Attorney Raymond Dague, who will represent All Saints if sued by the diocese, according to Agape Press. "He wanted possession of it; he wanted to install his pastor there. And we politely told him, 'No, you're not going to do that.'"

After the 2003 ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson – a practicing homosexual – in New Hampshire, conservative member churches were outraged. All Saints halted its annual payment to the diocese, protesting the denomination's move away from Scripture and the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Rochester congregation offered an alternative of putting the money in an escrow account until 2006, when the homosexual agenda would be assessed at the Episcopal National Conference. The diocese council rejected the offer. Rochester's Episcopal diocese voted on Nov. 19 to dissolve All Saints with its assets to be turned over to the trustees of the diocese.

the rest

Knights entitled to deny lesbians, tribunal says
Wednesday, November 30, 2005

VANCOUVER -- The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruled yesterday that a Roman Catholic men's group, the Knights of Columbus, was entitled to turn away a lesbian couple who wanted to hold a wedding reception in their facility.

But in a decision that upset both sides in the dispute, the three-member tribunal also decided that the Catholic group had affronted the same-sex couple's dignity, feelings and self-respect, and that it should pay $2,000 to the two women to compensate for their injuries.

That incredible shrinking Advent-Christmas season

Twenty-one years in Washington, D.C., should have rendered me impervious to the bizarre. But I confess to having been taken aback in mid-October when, inside a grocery where I was vainly searching for some decent Peccorino Romano, I saw an enormous Christmas display with ersatz snow and all the trimmings. It was bad enough when stores started putting out the Christmas decorations (or, as they now say, “holiday decorations”) a nanosecond after sweeping their shelves of leftover candy corn and other Halloween goodies beloved of dentists with medical school bills to pay. But Santa and the elves two weeks before Halloween?

It works the same way at the other end, so to speak. The estimable Father John Jay Hughes reports that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a feature article last December 26 on how to disassemble and store Christmas decorations. As Father Hughes commented, “In my childhood, thanks to my Anglican priest-father, we were never permitted to put up the tree or any Christmas decorations until Christmas Eve. And once up, they stayed there until at least the Octave of Epiphany” (which, I’d perhaps better note, would be January 13 — if, that is, the bishops hadn’t moved Epiphany from its proper date to a nearby Sunday, a folly surpassed only by the biblical absurdity of Ascension Thursday Sunday).

The rest

Christian hostages called 'spies'
By Sharon Behn
November 30, 2005

BAGHDAD -- Al Jazeera television yesterday aired a video of four aid workers kidnapped over the weekend, apparently being held by a previously unknown terrorist group called the "Swords of Righteousness."

The four -- two Canadians, an American and a Briton, members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) -- sat with their backs against a wall, and looked calm.

A taped statement by the terrorists accused the four of being "spies of the occupying forces." Previous hostages charged with being spies have been beheaded or shot.

The abductions of the four, plus a German woman kidnapped on Friday, is driving up fears that insurgents are expanding their terror campaign to the civilian expatriate population in Iraq in the weeks leading up to the Dec. 15 national elections.
The rest

School bans its pupils from using the C-word
By Ben Hoyle

CHRISTMAS frenzy arrives earlier every year, with tinsel appearing in shop windows in September and Slade playing in supermarkets long before the clocks go back.

But for one headmistress it has become a matter of principle to shield her pupils from the full force of the hype. Sue Lines has won praise from parents for keeping Christmas off the syllabus at Piper’s Vale primary school in Ipswich until December 7.

US abortion rights in the balance?
By Clare Murphy
BBC News

On Wednesday, America's highest court will consider whether a New Hampshire state law which restricts teenagers' access to abortion is constitutional.

If it votes to reinstate the law, the case will mark a fresh limitation on Roe v Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling which established a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy.
But in some states - notably Mississippi - local laws have already rendered the 1973 ruling all but irrelevant.

The southern state of three million has just one abortion clinic - compared with 400 in California. While some hospitals do offer the procedure in extremely limited circumstances, the majority of women wanting an abortion leave the state to get one.

For the US anti-abortion movement, Mississippi is an excellent example of how to achieve the aim of curbing terminations without waiting - potentially in vain - for the Supreme Court to overturn the historic ruling which made them legal.
the rest

The Perverse Logic of Abortion
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Abortion is back as front-page news and is once again in the forefront of the nation's concern. The nomination of Judge Samuel L. Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court's consideration of an important abortion case this week have focused attention on the issue and energized both sides in the controversy.
Nevertheless, the issue of abortion is not merely a major front in the nation's culture war. It is also a deeply personal tragedy. Every single abortion terminates an innocent human life, and each abortion represents an individual moral catastrophe. Yet the vast majority of Americans go about their everyday lives, even as the death toll from abortion continues to rise.
A poignant and chilling perspective on the issue of abortion has been provided by an article published in the November 29, 2005 edition of the Los Angeles Times. In "Offering Abortion, Rebirth," reporter Stephanie Simon takes readers into the life and logic of one of the nation's most notorious abortion providers.
Simon focuses on Dr. William F. Harrison of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Dr. Harrison has performed abortions at his clinic on College Avenue in Fayetteville for more than twenty years. Now, at age seventy, Harrison estimates that he has terminated at least twenty thousand pregnancies.

The rest-Albert Mohler

Professor says sorry for intelligent design email
Associated Press in Kansas
Wednesday November 30, 2005
The Guardian

A University of Kansas professor apologised for an email that referred to religious conservatives as "fundies" and said a course describing intelligent design as mythology would be a "nice slap in their big fat face".

Prof Paul Mirecki's department has removed the reference to mythology in the course title and he said he would teach it "as a serious academic subject".

Intelligent design - the belief that a higher power created the universe - was added to the curriculum after the Kansas education board decided to include more criticism of evolution in science teaching.

High hopes for new archbishop
By Robert Pigott

BBC Religious Affairs correspondent

The Church of England celebrates the appointment of its first black archbishop with a feast of sound and colour at York Minster to inaugurate John Sentamu as Archbishop of York.

What is expected of Ugandan-born Dr Sentamu now he is the Church's second in command?
Never before has an archbishop approached his new cathedral with a fanfare to match John Sentamu's - a boat up the River Ouse to the beat of African drums, a walk through the medieval streets of York to the Minster and a service including a Ugandan dance of rejoicing.

No enthronement has echoed to drums and lilting African songs and then ended with the release of doves and balloons.
The rest

Brazilian Bishops to Canterbury: Don't Allow Reinvention of Communion

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) has written to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams questioning his impartiality over the Recife crisis.

In a Nov. 14 letter, 12 active and retired IEAB bishops defended the deposition of Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti of Recife for “disregard” of his fellow bishops and for performing an illicit confirmation in the Diocese of Ohio in 2004. Bishop Cavalcanti’s trial by the Brazilian House of Bishops conformed to canon law, and should be recognized by the wider Church, they said.

The bishops also defended the deposition without trial of 32 Recife clergy, saying the canons permitted the priests’ removal for “abandoning the communion of this Church” after they had refused to disown Bishop Cavalcanti and support the replacement named by them.

The rest

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Eternal Lord, how faint and small
Our greatest, strongest thoughts must seem
To Thee, who overseest all,
And leads us through Life's shallow stream.

How tangled are our straightest ways;
How dimly flares our brightest star;
How earthbound is our highest praise
To Thee, who sees us as we are.

Our feet are slow where Thine are fast;
Thy kiss of grace meets lips of stone;
And we admit Thy love at last
To hearts that have none of their own.
... Robert MacColl Adams

Rest in the Lord; wait patiently for Him. In Hebrew, "Be silent in God, and let Him mould thee." Keep still, and He will mould thee to the right shape.
... Martin Luther

God on the Internet
Jonathan V. Last

Excerpt: "One hundred and twenty-eight million Americans use the web, and it has been integrated, if only as a formality, into nearly every facet of modern life. Law firms, politicians, manufacturers, charities, elementary schools—one is hard-pressed to find an entity without a web appendage.

This is true even—or perhaps the word is, particularly—for religious life. According to
a 2004 Pew survey, 64 percent of Internet-using Americans—82 million people—say they use the web for religious purposes. They are more likely to be female, white, middle aged, and college educated. Catholics and Jews tend to use the Internet slightly more heavily than Protestants. Half of these users report that they attend church at least once a week."

The rest at First Things-excellent!

Parental Notification for Abortion Faces High Court
Monday, Nov. 28, 2005
Posted: 10:12:50AM EST

Should parents be notified before their underage daughter gets an abortion? That’s the main question the U.S. Supreme Court will be faced with on Wednesday, when it hears a case not focused on the legality of abortion, but what restrictions may be placed on it.

In 2003, the New Hampshire legislature passed a law requiring parental notification 48 hours in advance of the abortion, but a federal appeals court struck down the law because the law did not contain an exception to protect the health of the mother in emergency situations. The law did contain a “judicial bypass” to allow a court to decide if the procedure could go on without parental consent.

Planned Parenthood, an organization which provides women and teens with access to abortions, sued the State of New Hampshire before the law could take effect, arguing that the emergency medical exception was not sufficient. Although the mother’s life would not be at stake, the mother’s health could be severely compromised under that law, the group argued.

Feelings trumping rights
Nov 29, 2005
David Limbaugh

Did you hear about the University of Wisconsin -- Eau Claire (UWEC) banning resident assistants (RAs) from leading Bible studies in their own dormitories? That's the subject of my latest e-mail blast from the ever-vigilant Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

This outrageous, indefensible assault on Christian religious liberties provides a perfect opportunity for the church-state separation crusaders to prove they're really devoted to religious liberty, as they claim. Let's see if they protest.

An UWEC official sent RAs a letter forbidding them from leading Bible studies because students might conclude that such RAs were not "approachable." Don't laugh. Violators, warned the letter, would be subject to disciplinary action. Of course, the letter also purported to prohibit Koran and Torah studies, but it appears such studies were not even at issue.
the rest

Massachusetts Turns in Two Times the Necessary Signatures to Repeal Gay “Marriage” on 2008 Ballot
By Terry Vanderheyden

BOSTON, November 28, 2005 ( – A family advocacy coalition has submitted double the required number of signatures necessary to ensure voters have an opportunity to overturn a 2003 activist court decision by voting on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex “marriage” during the 2008 general election. collected over 120,000 signatures in time for the Wednesday deadline. “I credit this phenomenal effort to thousands of citizen volunteers and over 1,200 communities of faith – including Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim – who have worked tirelessly to give every citizen in the Commonwealth a voice in how marriage is defined in Massachusetts,” said Kris Mineau, president, Massachusetts Family Institute and spokesman,

Presently, 19 states have passed constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Several more have “Defense of Marriage” laws that preclude their states from recognizing same sex marriages and/or civil unions performed in other states. Federally, the Defense of Marriage Law, passed by President Clinton, precludes the federal
government from recognizing same sex marriages.


The Church of Oprah Winfrey--A New American Religion?
Tuesday, November 29, 2005

By any measure, Oprah Winfrey is one of the most successful women in America. Her net worth is now thought to exceed one billion dollars, and her expanding media empire is one of the great success stories of the modern entertainment industry. She recently celebrated the twentieth anniversary of "The Oprah Show," and is committed to a contract that will take the show through its twenty-fifth season. She regularly appears at the top of the "Most Admired Women" listings and has become a cultural icon, complete with her own magazine and product lines. But is there more to the meaning of Oprah Winfrey?

Commentary-Albert Mohler

Narnia True to the Book, Says Hollywood Christian Exec
By Mary Rettig
November 28, 2005

(AgapePress) - An official with an organization that trains Christians for Hollywood says parents need to take their children to see
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when it is released in early December.

The widely acclaimed epic, based on C.S. Lewis' beloved literary classic series The Chronicles of Narnia, opens in theaters on Friday, December 9. The Disney/Walden Media movie, nearly 13 years in the making and rated PG (for battle sequences and "frightening moments," says MPAA), features computer-generated animation and special effects as its transports the audience to the imaginary land of Narnia.
The rest

Stockholm Mosque Calls for Exterminating Jews
17:55 Nov 28, '05 / 26 Cheshvan 5766

( Swedish Radio News (SRN) reported today that a Stockholm mosque is selling cassettes calling for a genocidal holy war against the Jews.

According to SRN, the cover of one of the cassettes shows a picture of the Statue of Liberty draped in a burning American flag.Sales of cassettes promoting genocide are illegal in Sweden. A spokesman for the mosque blamed volunteers for stocking the mosque bookstore with the cassettes.


No more 'holiday' trees at Capitol
By Gary Emerling
November 29, 2005

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert has told federal officials that the lighted, decorated tree on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol -- known in recent years as the "Holiday Tree" -- should be renamed the "Capitol Christmas Tree," as it was called until the late 1990s.

The Capitol's senior landscape architect confirmed the name switch yesterday for The Washington Times.

"It was known as the 'Holiday Tree' for several years and just recently was changed back to the 'Capitol Christmas Tree.' This was a directive from the speaker," said Capitol architect Matthew Evans.

Vatican publishes edict prohibiting ordination of homosexuals
Tue Nov 29, 4:58 AM ET

Vatican published an instruction approved by Pope Benedict XVI banning bishops across the world from ordaining homosexuals into the priesthood.

The prohibition applies to seminarians involved in homosexual practices as well as those displaying "deeply ingrained homosexual tendencies," or those who support "gay culture."

News of the ban first emerged in early November when an Italian newspaper published leaked details of the edict, saying it had been signed by the pope over the summer and drawn up by the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education, which has responsibility for running seminaries.

The leak provoked outrage among some Catholics in Europe and the United States.
The rest

Boston Archbishop to Homosexuals: "Because we love you, we cannot accept your behavior."

By John-Henry Westen

BOSTON, November 28, 2005 ( - Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley wrote a pastoral letter last week calling on Catholics to show true love to persons with homosexual tendencies. This is done he said by telling them that homosexual acts are sinful, he said. Otherwise, the bishop continued, we are dangerously "deceiving people."

After clarifying that the Catholic Church does not tolerate unjust discrimination towards persons with homosexual tendencies, the leader of the Catholic Church in Boston reminded Catholics that although Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, he did however - after saving her life - tell her "Go and sin no more."Story

Monday, November 28, 2005

I saw that the kingdom must be interior before it can be exterior, that it is a kingdom of ideas, and not one of brute force; that His rule is over hearts, not over places; that His victories must be inward before they can be outward; that He seeks to control spirits rather than bodies; that no triumph could satisfy Him but a triumph that gains the heart; that in short, where God really reigns, the surrender must be the interior surrender of the convicted free man, and not merely the outward surrender of the conquered slave.

Hannah Whitall Smith

I lay my head upon Thy infinite heart,
I hide beneath the shelter of Thy wing;
Pursued and tempted, helpless, I must cling
To Thee, my Father; bid me not depart,
For sin and death pursue,
And Life is where Thou art!


ROCHESTER, NY: Gay priest speaks out about Episcopal Church controversy
by Joylynn Whitfield

"I really don't give my sexuality a second thought here. I think for the most part my parishioners don't either. To them I' m a Priest, and I happen to be gay," said Rev. Michael Hopkins.

Father Michael Hopkins pastors St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene in Downtown Rochester. He has a personal interest in the current debate over church and sexuality.

"I understand there are going to be people in my church who don't agree with me, in fact who don't think I should be ordained," said Rev. Hopkins.

Among them are the members of the All Saints congregation in Irondequoit. All Saints was kicked out of the diocese because it refused to make its annual payment to the Diocese after the national Episcopal Church supported the ordaining of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003.

The rest at Virtueonline

Hannity igniting revolt against left-wing profs
Sick of indoctrination, Sean urges students to expose propaganda
Posted: November 28, 20051:00 a.m. Eastern
By Joe Kovacs

College students bombarded with the personal political views of their professors are being urged by talk-show host
Sean Hannity to fight back with hard evidence of purported indoctrination.
"All you college kids out there, check your state laws, check your campus laws," said Sean Hannity on his national radio program.
"Get your little tape recorders if legal, and I want you to start recording these left-wingers. Bring it to this program and we'll start airing it every single time on this program. I'm sick of this indoctrination. I'm sick of this left-wing propaganda."

The naked truth on campus
Nov 28, 2005by
Suzanne Fields

College has always been about pranks, the more bizarre the better. Swallowing goldfish shocked the home folks in Grandpa's day. Panty raids scandalized generations that followed, and then came stuffing a half-dozen co-eds, as the young women were once quaintly called, into a telephone booth. (Ain't we got fun?)
Stealing panties is hardly shocking when boys and girls live together, sharing bedrooms, bathrooms, closets and everything else, no doubt occasionally even panties. Animal-rights fanatics would shut down the campus now if someone even suggested snacking on a goldfish. Everybody's got a cell phone, and no one can remember a telephone booth.
Nevertheless, Joe College and Carolyn Campus must find something dumb enough to shock the grown-ups who pay the bills. The difference is that pranksters on the contemporary campus take the prank seriously, mixing political perversity with sexual exhibitionism. Or is it mixing sexual perversity with political exhibitionism? Students at Columbia University, for example, ape contemporaries at Yale and Brown with a bash with only one rule, that everything you wear to the party has to be left at the door.
The rest

Ireland's Largest University Prevents Abortion Survivor Speaking
DUBLIN, Ireland, November 28, 2005

( - Gianna Jessen, a 28-year-old woman who survived a saline abortion when she was 7 months in utero, has been prevented from speaking at Ireland's largest university - University College Dublin (UCD).

Despite her cerebral palsy, which she has described as a gift and is a legacy of the abortion, Jessen has traveled the world with her powerful testimony. She is living evidence of the humanity of the unborn child and the fact that abortion takes a human life.

'Ultrasound', the pro-life student network formed by the pro-life group Youth Defence, was delighted when Jessen agreed to undertake a tour of Irish colleges. Bookings and arrangements were made and materials printed and distributed in Ireland's largest universities.
The rest

Battles have put the court in Christmas
By Eric Gorski Denver Post Staff Writer

Somewhere at an undisclosed location in Denver is a symbol of the city's truce in the Christmas wars.

Workers with the Downtown Denver Partnership, with the guidance of Protestant and Catholic leaders who are paying the bill, are finishing off a new float for the annual Parade of Lights this Friday and Saturday.

No twinkling candy canes, Santa Claus or Frosty the Snowman here. This float will re-create the scene of Jesus' birth, complete with sequined angels and a swaddled doll as the Christ child.

The private, downtown booster group caved to community pressure and lifted a ban on religious entries this year after a proposed float by Faith Bible Chapel of Arvada was turned away a year ago, creating a controversy that attracted national attention.

A Postmodernist Before His Time -- Thomas Jefferson on Jesus
Monday, November 28, 2005

The effort to separate the "Jesus of History" from the "Christ of Faith" is one of the hallmarks of theological liberalism -- and a point of contact between liberal theology and postmodern secularism. Made famous by successive "quests" for a merely historical Jesus, this effort represents an attempt to recover Jesus as a figure in history, stripped of all claims to deity.

The Jesus presented by those committed to this methodology is not the incarnate Son of God, deity in human flesh. To the contrary, he is a Judean folk philosopher, a radical religious reformer, or a teacher of enlightened morality.

The miracles, claims to deity, and supernatural dimensions are simply denied -- relegated to those who believe in the "Christ of faith." Out are the virgin birth, all miracles and healings, the resurrection, and the forgiveness of sins. What remains is a secularized and humanized Jesus -- a religious teacher whose teachings may still retain value -- not the Christ of historic biblical Christianity.

The rest-Albert Mohler

In Philippines, watchful eye on converts
Most are peaceful, but some former Christians help Islamic terrorists, slipping by police.
By Simon Montlake
Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Four years ago, Joey Ledesma went home and told his mother, a devout Roman Catholic, that he had "returned" to Islam.

Her reaction was shock and anger; they argued and fought. In the room where he prayed, she stuck pictures of the Virgin Mary to the wall facing Mecca. A cousin asked him, "Why are you acting so crazy? You're one of us."

Mr. Ledesma, who now calls himself Yousuf, has since separated from his Catholic wife after a tug-of-war over the religious upbringing of their young son.

As his family ties frayed, Ledesma found a stronger sense of community and purpose at the mosque. In particular, he bonded with other converts, known as 'Balik Islam,' or returnees to Islam. Their shared belief is that Filipinos were originally Muslims before Spanish colonizers imposed Catholicism, so they are returning to their faith.
The rest

Reformers work to rid 'diet of hate' from Muslim textbooks
November 27, 2005

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Page after page, self-appointed hate hunters underline passages in Pakistani schoolbooks.

They flag hard-edged Muslim views toward other faiths, such as those describing past efforts by Hindus and Christians to ''erase'' Muslims. They note sections that speak of martyrdom and the duty to battle perceived religious enemies.

''We are fighting for the future of Islam. Children are sometimes being force-fed a diet of hate, anger and intolerance,'' said Ahmad Salim, leader of a campaign to push Pakistan's education system to remove what activists consider extreme language and images from the curriculum.

Charity cash for Palestinian poor was siphoned to suicide bombers
By Eric Silver in Jerusalem
Published: 28 November 2005

Millions of pounds donated by British and other European charities to help the Palestinian poor were unwittingly diverted to fund terror and support the families of suicide bombers, Israeli prosecutors claimed yesterday.

Ahmed Salatna, 43, a Hamas activist from the West Bank town of Jenin, was remanded in custody by a military court charged with distributing €9m (£6.2m) for such purposes over the past nine years. The recipients are alleged to have included the family of a young man who blew himself up at the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem in August 2001, killing 15 people and wounding 107. Hamas and Islamic Jihad acknowledged responsibility.
the rest

John Gibson Is Right About The War on Christmas
November 27, 2005 11:58 PM EST
By Michael J. Gaynor

On the first Sunday after Thanksgiving 2005 I visited Manhattan to go to Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral and to see the displays in the front windows of two famous Fifth Avenue department stores, Lord & Taylor and Sax Fifth Avenue.

The windows were artistically decorated, but certainly not for Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, not children's fairy tales or general concepts.

The Lord & Taylor windows were dedicated to fairy tales, like Rumpelstiltskin, The Princess and the Pea, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Snow White was there, but not the Virgin Mary. There were a few decorated trees in some of the windows, but no Jesus, not even the word Christmas. It was the same at Sax, where the windows focused on concepts like unity, harmony and beauty. Nothing about Christmas.
The rest

The landlord, the saint, the archbishop and the holiday
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

A PATRIOTIC pub landlord will go to the High Court today in his battle to get St George’s Day recognised as a national holiday.
Tony Bennett, of the Otter pub in Thorpe Marriott, near Norwich, is seeking leave for a judicial review to challenge the decision of magistrates who refused him a late licence to celebrate St George’s Day on April 23 this year.

The case will be heard just days after Dr John Sentamu, the new Archbishop of York, also called for St George’s Day to be celebrated properly by the English. Uganda-born Dr Sentamu, who will be enthroned at York Minster on Wednesday as Britain’s first black archbishop, gave warning of the dangers of multiculturalism. He told The Times that the English should show more pride in their national culture.

Wicca's World
Looking Into the Pagan Phenomenon

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, NOV. 26, 2005 ( Witchcraft is moving into the mainstream in the Netherlands. A Dutch court has ruled that the costs of witchcraft lessons can be tax-deductible, the Associated Press reported Oct. 31.

The previous month, the Leeuwarden District Court confirmed the legal right to write off the costs of schooling -- including in witchcraft -- against tax bills. The costs can be substantial, according to one witch interviewed for the article.

Margarita Rongen runs the "Witches Homestead" in a northern province. Her workshops cost more than $200 a weekend, or more than $2,600 for a full course. Rongen claims she has trained more than 160 disciples over the past four decades.

In England, meanwhile, Portsmouth's Kingston Prison has hired a pagan priest to give spiritual advice to three inmates serving life sentences, the Telegraph reported Nov. 1. The prisoners have converted to paganism and, according to prison rules, are allowed a chaplain in the same way as those with Christian or other religious faiths. Denying them a pagan chaplain would infringe their human rights, said John Robinson, the prison governor.
The rest

Attacks leave churches gutted and religious minorities living in fear
Mob's rampage in Pakistan after rumours of Qur'an desecration worries communities that usually live in peace
Declan Walsh in Sangla Hill
Monday November 28, 2005
The Guardian

The enraged mob had already scaled the walls of the Roman Catholic compound in Sangla Hill as Fr Samson Dilawar hurriedly ushered his charges to safety.

Nuns, teachers and 23 terrified schoolgirls crammed into a small upstairs room of the besieged convent as more than 1,500 men, incensed by rumours of Qur'an desecration, swarmed outside. Fr Dilawar watched from the roof as they smashed the altar of the parish church, tore up copies of the Bible and shattered the stained-glass windows. They sprayed fuel over his house and a girls' school next door. Minutes later flames were licking the walls and black smoke filled the sky.

Finally they crashed through the heavy convent door, sending the priest running for safety into the room where nine nuns were praying. "They tried to break the door down but did not succeed. Otherwise we could have all been killed," he said. The rest

Roman women are converts to convents
By Hilary Clarke in Rome
(Filed: 28/11/2005)

Growing numbers of educated Italian women are throwing away their high heels and lipstick and opting for the austere life of nuns in closed convents.

A surprising 550 women in Rome chose to withdraw to cloisters this year compared with 350 two years ago, it emerged at a conference organised by the Vicariate of Rome and Italy's Union of Mother Superiors (Usmi).

Most of the country's 7,500 cloistered nuns have traditionally come from regions such as the Marches, making the sudden rise in the city of la dolce vita even more surprising.

Until recently, most women entering closed convents in Rome were third world immigrants with little education. Now the recruits are all Italians with university degrees.

"They are realising that what the world has to offer to them is not all it is made out to be," said Sister Pieremilia Bertolin, the secretary general of Usmi.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

O Jesus, Splendor of eternal glory, Consolation of the pilgrim soul, with You my lips utter no sound and to You my silence speaks. How long will my Lord delay His coming? Let Him come to His poor servant and make him happy. Let Him put forth His hand and take this miserable creature from his anguish. Come, O come, for without You there will be no happy day or hour, because You are my happiness and without You my table is empty. I am wretched, as it were imprisoned and weighted down with fetters, until You fill me with the light of Your presence, restore me to liberty, and show me a friendly countenance. Let others seek instead of You whatever they will, but nothing pleases me or will please me but You, my God, my Hope, my everlasting Salvation. I will not be silent, I will not cease praying until Your grace returns to me and You speak inwardly to me, saying: "Behold, I am here. Lo, I have come to you because you have called Me. Your tears and the desire of your soul, your humility and contrition of heart have inclined Me and brought Me to you."

Lord, I have called You, and have desired You, and have been ready to spurn all things for Your sake. For You first spurred me on to seek You. May You be blessed, therefore, O Lord, for having shown this goodness to Your servant according to the multitude of Your mercies.

Thomas a Kempis
The Imitation of Christ

Believers must stay connected even amid discord

(November 27, 2005) — He chose his words carefully. There was pain and sorrow in his eyes. Two days before the "extinction" vote, the Rev. David Harnish, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Irondequoit, knew the odds were against the parish — which had refused to pay more than $16,000 in required contributions to the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester.

Long-story-short: All Saints parishioners and their pastor believe that the Episcopal Church of the USA has seriously strained "the bonds of affection" with the worldwide Anglican Communion because of its decision in 2003 to confirm the election of Bishop V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. Robinson is a gay cleric with a partner.

In response to the American bishops' decision, the Anglican Communion in 2004 produced the Windsor Report, aimed primarily at preserving unity. It recommended that the U.S. Episcopal church apologize for having caused pain within the Anglican Communion, that it accept a moratorium on future bishops who are living in gay relationships, and that it offer a theological explanation for its actions.

The U.S. Episcopal Church is "pushing too hard, too fast," Harnish says.

The rest at Connecticut Six

Christians Worldwide Mark First Day of Advent
Sunday, Nov. 27, 2005
Posted: 10:35:05AM EST

Christians worldwide will be observing the first day of the season of Advent today, marking the time for reflection, introspection and preparation leading up to Christmas.

Advent, the liturgical period preceding Christmas, begins in Western churches on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and in Eastern churches in mid-November, and observed by many Christians as a season of prayer, fasting, and penitence.

In recent years, many churches have started to treat the season of Advent as a December version of Lent, the 40 days of prayer and fasting leading up to Easter. Advent concerts, retreats, prayer services and penitential services have become common in many Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Episcopal churches, as well as some Presbyterian and Methodist churches.
The rest

Boston Confirms Christmas Tree Not 'Holiday Tree'
Sunday, Nov. 27, 2005
Posted: 12:15:47PM EST

One day after being threatened with a lawsuit over the name change of the city’s Christmas tree to a “holiday tree,” Boston city officials were quick to confirm the tree’s title as the former.

"This is a Christmas tree," insisted Boston Parks Commissioner Toni Pollak, according to the Boston Herald. "It's definitely a Christmas tree.”

The controversy sparked in the Beantown after the name of the 14-foot Christmas tree donated by Novia Scotia was changed just before the city’s “official holiday tree lighting,” thus prompting conservative Christian lawyers to press for the name to be changed back.

The matter was brought to the attention of city officials by Dr. Jerry Falwell and the Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal group that has vowed to take legal action against the spreading of “misinformation” to city and government officials.

'Youth Explosion' Engages Hip-Hop Generation in Church through Culture
Sunday, Nov. 27, 2005
Posted: 1:35:55PM EST

NEW YORK – A youth ministry in Queens, known for its 700 regular attendees, kicked off its conference Friday night with a "Youth Explosion" concert. The subject of the three-day conference was how to use culture to impact an "unreached generation."

At Christ Tabernacle in Glendale, N.Y., a DJ spinning beats, two couches on the stage, and a line snaking out the door and down the block were typical sights for a Friday night. But this Friday was a special one. It was a concert, and adults were invited.

Close to 200 youth ministers and 800 kids came out for "Youth Explosion," Nov. 25-27. On the first night of the three-day conference, the crowd was treated to an earful of R&B, rap, and hip hop lyrics and grind. The music was accompanied by a message from youth pastor, Adam Durso, who told youth ministers to rely on the Holy Spirit, engage the youths, and use whatever means necessary.

"We need the baptism of the Spirit of the living God on these young people," said Durso, who also produced the conference and concert.
The rest

Intro to God
'Dummies' and 'Idiot's' religion books prove smart bet for publishers
06:16 PM CST on Friday, November 25, 2005
The Dallas Morning News

Why would publishers risk offending deeply pious or intellectually prickly Americans with book titles such as The Koran for Dummies and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Jesus?
It's the economy, stupid.

Religion books are big business, and time has shown there's a market for mildly irreverent, user-friendly guides to the major faiths, sacred texts, crucial figures such as Jesus and the Buddha, and related topics such as fasting, prayer and meditation. Most readers don't seem to mind that a Dummies book on a holy book comes in the same format as those for operating Windows XP, building a deck or improving one's sexual technique.

John Trigilio hears about once a month from older Catholics upset that he and fellow priest Kenneth Brighenti wrote Catholicism for Dummies . Far more often, he hears back positively from readers in and outside the faith.

And there are a lot of them.
The rest

Strong Earthquake Shakes Southern Iran, Killing 10 People and Flattening Seven Villages
Sunday, November 27, 2005 12:50:21 PM

An earthquake measuring at least magnitude-5.9 shook a sparsely populated area of southern Iran on Sunday, flattening seven villages and killing 10 people, officials said. The temblor was felt as far away as Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

Heidar Alishvandi, the governor of Qeshm, was quoted by state-run television as saying rescue teams were deployed to the affected area and people in the wrecked villages moved quickly to safely.

Another provincial official, Ghasem Karami, told The Associated Press that high casualties were not expected because the area was not heavily developed.

Tehran's seismologic center said the quake measured magnitude-5.9, but the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., said it was a magnitude-6.1 temblor. A magnitude-6.0 quake can cause severe damage.

Fifty babies a year are alive after abortion
Lois Rogers

A GOVERNMENT agency is launching an inquiry into doctors’ reports that up to 50 babies a year are born alive after botched National Health Service abortions.

The investigation, by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH), comes amid growing unease among clinicians over a legal ambiguity that could see them being charged with infanticide.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which regulates methods of abortion, has also mounted its own investigation.

Its guidelines say that babies aborted after more than 21 weeks and six days of gestation should have their hearts stopped by an injection of potassium chloride before being delivered. In practice, few doctors are willing or able to perform the delicate procedure.
The rest

Might I, um, talk to you about, er, God? No? Right. I’ll do the flower rota instead
. . .By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

BRITAIN’S Protestant clergy are too shy to go out to convert people to Christianity, according to research that will be published next month.

A survey of Anglican, Baptist and Methodist clergy by the Right Rev Michael Whinney, retired Bishop of Southwell, showed that most were sensitive introverts who lacked the characteristics to be “out there” in the community.

“One wonders about the stressful element of this type of work for the introverted majority in church leadership,” Bishop Whinney said. “This begs the question as to how effective is the system for choosing and placing ministers in churches.”

On starting out, most ministers would consider evangelism as part of what they were expected to do. Over the years, clergy of all denominations can become bogged down in running services, dealing with the organist and keeping the church roof rain-proof. The march of secularism means many also despair over their young dreams of the reconversion of England.

The rest

Giant mosque for 40,000 may be built at London Olympics

A MASSIVE mosque that will hold 40,000 worshippers is being proposed beside the Olympic complex in London to be opened in time for the 2012 Games.

The project’s backers hope the mosque and its surrounding buildings would hold a total of 70,000 people, only 10,000 fewer than the Olympic stadium. Its futuristic design features wind turbines instead of the traditional minarets, while a translucent latticed roof would replace the domes seen on most mosques. The complex is designed to become the “Muslim quarter” for the Games, acting as a hub for Islamic competitors and spectators.

“It will be something never seen before in this country. It is a mosque for the future as part of the British landscape,” said Abdul Khalique, a senior member of Tablighi Jamaat, a worldwide Islamic missionary group that is proposing the mosque as its new UK headquarters.

The rest

SA church on horns of ox dilemma

Animal anti-cruelty officials in South Africa have locked horns with the Anglican Church over plans to slaughter an ox at a church ceremony.

St Peter's Church in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, plans to slaughter the beast to mark the inauguration of the newly created False Bay diocese.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has expressed concern over the animal's welfare.

The priest at the church accused the SPCA of disregarding African tradition.

"People must not impose their views and norms or beliefs on African people," Rev Zolile Sogiba said.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

God has brought us into this time; He, and not ourselves or some dark demon. If we are not fit to cope with that which He has prepared for us, we would have been utterly unfit for any condition that we imagine for ourselves. We are to live and wrestle in this time, and in no other. Let us humbly, tremblingly, manfully look at it, and we shall not wish that the sun could go back its ten degrees, or that we could go back with it. If easy times are departed, it is that the difficult times may make us more in earnest; that they may teach us not to depend on ourselves. If easy belief is impossible, it is that we may learn what belief is, and in whom it is to be placed.

Frederick Denison Maurice

He has not made us for nought; He has brought us thus far, in order to bring us further, in order to bring us on to the end. He will never leave us nor forsake us; so that we may boldly say, "The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me." We "may cast all our care upon Him who careth for us." What is it to us how our future path lies, if it be but His path? What is it to us whither it leads us, so that in the end it leads to Him? What is it to us what He puts upon us, so that He enables us to undergo it with a pure conscience, a true heart, not desiring anything of this world in comparison of Him? What is it to us what terror befalls us, if He be but a hand to protect and strengthen us?

John Henry Newman

Lord, help us to remember it is all about You. Our duty is to trust You implicitly, to listen to Your voice in Scripture and in prayer, to cast out all fear and to be humbly bold in Your service. In Jesus. Amen.

Christian Legal Group Asks Judge to Drop Conn. Gay Marriage Case

A Christian legal group based in Washington, D.C., is asking a Connecticut court to drop a lawsuit that would redefine marriage to include same-sex partners.

The American Center for Law and Justice issued a “friend of the court” document on Wednesday with a superior court in New Haven, Conn., asking the judge to dismiss the Kerrigan v. The State of Connecticut, et.

The case was filed in the New Haven court last year by seven homosexual couples who said “civil unions” that confer the same legal benefits of marriage were not enough for those who seek to have the same legal benefits as heterosexual married couples and seek for society to recognize that their union is a marriage, denoting a life long commitment with the purpose, in several instances, of raising children.

The rest at Connecticut Six

Arabic Christian channel a hit?
By Julia Duin
November 26, 2005

The founder of the nation's first Arabic Christian TV channel says the programming is attracting phone inquiries from curious Muslims.

The Southern California-based channel Alkarma, whose name means "the vineyard" in Arabic, premiered Oct. 17. It is the brainchild of Samuel Estefanos, an Egyptian-born businessman.

The channel gets 10 to 15 calls a day from Arabic speakers with Muslim surnames who are intrigued that Alkarma would give away a movie known as the "Jesus Film" and other materials.

"Some of them call and say they are Muslims and need to know more about Christ," Mr. Estefanos said. "Other people are Christians but say they don't know anything about Christ. In the Middle East, even though if your religion says 'Christian' on your identity card, that does not mean that you know Christ."

Mr. Estefanos invested about $200,000, much of it his own money, to purchase airtime and equipment for the 24-hour channel. The station still needs about $40,000 a month to operate. Total contributions so far total about $10,000 a month.
The rest

New Reports Tell of Executions, Torture of Christians in North Korea
New reports from former North Korean eye-witnesses indicate that the totalitarian government tortures, executes Christians and people related to the faith.
Posted: Saturday, November 26 , 2005, 16:13 (UK)

New reports from former North Korean eye-witnesses indicate that the totalitarian government tortures, executes Christians and people related to the faith.

In the last two weeks, reports from defectors have offered the world a glimpse of the oppressive and fearful conditions inside North Korea.

The Associated Press (AP) on Tuesday released an article about the experience of a former North Korean prisoner. Kim Chol-soo, the pseudonym adopted by the prisoner to protect relatives in North Korea, said that he witnessed the death of many fellow prisoners due to excessive work and starvation, including a former defector beaten to death for contacting Christians in China.

“Most people died of malnutrition and its complications,” said Kim, according to AP, noting that prisoners only receive 21 ounces of food per day – a starvation ration. The ex-inmate is a survivor of the prison camp at Yodok, about 70 miles northwest of Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea.

Another eyewitness, a 30-year-old North Korean defector, told the L.A. Times that in 1996, five middle-aged men accused of running an illegal church were forced to lie on the ground as a steam roller crushed them. The rest

Indonesian Sunday School Teachers Lose Appeal
The three Sunday school teachers in Indonesia sentenced to three years in prison for allegedly converting young Muslim children to Christianity have lost their appeal to have their sentences overturned.
Posted: Saturday, November 26 , 2005, 11:12 (UK)

International Christian Concern has reported, from Indonesian sources, that the three Sunday school teachers in Indonesia imprisoned in India have lost their appeal to have their three-year sentences overturned.

Dr. Rebekka Zakaria, Eti Pangesti and Ratna Bangun. had run a popular Sunday school program in which several Muslim children participated in after obtaining parental consent.

Despite Indonesia’s constitution guaranteeing religious freedom, as well as the right to propagate that religion, Islamic radicals have succeeding in pushing through the legislature laws intended to prevent the spread of Christianity.

The women were sentenced in a court case which, according to reports, had seen the regular intimidation of the judges and the women if they were not found guilty, after a local Islamic group brought charges against the three women for breaking the “Child Protection Act.”

Christian Freedom International’s President, Jim Jacobson, visited the women in the prison in the Indramayu district of West Java where he found them living in conditions of squalor. Story

Proposed Religion Class in Kansas Labels Intelligent Design as 'Mythology'
Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005
Posted: 10:45:04AM EST

The intelligent design theory is going to be studied at the University of Kansas next semester, but not in the way advocated by supporters of the alternative to the evolution theory.

The course, to be offered by the university religious studies department, is titled "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies" and will explore intelligent design as a modern American mythology.

"To equate intelligent design to mythology is really an absurdity, and it's just another example of labeling anybody who proposes [intelligent design] to be simply a religious nut," said John Calvert, an attorney and managing director of the Intelligent Design Network in Johnson County, Kan., according to the Associated Press. "That's the reason for this little charade."

Paul Mirecki, chairman of the university religious studies department, however insisted that intelligent design, like creationism, is mythology.
The rest

Vermont High School Teacher Accused of Administering Biased, 'Liberal' Vocabulary Quiz
Friday, November 25, 2005 04:59:20 PM

A high school teacher is facing questions from administrators after giving a vocabulary quiz that included digs at President Bush and the extreme right.

Bret Chenkin, a social studies and English teacher at Mount Anthony Union High School, said he gave the quiz to his students several months ago. The quiz asked students to pick the proper words to complete sentences.

One example: "I wish Bush would be (coherent, eschewed) for once during a speech, but there are theories that his everyday diction charms the below-average mind, hence insuring him Republican votes." "Coherent" is the right answer.

Principal Sue Maguire said she hoped to speak to whomever complained about the quiz and any students who might be concerned. She said she also would talk with Chenkin. School Superintendent Wesley Knapp said he was taking the situation seriously.

"It's absolutely unacceptable," Knapp said. "They (teachers) don't have a license to hold forth on a particular standpoint."

HIV Escalating: 20% Increase in Canada; Doubles to 40 Million World-Wide
By Terry Vanderheyden and Steve Jalsevac
OTTAWA, November 25, 2005

( – There are now almost 58,000 people with HIV in Canada, up 20% from 2000, according to recently released figures from the United Nations and World Health Organization.

Homosexual sex accounted for the majority of new cases, at 45%, while 25% of new cases were in women, the report said. Ten years ago only 10% of new cases were in women. Heterosexual sex accounted for 30% of new cases, with intravenous drug use responsible for the remainder. Young women aged 15 to 29 were particularly affected, accounting for 42% of the new HIV cases in women, up from 13 percent 20 years ago.

A growing phenomena is the spread of HIV to women by so-called bi-sexual men who pass on infections acquired by homosexual sex to women sexual partners. In the United States this is said to be an especially serious problem among black Americans.
The rest

CNY Diocese: Local paper reviews the highlights of The Diocesan Convention
from the Syracuse, NY Post-Standard
Saturday, November 26, 2005

by Renee K. Gadoua

Some excerpts:

At least two local Episcopal clergy appear to be fans of the English author, G.K. Chesterton.

The Rev. David T. Andrews concluded a brief presentation about the upcoming national Episcopal General Convention with an excerpt from the end of Chesterton's book, "Orthodoxy."

Andrews' comments came during last Saturday's session of the two-day annual convention of the Central New York Diocese of the Episcopal Church at the Holiday Inn in Salina.

A few hours later, Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams referred to the same quotation during his sermon and convention address at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral.

Coincidence? Or, as Adams said, a sign that "great minds think alike?"

The repetitive Chesterton reference - on the value of joy and mirth - provided a welcome light moment to a day that included concerns about financial struggles, personnel issues and allusions to the threatened status of the worldwide Anglican Church.

Chesterton, the English author and convert to Roman Catholicism, died in 1936. He wrote poetry and essays and is perhaps best known for his mystery series featuring Father Brown.

The section Andrews and Adams mentioned comes from the ending of Chesterton's 1908 book, which is considered part spiritual memoir and part defense of Orthodox Christianity.

"Joy," Chesterton wrote, "is the gigantic secret of the Christian."

Andrews, a local deputy to General Convention and rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Chittenango, urged about 350 people at the local convention to learn from Chesterton's observation.

"Let us share with Chesterton and follow a Lord who loves us even when we make mistakes and will keep on loving us," Andrews said. "Let us show by our ability to listen that we can and will be a place of joy and live our lives with a grateful heart that is open and vulnerable to love."

Another excerpt:
Lest anyone doubt the Episcopal Church reflects diversity, consider the numerous shades of orange at last week's convention. The convention packet alone included paper in three versions: one reminiscent of elementary school fliers, one a deep autumnal tone and a third a peachy orange.

Wardrobe choices of convention attendees created a rainbow. (Who are we mere mortals to judge if colors clash?)

Two women who work in the diocesan offices looked sharp, wearing black pants and black jackets over orange tops. A few SU caps were on tables, and one man wore a bright SU winter scarf all day. Others wore ties of varying orange hues, and women sported numerous orange expressions, including abstract and foliage prints.

Organizers chose orange not in honor of Syracuse University sports, but as a sign of the church's light, said Judy Fried, secretary of convention.

One delegate brought orange to the convention in an unusual way. She frequently picked up a pair of scissors with orange handles, which she used to cut thread while doing needlework as she listened to speakers.
Full article here

Here is the unedited quote from Chesterton's Orthodoxy:
"Joy, which is the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian."

It is hard not be overwhelmed by some of the sheer banality of the CNY diocesan convention. Did a church which considers itself "inclusive" not want to offend pagans? And with all the weighty issues confronting this diocese, ECUSA and the Anglican Communion, is the focus on the color theme the best that could be said? -PD

Another account written of what happened during the convention: Here

Friday, November 25, 2005

If New Testament Christianity is to reappear today with its power and joy and courage, men must recapture the basic conviction that this is a Visited planet. It is not enough to express formal belief in the "Incarnation" or in the "Divinity of Christ"; the staggering truth must be accepted afresh -- that in this vast, mysterious universe, of which we are an almost infinitesimal part, the great Mystery, Whom we call God, has visited our planet in Person. It is from this conviction that there springs unconquerable certainty and unquenchable faith and hope. It is not enough to believe theoretically that Jesus was both God and Man; not enough to admire, respect, and even worship Him; it is not even enough to try to follow Him. The reason for the insufficiency of these things is that the modern intelligent mind, which has had its horizons widened in dozens of different ways, has got to be shocked afresh by the audacious central Fact -- that, as a sober matter of history, God became one of us.

J.B. Phillips

Christ is the Son of God. He died to atone for men's sin, and after three days rose again. This is the most important fact in the universe. I die believing in Christ.

Watchman Nee - Note found under his pillow, in prison, at his death.

Charles Moore - The Meaning Of Advent (From the Daily Dig)
— Brad Drell @ 9:02 am

From this site:
Though Advent (literally “arrival”) has been observed for centuries as a time to contemplate Christ’s birth, most people today acknowledge it only with a blank look. For the vast majority of us, December flies by in a flurry of activities, and what is called “the holiday season” turns out to be the most stressful time of the year.

It is also a time of contrasting emotions. We are eager, yet frazzled; sentimental, yet indifferent. One minute we glow at the thought of getting together with our family and friends; the next we feel utterly lonely. Our hope is mingled with dread, our anticipation with despair. We sense the deeper meanings of the season but grasp at them in vain; and in the end, all the bustle leaves us frustrated and drained.

The rest at Drell's Descants

STOCKHOLM: Anglican bishop criticizes Vatican over gays
By Daniel Frykholm

(Reuters) - Gay U.S. Anglican bishop Gene Robinson said on Thursday a Vatican document barring practicing gay men from becoming Roman Catholic priests showed a profound misunderstanding of homosexuality.

The document, due to be published next week, says men with "deep-seated" gay tendencies cannot become priests and that only those who have overcome their homosexuality at least three years before ordination can do so.

"I think the Vatican, or whoever wrote this statement, should spend a little more time listening to its gay and lesbian members rather than putting out statements," said Robinson, having read media reports on the document.

"This strikes me as language from people who profoundly do not understand gay and lesbian people ... who know next to nothing about being gay or lesbian," Robinson, whose ordination as bishop in 2003 plunged the Anglican Church into crisis.

The document reinforces existing Roman Catholic policy that many in the Church believe has not been properly enforced, but Robinson told Reuters during a visit to Stockholm it would only force people to lie about their sexual orientation.

the rest at Virtueonline

Anglican Consultative Council: Church of Canada Remains Important Part of Communion
The Anglican Church of Canada "remains an important part of the Anglican Communion" the Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) has told members of the Canadian Council of General Synod (CoGs).

Posted: Thursday, November 24 , 2005, 7:07 (UK)

The Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) has told members of the Canadian Council of General Synod (CoGs) that the Anglican Church of Canada “remains an important part of the Anglican Communion”.

Bishop John Paterson, of Auckland, New Zealand gave the comments to the CoGs, which will give the Church of Canada renewed hope in its future with the worldwide Anglican body.

Paterson said, “The Communion needs Canada and I believe Canada needs the Communion.”

He also stated that he hoped that the “listening process” that had been laid down, would allow churches throughout the entire Communion to think about and appreciate each others’ differences.

'Pornography': TV's taboo word
Posted: November 25, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern
by Judith Reisman

Following a recent interview for yet another documentary on pornography, I thought of so many things I should have said about pornography.

I had discussed its role as producing impotence, robbing men of their manhood. I had addressed its psychopharmacology as an "erototoxin." I had documented its presence in adultery, divorce, rape, child sex abuse and incest.

Civility, humanity, I said, has always hung by the thinnest of threads. We allow ourselves to be coarsened at the greatest risk. Life in the last five decades should have proven to us all – or at least to any hominoid with a modicum of sense – that the license of licentiousness is always followed by the most heart-rending violence to our bodies and our souls. We can daily see around us that the most vulnerable, the smallest and the weakest pay the price for our arrogance and our appallingly selfish ignorance.
The rest

All Good Gifts
November 25, 2005

We know that Adam's sin was pride, but many of the old English poets stressed the love that his pride repaid with disobedience. In other words, they saw that the fundamental manifestation of pride is ingratitude. So George Herbert portrays Christ reproaching us on His way to Calvary (I'm quoting from memory here):

Then all they do condemn me with that breath
Which I do give them daily, unto death.
Thus Adam my first breathing rendereth:
Was ever grief like mine?

I've been thinking about that verse these last few days. It's easy enough for the Christian to remember to thank God for at least a few of the good things He has given us. We might even remember once in a while to thank God for the breath in our lungs, for our mere existence, since it is with each of us as it was with Adam, that God has taken some dust from the earth and breathed into it, that we might be a living soul.

But Adam in his pride wanted to seize for himself what he saw as a good thing that God had not given him. In his disobedience he showed himself ungrateful for what he was given (since he wanted even more), and ungrateful for what had been withheld from him (since he judged that he might provide for himself a fairer enjoyment of goods). He forgot to thank God for the prohibition. Another way to look at it is that he forgot to praise God for the inequality between himself and his Maker.
The rest