Friday, December 31, 2010

Church of Scotland faces threat of split in row over gay ministers

30 December 2010

DESPERATE efforts are under way to prevent the Church of Scotland splitting over the issue of gay ministers.

New official figures suggest a clear majority of Kirk representatives in Edinburgh would back a more liberal attitude.

A special commission is due to report to the General Assembly in May on whether practising gays and lesbians should be accepted into the ministry.

A consultation among ministers and elders in the Kirk's Edinburgh presbytery found a majority of two to one in favour of allowing gays who were in civil partnerships to become ministers, though there was an almost 50-50 divide on whether those who were in a non- formalised same-sex relationship should be ordained. the rest

The Spirituality of Children of Divorce

Elizabeth Marquardt
December 22, 2010

Young people from divorced families told me they had to grow up traveling between two worlds, literally and metaphorically. When their parents divorced the tough job of making sense of the differences between the parents' values and beliefs did not go away. Rather, this job was handed to the child alone. When it came to the big questions in life - Who am I? Where do I belong? What is right and wrong? Is there a God? - those from divorced families more often felt like they had to struggle for the answers alone.

Young people from divorced families felt just as spiritual as those from intact families, but their spiritual journeys were more often characterized by loss and suffering. For children, there is a kind of elemental wholeness in being with both of your parents, an experience that evokes the place where God is present. That experience becomes foreign for children of divorce. the rest

Australian floods extend across Queensland

Australia Floods to Worsen in East As Cyclone Looms in West

Thursday, December 30, 2010

How's That Religion of Peace Doing These Days?

December 29, 2010 By Eileen F. Toplansky

Only a few days remain until 2011, and still there is no end to Islamic hatred in the world.

Christmas was celebrated in an unusual way in Indonesia this year. Since sharia forbids the construction of any new churches, hundreds of members of Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Parung, West Java, Indonesia decided to celebrate Mass "in a tent set up in the parking lot of the Marsudirini Elementary School." Although on paper, Indonesia's constitution states that "no one has the right to prohibit any religious community from practicing its faith" the rising influence of Islamic radicals is obliterating all this. the rest

If Christians Were Treated Like Muslims
by Gary Bauer
Few Americans would deny that Judeo-Christian beliefs and values informed the Founding of this country and that they continue to shape much of American life today. Nor would many of us deny that Americans who embrace Islamic values are a distinct minority here.
I raise these two facts because of an emerging reality: that, in a variety of contexts, American Muslims are treated better than American Christians. That might seem like a bizarre assertion, so think about it in another way: What if the Christians were treated like Muslims in America, and Muslims like Christians?

If Muslims were treated like Christians in America, Muslims would have to tolerate the defamation of their holiest images in our national museums, acts which would be called "artwork" -- and, if particularly provocative, even given taxpayer-funded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. They would also have to accept Korans being burned and thrown into toilets, which instead of inciting worldwide outrage and retribution would provoke a collective shrug of the shoulders. the rest

Marriage: Merely a Social Construct?

by Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson and Robert P. George
December 29, 2010

A response to Northwestern Law Professor Andrew Koppelman.

We are grateful for Andrew Koppelman’s recent reply to our argument in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy that marriage is the conjugal union of husband and wife. Thanks to his honesty and candor, the ensuing exchange should set in stark relief the implications of redefining civil marriage.

Professor Koppelman graciously credits our article with having “done [readers] a service with [a] succinct and clear exposition” of the arguments for conjugal marriage “that is accessible to the general reader.” Noting that “the most prominent response to [our] paper, by NYU Law Professor Kenji Yoshino, doesn’t really engage with any of [our] arguments,” Koppelman writes, “Here I will try to do better.”

Koppelman has indeed contributed importantly to the debate. Besides providing an opportunity for us to defend a core premise of our view, he has forthrightly admitted—he might say, embraced—the less politically palatable implications of rejecting our position.

Against our view that marriage is a pre-political form of relationship (albeit one that the state has compelling reasons to support and regulate), Koppelman holds that marriage is merely a social and legal construction—the pure product of conventions. the rest-links at site

King James Bible's 400-year reign

Quadricentennial of KJV to get royal treatment
By Mark A. Kellner
The Washington Times
Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Its cadence is found in the speeches of Abraham Lincoln and the lyrics of Paul Simon. Renowned narrator Alexander Scourby and country music legend Johnny Cash have recorded spoken versions of the text. It's estimated that 1 billion copies have been printed since the first volume rolled off the press in 1611.

The King James Version of the Bible, also known as the "Authorized Version," marks its 400th anniversary in 2011, and by any measure, it has had a lasting impact on the world and on the language into which it was sent. The "authorized" moniker comes from a title-page declaration that this Bible was "authorized to be read in churches."

"The sheer poetry of the King James Version, not to mention its almost half-millennium of absolute authority, militates against its slipping into obscurity any time soon," declared Phyllis Tickle, longtime religion editor at Publishers Weekly magazine. the rest image

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pope invites hundreds of homeless to Vatican for lunch

Event marks the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s birth

Lux Aurumque

Warm and heavy as pure gold
And the angels sing softly
To the new-born baby.
(h/t the Anchoress)

Nigeria Christmas violence death toll rises to 80

by Ethan Cole, Christian Post
Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The death toll for the Christmas Eve bombings in central Nigeria and the Christian-Muslim clash that ensued has risen to at least 80 people.

Police initially said 32 people were killed in the coordinated bomb explosions in Jos on Christmas Eve. The latest death toll includes those killed in the connected conflict between Muslim and Christian youths on Sunday in central Nigeria. Another 100 people were wounded and are in the hospital.

On Christmas Eve, two bombs exploded near a busy market where people were Christmas shopping in Jos, the capital of Plateau state. Another blast occurred in a predominantly Christian neighbourhood and a fourth bomb exploded near a road leading to the main mosque in Jos. the rest

Pro-Life Groups: Stop Abortion Funding in 2011

Tue, Dec. 28 2010
By Stephanie Samuel
Christian Post Reporter

EAs the New Year edges closer, conservative and religious policy experts have established anti-abortion legislation as its top agenda item for the 112th Congress set to be confirmed in January 2011.

More specifically, legislative and policy experts from pro-life and pro-family groups are looking to stop abortion funding.

Many pro-family groups have backed down off of calls to repeal the health care reform bill and converged behind efforts to expressly prohibit taxpayer money from paying for abortion provider initiatives. the rest

San Diego: Church walks away from Episcopal diocese

By Christopher Cadelago Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Rev. Canon Lawrence Bausch expects to surrender the keys to his Ocean Beach church to the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego on Thursday, closing a chapter in an international conflict intensified by the election of an openly gay bishop.

The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson’s consecration seven years ago in New Hampshire underscored a cleft in the worldwide Anglican Communion. About 350 congregations have since voted to leave the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the communion, and align themselves with more conservative Anglican leaders overseas.

The rift has tested personal and professional relationships, spurred protracted court disputes over church property and prompted efforts to create a rival North American province. the rest

Baby boomers near 65 with retirements in jeopardy

AP Personal Finance Writer
Monday, December 27, 2010

Through a combination of procrastination and bad timing, many baby boomers are facing a personal finance disaster just as they're hoping to retire. Starting in January, more than 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65, a pattern that will continue for the next 19 years.

The boomers, who in their youth revolutionized everything from music to race relations, are set to redefine retirement. But a generation that made its mark in the tumultuous 1960s now faces a crisis as it hits its own mid-60s. the rest
"The situation is extremely serious because baby boomers have not saved very effectively for retirement and are still retiring too early," says Olivia Mitchell, director of the Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Research at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ireland: Many same-sex couples plan to register civil partnerships

The Irish Times
Monday, December 27, 2010

DOZENS OF same-sex couples are making plans to apply to register their civil partnerships in the new year following the coming into force of the Civil Partnership Act.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has signed the commencement order allowing the law to come into force on January 1st.

The Act provides for the legal recognition of same-sex relationships and for granting certain protections to cohabiting couples when they break up through separation or death. It provides for similar rights for same-sex as for married couples in relation to property, social welfare, succession, maintenance, pensions and tax. It also provides for the dissolution of such partnerships. the rest

British legal system protecting rights of minorities over Christians – bishop

The Bishop of Winchester has spoken of his concern for the religious freedom of Christians in Britain.
by Jenna Lyle
Monday, December 27, 2010

The Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt told the BBC’s World This Weekend there was an “imbalance” in the legal system with regards to the freedom of Christians and people of other faiths pursuing the calling of their faith in public life.

He expressed concerns over rulings being handed down by court judges in cases involving Christians as he warned of “a lack of religious literacy” in Parliament and among those in the judiciary.

It was becoming, he added, increasingly “difficult” for devoted believers to work in the public services and even in Parliament. the rest

December 2010 Blizzard Timelapse

December 2010 Blizzard Timelapse from Michael Black on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Devotional: When the song of the angels is stilled...

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
then the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal those broken in spirit,
to feed the hungry,
to release the oppressed,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among all peoples,
to make a little music with the heart…
And to radiate the Light of Christ,
every day, in every way,
 in all that we do and in all that we say.
Then the work of Christmas begins.
...Howard Thurman image by Greg Knapp

End-of-Life Decisions and the Bureaucracy

By Wesley J. Smith
December 27, 2010

When I learned today that the federal bureaucracy had promulgated a rule compensating physicians for the time they spend counseling patients on end-of-life health-care decisions, I wasn’t surprised. A similar provision was dropped from the Obamacare bill, but anyone who understands the profoundly bureaucratic nature of contemporary government knew that that was not necessarily the end of it. The 2,700-page law is destined — if it is not rolled way back or repealed — to generate over 100,000 pages of enabling regulations. In such a milieu, that which can’t be obtained legislatively, can often be gotten through the bureaucratic back door. In fact, as I’ve noted elsewhere, one commission created by the law, the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board, can even enact laws over the president’s veto.

The new regulation is not alarming in and of itself. In fact, we should all have these discussions with our doctors and loved ones, and we should all prepare advance medical directives. (I recommend a durable power of attorney for health care that appoints a trusted person to be your surrogate decisionmaker.) So long as the discussions are purely voluntary and not coercive, all is well.

The original policy became controversial out of the reasonable fear that in the drive to cut costs, the “counseling” could become “pressure” to refuse care. The assisted-suicide advocacy group Compassion and Choices, for example, bragged that it helped author the legislative provision — which would also have permitted outside experts to be delegated the counseling task. I am convinced that Compassion and Choices hopes to become the Planned Parenthood of death, and being paid by the government to counsel on end-of-life decisions would be a big step in that direction. the rest

Political End Runs

December 28, 2010
By Thomas Sowell

The Constitution of the United States begins with the words "We the people." But neither the Constitution nor "we the people" will mean anything if politicians and judges can continue to do end runs around both.

Bills passed too fast for anyone to read them are blatant examples of these end runs. But last week, another of these end runs appeared in a different institution when the medical "end of life consultations" rejected by Congress were quietly enacted through bureaucratic fiat by administrators of Medicare.

Although Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Senator Jay Rockefeller had led an effort by a group of fellow Democrats in Congress to pass Section 1233 of pending Medicare legislation, which would have paid doctors to include "end of life" counselling in their patients' physical checkups, the Congress as a whole voted to delete that provision.

Republican Congressman John Boehner, soon to become Speaker of the House, objected to this provision in 2009, saying: "This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia." the rest
It is not only members of Congress or the administration who treat "we the people" and the Constitution as nuisances to do an end run around. Judges, including Justices of the Supreme Court, have been doing this increasingly over the past hundred years.

American Fortunes and the Feast of the Holy Innocents

Matt Kennedy+ at Stand Firm
Tuesday, December 28, 2010

'Today, December 28th, is the Feast of the Holy Innocents in which the western Church remembers the massacre of children under 2 years old in Bethlehem (Matt 2:16) and in the surrounding regions by order of Herod the "Great". Herod, acting on information gleaned from the Magi paired with his knowledge (or that of his resident scholars) of the prophetic writings (Micah 5:2), hoped to kill off any future rivals to his family's royal claim. For this act Herod the Great is remembered as a very small man, a murderous thug with a penchant for building projects.
I can't help but wonder what history's verdict will be with regard to the American empire. A nation governed by laws intended to protect both life and freedom has become a nation bathed in innocent blood legally spilled because "freedom" for some has come to mean the murder of others. Whatever good we have done in the world is forever darkened by the sanctioned slaughter of our own babies. Fifty million tiny rivals to individual prosperity and autonomy have been killed off in our corporate striving for, of all banalities, uninterrupted lives. Their blood cries out to God. the rest image

For 2011: Unwrap the Silence

Dec 28, 2010
Elizabeth Scalia

The silence, of which we sing so wistfully at Midnight Mass, is at an all-time premium at Christmas; it is so difficult to find a silent night, let alone sit within one and become immersed in it, that the possibility of a seasonal soothing of the heart—a quietening of the grief of the world—seems the stuff of illusion and myth.

Christmas has, in too many ways, become the equivalent of an overdone theme-park vacation. By its end, one is knock-kneed with exhaustion and desperately in need of a genuine opportunity to rest.

A Christmas snow, like the one we’ve just had, does wonders to cull the silence. A few inches of white powder brings an unusual and welcome softening of sound—in cities, the hum of traffic is muffled; in the suburbs even the broom of the ubiquitous snowblower is reduced to a faint and unintrusive whir, one that remains mostly beneath the surface of one’s awareness. the rest-don't miss this! image
We have allowed silence to become a gift forgotten, one we only consent to unwrap when all of our alternative bows and strings have been unraveled, and our diversions have been utterly played out. Our inability to be silent puts our minds and our souls at a disadvantage, because it robs us of the ability to wonder, and if we are not wondering at the impossible perfection of the world in its creation—if we are not wondering at spinning atoms and Incarnations—then we are lost to humility, and to experiencing gratitude.

And, without gratitude, we cannot develop a reasoned capacity for joy.

Unintended effects: —How the ELCA’S aim for unity fractured the church

Dr. Robert Benne
posted Dec. 28, 2010

In its 2009 Churchwide Assembly in August of 2009 the Evangelical Lutheran Church took the momentous step to allow for the blessing of gay and lesbian unions as well as for the ordination of gays and lesbians in partnered relationships. It was the first major confessional church to take those steps. In anticipation of much disagreement about its decisions, the church struck what it thought was a compromise so that we could “journey together faithfully” even though there was no consensus on these issues. The instrument for compromise was the “bound-conscience” doctrine. Realizing that we now had no authoritative teaching on homosexual conduct, the Sexuality Task Force proposed and the Assembly agreed that all of us respect each other’s “bound-conscience” on these matters as we went about the life of our church. Also, since the official line of the church was that these issues were not church-dividing anyway, we could live with such a settlement. (It was unexplained why the ELCA should be immune to the church-dividing nature of these issues when many churches in America and in the world were experiencing painful divisions over them. Indeed, the leaders of the ELCA mistakenly projected their own assessment on the church at large.)

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Since there is now no authoritative teaching and since we can claim “bound-conscience” on whatever teaching we prefer, this means that each parish and ultimately each individual has to decide which teaching is normative for them. In one fell swoop the Assembly turned the ELCA into a collection of congregations and individuals. the rest
A far larger number of churches—perhaps even the majority of parishes in the ELCA—try to duck the challenge. Their pastors or laypersons say: “this is not an issue in our parish,” which can mean a number of things...

Canada: Lose the religion or lose the subsidy

Globe and Mail
posted Dec. 28, 2010

This is a textbook case of going from one extreme to the other. For decades, the Quebec government slept in the bed of the Roman Catholic Church. Nowadays, its secularist agenda is so radical it applies to three-year-old kids.

Earlier this month, Family Minister Yolande James announced a ban on religious instruction in subsidized daycare centres. Ms. James’s ministry will triple the number of inspectors, to 58, and violations will be punished by the suppression of funding, which amounts to $40 a day per child, since parents pay no more than $7 a day.

More of the same How will these bureaucrats make the distinction between culture and religion? Showing an amazing lack of subtlety, Ms. James seemed to think that would be easy enough. For instance, a daycare centre would be allowed to display a Christmas tree (a cultural symbol, she decreed – which is highly debatable since Christmas is a Christian holy day). The teachers could set up a Nativity scene but couldn’t tell the kids who the baby doll in the manger was.

Presumably, by the same token, a Jewish daycare centre could have a menorah but would be forbidden to tell the children why one candle should be lit every day. And Muslim toddlers couldn’t be told why their parents don’t eat when the sun is up, since Ramadan is a religious, rather than a cultural, custom. the rest

UK: Muslim population has grown from 1.65 million to 2.87 million since 2001

What does this mean for liberal Britain?
By Damian Thompson
 December 28th, 2010

There is a remarkable statistic in today’s main Daily Telegraph leader:

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life estimates that there are 2,869,000 Muslims in Britain, an increase of 74 per cent on its previous figure of 1,647,000, which was based on the 2001 census. No demographic statistics are reliable in an era of open borders, but such an expansion is unprecedented.

The figure of 2.87 million was first published by Pew in a little-noticed press release last September, announcing a report on Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe. The Pew Centre, based in Washington DC, is one of the most respected demographic research bodies in the world; its methodology is scrupulous and its approach non-partisan. The new total for British Muslims means that, so far as this country as concerned, Pew’s major 2009 report Mapping the Global Muslim Population is already spectacularly out of date.  the rest

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cardiologist writes book about God's presence with dying patients

By Electa Draper
The Denver Post

When Littleton cardiologist Mark Sheehan steps into the room of a dying person he feels as if he should take off his shoes.

"It's holy ground," Sheehan said. "God always shows up."

When a patient lies near death in a hospital, Sheehan calls it "a dying room." It's a place where suffering, pain, humility, fear and soul-searching lead to what he calls "a special brokenness" or openness to God.

"It becomes a place where the sacred replaces the mundane," he wrote in his just-released book, "Healing Prayer On Holy Ground," co-authored by his son Chris Sheehan.

Yet, Mark Sheehan said, no one wants to go into the room of dying patients, who are often — for a time — angry with doctors, family or friends. They are often depressed, inconsolable or afraid.

In the dying rooms, he said, he often feels unworthy. the rest

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Obama To Institute Death Panels Beginning January 1st.

Obama Returns to End-of-Life Plan That Caused Stir By ROBERT PEAR
 December 25, 2010

 WASHINGTON — When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

Congressional supporters of the new policy, though pleased, have kept quiet. They fear provoking another furor like the one in 2009 when Republicans seized on the idea of end-of-life counseling to argue that the Democrats’ bill would allow the government to cut off care for the critically ill. the rest-NYT

38 Killed in Nigeria Christmas Weekend Attacks

Sun, Dec. 26 2010
By Ethan Col
Christian Post Reporter

At least 38 people have been killed since Christmas Eve in attacks across Nigeria, including assaults against two churches.

Local police suspect radical Muslim group Boko Haram, which has a history of anti-Christian violence, in the church attacks.

In the northern town of Maiduguri, armed men dragged the pastor of Victory Baptist Church out of his home and then shot him to death. Two men rehearsing for the carol service at the church and two people walking nearby were also killed. Afterwards, the mob set the church and pastor’s house on fire, according to The Associated Press.

Also within the same city and on the same day, another group of men attacked the Church of Christ in Nigeria and killed an elderly security guard. the rest

Bombing wounds 11 at Christmas Mass in Philippines

Suicide bomber kills at least 42 seeking food aid in Pakistan

For some Iraqi Christians, this may be last Christmas in Baghdad

Christians 'are denied human rights by our courts,' claim bishop and top judge

By Tim Shipman
26th December 2010

An Anglican bishop and Britain’s former top judge yesterday launched an impassioned defence of the rights of Christians in an increasingly secular society.

The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, said judges wrongly discriminate against people of faith because they are ignorant of religious beliefs

He said failure to support the beliefs of Christians and other religious people could drive them from their jobs and blamed the Human Rights Act for allowing them to be victimised. the rest

Huge Blizzard Halts Travelers on East Coast

By ROBERT D. McFADDEN December 26, 2010

A monster two-day blizzard barreled up the coast and invaded the New York region and the Northeast on Sunday with barrages of wind-driven snow that closed airports, disrupted rail and highway travel and transformed a dozen states into enchanted and borderless white dreamscapes.

With the great abyss of winter yet to be crossed, forecasters in advance were reaching for superlatives, saying it was likely to be one of the biggest blows of the season, with wind gusts up to 55 miles an hour and snow two feet deep in spots. The National Weather Service predicted snowfalls of 16 to 20 inches in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut by Monday afternoon, when the storm was to taper off.

Its timing was diabolical — too late for a white Christmas, but just in time to disrupt the travel plans of thousands trying to get home after the holiday, to return unwanted gifts or to take advantage of post-holiday bargains at stores. Schools were not in session, but millions of commuters were told to expect nightmarish slogs in and around the cities. the rest

Saturday, December 25, 2010

SSgt Sal Giunta awarded the Medal of Honor

Bishop Martyn Minns: Who Needs Aslan?


Have you seen the Voyage of the Dawn Treader? This latest movie version has been a remarkable success story with a worldwide box office gross of over 185 million dollars since its release fifteen days ago.

Actually no one would be more surprised than C. S. Lewis himself. He never anticipated that his works would become so popular. He wrote the Chronicles of Narnia at a time when his own life was in turmoil. While some of his academic and literary achievements are well known today, few people realize his family life was filled with loss and suffering.

His mother died of cancer when Jack (as C. S. was nicknamed) was nine, and he and his brother Warnie were sent away to a brutal boarding school. When he finally escaped to begin his studies at Oxford University he was dispatched to the bloody battlefields of the First World War where his friend Paddy Moore died in the final months of the conflict. They had made a pact that if either of them were killed in battle the survivor would care for the other's family and so after returning from war, the bachelor Lewis brothers Jack and Warnie (who struggled with alcoholism) shared a home with Mrs. Moore (who was very difficult to live with) and her daughter Maureen.

This rather stressful domestic arrangement lasted for more than thirty years until 1951 when Mrs. Moore died after a long illness. For many years Jack had to juggle demanding domestic duties with his ever-increasing academic and literary responsibilities. There is no question that his life was overwhelming when he wrote the Chronicles of Narnia - so much so that his friends, including J. R. R. Tolkien, wondered why he was wasting his precious time writing a multi-volume set of children's novels. Little did anyone realize that these short books would become a publishing phenomena selling more than 100 million copies in 41 languages.

What is their universal appeal? Why have they continued to be so popular? Why did Lewis write them in the first place?

I suspect that part of the reason he wrote books for children was because of the experiences of his own childhood. And, perhaps the world of Narnia was the only place where he could escape some of the harsh realities of his daily existence.

But Narnia is not a place for escape. In fact, Narnia is a place where we are challenged to face ourselves with utter honesty, where we are invited to accept responsibility for who we are, and where we are thrust into situations where we realize how helpless we really are on our own.

Only then may we be ready to perceive Aslan the Lion King of Narnia for who he is: not a roaring dumb animal, but the talking and singing supreme King of all Narnia. And more than that, we begin to recognize how much we really need and want a relationship with this Lion of all lions.

But sometimes our own strengths and gifts get in the way. Eustace, an obstinate, bratty boy who gets thrust into fighting for his own life on the seas of Narnia, is so intelligent and sharp with his tongue that he fails time and again to recognize the great and awesome creatures of Narnia for who they are.

Lewis's towering intellect and brilliance with words also got in the way of his life. Before converting to Christ, he thought he could make his own way in the world. But life in the world soon caught up with him, and he came face-to-face with his own depravities and the need for Christ to save him from himself.

Is Christmas an opportunity for us to escape the harsh realities of the world? Do we long to create a make-believe world of "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" and beautifully wrapped presents under the tree?

Earlier this decade I came across a poem by a contemporary English writer, Martin Wroe, who challenged me with his rather earthy retelling of the Christmas story:

Are you flesh of our flesh,
Bone of our bones?
. . . Is that you Baby J Word of the Father?
Now in flesh appearing
Is that you screaming as you arrived
Like the rest of us
Screaming at the shock of the new
The shock of the cold and the old and the broken
Is that you Baby J?
Covered in blood and grunge and straw
When moments before you had been covered in glory?

It was an awful come down, or as the Nicene Creed puts it, "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God . . . for us and for our salvation came down from heaven" - a 'come down' with a glorious purpose.

In his coming, he didn't shun the flesh, the bones, the blood, the grunge, the straw of our world. But chose to embrace and be embraced by them. The nativity narrative is a story of radical inclusion: God showing us how much he loves us by being the God who not only creates us but also embraces our humanity - and impoverished, desolate humanity at that. His divine plan of love and redemption is not just for or about humanity, but his plan is so radical that he even goes to the extent of making humanity part of his own being.

Jesus' birth set the stage for the rest of his life. He didn't escape from human existence, and he didn't insulate himself from its hard realities. He faced the temptations that face people of every place and generation. He came face-to-face with the possibility of rebelling against God the Father. His life wasn't a game of "let's pretend." The King - of nature and of the super-natural, of the temporal and of eternity - came willing "to live and die as one of us" (Eucharistic Prayer B).

We too can live not just in our natural and temporal and sinful existence, but also as children of God's supernatural and eternal reality.

"To all who did RECEIVE him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to BECOME the children of God, who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God!" (John 1:11 & 13).

The first step to receiving this gift is being willing to acknowledge that we have a need, that we cannot make it on our own. Jesus will not force himself upon anyone - neither does Aslan force himself on Eustace. But if we are willing to admit that we have a need, that life is not as it should be, if we are ready to face into our own helplessness, then we are already on the way to a new life.

We are to become the "children of God." What an amazing offer!

If you haven't read the book or seen the movie yet, I don't want to spoil it for you. But suffice it to say that Eustace must learn humility and his need for Aslan the hard way.

May we avoid learning the hard way. During this Christmastide and New Year, may we simply receive and believe in Jesus the Messiah, allowing him to profoundly transform our lives. And may we lead others to do the same.

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

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010 from the Dagues!

Herschel among the Christmas decorations
I know Santa is coming.
Christmas cactus in full bloom

A blessed Christmas to all the readers who visit here
from time to time!
Raymond and Pat Dague and Herschel

The sky can still remember the earliest Christmas morn...

The sky can still remember the earliest Christmas morn,
When in the cold December the Savior Christ was born.
No star unfolds its glory, no trumpet wind is blown,
But tells the Christmas story in music of its own.

O never failing splendor! O never silent song!
Still keep the green earth tender, still keep the gray earth strong,
Still keep the brave earth dreaming of deeds that shall be done,
While children’s lives come streaming like sunbeams from the sun.

O angels sweet and splendid, throng in our hearts and sing
The wonders which attended the coming of the King;
Till we too, boldly pressing where once the shepherds trod,
Climb Bethlehem’s Hill of Blessing, and find the Son of God.
...Philips Brooks

Once in Royal David's City

King's College Cambridge 2008

Thursday, December 23, 2010

St. George's, Helmetta: New Precedent Set by NJ Church Property Settlement

St. George’s Anglican Church, Helmetta, NJ, to Retain Property following Amicable Settlement with The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey
Helmetta, NJ.
December 23, 2010
(via email)

St. George’s Anglican Church, a former Episcopal Church congregation which disaffiliated from its former denomination, has negotiated with the Diocese of New Jersey to retain its church buildings and tangible property with complete independence from The Episcopal Church (TEC). The congregation is now affiliated with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) under Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) under Archbishop Robert Duncan.

“We are extremely grateful that the congregation of St. George’s Anglican Church is able to retain its property. This is an incredible blessing and witness to others that Christians can resolve these matters amicably. We are also thankful that the church has been able to maintain a cordial relationship with the Diocese of New Jersey. I trust and pray that St. George’s Anglican Church will continue to serve the Lord through mission and ministry for many years to come,” said CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns.

The final sale of St. George’s church property took place on Tuesday, November 23, 2010.

In early January and February of 2008 the former Episcopal congregation, then known as St. George’s Church in Helmetta , NJ , cut its ties to TEC and the Diocese of New Jersey because of theological differences. Fr. William Guerard, St. George’s parish priest, maintained an amicable relationship with Bishop George Councell of the Diocese of New Jersey throughout the division.

Fr. Guerard was able to transfer to CANA as an ordained Anglican priest without being required to renounce his ordination vows — unlike many other Anglican clergy from other dioceses who have left TEC for CANA and other Anglican groups.

Beginning in January, 2009, St. George’s Anglican Church began negotiations with the Diocese of New Jersey which finally ended in an agreed monetary settlement.

Fr. Guerard reflects on the settlement saying, “Our constant prayer throughout these two years has been for God’s will to be done. We are all thankful that this has been accomplished peacefully, and we pray it will set a precedent for other churches going through similar situations.”

“Let us return to the work of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus our Savior who has come to bring us light, peace, and salvation,” continued Fr. Guerard. (picture by Raymond Dague-attorney for St. George's)

Now on the CANA website

The Top 10 Christian News Stories of 2010

Katherine Britton
posted December 23, 2010

The year 2010 brought hundreds of stories and movements to bear on global Christianity. Here are the faces, places, and movements the editors believe most impacted Christians around the world.

1. Haiti's earthquake creates multiple aftershocks
2. Pakistan sentences a Christian woman to death for 'blasphemy'
3. Jesus finds trapped miners in Chile...

the rest here

Dissident Anglicans raised nearly $6 million in donations

By Lori Culbert
 Vancouver Sun
December 23, 2010

A growing group of dissident Anglicans who broke away from the Anglican Church of Canada over opposition to same-sex blessings amassed nearly $6 million in donations in the last fiscal year.

And 22 per cent of those donations were made specifically to the Anglican Network in Canada's (ANiC) legal defence fund, to bankroll the dissidents' continuing battle with the Diocese of New Westminster over who owns the church buildings.

According to financial statements filed with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) by the ANiC, the registered charity received $5.9 million in donations in the 2008-09 fiscal year, the most recent data available. the rest

Christmas in Bethlehem: the cross banished from souvenirs


 (AsiaNews) - This Christmas in Bethlehem, the cross has been banned from souvenirs for tourists and pilgrims in the Holy Land. Some textile workshops in Jerusalem and Hebron have begun to print and sell T-shirts depicting the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem without the cross. Because of the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in the Palestinian territories, the cross was also removed from t-shirts of football teams. Interviewed by AsiaNews, Samir Qumsieh, journalist and director of the Catholic television station Al-Mahed Nativity TV in Bethlehem, said: "I want to launch a campaign to urge people not to buy these products - he says - because the removal of the cross is an intimidation against Christians, it is like saying that Jesus was never crucified. "

Like every year, thousands including authorities, faithful and tourists from all over the world crowd, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem for midnight mass on the night of 24 December. It will be celebrated by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and will be attended by the highest offices of the Palestinian Authority. the rest image-Church of the Nativity

For fear of Islamic fundamentalism, textile workshops in Hebron and Jerusalem, produce and sell T-shirts and other items depicting the Church of the Nativity without the cross. Discrimination and economic crisis are forcing Christians to flee from the Palestinian territories and Israel. The risk is to see a future without Christians in the Holy Land. Interview with Samir Qumsieh, director of the Catholic television station Al-Mahed Nativity TV in Bethlehem.

Feminism Explained (She Said It, Not Me)

Vice Admiral: Obama was outmaneuvered by Russians on START

U.S. Naval Institute
 December 23, 2010

President Barack Obama was outmaneuvered by the Russians and should have abandoned the New START negotiations instead of seeking a political victory, says former nuclear plans monitor Vice Admiral Jerry Miller, USN (Ret).

“The Obama administration is continuing a dated policy in which we cannot even unilaterally reduce our own inventory of weapons and delivery systems without being on parity with the Russians,” Miller told the U.S. Naval Institute in Annapolis, Md. “We could give up plenty of deployed delivery systems and not adversely affect our national security one bit, but New START prohibits such action - so we are now stuck with some outmoded and useless elements in our nuke force.”

After meeting resistance from several Republicans, the U.S. Senate ratified the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia by a vote of 71-26 on Wednesday.

“The Soviets/Russians were done in by Reagan and our missile defense program because they cannot afford to build such a system,” said Miller. “They instead try to counter our program with rhetoric at the bargaining table. And they won by outmaneuvering Obama. START plays right into their hands.” the rest

The Death Panel's First Murder

By Peter Ferrara

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoked its regulatory approval of the drug Avastin to treat late stage, metastatic breast cancer. Each year, the practicing oncologists chosen by 17,500 American women to save them from their life-threatening, heavily progressed cancer prescribe Avastin to treat them.

The FDA explained that it was revoking approval of the drug for that use because it decided that the drug does not provide "a sufficient benefit in slowing disease progression to outweigh the significant risk to patients." Risk? The drug is prescribed for women who are otherwise going to die from cancer unless the drug saves them at least for a time. The far greater risk to these women is from the FDA, not the drug.

As The Wall Street Journal said last Friday in response to the FDA's explanation:

Ponder that [word] "sufficient." The agency is substituting its own judgment about clinical meaningfulness for those of practicing oncologists and terminally ill cancer patients.

That FDA judgment was determined last summer by an internal agency panel of 13 experts, only two of whom were breast cancer oncologists, and none of whom were breast cancer patients. the rest

The Susan G. Komen Foundation opposed the FDA's action. So did the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, a cancer patients' advocacy organization. The U.S. National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of 21 top cancer centers that issues medical guidelines based clinical evidence, also supports the continued availability of Avastin for breast cancer. Even in Europe, where health care rationing is prevalent, the European Medicines Agency, which is the FDA for the European Union, ruled last week that Avastin would continue to be available for breast cancer treatment there.

To no avail. In America, the FDA has spoken.

Sudden infant deaths most common on New Year's

By Randy Dotinga HealthDay
posted December 23, 2010

A new study finds that more babies die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the United States on New Year's Day than any other day of the year.

It's not clear why, but researchers suspect it has something to do with parents who drink heavily the night before and put their children in jeopardy.

"Alcohol-influenced adults are less able to protect children in their care. We're saying the same thing is happening with SIDS: They're also less likely to protect the baby from it," said study author David Phillips, a sociologist. "It seems as if alcohol is a risk factor. We just need to find out what makes it a risk factor." the rest

ACLU asks feds to force Catholic hospitals to provide emergency reproductive care

By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday asked federal health officials to ensure that Catholic hospitals provide emergency reproductive care to pregnant women, saying the refusal by religiously affiliated hospitals to provide abortion and other services was becoming an increasing problem.

In a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the ACLU cited the case of St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, which was stripped of its Catholic status Tuesday because doctors performed an abortion on a woman who had developed a life-threatening complication. the rest

UK’s first controversial ‘saviour sibling’ transplant

Wed, 22 Dec 2010

The first transplant involving a controversial ‘saviour sibling’ has been successfully carried out in the UK, but critics warn of the complex moral issues involved.

Megan Matthews, aged nine, received tissue donated by her 18-month old brother Max who was created specifically to help treat Megan’s illness.

However there is great concern about the psychological impact on a saviour sibling...

..Critics caution that a child could grow up thinking they are loved only because of their ‘spare-parts’. the rest

Critics also say the practice opens the door to ‘designer’ babies, where children are created to parental specification.

And creating children for ‘spare parts’ values people for their mechanical usefulness rather than their intrinsic human dignity.

Ex-Planned Parenthood Director’s New Book Exposes Abortion Biz

by Steven Ertelt
Washington, DC

Former Planned Parenthood abortion facility director Abby Johnson was sitting at her desk when a co-worker at the center asked for some help with a woman getting an abortion.

“I could not have imagined how the next ten minutes would shake the foundation of my values and change the course of my life,” she says in her new book “Unplanned,” an expose of the abortion business and the abortion industry.

Johnson ran that abortion facility — a Planned Parenthood “clinic” in Bryan, Texas, the home of Texas A&M University. She spent ten minutes assisting with an ultrasound-guided abortion, and her reflection on it would change her life as she stepped down from her position.

“Oh, dear God,” she writes, “what had I done?” the rest

Catholics in Bogor (West Java) not allowed to celebrate Christmas Mass

The authorities ban all Christian activities, citing as their reason the lack of a proper place of worship, which Catholics have been demanding for years without success. Increasingly, radical Muslims are becoming intolerant towards Christian groups.
by Mathias Hariyadi

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Bogor authorities have banned all public activities or celebrations associated with Christmas, including Christmas Mass, at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Parung, Tulang Kuning, Bogor Regency (West Java Province). The official ban was issued in a letter that restated the usual reasons, namely the lack of a building permit for a place of worship (Izin Mendirikan Bangunan in Indonesian). Without it, even praying on Church-owned land is prohibited.

In Indonesia, permits are required for any type of building, but when it comes to Christian places of worship, they are issued only after 60 residents living near the would-be church have agreed in writing to the project and the local Inter-faith Dialogue Group has given its approval. the rest

Hindu fundamentalist attacks on India's Christians mount as Christmas approaches
A week ahead of Christmas, half a dozen brutal attacks on Christian targets by Hindu fundamentalists has been reported from different parts of India...

Canon White defiant in face of violence
CHRISTIANS in Iraq face a sombre and fearful Christmas, as the prospects for 2011 look, at best, uncertain.

“There’s been great fear, and there’s been a lot of anxiety,” Canon Andrew White, Chaplain of St George’s, Baghdad, told the BBC at the weekend. “We lost many of our families who have disappeared or been killed.” Some 500 of the formerly 4000-strong congregation were no longer present, he said...

Christmas Skirmishes and the Offended Observer

December 22, 2010 By David French

We live in strange times. I’m writing this post from the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom office in tiny Columbia, Tennessee, listening to Christmas carols being broadcast from the courthouse in our town square. And yet, in this same rather conservative state, the ACLU sent letters to public schools statewide, warning them against holding Christmas parties and recommending only “holiday celebrations” and endorsing “secular symbols such as Santa Claus or dreidels.”

I understand why Ross Douthat would decry the “war on Christmas drumbeat,” and (as I note in a recent Washington Post “On Faith” piece) it’s easy to snicker when people start arguing over “merry Christmas” versus “happy holidays.” After all, the whole issue reeks of oversensitivity on all sides. the rest
But let’s not forget that the secular Left created an entire litigation engine out the “offended observer.” When religious symbols are taken from public land, those cases are launched through a unique standing rule that allows a person who’s merely offended at the sight of a religious symbol to literally make a federal case out of their fit of pique. As a general rule, we do not enjoy a right not to be offended (and it’s a good thing too; imagine a world where every perceived slight could launch litigation) — except when it comes to public religious displays.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

NYT: In Snowy Syracuse, a December That’s Whiter Than Usual

December 22, 2010

SYRACUSE — In some places, as the first days of winter pass, the prospect of a white Christmas is just that: a possibility, sometimes realized, sometimes not.

But in this city, hard by the Snow Belt beneath Lake Ontario, there is no need for any caveat. By this time, every year, it has snowed so heavily and so often that any more would be incomprehensible.

Syracuse has met the incomprehensible. As of Tuesday, even before winter had officially begun — at 6:38 p.m. Eastern time — 71.9 inches of snow had fallen this month, making it the city’s snowiest December ever.

There has been at least a trace of snow on all but four days so far this month. In one four-day stretch last week, 43.2 inches came down.

There are areas of New York where a modest snowfall can be a great white disruption, closing schools and airports, paralyzing businesses and erasing traffic from most streets. the rest

“We got calls from all over asking us to relay horror stories, and we said, ‘We don’t have any; everything’s fine in Syracuse,’ ” Mayor Stephanie A. Miner said. “I suppose if we’d had a tornado warning or a hurricane warning, we’d be at a standstill. But we’ve been dealing with this for a long time.”

Having lived here all my life, I know we do handle the snow very well, but it is frustrating at times when you have to get somewhere or when events have to be cancelled.  The reporter in this video (December 16th) taped this within 5 miles of my house.  It's going to be a long winter, even by our standards. -PD

Calif. Storms Prompt Rescues, Evacuations

Six counties are under a state of emergency in southern California.

"They said the candy canes are weapons because you can sharpen them with your mouth and stab people with them."

Peggy Fox
posted December 22, 2010

 (WUSA) -- They call themselves the "Christmas Sweater Club" because they wear the craziest ones they can find. They also sing Christmas songs at school and try their best to spread Christmas cheer.

Now all 10 of them are in trouble because of what they did at their school.

"They said, 'maliciously maim students with the intent to injure.' And I don't think any of us here intentionally meant to injure anyone, or did," said Zakk Rhine, a junior at Battlefield High School.

The boys say they were just tossing small two-inch candy canes to fellow students as they entered school. The ones in plastic wrap that are so small they often break apart. the rest

Albert Mohler: Must We Believe the Virgin Birth?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In one of his columns for The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof once pointed to belief in the Virgin Birth as evidence that conservative Christians are “less intellectual.” Are we saddled with an untenable doctrine? Is belief in the Virgin Birth really necessary?

Kristof is absolutely aghast that so many Americans believe in the Virgin Birth. “The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time,” he explains, and the percentage of Americans who believe in the Virgin Birth “actually rose five points in the latest poll.” Yikes! Is this evidence of secular backsliding? the rest image

Implications, indeed. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, who was His father? There is no answer that will leave the Gospel intact. The Virgin Birth explains how Christ could be both God and man, how He was without sin, and that the entire work of salvation is God’s gracious act. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, He had a human father. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, the Bible teaches a lie.

Churches Under Threat in Iraq Cancel Christmas

Wed, Dec. 22 2010
By Nathan Black
Christian Post Reporter

Churches throughout Iraq are canceling Christmas services after receiving threats from an al-Qaida affiliate.

Fearing that Christians will be targeted, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Monsignor Louis Sarko of Kirkuk told Agence France-Presse that they will not be celebrating the "feast of Christmas" and will be holding masses in the morning, rather than in the evening.

The Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group for Sunni Islamic insurgent groups that include al-Qaida, issued a warning late Tuesday, threatening more attacks against the Christian minority unless Egypt's Coptic Church releases two women converts to Islam. The group claims the women are being held against their will but the church has denied the allegations. the rest

Escalating violence, hostility emptying Iraq of Christians
Hunted in church, homes, they flee north, seek asylum
By Rebecca Santana
Associated Press
 Tuesday, December 21, 2010

IRBIL, Iraq | They saw their brethren murdered during Mass and then were bombed in their homes as they mourned. Al Qaeda vowed to hunt them down. Now the Christian community of Iraq, almost as old as the religion itself, is sensing a clear message: It is time to leave.

Since the Oct. 31 bloodbath in their Baghdad church, Iraqi Christians have been fleeing Sunni Muslim extremists, who view them as nonbelievers and agents of the West.

At a time when Christians in various parts of the Muslim world are feeling pressured, Iraqi Christians are approaching their grimmest Christmas since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 and wondering if they have any future in their native land.

They have suffered repeated violence and harassment since 2003, when the interreligious peace rigidly enforced by Saddam Hussein fell apart. But the attack on Our Lady of Salvation church, in which 68 persons died, appears to have been a tipping point that has driven many to flee northward to the Kurdish enclave while seeking asylum in the U.S. and elsewhere. the rest

WikiLeaks: 1 in 3 British Muslim students back killing for Islam and 40% want Sharia law

By Daily Mail Reporter
22nd December 2010

Around a third of young British Muslims favour killing in the name of Islam, according to a survey revealed by the WikiLeaks' publication of U.S. diplomatic cables.

A survey of 600 Muslim students at 30 universities throughout Britain found that 32 per cent of Muslim respondents believed killing in the name of religion is justified.

A U.S. diplomatic cable from January 2009 quoted a poll by the Centre for Social Cohesion as saying 54 per cent wanted a Muslim party to represent their world view in Parliament and 40 per cent want Muslims in the UK to be under Sharia law. the rest

Five terror suspects arrested after raid by police on homes in Cardiff

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, during a television interview taped Monday, appeared unaware of a major set of terror arrests in Great Britain that morning.

Why did cultural conservatives lose the battle over “Don’t ask, don’t tell?”

by Peter Smith
Tue Dec 21, 2010

 ( - Why did cultural conservatives lose the battle over “Don’t ask, don’t tell?” In 1993 a Democrat-controlled Congress overwhelmingly passed the federal law banning open homosexuals from serving in the armed forces. So what changed in the past 17 years?

Certainly a handful of Republicans had a hand in its passage. Six Republicans – Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mark Kirk of Illinois, George Voinovich of Ohio, and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine – reneged on their word to help their party block all legislation until the big item of funding the federal government was settled.

Well, promises, promises. After the 63-33 vote for cloture, repealing DADT was a fait-accompli. So two more Republicans jumped on board, Sens. John Ensign of Nevada and Richard Burr of North Carolina, making eight total GOP votes for repeal. the rest

Savage attack in Jerusalem forest

December 22nd, 2010
by Rev. David Pileggi
 Christ Church, Jerusalem

The savage attack on December 18, 2010 in the Jerusalem forest where Kristine Luken was killed and Kay Wilson seriously wounded, has shocked family, friends and the community of Christ Church Jerusalem.

Kristine, a US citizen, worked for CMJ (Church's Ministry Among Jewish People) in Nottingham UK and was a frequent visitor to Jerusalem. She had an infectious love for God and a great admiration and love for the Jewish people and the Holy Land. Recently, she studied Jewish history and the Holocaust on a CMJ sponsored tour of Poland.

Kay Wilson is the main educator for Shoresh Study Tours, a ministry of Christ Church Jerusalem, specializing in teaching the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. She is a well-loved guide and a gifted communicator as many Shoresh participants will attest. She is also an accomplished jazz pianist and artist. We ask that you join us in prayer for Kay's ongoing recovery. We will be organizing practical help for Kay as her needs become apparent. the rest

American Tourist Kristine Luken Killed in Israel, No Arrests Made, Say Police

US tourist stabbed in J'lem forest to be buried in US

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Devotional: Here is the Truth...

Here is the Truth in a little creed,
Enough for all the roads we go:
In Love is all the law we need,
In Christ is all the God we know.
...Edwin Markham image by Sharon Mollerus

A.S. Haley: Federal Court Issues Stay in Ft. Worth Trademark Case

Monday, December 20, 2010

I resolved to stay away from ECUSA's litigation troubles during this season of the nativity, but I still have to report to my readers breaking news, if it is important. And this is important news: the federal district court in Fort Worth today issued a one-page order staying all further proceedings in the trademark infringement action brought by the rump diocese of Fort Worth and its "corporation" (which does not actually exist, for reasons I explain below). The stay will remain in effect until the court resolves the pending motions by the real diocese of Fort Worth and its real corporation to intervene in the case to protect their property rights in their name and corporate insignia.

With an apparently unlimited litigation budget in Texas, the Episcopal Church (USA) and its puppet diocese of Fort Worth have tried all manner of strategies to accomplish an end run around the courts of Texas and achieve a quick victory in their dispute with Bishop Jack L. Iker and his Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. (Note to readers from ECUSA: "Episcopal" means "of, or having to do with, a bishop". It does not necessarily mean "affiliated with the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America." ECUSA has no trademark in the word "Episcopal", which is used by a number of churches within the Anglican Communion.) the rest
Once again, in an attempt to do an end run around the State courts, ECUSA had filed in the federal court action a motion for summary judgment, making all the usual "hierarchical" arguments. But once again, their strategy has been rebuffed. The courts have uniformly told ECUSA and its attorneys thus far: "Not so fast. You cannot assume the very point at issue by pretending to be what you have not shown yourself to be. Since there is admittedly only one 'Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth' and one 'Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth' (no one else having filed any incorporation papers under that name), you have not demonstrated how you are legitimately in charge of those entities. Until you do so, you cannot come into court pretending to be them from the outset."

Barney Frank: Straight and Gay Soldiers Must Shower Together, But Not Men and Women

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 By Nicholas Ballasy
( - Rep. Barney Frank (D.-Mass.) says he agrees with the recommendation of a Department of Defense (DOD) working group that straight and gay military personnel of the same gender should be required to shower together when the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law goes into effect.

Frank, however, said Armed Forces personnel of opposite sexes should not shower together.

the rest

Defeated congressman sues pro-life PAC for ‘loss of livelihood’

 By Barbara Hollingsworth
Local Opinion Editor

.What a sore loser. Even before he was kicked to the curb by Ohio voters, Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-Ohio, tried to silence the Alexandria-based Susan B. Anthony List for criticizing his vote for Obamacare after the Stupak amendment banning the use of federal funds for abortion was stripped out of the bill.

Citing an Ohio statute that makes it a crime to knowingly tell malicious lies about a public official, the formerly pro-life congressman filed a criminal complaint against the PAC on Oct. 6, insisting that the health care bill he voted for would not fund abortion. the rest

Many skip Christmas' religious aspect

posted December 21, 2010
By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

Christmas 2010 is a whole lotta jingle and not so much Jesus.

Two new surveys find more than nine in 10 Americans celebrate the holiday — even if they're atheists, agnostics or believers in non-Christian faiths such as Judaism and Islam.

A closer look at Christmas activities reveals what may be the first measurement of an "alarming" gap between belief and behavior, says Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, a Nashville-based Christian research organization. the rest

"It's alarming to me that while nine in 10 celebrate Christmas, only six in 10 encourage any belief in the source of Christmas and only three in 10 actually read the story of Christmas," Stetzer says.

Planned Parenthood Chapter Quits, Forced by National to Do Abortions

by Steven Ertelt
Corpus Christi, TX

A Texas-based Planned Parenthood affiliate has resigned as a member of the national organization because Planned Parenthood Federation of America wanted it to do abortions.

Local officials say PPFA is instituting a mandate that all of its affiliates across the nation offer facilities where abortions are done and the head of Planned Parenthood of South Texas says her group doesn’t want to add abortions.

CEO Amanda Stukenberg told the Corpus Christi Caller newspaper that PPST doesn’t need to do abortions because independent abortion business already exist in the area, so her group has focused solely on promoting contraception and birth control. the rest

Homosexual Activists Launch New Guide to Make Homosexual “Rights” A Reality

December 9, 2010
By Samantha Singson

(C-FAM) Homosexual activists just launched a new "toolkit" which outlines methods to promote a controversial document which asserts that states have a legal obligation to fulfill “rights” to gay adoption, reproductive technologies and state-funded sex changes.

Drafted in 2007 by a select group of human rights “experts,” including UN special rapporteurs and UN treaty body members, the non-binding Yogyakarta Principles propose reinterpretions of long-established human rights to include special rights for homosexuals.

The Principles in effect downgrade traditional rights such as freedom of expression and religion stating where they conflict with “the rights of freedoms of persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.” the rest

Bishop Removes Catholic Tag on Hospital Doing Abortion

by Steven Ertelt
Phoenix, AZ

Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix has removed the Catholic designation from St. Joseph’s Medical Center because of a controversial abortion it performed last year.

The hospital’s head of its ethics committee, Sr. Margaret McBride, approved the abortion of an 11-week unborn baby whose mother suffered from pulmonary hypertension. Olmsted gave the hospital’s parent, Catholic Healthcare West, until today to confirm its policies on abortion to those of the Catholic Church or face decertification of its status as a Catholic hospital.

Olmsted had originally given Catholic Healthcare West, the parent of St. Joseph’s Hospital until Friday to change its abortion policy but has extended the deadline to Tuesday after some late-minute confidential communication between the two. the rest

Enrollment of Muslim students is growing at Catholic colleges in U.S.

In the past few years, enrollment of Muslim students has spiked at Catholic universities across the country. Last year, Catholic colleges had an even higher percentage of Muslim students than the average four-year institution in the United States.
By William Wan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 20, 2010

On a quick break between classes last week, Reef Al-Shabnan slipped into an empty room at Catholic University to start her daily prayers to Allah.

In one corner was a life-size painting of Jesus carrying the cross. In another, the portrait of a late priest and theologian looked on. And high above the room hung a small wooden crucifix.

This was not, Shabnan acknowledged, the ideal space for a Muslim to pray in. After her more than two years on campus, though, it has become routine and sacred in its own way. You can find Allah anywhere, the 19-year-old from Saudi Arabia said, even at the flagship university of the U.S. Catholic world. the rest

Egypt Attempts to Convict Christian to Justify Muslim Riots

Cairo: December 20, 2010
By Mary Abdelmassih AINA

The high profile criminal trial of 21-year-old Christian Copt Girgis Baroumi, accused of sexually assaulting a Muslim girl, is viewed by the Coptic community as an example of how the Egyptian government, using all its organs, including the Attorney General, Interior Minister and Parliament Speaker, has conspired to use him as a scapegoat to justify deadly Muslim assaults on Christians.

Girgis Baroumi, a traveling poultry vendor, is believed to have been framed by State Security (AINA 1-28-2010) in order to use the crime as a pretext for the 3-day rampage by Muslim mobs on Christians in Farshout in November 2009 (AINA 11-22-2009), and most importantly to depict the Christmas Eve Massacre of six Copts in Nag Hammadi in January 2010 as an honor crime rather than a sectarian one. the rest