Justin Taylor|7:00 am CT
David Berlinski, a philosopher and mathematician who is agnostic about God and does not speculate on the origins of life, is the author of The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions (2011).
Elizabeth Kendal has written a tremendously informative report on what is going on in the Central African Republic. Those who understand how prayer can turn around difficult and dangerous situations will want to read this report. It includes commentary on past amazing answers to prayer when urgent calls have gone out. Kendal writes:
As reported in last week's RLPB 210, a rebel army known as Seleka('alliance') has seized control of Central African Republic. What international media and human rights organisations are failing to acknowledge is that while CAR is French-speaking and 76 percent Christian, the supposedly poor and marginalised yet exceedingly well-armed rebels are Arabic-speaking Muslims with many foreign jihadis in their ranks. While France (the colonial power) refused to aid the government -- something that triggered angry protests outside the French Embassy in Bangui -- French soldiers are now patrolling the streets at the behest of the rebels. Targeted attacks against churches and religious workers have led church leaders to question Seleka's intentions. Many other questions remain unanswered too, such as: 'Who backed this regime change and why?'
As if this were not bad enough, another threat hangs over the Christians of CAR: the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA is a Ugandan rebel militia that emerged to wreak terror in Uganda's impoverished and marginalised north in the 1980s. However, when the Islamic regime in Sudan started sponsoring it, LRA activities expanded to fighting all of Khartoum's 'enemies', such as Uganda and its allies in southern Sudan. LRA terror escalated markedly in late 2002 such that, in May 2003, this prayer ministry (then under the auspices of WEA RLC) launched an international prayer campaign, triggering an intensive spiritual battle. The first call to prayer (RLP 219) went out on 14 May 2003. This was immediately followed by an unprecedented mass of defections from the LRA to the Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative. Kony responded on 14 June 2003 by ordering his troops to 'kill all clergy'. An urgent call to prayer was immediately issued, that God would 'bind all the demonic spirits allied with Joseph Kony and the LRA, to keep drawing defectors from all ranks of the LRA, and to effect the escape and rescue of hundreds of abducted children.' We prayed also for God to protect and bless all 'clergy, nuns, and Christian workers, especially those in front-line danger.' (RLP 224, 17 June 2003 (includes 18 months of updates)). To each request, God answered, "Yes!" Over the next 12-18 months, intercessors continued to battle against the LRA. Eventually the group was so decimated that violence had subsided greatly and redevelopment had begun.
In the U.S., Scout delegates vote this Thursday in Grapevine, Texas on whether to change the Boy Scout standards or not. The Family Research Council reports:
Before the Boy Scouts' National Council descends on Dallas for its most defining moment, local communities gave delegates plenty to think about on the trip there. Americans in 40 cities held large rallies in support of the BSA's longtime membership policy on Friday. The biggest event is scheduled for this Wednesday, May 22, as a coalition of groups--including FRC--hosts National Support Scouting Day. Together with OnMyHonor.net and Texas Values, FRC will be on hand in Texas, distributing materials and meeting with council members before the final decision on Thursday.
With the vote imminent, the most important thing anyone can do is pray. Please join us in asking God's hand of protection on the Scouts and His intervention on the councils still undecided.
Here's a report on what's happened in Canada after the introduction of homosexuality in scouting:
Stanley Kurtz contrasts coverage of the Washington Post with that of the New York Times:
In my continuing effort to assist the dead-tree deprived, here’s a comparison of today’s New York Times and Washington Post on their handling of the IRS scandal. Keep in mind that print headlines and web headlines often differ.
The Post has two front-page above-the-fold articles on the scandal, a news story and an in-depth look at the IRS in the wake of the controversy. There’s also a tough lead editorial expressing renewed outrage at the IRS’s conduct and demanding thorough reform.
Yet after the first dramatic day of congressional hearings, the Times has no front-page coverage at all of the scandal per se. Instead we have a story on President Obama’s efforts to move his agenda forward, beyond “distraction.” The Times story quotes White House aides accusing Republicans of seizing on “woes” to thwart the president’s agenda. The paper itself seems to be taking the White House line.
Just below the Times story on Obama’s attempts to move past “distraction,” a tiny squib notes that there is an article about the IRS on page 12. The teaser is: “Republicans are widening their aim at the Internal Revenue Service.” The headline of the page 12 Timesarticle itself is: “Republicans Broaden Scope of I.R.S. Inquiry, Hoping to Entangle White House.” For comparison, the Post’s front-page news story headline is: “Panel grills IRS on tax targeting.” In other words, the Times treats the scandal as little more than a Republican-hyped distraction, while the Post takes it as a matter that should concern everyone. In contrast to the Post, there is no Times editorial on the scandal today.
Colbert King’s Op-Ed in today’s Post condemns the IRS in passing, while also trying to rescue government itself from the taint of the scandal. Times Op-Eds by Gail Collins andCharles Blow in various ways try to minimize the scandal. All the Op-Eds seem to line up fairly well with the news coverage and official editorial stances (or lack thereof) of their respective papers.
Maybe so. Robert Cookson reports for the Financial Times that "many investors believe that under-25s are suffering from “Facebook fatigue” and defecting to services such as Twitter and WhatsApp." Further, reports suggest that many are defecting to other services such as Snapchat – the app for self-destructing messages. One reason for the alleged defection is the shift from desktop computers to mobile devices.
The article mentions another factor. According to Cookson:
The arrival of older relatives on Facebook is one of the top reasons cited by teens for losing interest in the platform and moving to sites that allow pseudonyms, such as Tumblr and Twitter, or messaging apps such as Line, Viber and Snapchat that are better suited for conversations between small groups of friends.
Others claim that such reports constitute an "urban legend."
Why do I post this? Not because I'm a Facebook fan, or have invested in Facebook, or really much care about Facebook, but simply to note trends in the younger crowd who suffer from FOMO - fear of missing out. Full story here. [HT: Drudge]
Echoing my own sensibilities concerning the scandals rocking the Obama Administration, Noonan published today a MUST-READ column. She subtitles her article, "Political abuse of the IRS threatens the basic integrity of our government." Right!
How serious is it that the mess be cleaned up? Noonan correctly says:
Everyone involved in this abuse of power should pay a price, because if they don't, the politicization of the IRS will continue—forever. If it is not stopped now, it will never stop. And if it isn't stopped, no one will ever respect or have even minimal faith in the revenue-gathering arm of the U.S. government again. . . . This is not about the usual partisan slugfest. This is about the integrity of our system of government and our ability to trust, which is to say our ability to function. [my emphases]
It's that serious. Read the whole piece here.
McManus provides a useful historical overview of the Boy Scouts' standards with side glances at Canada and the Girl Scouts. One of the corporations pushing the Boy Scouts in a gay-inclusive direction is Chase Manhattan Bank. I'm wondering if it is time to drop my Chase credit card, plus I don't feel all that enthusiastic patronising CVS and UPS either. McManus writes:
Boy Scouts vs. Gays
by Mike McManus
May 9, 2013
Boy Scouts take this oath: "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey Scout Law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."
In 1991 Boy Scouts of America (BSA) stated , "We believe that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirement in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight and in the Scout Law that a Scout be 'clean in word and deed, and that homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts.'"
Behind that stand was a nationwide investigation of child molestation in the Boy Scouts from 1971 to 1991 which revealed that more than 2,000 boys reported molestation by adult Scout leaders.
Yet BSA was sued over that position, and the issue went to the Supreme Court in 2000 which upheld the Boy Scouts' right to teach that "homosexual conduct is not morally straight."
With nine states allowing same-sex marriage, BSA made another two-year review which concluded last year that "this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts."
However, after that decision was announced, two prominent board members - CEOs of AT&T and Ernst & Young openly called for reconsideration. About 50 United Ways including those in Cleveland, Miami, Philadelphia and Seattle withdrew funding.
BSA lost all funding from Fleet Bank, CVS Pharmacy, Chase Manhattan Bank, Levi Strauss, UPS and Intel, its largest donor, saying it could not support Scouts who discriminate on the basis of creed or sexual orientation.
Anybody paying attention to the practices (scandals) and behavior (cover-ups) of the Obama administration should be outraged to apoplectic proportions. The Obama Administration with its disregard for law, its intrusiveness, and its intimidating tactics, has subjected citizens of the United States to the brink of dictatorial tyranny. Can liberty-loving people survive this Administration? Only, I think, if Congress rises up and successfully asserts its authority over an out-of-control, power-mad, lawless Presidency and bureaucracy. The dormant, sleepy, "see-no-evil" press needs to move beyond a brief moment of indignation and adopt a sustained will to uncover truth (yes, there is such a thing as "truth" despite postmodern philosophical idiocies) and keep the searchlight shining brightly until people are either thrown out of office or thrown into jail (or both, as the case might be). The future of the Republic depends on just such a massive rooting out of the rottenness that pervades this administration and continues to threaten our liberty.
- G.K. Chesterton - “Sound historians know that most tyrannies have been possible because men moved too late. It is often essential to resist a tyranny before it exists.”
- In addition (update), can we please stop the Obama administration's aggressive, growing hostility towards Christians in the military?
I have friends who can't stand Sarah Palin, and for the life of me that hatred makes no sense to me at all. She released the following statement this evening on her Facebook. I think it sensible and agree with it wholeheartedly. (via the Right Scoop) [my bolding]
Let the Light Shine
Today we learned that our government targeted and harassed conservative Americans who simply wanted to be involved in the national discussion. Is it any wonder why Americans are so distrustful of D.C.? I'm sure President Obama is grateful for all the help the IRS gave his reelection campaign, but, still, you have to wonder how the bureaucrats who tried to pull this off can sleep at night.
So many Americans knew this was happening, but many felt defenseless and even helpless against a government that seems to roll along without accountability or sense of obligation to the people it’s supposed to serve. These Americans were mocked for being concerned about this, but now we see light shining on the truth, finally.
This IRS revelation is another step in the unraveling of the Obama administration's self-proclaimed “hope and change.” Between the Benghazi cover-up and the IRS targeting Obama’s political opponents, we see the corruption at the heart of big government.
Americans should remember that this same corrupt IRS will be in charge of enforcing Obamacare. And this same inept and corrupt government will supposedly secure our now unsecured borders in advance of immigration reform and will implement a completely ethical and non-political IPAB panel to make life and death health care decisions for you and your family. Forgive me for not trusting these big government promises any more than I trust the White House’s latest Benghazi spin or the IRS’ fairness.
Despite all of this, I still believe that this “fundamental transformation of America” is temporary. This attempted transformation into a disheartened, weakened, unrecognizable nation is so far below anything Americans deserve. It becomes permanent only if we throw up our hands and surrender to the corruption and cover-ups.
We must demand more light shine on all that’s transpiring in D.C.’s self-absorbed bubble. On the IRS scandal, we must have accountability and a full investigation. On Benghazi, Speaker Boehner must create a Select Committee with full investigative and subpoena authority to get to the bottom of the cover-up. Keep the faith, friends.
Me: Who is it who thinks they can lie to the American people and continue governing as if this is acceptable practice? Government is "of the people, by the people, for the people." Anyone serving in Washington does so as a servant of the people, as an elected representative. We are not pawns to be manipulated at will by our betters. If anyone lies to the American people, that person should be thrown out of office. Bureaucracies should be accountable to Congress. I like Sarah Palin's call to keep the faith and do all in our power to expose the corruption and recover the nation's moral moorings.
Although I missed last weekend's live 3 hour Book TV interview with British author and social commentator Melanie Phillips, I am glad to say that it can be accessed in its entirety and I have been able to listen to most of it. She has written some eight books. The one I first became acquainted with was Londonistan. A book I would love to read is her 2011 publication, The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle Over God, Truth and Power (2011) The table of contents looks terrific. She currently writes columns for the London Daily Mail.
Why do I like her? She sees the world situation with particular clarity and writes with arresting vigor. It's interesting to me that some of the people who see the world most clearly, and whose judgments I particularly respect, are "diverse" (Jews, Blacks, and Roman Catholics, as well as Protestants), and yet we are united in our understanding of timeless truths, and consequently reject multiculturalism, relativism, leftist coercive utopianism, radical secularism, political correctness, etc) I think, for example, not only of Melanie Phillips (a Jew), Dennis Prager (a Jew), Jay Richards (a Roman Catholic), Thomas Sowell (Black) but many others as well.
I commend to you Melanie Phillips. Latest column: "Welcome to Obamastan"
Another column, "An Elegy for England", I plan to run by some of my British friends for their opinion. I think it spot on.
Previous columns of hers can be accessed here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/columnist-256/Melanie-Phillips.html
My previous blog posts of her work include:
I received an email with information which follows. This "call to prayer" was new to me. After checking it out, I think it is definitely of God and something to participate in.
Today marks the first day of 10-days of praying by Christians all around planet Earth. It culminates on the 11th day being Pentecost Sunday, May 19th this year. On Pentecost Sunday many churches will unite to pray. Both the Jews and Christians have something to celebrate on Pentecost Sunday.
For the Jewish person it is called Shavuot or Feast of Weeks that starts 50 days after Passover “Shavuot is traditionally a joyous time of giving thanks and presenting offerings for the new grain of the summer wheat harvest in Israel. The name "Feast of Weeks" was given because God commanded the Jews inLeviticus 23:15-16, to count seven full weeks (or 49 days) beginning on the second day of Passover, and then present offerings of new grain to the Lord as a lasting ordinance.”
For the Christian it is called Pentecost Sunday. “In Acts 1, just before the resurrected Jesus is taken up into heaven, he tells the disciples about the Father's promised gift of the Holy Spirit, which will soon be given to them in the form of a powerful baptism. He tells them to wait in Jerusalem until they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, which will empower them to go out into the world and be his witnesses. 50 days from His crucifixion on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), the disciples are all together when the sound of a mighty wind comes down from heaven, with tongues of fire resting on them. The Bible says, "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." They were amazed and thought the disciples were drunk on wine. Then Peter got up and preached the Good News of the kingdom and 3000 people accepted the message of Christ! That same day they were baptized and added to the family of God.”
If you are a Messianic Jew, then you get to celebrate twice as much and hopefully will appreciate a greater depth of meaning to this important day!!
* The history of the Global Day of Prayer is fascinating. It began in South Africa in 2000 and has now spread worldwide - http://www.globaldayofprayer.com/index.php/about-us/history/
* Here's a one-page prayer guide suitable for printing - http://gdopusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/GDOP13-Ten-Day-Black-White-REVISED2.pdf
* I love this prayer to be used collectively around the world on Pentecost Sunday - http://gdopusa.com/gdop/
* Here's a video the Global Day of Prayer has Produced:
Ed Hird is correct when he writes that his article will be controversial. Indeed it is. At a time when yoga has entered mainstream America, including being available at YMCAs, camps and schools, it's not often one hears much negative about it. Which is all the more reason to hear and heed what EdHird has to say. He writes:
You may find this a stretching article in body, mind and spirit. I have intentionally avoided writing this article for years, because I knew that it would be unavoidably controversial. With genuine reluctance, I faced my conflict avoidance, obeyed the Lord and read hundreds of yoga books in our local public libraries. In preparing this article, I have not read one book which warns against yoga. All book citations in this article are from yoga advocates and practitioners.
To many people, yoga is just the hottest new exercise fad for younger women. Twenty million North Americans are now doing yoga, including around four million men. These twenty million people are currently being trained by over 70,000 yoga practitioners in at least 20,000 North American locations. Many people confuse yoga with simple stretching. Stretching and calisthenics are good things which I participate in weekly at the local gym. Yoga has not cornered the market on healthy stretching and calisthenics. I am convinced that we do well when we take care of our bodies as part of our Christian stewardship.
I unknowingly participated in yoga, in the form of martial arts, for twenty years before renouncing it. It is not an easy or light thing for someone to renounce this, even as a Christian. In hindsight, I realized that the ritual motions and postures (asanas or katas) had gotten very deep into my psyche, shaping my very identity. Without intending it, I was to some degree serving two masters.
Historically yoga was only taught in secret to high-caste male Brahmins. In recent years, North American yoga has largely stripped itself of its more obvious Eastern trappings: gurus, incense, Sanskrit, and loin cloths. Yoga paraphernalia has become a multi-billion dollar industry, involving designer spandex, yoga mats, and DVDs. Old-time Yoga purists have called this new development the yoga industrial complex. In some parts of North America, yoga moms are replacing the demographic of soccer moms. This North American yoga industry has registered thousands of copyrights, patents and trademarks, sometimes resulting in threatening lawsuits. The Indian Government is so concerned about the yoga copyrighting that they have set up their own taskforce to protect yoga from being pirated by Westerners:
Yoga piracy is becoming very common, and we are moving to do something about it," says Vinod Gupta, the head of a recently established Indian government task force on traditional knowledge and intellectual-property theft.
"We know of at least 150 asanas [yoga positions] that have been pirated in the U.S., the UK, Germany and Japan," he says. "These were developed in India long ago and no one can claim them as their own."
In an effort to protect India's heritage, the task force has begun documenting 1,500 yoga postures drawn from classical yoga texts -- including the writings of the Indian sage, Patanjali, the first man to codify the art of yoga.
There are seven main kinds of yoga: Hatha Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga (wisdom), Mantra Yoga, Tantra Yoga, and Raja Yoga.
The most popular yoga offered in one's local Recreation Center is Hatha Yoga, so-called physical yoga involving numerous yoga techniques called asanas. These asanas appear to the uninitiated as if they are just stretching exercises. The more fully initiated realize that asanas are worship postures to Hindu deities. Is it really honest and respectful to pretend yoga is just a physical activity without any spiritual implications? More importantly, should people get themselves bent out of shape over Christians doing yoga?
I.K. Taimini, Indian scholar and chemist, wrote that there is no subject like yoga which is so wrapped up in mystery and on which one can write whatever one likes without any risk of being proved wrong. The religion of Hinduism is more than just cows, karma and curry. Yoga is the very heart of Hinduism. Nine out of ten Hindus agree that yoga is Hinduism. In yoga asanas, one re-enacts the story of a particular Hindu deity, identifying as that specific deity. The hand postures (mudras) in Hatha Yoga are a replication of the same hand postures in the statues of Hindu gods. Yoga is spiritual embodiment. Unlike Western religion, one does not have to believe in something to be impacted by Hinduism. Because Hinduism is technique-based, the performance of the asana is sufficient to open up the chakra energies which produce the psychic interaction. The irrelevance of belief is one of the reasons why yoga practitioners often promote yoga to North Americans as either non-religious or religiously neutral. Transcendental Meditation, a form of Mantra yoga, initiated countless westerners with Sanskrit puja rituals that were never explained to them, but still had a significant impact on their core identity. Yoga is inescapably religious in a way that most westerners will not notice.
The term 'yoga' comes from the Sanskrit word 'yug', which means union with Brahman, the highest of the Hindu deities. The purpose of yoga is to produce a mind-altering state that fuses male and female, light and darkness, good and evil, god and humanity. As Deepak Chopra said in The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga:
I posted an article by Raymond Ibrahim yesterday and then today saw him interviewed on the 700 Club. His book, Crucified Again: The New Islamic War on Christians, looks outstanding, a book urgently needed to enlighten people living in ignorance of Islam's history and current jihad against Christians. Underneath the interview below, I have posted a helpful synopsis of the book by a reader, William Garrison Jr.
"Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians" by Raymond Ibrahim (April 2013), 322 pages. The author knows well of the sufferings of Christians at the hands of Muslim tormentors: he learned Arabic from his Egyptian Coptic Christian parents, has traveled throughout the Middle East, and his website maintains a blog of Islamic assaults against Christians, Jews and other mulhid, jahil, gird, and generic kafirun.
On Amazon, the "view inside" feature should be available, however, at the time of this posting, it is just of the e-book Kindle version. This book is not a cut-and-paste posting of his various internet columns; this isn't just a collection of newspaper clippings regarding tormented Christians. Instead, it is a remarkably detailed and scholarly study [52 pages of notes alone!], of Christian persecution (and at times near genocidal assault) throughout the Islamic world (as well as in countries where Muslims have a strong presence).
In Part 1: "Lost History": the author noted how that within the first couple hundred years of Muhammad's jihad the Muslim umma islamiya had conquered half of the Christian world. The author purveys Muhammad's holy book, the Qur'an, for ayat that justify the superiority of Muslims to conquer non-Muslim al-dhimma.
Part 2: "Islam's War On Christian Worship": Here the author discusses the Islamic jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh) for justifying Islamist curtailment of non-Muslim houses of worship, as well as the chastisement of their congregation. Today's attacks against Christian churches can be traced back 1,400 years ago to the Muslim conqueror of Jerusalem `The Conditions of Omar' (p. 33), and as expounded upon by other 14th Century Islamist theologians (p. 35).
Part 3: "Islam's War On Christian Freedom": the author reviews the history of Muhammad (al-insan al-kamil) ordering the killing of those who mocked him (p. 101), and how this developed the notion of blasphemy (tashif), whereby those who publicly question Islamic beliefs can be killed, as well as Christian proselytizers (dai'ya). The author recounts many accounts of Islamist attacks against Christians throughout the world [Caution: not for the fain-of-heart: there are 14 pages of full-color photographs of burned churches and many brutally butchered Christians, pp. 130+].
Part 4: "Climate of Hate": Herein the author details how Muslim governments "plant and nourish the seeds of hate" against non-Muslims.
Part 5: "See No Evil, Hear No Evil": The author explains why liberal academia and media "whitewash Islam and blame the West" for Islamic attacks against non-Muslims. Not a book with a happy ending. [Also see an important companion book: "Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians" by P. Marshall, et. al. (March 2013)].
Emily Alpert writes:
Gun crime has plunged in the United States since its peak in the middle of the 1990s, including gun killings, assaults, robberies and other crimes, two new studies of government data show.
Yet few Americans are aware of the dramatic drop, and more than half believe gun crime has risen, according to a newly released survey by the Pew Research Center.
In less than two decades, the gun murder rate has been nearly cut in half. Other gun crimes fell even more sharply, paralleling a broader drop in violent crimes committed with or without guns. Violent crime dropped steeply during the 1990s and has fallen less dramatically since the turn of the millennium.
The number of gun killings dropped 39% between 1993 and 2011, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in a separate report released Tuesday. Gun crimes that weren’t fatal fell by 69%. However, guns still remain the most common murder weapon in the United States, the report noted. Between 1993 and 2011, more than two out of three murders in the U.S. were carried out with guns, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found.
The bureau also looked into non-fatal violent crimes. Few victims of such crimes -- less than 1% -- reported using a firearm to defend themselves.
Despite the remarkable drop in gun crime, only 12% of Americans surveyed said gun crime had declined compared with two decades ago, according to Pew, which surveyed more than 900 adults this spring. Twenty-six percent said it had stayed the same, and 56% thought it had increased. [more. . .]
I think this an unbelievable atrocity and no one (or very few) seem to be exercised about it. Raymond Ibrahim writes: HT: Drudge
A mass exodus of Christians is currently underway. Millions of Christians are being displaced from one end of the Islamic world to the other.
We are reliving the true history of how the Islamic world, much of which prior to the Islamic conquests was almost entirely Christian, came into being.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recently said: “The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year.” In our lifetime alone “Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt.”
Ongoing reports from the Islamic world certainly support this conclusion: Iraq was the earliest indicator of the fate awaiting Christians once Islamic forces are liberated from the grip of dictators.
In 2003, Iraq’s Christian population was at least one million. Today fewer than 400,000 remain—the result of an anti-Christian campaign that began with the U.S. occupation of Iraq, when countless Christian churches were bombed and countless Christians killed, including by crucifixion and beheading.
The 2010 Baghdad church attack, which saw nearly 60 Christian worshippers slaughtered, is the tip of a decade-long iceberg.
Now, as the U.S. supports the jihad on Syria’s secular president Assad, the same pattern has come to Syria: entire regions and towns where Christians lived for centuries before Islam came into being have now been emptied, as the opposition targets Christians for kidnapping, plundering, and beheadings, all in compliance with mosque calls telling the populace that it’s a “sacred duty” to drive Christians away.
In October 2012 the last Christian in the city of Homs—which had a Christian population of some 80,000 before jihadis came—was murdered. One teenage Syrian girl said: “We left because they were trying to kill us… because we were Christians…. Those who were our neighbors turned against us. At the end, when we ran away, we went through balconies. We did not even dare go out on the street in front of our house.”
- Note: See Update below
- Has it come to this? Ken Klukowski reports: (HT Drudge)
The Pentagon has released a statement confirming that soldiers could be prosecuted for promoting their faith: "Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense...Court martials and non-judicial punishments are decided on a case-by-case basis...”.
The statement, released to Fox News, follows a Breitbart News report on Obama administration Pentagon appointees meeting with anti-Christian extremist Mikey Weinstein to develop court-martial procedures to punish Christians in the military who express or share their faith.
(From our earlier report: Weinstein is the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and says Christians--including chaplains--sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in the military are guilty of “treason,” and of committing an act of “spiritual rape” as serious a crime as “sexual assault.” He also asserted that Christians sharing their faith in the military are “enemies of the Constitution.”)
Being convicted in a court martial means that a soldier has committed a crime under federal military law. Punishment for a court martial can include imprisonment and being dishonorably discharged from the military.
So President Barack Obama’s civilian appointees who lead the Pentagon are confirming that the military will make it a crime--possibly resulting in imprisonment--for those in uniform to share their faith. This would include chaplains—military officers who are ordained clergymen of their faith (mostly Christian pastors or priests, or Jewish rabbis)--whose duty since the founding of the U.S. military under George Washington is to teach their faith and minister to the spiritual needs of troops who come to them for counsel, instruction, or comfort.
This regulation would severely limit expressions of faith in the military, even on a one-to-one basis between close friends. It could also effectively abolish the position of chaplain in the military, as it would not allow chaplains (or any service members, for that matter), to say anything about their faith that others say led them to think they were being encouraged to make faith part of their life. It’s difficult to imagine how a member of the clergy could give spiritual counseling without saying anything that might be perceived in that fashion.
In response to the Pentagon’s plans, retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, who is now executive vice president of the Family Research Council (FRC), said on Fox & Friends Wednesday morning:
It’s a matter of what do they mean by "proselytizing." ...I think they’ve got their defintions a little confused. If you’re talking about coercion that’s one thing, but if you’re talking about the free exercise of our faith as individual soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, especially for the chaplains, they I think the worst thing we can do is stop the ability for a soldier to be able to exercise his faith.”
FRC has launched a petition here which has already collected over 60,000 signatures, calling on Secretary Hagel is stop working with Weinstein and his anti-Christian organization to develop military policy regarding religious faith.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Family Research Council (FRC) announced that almost 110,000 petitions have been gathered - all within the last 72 hours - in response to last Friday's Washington Post report stating that anti-Christian activists had met with senior Pentagon officials to press for the court martial of Christians in the military who "promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion." According to the Post, the activists were given assurances that an instruction booklet on proselytizing would be forthcoming within the next few weeks.
On Monday, the Pentagon followed up on The Washington Post report by releasing this statement: "Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense. Court martials and non judicial punishments are decided on a case-by-case basis and it would be inappropriate to speculate on the outcome in specific cases." Today the Pentagon released another statement claiming to have made "reasonable accommodations" for religious practice and that "service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one's beliefs (proselytization)."
General Jerry Boykin, Family Research Council's Executive Vice President made the following comments:
"We are deeply concerned that senior Pentagon officials not only met with an extreme anti-Christian activist but reportedly provided assurances to him that Christians in the military could face court martial for 'promoting their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates.'
"Both the Pentagon and Mikey Weinstein can't be right. The Pentagon must set the record straight about what Mikey Weinstein was assured in his meeting with Pentagon officials. The Pentagon should categorically disavow Mikey Weinstein and any assurances made to him regarding court martials of chaplains and service members who share their faith.
"Today, the Pentagon released a statement that claims to have provided 'reasonable accommodations' for religious practice. However, the statement is not supported by the reality of recent incidents of religious hostility in the military. This religious incoherence is not limited to the Air Force, but has become widespread under the Obama Administration."
"Nearly 110,000 people have signed this petition because they know if Christian chaplains and other troops are censored from offering the full solace of the Gospel, there is no religious freedom in the military," concluded General Boykin.
The petition to Secretary Hagel can be accessed here.
** Previous related posts:- HAVE SEGMENTS OF THE U.S. MILITARY TURNED ANTI-CHRISTIAN?
Michael Medved has introduced a new science feature to his talk radio show. Thursday he interviewed Stephen C. Meyer, author of Signature of the Cell and the soon to be released Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (HarperOne, June 18). (See the trailer below). Dr. Meyer is the Cambridge University-trained philosopher of science who directs Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. The 17 minute interview focuses on atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel's [heretical!] doubts about philosophical materialism. Nagel is the author of Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False.
Darwin's Doubt promo trailer
Available for pre-order now at www.DarwinsDoubt.com,where you will receive a 43% discount, free shipping and four free digital books! [I pre-ordered a copy several weeks ago]
I like Professor Peter Enns' suggestion on this subject (though not on many other subjects). He cites Victor Matthews' book, Old Testament Turning Points: The Narratives That Shaped a Nation in which Mathewes cites eight turning points in the Old Testament narrative. Enns likes Matthews' suggestions, saying,
“The Bible” puts the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLABle. Although the series follows the storyline of the Old Testament, the producers opted to go more with the “big names”–let’s call it “celebrity”–approach to teaching the Bible than than the “stages of the story” approach as Matthews does. [emphasis in the original]
That’s why Samson and Daniel each get their own hour and all we see of Solomon is him playing with a model of the temple as a boy rather than lingering for a few minutes on how he caused a civil war. Sheesh.
So, given the precious 10 hours, here’s what I would have done.
I would have given the last 3 hours to Jesus and the book of Acts, ending with Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. Telling the story of the Christian Bible is, after all, the point of the series, and giving about 65 years of history 1/3 of the airtime sounds right to me.
The remaining 7 hours I would divide this way.
Adam (and the flood as a transition to Abraham): .5 hours
Abraham (with Jacob and Joseph as a transition to Moses): 1.5 hours
Moses (go nuts with the plagues and the Red Sea, but don’t forget to linger a bit on Mt. Sinai) 1 hour
David (leading off with conquest and judges and ending with the birth of Solomon) 1.5 hours
Divided Monarchy and Fall of the Northern Kingdom (beginning with Solomon’s screw ups and ending with Assyrian invasions, include a prophet or two) 1 hour
Fall of the Southern Kingdom and Return from Exile (leading off with maybe Josiah’s reforms, including Babylonian invasion, and return and rebuilding of the temple) 1.5 hours
As a transition to the New Testament, they could talk about the challenges of maintaining Jewish ways of life and frustrated messianic hopes in the centuries after the exile. Then, enter Jesus to redefine Jewish messianic hope.
That’s a lot to cover and the same sorts of adaptations would need to happen as we see in the series now. A lot would have to be left out. Still, it’s better than giving Samson and Daniel about 2 of the 10 hours, dragging out Abraham, and dealing with the post exilic period in literally one sentence.
Me: I think such a scheme makes a lot of sense. It certainly would offer a better overall view of the narrative structure of the Old Testmant. Enns correctly says,
. . . most of the Old Testament is concerned about land: getting it, settling in it, keeping it, getting kicked out of it, and in the case of the southern kingdom of Judah, coming back home.
Drudge provides links to two commentaries lauding the humility, integrity, and "normalness" of President George W. Bush. I found both opinion pieces fascinating, and on the mark, as each sketches the character of the five presidents present for the opening of Bush's presidential library in Dallas yesterday.
- Peggy Noonan - Obama fatigue becomes apparent
I thought the following even more poignant:
- Joseph Curl - W outclasses Barack and Bill, without even trying
These days it's not often that one hears a robust and convincing case for the superiority of capitalism over all competing economic systems. Discovery Institute's Jay Richards, who speaks below, is an amazing scholar. I first became acquainted with him through his work on "The Privileged Planet" book and video. I thought his expertise was limited to science. How wrong I was. I regard his economics talk as simply brilliant. It serves as an introduction to his book, Money, Greed and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and Not the Problem.
Wintery Knight, whose recent blog post alerted me to this video, in an earlier post suggested listening to a series of 4 sermons by Wayne Grudem (a notable theologian) on the relationship between Christianity and economics? (a PDF outline is here).
Related previous "Muddling" posts -
Posts by Wintery Knight related to Jay Richards:
I totally agree with McCarthy, who writes:
1. It is not certain that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons. I heard Defense Secretary Hagel, who is not the clearest fellow in any event, say our intel community had “some degree of varying confidence” that Syria had twice, on a “small scale,” used sarin. That is a hedge if ever there was one. Coming days after it seems the government had a uniform degree of strong confidence that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was nothing to be concerned about, it’s not exactly something I’d bet the farm on.
2. Let’s assume Assad did it. This would not change the underlying problem: Assad’s opposition is rife with assorted Islamic supremacists and jihadists. These include elements of al-Qaeda, the organization with which we are at war, and whose ardent pursuit of chemical and biological weapons has not only been noted but formally alleged in indictments for years. I am not saying we have no friends in the opposition. But, as in Egypt, they are a weak part of an opposition led by Muslim supremacists who hate the West. That is not going to change, no matter what weapons Assad uses.
On this score, Cliff’s argument repeats the standard interventionist narrative: Obama failed to act in support of the pro-American (or, at least, anti-Islamic-supremacist) faction(s) of the opposition, creating a void that allowed “well-funded jihadist and Islamic forces [to] take the lead on the battlefield.” I wrote about this narrative in a recent column. There is no evidence in Syria, any more than there was in Egypt or Libya, that there was, at any point, a thriving, pro-American faction that was capable of taking the lead against the dictatorial regime. The most virulent opposition to the Assad regime has, for decades, been the Islamic supremacists — the Muslim Brotherhood and its allied violent jihadists. There is no void. This is the dynamic in the Muslim Middle East: You rationalize U.S. aid and sacrifice by telling yourself you are only helping the good guys, and then, once the regime is toppled, it turns out there aren’t enough good guys — so you end up with the Muslim Brotherhood. If Assad is replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood, that is not progress for America.
"To many on the left, if you are conservative, there is nothing you can do that is virtuous. Even the good that you do will be dismissed as cynical or destructive." So says David French who goes on to write:
Thanks to the publication of Kathryn Joyce’s new book, The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption (excerpted here in Mother Jones, and Ms. Joyce is interviewed here at NPR), there’s been an online wave of criticism/examination of Evangelicals’ so-called orphan fever. To some, conservative Christians are incentivizing child-trafficking, engaging in a form of cultural imperialism by yanking children from their native cultures and evangelizing them into Christianity, soothing pro-life conscienses wounded by lack of concern for babies after they’re born, and trying to engage in charity without adjusting underlying world views about social justice and the need for systemic change.
Before I go any further, let me be clear about my biases: I’m the adoptive father of a beautiful girl from one of the countries highlighted in the NPR interview, Ethiopia. My sister has adopted a special-needs child from China, and our church is full of adoptive families, mostly with international adoptions. Many of these kids also have special needs. In short, adoption has been a great blessing in my family’s life, and in the life of our church.
I have two reactions to the criticisms outlined above. The first, more emotional response, is to reaffirm something I’ve said before: To many on the left, if you are conservative then there is nothing you can do that is virtuous. Even the good that you do will be dismissed as cynical or destructive. The idea that my friends and family, who love their adopted children more than they love their own lives, have “orphan fever” is disgusting. Given that much of this criticism comes from unapologetic advocates for abortion-on-demand, I’m reminded of the words of Isaiah: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
But my second response must be less emotional — because the critics do have a limited point. It is simply a fact that there have been abuses within international adoptions. There has been child trafficking. There have been lies told to adoptive parents. And there are actual horror stories — not widespread, but horrifying nonetheless (perhaps the most famous recent incident was of the Tennessee mom who inexcusably and reprehensibly sent her seven-year-old child back to Russia, alone).
There weren't guns in Bible times, but there certainly were weapons. Wayne Grudem tackles the issue in his book, Voting as a Christian: The Social Issues, pp. 93-107. Grudem also discusses the subject in this podcast taken from a Sunday morning Bible class. An outline of his talk may be found here. Dduardo D. Co Jr. recently wrote a paper for a Theology course in Asia Theological Seminary in the Philippines which draws heavily on Grudem in its final section.
A friend sent me Gabby Gifford's passionate New York Times op-ed, "A Senate in the Gun Lobby's Grip'" to which I replied with the following responses:
I'm afraid we disagree on this issue.
Charles Krauthammer writes: (video available)
Charles Krauthammer objected to the Democrats’ perpetual invocation of the children murdered in Newtown throughout the debate over gun-control, calling it “emotional blackmail.”
“If you’re going to make all of these emotional appeals,” he said, “you’ve gotta show that if this had been law, it would have stopped Newtown. It would not have. It’s irrelevant. I wouldn’t have objected, I might’ve gone the way of McCain or Toomey on this, but it’s emotional blackmail to say ‘You have to do it for the children.’ Not if there’s no logic in this, and that I think is what’s wrong with the demagoguery that we’ve heard out of the president on this issue.”
-- Victor Davis Hanson, one of the most astute commentators I know, says:
It is a bad idea to demonize your opponents with epithets such “shameful” and “lying,” given that the case was not made that proposed gun-control legislation would have prevented a Sandy Hook. To prevent these school-shooting horrors might require either armed guards in schools, or Draconian new laws about gratuitous screen and video-game violence, or more frequently incarcerating the mentally unstable, or, on the theory of reducing rapid rates of fire, confiscating millions of previously sold semi-automatic handguns and rifles. All those measures would have offended millions across the political spectrum in ways that demonizing the NRA apparently does not. In the end, it was not the “lying” “gun lobby” that persuaded enough senators to defeat the bill, but the president’s inability to make the argument that his proposals would help stop another Sandy Hook or Columbine. . . .
- A particularly useful, dispassionate analysis can be found in this Wall Street Journal article - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324493704578430672176449846.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop
- Not directly relevant to the vote on gun control is an interesting chart showing more Americans think guns make home safer.
- Update 4/17/13 - Christianity Today published an extensive interview with Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh. The CT interview complements the interview below. Both highly recommended.
- Update #2 - To learn how to write Saeed Abidini and Farshid Fati, two Christians still imprisoned in Iran, go to http://captiveiniran.com/how-to-write-to-friends-of-the-authors/
- Original post - Iranian authorities sentenced Maryam and Marziyeh to death because they converted from Islam to Christianity. I found their faith and their testimony compelling. Their book, Captive in Iran, looks valuable:
Carefully ponder the following FRC collation of recent actions of the U.S. military. Unless our Senators and Representatives step in and call a halt to this trend, the future look ominous for Christians in the United States.
What are America's biggest threats? Hamas? Al Qaeda? According to recent statements by U.S. military officials--including an Army briefing on "religious extremism," the military should be just as concerned with Evangelical Christians and Catholics as threats to America.
In another example, it was discovered that Lt. Col. Jack Rich of the U.S. Army highlighted FRC and American Family Association (AFA) as specific groups who do not share "our Army Values." Rich warned his subordinates "When we see behaviors that are inconsistent with Army Values--don't just walk by. Do the right thing and address the concern before it becomes a problem." The 14-page email goes on to smear FRC and AFA by name, lumping us in with the real extremists of the Ku Klux Klan, Black Panthers, and neo-Nazis--as labeled by the anti-Christian Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which was connected in court to the terrorist shooting at Family Research Council's headquarters on August 15.
This type of inflammatory rhetoric is not isolated. As Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes reported this week, these incidents follow a long line of recent military missteps:
A number of lawmakers, led by Congressman Doug Lamborn (R- Colo.) are demanding answers. In a letter to the Secretary of the Army, he and other Members of Congress are calling on the Army to apologize for attacking Christians and labeling them as extremists.
Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola make some often overlooked observations in their new (2012) book, Jesus: A Theography:
"When Luke wrote his gospel, he referred to the twelve disciples with the shorthand phrase 'the twelve.' But he also used another shorthand phrase: 'the women" or 'some women':
The Twelve were with him, as well as some women: Mary called Magdalene; Joanna, the wife of King Herod's cupbearer; Susanna; and many others. They provided for them out of their resources." [Luke 8:1-3]
And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid." [Luke 23:55}
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.' [Acts 1:14]
"Jesus and His disciples were not beggars; discipleship did not equal destitution. Jesus and the Twelve had financial backers who supported the ministry, many of whom were women. In fact, they had sufficient funding not only to warrant a treasurer but to elicit Jesus' insistence that His and the disciples' taxes be paid to Rome.
I saw the movie "42" today and suggest that all readers go and see it. I rate it as one of the top dozen movies I have seen. Here's an intro from CBN News: [Note: this blog post has been edited and updated]
- Eric Metaxas laments that the movie left out much of the faith element in both Branch Ricky and Jackie Robinson. He produced a Breakpoint opinion piece as well, 42 Turning the Other Cheek, which I will post under "continue reading" below.
- The YouTube video below features former Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Lee Pfund reflecting on "What I Learned from Jackie Robinson." Pfund was on the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers team with Robinson. He later coached baseball and basketball at Wheaton College.
Overview of Jackie Robinson's life:
Kirsten Powers accuses national media: "We've forgotten what belongs on page one."
The Family Research Council covers the case:
Anyone who looked over at the rows of empty seats would have thought the trial hadn't begun. The media section of the courtroom, a full four benches of reserved space, was vacant. To most pro-lifers, it's a picture worth a thousand words--words, unfortunately, that the press refuses to use to tell the gruesome tale of accused mass murderer Kermit Gosnell. JD Mullane, one of the few reporters on hand to watch the abortionist's trial, still can't shake off the eerie feelings of what he heard there. "Sat through a full day of testimony at the Kermit Gosnell trial today," he tweeted. "It is beyond the most morbid Hollywood horror. It will change you."
One thing it hasn't changed, unfortunately, is the media's indifference to the real war on women. The same networks that devoted around-the-clock coverage to the fictional girlfriend of a college linebacker can't be bothered to report on one of the greatest human rights tragedies of our time. Gosnell, who took so much delight in snipping the necks of newborns that he kept a virtual trophy wall of their severed feet, is accused of killing at least one woman and seven children. Witnesses say his victims numbered many more--at least a hundred living, breathing newborns whose chests, as his teenage employee described, were "going up and down real fast." For the survivors, Gosnell's torture chamber is the nightmare they can never wake up from. There, he "perforated bowels, cervixes and uteruses, and left women sterile"--all in a blood-splattered, animal-infested war zone, where women's cries were the common soundtrack.
While the horror hasn't drawn reporters, it has drawn outrage. Social media is exploding in the vacuum of the networks' silence, as #Gosnell trends across the internet. The drumbeat continued yesterday, when the anger of 10 U.S. Representatives boiled over in a special order of Congress. With a sign "The National Media Cover-up" as their backdrop, almost a dozen Republicans took to the floor to expose the press's hypocrisy. "If Dr. Gosnell had walked into a nursery and shot seven infants with an AR-15," said Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), "it would be national news and the subject of presidential hand-wringing." This is a man, fumed Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) who "had a simple solution for unwanted babies--he killed them. He didn't call it that. He called it, 'ensuring fetal demise.' He called it 'snipping.' Over the years there were literally hundreds of 'snippings.' This we find from the grand jury's report. Snipping? This is not a medical procedure. This is murder, and we should call it what it is."
Others, like Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), the father of two daughters, took aim at the President. "Are you so blind," he asked, "are you so intractable, are you so extreme that you yourself can't even call this out for what it is, something that is reprehensible? Pro-life or pro-choice, this is reprehensible. [You are the father] as I am, of two little girls. It is worthy of your attention, it is worthy of your leadership, it is worthy of your direction." This is not, as some have called it, "after-birth abortion." It's murder. How thin, mused Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) is the line between abortion and homicide in this country? Dr. John Fleming (R-La.) pointed out the tragedy that Americans care more about the humane treatment of animals than they do about humans. Think back to the Michael Vick dog-fighting scandal and the millions of angry Americans who clamored for his punishment. Where are those same people today, when children are literally screaming out in pain? It's simple,writes Kirsten Powers. "We've forgotten what belongs on Page 1." The loss of these lives, said an emotional Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) should "sear the conscience of civilized people everywhere."
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood--the same organization who lobbied on behalf of brutality like Gosnell's--appears to have more in common with the Philadelphia abortionist than people realize. At its Delaware branch, at least two nurses have resigned over the disgusting conditions of the clinic. "It was just unsafe," said Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich. "I couldn't tell you how ridiculously unsafe it was." The doctors "didn't wear gloves," she said, while her co-worker, Joyce Vasikonis, told Action News, "They were using instruments on patients that were not sterile." In a rush to get patients in and out, the women say the operating table was "not washed down, it's not even cleaned off. It has bloody drainage on it." After their resignations, which were prompted by a series of botched abortions, the clinic waved off the nurses' concerns. In a revealing interview with the state Department of Health, Mary Peterson was candid about the number of women at risk over unregulated clinics like this one. "I am not going to lie to you, we don't have the manpower to do routine inspections." Then perhaps it's time our government takes the half-trillion dollars it sends to Planned Parenthood and starts investing it in women's safety instead!
Andrew Roberts MP, British House of Commons, 29 November 2010:
I would like to speak to you today as an historian, because it seems to me that the State of Israel has packed more history into her 62 years on the planet than many other nations have in six hundred. There are many surprising things about this tiny, feisty, brave nation the size of Wales, but the most astonishing is that she has survived at all. The very day after the UN declared Israel a country in 1948, five Arab countries attacked, and she has been struggling for her right to life ever since. And that is what we are here for today, to reiterate Israel's right to self-defense, inherent in all legitimate countries.
From Morocco to Afghanistan, from the Caspian Sea to Aden, the 5.25 million square miles of territory belonging to members of the Arab League is home to over 330 million people, whereas Israel covers only eight thousand square miles, and is home to seven million citizens, one-fifth of whom are Arabs. The Jews of the Holy Land are thus surrounded by hostile states 650 times their size in territory and sixty times their population, yet their last, best hope of ending two millennia of international persecution, the State of Israel has somehow survived. When during the Second World War, the island of Malta came through three terrible years of bombardment and destruction, it was rightly awarded the George Medal for bravery; today Israel should be awarded a similar decoration for defending democracy, tolerance and Western values against a murderous onslaught that has lasted twenty times as long.
Jerusalem is the site of the Temple of Solomon and Herod. The stones of a palace erected by King David himself are even now being unearthed just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Everything that makes a nation state legitimate-- bloodshed, soil tilled, two millennia of continuous residence, international agreements ,argues for Israel's right to exist, yet that is still denied by the Arab League. For many of their governments, which are rich enough to have economically solved the Palestinian refugee problem decades ago, it is useful to have Israel as a scapegoat to divert attention from the tyranny, failure and corruption of their own regimes.
The tragic truth is that it suits Arab states very well to have the Palestinians endure permanent refugee status, and whenever Israel puts forward workable solutions they have been stymied by those whose interests put the destruction of Israel before the genuine well being of the Palestinians. Both King Abdullah I of Jordan and Anwar Sadat of Egypt were assassinated when they attempted to come to some kind of accommodation with a country that most sane people now accept is not going away.
"We owe to the Jews," wrote Winston Churchill in 1920, "a system of ethics which, even if it were entirely separated from the supernatural, would be incomparably the most precious possession of mankind, worth in fact the fruits of all wisdom and learning put together. The Jewish contribution to finance, science, the arts, academia, commerce and industry, literature, philanthropy and politics has been astonishing relative to their tiny numbers. Although they make up less than half of one percent of the world population, between 1901 and 1950 Jews won 14% of all the Nobel Prizes awarded for Literature and Science, and between 1951 and 2000 Jews won 32% of the Nobel Prizes for Medicine, 32% for Physics, 39% for Economics and 29% for Science. This, despite so many of their greatest intellects dying in the gas chambers."
Civilization owes Judaism a debt it can never repay, and support for the right of a Jewish homeland to exist is the bare minimum we can provide. Yet we tend to treat Israel like a leper on the international scene, merely for defending herself, and threatening her with academic boycotts if she builds a separation wall that has so far reduced suicide bombings by 95% over three years.
It is a disgrace that no senior member of the Royal Family has ever undertaken an official visit to Israel, as though the country is still in quarantine after more than six decades. Her Majesty the Queen has been on the throne for 57 years and in that time has undertaken 250 official visits to 129 countries, yet has not yet set foot in Israel. She has visited 14 Arab countries, so it cannot have been that she wasn't in the region. Although Prince Philip's mother, Princess Alice, is buried on the Mount of Olives because of her status as Righteous Among Gentiles, the Foreign Office ordained that his visit to his mother's grave in 1994 had to be in a private capacity only. Royal visits are one of the ways legitimacy is conferred on nations, and the Coalition Government should end the Foreign Office's de- facto boycott. After the Holocaust, the Jewish people recognized that they must have their own state, a homeland where they could forever be safe from a repetition of such horrors. Putting their trust in Western Civilization was never again going to be enough. Since then, Israel has had to fight no fewer than five major wars for her very existence.
Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance warns about the changes that will take place in schools should same-sex marriage become the law of the land:
Wintery Knight offers great excerpts from articles reminding (or informing) us of the convictions Lady Thatcher held in the teeth of huge opposition. This is valuable material and very pertinent to the economic debates of our own day.
Those paying attention are aware of a great darkness descending upon our nation. David Limbaugh gives three current examples. In case you may have missed them, he writes in his article "The World is Upside Down" the following:What right-minded person can deny the current uncanny applicability of the admonition by the Prophet Isaiah, uttered some 2,700 years ago, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness"?
Increasingly today, what is undeniably evil is depicted as good and what most traditionalists, at least, used to agree is good passes often for evil.
What's striking to me is that many aren't merely rationalizing evil in an attempt to excuse their indefensible actions. They have systematically turned our entire moral code upside down. They have attacked the very basis for that code and declared that belief in its divine author itself is evil -- and dangerous.
Many deny that there is an affirmative war against Christianity and Judeo-Christian values, but they apparently haven't heard or read the words of some of the New Atheists -- or anti-theists, as some call themselves -- who conflate all religions and blame them all for most of the evil and war in the world.
Others scoff at the notion that Christianity and Christian values are being assaulted, arguing that it's absurd to believe a majority belief system could be under attack.
Let me share just three disturbing stories that caught my attention the past few days.
During an Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training briefing on extremism, evangelical Christianity, Catholicism and Islamophobia were listed along with al-Qaida, Hamas, the Ku Klux Klan and other groups as examples of religious extremism.
An Army spokesman confirmed that this occurred but told Fox News that this was an "isolated incident not condoned by the Dept. of the Army."
Well, that's good to know, but it doesn't change the fact that we see this kind of wrongheaded insanity with ever-greater frequency in our culture. The idea that evangelical Christianity and Catholicism can be listed as extremist organizations by anyone is troubling enough -- but even more so in a publication paid for by taxpayer dollars. This episode may be isolated as far as the Army is concerned, but the thought process giving rise to this twisted perspective is anything but unique, as those paying attention can attest.
Next, we turn to the Florida Statehouse, where legislators were considering a bill to require abortionists to provide medical care to an infant who survives an abortion -- the same type of bill President Obama opposed as an Illinois state senator.
From CBN News:
American Pastor Saeed Abedini, imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith, is being denied medical treatment.
Abedini is suffering from internal bleeding after months of beatings by prison guards.
A few weeks ago, Iranian authorities promised he would receive medical attention, but that didn't materialize.
The American Center for Law and Justice says he was taken to the hospital and returned to prison without being treated.
Iranian officials claim the specialist he was supposed to see wasn't available. Instead of letting one of the many doctors on staff examine him, he was returned to prison without seeing anyone.
The ACLJ has obtained his mailing address at the Evin Prison, and they're encouraging people to write him a note for his upcoming 33rd birthday on May 7.
In a statement posted on their website, the ACLJ warns that Iranian officials are carefully scrutinizing all his mail.
"It is important that we not say anything that could be harmful to Pastor Saeed's case. Statements against Iran or specific references to outside organizations or churches could be harmful. But please let him know you are thinking about him, that you are praying for him, and that you want to see him released to his family," the statement reads.
***Please consider sending Pastor Saeed an encouraging message to let him know people are praying, watching and fighting for his freedom. For further information go to SaveSaeed.org.
The liberal/leftist media, aka the "mainstream media," refuses to cover the sensational trial of Kermit Gosnell, the abortion doctor accused of killing seven live babies outside the womb. Valerie Richardson of the Washington Times reports: (HT: Drudge)
The trial details are nothing short of sensational: A doctor accused of killing seven newborns and a young woman at a filthy Philadelphia clinic strewn with body parts and described as a “slaughterhouse.”
It’s big news in Philadelphia, but nationally, not so much. The lack of coverage is a problem for a growing chorus of conservative and media critics, who allege that the scant national media attention can be attributed not to the courtroom drama but the politics of abortion.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell was an abortionist, meaning that any coverage of the trial risks painting the pro-choice movement in an unflattering light. In a statement issued last week, 20 conservative leaders called for an end to what they described as a “media blackout” and “censoring” of the trial for political reasons.
“The horrific excesses of the abortion industry exemplified by Gosnell and Planned Parenthood are major, national news stories any way you look at them. But the pro-abortion liberal media are determined to hide them from the public,” said the April 4 statement led by the conservative Media Research Center and signed by former Republican presidential candidateGary Bauer, columnist Kellyanne Conway and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.
“The media have a solemn duty to the American people to report the news, not just news that helps the positions they support. It’s unprofessional, it’s disgusting, and it’s inhuman,” the statement said.
Why are C.S. Lewis's "Chronicles of Narnia" - especially their showcase opener, "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" - so popular, fifty years after their author's death? Many answers might be given, from the obvious fact that they are stories well told, to the suggestion that they call us back to a lost childhood. But perhaps there is something deeper going on here.
To understand the deep appeal of Narnia, we need first to appreciate the place of stories in helping us to make sense of reality, and our own place within it. The "Chronicles of Narnia" resonate strongly with the basic human intuition that our own story is part of something greater and grander - something which, once we have grasped it, allows us to see our situation in a new and more meaningful way. A veil is lifted; a door is opened; a curtain is drawn aside; we are enabled to enter a new realm. Our own story is now seen to be part of a much bigger story, which both helps us understand how we fit into a greater scheme of things, and discover the difference we can make. [more . . . ]
* Me: This is a first rate article. Read the whole thing.
Rick Warren's 27 year-old-son, Matthew, commits suicide. - Mental illness
Another reason I'm glad I don't use Facebook - It's newest features designed to further control your life.
Some readers of this blog will be familiar with the extraordinary work of Edith and Francis Schaeffer in the founding of the L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. Their son, Frank, subsequently left the evangelical faith and wrote a number of novels and memoirs which were quite unkind to his parents. So I was surprised to learn from watching a live-streamed appearance of Ravi Zacharias at Princeton earlier this week that Frank Schaeffer published an extraordinary tribute to his mother, March 30, 2013 in the Huffington Post, the day she died. Such a glowing tribute to a mother has rarely been equalled. At the very end, he wrote "You won, Mom. I believe." I'm not sure exactly what that means, and I look forward to learning more.
I trust my mother's hope-filled view of death because of the way Mom lived her life. Mom first introduced me to a non-retributive loving Lord who did not come to "die for us" to "satisfy" an angry God but came as a friend who ended all cycles of retribution and violence.
Mom made this introduction to Jesus through her life example. Mom was a wonderful paradox: an evangelical conservative fundamentalist who treated people as if she was an all-forgiving progressive liberal of the most tolerant variety.
Mom's daily life was a rebuke and contradiction to people who see everything as black and white. Liberals and secularists alike who make smug disparaging declarations about "all those evangelicals" would see their fondest prejudices founder upon the reality of my mother's compassion, cultural literacy and loving energy. . . .
Besides a loving God and her steadfast support for the arts -- even when she disagreed with some of my writing -- here's who else my mother introduced me to: Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Haydn, Brahms, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Handel, Schumann, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Debussy, Verdi and Vivaldi. She made them my friends. They are still my friends and companions and I have made them my children's and grandchildren's friends too. And that is my tribute to her example.
He goes on to list great painters and great authors, and writes further of his mother:
Here's what my mother showed me how to do by example: forgive, ask for forgiveness, cook, paint, build, garden, draw, read, keep house well, travel, love Italy, love God, love New York City, love Shakespeare, love Dickens, love Steinbeck, love Jesus, love silence, love people more than things, love community and put career and money last in my hierarchy of values and -- above all, to love beauty. I still follow my mother's example as best I can and I have passed and am passing her life gift to my children and grandchildren not just in words but in meals cooked, gardens kept, houses built, promises kept, sacrifices made, and beauty pointed to. . . .
He concludes (it's a much longer tribute than these quotes would suggest and filled with fascinating details):
I'll miss her voice. I learned to trust that voice because of the life witness that backed it up. I know I'll hear her voice again. You won Mom. I believe.
Books By Edith Schaeffer:
I have not followed the debate about the Shroud of Turin very closely, supposing like many others that it had been dated to around the 14th century. The latest tests, however, indicate that it dates from between 280 BC to 220 AD. For those wanting an update on current dating, the New York Post has printed a useful article.
. . . The shroud is a 14-foot rectangular woven cloth that bears the faint image of a crucified man, both front and back. The man has all the wounds suffered by the biblical Christ at the crucifixion, including the crown of thorns, the scourging, the nailed wrists and feet and the wound in the side.
Barely visible to the naked eye, the genuine image was revealed only accidentally, in 1898, when Italian photographer Secondo Pia was allowed to photograph the shroud for the first time. In developing the negative plates, Pia discovered to his shock and amazement that the reversed image on the cloth was now fully visible.
Since then, the shroud has been an object of veneration for some and an object of derision for others.
The case for its authenticity was dealt a serious blow in 1988 when, after much wrangling with the Vatican, a team of scientists was permitted to snip off and destroy for radio-carbon testing a small piece from a corner of the shroud. The results, announced with great fanfare, seemed to prove that it dated only from 1260-1390, and thus couldn’t be real.
But questions quickly arose about the piece of fabric that had been tested. Critics said the results were inaccurate, because the piece of cloth was not an original part of the shroud, but a repair and reweave done after it sustained some medieval fire damage.
The latest results seem to bear them out. A team from the University of Padua, based on infrared radiation analysis, has determined that the shroud dates from the period 280 BC to 220 AD — i.e., right at the time when Jesus is said to have lived. . . . [more. . .]
I saw the conclusion of a Ravi Zacharias live streaming appearance this evening in New Jersey. Near the conclusion Ravi referred to the story told in the Kingston Trio song, "Desert Pete." I remembered the song -- at least somewhat -- and decided to look it up on YouTube. And now for your listening pleasure I present: "Desert Pete"
For those who don't know what "priming the pump" means, here's a gentleman who explains it:
And here's Norman Rockwell's painting: "Winter Morning" in which a young boy "primes the pump."
"Give, and it will be given to you.
Good measure, pressed down, shaken together,
running over, will be put into your lap. For with
the measure you use it will be measured back to you."
- Luke 6:38
Julie Stahl and Chris Mitchell report: (Video at the link)
NEGEV DESERT, Israel -- Many Americans worry the U.S. government could use drones to spy on or attack its own citizens.
By contrast, the Israel Defense Forces is using a relatively new type of drone, developed by Elbit Systems, to save Israeli and Palestinian lives.
It's called Skylark -- one of the world's smallest drones. It's the kind of tool becoming increasingly crucial to the global war on terrorism.
"It's a game changer. It really is," IDF officer-in-training Noam Goldstein told CBN News. "Once they [troops] didn't know what was behind this house, what was behind this mountain. You know now, in two seconds you know and you can act accordingly."
The IDF gave CBN News a private look at this mini unmanned aerial system, or UAS, in the Negev Desert.
Soldiers carry the 13-pound Skylark to the field in a backpack.
"Its goal is to assist the ground forces with live intelligence from the next field, the next corner, in the next alley," Lt. Ori Edry, with the IDF's Artillery Corp Skyrider Unit, explained.
The unit can assemble and launch the Skylark within eight minutes, giving Israeli troops a new and potentially life-saving advantage in the field.
"The unique thing is they are actually working inside the field like every [all] ground troops and they're using a really, really advanced technology," Edry continued.
Soldiers launch this hi-tech drone into the wind from a bungee cord. It doesn't take long before it's out of sight.
The Skylark can fly up to 15,000 feet in the air for three hours at a time at about 50 mph -- and even faster if there's a good tailwind.
Lorie Johnson reports:
When it comes to your health, inflammation is public enemy number one. The more doctors learn about it, the more they realize just how destructive it really is.
That's the bad news. The good news is you can reduce the inflammation inside your body by getting smart about what you eat.
No matter what type of health problem you're facing, chances are, it began with inflammation. This internal irritation causes our whole body to break down.
What Causes Inflammation?
One of America's leading experts on preventive medicine, Dr. Michael Roizen is the chairman of the world-famous Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Instituteand the author of numerous best-selling books.He is also cofounder of the wildly successful RealAge, Inc.
Roizen said the latest research indicates inflammation is at the root of nearly every medical problem, whether it's mild or severe.
"Whether you have a wrinkle in your skin caused by an artery being inflamed, or a wrinkle in your heart: a heart attack, or impotence, it's really the same process," he explained. "And it's all caused, or at least it starts with, that inflammation in your artery."
Roizen said inflammation is the silent killer that has eluded the medical community for years. [more . . .]
Wendy Griffeth reports:
JORDAN -- As the world watches Syria implode from a bloody and brutal civil war, missionaries are going to the front lines to try and bring comfort and healing to more than a million people who have escaped the fighting.
Many Syrian refugees are finding comfort in unlikely places. On a recent Saturday, more than 100 burqa clad refugees filed into a church in northern Jordan for a two-day women's conference.
It is a bit unusual to see so many Muslim women in church, but then these are unusual times in the Middle East and people are seeking comfort wherever it is offered.
The death and destruction in Syria is overwhelming. At least 80,000 people have been killed and 1 million have fled the country. Jordan is hosting almost half a million refugees and officials say that figure could double by the end of the year.
There is a mix of anger and sadness among these veiled women who have seen things no one should ever have to.
"There was an area beside us where they were abusing the girls and the women and killing their men," refugee Oum Hassan said. "It was horrible. We had to leave." [more . . .]
It's encouraging to see a TV commentator writing a column for USA Today on persecution of Christians, perhaps the most underreported story of our day! Her column bears the subtitle: "Christians are harassed in more countries -- 130 -- than any other religion in the world. She writes:
"Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world." So asserted German Chancellor Angela Merkel late last year, causing a stir. Merkel echoed a concern expressed by then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who warned in a 2011 speech that Christians face a "particularly wicked program of cleansing in the Middle East, religious cleansing."
Not 'War on Christmas'
Now, this is not about clerks who say "Happy Holidays" or bans of nativity scenes in public schools. Merkel spoke of real persecution ofhundreds of millions of Christians around the world. Indeed, a 2011 Pew Forum study found that Christians are harassed in 130 countries, more than any of the world's other religions.
The just-released book Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians provides the gory details behind these statistics. Persecuted is a collaboration of the Hudson Institute's Nina Shea, Paul Marshall and Lela Gilbert to catalog the human rights abuses visited upon Christian believers from North Korea to Mali. They define this persecution as Christians "who are tortured, raped, imprisoned, or killed for their faith." It's a worldwide phenomenon, but Shea points out a troubling acceleration in the cradle of Christianity's birth: the Middle East and North Africa. As London Guardian columnist Rupert Shortt wrote in January, "The religious ecology of the Middle East looks more fragile than ever, as the Arab Spring gives way to Christian Winter."
Tragically, Christians have been forced to abandon homelands they have occupied for thousands of years. Up to two-thirds of Christians have fled Iraq in the past ten years to escape massacres, church burnings and constant death threats. ManyChristians fled to Syria, where they are experiencing persecution anew. In Iran, U.S. pastor Saeed Abedini has been sentenced to eight years in prison for preaching Christianity. . . .
I'm aware that I posted a Keith & Kristyn Getty Easter hymn a couple days ago, but today I came across another of their great Easter hymns that I would like to post as well.
How can it be, the One who died,
Has borne our sin through sacrifice
To conquer every sting of death?
Sing, sing hallelujah.
For joy awakes as dawning light
When Christ’s disciples lift their eyes.
Alive He stands, their Friend and King;
Christ, Christ He is risen.
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!
Oh, sing hallelujah.
Join the chorus, sing with the redeemed;
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed.
Where doubt and darkness once had been,
They saw Him and their hearts believed.
But blessed are those who have not seen,
Yet, sing hallelujah.
Once bound by fear now bold in faith,
They preached the truth and power of grace.
And pouring out their lives they gained
Life, life everlasting.
The power that raised Him from the grave
Now works in us to powerfully save.
He frees our hearts to live His grace;
Go tell of His goodness.
He’s alive, He’s alive!
Heaven’s gates are opened wide.
He’s alive, He’s alive!
Now in heaven glorified.
Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Ed Cash; © 2012 Gettymusic and Alletrop Music (BMI) (adm. by MusicServices.org)
One always feels a bit sheepish for failing to know the meaning of a word one thinks one should know, but there's no substitute for buckling down and learning it. Such is the word "anaphora" which I learned is pronounced "ah-NAF-oh-rah." It's meaning, I learned, is
By building toward a climax, anaphora can create a strong emotional effect. Adjective: anaphoric.
"Sir Walter Raleigh. Good food. Good cheer. Good times." (slogan of the Sir Walter Raleigh Inn Restaurant, Maryland)
"We saw the bruised children of these fathers clump onto our school bus, we saw the abandoned children huddle in the pews at church, we saw the stunned and battered mothers begging for help at our doors." (Scott Russell Sanders, "Under the Influence," 1989)
"Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine."
(Rick Blaine in Casablanca)
We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans,we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender." (Winston Churchill, speech to the House of Commons, June 4, 1940)