Thursday, December 31, 2009

Devotional: Christ is building His kingdom with earth’s broken things...

Christ is building His kingdom with earth’s broken things. Men want only the strong, the successful, the victorious, the unbroken—in building their kingdoms. But God is the God of the the unsuccessful, of those who have failed. Heaven is filling with earth’s broken lives, and there is no ‘bruised reed’ which Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty. He can take the life crushed by pain or sorrow—and make it into a harp whose music shall be all praise. He can lift earth’s saddest failure up to heaven’s glory! ...JR Miller image by lrargerich

A Happy and Blessed New Year to all the readers of Transfigurations!

Nine Big Stories the Mainstream Media Missed in 2009

From radical advisers in the Obama White House to hacked e-mails showing questionable work by climate scientists, 2009 has seen its share of scandals. But if you only followed the mainstream media, you might have missed some of the biggest stories of the year. Here's a list of the top nine stories the mainstream media ignored in the past year.

Van Jones


Science Czar John Holdren


Politicizing the NEA

Chas Freeman

Tea Party Protests

Kevin Jennings, Safe Schools Czar

Democratic Stimulus


Anglican Churches sent final text of Covenant — ‘not a penal code’

by Pat Ashworth
31 December, 2009
Church Times

THE proposed Anglican Covenant will not solve all the Communion’s problems, the Archbishop of Canterbury warned, as the final draft went out to all the provinces for approval last week.

It was not going to be a constitution, “and it’s certainly not going to be a penal code for punishing people who don’t comply,” Dr Williams said in a short video address, posted on YouTube, after the Communion’s Standing Committee had met from 15 to 18 December.

The meeting approved the revised Section 4, a sticking-point at the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting in Jamaica in May. After long debate and a confused voting pro­cedure, that meeting delayed the dispatch of the full Ridley Draft until a working party had made any revisions consequent on consultation with the provinces...the rest

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Devotional: I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed...

I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I'm a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won't give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problems recognizing me - my banner will be clear! ...Anonymous African Pastor - Nailed to his wall.
image by danisabella

A.S. Haley: Debasing the Currency of Truth

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Simultaneously with the debasement of our nation's currency, there has occurred a debasement in what I will call "the currency of truth". Nearly anything passes for "the truth" these days, as when Secretary Napolitano can claim that "the system worked" when a Nigerian failed to blow up an airliner because he was unable to detonate his bomb in the cabin -- after smuggling the device aboard with no difficulty, while lacking a valid passport, and after having been specifically identified to the State Department (by his own father!) as a potential terrorist. Yes, certainly, "the system worked".

the rest

Russia may send spacecraft to asteroid

Associated Press Writer
December 30, 2009

MOSCOW – Russia's space chief said Wednesday his agency will consider sending a spacecraft to a large asteroid to knock it off its path and prevent a possible collision with Earth.

Anatoly Perminov said the space agency will hold a meeting soon to assess a mission to Apophis, telling Golos Rossii radio that it would invite NASA, the European Space Agency, the Chinese space agency and others to join the project once it is finalized.

When the 270-meter (885-foot) asteroid was first discovered in 2004, astronomers estimated the chances of it smashing into Earth in its first flyby in 2029 were as high as 1-in-37. the rest image

Canada: Anglican churches file appeal

By Vikki Hopes - Abbotsford News
December 29, 2009

St. Matthew's Anglican Church in Abbotsford is among those involved in an appeal filed against a B.C. Supreme Court decision that could have forced them to vacate their properties.

Cheryl Chang, in-house legal advisor for the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC), said the appeal was filed on Christmas Eve in order to meet a 30-day deadline since the judgment on Nov. 25.

Chang said trustees of the four congregations decided to file the appeal now and then weigh their options after the holiday season. An appeal can be withdrawn at a later date, but it cannot be filed once the deadline passes. the rest

Williamsburg County schools settle with students over same-race discrimination

by Fred Horlbeck
Dolan Media Newswires

"What made this unique is that this, as far as I know, is the only Title VI case ever brought in federal court when it's an intra-racial hostile environment," Kobrovsky said.

Title VI prohibits allowing a racially hostile educational environment in schools and programs receiving federal financial assistance and provides for a private cause of action for violations.

The younger student initially asserted nine causes of action, but only the Title VI claim went to trial.

She claimed she suffered emotional trauma because she was subjected to racial and sexual slurs at an elementary school in Salters during September and November 2006. She had to receive home instruction for the rest of the school year, according to an amended complaint.

Despite complaints, school administrative staff and district officials allowed the abuse to "escalate to the point where [she] was physically threatened, assaulted and battered," the suit alleged. the rest

Episcopal Incompetence: Bishop Oversees Massive Losses in Western New York

Sarah Hey
Stand Firm
Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's hard really to grasp the weight -- the sheer tonnage -- of the displays of massive incompetence from Bishop Garrison over the past six years. The mind boggles, and then slows, struggling to come up with the words to describe what has happened: immense losses in people and funding, displays of childish spite and clueless denial, the dull recitation of failures and losses in seeming oblivious serenity as to the leader's responsibility, the casual usage -- and then tossing aside -- of the remnant congregation, not to mention the callousness of throwing a new priest into an artificial "church plant" situation, blaming others for his punitive actions, then passing the buck when convenient to other diocesan entities . . . and all with a bright and breezy disregard for what he has done to his diocese.

This man has been bishop for 11 years. In that time, his diocese has lost some 2000 in average Sunday attendance, and some 6000 members. It has been a steady stairstep of decline, culminating in 2008 with the loss of the largest parish in the diocese, after a display of pettish spite that vastly damaged what "relationship" he had mustered in the previous years. [So you'll need to bump up those losses since the church stats only measure through 2008 currently.]

Imagine such a recitation of boring failures made by a CEO in front of shareholders. the rest

American Exceptionalism and American Religion

First Things
January 2010
Joseph Bottum

It is a curious formula, that phrase “American exceptionalism.” As commonly used, the phrase suggets that the United States somehow escaped the typical patterns of history—the patterns that seemed almost inviolable and iron-clad historical laws, precisely because they appeared in one European country after another. The socialist revolutions of 1848, and the intense nationalism that escalated into the First World War, and the cultural malaise that followed the war, and the subsequent rise of fascistic movements—all of these had their American forms, to be sure. But in the United States they were always echoes, rather than originals, and they were never, in a certain sense, serious.

It takes a fantasist—determined to read American history solely by European lights—to think that the nation was ever at much real risk of having a socialist revolt in the nineteenth century or rule by homegrown fascists in the twentieth century. Philip Roth’s 2004 what-if, alternate-history novel, The Plot Against America, had elements of this fantasy, imagining a 1940s America in which Charles Lindbergh becomes president and the United States resembles Hitler’s Germany. The most interesting element of the book, however, may be its final recognition of something like American exceptionalism: Even if, by some unlikely historical contrivance, a native Nazism had gained power, the resilient nation would have managed to shrug it off fairly quickly. The whole thing is just too European, just too alien, and just too weird.

Most often, however, the notion of American exceptionalism involves talk of religion in the United States. It was sometimes heard as a boast of America’s mainline Protestants about the enduring character of the nation’s faith, but, most often, it was used as an escape hatch for historians and social scientists. the rest

Airliner suicide mission blessed by imam

Cleric linked to suspect in Fort Hood shootings
December 30, 2009
By Victor Morton

The Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner had his suicide mission personally blessed in Yemen by Anwar al-Awlaki, the Muslim imam suspected of radicalizing the Fort Hood shooting suspect, a U.S. intelligence source has told The Washington Times.

The intelligence official, who is familiar with the FBI's interrogation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, said the bombing suspect has boasted of his jihad training to the FBI and has said it included final exhortations by Mr. al-Awlaki.

"It was Awlaki who indoctrinated him," the official said. "He was told, 'You are going to be the tip of the spear of the Muslim nation.' " the rest

U.S. Knew of Airline Terror Plot Before Christmas

Mom, Baby Revived After Dying During Birth

Docs Revive Baby In Father's Arms
DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer
December 30, 2009

DENVER -- Mike Hermanstorfer was clutching his pregnant wife's hand in a Colorado hospital on Christmas Eve when she stopped breathing, her life apparently slipping away. Then he cradled his newborn son's limp body seconds after a medical team delivered the baby by Cesarean section.

Minutes later he saw his son show signs of life in his arms under the feverish attention of doctors, and soon he learned his wife had inexplicably started breathing again.

"My legs went out from underneath me," Hermanstorfer said Tuesday. "I had everything in the world taken from me, and in an hour and a half I had everything given to me." the rest

'Obama is, of course, greater than Jesus'

Newspaper deifies American president, dismisses Christ December 29, 2009
By Bob Unruh
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

An editorial in a Danish newspaper, citing both foreign and domestic policies pursued by President Barack Obama, is deifying the American political leader.

"Obama is, of course, greater than Jesus – if we have to play that absurd Christmas game," opined the unsigned editorial yesterday in Politiken, which boasts of being Denmark's largest newspaper, in publication since 1884. the rest image

Thousands of Spanish Catholics march against abortion and gay marriage

Tens of thousands of Spanish Catholics marched in Madrid against the socialist government's policies on abortion and gay marriage.
By Edward Owen in Madrid
28 Dec 2009

At a huge rally in the capital, Cardinal Antonio Rouco, the leader of Spain's Roman Catholics, told protesters the birth rate in Europe will be depleted unless Christian values are maintained.

Catholics attended a huge open air mass beside Real Madrid's Bernabeu stadium.

The mass marked the Feast of the Holy Family. But Catholic leaders from across Europe joined their local counterparts and members of the Spanish centre-Right opposition to castigate the socialist government's policies.

"Europe will be practically without children," warned Cardinal Rouco, 73, the conservative Archbishop of Madrid. "Who denies to defend a human being so innocent and weak, already conceived but not born, commits a grave violation of moral order." the rest

Vt. judge: Birth mom must give child to ex-partner

Associated Press Writer
Tue Dec 29, 2009

MONTPELIER, Vt. – The birth mother of a 7-year-old Virginia girl must transfer custody of the child to the woman's former lesbian partner, a Vermont judge ruled, adding that it seems the woman has "disappeared" with her daughter.

Vermont Family Court Judge William Cohen ordered Lisa Miller of Winchester, Va., to turn over daughter Isabella to Janet Jenkins of Fair Haven at 1 p.m. Friday at the Virginia home of Jenkins' parents.

But in the Dec. 22 order denying Miller's request to delay the transfer of Isabella, Cohen wrote: "It appears that Ms. Miller has ceased contact with her attorneys and disappeared with the minor child."

Miller and Jenkins were joined in a Vermont civil union in 2000. Isabella was born to Miller through artificial insemination in 2002. The couple broke up in 2003, and Miller moved to Virginia, renounced homosexuality and became an evangelical Christian. the rest

Lesbian 'mother' case presents constitutional issue

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Israel’s Chief Rabbis: abortions delay the arrival of the Messiah

29 December, 2009

JERUSALEM - The two Chief Rabbis of Israel have spoken out against abortions in Israel, stressing in a letter that "they are delaying the messianic redemption," said Tuesday the newspaper online Y-Net.

In this letter to all Jewish communities in Israel, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and his co-disciple Sephardic Shlomo Amar denounce "this epidemic, which annually costs the lives of tens of thousands of Jews."

Some 50,000 abortions are recorded annually in Israel, with 20,000 made in illegal conditions, emphasize the two spiritual leaders. the rest

Update on Fr. Nigel Mumford

From: Elizabeth Strickland
Mon, 28 Dec 2009

Fr. Nigel continues to improve, although it is in miniscule amounts, again much like a mustard seed. His mind is far ahead of his body in his recovery. He is extremely uplifted emotionally to be home with Lynn and Megan, but he is frustrated at his lack of strength and stamina. Walking from his room to the living room saps him of his strength. He is amazed and frustrated about his lack of strength in doing even menial tasks. As an example, he enjoys sitting in his recliner, but doesn’t have the strength to get out of it, so he has to call Lynn. He has gone back on the oxygen and is using a tube under his nose which is very manageable. He continues in some pain from the bed sore. He is spending much time in prayer and reflection.

Lynn is pleased to have him home and not to be driving over an hour each way to and from the rehab facility each day. She can attend to Fr. Nigel’s needs easily at home and help him with his continued rehab and exercises, etc.
Please pray for:

* Continued healing of his lungs so that he can breathe on his own
* Building up and strengthening of his muscles
* Refueling of his energy
* Complete healing of his bedsore and relief from the pain of the bedsore
* Deep peace while he communes with our Lord
* Please also continue to pray for peace and stamina for Lynn and Megan as they nurse him back to health.

We thank you Lord for your healing touch on your servant Nigel, and we rejoice in celebration at the birth of your Son, our Saviour Jesus, and the rebirth of Nigel. Thank Your Lord Jesus.

Albany Intercessor

Boo Boo

Click on picture to enlarge!

Planned Parenthood vice president chaired Georgetown’s health administration department

December 29, 2009

Dr. Gary Lewis Filerman, who chaired the Department of Health Systems Administration at Georgetown University until 2008, is a former Planned Parenthood vice president, according to the university’s web site. Dr. Filerman, who began to teach at Georgetown in 2000, served as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s vice president for international development from 1993 to 1996, as president of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington from 1990 to 1991, and as a member of the board of directors of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington from 1986 to 1992.

Explaining the work of his department in a 2007 interview, Dr. Filerman said that “we’re trying to attract people to careers in the management of health systems who are committed to making them more effective-- more efficient and safer. The issue of the day is quality of [patient] care, and we teach our students about quality and our faculty do research related to quality. The gap in quality is the difference between doing what we do and doing what we know, and it’s a serious gap.” the rest

Gay marriage in Argentina is 1st in Latin America

Associated Press Writer
Tue Dec 29, 2009

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – They had to travel to the ends of the Earth to do it, but two Argentine men succeeded in becoming Latin America's first same-sex married couple.

After their first attempt to wed earlier this month in Buenos Aires was thwarted, gay rights activists Jose Maria Di Bello and Alex Freyre took their civil ceremony to the capital of Argentina's Tierra del Fuego province, where a sympathetic governor backed their bid to make Latin American history. the rest

College to train parishioners in church management

Associated Press Writer
December 27, 2009

HARTFORD, Conn. - With the number of ordained priests declining nationwide, a Connecticut college is launching a master's degree program to train lay persons to become parish administrators.

Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell recently received the state Board of Governors for Higher Education's unanimous approval to offer the degree, a master of arts in pastoral studies.

It will be the first of its kind in Connecticut, where about 1.3 million of the state's 3.5 million residents are Catholic.

It also has special significance in the state, where financial scandals involving priests led to an ill-fated legislative effort last spring to give lay members more control over parish finances. That proposal drew more than 3,500 angry Catholics to the Capitol for a protest rally. the rest

Extended Discussion of Palliative Sedation in the New York Times

Sunday, December 27, 2009
Wesley J. Smith

Palliative sedation, that is putting an imminently dying patient into an artificial coma and allowing the disease to take its course, is a legitimate palliative technique–when the symptoms warrant it. Thus, in the rare case where pain can’t be controlled or a patient panics due to severe agitation or inability to catch a breath, a legitimate answer is sedation.

This should give us all the great comfort of knowing we need not die in agony–no matter what our condition. And today, the New York Times has a pretty good in-depth discussion of the issue. It is too long to detail fully in a blog, but there are some points worth highlighting.
the rest

Flight 253: The Failure of Counterterrorism

by Robert Spencer

The chief lesson of the attempted jihad attack on Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day is that our entire anti-terror strategy is a huge and abject failure. Of course, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano would beg to differ, as she has said that the stopping of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempt to set off an explosive on the airplane showed that “the system worked” and “everything happened that should have.”

The “system worked”? So the “system” now involves hoping that other passengers will tackle the jihadist? After all, a passenger on Flight 253, Jasper Schuringa, subdued Abdulmutallab. The “system” now relies on all of the jihadis’ detonators failing, as did Abdulmutallab’s? Napolitano’s optimism was based on an appalling disconnect from reality that in saner times would result in her dismissal. Barack Obama, by contrast, would be more likely to issue her a commendation, if he weren’t too busy golfing and shooting hoops during his Hawaii vacation.

In contrast to Napolitano’s fantasies, Flight 253 revealed a massive failure not only of airline security procedures, but also of the larger strategy that America and the West has been pursuing against jihad terrorism. the rest

Cal Thomas: Malfunctions

It can happen here

'Hundreds of al-Qaeda militants planning attacks from Yemen'
Hundreds of al-Qaeda militants are planning terror attacks from Yemen, the country’s Foreign Minister said today. Abu Bakr al-Qirbi appealed for more help from the international community to help to train and equip counter-terrorist forces.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Temple Prostitution: A Modest Proposal

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Rev. Paul T. McCain

Last summer, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to accept actively homosexual persons as members of their clergy and to condone gays and lesbians living in “lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships.” This has caused a firestorm of controversy in that church body. In response, the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, an independent pan-Lutheran organization that produces a magazine called Lutheran Forum, and a newsletter Forum Letter, published an article titled “Temple Prostitution: A Modest Proposal” by the Associate Editor of Forum Letter, Pastor Peter Speckhard, nephew of the late Father Richard John Neuhaus. I asked for permission to share this brilliant piece of satire here and they kindly granted it. And so, here is the article printed in the December 2009 issue of Forum Letter.

Temple Prostitution: A Modest Proposal

Theologian J.I. Packer reflects on sharing his faith

By Sue Nowicki
Saturday, December 26, 2009

It's been a good year for the Rev. J.I. Packer, one of the world's best-known theologians. In March, the Anglican priest and Regent College professor won Bible of the Year and Book of the Year honors for editing the English Standard Version Study Bible. He also released two of his own books -- "Praying: Finding Our Way Through Duty to Delight" and a year-long devotional using his seminal work, "Knowing God."

Packer, listed as one of Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America" in 2005, sat down with the Bee of Modesto, Calif., at the Christian Book Expo in Dallas this year to talk on a wide range of subjects, from growing up in England to C.S. Lewis's impact on his life to becoming embroiled in the Anglican/Episcopal dispute. Here's what he had to say:


Rising from the Ashes: The New Anglican Church

Warren Cole Smith
December 24, 2009

According to numbers released in December by the Episcopal Church, that denomination's membership dropped by 3 percent in 2008. That doesn't sound like much, but I am a bit of a demographics junkie, plus I researched and examined a lot of church membership and growth data in writing my book A Lover's Quarrel With The Evangelical Church. I can tell you that I have never heard of a major denomination that has ever lost 3 percent of its membership in a single year.

What's even more interesting about these numbers is that the Episcopal Church now says it has only about 2 million members in its 7,000-some parishes in the United States. That's particularly astounding when you consider that the Episcopal Church had 3.5 million on its rolls in 1965—that's a 43 percent drop from a year when the United States had about half as many people as it does today.

To make these numbers even more troubling (at least, if you're a leader in the Episcopal Church), is the fact that while there may be 2 million on the rolls, it's likely that only about 800,000 people actually attend Episcopal Churches on any given Sunday. the rest

Oops, Democrats Admitting Abortion Will Be Taxpayer Funded

2009 December 27
by Paul Cooper

The biggest problem with trying to lie all the time is that at some point the truth just may accidentally slip out. How many times have we heard the White House or Democrats tell us that abortion will not be covered in the new health care bill? Well, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have unwittingly let the cat of truth slip out of their bag of lies.

President Barack Obama has tried to keep health care reform from being about abortion. He told ABC News recently that “this is a healthcare bill, not an abortion bill.” Democrats have continually cited the Hyde Amendment (a law banning government funded abortions) as proof there will be no abortion coverage in any new health bills (even though those same Democrats have repeatedly tried to get rid of the Hyde Amendment.) Many on the Left have consistently used talking points on major media outlets to argue that people are lying when they say abortion will be covered. Obama set the model for that argument when he told the religious Left in August that people were distorting the facts on abortion. the rest

Anti-Humanism: Now Plants are the Most Ethical Life Form?

Saturday, December 26, 2009
Wesley J. Smith

I have written extensively about how the Swiss Constitution declared the legal intrinsic dignity of individual plants (and an ethics committee declared the “decapitation” of a wildflower to be immoral). I have also written how Nicaragua’s new constitution created the “rights of nature,” co-equal to the rights of humans.

Now the folly has gone one step further, by imputing morality to the lives of plants, spread, no less, in the august pages of the New York Times. Science columnist Natalie Angier discusses the undeniable complexity of plant life, and anthropomorphizes away. the rest

Hugh Hewitt: President Obama's year of failure

By: Hugh Hewitt
Examiner Columnist
December 28, 2009

President Obama's year of blunders is ending with the worst failure yet by the president and his team: An Islamist terrorist penetrated the United States and came very close to perpetrating the greatest mass-casualty attack within the U.S. since 9/11.

The president's first year in office has been marked by a string of pratfalls. the rest

Now, Michelle Obama too is sliding in the polls

The Terror This Time

Janet Napolitano says the system worked. No, we were brave and lucky.
DECEMBER 28, 2009

A U.S. government that has barred the phrase "war on terror" has nonetheless acknowledged that a failed Christmas day bomb attack on an airliner was a terrorist attempt. Can we all now drop the pretense that we stopped fighting a war once Dick Cheney and George W. Bush left the White House?

The attempt by 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab follows the alleged murders in Ft. Hood, Texas by Islamist-inspired Major Nidal Hasan in November. Brian Jenkins, who studies terrorism for the Rand Corporation, says there were more terror incidents (12), including thwarted plots, on U.S. soil in 2009 than in any year since 2001. The jihadists don't seem to like Americans any better because we're closing down Guantanamo. the rest

First case of highly drug-resistant TB found in US

The Associated Press
Sunday, December 27, 2009

Today, all the leading killer infectious diseases on the planet - TB, malaria and HIV among them - are mutating at an alarming rate, hitchhiking their way in and out of countries. The reason: Overuse and misuse of the very drugs that were supposed to save us.

Just as the drugs were a manmade solution to dangerous illness, the problem with them is also manmade. It is fueled worldwide by everything from counterfeit drugmakers to the unintended consequences of giving drugs to the poor without properly monitoring their treatment. Here's what the AP found:

- In Cambodia, scientists have confirmed the emergence of a new drug-resistant form of malaria, threatening the only treatment left to fight a disease that already kills 1 million people a year.

- In Africa, new and harder to treat strains of HIV are being detected in about 5 percent of new patients. HIV drug resistance rates have shot up to as high as 30 percent worldwide. the rest

The Perils of Paganism: Woman from NH being treated for anthrax
A Strafford County woman with gastrointestinal anthrax is in critical condition in an out-of-state hospital.

State health officials say the infection may have been caused by naturally occurring spores carried in African instruments used at a monthly drum circle at United Campus Ministry at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. the rest

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Devotional: What does it mean...

What does it mean when we call this God a living God? It means that this God is not a conclusion we have reached by thinking, which we now offer to others in the certainty of our own perception and understanding... When we talk of the living God, it means: This God shows himself to us; he looks out from eternity into time and puts himself into relationship with us. We cannot define him in whatever way we like. He has "defined" himself and stands now before us as our Lord, over us and in our midst. This self-revelation of God, by virtue of which he is not our conception but our Lord, rightly stands, therefore, in the center of our Creed: a profession of faith in the story of God in the midst of human history does not constitute an exception to the simplicity of our profession of faith in God but is the essential condition at its heart. That is why the heart of all our creeds is our Yes to Jesus Christ: "By the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary." We genuflect at this clause, because at this point the heavens, the veil behind which God is secluded, are swept aside, and the mystery touches us directly. ...Benedict XVI image

Stunning Satellite Photos of Earth

Richat Structure-The so-called Richat Structure is a geological formation in the Maur Adrar Desert in the African country of Mauritania. Although it resembles an impact crater, the Richat Structure formed when a volcanic dome hardened and gradually eroded, exposing the onion-like layers of rock.

Lena Delta-The Lena River, some 2,800 miles (4,400 km) long, is one of the largest rivers in the world. The Lena Delta Reserve is the most extensive protected wilderness area in Russia. It is an important refuge and breeding grounds for many species of Siberian wildlife.

Good Shepherd Church in Binghamton Reopens

Dec 24, 2009
Binghamton, NY
(WBNG Binghamton)

Christmas is a time to be thankful, and for one church, it's a fresh start.

Multimedia Watch The Video Action News reporter Rachael Hidalgo takes us to the first mass at the new Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd.

They're singing in praise, and thanking God that they now have a place to worship again. Story

Facebook 'sex chats' blamed for one in five divorces

By Emily Andrews
22nd December 2009

For most couples, social networking websites such as Facebook are a harmless way to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances.

But many are finding out the hard way about the online temptations on offer, as the sites are blamed for an increasing number of divorces.

According to one firm of lawyers, almost one in five of the divorce petitions it deals with cite Facebook as a factor. the rest

This Christmas, 78% of Americans Identify as Christian

Over time, fewer Americans identify as Christian; more have no religious identity
December 24, 2009
by Frank Newport

Bottom line:
The United States remains a dominantly Christian nation. Almost 8 out of 10 Americans identify with a Christian religion. And the vast majority of those who identify with any religion identify with one that is Christian.

Yet, the percentage of Americans who in theory could celebrate Christmas this week as a specific component of their religious faith is down significantly from where it was 50 or 60 years ago. The most important reason for this shift is straightforward: there has been an increasing percentage of Americans who say they have no specific religious identity.

The fact that fewer Americans say they have a religious identity does not necessarily mean there has been a decrease in overall religiosity in America. It is possible that some proportion of those who don't identify with a specific religion are still personally or spiritually religious.
Although a little more than one out of five Americans do not identify with a Christian faith, the Christmas season has ramifications for a broader segment of society. A Gallup survey conducted last year showed that 93% of all American adults said they celebrated Christmas.

Full story-Gallup

Gloria in excelsis Deo - King's College Choir

Terror Attempt Seen as Man Tries to Ignite Device on Jet

December 25, 2009

A Nigerian man tried to ignite an explosive device aboard a trans-Atlantic Northwest Airlines flight as the plane prepared to land in Detroit on Friday, in an incident the United States believes was “an attempted act of terrorism,” according to a White House official who declined to be identified.

The device, described by officials as a mixture of powder and liquid, failed to fully detonate. Passengers on the plane described a series of pops that sounded like firecrackers.

Federal officials said the man wanted to bring the plane down.

“This was the real deal,” said Representative Peter T. King of New York, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, who was briefed on the incident and said something had gone wrong with the explosive device, which he described as somewhat sophisticated. “This could have been devastating,” Mr. King said. the rest

Suspect in attempted bombing of Detroit flight had visa to attend "religious ceremony"

Extending Federal Benefits to Same-Sex Couples Will Cost $898M

December 26, 2009

Extending federal benefits to same-sex couples will cost taxpayers $898 million over the next nine years, according to an analysis of "domestic partnership" legislation released last by the Congressional Budget Office.

The CBO said in its Dec. 17 report that the House version of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act -- H.R. 2517 -- would cost $596 million in direct spending and $302 million in discretionary spending through 2019.

The independent nonpartisan agency found that "providing additional health insurance benefits through the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program" -- for active and retired gay federal workers with spouses -- "causes the largest increase in both mandatory and discretionary spending -- $590 million and $266 million, respectively." the rest

Mexico City legalises same-sex marriage - AP

Patient in 23-year 'coma' was conscious all along

posted December 26, 2009

A car crash victim who was believed to have been in a coma for the past 23 years has been conscious the whole time.

Rom Houben was paralysed but could not let doctors know that he could hear every word they were saying, reports the Daily Mail.

"I dreamed myself away," said Mr Houben, now 46, who doctors thought was in a persistent vegatative state.

Doctors conducted a series of coma tests before concluding that his consciousness was "extinct".
But three years ago, new hi-tech scans showed his brain was still functioning almost completely normally. the rest

Pope Benedict: "God Still Kindles Fires in the Night of the World"

Holy Father's Christmas Message

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2009 ( Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Christmas message, which he gave today at noon from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world,
and all men and women, whom the Lord loves!

"Lux fulgebit hodie super nos,
quia natus est nobis Dominus.

A light will shine on us this day,
the Lord is born for us"

(Roman Missal, Christmas, Entrance Antiphon for the Mass at Dawn)

The liturgy of the Mass at Dawn reminded us that the night is now past, the day has begun; the light radiating from the cave of Bethlehem shines upon us.

The Bible and the Liturgy do not, however, speak to us about a natural light, but a different, special light, which is somehow directed to and focused upon "us", the same "us" for whom the Child of Bethlehem "is born". This "us" is the Church, the great universal family of those who believe in Christ, who have awaited in hope the new birth of the Saviour, and who today celebrate in mystery the perennial significance of this event.

At first, beside the manger in Bethlehem, that "us" was almost imperceptible to human eyes. As the Gospel of Saint Luke recounts, it included, in addition to Mary and Joseph, a few lowly shepherds who came to the cave after hearing the message of the Angels. The light of that first Christmas was like a fire kindled in the night. All about there was darkness, while in the cave there shone the true light "that enlightens every man" (Jn 1:9). And yet all this took place in simplicity and hiddenness, in the way that God works in all of salvation history. God loves to light little lights, so as then to illuminate vast spaces. Truth, and Love, which are its content, are kindled wherever the light is welcomed; they then radiate in concentric circles, as if by contact, in the hearts and minds of all those who, by opening themselves freely to its splendour, themselves become sources of light. Such is the history of the Church: she began her journey in the lowly cave of Bethlehem, and down the centuries she has become a People and a source of light for humanity. Today too, in those who encounter that Child, God still kindles fires in the night of the world, calling men and women everywhere to acknowledge in Jesus the "sign" of his saving and liberating presence and to extend the "us" of those who believe in Christ to the whole of mankind. the rest

Vatican to review security after papal knock-down

Dec 25, 2009

VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Vatican will review security procedures after a woman jumped a barrier and rushed at Pope Benedict XVI for the second time in two years, this time managing to knock him down before being pulled away by guards, the Vatican spokesman said Friday.

Benedict, 82, wasn't hurt and delivered his traditional Christmas Day greetings in 65 languages from the loggia overlooking St. Peter's Square. While a bit unsteady at first, he also delivered a short speech about the world's trouble spots without problem.

The incident in St. Peter's Basilica raised fresh questions about security for the pontiff, however, after officials said the woman involved had jumped the barrier at the 2008 Midnight Mass in a failed bid to get to the pope. She even wore the same red-hooded sweat shirt. the rest

Jesus the Socialist

Thursday, December 24, 2009
by Cal Thomas

Apparently not content with his congressional majority that wishes to force Americans on a long march to health care disaster, President Obama has invoked the name of Jesus to broadcast his gospel of spreading the wealth around.

Speaking Monday afternoon to a group of children from the Washington, D.C., Boys and Girls Club, the president delivered a mini sermon on "why we celebrate Christmas." He asked the children if they knew. One piped up and said "The birth of baby Jesus."

One can imagine the reaction of the media and other elites had a Republican president asked such a question. That Republican would have been accused of violating church-state separation and discriminating against those who celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or nothing. Because the president's Christmas lesson perfectly fit his social goals, there has been no outcry. the rest

Keep the Big Tent big

By William M. Daley
Thursday, December 24, 2009

The announcement by Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith that he is switching to the Republican Party is just the latest warning sign that the Democratic Party -- my lifelong political home -- has a critical decision to make: Either we plot a more moderate, centrist course or risk electoral disaster not just in the upcoming midterms but in many elections to come.

Rep. Griffith's decision makes him the fifth centrist Democrat to either switch parties or announce plans to retire rather than stand for reelection in 2010. These announcements are a sharp reversal from the progress the Democratic Party made starting in 2006 and continuing in 2008, when it reestablished itself as the nation's majority party for the first time in more than a decade. That success happened for one major reason: Democrats made inroads in geographies and constituencies that had trended Republican since the 1960s. In these two elections, a majority of independents and a sizable number of moderate Republicans joined the traditional Democratic base to sweep Democrats to commanding majorities in Congress and to bring Barack Obama to the White House.

These independents and Republicans supported Democrats based on a message indicating that the party would be a true Big Tent -- that we would welcome a diversity of views even on tough issues such as abortion, gun rights and the role of government in the economy. the rest

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Devotional: He comes...

He comes, a Child, from realms on high,
He comes the heav'ns adoring;
He comes to earth to live and die,
A broken race restoring.
Although the King of kings is He,
He comes in deep humility;
His people to deliver,
And reign in us forever.
...Joseph Barlowe

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

Raymond and Pat Dague

Rome's call: 'Come on over'

By George F. Will
Sunday, December 27, 2009

Late in life, the mother of the Rev. Thomas Reese, S.J., began attending mass at a Southern California church, the congregation of which soon became Spanish-speaking. Services were conducted entirely in that language, which she could not understand, yet she happily continued attending. When her son asked why, she replied: "It is just like the Latin Mass, I don't understand a word of it. It is even better, I don't understand the homily." We have all listened to a speaker and wished: If only he were incomprehensible. As G.K. Chesterton said of Times Square, it would be beautiful if you could not read.

Mrs. Reese's son, now 64 and a senior fellow at a religious-issues think tank at Georgetown University, was raised experiencing the liturgy in Latin. He entered seminary in 1962, the year the Second Vatican Council convened. By the time Reese was ordained, the council had essentially proscribed the Latin Mass.

Having seen much change -- and much resistance to it -- Reese is relaxed about 2009's most intriguing development in Christianity, the Vatican's enticement of disaffected Anglicans. Rome is saying to individuals, and perhaps to entire parishes and even dioceses: "Come on over." It is trolling with rules, recently written, that will enable Anglicans-become-Catholics to retain some of their liturgy. The church will accept some already married priests, and perhaps married seminarians, but not bishops.

The Vatican says it is not raiding but merely answers to Anglican knocks on its door. Combined, however, with Pope Benedict XVI's having appealed to dissident conservative Catholics by removing most restrictions on celebrating the traditional Latin Mass, the courtship of Anglicans looks like an aggressive -- although not improperly so -- attempt to consolidate an expanded Catholicism. the rest

Dr. Ephraim Radner: The Emerging Shape of Anglican Mission

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Advent now shifts into the manifestation of God’s good will in the Nativity feast. So too the church takes its self-scrutiny and penitence, and turns in hope to the gift of God’s own and new life among us.

The final text of the Anglican Covenant has now been sent out for adoption by the churches of the Communion. The slow process by which this text and its official dissemination for action has occurred has frustrated some, yet its persistent progress forward to this point at last puts the lie to the naysayers and early eulogists of the Covenant’s purpose. Joined to the restarting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic international dialogue, to be focused on substantive matters of ecclesiology and moral decision-making, what seemed merely slow now appears to be the visible sign of a tectonic shift in global Anglicanism and Christianity itself. It is one in which the Episcopal Church in the United States has placed itself on the far side of a widening channel separating the ballast of Christian witness, Catholic and Pentecostal, from marginal spin-offs of liberal Protestantism in decline.

And so some stock-taking is in order. I would like to speak as honestly as I can about the Episcopal Church, of which I am and remain a member, as we enter this new decade. The purpose of doing so is not to provoke response or to encourage reactive apathy. Honesty is necessary, simply and straightforwardly, for anyone who seeks God’s will, and surely that is all of us, and especially those of us who are Anglicans in America and in the Episcopal Church.
the rest

Comments at Stand Firm

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

John Barrasso and Tom Coburn Discuss Harry Reid's Additions to the Democrats' Health Care Bill

Kathleen Sebelius Admits, Covers Up Abortion Funding in Health Care Measure

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 22, 2009

Washington, DC ( -- HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is getting attention for an interview yesterday in which she essentially admits that the American public would be forced to pay for abortions under the Senate health are bill and then relies on accounting gimmicks to suggests that's not the case.

Sebelius spoke with BlogHer interviewer Morra Aarons-Mele yesterday and praised the new abortion language the Senate adopted in Harry Reid's manager's amendment.

The language, submitted by Sen. Ben Nelson in conjunction with Sen. Bob Casey and pro-abortion Sens. Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray, opens the door to massive abortion funding.

"I would say that the Senate language, which was negotiated by Senators Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray, who are very strong defenders of women’s health services and choices for women, take a big step forward from where the House left it with the Stupak amendment," the pro-abortion Obama administration official said. the rest

Twitter service gathers the thoughts of almost 100 Church of England clergy

By Martin Beckford
22 Dec 2009

A new service has been developed that gathers the thoughts of the nine bishops, about 75 vicars and one Archbishop who use the popular “micro-blogging” website.

Anyone who follows the “Twurch of England” can read their latest thoughts and conversations, written in short messages of up to 140 characters either on computers or mobile phone.

The most high-profile religious figure to use Twitter is the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who is the second most senior cleric in the Church of England. Earlier this year he used Twitter to advertise for a new communications director. the rest

Covenant to bind Anglicans sent out to churches

December 22, 2009
by Daniel Burke
Religion News Service

(RNS) The final draft of a document aimed at mediating disputes between liberals and conservatives in the global Anglican Communion was sent on Friday (Dec. 18) to its 38 provinces for approval.

The Anglican Communion, which is the world's third-largest body of Christians with 77 million members, has been bitterly divided over homosexuality since the election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. province of the communion.

Archbishop Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of Anglicanism, said the document, called a "covenant," is "not going to be a penal code" but rather "a practical, sensible and Christian way of dealing with our conflicts."

"We've discovered that our relations with each other as local churches have been strained," Williams said in a statement, "and we need to have a sense that we are responsible to one another." the rest

The Living Church: Catholic Voices: Four Responses to the Covenant

Local parishes take varying stands, including leaving Episcopal church

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bp. Martyn Minns' Christmas Message: Jesus Is Closer Than Ever!

December 21, 2009

Another poor baby has arrived. He’s homeless. He’s clothed in rags. His mother is unmarried. His people are treated as refugees in their own land. That’s how the First Advent happened.

Well, you don’t need me to tell you that some things haven’t changed that much and the state of the global village is decidedly mixed. Perhaps you now find yourself unemployed or rocked by a foreclosure or facing some overwhelming challenge. In the midst of these problems we may feel that Jesus is so far away. But it’s precisely during these times of turmoil that Jesus is closer than ever.

Jesus’ teaching about the Final Judgment (Matthew 25:31–46) makes the point that the God who became flesh and dwelt among us has never really left us. Jesus foretold that at the Second Advent he will say to the faithful: “I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.”

For those of us in the depths of despair, Jesus’ words remind us that he so identifies with our problems that he says he is the one who is hungry; he is the one who is thirsty; he is the one who feels like a stranger. We don’t face our problems alone. Jesus suffers when we’re suffering. Jesus is closer than ever.

Jesus’ words also are a clarion call to the church during these days. With longer lines of people at food pantries, with homeless shelters accommodating more and more “middle-class” families, with more people knocking on our church doors for help, the opportunities to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless are not hard to find. Jesus is closer than ever.

Your church may feel that the numbers of people needing help are overwhelming, and that your members have so few resources of their own. But we recall the time that Jesus took two fish and five loaves of bread, all that the disciples had to offer, and fed a crowd of more than 5,000 hungry people. They didn’t think they had enough but Jesus took what they offered and blessed a multitude. Jesus is still at work.

I heard about him showing up at a federal penitentiary in Kentucky where CANA Chaplain John Hallock has led many Muslim inmates to Christ this year. Jesus is also at work in Garland, Texas, where Christ the Redeemer Church has initiated a multi-faceted outreach in a public housing neighborhood and many lives have been transformed. Last November I saw Jesus at work in a congregation of 200-some homeless men and women who regularly worship at Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia. Last week I heard about ways in which Jesus is changing lives at All Saints Church in San Antonio, Texas. Jesus is busy throughout CANA; he’s all over the country. Jesus is closer than ever . . . if we just have eyes that want to see him.

Let us go to the manger. Let us marvel in his presence. Let us bring him our gifts. Let us tell others about him. Jesus is here!

Your Brother in Christ,
The Rt. Rev'd Martyn Minns

CANA Website

Where have the young people gone?

Some churches suffering loss of attendance
By Lucienda Denson
Lifestyle Editor
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

“Nationwide polls and denominational reports are showing that the next generation is calling it quits on the traditional church. And it’s not just happening on the nominal fringe; it’s happening at the core of the faith.”

That’s the opening paragraph in a press release promoting a new book, “Already Gone,” by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer, with Todd Hillard.

Nick Garland, pastor of First Baptist Church in Broken Arrow, considers the findings so on target, the church recently hosted an “Answers in Genesis” conference led by Ham. the rest


Fr. Sunil De Silva

In July 2008 a severe persecution of Christians broke out in the Indian state of Orissa. A 22 year old nun was burnt to death when angry mobs burnt down an orphanage in Khuntpali village in Barhgarh district, another nun was gang raped in Kandhamal, mobs attacked churches, torched vehicles, houses of Christians destroyed, and Fr. Thomas Chellen, director of the pastoral center that was destroyed with a bomb, had a narrow escape after a Hindu mob nearly set him on fire. The end result saw more than 500 Christians murdered, and thousands of others injured and homeless after their houses were reduced to ashes. Recently a strange and dramatic event took place in Orissa, which has many people talking and wondering.

In recent months, herds of wild elephants have begun to storm villages that are home to some of the worst persecutors of Christians during the troubles. In one village, where in August a year ago the Christians had to run for their lives while their homes were being destroyed by rioters, a herd of elephants emerged from the surrounding jungle exactly one year later, in July 2009, at the same time of the day of the attack.

These elephants first attacked a rock crusher machine owned by a key leader of the persecution movement. They then went on to destroy his house and farms. the rest

Killing For Organs Promoted in the New York Times Magazine

Sunday, December 20, 2009
Wesley J. Smith

As I have often warned, the next big agenda item in organ transplant medicine is gaining license for transplant surgeons to kill the cognitively devastated and imminently dying patients for their organs. Such a policy is pushed from two different angles, both of which try to convince us that killing for organs would really be a case of no harm, no foul. First, they argue that if one is only “biologically alive,” e.g., in persistent vegetative state, the rational part that makes them human is gone,–and so it is perfectly proper to treat as if they were dead. The second main argument is that death is a process, and since we cannot know the exact moment when life actually ceases, we do no harm in allowing surgeons to hasten the time in cases where a patient is thought to be actively dying.

A physician named Darshak Sanghavi pushes the second argument in today’s piece in the Times Magazine. Ostensibly, the article is about Donation After Cardiac Death (DCD), that is patients who are allowed to go into cardiac arrest in an operating room after the removal of life support, and after five minutes without heart beat or respiration declared dead. (We have also discussed this often at SHS.) Then, the organ procurement team takes over the patient’s care and removes the organs. the rest

Albert Mohler: Where Does the Story of Christmas Begin?

Monday, December 21, 2009

As the celebration of Christmas fast approaches, our attention quickly goes to the familiar words of the infancy narratives found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. This is a healthy reflex. After all, the Gospel of Jesus Christ rests upon the historicity of the events that took place in Bethlehem as Christ was born. Our understanding of the identity of Jesus Christ is directly rooted in these narratives and our confidence is in the fact that Matthew and Luke give us historically credible and completely truthful accounts of the events surrounding the birth of Christ.

A closer look at the narratives in both Matthew and Luke reveals a richness that familiarity may hide from us. Matthew begins with the genealogy of Christ, demonstrating the sequence of generations as Israel anticipated the birth of David's Son -- the Messiah. Luke, intending to set forth "an orderly account" of the events concerning Jesus, begins with the anticipation of the birth of John the Baptist and then moves to tell of the virgin conception of Jesus.

A careful reading of Matthew and Luke reveals both the elegance of detail and the grand expanse of the story of Christ's birth. Matthew gives particular attention to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. The virgin birth, the birth of Christ in Bethlehem of Judea, the Herodian massacre of the innocents, the flight to Egypt, and the role of John the Baptist as forerunner are all presented as the fulfillment of specific Old Testament prophecies. the rest image

Reclaiming Christmas from the malls

Church-based initiative that was born in Houston spreads to 5,000 churches nationwide
Dec. 20, 2009

Making a list, checking it twice, checking a third time, then a fourth, marking names off, thinking about how much she'd spent and still had to spend — all of it got to be too much for Linda Davis.
Finally, she'd had enough. This was not Christmas. This was a seasonal burden laden with anxiety and void of real meaning.

“It was maddening, overwhelming,” Davis said. “It was taking the joy out of what was supposed to be a joyful season.”

So this year she quit. Introduced to a movement called Advent Conspiracy at her church, Davis, her husband and three children joined the ranks of those who have dedicated themselves to rethinking Christmas and reclaiming its original intent, which has little to do with credit cards and shopping malls. And she is far from alone. The church-based initiative has spread like a viral video since a Houston pastor and a few fellow ministers came up with the idea four years ago, with more than 5,000 churches across the nation participating this season.

The Advent Conspiracy was born of a common complaint: There was too much time and money spent shopping, too little time spent enjoying family and friends and almost no time devoted to the Scriptural messages of service delivered by the one whose birth is celebrated on Dec. 25. the rest

Doggy Dreams

Cash for Cloture: Demcare bribe list, Pt. II

By Michelle Malkin
December 21, 2009

A month ago, I compiled Part I of the Demcare bribe list as Harry Reid rushed before Thanksgiving to secure his first cloture vote on the government health care takeover. (Quick re-cap: $300 million Louisiana Purchase for Landrieu; $300 million California doctor payments; AARP goodies; abortion and union lobby concessions.)

Here’s Part II of the Cash for Cloture bribe list all in one handy place (hat tip again to my friend ChristinaKB for the apt phrase she first coined on November 21 for the Demcare wheeling and dealing).

GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell alluded to all this backroom dealing on the floor early this morning before the cloture vote, but lamely refused to name names on the Senate floor.

Screw Senate collegiality. Let the sun shine in. the rest

A Pyrrhic Victory?

Change Nobody Believes In
A bill so reckless that it has to be rammed through on a partisan vote on Christmas eve

Sen. Reid’s Government-Run Health Plan STILL Requires a Monthly Abortion Fee

The Virtual Visit May Expand Access to Doctors

December 20, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO — Americans could soon be able to see a doctor without getting out of bed, in a modern-day version of the house call that takes place over the Web.

A screen shot of that exam, which is not of an actual patient. Dr. Crow says the NowClinic system allows him to pick up on nonverbal cues, similar to an in-person visit.

OptumHealth, a division of UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, plans to offer NowClinic, a service that connects patients and doctors using video chat, nationwide next year. It is introducing it state by state, starting with Texas, but not without resistance from state medical associations.

OptumHealth believes NowClinic will improve health care by ameliorating some of the stresses on the system today, like wasted time dealing with appointments and insurance claims, a shortage of primary care physicians and limited access to care for many patients.

But some doctors worry that the quality of care that patients receive will suffer if physicians neglect one of the most basic elements of health care: a physical exam. the rest

'Mix-and-match' faith dangerous

Allie Martin

A clergyman in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America isn't surprised that elements of eastern faiths and New Age thinking have found their way into the beliefs of many Protestants and Catholics.

According to a recently published survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 65 percent of U.S. adults mix contradictory beliefs -- such as blending Christianity with beliefs like reincarnation, astrology, and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects. Also, 28 percent of people who attend church weekly say they visit multiple churches outside their own tradition.

Rev. Julian Dobbs with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America says there is a definite danger when self-professed Christians mix other faith practices and beliefs with the biblical truth. the rest

Police expect Mumbai-style terror attack on City of London

The Sunday Times
December 20, 2009
David Leppard

Scotland Yard has warned businesses in London to expect a Mumbai-style attack on the capital.
In a briefing in the City of London 12 days ago, a senior detective from SO15, the Metropolitan police counter-terrorism command, said: “Mumbai is coming to London.”

The detective said companies should anticipate a shooting and hostage-taking raid “involving a small number of gunmen with handguns and improvised explosive devices”.

The warning — the bluntest issued by police — has underlined an assessment that a terrorist cell may be preparing an attack on London early next year. the rest

Pro-life group rejects Senate compromise on abortion

Fred Jackson
OneNewsNow and the Associated Press

While the Senate Democratic leadership and the White House may be celebrating Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson's decision to vote for the health reform bill, the National Right to Life Committee says it will continue to fight for greater restrictions on federal funding for abortions.

Nelson has been a problem for his fellow Democrats in recent days because of his stated desire to ensure the bill would not allow federal dollars to pay for abortions.

The Senate Democrats needed 60 votes to get their bill passed and have been working hard to achieve their goal before Christmas.

After some intense negotiations late Friday, Nelson finally agreed to a compromise. the rest

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Veni Veni Emmanuel

Anglican Head Encourages Provinces to Approve New Covenant

Sun, Dec. 20 2009
By Joshua A. Goldberg
Christian Post Reporter

LONDON – Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams has advised the Anglican Communion's 34 provinces to approve a document aimed at preventing a split in the global church body.

While the draft Anglican Covenant sent out to provinces for consideration this past week sets out a framework for dealing with conflicts among the provinces, it is not, as the archbishop put it, a "penal code" by which to punish provinces that do not tow the line.

"It's not going to solve all our problems, it's not going to be a constitution, and it's certainly not going to be a penal code for punishing people who don't comply," stated Williams, who stands as the spiritual head of the 77-million-large Anglican Communion.

Instead, the covenant offers a way of discerning the nature of any disagreements and whether they were a "Communion-breaking issue." the rest

N.C. judge strikes down law banning sex offenders from church

By Bob Allen
Friday, December 18, 2009

PITTSBORO, N.C. (ABP) -- A North Carolina judge has ruled in favor of two registered sex offenders arrested in May for attending a Baptist church near Raleigh.

Francis Demaio and James Nichols were indicted May 11 for violating a state law requiring sex offenders to stay at least 300 feet away from places used primarily by children. The two men had been attending Moncure Baptist Church, which has a nursery on its premises, for several months.

Chatham County Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour ruled Dec. 17 that the law is unconstitutionally broad and vague.

Baddour said North Carolina's Sexual Offender Unlawfully on Premises law is constitutional on its face, because it prohibits conduct by all qualifying offenders without regard to religion. However, he added, while the state has a compelling interest in safeguarding children, the judge ruled, "There are less drastic means for achieving the same purpose." the rest

Christian teacher lost her job after being told praying for sick girl 'was bullying'

By Jonathan Petre
20th December 2009

A Christian teacher fears she may never work again after she was sacked for offering to pray for a sick pupil.

Olive Jones, 54, said she had been made to feel like a criminal, and claimed that Christians were being persecuted due to 'political correctness'.

Mrs Jones, who taught children not well enough to attend school, said that after she raised the topic of prayer during a visit to a 12-year-old's house, the girl's mother lodged a complaint.

Just hours later, said Mrs Jones, her boss told her she would no longer be working for Oak Hill Short Stay School and Tuition Service, in Nailsea, Somerset. the rest

Update on Fr. Nigel Sunday 12-20-09

Sunday, December 20, 2009
3:30 pm

Fr. Nigel gives Thanksgiving for life itself and also says Thanks for your prayers.

Praise God that he is off the "trake" which has been capped. Pray that it can be removed soon and for complete healing of his lungs.

Other requests:
-Pray for complete healing of "pressure wound" (bed sore). Pain level high.
-He has alternate cold and sweats with side effects and dizziness. Pray for end of these and stabilization of his body when standing.
-Pray he can be upright longer.
-Pray for increase of strength of body muscles.

Albany Intercessor

Standing Committee releases Anglican covenant’s revised section 4

Anglicans United
Cheryl M. Wetzel
December 19th, 2009

[Ed. Note: Section 4 is the "hard news" section of the Covenant because it deals with discipline. This new Section 4 is expanded from the first Section 4, in order, I believe, to give clearer explanation for the precepts of this section. The 1st paragraph adds that provinces, "freely offer this commitment to other Churches in order to live more fully into the ecclesial communion and interdependence which is foundational to the Churches of the Anglican Communion." The next paragraph states that, "..each Church recognises in the preceding sections a statement of faith, mission and interdependence of life which is consistent with its own life and with the doctrine and practice of the Christian faith as it has received them." This is not submission to an external jurisdiction. However, other churches and/or dioceses may be offered the opportunity to sign the Covenant, which does not imply that they are part of the Communion. In their expanation, the Standing Committee stated that, "“In Anglican ecclesiology, there is a creative tension between the understanding of “local Church”, which is that portion of God’s people gathered around their bishop, usually in the form of a territorial diocese, and “Church” as a term or description for a national or regional ecclesial community, which is bound together by a national character, and/or common liturgical life, governance and canon law..." TEC insisted that the new US province not be established as the 'authentic Anglican Church' because they signed the Covenant and it is uncertain (actually, unlikely now) that TEC will do so. That request was respected, but given latitude. "The Covenant operates to express the common commitments and mutual accountability..." the rest

Irish monk named in US list of top US business people

Sunday, December 20, 2009

An Irish monk has taken the commercial world by surprise after been named in a list of the top 100 Irish-American businessmen thanks to his €1,800 coffins.

Br Brendan Freeman, a 71-year-old monk, based in Peosta, Iowa, has been named alongside industrial tycoons and business moguls in the list compiled by Irish American Magazine.
The publication said, "the executives profiled here represent some of the most powerful corporations in the world.”

But that is not how Br Freeman who has both Irish and American citizenship and his fellow monks at New Melleray Abbey would describe themselves or their decade old Trappist caskets business.

These men have dedicated their lives to prayer but must support themselves and their 160-year-old monastery founded and built by Irish monks. the rest image

Friday, December 18, 2009

Our Divine Distortion: We can't see God clearly without Jesus. O come, Emmanuel.

Carolyn Arends

I was raised to understand that sin's gravest consequence is the way it forces God to perceive me: God is holy, I'm not, and there's no way he can even look at me until I have the covering of Christ's blood. In my teens, I clipped a poem out of a youth magazine in which the poet asks—and answers—a pressing question: "How can a righteous God look at me, a sinner, and see a precious child? Simple: The Son gets in his eyes."

But what about how I look at God? I've often been oblivious to one of the most insidious byproducts of the Fall: Sin affects my perception of God. Or, to turn a phrase from that poem, the sin gets in my eyes.

Before Adam and Eve had fallen for the first lie, they basked in God's company. But after a few bites of forbidden fruit, they no longer looked forward to seeing their Maker. When he came calling, they hid.

Had God changed? No. Adam and Eve's brokenness altered their perception of God, not his character. Ever since, we humans have been letting our shame poison our understanding of God. He becomes an ogre, or a bookkeeper, or maybe just a disinterested, detached monarch. the rest

Robert P. George: The Conservative-Christian Big Thinker

December 16, 2009

On a September afternoon, about 60 prominent Christians assembled in the library of the Metropolitan Club on the east side of Central Park. It was a gathering of unusual diversity and power. Many in attendance were conservative evangelicals like the born-again Watergate felon Chuck Colson, who helped initiate the meeting. Metropolitan Jonah, the primate of the Orthodox Church in America, was there as well. And so were more than half a dozen of this country’s most influential Roman Catholic bishops, including Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, Archbishop John Myers of Newark and Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia.

At the center of the event was Robert P. George, a Princeton University professor of jurisprudence and a Roman Catholic who is this country’s most influential conservative Christian thinker. Dressed in his usual uniform of three-piece suit, New College, Oxford cuff links and rimless glasses­, George convened the meeting with a note of thanks and a reminder of its purpose. Alarmed at the liberal takeover of Washington and an apparent leadership vacuum among the Christian right, the group had come together to warn the country’s secular powers that the culture wars had not ended. As a starting point, George had drafted a 4,700-word manifesto that promised resistance to the point of civil disobedience against any legislation that might implicate their churches or charities in abortion, embryo-destructive research or same-sex marriage. the rest

Anglican Covenant Final Draft Released

December 18, 2009

The final text of the Anglican Communion covenant was released for formal consideration for adoption by the Communion’s provinces on Dec. 18. The Rev. Canon Dr. Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, made the announcement (in a letter [PDF] addressed to “Primates, Moderators and Provincial Secretaries of the Anglican Communion”), saying that the presentation of the covenant to the provinces “represents an invitation to deepening of relationships among those provinces.

“We have a long history of friendship, affinities and collaboration between provinces, dioceses, parishes and people across the globe, and we celebrate these manifold expressions of our oneness in Christ,” Canon Kearon wrote. “The covenant represents a further step in these relationships, building on and giving expression to the bonds of affection which shape our common life.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams offered a preview to the official release of the text via a video message on Dec. 18, saying he hopes that the covenant “will be adopted by as many provinces as possible. the rest

A.S. Haley: Final Text of Covenant Released; ECUSA Will Walk Apart