Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Russian Orthodox Seek Relationship with Orthodox Episcopalians

From the Diocese of Pittsburgh website comes an offer by the Russian Large-O Orthodox Church to open discussions with small-o orthodox Episcopal dioceses.

An offer by the Russian Orthodox Church to renew ecumenical relationships with those Episcopal dioceses that have requested Alternative Primatial Oversight stands, states an Oct. 20 letter to Bishop Robert Duncan from His Eminence, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad.

“We re-affirm the community of views on the fundamental questions of Christian ethics, you Dear Brother, have stated in your letter and express our readiness for further cooperation,” he wrote.

Metropolitan Kirill, who chairs the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department for External Church Relations, had originally written in August to Bishop Duncan and the leaders of other dioceses who have asked for Alternative Provincial Oversight. In that letter he stated that “The Russian Orthodox Church supports your act and expresses willingness to restore relations with your diocese.” Following the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson in 2003, the Russian Orthodox Church ended all ecumenical contacts with the Episcopal Church USA.

Bishop Duncan welcomed the initial offer of restored relations wholeheartedly. However, before proceeding, he wrote to make sure that the Russian Orthodox Church was fully apprised of the theological positions taken by the Diocese of Pittsburgh and a portion of the other dioceses that requested APO in support of women’s ordination.

In his response, Metropolitan Kirill made it clear that while the Russian Orthodox Church firmly believes that Scripture and Tradition support an exclusively male priesthood, the church “has not discontinued dialogue with Protestant and Anglican Churches,” that have come to another conclusion.

“We look forward to the next step of renewed relationship with our Russian Orthodox brothers and sisters,” said Bishop Duncan.

It is a peculiar phenomenon that the Episcopal Church, in its headlong rush toward radical inclusiveness, has managed to cut itself off from the vast majority of Christians around the world. About the only folks still interested in talking with TEC are the United Methodists, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the UCC, and some other (mostly dying) mainline denominations. At the same time, however, the “exclusive” and “isolated” remnant is at least welcome at the conference table with 1+ billion Catholics, 240 million Orthodox, 200+ million Evangelicals, and, of course, the vast majority of the 70+ million orthodox Anglicans who live outside the USA.

Charles Williams, in Descent into Hell, describes the slow deterioration of a man named Wentworth, as he gradually turns away from reality into the internal deceptions of his own mind. TEC has chosen its illusions over the reality of God. In the end, our illusions wither with our selves, and if we have not embraced the One Who is Real, we can only embrace nothingness.

He was sitting at the end, looking up an avenue of nothingness, and the little flames licked his soul, but they did not now come from without, for they were the power, and the only power, his dead past had on him; the life, and the only life, of his soul. There was, at the end of the grand avenue, a bobbing shape of black and white that hovered there and closed it. As he saw it there came on him a suspense; he waited for something to happen. The silence lasted; nothing happened. In that pause expectancy faded. Presently then the shape went out and he was drawn, steadily, everlastingly, inward and down through the bottomless circles of the void.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Christians Deliver 10 Ecological Commandments

From Ekklesia, a predictably far-left-of-center Christian organization.
As well as actively campaigning, churches should take action against climate change by following the simple lifestyle of Jesus, Christians in the UK have said.

Fine. I’ll start driving my burro to work every morning. Read my lips. Jesus’s teachings are for everlasting; The Incarnation, life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus are an atonement and reconciliation for all men of every age who choose to accept it. But Jesus’s life as a human being on Earth was 2000 years ago and the reason he never drove a car was that they hadn’t been invented yet! He entered Jerusalem on the back of a borrowed donkey; if it happened today, don’t you think somebody would loan him a Chevy?

Ahead of next week's "I Count" rally in Trafalgar Square, Christian Ecology Link (CEL) are offering Ten 'Ecological Commandments' to churches and others, to help create a greener future.

CEL is urging Christians to make a symbolic step and take part in 'Black Out UK' - a national event to coincide with the I Count rally, where the public are being asked to turn out their lights wherever possible for two hours.

Symbolic steps usually aren’t steps at all. They make people feel like they are contributing to some cause when they are actually doing nothing.

But Christian Ecology Link suggests that Christian involvement should not stop at a couple of hours on a November evening.

The group says that there is an imperative for the church and its members to be aware of, and engage in, care for the whole earth.

The group explains that if Christians believe in the teachings of Jesus and are sincerely trying to act in accordance with them, the church must actively change their ways.

Christian Ecology Link have made the following ten suggestions:

  1. Use less electricity - use low energy light bulbs, don't leave appliances on stand-by, buy A rated appliances (fridges etc.) and switch to green electricity (Good Energy or Green Energy)

  2. Repair, re-use, borrow and share - engage with local swapshop networks, buy from charity shops and jumble sales

  3. Share and pool resources - put a message in your local church newsletter listing the things that you have to share and inviting others to use them
  4. Save and cherish water - get a water butt, repair dripping taps

  5. Drive less - walk, cycle, use the bus, tram, train

  6. Use less gas and oil - insulate your home, wear an extra jumper

  7. Eat food that is local and organic (if possible) - use your local food markets, share an allotment with friends

  8. Plant a tree - in your garden, backyard, or church grounds - make it a celebratory event

  9. Reconnect with the Earth - support a nature conservation group, include caring for the Earth in church liturgy, organise a local nature-watch walk

  10. Join thousands of others at the Stop Climate Chaos - 'I count' rally in Trafalgar Square on 4th November - join the service of worship at Grosvenor Chapel, 24 South Audley Street, at 11.15am before going to the rally at 12 noon.

The rally planned for the 4th November is organised by Stop Climate Chaos whose members include the Christian groups BMS World Mission, Cafod, Christian Aid, A Rocha, Operation Noah and Tearfund.

Christian Ecology Link's calls come hot on the heels of another high profile public address on ecological destruction by the Christian development agency Tearfund. Ekklesia reported last week that a new Tearfund publication, 'Feeling the Heat', predicts that global warming will trigger 25 million 'environmental refugees' around the world.

Okay. I may surprise the world by saying I have nothing against most of their 10 Commandments. (Or 10 Suggestions. Which is it? They say both. I wonder if that reflects their opinion of the original 10? You say Commandments; I say Suggestions. Let’s call the whole thing off.) Most of them are reasonable and conservative ways to behave.

Having said that, I don’t know about number 4, because I’m not sure what a “water butt” is. To an American, it sounds like a really nasty medical condition. If it means a rain barrel, then I’m all for it.

Number 7 drives me a bit over the edge. I like organic veggies as much as the next guy – they are typically marketed when they are actually ripe, and therefore taste a lot better. In case you’ve never noticed, however, organic veggies are expensive. There’s a reason for that – they cost more to produce than, and are not available in as large amounts as, veggies raised by more typical energy-subsidized farming methods. Organic produce are luxury items for self-indulgent Westerners. You can’t feed 6 billion people on organic veggies! If organic farming methods could have fed the world, then most of it never would have gotten hungry in the first place.

And number 9? “Caring for the Earth in a Church liturgy?” What does that even mean? The purpose of the liturgy is to worship the Living God, not to make you feel good. If you want to do a good work for the Earth, that’s great – go do something, and don’t skip Mass to do it.

Sorry for Light Blogging

Have been busy and have had a cold. I swear, the modern office building, with its low-walled cubicles and poor air circulation, must be the twenty-first century public health equivalent of the medieval open sewer. The building I work in is an epidemiological death trap - a free and unhindered pathway for viruses to drift from one poor, suffering human host to another, wafted over the cube walls by every sneeze and cough. If another plague ever emerges from the forests, jungles, or deserts of the world, they'll be stacking our stiff, blue corpses like cordwood and hauling us off to mass graves in the backs of Humvees.

And they'll probably make us take it as vacation time.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Non-Prophet Organization?

For those who believe The Episcopal Church has jumped the shark, but are still hanging in there:

It is striking that revisionists always claim to be following the "leading of the Spirit," even though that Spirit (a) seems to lead people to wherever the culture has already gone; and (b) repeatedly contradicts what He has already said through the prophets, apostles, and martyrs. When someone tells ne they are "led by the Spirit," I usually just ask them, "Really? Which one?" Hence the above bumper sticker.

ACLU Meets its Match?

The ACLU is at it again, based on this article from Agape Press. This time, their victims are fighting back.

Hundreds of people are expected to turn out for a prayer rally tonight in one Tennessee town to show support for a school district that has been sued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The Wilson County School District is being sued for allegedly promoting religious activities at Lakeview Elementary School in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.

This evening's prayer rally at the school was organized by Mount Juliet Commissioner Glen Linthicum. He considers the gathering a way for the community to take a stand against the ACLU, which is suing on behalf of an anonymous family that is upset over, among other things, prayers around the school flagpole, a National Day of Prayer event, and a group of parents who pray regularly for students.

[…] this time the issue "turned up in our backyard."

And that proximate challenge is what has "really gotten the people in Tennessee and middle Tennessee really involved in this, and myself included," the city commissioner observes. "If this is in our backyard," he says, "we can no longer be silent or be that 'silent majority.'"

Possibly, Linthicum speculates, the American Civil Liberties Union and its attorneys decided to attack his community's schools because the group saw it as easy prey. "Maybe they thought that the Wilson County School District would roll over in fright to the big, bad ACLU," he says. "We are a small community just outside of Nashville."

[…] The
Alliance Defense Fund is defending the Wilson County School District against the ACLU's legal action. The liberal group's lawsuit alleges that a student at Lakeview Elementary School suffered damages from the school’s alleged endorsement and promotion of a Prayer at the Flagpole event, a National Day of Prayer event, the activities of a “Praying Parents” group, teacher-led classroom prayers, and a Christian theme and overtly religious songs at a Christmas program.

Linthicum's response to these claims is not a denial but an assertion, that Muslim, Jewish, and Hindu students have "a constitutional right to pray or to read their scriptures at school on their own time, but so do Christians!" He says it is "outrageous" that the ACLU would seek to ban Christianity from the school grounds.

I think the ACLU may have picked on the wrong town. They may possibly win on the issue of “teacher-led classroom prayers,” but they don’t have a leg to stand on regarding the others. Even in the case of teacher-led prayer, frankly, if a school can make children pretend to be Moslems, I don’t think it can be faulted for making them pretend to be Christian.

Their assertive defense is, IMHO, the best one. The ACLU can’t be fought on its own terms – you have to go after their assumptions. Everybody remembers that the first amendment prohibits the establishment of a state religion; we seem to forget that it also says “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” If someone – or some group of someones - feels like “freely expressing,” then the ACLU can go take a long walk off a short pier. They need to be challenged on the basis that the "free expression of religion" clearly and unambiguously does not mean that religious speech is to be excluded from the public square.

The Divine admonition to “turn the other cheek” implies by its very nature that one stand one’s ground. We may not be allowed to hit back, but we don’t have to run away, either. Sometimes the best response to injustice is to publicly stare down the offender and so expose him for what he really is.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Feast of Saint Harit (Arethas) and His Companions

In the Maronite Calendar of Saints, today is the feast of St. Harit (Arethas to the Greeks). St. Harit was born, according to tradition, in 427. He was a starets (elder) and held the post of Governor of Nadjran. He was martyred at the age of 95, in the year 523.

(From Catholics Online)
In the sixth century, the king of Yemen, Dzu Nowass, a convert to Judaism, undertook a violent persecution against the Arab Christians under his rule, demanding that they convert to Judaism. To the largely Christian city of Nadjran the king sent a messenger bearing a pole-mounted cross and conveying this ultimatum: “Whosoever will not show insult to this sign shall be destroyed by fire and sword. Whosoever remains Christian…shall perish by fire and sword…Therefore, citizens of Nadjran, choose my favor, or your religion of the Crucified.” Following the people’s refusal to deny their faith, the king ordered a series of massacres. 427 priests, deacons, monks, consecrated virgins, and lay Catholics were thrown in pits and burned to death. The city’s governor, Prince Arethas, known to Arab historians as Abdallah Ibn Althamir (Harit to the Maronites), was beheaded. A far larger massacre followed, in which over four thousand of the faithful were slain in various ways. As the head veils were stripped from a Christian noblewoman and her two daughters in preparation for their beheading, the Jewish women among the spectators wept in sympathy for the martyrs.

So in 523, large parts of the Arabian Peninsula were Christian and / or Jewish. Gee, I wonder how they became Islamic only a century or so later? Did they have an election?

Trash the Bible, but Careful with that Koran!

From WorldNetDaily:
An internal British Broadcasting Corporation memo reveals senior figures admitted the national news agency was guilty of promoting left-wing views and anti-Christian sentiment.

News of the memo, reported by British media, comes as the BBC continues to struggle against claims of biased reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and distorted coverage of the global fight against terror, reports the Israeli

The admissions of bias were made at a recent "impartiality" summit the BBC held. Most executives admitted the corporation's representation of homosexuals and ethnic minorities was unbalanced and disproportionate, YnetNews.com said. The British news agency, the report said, leaned too strongly towards political correctness, the overt promotion of multiculturalism, anti-Americanism and discrimination against the countryside.

At the summit, executives were given a fictitious scenario in which they were asked to make a judgment.

In the illustration, Jewish comedian Sasha Baron Cohen would participate in a studio program in which guests were allowed to symbolically throw in a garbage bin things they hated.

What would you do, the executives were asked, if Cohen decided to throw kosher food, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bible and the Quran in the trash.

Everything would be allowed, the executives said, except for the Quran, for fear of offending the British Muslim community.

[…] A senior BBC executive admitted to the British paper Daily Express, "There was a widespread acknowledgement that we may have gone too far in the direction of political correctness. Unfortunately, much of it is so deeply embedded in the BBC's culture, that it is very hard to change it."

Interesting. They won’t allow the Koran to be tossed because the adherents of the religion of peace might get upset, but they will insult Christians with impunity. Since, according to Rosie O’Donnell, “radical Christians” are the big threat to Western Civilization, I am curious as to why the BBC doesn’t fear riots in the streets from their (hypothetical) abuse of the bible. There seems to be a wee bit of logical inconsistency here. Perhaps, because the Church of England has already thrown all of its bibles in the trashcan, there is no one left to riot. Will the last Christian in Europe please remember to bury the relics?

I doubt the BBC will ever change its ways – at least, not until the UK officially becomes Londonistan - but I do wish that, say, CNN and CBS at least had the backbone to admit their own biases.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Catholic Bishops to Vote on Communion for Dissidents

From the USCCB:
A Catholic who "knowingly and obstinately" rejects "the defined doctrines of the church" or its "definitive teaching on moral issues" should refrain from receiving Communion, according to a document that will come before the U.S. bishops at their Nov. 13-16 fall general meeting in Baltimore.

The document, "'Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper': On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist," requires the approval of two-thirds of the members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for passage.

In an introduction, Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine, said the draft document was the result of a proposal to the bishops in November 2004 by Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, N.J., for a statement on how Catholics should prepare to receive the Eucharist.

"He envisaged this document as applying to Catholic faithful, not just to politicians or those in public life," Bishop Serratelli said.

Archbishop Myers' request came after a presidential campaign in which some bishops had criticized the Democratic candidate, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, and said he and other Catholic politicians who supported abortion should be refused Communion under canon law.

[…] "In order to receive holy Communion we must be in communion with God and with the church," the document says. "If we are no longer in a state of grace because of mortal sin, we are seriously obliged to refrain from receiving holy Communion."

Among examples of such sin, the document cites "committing deliberate hatred of others, sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult, or physical or verbal abuse toward one's family members or fellow workers, causing grave physical or psychological harm; murder, abortion or euthanasia."

Other "serious violations of the law of love of God and of neighbor" listed in the draft include swearing a false oath, missing Mass on Sundays or holy days without a serious reason, "acting in serious disobedience against proper authority," sexual activity "outside the bonds of a valid marriage," stealing, slander or involvement with pornography.

The document criticized those who "give selective assent to the teachings of the church."

[…] "If someone who is Catholic were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the church, or knowingly and obstinately to repudiate her definitive teaching on moral issues, however, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the church," it adds. "Reception of holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the eucharistic celebration, so he or she should refrain."

If a person who "is publicly known to have committed serious sin or to have rejected definitive church teaching and is not yet reconciled with the church" receives Communion, it could be "a cause of scandal for others," giving "further reason" for the person to refrain, the bishops said.

There are exceptions for “Catholics who have "honest doubt and confusion" about some church teachings; such people are allowed communion “as long as they are prayerfully and honestly striving to understand the truth of what the church professes and are taking appropriate steps to resolve their confusion and doubt." That is no doubt intended for those who simply don’t or can’t understand what the Church says, either from ignorance (nobody’s told them, or someone has told them wrong) or incompetence (mental incapability). I suspect it may turn into a hole one can drive a truck through, however. After all, “selective assent to the teachings of the church" would probably keep half the bishops in the USA from receiving communion.

I wonder what a similar statement from the Episcopal Church (USA) would look like?

"In order to receive Holy Communion we must be in communion with God, however we personally envision Him or Her, and with the church. If we are no longer in a state of nice because of errors in judgment involving other beings or Mother Earth, we are seriously obliged to refrain from receiving Holy Communion."

“Examples of such sin include contributing to global warming, homophobia, heterosexism, failure to embrace the United Nations Millennium Goals, imposition of one’s own personal morality on another, and failure to embrace abortion and euthanasia."

“Other serious violations of the law of love of God and of neighbor listed in the draft include dissent from the teachings of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, a reliance on the Bible and the historic teaching of old, dead Christians instead of on the promptings of the spirit, a literal belief in the Creed, insistence that Jesus really is the way, the truth, and the life, failure to provide all requested funding to the national Episcopal Church, unapproved contact with any Anglican bishop outside the continental United States, and making fun of the Presiding Bishop.”

Anti-Semitism Alive and Well; Anti-Islamism not so Much

From WorldNetDaily:
If the latest FBI hate-crime statistics are any indication, of the 1,314 verified offenses motivated by religious bias, 68.5 percent were anti-Jewish.

Only 11.1 percent were anti-Islamic, despite claims of rampant anti-Muslim bigotry in the U.S. by groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Across the board, hate crimes in the U.S. dropped last year by 6 percent, according to the 2005 FBI report release last week, although violence against people based on their race accounted more than half of the reported incidents.

Police nationwide reported 7,163 hate crime incidents in 2005, targeting victims based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and disabilities. That was down from 2004, when the FBI reported 7,649 incidents.

[…] Race-based criminal activity accounted for 54.7 percent of hate crimes last year, up slightly from 52.9 percent in 2004, the FBI found.

Another 17 percent of hate crimes in 2005 targeted victims for their religious beliefs, and 14.2 percent for their sexual orientation.

Sixty percent of the known offenders in 2005 were white, and 20 percent were black, the report showed.

The number of anti-Christian incidents (115, 9.4%) wasn’t much different from the number of anti-Islamic incidents (128, 10.4% - the 11.1% figure was based on “Number of Offenses,” not “Number of Incidents.”). Of course, attacks on Jews and Christians are far more socially acceptable among the lefties in the USA than are attacks on Moslems.

Interestingly, hate crimes appear to be skewed by race, since 20% of offenders were black, while blacks account for only 12.8% of the population according to Wikipedia.

For the record, here is this hotbed of hate we call America, the overall “hate crime” rate works out to about 2.4 incidents per 100,000 people. You stand a much better chance of being gunned down and killed for your money, drugs or insurance (about 5.6 per 100,000, according to the FBI) than of being assaulted or harassed because you “are” something., and a far, far better chance of dying because you hate yourself (the US suicide rate was 10.8 per 100,000 in 2004, according to the CDC – only 6 of the 16,692 homicides in 2005 were due to hate crimes).

Saturday, October 21, 2006

You Know You're Having a Bad Day When...

From The Toronto Star:
A fire that destroyed a cottage near Bonn and injured a 77-year-old man was probably caused by a meteor and witnesses saw an arc of blazing light in the sky, German police said today.

Burkhard Rick, a spokesman for the police in Siegburg east of Bonn, said the fire gutted the cottage and badly burned the man's hands and face in the incident on Oct. 10.

"We sought assistance from Bochum observatory and they noted that at that particular moment the earth was near a field of meteoroid splinter (sic) and it could be assumed that particles had entered the atmosphere," he said.

"The particles usually don't reach the surface because they disintegrate in the atmosphere," he added. "But some can make it to the ground. We believe this was a bolide (meteoric fireball) with a size of no more than 10 mm."

Were this me, I think I would set up an appointment and go make a lengthy Confession. I'm sure it was just a matter of dumb bad luck, but, still, I would never be able to read Revelation again without getting chills.

... and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale; the sky vanished like a scroll that is rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the generals and the rich and the strong, and every one, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand before it?" (Rev 6:13-17, RSV)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Islamic Court Bans Women from Beach

From Fox News:
An Islamic court banned women from swimming at the main beach in the capital to keep women from mingling with men, an official said Friday.

The ban applies only to the northern Mogadishu Leedo beach, where families usually go on weekends.

"We stopped women from swimming because it is against the teaching of Islam for women to mingle with men, especially while they are swimming," said Sheikh Farah Ali Hussein, chair of a northern Mogadishu Islamic court.

Miriam Isse watched others swimming in the Indian Ocean Friday.

"They cannot prevent us from our right to swim in the sea," she said. "What is wrong with us enjoying ourselves like men? That is clear discrimination."

Somali women usually swim fully clothed. Somali men, however, swim in trunks, at times bare-chested or wearing vests.

Hard-line Islamic leaders' militia have swept through most of southern Somalia since taking over Mogadishu in June. Their sometimes strict and often severe interpretation of Islam has raised the specter of Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime, and contrasts with the moderate Islam that has dominated Somali culture for centuries. They have introduced public executions and floggings of convicts.

I feel a song coming on…

Mogadishu Girls (to the tune of California Girls)

In a Burqa, you can’t swim well
And it’s kinda hard to get a tan,
But at least the boys won’t try to stone you
While you’re layin’ out there on the sand.

The guys all say “Be modest!
You’re no Satanic Western ho!”
But you’ll likely die of heat prostration
Covered up in black from head to toe.

It must be fun to be an Islamic,
It must be fun to be an Islamic,
It must be fun to be an Islamic girl.

Summer days, they must be dreaded
As you sweat beneath the veil;
Don't take it off - you'll be beheaded
Or at the least wind up in jail.

Now the Mullah says men know best,
And that you should just stay out of sight.
Your supposed to carry babies;
Their job's to carry dynamite.

It must be fun to be an Islamic,
It must be fun to be an Islamic,
It must be fun to be an Islamic girl.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Some Good News on the Ecumenical Front

The Diocese of the Chesapeake and Northeast became a constituent diocese of the Episcopal Missionary Church on October 14, 2006 at the General Synod of the EMC. Welcome, brothers and sisters in Christ! One can only hope that this and other recent mergers (such as the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Province of America) will lead to the unification of Continuing and Orthodox Anglican bodies in the USA and worldwide.

Given (a) the divisions today between “mere Christians” and rampant revisionists in many, if not most, ecclesial bodies, and (b) the rapid return of globalized society to paganism, it seems like it’s time to bury a lot of denominational hatchets and remember who the real Enemy is. Of course, it took 2,000 years for us to screw things up to the point we’re at today; it will probably take a long time and a whole lot of Divine grace – if not outright Divine intervention - to put things back together again.

(The picture is from the DOCNE news website and shows (left to right) EMC Presiding Bishop William Millsaps, Bishop G. Wayne Craig (Ret.), Bishop Council Nedd II of the Diocese of the Chesapeake and Northeast, Bishop Lucian Lindsey, Suffragan Bishop of the South, newly ordained Deacons Robert M. Gichuru (DoC&N), Nahum Beard, M.D. (DoS), and John Edwards (DoC&N), and newly set apart lay deaconess Jean Edwards.)

Good News for American Catholics

From the USCCB:
The U.S. bishops will vote to establish norms for hymns at Mass during their annual November meeting in Baltimore, November 13-16.

The new norms, which will require a two-thirds vote by the bishops and subsequent recognitio by the Holy See, are to ensure that liturgical songs will be doctrinally correct, based in the scriptural and liturgical texts and relatively fixed.

The norms are part of a new “Directory for Music and the Liturgy for Use in the Dioceses in the United States of America.” The directory responds to a recommendation of Liturgiam authenticam, the fifth Vatican instruction on correct implementation of liturgical renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council.

Specific norms state that

  1. The approval of liturgical songs is reserved to the Diocesan Bishop in whose diocese an individual song is published. He is supported in his work by this directory and by the USCCB Secretariat on the Liturgy.
  2. The Diocesan Bishop is assisted in his review of individual texts through the formation of a committee for the review of liturgical songs consisting of theologians, liturgists, and musicians. The committee shall assure that each text is suitable for liturgical use based on the principles articulated in this directory.
  3. Within three years, the Committee on the Liturgy will formulate a Common Repertoire of Liturgical Songs for use in all places where the Roman liturgy is celebrated in the United States of America. While songs outside the core repertoire may also be used in the Liturgy, this core repertoire will be included in all worship aids used in the dioceses of the United States of America.

The directory is to serve not so much as a list of approved and unapproved songs as a process by which bishops might regulate the quality of the text of songs composed for use in the liturgy.
According to the proposed directory, theological adequacy may be judged in two ways:

  • Individual songs should be consonant with Catholic teaching and free from doctrinal error
  • The repertoire of liturgical songs in any given place should reflect a balanced approach to Catholic theological elements.

The directory warns of doctrinal compromise. For example, it notes:

  • Liturgical songs must never be permitted to make statements about the faith which are untrue
  • The doctrine of the Trinity should never be compromised through the consistent replacement of masculine pronominal references to the three Divine persons
  • Any emphasis on the work of the members of the Church should always be balanced by an appreciation of the doctrine of grace and our complete dependence of the grace of God to accomplish anything
  • The elimination of archaic language should never alter the meaning and essential theological structure of a venerable liturgical song.

The document also emphasizes that care should be taken that hymns and songs should take their inspiration and vocabulary chiefly from the Scripture and Liturgy.
The document said that the large number of liturgical songs that exist in the United States have benefited the liturgy, but also said that “a certain stable core of liturgical songs might well serve as exemplary and stabilizing factor.”

This is certainly good news for Roman Catholics in the USA! One of the things that is so off-putting about many (not all!) Latin-Rite Catholic churches these days is the really appalling service music. It must have been a lot of hard work to (a) translate a perfectly fine Latin base liturgy into banal English, and (b) make sure it is accompanied by really cheesy music more suitable for Barney the Purple Dinosaur than for the worship, glory, and honor of the Living God of the Universe. My generation, I’m sorry to say, was more than up to the task. I’m glad to see corrections being made.

The good news, of course, will depend on what actually gets included in the final list, but the stated requirements – “The doctrine of the Trinity should never be compromised through the consistent replacement of masculine pronominal references,” “Any emphasis on the work of the members of the Church should always be balanced by an appreciation of the doctrine of grace” – certainly sound hopeful!

Gather us in, the lost and forsaken,
Gather us in, the blind and the lame,
(Sorry, Latin-Rite friends – I couldn’t resist)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Temple of the Holy Cow

From China View:
Archaeologists have unearthed an 11-millennium-old building on the banks of the Euphrates River in northern Syria, the official SANA news agency reported on Tuesday.

The building, which dates back to 8,700 B.C., "may represent the oldest ritual practices related to the holy ox," said Dr. Yousef Kanjo from the Archeological Department of Aleppo, in northern Syrian.

The ancient building, shaped like a wild ox skull, consists of a rectangular forepart with geometrical drawings in red, black and white colors, said the report, quoting a statement by the Aleppo Archeological Department.

On the two sides of the rectangle, two semi-circle walls representing the two horns of the ox were also found, said the report, adding that the house still keeps it original shape, colors and decoration works.

The site was discovered by the French-Syrian Archeological Mission for Excavations, SANA said.

Interesting, assuming it pans out to be true. If it indeed is an 11,000 year old temple to sacred oxen, that dates it to the very beginnings of cattle domestication. All I can say is, “Holy Cow!”

Of course, the sacred ox is still an object of great veneration in his holy temple:

The Usual Claims from the Usual Suspects

The head of the largest inter-church body in the United States has said he is appalled and remorseful at the latest research on the growing death toll in Iraq, following the US-led invasion and occupation in 2003.

"When I first heard that nearly two-thirds of a million Iraqis have been killed I was shocked and horribly saddened," said the Rev Dr Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches
(That Nobody Goes to Anymore) USA.

"The perpetrators of this war can no longer tell us this is 'collateral damage' as they prosecute this war. They must face up to the widespread death and destruction that is being inflicted daily upon innocent men, women and children living in a country that never attacked the United States," Edgar declared.

Johns Hopkins University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology study released this morning estimates the number of Iraqi civilian deaths to be more than 650,000 since the invasion of Iraq three years ago.

Question: Why does the Reverend Doctor Edgar uncritically accept these absolutely preposterous (see here and here) numbers? As of today, there have been 1308 days since the initiation of hostilities in Iraq. That comes to 500 fatalities per day, every single day since then, due to hostile actions of one kind or another - 500 fatalities that have been totally missed and unaccounted for by (a) the U.S. military, (b) the Iraqi military, (c) the press (notorious for its love of both the Bush administration and the U.S. military), (d) the Democratic party (ditto), and (e) the enemy (ditto). Let’s remember that 650,000 casualties represents more than the total number of fatalities (618,000) in the American War of Northern Aggression Civil War, on both sides, including deaths by disease. That war involved four years of incessant combat to the bitter end between large armies with lousy medical care, few baths (typhus), and poor rations. It is greater than the number of fatalities, both military and civilan, suffered by each of the following principal combatants in World War II: Austria (525,000), Italy (410,000), Great Britain (388,000), and the USA (295,000). Let’s also remember that Italy and Great Britain were the targets of major bombing campaigns using massed bombers with notoriously poor accuracy, maximizing the number of civilian targets hit.

The claim is patently ridiculous. So why is it so readily accepted? I suspect there are two reasons. First is the epidemic of the educational pathology of innumeracy – the mathematical equivalent of illiteracy. The people of the USA have largely lost the ability to deal with numeric data in a critical manner. Numbers and statistics are thrown around to validate claims and arguments and nobody ever questions them. Back in 1993, a coalition of women’s groups issued the claim that Super Bowl Sunday was "the biggest day of the year for violence against women." A woman named Sheila Kuehl of the California Women's Law Center cited a study done at Virginia's Old Dominion University three years before, saying that it found police reports of beatings and hospital admissions in northern Virginia rose 40 percent after games won by the Redskins during the 1988-89 season. The reports made the rounds of the media; I suspect half the population still believes it. Unfortunately, the Old Dominion study showed absolutely nothing of the sort. The Kinsey reports of 1948 and 1953 were used for years to reinforce the claim that 10% of the American population is homosexual. A number of newer and more reliable studies indicate that 2.6% of males and 4.4% of females (CDC, 2005 – add them up yourself) are “gay” or “bi” in any meaningful sense (have been active with one or more same-sex partners in the preceding 12 months) yet the 10% figure is still bandied about to influence social policy and public attitudes.

The second reason such numbers are uncritically accepted is that they meet the expectations of the audience. If you already believe that men are intrinsically violent towards women, then you are predisposed to believe that watching a violent sport like football will make them more so. If you already believe that sexuality is a matter of personal preference, then you are predisposed to believe that people will prefer a variety of sexual outlets. If you believe the United States and her military are intrinsically evil, then you are predisposed to maximize the number of individuals killed as a result of US intervention. I expect that sort of bias from, say, the Daily Kos or Al Jazeera. One ought to be able to hope for greater discernment from members of the clergy – especially ones with “Doctor” in front of their names. Unfortunately, I have come to expect no better. When the agenda of the Church turns from Christ to liberal politics, those who could have been “fools for Christ” wind up just being fools.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Forced Abortion in North Korea

From an article on World Net Daily:
A growing body of testimony is vindicating President Bush's charge that North Korea is a member of the "axis of evil" – refugees are reporting the killing of disabled infants and forced abortions of babies believed fathered by Chinese men in an obsessive program based on mystical notions of Korean racial superiority.

[…] "There are no people with physical defects in North Korea," said Ri Kwang-chol, a North Korean doctor who escaped last year. Babies with defects are killed by medical staff and quickly buried, he told the London Times.

Among the "physical defects" that will get a baby killed – even one in the womb – is being half-Chinese.

Han Myong-suk, a 30-year-old woman who escaped twice and who was helped to find sanctuary in a third country by Helping Hands Korea, an American Christian group, had her baby forcibly aborted following her return to North Korea after being sold by traffickers to a Chinese farmer. Five months pregnant when the Beijing government deported her, Han was interned in a detention camp for women.

Merciful God – pray for this woman who has been about as close to hell as you can get while still breathing.

"I defied the order to abort the fetus the prison authorities contemptuously called a 'Chinese Chink' and was badly beaten and kicked in my belly by a guard," Han said. She still remembers the guard's name.

After a week of resistance, Han said she was taken to the prison clinic and "in a most blunt manner they extracted the dead child from my body."

Other witnesses described pregnant women being returned from China and taken to a clinic where labor was induced and the infant suffocated or left to die in a box with other infants in front of their mothers.

"Guards would say the mothers had to see and hear their babies die because they were Chinese," a report by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea said, noting that the murdered infants were known as "children of betrayers."

"It's vital to recognize that 'juche' – the dogma of self-reliance – is not a theory but a cult and that Kim is worshipped as the leader of a religion," a veteran western diplomat who negotiated with the North Koreans on 19 visits told the Times. "These Koreans genuinely believe they are a master race and that the peninsula will be united under the rule of the Kim dynasty."

Despite the organizational trappings of a communist state – a Supreme People's Assembly, a presidium, a cabinet and the Korean Workers' party – North Korea is a one-man military dictatorship founded on clan rule, blood ties, mystical ideas of racial superiority and deification of Kim, the diplomat said. This reality explains Kim's deepening estrangement from its Marxist neighbor, China.

Okay – so how exactly does that differ from other communist states, which are historically either one-man military dictatorships (as in Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Mao, and Fidel), or committee-led military dictatorships (Brezhnev, Gorbachev, the current Chinese government)?

I guess the Master Race will reach its eugenic fruition when it produces an entire nation of guys who are clones of Kim Jong (Mentally) Il. The mental image of 23,000,000 Kims is going to make it hard to sleep tonight.

On the other hand, this may be grounds for peace and understanding. After all, if the North Koreans are aborting all their defective children, doesn’t that make them just like us? Perhaps instead of an ambassador, we should just send them a representative of Planned Parenthood.

So many heretics...

I made this one myself, using The Gimp, a freeware, open-source picture creator / editor. For those used to Adobe Photoshop (which is very nice, but definitely not free), there is a version of The Gimp called
The Gimpshop.

I don't think I can use a picture from The Da Vinci Code on any kind of product - violation of morality if not of copyright. I will try to find an appropriate picture for the "Because sometimes the old way to solve a problem is the best way to solve a problem" tagline.

The photo is actually a Spanish penitente, but I always figured they looked spooky enough to belong on an Inquisitor's bench.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Time Disses Latin Mass for Catholics

The following article is from Time Magazine.
Long before his run-in with the Malibu sheriff's department, Mel Gibson found himself in a very different kind of fix. Back in 2003, while filming The Passion of the Christ, the devout Catholic director couldn't find a real-life priest to his liking. The problem wasn't that he was shooting in an exotic location - they were at Rome's Cinecitta' movie studio, just down the road from the Vatican. But Gibson had a special requirement that was tough to satisfy even in the eternal city: he wanted his daily Mass celebrated in Latin.

In the 1960's, the Second Vatican Council - along with other changes meant to bring the rite closer to the faithful, such as having the priest face the congregation - replaced the traditional liturgy with Mass in local languages. To celebrate the Latin, or Tridentine rite, today, a pastor needs special permission from his bishop. So Gibson had to hunt out a particular 90-year-old French priest to officiate every morning on set.

Well, Mel's luck may be turning. Pope Benedict XVI is said to be preparing to widen the use of the old Latin rite again. He expected to issue a"motu proprio,"a document of his own initiative, which would loosen the permission requirement.

The new permission, or "indult," would most immediately address a longstanding schism with the ultra-traditionalist group founded in 1969 by the French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who opposed the Vatican II reforms. Lefebvre was excommunicated in 1988 after he consecrated four bishops without Rome's consent. But Benedict is believed to want to bring the Lefebvrites back in the fold.

Yet his olive branch may complicate matters in the American Church. Certainly, traditionalists who had to drive a hundred miles to find a priest with permission will be thrilled. More theologically liberal Catholics, however, may see it as a Lefebvrite-tinged step back from the principles they feel inspired Vatican II. "This would make it much more difficult for people to engage in full conscious and active participation, which was the goal of the Council," says Rev. James Martin, an editor at the Jesuit magazine America. Congregations could theoretically split on the issue, and many current priests would have to learn the old Mass (and more Latin, if they wanted to understand it).

Okay - let me get this straight. Theologically liberal Catholics are going to be threatened because somebody else can go to a Latin mass if they feel like it without having to leave the Church. And while we're at it - even if they don't use Latin in the liturgy, don't priests still have to learn Latin in seminary? How do they read anything more than 45 years old? Or do they just believe all theology began 45 years ago?

Even some Vatican conservatives are skeptical. The Lefebvrite critique extended beyond the Mass to other reforms such as efforts to build bridges with other faiths. A senior Vatican official comments that the Mass is "only one demand they have. The real problem is that they don't recognize the authority of the Pope."

I doubt that anyone ever expected the Lefebverites to return to the Catholic fold just because the old Mass is permitted. The people who are rejoicing over this are the faithful Catholics who can't believe that "Divine worship" is best accomplished through banal liturgies accompanied by extraordinarily bad music.

There is no clear indication exactly how loose an indult would be, and whether some approval would still be required for individual priests to perform the Latin rite. So far, the Lefebvre group has not commented on the latest news. Nor has Mel Gibson.

I'm not sure what Mel Gibson has to do with any of this, except that he is anathema to the lefties, who therefore associate his name with whatever they want to denigrate. Oddly, I am not at all sure that Mr. Gibson is what the average American would call "politically conservative." I suspect the loathing has more to do with his outspoken Christianity and his opposition to abortion, the great Sacrament of Secularism.

I have no dog in this particular hunt. St. Francis is Anglican, and the liturgical language at Our Lady's Maronite is Aramaic; Latin would be a newfangled innovation. But I am astounded by the opposition to allowing (not requiring!) people to worship using the old rite. Heck, there is no particular reason the newer Mass has to be in English - as I recall, English was permitted, never required.

I think the real reason for the opposition is the same as the push for revised liurgies in the Anglican churches. A Mass in Latin, just like a traditional Anglican Eucharist, requires that the participants be educated in the meaning of the service. An educated and well-catechized laity is a laity that can recognize nonsense, heresy, and plain old silliness when it's presented. And a laity that can discern truth from B.S. is a laity that can't be fooled into following whatever new-age goofball apostate revisionist agenda the American hierarchy may want to push on them. And that is indeed a threat to the powers that be.

Goodness. If this goes on, people might actually start to believe some of those silly, old-fashioned notions - like the Divinity of Christ, His presence in the Body and Blood of the Eucharist, the physical resurrection, and that maybe even that He and not themselves is really the "bread of life."

Bravo for BXVI! Long may he reign.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I Remember Byzantium

Pope Benedict XVI has taken an awful lot of grief over his Regensburg speech where he quoted the (very) late Emperor Manuel II Paleologos of Byzantium, “"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” The Moslem world, as usual, reacted to complaints that Islam is a violent religion with innumerable acts of religious violence.

At the time, I said I’d had about all the Islamic rage I can put up with. It’s time for the rehellenization of the Middle East. Constantinople, that great city named for the Emperor and Saint himself, fell in 1453. That was 553 years ago, and it is plenty long enough. It’s time for the reappearance of the glory that was Byzantium.

Cato the Elder had to pound on the issue for years before the Romans were willing to take care of Carthage and protect their civilization from a hostile and expansionist culture. Carthago delenda est - Carthage must be destroyed. We don't have orators like Cato these days - instead, I'm opening up my web store for bumper stickers.


Maybe we can start something. Free Constantinople! Free Antioch! Greek the common language from Macedonia to the Afghan Border! In hoc signo vinces!

Georgetown's Disenfranchised Protestants Fight Back

The purge of Protestant student groups at Georgetown University was a matter of note in the blogosphere back in August. Now the Alliance Defense Fund is coming to the aid of the students.

(Story excerpted from WorldNetDaily)
The Alliance Defense Fund has written a letter to a "Christian" college asking officials there to reconsider their decision to ban several national and international Christian student organizations because the groups are too evangelical.

Georgetown University, which boasts a tradition of more than 200 years of Jesuit and Catholic teachings, recently sent letters to half a dozen evangelical Christian organizations telling them they no longer are welcome.

200 years of Jesuit and Catholic teaching? Which one? It seems like the two would be mutually exclusive.

"Now I've seen derecognition letters before, but this one takes the cake," David French, the senior legal counsel for the ADF, said of the Georgetown University decision. "Blessings and may God's peace be on you! … Now get off campus!"

He told WND that there's been no satisfactory explanation for the sudden change in school policy, but those in a position to know best say the groups, such InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, are too evangelical.

"The real interesting thing is that Georgetown tossed these groups, but left the Muslim Student Alliance and the Jewish Student Alliance intact," French told WND. "This Christian college is giving more religious freedom to Muslims and Jews than to Christians."

[…] The ADF letter to John DeGioia, the president, and Rev. Timothy S. Godfrey, S.J., a campus ministry leader, and others asked them to correct the "discriminatory decision by the school's Office of Campus Ministries.

[…] The letter noted that Georgetown advertises that it believes "serious and sustained" discourse among people of differing faiths promotes understanding. However, the difference between its statements and its actions is "a sizeable credibility gap," the letter said.

[…] The school actions also violate its own free speech policy and student organization policy, the letter notes.

[…] French said the university, which is private, has the right to dictate who it wants on campus, but essentially it is staging a "bait-and-switch" with students and parents by proclaiming that they will enjoy "full religious freedom" on campus, when they won't.

[…] The brush-off letter from the university starts: "Blessings and may God's peace be upon you!" but deteriorates shortly later to: "Protestant Ministry has decided to move in another direction."

Translation: The Protestant ministries on this campus have decided to enforce mainline revisionism and apostasy.

[…] "The real problem at Georgetown is the same problem that has plagued campuses across the country: an increasing intolerance for religious students and student groups (regardless of whether they are Catholic or Protestant) who take the Bible seriously and seek to live their lives under the authority of Scripture," French said in a blog on the ADF site.

"In the many years I've spent defending Christians on campus, I've never seen a campus, private or public, eject a Christian student group from campus that followed campus orthodoxy on the relevant social and religious issues of the day."

Bingo! I’d be a lot more sympathetic to Georgetown, a nominally Catholic institution, regulating the Protestants on their campus if I didn’t believe they would mistreat orthodox Catholics the very same way. After all, the school had to be forced by public and student opinion to display crucifixes in the classrooms. The threat they fear isn’t from Protestantism; the threat they fear is a challenge to the dose of new-age secular horse manure they feed to their students. They sugar-coat it with a thin veneer of Catholic lingo in order to disguise the taste. Anybody that exposes the poison under the coating is a danger and must be suppressed.

As Joseph Bottum said in First Things back on August 28,2006:

The problem, of course, finally boils down to this: The evangelical groups represent only a few hundred students, but they are strongly pro-life and opposed to homosexual marriage. The mainline Protestant employees of Campus Ministry find such things embarrassing, and so they kick the evangelicals off campus, employing the power of the officially Catholic chaplain’s office and the rhetoric of the school’s Catholic identity.

There’s an obvious irony here—employed too often to be surprising—in which people begin by protesting in the name of diversity against centralized authority, and later discover, once they’re in charge, how useful those old forms of authority can be in controlling diversity.

But it also represents a tactic we’re likely to see more of: claims of old-fashioned Catholicism, used by people who are far from old-fashioned Catholics, to maintain control of officially Catholic institutions and to ban the people whose political opinions they don’t like. Watch for it at Boston College, and Marquette, and Notre Dame, and Loyola Marymount, and on and on.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Congratulations are in Order!

Abuna Don, Hammer of HereticsCongratulations to Abuna Don Sawyer of Our Lady’s Maronite Catholic Church, on being granted the rank of Periodeut with the title of Monsignor. I cannot imagine a more worthy candidate.

I confess. I had no idea what “Periodeut” meant, and could not find a web definition, so I had to ask. Apparently it is the rank given to one who can be dispatched by the Bishop to speak and act with his authority. (Someone please correct me if I phrased that poorly.) I believe the English equivalent would be “Enforcer.”

From now on, I encourage all parishioners and friends of Our Lady’s to address Abuna Don as “Hammer.”

Word of the Day

Midwest Conservative Journal has come up with a marvelous term for many of the current leaders of the Anglican world:


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

General Synod of the EMC Begins Tomorrow

The General Synod of the Episcopal Missionary Church (of which St. Francis is a parish) convenes October 12-14 in Columbus Ohio. Issues regarding the blessing of same sex unions, homosexual clergy, revising the scriptures to avoid patriarchal references, and the United Nations Millenium Goals are not expected to even cross the minds of those attending.

Prayers for safe travel of clergy, delegates, and guests, for a successful and holy synod, and for new ordinands, would be most appreciated.

Note: Corrected on Thursday, Oct. 12, to read "October 12-14 in Columbus," not "October 12-24." Amazing how fast you can take care of business when everybody shares the same faith!

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who by thy Holy Spirit didst preside in the Council of the blessed Apostles, and hast promised, through thy Son Jesus Christ, to be with thy Church to the end of the world; We beseech thee to be with the Council of thy Church about to assemble in thy Name and Presence. Save us from all error, ignorance, pride, and prejudice; and of thy great mercy vouchsafe, we beseech thee, so to direct, sanctify, and govern us in our work, by the mighty power of the Holy Ghost, that the comfortable Gospel of Christ may be truly preached, truly received, and truly followed, in all places, to the breaking down the kingdom of sin, Satan, and death; till at length the whole of thy dispersed sheep, being gathered into one fold, shall become partakers of everlasting life; through the merits and death of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who hast purchased to thyself an universal Church by the precious blood of thy dear Son; Mercifully look upon the same, and at this time so guide and govern the minds of thy servants the Bishops and Pastors of thy flock, that they may lay hands suddenly on no man, but faithfully and wisely make choice of fit persons, to serve in the sacred Ministry of thy Church, And to those who shall be ordained to any holy function, give thy grace and heavenly benediction; that both by their life and doctrine they may show forth thy glory, and set forward the salvation of all men; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Boy Recovers from 2-Year Persistent Vegetative State

Gresham, Oregon October 10, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A young boy, who had previously been diagnosed as being in a “permanent vegetative state,” has awakened from a 22 month-long coma and is breathing on his own.

Devon Rivers collapsed in a seizure during a phys-ed class in 2004 and his condition was never explained, though some doctors suggested it was caused by an unknown viral infection. Doctors agreed, however, that he had little hope of recovery.

His mother, Carla Rivers, visited him regularly and, in addition to physical therapy by his paediatric nursing home to keep his limbs supple, she talked to him in the belief that coma patients can retain their hearing and some understanding.

"For two years the doctors said there was no hope," said Carla Rivers. "Everything that happens in Devon's life is a gain. There's no losses."

Despite the doctors’ gloomy prognosis, eleven year-old Devon is now being prepared for occupational therapy to help him re-learn motor skills and is able to play with his siblings. Doctors cannot explain the reason either for his unexpected awakening or for his steady recovery.

In August of this year his mother, Carla Rivers, noticed that he began turning his head to follow movement; instead of a blank stare, he was reacting to his environment. Days later Devon was breathing without a respirator.

Carla Rivers said, “Devon may make a full recovery or what we see today may be what we get…God's plan is greater than ours. There's nothing we can do to force it any sooner or hold it back,” she said.

[…] In 2003, Kate Adamson, a former coma patient who had been diagnosed PVS, appeared on the television talk show the O'Reilly Factor. She said that, like Terri Schiavo, the hospital had removed her feeding tube that was only reinserted after eight days when her lawyer-husband threatened to sue the hospital.

I wonder if this is God’s answer to the story three days ago that “medical ethicists” were advocating the use of people individuals human beings bodies in persistent vegetative states for medical experimentation.

The really funny thing is that the folks who advocate this sort of action are generally in the same bunch that call George W. Bush “Hitler” or “Nazi.” Are they sure they really know what those words mean?

Monday, October 09, 2006


I'm having way too much fun with this motivational poster generator.

60 Percent of New Orleans Churches are Functional

From Crosswalk News:
An ongoing study by Bill Day at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary revealed that only 60 percent of all the greater New Orleans-area churches are open and functioning one year after Hurricane Katrina.

Day, associate professor of evangelism and church health and associate director of the Leavell Center for Evangelism and Church Health, presented the preliminary findings of his study, “The Impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Viability of Churches in the Greater New Orleans Area,” during the 29th annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Research Fellowship Sept. 21 at New Orleans Seminary.

For some reason, perhaps because it’s Monday, I’m feeling particularly snarky today. I therefore feel compelled to point out that having 60% of their churches functional should be a source of pride for New Orleans. From what I’ve seen lately, in most places, a good 60% of the churches are thoroughly dysfunctional.

Mother Strikes Boyfriend with Baby

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
A woman used her 4-week-old baby as a weapon during a domestic dispute, swinging the infant through the air and striking her boyfriend with the child, authorities said.

Chytoria Graham, 27, of Erie, remained in the Erie County Jail today, unable to post $75,000 bond on charges of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and simple assault.

"The baby was swung at the individual that she was arguing with," Erie District Judge Thomas Robie told the Erie Times-News for today's editions.

District Attorney Bradley Foulk said the child was critically injured in the incident about 3:30 a.m. yesterday.

[…] It was not immediately clear if the man Ms. Graham allegedly attacked was the baby's father.

Well, there’s a surprise…

Authorities removed four other children from Graham's home and they were in the custody of the Erie County Office of Children and Youth.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us

So what on earth do we expect? Four weeks earlier, this woman could have legally killed the child at will; this is just a somewhat delayed abortion procedure. If it wasn’t a person then, why do we suddenly act like it’s a person now? Just ask Peter Singer of Princeton. After all, “given a choice between keeping alive an adult chimpanzee and a human infant, the chimp should beat out the child.” So if you’re defending yourself, why not use a baby? You’re worth more than it is.

As Planned Parenthood likes to say, “Every Child a Wanted Child.” You can buy a bumper sticker to that effect from the National Organization for Women. Nobody ever seems to mention the logically necessary corollary - “Every Unwanted Child a Dead Child.”

Does anybody still believe that we haven’t left ourselves ripe for judgment?

And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough? You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols. (Ezekiel 16:20-21, NIV)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Composer Darns Happy-Clappy Din

From Scotland on Sunday (which didn't use "darn" in the headline) :
Trendy guitar-strumming folk groups are ruining church services by playing "embarrassing, maudlin and sentimental dirges", Scotland's leading classical composer has declared.

James MacMillan, who wrote the fanfare for the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, has described modern hymns as "excrescences" and called for a return to traditional chants and organ music.

A devout Catholic, MacMillan uses an article in a religious magazine this weekend to confess his despair of the "screaming microphones" and "incompetently strummed guitars and cringe-making, smiley, cheesy foil groups" which fill churches every Sunday.

He reserves particular venom for two well-known modern hymns, 'Bind Us Together, Lord' and 'Make Me a Channel Of Your Peace', the latter having even been recorded to popular acclaim by Irish singer Daniel O'Donnell.

MacMillan says the hymns amount to "cultural vandalism" and that a backlash against such groups is growing, with more church-goers demanding a return to the traditional music which filled churches before reforms of the 1960s.

He declared: "The church has simply aped the secular West's obsession with 'accessibility', 'inclusiveness', 'democracy' and 'anti-elitism'. The effect of this on liturgy has been a triumph of bad taste and banality and an apparent vacating of the sacred spaces of any palpable sense of the presence of God."

The Glasgow-based composer is one of the country's most celebrated musicians, whose work has long drawn heavily on his own strong religious faith.

[...] MacMillan said he was not advocating a ban on all modern hymns, but argued that all church music should be "skilful" and "rooted" in tradition. "What you get more and more is a kind of egotistical band who strum guitars and don't try and engage the rest of the congregation," he said.

The 1960s and 70s, he said, brought a "destructive iconoclasm" into the church "which wilfully brought to an end any remnant of its massive choral tradition and its skilful application to liturgical use. Like most ideas shaped by 1960s Marxist sociology, it has proved an utter failure."

[...] MacMillan said he agreed with the Pope. In his article, which appears in the Catholic magazine Open House this weekend, he declared: "The Pope is presented as a stern-faced, party pooping disciplinarian, stamping out electric guitars, pop-crooning and the sentimental bubble-gum 'folk' used in many of today's Catholic churches. The people attacking him are the very ones who were responsible for the banal excrescences enforced on us in the name of 'democratisation of the liturgy' and 'active participation' over the last few decades."

[...] The Reverend Charles Robertson, the former convener of the committee for the Church Hymnery, said he too personally had little time for many modern hymns. But he said this was not a reason to scrub them from the Kirk's Hymnal.

[...] Robertson highlighted one hymn for particular criticism. "The chorus is 'Jesus is wonderful isn't he, isn't he? Jesus is wonderful isn't he, isn't he?' And yet there was another minister who said that this his favourite hymn."

Well, so what? Some ministers put crystals in the holy water.

I wish Mr. Macmillan would quit beating around the bush and tell us what he really thinks! You normally associate "popular" worship music with Evangelical churches, but the fact of the matter is that the music there, even if modern, is usually pretty good. I have heard more really bad liturgical music in Catholic and Episcopal churches than I have ever heard in Evangelical ones. Usually because the music winds up having (a) nothing to do with the service; and (b) nothing to do with the rest of the music. You'll have something from the 5th century for the processional, an old black spiritual for the sermon hymn, some modern garbage about peace, love, and understanding for an offertory solo, a bunch of new-age drivel about ourselves for the communion hymns, and something from the heyday of the British Empire for the recessional.

Praise the merciful God, the churches I attend regularly these days don't suffer from that!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Use the Comatose for Medical Experiments?

From Lifesite News:
Patients designated as in a “persistent vegetative state (PVS)” should be used for medical experiments, according to several top bioethicists, regardless of whether or not prior consent was obtained.

Several articles published in the recent issue of the Journal of Medical
(sic) debated the potential use of patients with non-responsive brain function for such medical experiments as animal organ transplants—to bypass ethic prohibitions against using a living human being for medical experimentation, some even suggested designating such patients as “dead,” saying their cognitive impairments justified treating them as cadavers.

[…] Dr. Steven Curry of the University of Melbourne, who supports experiments using PVS patients, said it would be too difficult to convince the public that PVS patients were “dead”, according to commentary by the bioethics news watch BioEdge on Oct. 3.

Regardless, he said, their bodies should be used for medical research. Repeating a common fallacy of the bioethics debate on PVS, Curry stated that such patients will not recover. “Those who are in a PVS will not ever wake up, they feel no pain or discomfort and have no continuing interest in their own survival…”

While making the argument that PVS patients have no right to mental autonomy since they have no apparent functioning mental capacity, Dr. Curry excused the medical “use” of their bodies by suggesting such patients should be allowed to choose to donate their bodies for the good of science, saying, “…these patients must also have a right to risk that life for the common good.”

As a further basis for his argument, Dr. Curry stated that PVS patients’ inability to bear children and their lack of any capacity for movement justified the “possible confinement” caused by experimentation.

“Also,” he said, “no risk of withdrawal of consent exists.” While stating that obtaining prior agreement to experimentation would be preferable, he pointed out that such agreements would be unlikely, since few people would anticipate living in a “comatose” state for several years.

Dr. Curry would support permitting family members to give permission for a comatose relative to be used for medical experimentation, “with reference to the person’s values and stated preferences.”

This is the thoroughly sensible and logical result of a utilitarian worldview which measures a person’s value in terms of his usefulness and his ability to function, not in his intrinsic worth as the imago Dei. You’ll notice, I did not say “end result.” The next step is to make it an obligation to remove yourself from society when you can no longer make a positive contribution due to age or illness. Wait, they’re already pretty much doing that in the Netherlands. Maybe the next step will be to off you if you’re not smart enough. Wait, the vast majority of Down’s Syndrome kids are already being aborted, even though with modern treatment and education they can perform at a remarkably high level. If you don’t think things will ever get to the point where involuntary euthanasia is required for everyone a couple of sigma off the mean, think again.

Satan isn’t stupid. He blew it with the Nazis when he went for world conquest. He blew it with the Reds when he took away incentives for people to work hard. His arguments now are much more seductive and convincing, and he’s learned the value of incrementalism. First abortion, then the “right to die,” then physician-assisted suicide and the right to remove comatose people from life support. Now this. People will walk into hell smiling, if you get them to follow you one small step at a time.

Friday, October 06, 2006

News Tidbits for a Friday Afternoon

Good news on the freedom of religion front, from Agape Press:
A federal judge has ruled that Wisconsin's program allowing state employees to donate part of their paychecks to charity may not exclude religious charities on grounds that the groups use religion as a basis for employment or membership on their governing boards.

Under Wisconsin's State Employees Combined Campaign, employees of the state are allowed to voluntarily authorize payroll deductions for charitable purposes. But when state officials told several faith-based organizations -- the
Christian Legal Society among them -- that they could not take part in the program because of their membership requirements, the Association of Faith-Based Organizations (AFBO) challenged the restriction, alleging those groups were wrongly left off the list of potential recipients under a rule requiring them to adopt an anti-discrimination policy. Federal Judge John Shabaz agreed on Friday that the state policy amounted to unconstitutional religious discrimination.

I guess Wisconsin was convinced that tolerance only applies to those who share their particular vision of tolerance. Any dissenters will be prosecuted. Thank heaven for a judge that realizes one man can’t predicate his freedom on the repression of another man.

From (the very liberal) Ekklesia:
Preaching at a Union of Utrecht Eucharist for a service of thanksgiving in Freiburg, Germany, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said that the message of the churches within a changing Europe should be one of peace and welcome.

Dr Williams quoted the words of Jesus in the Gospel, sending out his followers on a mission: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’”

[…] Applying this to the current situation in Europe, Dr Williams said: “Jesus Christ tells us to say ‘Peace!’ – not in a tone that suggests we are happy with all that Europe is or has become, not as though we thought Europe the measure of human excellence. We simply say, ‘Peace!’- meaning that we seek the welfare of this society, its justice and stability and honesty, and that we believe it is a society capable of hearing and being transformed by the Word of grace.”

“… and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely. They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, 'Peace, peace,' but there is no peace. Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all. They did not even know how to blush…” (Jer 6:13b-15a, NASB)

Having been hypersensitized to poppycock in the Episcopal Church, I realize I may be overly critical. However - given the current conflicts facing Europe and the deteriation of its culture - instead of proclaiming “Peace, Peace,” perhaps the Church would do better proclaiming “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

From Spirituality & Religion:
A group of Catholics in Minneapolis will celebrate "National Coming Out Day" next Tuesday at the Basilica of St. Mary. Fr. Michael O'Connell will preside over the event, sponsored by St. Joan of Arc Church, as a service is held in the basilica's St. Joseph Chapel. "Along with the planned retreat activities, there will be time for reflection, journaling, massage, friendship and recreation," organizers of the Dignity Twin Cities event said Thursday in a news release. "We encourage participants to stay overnight on Saturday for the full, rich experience of the retreat, but commuters are also welcome." Also, this Sunday, Dignity Twin Cities, a homosexual group, will celebrate a noon mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

Are they celebrating “coming out of the closet,” or “coming out of Catholicism and historic Christianity?” Will these folk ever get the message that the Church isn’t going to give them what they want – not because the Church doesn’t care, but because the Church doesn’t have the authority? If you have a complaint about the Faith once delivered, please don’t complain to me; I don’t get to make it up. Take it up with God – it’s His Church, not my Church!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

British Cop Won't Protect Jews

From The Daily Mail (UK):
Sir Ian Blair has ordered an 'urgent inquiry' after a Muslim police officer was excused from guarding London's Israeli Embassy after he objected to the duty on 'moral grounds'.

Sir Ian said: "Having learned of this issue I have asked for an urgent review of the situation and a full report into the circumstances."

PC Alexander Omar Basha - a member of the Metropolitan Police's Diplomatic Protection Group - refused to be posted there because he objected to Israeli bombings in Lebanon and the resulting civilian casualties of fellow Muslims.

In a move which has caused widespread astonishment at Scotland Yard, Sir Ian Blair has ordered an 'urgent inquiry' after a Muslim police officer was excused from guarding London's Israeli Embassy after he objected to the duty on 'moral grounds'.

Sir Ian said: "Having learned of this issue I have asked for an urgent review of the situation and a full report into the circumstances."

PC Alexander Omar Basha - a member of the Metropolitan Police's Diplomatic Protection Group - refused to be posted there because he objected to Israeli bombings in Lebanon and the resulting civilian casualties of fellow Muslims.

In a move which has caused widespread astonishment at Scotland Yard, senior officers in the DPG agreed that that PC Basha should be given an alternative posting.

The officer, who carries a gun, is now thought to be guarding another embassy.

Critics accused Met chiefs of bowing to political correctness, saying the decision set a dangerous precedent.

[…] "If they can allow this, surely they'll have to accept a Jewish officer not wanting to work at an Islamic national embassy? Will Catholic cops be let off working at Protestant churches? Where will it end? This decision is going to allow officers to act in a discriminating and racist way.
[…] Last night Met chief Sir Ian Blair ordered an urgent review of the decision not to post the Muslim officer to the Israeli embassy.

Let me get this straight. According to the current mores of Western society, a Christian pharmacist is obligated by law to sell abortion pills, but a police officer that doesn’t like Jews can refuse to defend them from homicide bombers.

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! (Isa 5:20, RSV)

The Israelites wound up being handed over to the Assyrians and Babylonians. I wonder who we’re going to fall to

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Little Motivation

Fooling around with the Motivational Poster generator at BigHugeLabs.com, with a tip of the gimme cap to The Lair of the Catholic Cavemen for pointing it out.


And, for those of us who labor for our daily bread in the great hamster wheels of capitalist productivity:


As the Cathedral Goes, so Goes the Church

From The Telegraph (UK):
What the article actually said:

Canterbury Cathedral is falling apart at the seams, with chunks of masonry dropping off its walls and a fifth of its internal marble pillars held together by duct tape.

The extent of the building's disrepair was revealed yesterday at the launch of a global campaign to raise £50 million over five years for urgent and long-term renovation and conservation.

The cathedral, the mother church of worldwide Anglicanism which was founded in 597 by St Augustine, was the scene of the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170 and has survived extensive bombing of the city during the Second World War.

But Allan Willett, the chairman of the trustees, says it is now facing its biggest challenge — serious corrosion and pollution.

"Despite its 900 turbulent years, it is the next few years that represent this cathedral's time of greatest danger," he said.

[…] The cathedral was at a "critical point in history" and if action was not taken "deterioration will turn into dereliction", he said.

"We don't like to admit that we have had to tie bits of the columns together because we are proud of the building, but we do," he said.

Masons had to "sweep" the exterior walls to remove chunks of wall that were threatening to fall off, and pieces of stone had become dislodged from the towers and fallen on to the roof, he added.

The first priority for the cathedral will be the huge task of tackling the roof, where the support beams are beginning to rot and the lead has become so thin that rain is leaking through a growing number of holes.

An estimated £2 million is needed for the West Tower for urgent work on the buttresses to prevent falling masonry, and a further £5 million for the Bell Harry Tower, where 500-year-old carvings are wearing away.

[…] The authorities also want to secure the cathedral's music and enhance its visitor facilities.

The cathedral hopes that it can appeal to Anglicans and wealthy benefactors worldwide, and is to open offices in North America and Asia.

The dean, the Very Rev Robert Willis, said that all avenues of fundraising would be considered, though suggestions that the cathedral could sell the Archbishop of Canterbury's house or collaborate with wealthy Muslims might not best serve the local community.

What the article really should have said:

The Church of England is falling apart at the seams
, with chunks of the Communion dropping away from its influence and a fifth of its internal congregations held together by duct tape.

The extent of the denomination's disrepair was revealed yesterday at the launch of a global campaign to raise £50 million over five years for urgent and long-term renovation and conservation of funds and property.

The Church of England, the mother church of worldwide Anglicanism which was founded in 1534 by Henry VIII, was the scene of the murder of Christian Doctrine in the 1970’s and 1980’s and has survived extensive bombing of the Gospel during the Postmodern Era.

But Allan Willett, the chairman of the trustees, says the clergy is now facing its biggest challenge — serious corrosion and pollution of the Truth.

"Despite its 500 turbulent years, it is the next few years that represent this Church's time of greatest danger," he said.

[…] The Church was at a "critical point in history" and if action is not taken "deterioration will turn into loss of money and property", he said.

"We don't like to admit that we have had to tie bits of the Communion together because we are proud of the status quo, but we do," he said.

Masons had to "sweep" the exterior walls to remove provinces and dioceses that were threatening to fall off, and individual congregations that had become dislodged from their dioceses and fallen on to the Global South, he added.

The first priority for the cathedral will be the huge task of tackling the hierarchy, where the veneer of historic Christianity is beginning to rot and the pretense has become so thin that apostasy is leaking through a growing number of holes.

An estimated £2 million is needed for the First-world Church for urgent work on the buttresses of Faith to prevent total schism, and a further £5 million for the American Church, where 200-year-old congregations are running away.

[…] The authorities also want to secure really bad liturgical music and enhance the visitor facilities.

The Church hopes that it can appeal to increasingly skeptical Anglicans and wealthy benefactors worldwide, and is to open offices in North America and Asia.

The dean, the Very Rev Robert Willis, said that all avenues of fundraising would be considered, though suggestions that the Church could sell the Archbishop of Canterbury or collaborate with wealthy Muslims might really best serve to fill the Church’s coffers.