Saturday, February 28, 2009


Thursday February 26, 2009

ISTANBUL, February 26 (Compass Direct News) – In the latest hearing of a Muslim-born Egyptian’s effort to officially convert to Christianity, opposing lawyers advocated he be convicted of “apostasy,” or leaving Islam, and sentenced to death.

More than 20 Islamic lawyers attended the hearing on Sunday (Feb. 22) in Maher Ahmad El-Mo’otahssem Bellah El-Gohary’s case to obtain identification papers with Christianity designated as his religious affiliation. Two lawyers led the charge, Ahmed Dia El-Din and Abdel Al-Migid El-Anani.

“[El-Din] started to talk about the Quran being in a higher position than the Bible,” one of El-Gohary’s lawyers, Said Fayez, told Compass. “[El-Din said] people can move to a higher religion but not down, so people cannot move away from Islam because it is highest in rank.” the rest

Dobson giving up helm of Focus on the Family

By Electa Draper
The Denver Post

Evangelical Christian icon James Dobson has resigned as chairman of the international media ministry Focus on the Family, yet the voice of this key architect of the religious right will still be heard in American homes and political theater, he told followers Friday.

Dobson told the 950 Focus on the Family employees at their monthly chapel services this week that he wasn't "limping away" but stepping aside for a new generation of leaders whom he had handpicked.

Tens of millions of Christian baby boomers grew up listening to the radio broadcasts of this avuncular family therapist with a doctorate in early-childhood development. the rest

Neighbors complain about sexually-oriented temple

by Peter Corbett
Feb. 26, 2009
The Arizona Republic

Police have investigated a sexually oriented temple operating in a downtown Scottsdale home after complaints from neighbors.

Scottsdale police spokesman Sgt. Mark Clark said police visited the Phoenix Goddess Temple last week to investigate a complaint that it was a house of prostitution but could not determine if the allegations were true.

A city zoning code enforcement case, which started in October, is separate from the more recent police visit to the property at 68th Street and Exeter Boulevard. the rest

Phoenix Goddess Temple

Budget debate launches new tea party

February 27, 2009

Several thousand neopatriots – some shouting “Give me liberty or give me death!” – took to the streets in over 30 US cities Friday, representing what some of them call the beginning of a new conservative counterculture in America.

“The spark has been lit,” says Ben Mihalski, a “house husband” from Cobb County, Ga., one of at least 300 protesters who gathered in a hefty downpour outside the Georgia Capitol on Friday to protest what they see as profligate spending by Washington.

Protesters with sign-slogans like “Pillage and plunder: At least the Vikings did it openly” fanned out across capitols and courthouses in cities from Nashville, Tenn., to Los Angeles, objecting to bailouts and policy changes since the inauguration of President Obama.

The Tea Party USA movement also added some symbolic flourish, vowing to gather tens of thousands of tea bags to be dumped on the floor of the US Congress. In Atlanta, the brand was Luzianne. the rest

Michelle Malkin: Tea Party photo album: Fiscal responsibility is the new counterculture

P.B. Consults with White House on Energy Issues

February 27, 2009

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and other members of the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program recently met with Carol M. Browner, who is Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.

Energy conservation and climate change are just two of many topics about which the new administration has sought out the views of The Episcopal Church and other faiths, a policy Bishop Jefferts Schori said was “refreshing and exceeding hopeful.”

Advocacy work is seen by Bishop Jefferts Schori and other leaders in The Episcopal Church as a function of living out the church’s Baptismal Covenant which includes a promise to “strive for justice and peace.” Based on resolutions passed at General Convention and by Executive Council, staff members from The Episcopal Church’s Office of Governmental Relations (OGR) advocate on behalf of social justice policies with the White House and with the U.S. Congress. Maureen Shea is the director of OGR. the rest

Obama to Revoke Bush Abortion Rule Protecting Conscience Rights

Friday February 27, 2009

( - President Barack Obama is poised to rescind a policy that protects the conscience rights of American health care workers.

The controversial rule was put into place as one of the last acts of the Bush administration and came into effect on January 20 of this year, the same day as President Obama's inauguration.

The rule was universally condemned by the pro-abortion lobby who argued that allowing physicians to opt out of controversial services or procedures would endanger women's health.

The policy protects health care workers from being forced to perform and provide controversial services that conflict with their personal, moral and religious beliefs. Without the policy, doctors, nurses and others could be forced to participate in abortions or to dispense the abortifacient morning after pill, even if to do so would violate their core beliefs. the rest

Obama Moves to Undo Rule on Abortion Providers

Catholic priest numbers increase

Saturday, 28 February 2009

The number of priests in the Catholic Church around the world is slowly rising, the Vatican says.

The Holy See presented a statistical yearbook to Pope Benedict XVI, showing an increase of several hundred priests a year since 2000.

Thanks to large increases in Africa and Asia, the number of Catholic priests rose from 405,178 in 2000 to 408,024 in 2007, the report said.

In the previous two decades, the number of priests dropped markedly. the rest

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Devotional: We are not spared dark nights...

We are not spared dark nights. They are clearly necessary, so that we can learn freedom and maturity and above all else a capacity for sympathy with others... A part of every human love is that it is only truly great and enriching if I am ready to deny myself for this other person, to come out of myself, to give of myself. And that is certainly true of our relationship with God, out of which, in the end, all our other relationships must grow. I must begin by no longer looking at myself, but by asking what he wants. I must begin by learning to love. ...Benedict XVI image

Jesus was a reformed racist, says Anglican Church of Canada

By Damian Thompson
Feb 27, 2009

The Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) has published a Lenten reflection that portrays Jesus as a racist who saw the error of his ways after being challenged by the Canaanite woman in Matthew's Gospel. The ACoC was long ago taken over by politically correct bores but, as Anglican Samizdat notes, this "reflection" turns Jesus into a sinner - in Christian terms, a pretty basic heresy. Here's the reflection. Sick-bags at the ready:

“… a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the houseof Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’ ” - Matthew 14:22-27

This not a story for people who need to think that Jesus always had it together, because it looks like we’ve caught him being mean to a lady because of her ethnicity. At first, he ignores her cries. Then he refuses to help her and compares her people to dogs.

But she challenges his prejudice. And he listens to her challenge and grows in response to it. He ends up healing her daughter. What we may have here is an important moment of self-discovery in Jesus’ life, an enlargement of what it will mean to be who he was. Maybe we are seeing Jesus understand his universality for the first time.

Or maybe not. Maybe someone has been on a "racism awareness course" and decided to redefine the divinity of Jesus in a way that flatters ethnic sensibilities. How very Anglican. How very Canadian.
the rest

Priest Calls Social Activism ‘Duty to Our Goddess’

February 26, 2009

The Rev. Luis Barrios, an Episcopal priest canonically resident in the Diocese of New York, was sentenced to serve two months in a federal prison after he and five others were found guilty in January of entering the Fort Benning military base in Georgia as part of a protest against the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. He is scheduled to begin serving his sentence on March 9.

Fr. Barrios and others opponents claim that graduates of the institute, formerly known as the U.S. Army School of the Americas, “have been implicated in some of the worst human rights violations in the Western Hemisphere.” They want the government to order the school closed permanently.

“I will not try to escape the consequences of my actions,” said Fr. Barrios in a statement he submitted to the court as part of his sentencing. “This would do nothing but diminish the validity inherent in these actions of civil disobedience,”

Fr. Barrios is associate priest at St. Mary’s Church, New York City and chairman of the Latin American studies department at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He received written assurance earlier this month from the Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk, Bishop of New York, that his federal conviction would not be considered conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy.

“Though I may disagree with elements of your actions, I consider those actions to be a living out of your vows as a priest rather than a violation of them,” Bishop Sisk said.

In an open letter to supporters after his conviction, Fr. Barrios said that the ultimate goal of his social activism is “being able to organize the religiosity of the people, so they can reach their liberation.” He said it is his “duty to our Goddess to build a better world.”

This is not the first time that Fr. Barrios’ activism has drawn the attention of the diocese. In 1993, he was suspended as priest-in-charge of St. Anne’s in the South Bronx because of several instances of “vocational immaturity,” according to the New York Times. Last June the New York Daily News claimed Fr. Barrios had initiated more than 300 children into the Latin Kings street gang. An investigation by Bishop Sisk determined the allegation to be false.
The Living Church

Burundi archbishop supports Canadian church in opposing cross-border interventions

Marites N. Sison
staff writer
Feb 26, 2009

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has thanked his Burundian counterpart, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, for the Anglican Church of Burundi’s stance against cross-border interventions, notwithstanding its opposition to more liberal views on homosexuality in some churches in Canada.

“I am very grateful for the position that the Anglican Church of Burundi has taken,” said Archbishop Hiltz who met with Archbishop Ntahoturi during the course of his solidarity visit hosted by the diocese of Bujumbura Feb. 12 to 15. “We value our relationship with Burundi and it’s part of the reason why there are young people in our delegation; we would like a building and renewal of relationship.” the rest

Robinson's Consecration is a warning to Catholics

By Ian Hunter
February 25, 2009

Almost lost in the hoopla and hysteria surrounding the presidential inauguration was the particular clergyman chosen by President Barack Obama to pray at the event held Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

The man chosen was Episcopal Bishop Eugene Robinson. This is the same Gene Robinson who abandoned his wife and family to live with his homosexual lover; the same man whose installation as Bishop of New Hampshire split the U.S. church and deepened the schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion; the same Robinson who said that he had studied the prayers offered up at prior inaugurations and was "horrified" at how "specifically and aggressively Christian" they were. Well, no danger this time. "I will be careful not to be especially Christian in my prayers", the Bishop promised.

What a relief. For a moment, I was worried that the ears of the Almighty might be assailed by specifically Christian prayers, but Bishop Gene promised only to address "...the God of our many understandings". I am sure that he did so in suitably inclusive language designed not to offend the great marshmallow in the sky. The God of the Bible might have been offended, but then this pareticular Bishop has long since cast aside that odious collection of preachy fables.
The rest at Virtueonline

'God Only'

Giving up soul care for Lent.
Mark Galli

That's the difference between healthy and neurotic spirituality: What is our first love? Who is our first love? While we are rightly concerned about losing our devotion to Christ because of some "worldly attraction," usually the temptation lies within. The question is not, "Am I spiritual yet?" and not even, "Do I love God?" (for this question in the end is about our love). The question is not a question but a focus: God.

There is a reason Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God. It's not to care for your soul. It's not to practice spirituality. It's not to transform the world or change culture or evangelize the world. All of these things have their place. But the greatest command is to love God.

The little-known 19th-century French nun Lucie Christine described a moment that crystallizes the point of all soul care and spirituality:

Suddenly, I saw before my inward eyes these words — God only … they were at the same time a Light, an Attraction, and a Power. A Light which showed me how I could belong completely to God alone in this world, and I saw that hitherto I had not well understood this; an Attraction by which my heart was subdued and delighted; a Power which inspired me with a generous resolution and somehow placed in my hands the means of carrying it out.

A light, an attraction, and a power unparalleled — God only. So if you are as tempted as I constantly am to take the measure of your soul, you may want to consider abandoning soul care for 40 days, and give your whole attention to the only One worth our obsessive devotion.
the rest image

A.S. Haley: Rushing to Judgment

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In what can be described only as a somewhat terse performance by its collective justices, the California Supreme Court has corrected a rather glaring error in its prior opinion in The Episcopal Church Cases, 45 Cal.4th 467 (2009). It has published a short per curiam (meaning: unsigned) order, which it says does not affect its earlier judgment. But since the order has no byline, and carries no explanation, its significance is easy to miss.

Those to my left have, as usual, jumped to totally unwarranted conclusions. Out of the three sentences used by the Court to describe what it was doing, they select only this one: "The [local churches'] petition for rehearing is denied." Then they trumpet headlines like "California breakaway churches lose in court again". What they ignore are these words: "Request for modification granted. . . The opinion is modified." (Emphasis added.) If I were to read things as one-sidedly as they do, I could have titled this post: "California orthodox churches win in Supreme Court"; or (only slightly less outrageous) "Supreme Court concedes mistake in prior ruling in favor of ECUSA". I have decided instead to reach two birds with just one cast, and call what has happened in both the Supreme Court and on liberal blogs "rushing to judgment". the rest

Presidential Events Around the Country Are Being Opened by Vetted Prayers

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In a little-noticed development, President Barack Obama's town halls and speaking events around the country are being opened with invocations from invited clergy. Yesterday's U.S. News & World Report says that in an unprecedented move, the White House is not only asking clergy who are recommended by local politicians to deliver opening prayers, but is requiring vetting of the text with the White House Office of Public Liaison before it is delivered. The practice has so far not engendered controversy because the prayer is delivered before the President arrives at the event, and before cable television begins its coverage.At least three recent events have followed this pattern: a town hall in Elkhart, Indiana; a speech in Ft. Myers, Florida on the stimulus bill; and an appearance near Phoenix (AZ) to unveil the mortgage bailout plan. At the Phoenix event, the invocation was delivered by a member of the Tohono O'odham Nation. He was required to depart from the Native American practice of improvised prayer, writing his text in advance so it could be e-mailed to the White House. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, complained: "The only thing worse than having these prayers in the first place is to have them vetted, because it entangles the White House in core theological matters."

Religion Clause blog

Denver Archbishop To Toronto Audience: "We Can't Build a Just Society With the Blood of Unborn Children"

Wednesday February 25, 2009
By Steve Jalsevac
TORONTO, Ontario

February, 25, 2009 ( - On a bitter cold February 23rd night at St. Basils Church on the campus St. Michael's College, the University of Toronto, Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput delivered to a near capacity audience what was likely the most forthright and challenging talk on Catholic political responsibility ever given in Canada by a bishop.

The Archbishop had been invited to address the themes from his book, "Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life." He presented some background and thoughts on the book and then discussed the US election and the meaning of true hope.

Chaput began by noting the powerful negative effect of today's culture on the public's ability to think clearly about political implications and responsibilities. He stated, "American consumer culture is a very powerful narcotic. Moral reasoning can be hard, and TV is a great painkiller. This has political implications. Real freedom demands an ability to think, and a great deal of modern life…seems deliberately designed to discourage that." the rest

Albert Mohler: The Pornification of a Culture

-- What's Going on in the Office Next Door?
Thursday, February 26, 2009

The scourge of pornography is now so pervasive that it begins to define the culture at large. America is fast transforming itself from a society that allows and markets pornography into a culture that is pornographic. Boundary after boundary is being transgressed.

Adding insult to injury, courts have ruled that public libraries have no right to use filters that prevent viewing of pornography on public computers. Now, the marketers of pornography are looking to mobile devices and cell phones as the next frontier. There is no safe place in a society that embraces pornography as a major industry.

Just when you think you are past being shocked, The Washington Times now reports that pornography "is a major workplace problem in contemporary American society." the rest

Washington Times Editorial: Porn corrupts America

Stopping the Destruction of American Health Care

Thursday, February 26, 2009
by Hugh Hewitt

President Obama served notice on Tuesday night that he intends a massive rewrite of the laws governing health care in the United States. Unlike the stimulus bill, such legislation will do far more damage than just the waste of hundreds of billions of dollars. Obamacare will of course be extraordinarily expensive, but far worse, it will radically alter the health care delivery system in the U.S. If the Congress and the Administration get it wrong, the best health care system in history will quickly tailspin into mediocrity or worse. the rest

"Brain Death" Test Causes Brain Necrosis and Kills Patients: Neurologist to Rome Conference

Wednesday February 25, 2009
By Hilary White - Rome correspondent

ROME, February 25, 2009 ( - One of the medical world's key diagnostic tools for determining "brain death" preliminary to organ retrieval, actually causes the severe brain damage it purports to determine, neurologist Dr. Cicero Coimbra told attendees at a conference held in Rome last week. With the so-called "apnoea test," Coimbra said, brain damaged patients who might be recoverable are deprived of oxygen for up to ten minutes, rendering the injuries to the brain irreversible.

"Diagnostic protocols for brain death actually induce death in patients who could recover to normal life by receiving timely and scientifically based therapies," Dr. Coimbra, head of the Neurology and Neurosurgery Department at the Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, told the participants at the "Signs of Life" conference on "brain death."

Addressing an assembly of about 170 physicians, philosophers, ethicists, lawyers, students, journalists, and clergy, including two Catholic cardinals, Dr. Coimbra said that it is the apnoea test, routinely applied to patients who have suffered acute brain injuries, that frequently causes "brain necrosis," or permanent and irrecoverable brain damage that is accepted as "brain death". the rest

Number of households with kids hits new low

By Jack Gillum
Posted February 26, 2009

The percentage of American households with children under 18 living at home last year hit the lowest point — 46% — in half a century, government data reported Wednesday.

The trend reflects the aging of the Baby Boom generation and younger women having fewer children, demographers say.

"Baby Boomers have been a big force in driving a lot of different population dynamics," says Rose Kreider, a family demographer at the Census Bureau, which released the data.

In 2008, about 35.7 million families (46%) had children under 18 at home, the Census figures show, down from 52% in 1950. The percentage peaked in 1963, when about 57% of families had children under 18 at home. the rest

See yesterday's post: The Problem With Not Having Kids

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More on the Buddhist Bishop...

Covenant: Kevin Martin: The End of Reasoned Faith
(Don't miss this!)

Stand Firm: What Can Episcopal Peons Do About The Buddhist Bishop?

TitusOneNine: Comments

In case you hadn't heard about it:

Anglican-Buddhist is elected Bishop in Northern Michigan

Clerical Whispers: Prayer for Ash Wednesday

Lord, it feels like we are embarking on a Lenten journey together, you and I.

The beautiful words in the today's prayer talk about the "quiet remembrance of our need for redemption."

That feels like what I am looking for - or what you are looking for in me.

I want to remember how much I need you in my life and how much my life needs redemption.

I want to remember it clearly and in the background of my day today and all through Lent.

On this special day, Ash Wednesday, may my small sacrifices in fasting be a way to clear away the clutter in my life to see you more clearly.

May my longing for meat and other food, help me to focus my life today more outside myself.

Let me be aware of those who are in so much more suffering than I am and may I be aware of them as the brothers and sisters you have placed in my life.

Lord, I know there is darkness within me and around me.

Bless these days with your Word.

Let your Light shine in the darkness.

Help me long for that Light until we celebrate it at the Vigil six weeks from now.

And most of all Lord, help me to honor this day with the ashes on my forehead.

They help me remember where I have come from and where I am going.

May I acknowledge to you my sins and my deep need for your loving forgiveness and grace.

I pray that this Lenten season will make me so much more aware of how much I need your healing in my life.

The problem with not having kids

Saving the planet for the next generation by not having a next generation is a bad idea
by Mark Steyn
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Anything happen while I was gone?

Oh, yeah. The collapse of the global economy. Armageddon outta here. The ecopalypse is upon us. Down south, President Obama has abandoned the gaseous uplift of “the audacity of hope” and warns we’re on the brink of the abyss. In the old New Deal, FDR warned that “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” For the new New Deal, President Hopeychangey says we have nothing but fear itself. Get used to it. In Russia, the nation’s wealthiest oligarchs have seen their net worth decline by two-thirds. They can’t steal it as fast as it depreciates. Even yard sales of Soviet nukes to chaps with Waziristani business cards won’t make it up.

The only thing booming is declinism. In Britain, the Baby Boomers are now “Baby Gloomers,” according to the Daily Telegraph’s Elizabeth Grice, who gives the impression she’s working it up into a book proposal for one of those slim volumes of contemporary manners one keeps in the guest “loo,” amusingly illustrated with line drawings of once prosperous middle-class couples reduced to trawling the supermarket shelves for bargain “wine boxes” and microwaveable “Italian-style” focaccia. In the U.S., Steven Kotler thinks this is no time to get hung up on details. The planet is going to hell. So what’s the big picture? The rooty-tootiest root cause of all? the rest

Utah Senate Panel Approves Fetal Pain Bill Informing Women Before Abortion

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 24, 2009

Salt Lake City, UT ( -- A Utah state Senate committee has approved a fetal pain bill that requires abortion practitioners to tell women about the pain their baby will feel during an abortion. The measure is another effort to help reduce abortions until the day comes that unborn children are protected under law.

The panel approved the bill 3-2 and now it heads to the full Senate for a debate and vote.

Rep. Carl Wimmer, a Republican, is behind the fetal pain measure, which also gives women considering an abortion a chance to offer the baby anesthesia.

The measure would apply to any abortions done beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy. the rest

Fears over new English Code for teachers

Wednesday, 25th February 2009
By Paolo Gallini

A campaigning group is warning that a new draft Code of Conduct and Practice for teachers in England produced by the General Teaching Council for England in November 2008 could lead to tensions in the classroom.

According to Christian Concern for Our Nation (CCFON), the new guidelines will require teachers to “promote equality and diversity in all their professional relationships” in Principle 4.

CCFON says that this implies that teachers will be required to promote other religions and/or sexual practices outside marriage and it could lead to censorship. “We believe that teachers should be required to respect pupils, parents and colleagues from other backgrounds, but should not be required to promote other religions and sexual orientations such as homosexuality that are contrary to their beliefs. the rest

Bp. Michael Ingham: Give no assistance or encouragement

This Memorandum has been sent to clergy in the Diocese of New Westminster:

To: Diocesan Clergy, Members of Diocesan Council
From: Bishop Michael Ingham
Date: February 19, 2009

Subject: New Activities of the Network

Dear Friends in Christ:

Throughout the centuries, Anglicanism has held together evangelicals, liberals, and anglo-catholics in a single church. Such is our ethos and mysterium.

It is this historic tradition the newly-arrived Network now seeks to undermine. Specifically, they have begun active church-planting in this Diocese with the assistance of the recently retired Bishop of Algoma, Ronald Ferris, who has relinquished his ordained ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada. These efforts to create a parallel Province in this country inevitably involve the recruitment of people from our own congregations, and directly contravene the ancient and modern traditions of the Christian church.

Their goal is to alter Anglican identity. They want to re-shape dioceses along ideological rather than geographic lines. They reject the historic episcopate and seek to put in its place a kind of theological party leadership. There is nothing “orthodox” about these schemes. the rest

UK: Most imams and clerics in Britain are from overseas

Think tank reveals that all but three per cent of imams or clerics in Britain's mosques are from overseas
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
Times Online
February 24, 2009

All but three per cent of imams or clerics in Britain's mosques are from overseas, according to new research published today.

The Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank, claims in a poll of the country's mosques that even though most of Britain's 2.4 million Muslims were born here, they are being preached to about their faith by poorly paid foreign imams with limited proficiency in English.

The foundation, itself run by former Islamic extremists and in receipt of about £1 million of public funds, claims its research proves that more than four in ten mosques do not compensate for this by holding the lecture before Friday prayers in English.

It criticises the foreign imams as "ill-equipped to navigate Britain's complex, liberal and multi-faith society." the rest

Anglo-Catholics warned of split threat in UK

Tuesday, 24th February 2009
By Michael Brown

Sustained wrangling marred much of a Forward in Faith special post-General Synod assembly in London on Saturday as delegates argued over the nature and structure of a Church of England with female bishops.

The traditionalists' divisions were notably on display as delegates clashed over whether parishes should be urged to withhold their quotas if insufficient protection is given to them if and when females start donning mitres.

The sharp differences caused one priest delegate - who asked not to be named - to be heard to say as the assembly ended: "Forward in Faith? It should be renamed Backwards in Bitterness." the rest

Pope Benedict's Lenten Message 2009

For this year's Lenten Message, I wish to focus my reflections especially on the value and meaning of fasting.

At the beginning of Lent, which constitutes an itinerary of more intense spiritual training, the Liturgy sets before us again three penitential practices that are very dear to the biblical and Christian tradition -- prayer, almsgiving, fasting -- to prepare us to better celebrate Easter and thus experience God’s power that, as we shall hear in the Paschal Vigil, "dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace and humbles earthly pride" (Paschal Præconium). For this year’s Lenten Message, I wish to focus my reflections especially on the value and meaning of fasting. Indeed, Lent recalls the forty days of our Lord’s fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public ministry. We read in the Gospel: "Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry" (Mt 4,1-2). Like Moses, who fasted before receiving the tablets of the Law (cf. Ex 34,28) and Elijah’s fast before meeting the Lord on Mount Horeb (cf. 1 Kings 19,8), Jesus, too, through prayer and fasting, prepared Himself for the mission that lay before Him, marked at the start by a serious battle with the tempter. the rest

VTS Faces $1 Million Budget Cut

February 24, 2009

Faced with significant losses to its investments, the board of trustees of the Virginia Theological Seminary has ordered the largest Episcopal seminary to cut $1 million from its budget.

For the past four months, the seminary, which draws 67 percent of its operating income from its endowment, has had the value of its portfolio decline 36 percent, from $144 million to $97 million. The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president, has been asked by the board to produce a restructuring plan in time for the next meeting of the board’s executive committee on March 11. the rest

Archbishop Williams Will Attend General Convention

February 24, 2009

The Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, will attend General Convention for the first time when it meets July 8-17 in Anaheim, Calif.

Archbishop Williams, who is scheduled to attend the first two days of convention, will participate in Bible study and deliver a keynote address at a global economic forum in the evening on July 8. The Living Church

The Perils of Preaching

by David Mills

Listening to sermons at Mass, one often thinks, like the professor in the Narnia Chronicles, "What do they teach in school?" Not that the sermons are necessarily all that bad, but they are rarely as good as they would be had the priest been better taught. It's like listening to a fiddler who hits most of the notes but doesn't know how to keep time -- because, one suspects, he learned the fiddle from an accordion player.

I am not going to deliver the usual lament about preaching (often delivered, a friend reminded me, by lapsed or lukewarm Catholics). When I was an Episcopalian, friends worried that I might become a Catholic always brought up the liturgy and the preaching. Even then this struck me as irrelevant, but they saw the two bodies as brands in competition, and so thought that I was about to spend the same amount of money for a bashed-up Saturn as I would for a perfectly maintained Mercedes. Why endure old Father O'Shea when you can sit at the feet of the Rev. Canon Horace Q. Swizzlestick III, D.D.?

But in my experience of almost eight years as a Catholic, I have rarely heard a genuinely bad sermon, and I have heard a few very good ones. Even some of the most ineptly composed and delivered sermons included some striking insight that redeemed the mess. Perhaps I've been blessed -- or maybe my standards are low -- but I haven't found Catholic preaching to be the horror show I was led to expect, even by some Catholics. (I hear horror stories, and I'm sure they're true, but I cannot tell any.) the rest

Sex and the Single Priest

By Brent Bozell
February 21, 2009

The dictionary defines prejudice as premature judgment: making a decision before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case or event. Some forms of prejudice are fading, racism being the primary and obvious example. The backlash against prejudice is so intense it has spurred its opposite, the call toward tolerance.

But for one sector, the prejudice remains intact. It is perfectly acceptable to spew intolerance against Christians in general and Catholics in particular. But the bonanza of prejudice is reserved for Catholic priests. the rest

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lent 2009

As always, I am very grateful to Karen and the rest of the crew at Lent and Beyond for pulling together so many links that we can use for prayer and meditation during Lent. I have been drawn to this blog almost since the time it was started because of the focus on prayer, especially intercessory prayer for the Anglican church.

Some direct links:
Here is the
category link for all Lenten entries.
(There are a lot of subcategories too)

Here is a post listing Karen's
Top Ten Favorite Online Lenten Resources

One of my favorites:
A Lenten prayer attributed to St. Polycarp:

O sweet Saviour Christ, in your undeserved love for us you were prepared to suffer the painful death of the cross: let me not be cold or even lukewarm in my love for you.

Lord help me to face the truth about myself. Help me to hear my words as others hear them, To see my face as others see me; Let me be honest enough to recognise my impatience and conceit;

Let me recognise my anger and selfishness; Give me sufficient humility to accept my own weakness for what they are. Give me the grace - at least in your presence - to say. ‘I was wrong - forgive me.’

God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, increase in us faith and truth and gentleness and grant us part and lot among the saints. — St. Polycarp 69-115

If you are online, take some time to visit Lent and Beyond and be blessed! image

NY’s Broome Community College sweeps church off campus

Attorney Raymond J. Dague of Syracuse, New York and a team of lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit yesterday on behalf of North Pointe Church in Binghamton, New York. The church, which has been meeting at Broome Community College since last fall, was told by the college that they can no longer use the college facilities for their Sunday worship, despite the fact that the college does not need the rooms on a Sunday morning, and despite the fact that the college lets other groups rent space from them.

An application has been made by the church’s lawyers for a temporary restraining order to allow the church to continue to meet at the college’s available classrooms until the lawsuit is resolved. The case has been assigned to Judge Glenn Suddaby of the federal district court in Syracuse, New York, and a decision is expected on the temporary restraining order application before the weekend.

“The church would like the same chance that other groups have to use this room for their meetings,” said Raymond Dague, the Syracuse attorney working with the Alliance Defense Fund representing the church in this application. “Just treat them the same as others who want to rent space, and we’ll be happy. But don’t discriminate against them because of their faith perspective.”

ADF attorneys file suit against school board over policy that allows facility rentals to all but religious groups
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit Monday on behalf of North Pointe Church against the Broome Community College board of directors and administrators after school officials enforced a policy banning groups that engage in “religious services and observances.” College officials gave the church two weeks’ notice that it was being forced out of its regularly rented facility by March.

“Churches shouldn’t be discriminated against for their beliefs,” said ADF Legal Counsel Tim Chandler. “The courts have long held that public officials cannot say, ‘I’m sorry, but we only rent to non-religious groups here.’ The Constitution prohibits that type of discrimination.” the rest

Complaint in the lawsuit North Pointe Church v. Moppert filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York

Anglican-Buddhist is elected Bishop in Northern Michigan

Tuesday, 24th February 2009
By George Conger

The Anglican Communion’s first Anglican-Buddhist Bishop was elected this week at a special convention of the Diocese of Northern Michigan. The sole candidate on the ballot, the Rev Kevin Thew Forrester received the support of 88 per cent of the delegates and 91 per cent of congregations, according to a diocesan news release.

The nomination of Fr Forrester sparked controversy last month, when the diocese announced that he was the sole candidate for election. Critics charged it was unseemly that a single candidate was chosen by the search committee --- which included Fr Forrester among its members --- to stand for election. Concerns were also raised about the suitability of a professed Buddhist who said he had received Buddhist “lay ordination” and was “walking the path of Christianity and Zen Buddhism together” being consecrated a bishop.

Known also by his Buddhist name, “Genpo” which means “Way of Universal Wisdom”, Fr Forrester holds progressive views on a number of traditional Christian doctrines. Writing in the diocese’s news letter he stated: “Sin has little, if anything, to do with being bad. It has everything to do, as far as I can tell, with being blind to our own goodness.”
the rest

Sydney Anglicans: A Church Without Worship?

David Peterson
23 February 2009

In the past 30 years we have seen our churches move rapidly away from formal liturgy. More and more congregations are devising ‘do-it-yourself’ church services. Everything seems up for grabs.

So, what is the current state of play in Sydney Anglican churches?

Our contemporary services often have little prayer, apart from a brief time of intercession. I have been in places where the first prayer was said half an hour after we met, just before the sermon.

Likewise, there may be no confession of sin and no prayer after the sermon to enable the congregation to express their response to God. the rest

And see MCJ's take on Female spirituality celebrated at Sacred Circles Conference at the National Cathedral.

Cut the carbon this Lent, says Church of England

23 February 2009

Advice from a banking boss, the latest eco-technology in a country church, lifestyle pledges in the North East and a cut-carbon-not-chocolate challenge from church and government leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury are just some of the ways the Church of England is putting a green stamp on Lent as part of its Shrinking the Footprint campaign. the rest

American church membership shows decline

Tuesday, 24th February 2009
By:Nick Mackenzie

According to the newly released Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, American churches have reported a ‘slight but startling’ decline in membership.

Membership in the Roman Catholic Church declined 0.59 per cent and the Southern Baptist Convention declined 0.24 per cent, according to the 2009 edition of the Yearbook, edited by the National Council of Churches and published by Abingdon.

The figures indicate that the Catholic church lost 398,000 members since the appearance of the 2008 Yearbook. Southern Baptists lost nearly 40,000 members.

Both membership figures were compiled by the churches in 2007 and reported to the Yearbook in 2008. The 2009 Yearbook also includes an essay by the editor, the Rev Dr Eileen W Lindner, on the various ways churches count their members. the rest

Chilling Free Speech

Mapping Political Persecution
By Chuck Colson

Dotting the streets on a certain online map are hundreds of red teardrops. Click on a teardrop at a particular address, and come up with the words, “Patricia Greenwood. Insurance agent. $100.”
Miss Greenwood had better watch her back. Angry supporters of same-sex “marriage” are using Google Maps to tell the world exactly where she lives, and that she donated money to support Proposition 8—the California initiative banning same-sex “marriage.” Now, I made up the name Patricia Greenwood, but the names and addresses on this map belong to real people.

The only point of identifying Proposition 8 supporters is to encourage people to harass them. And the tactic is working. the rest

The Age of Irresponsibility

by Matthew Continetti

The stimulus bill captures the ethos of this new liberalism perfectly. The dramatic expansion of government's share of the economy is geared toward specifically liberal ends. Ends like Head Start, subsidies for college education, Medicaid, alternative energy, and a loosening of welfare requirements. The bill is a partisan Democrat's dream. It's also a huge miscalculation. Increased dependence on the state is not a solution to our lack of personal accountability. It will only encourage more of it.

Obama is no fool. He understands the need to bolster responsibility. He has given several speeches challenging fathers to play a more active role in raising their children. He seems open to good ideas from the private sector, from the nonprofits, from charities and churches. But his heart is with the public sector. He has witnessed elites fail, yet he seeks to put more power in the hands of political elites. Nor is he alone. The lack of alternatives to Obama's liberalism is dispiriting but unsurprising. All the political energy nowadays is on the left. The unanimity of liberal opinion seems to be that, for America to retain its place among nations, we need to look more like Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

But the values of such social democracies are the opposite of the American virtues. The opposite of what Obama claims to want to promote. The American ethos is one of self-reliance. This is not the same as autonomous hedonism and greed. A self-reliant individual is responsible for himself and his family. He is accountable for his actions. He has to be. The welfare state, by contrast, promotes dependence. As government expands its sphere of involvement in everyday life, the number of supplicants for government assistance increases. Rather than encouraging the individual to take responsibility for his actions, the new liberals have embarked on policies that will encourage the individual to turn to government instead. The individual might be delivered from the risks of the marketplace. But what about the risks of the public sector?

Government has, time and again, proven itself inadequate to the immense challenges of the day. At times it seems impervious to reform. The Democrats' assumption is that this is because the GOP was in power during much of the last quarter century. It is a partisan fantasy. What's more, the return of big government only invites further populist reaction. Since Obama has so clearly identified the solutions to the crisis with the state, guess who the people will rebuke if the crisis remains unresolved? Not Wall Street. The way we are headed, in a few years, there might not even be a Wall Street for the people to rebuke. Full essay

Conservative Episcopal bishop resigned to become Roman Catholic priest

February 22, 2009
Olivier Uyttebrouck

As bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, the Rev. Jeffrey Steenson came down on the conservative side of many issues.

He opposed the election of the first openly gay bishop, and he did not allow the blessing of same-sex unions in his diocese.

Steenson said those conflicts made it impossible for him to pursue his ultimate goal of helping the Anglican Communion unite with the Roman Catholic Church.

On Saturday, both Catholics and Episcopalians celebrated Steenson's ordination as a Roman Catholic priest. Steenson, a married father of three, said he is the first sitting Episcopal bishop since 1852 to resign to become a Roman Catholic.

"Jeffrey and I have been in conversation for a number of years," Archbishop Michael Sheehan told several hundred who attended the ordination ceremony at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Rio Rancho.

"Of course, I have to say, that he has the greatest respect for his Episcopal and theological roots."

Steenson served as bishop of the Rio Grande diocese from 2004 to 2007 at a divisive time for Episcopalians, both in New Mexico and nationally. the rest

Social websites harm children's brains

Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist
By David Derbyshire
24th February 2009

Social networking websites are causing alarming changes in the brains of young users, an eminent scientist has warned.

Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Bebo are said to shorten attention spans, encourage instant gratification and make young people more self-centred.

The claims from neuroscientist Susan Greenfield will make disturbing reading for the millions whose social lives depend on logging on to their favourite websites each day.

But they will strike a chord with parents and teachers who complain that many youngsters lack the ability to communicate or concentrate away from their screens. the rest image

Facebook's power has many users thinking about who their real friends are

Monday, February 23, 2009

Devotional: Of necessity we must be in Christ...

lf ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. John 15:7

Of necessity we must be in Christ to live unto Him, and we must abide in Him to be able to claim the largesse of this promise from Him. To abide in Jesus is never to quit Him for another love or another object, but to remain in living, loving, conscious, willing union with Him. The branch is not only ever near the stem but ever receiving life and fruitfulness horn it. All true believers abide in Christ in a sense; but there is a higher meaning, and this we must know before we can gain unlimited power at the throne. "Ask what ye will" is for Enochs who walk with God, for Johns who lie in the Lord's bosom, for those whose union with Christ leads to constant communion.

The heart must remain in love, the mind must be rooted in faith, the hope must be cemented to the Word, the whole man must be joined unto the Lord, or else it would be dangerous to trust us with power in prayer. The carte blanche can only be given to one whose very life is, "Not I, but Christ liveth in me." O you who break your fellowship, what power you lose! If you would be mighty in your pleadings, the Lord Himself must abide in you, and you in Him. ...CH Spurgeon image

Virginia Senate Kills Prayer 'In Jesus Name'

RICHMOND, Va., Feb. 23 /Christian Newswire/ -- On Monday the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted 8-6-1 along party lines to kill a pro-faith bill, HB2314, which would have restored the rights of Virginia State Police Chaplains to pray publicly "in Jesus name."

The Virginia House of Delegates had successfully voted 66-30 last month for HB2314, written by Delegate Charles W. Carrico, (R-Galax, call 276-730-4375 for interviews), which would have restored the rights of State Trooper Chaplains, six of whom heroically resigned last fall, rather than water-down their prayers or publicly deny Christ, as ordered by the Governor Tim Kaine Administration. Now Del. Carrico admits the chaplains' rights will unfortunately not be reinstated, until new elections are held on Nov. 3rd, 2009. the rest

The Practical Power of Public Prayer

by Rev. Dwight Longenecker

I had just boarded the late afternoon train from Paddington Station headed west to Bristol. Commuters were jostling for places, bags were being stashed, and those of us who managed to find seats were settling down with a book or a sandwich for the journey, when suddenly a voice came over the intercom. It was a sweet-sounding, melodious accent of an Indian man. "Welcome," he said, "to the InterCity 125 service from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads. This is your train operator speaking."

No one paid much attention; every journey from Paddington begins with the courteous reminder of which train you're on, and how long the journey would take. But then the driver continued: "As we begin our journey together, I would like to ask all of you to bow your heads with me and join in a word of prayer." There followed a very nice extemporaneous prayer by a man who was clearly a sincere and joyful born-again Christian.

My fellow travelers were bemused, befuddled, aghast, and amused. It got conversation going among the normally reticent Englishmen, and the atmosphere in the carriage lifted for a few moments from the usual weary commuter boredom. It was as if a bird had entered the room where a party was taking place -- everyone is delighted, but no one is quite sure what to do about it. the rest

First Things: Recovering the Bible

By R.R. Reno
Monday, February 23, 2009

The Bible contains a verse that scholars like to quote. It is from the book of Ecclesiastes: “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is weariness of the flesh” (12:12). In context it serves as a warning against the vain illusion that we can study our way to the Kingdom of God. The spiritual life is not a Kaplan course, nor is it like getting tenure after piling up a good record of scholarly publication.

Of late, I’ve come to see this verse as a wry moment when the Bible makes a prophecy about itself, foreseeing the vast number of commentaries on the sacred pages of scripture. Over the last few years I have been wearying myself as the general editor of an impossibly ambitious project, the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible. Working with authors on the first dozen or so commentaries, and also toiling on my own effort to write about Genesis, the thought has come to me many times: “Of the making of commentaries on the Bible there is no end, and to be honest, Lord, I’m getting pretty weary.” the rest

Tonawanda: What’s left of recently divided church focuses on fresh thinking

By Neale Gulley
The Tonawanda News

For the few remaining members of the former St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal church in the Town of Tonawanda, starting over meant staying right where they were.

Just a dozen-or-so in number, they represent the beginning of a brand new church in the same old building, now called Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles, since the majority of their members left citing philosophical differences with the greater Episcopal Church late last year.

Those who remain sat in the very same pews they’ve occupied in some cases for decades Sunday, listening to a sermon about seeing beyond the old veneer. the rest

Second Fort Worth diocese created

Monday, 23rd February 2009
By George Conger

Episcopalians loyal to the national Church in New York have formed a second Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth at a special convention held Feb 7.

The new diocese, formed around five congregations and individual Episcopalians who declined to follow the majority out of the Episcopal Church into the Province of the Southern Cone, invited the Bishop of Kentucky, the Rt Rev Edwin Gulick to serve as its provisional bishop for the next six months, and elected diocesan officers.

In November, the Synod of the Diocese of Fort Worth voted by a margin of 80 per cent to 20 per cent to quit the Episcopal Church for the temporary oversight of Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables and the Province of the Southern Cone. US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori responded by removing Bishop Jack Iker from the ordained ministry, saying she had accepted his voluntary renunciation of orders. However, Bishop Iker denied having given such a renunciation.

The Presiding Bishop also declared that she no longer recognized the Standing Committee, the diocese’s governing board, and set a date for a special meeting of synod to elect a new standing committee, provisional bishop and to undo the acts taken by the last two annual meetings of the diocesan synod. the rest

Court admits church’s plea for compensation to Orissa victims

Monday, 23rd February 2009
By Vishal Arora

New Delhi: India’s Supreme Court today accepted a petition filed by the Catholic Church for adequate compensation to and rehabilitation of those who suffered in the country’s worst-ever spate of anti-Christian attacks in the eastern state of Orissa in August and September last year.

Appearing for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), former attorney general Soli Sorabjee urged the apex court to issue necessary guidelines to the Government of India to prevent communal violence besides compensating those who lost their family members, who were injured and whose houses were destroyed. Extreme Hindu nationalists launched a series of attacks on Christians and their properties following the killing of their leader, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, on August 23, 2008 in Orissa’s Kandhamal district. Blaming Christians for the murder, the extremists indulged in violence killing at least 127 people and destroying 315 villages, 4,640 houses, 252 churches and 13 educational institutions. At least 50,000 were rendered homeless. the rest

Thousands Rally Against Gay Civil Unions in Hawaii

By Lawrence Jones
Christian Post Reporter
Mon, Feb. 23 2009

Thousands crowded the Hawaii State Capitol on Sunday to rally against a bill that would legalize same-sex civil unions in the state.

The rally comes ahead of Tuesday's Senate committee hearing on the bill. The Hawaii House earlier this month approved House Bill 444, in a 34 to 17 vote.

Members of churches from across the state attended the rally, citing Scripture as reason for their moral opposition to same-sex unions. the rest

A multitude gathers to protest the bill giving gay partners the same status as wed couples

Bobby Jindal's big moment

2/23/09 8:12

He’s a star in political circles, mentioned by members of both parties as a future presidential candidate, but when Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal delivers the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s Message to Congress on Tuesday, most Americans will be seeing him for the first time.

It’s a prime opportunity for the 37-year-old state executive to introduce himself to the public and define himself as a leader of his party—and a potential contender for national office. the rest

The Economist: Louisiana's Bobby Jindal-The hope of the party

Internet threat: Hackers swarm bank accounts

By Byron Acohido
posted February 23, 2009

New and nasty banking trojans are on the rise on the Internet and attacking online bank accounts.

The new trojan programs — which wait on your hard drive for an opportunity to crack your online banking account — are different from traditional "phishing" e-mail scams that try to trick you into typing your login information at fake bank websites. the rest

Dr. Philip Turner: Church Governance And The Fate of Communion

A Probe into the Present and Future State of the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church
The Rev. Dr. Philip Turner

An Address to Anglican and Episcopal Students at The Duke Divinity School
February 19, 2009

In 2006 Ephraim Radner and I published a collection of essays entitled The Fate of Communion. In that collection we sought to address the threats that now hang over the Anglican Communion. We sought to indicate that the crisis in which Anglicans find themselves, though theological and moral at its root, in fact involves church order as well. We attempted, though too briefly I believe, to raise a question about the adequacy of our forms of governance and the way in which we understand and use them.

Much has happened since the appearance of The Fate of Communion, and a great deal of what has transpired concerns the way in which the Communion is ordered and governed. There is a need now to say more than we did then about the way our common life is to be ordered, and this need presents a real challenge. Polity is a much-neglected subject, particularly on the part of those who teach theology and theological ethics. It is thought to be unimportant—indeed, something of a nuisance that detracts from the really important stuff. As a result, it has been removed from theology and ethics and shoved to the periphery of the formation given our clergy. Few either understand or appreciate its importance. However, as is often the case when important matters are neglected, they come around to bite us on the backside. the rest

No Christian philosophers need apply

Saturday February 21, 2009

Via Frank Beckwith, disturbing news about a petition academic philosophers are circulating among the American Philosophical Association membership. From the petition:

Many colleges and universities require faculty, students, and staff to follow certain 'ethical' standards which prohibit engaging in homosexual acts. Among these institutions are Azusa Pacific University, Belmont University, Bethal College, Biola University, Calvin College, Malone College, Pepperdine University, Westmont College, and Wheaton College. All of these institutions advertised in 'Jobs for Philosophers' between 2006-2009. Further, none of these institutions were listed as censured institutions.

The American Philosophical Association professes to uphold the following anti-discrimination policy: the rest

Re-opening the confessionals

Saturday, February 21, 2009

With the news that the Archdiocese of New York is planning round-the-clock reconciliation to kick off Lent, the New York Times offers this look at how a church in a nearby diocese came to rediscover the sacrament:

The day after Msgr. Stephen DiGiovanni was installed in June 1998 as the pastor of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church here, he walked through the quiet sanctuary, appreciating the English Gothic grandeur and tallying all the repairs it required.

One particular sight seized him. The confessional at the rear of the pews had been nailed shut. The confessional in the front, nearer the altar, was filled with air-conditioning equipment. And these conditions, Monsignor DiGiovanni realized, reflected theology as much as finance.

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s, the Catholic Church began offering confession in “reconciliation rooms,” rather than the traditional booths. Even before the setting changed, habits had. The norm for American Catholics was to make confession once a year, generally in the penitential period of Lent leading up to Easter. the rest

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Devotional: Christ, Whose glory fills the skies...

Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ, the true, the only Light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise,
Triumph o’er the shades of night;
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Day-star, in my heart appear.

Dark and cheerless is the morn
Unaccompanied by Thee;
Joyless is the day’s return
Till Thy mercy’s beams I see;
Till they inward light impart,
Glad my eyes, and warm my heart.

Visit then this soul of mine,
Pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
Fill me, Radiancy divine,
Scatter all my unbelief;
More and more Thyself display,
Shining to the perfect day.
...Charles Wes­ley image

First They Came for the Baptists

February 21st, 2009
by Mary Kochan

Don’t let on that I’m the one who told you, but guess what? Freedom of speech is under serious assault in this country and I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I think the situation has gotten serious enough that the bishops should start raising a fuss about it.

Case in point is that of the African-American Baptist minister, Rev. Walter Hoye of Berkeley, California, who was sentenced Thursday to 30 days in jail and a fine of $1,130 for “unlawfully approaching a person entering an abortion facility” in Oakland, California. Except that he didn’t. He didn’t do what he was charged with and the proof that he didn’t is found on a secret videotape made of his protest — his lawful picketing of the abortion clinic with a sign that said: “Jesus loves you and your baby. Let us help.” What happened instead is that clinic escorts used large pieces of blank cardboard to cover up his sign and hollered over him so women approaching the clinic could not hear him gently ask, “May I talk to you about alternatives to abortion?”

A video showing the actions of Rev. Hoye and the clinic workers, along with an account of his kangaroo court of a trial is available on the website of the Life Legal Defense Foundation which is providing counsel for Rev. Hoya and will appeal his conviction. the rest


Pope warns on new eugenics based on beauty

Sat Feb 21, 2009

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict said on Saturday there were worrying signs of a new type of eugenics based on perfection and physical beauty.

"Certainly, the eugenistic and racial ideologies that in the past humiliated man and provoked immense suffering are not being proposed again, but a new mentality is creeping in that tends to justify a different consideration of life and personal dignity," the pope said in a speech to the Pontifical Academy for Life.

"So it tends to privilege the capacity to operate, efficiency, perfection and physical beauty at the expense of other types of existence considered unworthy." the rest

Steven Crowder: Abortion is SUPER FUN!!

Obama beats out Jesus as America's hero

February 19, 2009

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Americans named President Obama as their No. 1 hero, followed by Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King, in a new Harris poll.

Others in the top 10, in descending order, were Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Abraham Lincoln, John McCain, John F. Kennedy, Chesley Sullenberger and Mother Teresa. the rest image

Lutherans weigh making gay clergy a local decision

posted February 21,2009

The nation's largest Lutheran denomination will consider allowing individual congregations to choose whether to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy, an attempt to avoid the sort of infighting that has threatened to tear other churches apart.

A task force of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recommended that course Thursday in a long-awaited report on ministry standards. The panel, however, said the church needs to clarify a number of questions before overhauling its gay clergy policy.

The report, issued at the same time as a broader church social statement on human sexuality, seeks balance on an issue dividing many Protestant churches. Both documents will be considered in August in Minneapolis at the biannual convention of the 4.7-million member denomination. the rest

In vitro industry out of control

By David Gushee
Thursday, 19 February 2009

(ABP) -- In January, a California woman named Nadya Suleman gave birth to octuplets through in vitro fertilization. These eight babies were added to six others that Suleman had also conceived through in vitro procedures.

Nadya Suleman is an extreme example of a growing trend. The reproductive-technology industry is booming, with over 130,000 procedures and 50,000 births a year, up from around 65,000 procedures and just below 20,000 births a little over a decade ago. Almost 90 percent of in vitro procedures involve transferring more than one embryo; nearly a third of in vitro live births involve multiple children; 2 percent of them involve triplets or more. And these multiple births often come with health consequences such as the need for long-term care due to low birth weights and various disabilities. Sometimes these long-term expenses are paid by the taxpayer.

Demand for in vitro and other reproductive technologies is driven from a number of directions. Infertility rates among couples seeking children now stand at over 10%, due to social and environmental factors. Single and divorced women, and some men, also have turned to the industry in search of the children they cannot have any other way. The breakdown of marriage has produced more and more people in such situations.

The reproductive-technology industry is almost entirely unregulated. the rest

Mr. President, Keep the Airwaves Free

As a former law professor, surely you understand the Bill of Rights.
FEBRUARY 20, 2009

Dear President Obama:

I have a straightforward question, which I hope you will answer in a straightforward way: Is it your intention to censor talk radio through a variety of contrivances, such as "local content," "diversity of ownership," and "public interest" rules -- all of which are designed to appeal to populist sentiments but, as you know, are the death knell of talk radio and the AM band?

You have singled me out directly, admonishing members of Congress not to listen to my show. Bill Clinton has since chimed in, complaining about the lack of balance on radio. And a number of members of your party, in and out of Congress, are forming a chorus of advocates for government control over radio content. This is both chilling and ominous.

As a former president of the Harvard Law Review and a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, you are more familiar than most with the purpose of the Bill of Rights: to protect the citizen from the possible excesses of the federal government. The First Amendment says, in part, that "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." The government is explicitly prohibited from playing a role in refereeing among those who speak or seek to speak. We are, after all, dealing with political speech -- which, as the Framers understood, cannot be left to the government to police. the rest

Saving Humanity, One Chip at a Time?

Posted by Ryan Sayre Patrico
February 20, 2009

At the Global Spiral, philosophy professor Mark Walker argues that transhumanism is civilization’s best bet for survival:

Transhumanism is the thesis that we can and ought to use technology to alter and improve human biology. Some likely targets for the technological makeover of human nature include making ourselves smarter, happier, longer-lived and more virtuous. The operative assumption here of course is that intelligence, moods, longevity and virtues each have deep roots in our biology. By altering biology transhumanists propose to improve human nature to the point of creating a new genus: such as posthumans. Notice that transhumanism encompasses a moral thesis. Transhumanism does not say that we will create posthumans, rather, it makes a moral claim: we ought to create posthumans. The hint of an argument based on the accrual of moral benefits is perhaps obvious from what has been said: to the extent that we value the development of intellectual, emotional and moral virtue, becoming posthuman is imperative. I won’t pursue this line of argument here directly. Rather, I want to explore the objection that transhumanism is an ill-advised experiment because it puts us at unnecessary risk. My reply will be that creating posthumans is our best bet for avoiding harm. In a nutshell, the argument is that even though creating posthumans may be a very dangerous social experiment, it is even more dangerous not to attempt it: technological advances mean that there is a high probability that a human-only future will end in extinction.

Apparently, the only way to save humanity is to get rid of it ourselves. First Things image

The Politics of Porn

by Robert R. Reilly

In many major American cities, the tawdry sections of town that once housed pornographic cinemas, bookstores, and strip joints have given way to shiny new office buildings and Starbucks coffee houses. Does this sign of urban renewal also signify moral renewal? Has America finally grown bored with a surfeit of pornography? Unfortunately not. Pornography has simply relocated from inner city slums to a far worse location -- the home, which it now infiltrates via the latest technology.

U.S. News and World Report (Feb. 10, 1997) revealed just how deeply mired this country is in explicit depictions of sexual depravity; it is a sign of the times that the cover article on pornography was carried in the "Business and Technology" section. The story states that hardcore pornography is now an $8 billion industry. A more recent Time magazine article (Sept. 7, 1998), "Porn Goes Mainstream," also in the "Business" section, estimates $10 billion in revenues. In either case, hardcore porn out-grosses all of Hollywood's domestic box office receipts and rakes in more cash than the rock and country music businesses combined. In 1996, 665 million hard core videos were rented -- over two for every man, woman, and child in America. Explicit sex has become part of the bottom line for video stores, long-distance carriers like AT&T, cable companies like Time Warner and Tele-Communications, Inc., and hotel chains like Marriott, Hyatt, and Holiday Inn. In addition, there are an estimated 100,000 pornographic World Wide Web sites on the Internet, offering millions of hardcore pornographic images, some of them "interactive." Pornography is now mainstream. How did this happen?

the rest-Excellent!
(This is one of the best articles I have ever read on the issue and effects of pornography-take time to read the comments too-PD)

GodTube hopes switch to Tangle will broaden appeal

by Elena Garcia, Christian Post
Saturday, February 21, 2009

A screenshot of taken by The Christian Post on February 20, 2009.(Christian Post)
Christian video and social networking site has changed its name and purpose.

The popular website is now called and is no longer catering only towards Christians, the Dallas Morning News reports.'s new aim is to be a "family-friendly" social networking site, according to CEO Jason Illian, who replaced GodTube's first CEO Chris Wyatt last year.

"We think that's a pretty big space that nobody's really playing in," Illian told the Dallas Morning News. the rest