Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Well-Designed Solar System describes the discovery of an odd hexagonal structure at the north pole of Saturn.

What a beautiful example of Intelligent Design at work! The planet is obviously constructed for easy maintenance, requiring only a socket wrench for complete disassembly. Hopefully, the manual is written in English.

A Little Off-Topic, but Interesting...

From The Hankyoreh (South Korea):
China has been pushing ahead with construction of a mega-sized nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be completed in 2020, according to a Chinese Communist Party's dossier.

A source close to Chinese military affairs said on March 27 that China has been promoting the construction of a 93,000-ton atomic-powered carrier under a plan titled the "085 Project." The nation also has a plan to build a 48,000-ton non-nuclear-powered carrier under the so-called "089 Project," added the source.

The source made such remarks based on government a dossier that reveals that China’s Central Military Commision recently approved the two projects. The dossier also contained specifications of the aircraft carriers.

China had so far been known to be pushing ahead with construction of a non-nuclear-powered carrier, but not an atomic-powered one.

Once the proposed Chinese carriers are deployed, the radius of the Chinese Navy’s range is expected to reach Guam, where a U.S. base is located. Thus, military experts are worried about China’s moves prompting an arms race in Northeast Asia.

Arms race, shmarms race. I’d just really like to watch the first poor guy that has to try and land on this sucker. The U.S. Navy has been doing this since 1911, and it is still considered one of the most hair-raising, skill-requiring things it is possible for a human being to do.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Stunning Revelation: Hell Exists

From The Scotsman:
Pope Benedict XVI has reiterated the existence of Hell and condemned society for not talking about eternal damnation enough.

A furious Pope Benedict unleashed a bitter attack during a sermon while on a visit to a parish church and said: "Hell exists and there is eternal punishment for those who sin and do not repent."

"Furious?" Somehow, I have a hard time picturing that. "Emphatic," perhaps, or "passionate."

Sounding "more of a parish priest than a Pope" the leader of the world's one billion Roman Catholics added: "The problem today is society does not talk about Hell. It's as if it did not exist, but it does."

Pope Benedict unleashed his fury during a visit to the tiny parish church of St Felicity and the Martyr Children at Fidene on the outskirts of Rome, in his capacity as bishop of the Italian capital.

Awe, come on guys! If the Pope were to "unleash his fury," somebody would be getting crispy at the stake, or at least be excommunicated. "Hell exists" isn't exactly the stuff of rage. You want real fury, go listen to an Episcopal bishop when a parish tries to bail out of the Episcopal Church.

One churchgoer said: "The Holy Father was really having a go. It was a typical fire-and-brimstone sermon that you would have expected from a parish priest years ago."

You mean like years ago when people thought it was actually worth getting up on Sunday morning and going to Church?

[…] A committed theologian, it is not the first time the Pope has described the existence of Hell but it is the first time that he has stressed its significance in a sermon to humble parishioners.

Could there be just a touch of arrogance and condescension on the part of Mr. Reporter here?

Using the Gospel reading of John where Jesus saves the adulterous woman from death by stoning by saying "let he who is without sin to cast the first stone", Pope Benedict said: "This reading shows us that Christ wants to save souls. He is saying that He wants us in Paradise with Him but He is saying that those who close their hearts to Him will be condemned to eternal damnation.

"Only God's love can change from within the existence of the person and, consequently, the existence of every society, because only His infinite love liberates from sin, the root of every evil."

That same love is reflected in the sacrifice of Christ, who came with the concrete goal of saving souls, he added.

While still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and prefect of the Congregation of Divine Faith, he said: "The problem is that today, even the clergy thinks we are all so good that we will enter Paradise.
"We are impregnated by a culture that has taken away the sense of man's guilt, the sense of one's own guilt.

"It is the denial of a key reality of faith that Hell exists for sinners."

[…] Previous popes have often spoken of the existence of the Devil - St Peter, the first pope, warned: "Be vigil, be watchful, your enemy the Devil is about."

Fifteen hundred years later, Pope John XXIII, known as the Good Pope, who died in 1963, said: "The greatest trick of the Devil has been to convince the world that he does not exist."

Fifteen hundred years? By that reckoning, St. Pete didn't kick the bucket until 463 or thereabouts. He should have been a delegate to all the great Ecumenical Councils. I wonder why there was so much argument about whether the 2nd Letter of Peter should be included in the canon of Scripture. They could have just asked him. "Hey, Pete - did you write this one?"

However, Pope Benedict's vision of Hell is not a Dantesque vision of flames and devils, but more of a condition and state of mind.

Speaking in 2005, he said: "Let's hope there are few men whose lives have been a total failure that is unredeemable.

"Hell consists of an eternal damnation for those who have decided to die with the stain of mortal sin.

"The principal punishment of Hell is the eternal separation from God."

As a theologian, the Pope wrote about Hell on several occasions.

In the 1968 book, Introduction to Christianity, he described Hell as a state of existential abandonment, "the loneliness into which love can no longer reach".

In God and the World, a book-length interview in 2000, he said the church reminds people of Heaven and Hell in order to underline that "there is a responsibility before God, that there is a judgment, that human life can either turn out right or come to disaster".

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines Hell as "the state of definitive self- exclusion from communion with God and the blessed".

I guess my first question is, "Why the heck is this treated like it's controversial?" As best I can figure, this has pretty much been the standard doctrine of all Christian churches for the past 1500 2000 years. If nothing else, hell is God's ultimate guarantee of human freedom; if you don't want salvation, He isn't going to force you to take it.

Secondly, there is always the denial of the file-and-brimstone image, as if that makes it better. Spending eternity in utter isolation, wrapped so tightly into yourself that you can't (and wouldn't if you could) get out, while you disintegrate into a putrid mass of competing sins, really isn't a big improvement over fire and brimstone. If you really think about it, that's about as bad as it can get - staring drooling and slack-jawed into an infinitely regressing series of mirrors. And the eternal awareness that you're there because you chose it, while something huge and vile cackles madly from the depths of its own suffering in the never-changing background.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Limerick

God's plan made a hopeful beginning,
But we spoiled it all by our sinning.
Now they say that the story
Will end in God's glory.
But at present the other side's winning.

Tip of the gimme cap to:
The Rev. Dr. B. Madison Currin
Rector emeritus, Christ Church, Pensacola, Fla.
Honorary canon of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul, Charleston

(via the Apostasy Discussion Forum on Yahoo )

Church of England Rolls Over Again

From LifeSite News:
23 of the 26 Anglican bishop members of the House of Lords absented themselves from Wednesday's vote on the Sexual Orientation Regulations, a result that has earned them the wrath of the Christian laity of the Church of England. The bishops of Southwell and Nottingham, Winchester and of York attended.

Early this week, Anthony Archer, a Synod member of the Crown Nominations Committee, addressed a letter to the bishops saying that their relevance as members of government was at stake in the vote.

Yesterday Archer told a Church of England newspaper that the bishops by their absence had done nothing to help justify their continued presence in the House of Lords.

Since the establishment of the protestant Church of England as Britain's official state religion, bishops of that church have enjoyed the privilege of holding seats in the Upper Chamber. But as Britain becomes increasingly secularized and anti-Christian trends are rising, many are re-examining the relevance of their presence as bishops in a body of government.

[…] The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, of Ugandan origin and the second most senior cleric in the Church of England was the strongest Anglican voice against the imposition of the Regulations. He said that the government was seeking to have "consciences surgically removed." While the government introduces a "new hierarchy of rights," religious people were quickly becoming a "sub-category" in society.

Dr. Sentamu quoted William Wilberforce, the 18th century slave trade abolitionist, saying, "The time is fast approaching when Christianity will be openly disavowed, in language as in fact it is already supposed to have disappeared from the conduct of men: when to believe will be deemed the indication of a feeble mind and contracted understanding."

Another who attended the vote, Rt. Rev George Cassidy, said, "It is hard to escape the conclusion that the right to freedom of religion is being treated as of lesser weight than other human rights."

Irrelevancy is seldom forced upon people by circumstance; it is usually chosen. The Church of England has now forfeited any opportunity to protest the new regulations, which promise to severely gag the Church’s freedom of speech and limit the Church's actions regarding the moral legitimacy of homoerotic behavior. The failure to show up is not effectively different than a vote in the affirmative. We live. I'm afraid, in a severely diminished age - long on Quislings and dreadfully short on Wilberforces.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

If I'm a Biblical Scholar...

...I'd hate to see the alternative.

You know the Bible 100%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Wow, I am both awesome and a true Biblical scholar. I can feel the prelest coming on even as I type.

Wait. Maybe not.

"Bible scholars" have come up with the Jesus Seminar; they have disputed the significance of the canon; they have claimed that the Exodus never happened, the Davidic kingdom never existed, that the miracles of Christ are all fabrications "literary devices," that the resurrection was a myth/hallucination/plot/spiritual experience, and that the Gospel of Judas has more to tell us than the Gospel of St. John. If I'm in that company, delusions of spiritual superiority are the least of my problems!

Where did I put my sackcloth and ashes?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Last Supper According to PETA?

From WorldNetDaily:

A controversial new public relations campaign by animal-rights group PETA proclaims Jesus Christ to have been a vegetarian, and portrays the Last Supper – complete with 12 "disciples" including Beatle Paul McCartney and lesbian country-music singer k.d. lang - as a spectacle meant to inspire mankind to forsake eating meat.

The outreach has been built into a 28-foot 1955 Silver Streak Airstream trailer wherein the "Last Supper" is re-created, surrounding Jesus with famous vegetarians, officials of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals told WND.

Oh yeah. I’m sure that will work for me just as well as it will work for other orthodox Christians. If my wife wasn’t planning on cooking a steak tonight, I’ll make sure she does now. It may be Lent, but this requires an immediate response which I think takes precedence.

Are these guys so clueless that they think this will actually appeal to their (apparent) target audience? If it is just supposed to make fun of Christianity to humor their Hollywood Bolshie friends, they ought to recall that those folks eat tofu already.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Nuclear Fusion in the Basement

From Discover Magazine:
Thiago Olson joined the extremely sparse ranks of amateurs worldwide who have achieved nuclear fusion with a home apparatus. In other words, he built the business end of a hydrogen bomb in his basement. The plasma "star in a jar"—shown at the left—demonstrated his success.

For two years, Olson researched what he would need and scrounged for parts from eBay and the hardware store. Flanges and piping? Check. High-voltage X-ray transformer? Check. Pumps, deuterium source, neutron bubble dosimeter? Check, check, check. “I have cross-country and track, so during those seasons I don’t have much time to work on it,” says Olson, a high school senior in Michigan. “It’s more of a weekend project.” Last November the machine finally delivered the hallmark of success: bubbles in the dosimeter. The bubbles indicate the presence of neutrons, a by-product of fusion—an energy-releasing process in which two hydrogen nuclei crash together and form a helium nucleus. Fusion is commonplace in stars, where hydrogen nuclei fuse in superhot plasma, but temperatures that high are hard to achieve on Earth. Still, the prospect of creating all this energy while forming only nonradioactive helium and easily controlled neutrons has made harnessing fusion one of the most sought-after and heavily funded goals in sustainable energy.

Olson’s apparatus won’t work for generating commercial power because it takes more energy to run than it produces. But he has succeeded in creating a “star in a jar,” a tiny flash of hot plasma. “The temperature of the plasma is around 200 million degrees,” Olson says modestly, “several times hotter than the core of the sun.”

Robert Bussard, a nuclear physicist who has spent most of his career investigating fusion for both the government and private companies, applauds Olson’s ambition. “These kids are studying much more useful physics than what the country is spending billions on,” he says. “It causes them to think. They’re not going down the mainstream path to oblivion.” And, aside from using high voltage and emitting low-level radiation, the machine has been deemed harmless. “About a week ago, the department of health from Michigan called my principal,” Olson says. “They wanted to come over and inspect it. They did that, they were impressed, and it checked out.”

I think I like this kid. “Aside from using high voltage and emitting low-level radiation, the machine has been deemed harmless” – great sentence. Reminds me of my lab days. “Aside from expressing a Russian war toxin in a common human gut bacterium, the experiment is completely harmless.” Hope he gets his merit badge.

Also reminds me of the time some of the grad students got liquored up and decided to see if they could make buckminsterfullerene. They cobbled together a device and managed to burn a hole in the cement floor tile. I have other stories about that bunch, but I’m not sure the statute of limitations has expired yet.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Outsourcing Prayer Requests?

From the Dallas Morning News, with a tip of the gimme cap to The Curt Jester:

Benny Hinn Ministries is letting go about 60 workers at its Grapevine headquarters. The organization plans to outsource the handling of calls from people with book and tape orders and prayer requests. Spokesman Ronn Torossian said the move, announced to employees this week, was not about economics. "It's really due to our growth," he said. "The biggest issue is simply our ability to handle the incredible call volume at the hours and times it comes in from throughout the world." The ministry is led by Mr. Hinn, who regularly appears on Christian network TV and also travels the world leading evangelistic crusades. He has been the subject of media investigations and much criticism within Christianity for his emphasis on faith healing and fundraising. Mr. Torossian said the laid-off workers will get severance packages and help with finding new jobs.

For those not familiar with Benny Hinn, he is a rather off-the-wall, Word-of-Faith, charismatic-type preacher who is always making outrageous claims and prophecies on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. My Catholic and Orthodox friends might get a hoot out of watching him, but keep the portable defibrillator handy (and a copy of the Catechism).

How do you out source prayer requests?

“You have reached Benny Hinn Request Services. Please follow the directions on our automated system so we can route you call to best serve you. Para Espanol, marque el dos.


“You may enter a response at any time. To back up a menu, please press the star button on your touch-tone phone. For pledges, press 1. For book requests press 2. For tape requests, press 3. For prayer requests, press 4...”


You have selected prayer requests. If your prayer request involves money, press 1. If you need to confess a major sin, press 2. If your prayer request involves members of your immediate family, press 3. If your prayer request involves your crazy Aunt Edna, press 4. If your prayer involves your health, press 5…”


“You have selected prayer requests for your health. For ailments of the head, eyes, or neck, press 1. For ailments relating to the lungs, bronchii, or nasal passages, press 2. For ailments involving the heart or circulatory system, press 3….”


“You have selected heart and circulatory system. For diseases of the heart, press 1…”


“Thank you. Please hold for the next available operator…Rock of Ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself… Hello, my name is Ramachandran. Welcome to Benny Hinn Prayer Request Solutions. In order to provide you with the best possible service, this call may be recorded for quality control purposes. How may I help you?”

“This is Douglas in Arkham, Massachussetts. I think I’m having a heart attack.”

“Excellent sir. Let me transfer you to our heart prayer specialist for immediate assistance…click…beep…the water and the blood, from thy wounded side which flowed, be of sin...Hello, you have reached the order line for Mortie’s Flying Pizza. Para Espanol, marque el dos…”


Teacher Killed by Students (Religion of Peace Update)

From Reuters:
Muslim pupils at a secondary school in northeastern Nigeria beat a teacher to death on Wednesday after accusing her of desecrating the Koran, police and witnesses said.

Oluwatoyin Olusase, a Christian, was invigilating an Islamic Religious Knowledge exam at the school in Gombe state when the incident occurred. The students attacked her outside the school compound after the exam and killed her, witnesses said.

It was not clear exactly what Olusase had done that angered the students.

Police confirmed the killing and said their intervention had prevented the incident from turning into a riot.

"We have received information that a female teacher has been lynched by her students. We are investigating the report," Gombe state police commissioner Joseph Ibi said.

I wonder if this was the "applications" part of the exam, like a lab practical in Biology. Any bets they all get an “A?”

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Diocese of the Holy Cross to Join FACA?

The Diocese of the Holy Cross, 13 parishes affiliated with Forward in Faith - United Kingdom, has voted to seek membership in the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas. Hopefully, this represents another small step towards unity among orthodox Anglicans. The EMC. of which St. Francis, Austin, is a member, also joined FACA this year. FACA is a fairly loose organization; the individual ekklesiai are quite varied. The ACA is Anglo-Catholic; AMiA tends to be pretty Evangelical; the REC is, well, Reformed, like it says. Some use the '28 Prayer Book, some the '78. The AMiA has some female clergy, which may wind up being a bone of contention to greater unification. All, however, want to establish and maintain an orthodox Anglican presence in the USA. A small step, as I said, but nevertheless a step in the right direction. Progress implies movement towards an agreed-upon goal, so I believe (in hopes of infuriating a liberal or two) this clearly represents progressive Christianity.

On February 26, the DHC Standing Committee met and voted unanimously to apply for membership in the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas. The Federation is now comprised of the Anglican Province of America (APA), the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), the Anglican Church in America (ACA), and the Episcopal Missionary Church (EMC), totaling some 450 parishes. The Episcopal Visitor is Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of the Americas. Two Federation members, the APA and the REC, have a 'Covenant Union of Anglican Churches in Concordat' with the Church of the Province of Nigeria and the Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola.

The purpose of the Federation is the common cause of the Gospel and the furtherance of cooperation, communication, support, discipline and accountability among the various jurisdictions, each of which retains its sovereignty. The Federation is linked with Forward in Faith through mutual membership in Common Cause.

Prayer Requests

My firm and the client have decided to terminate the contract for the project on which I am currently working. I can’t relocate for family reasons; I would prefer not to fly out of town every Monday morning (I am scheduled to teach an evening class at the University next Fall – difficult if I’m in Toledo or somewhere); and I’m not quite ready for retirement (correction – my money supply is not yet ready for retirement). In any case, I would very much appreciate any prayers that I find a suitable slot in old Austin town.

Also, I'd ask your prayers for Beloved-but-Expensive Daughter, who walked out of her apartment last weekend in order to take her broken computer to the shop, only to find that someone had run into her car overnight.

Sermon for the Day

The following is the homily from The Prolog of Ohrid for today, 3/20. I think it is encouraging for Catholics facing heresy, for Anglicans facing apostasy and schism, and for Orthodox facing government oppression and Islamic terror. We've all read the scripture, for heaven's sake; why is it so doggone easy to forget that we already know Who wins in the end?

"They will fight with the Lamb,but the Lamb will conquer them,for He is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings" (Revelation 17:14).

Who speaks these marvelous words? John, who saw God. Who is this Lamb? Christ the Lord. Who is this Lord of Lords and King of Kings? Christ the Lord. With whom will He wage war and whom will He defeat? He will defeat the beast which has seven heads and all those whom receive authority, honor and riches from the unclean beast.

The Lamb among the beasts! St. John also saw the Lamb as the Victor over all the beasts.

Christ among the demons! One would say, "They will devour Him!" Nevertheless, the terrified demons cry out to Him for mercy and flee from Him without turning back.

Christ among His tormentors! One would say, "They will destroy Him forever." Nevertheless, He resurrects and conquers and they flee from Him in terror and perish.

The Church among the heathens! One would say, "They will flood her like the waves over a small island." Nevertheless, the pagan kingdoms sank and fell apart and the Church still exists, flourishes and advances.

The Faith of Christ among the pungent philosophers and theoreticians! One would say, "They will out-smart it and banish it from the world." Nevertheless, they steer one another into lies and persecutions but the Faith of Christ saves men.

Reverence among the blasphemers of God and apostates from God! One would say, "We will soil it!" Nevertheless, they are smothered in their own filth and reverence preserves itself in unsoiled purity.

Christian meekness and tearfulness in the of midst of tyrants and abductors! One would say, "It will die of hunger!" Nevertheless, it lives and walks satiated, while the tyrants and abductors suffer from starvation.

The Lamb among the beasts! Nevertheless, the Lamb is the Victor.

O Lord, Meek and Good, Lamb of God, all caressing, imbue us with Your meekness and goodness, so that even we may share in Your victory.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Parents of the Year

First-Grader Brings Crack Cocaine to Show-and-Tell
SHREVEPORT, La. — A 20-year-old Shreveport woman has been arrested after her first-grade son brought a rock of crack cocaine to school for show-and-tell.

Police were especially disturbed by the child's understanding of crack cocaine. They said he seemed so accustomed to the highly addictive drug that he thought there was nothing wrong with bringing it to school.

Police did not release the name of the school, saying they are still investigating.

Lachristie Thomas was booked on a charge of improper child supervision, a misdemeanor.

Police say the six-year-old was placed in foster care.

Parents Help Launch Daughter's Budding Porn Career
Sunny Lee has some really supportive parents.

The 20-something gal has made a name for herself as the "Shirley Temple of Porn," thanks in large part to the help of her loving parents, ABC News reports.

Lee (not her real name) still lives at home with her parents, Mike and Shelby, who help her in every aspect of the business - from helping her create a doppelganger sex doll to bagging her dirty underwear for sale online.

"We're not kinky parents," Mike insists to ABC News.

[…] "She does her thing, safely, in a good environment, and I don't worry about that," Mike said. "When she comes back home, I just ask her how her date was."

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Mat 18:5-6, RSV)

That’s it! I’ve figured out what’s wrong with society. What with industrialization, automation, and mechanical processing of our foods, we don’t have enough millstones! Someone needs to set up mass production of millstones and we can start getting rid of these people! Wait – wouldn’t work – the EPA would be all over us for tossing people into the sea and contaminating the reef.

Talkin' About My Generation

Regarding the current woes of American Christendom, I have often made the comment on this blog that the Church in the West will not recover until my soon-to-be-late-and-unlamented Boomer generation does the world a kindness by finally passing away. As it was for the generation of the Exodus, who had to strew the desert with their corpses before Israel could enter the Promised Land, so it is with us. Dr. Mabuse has found the appropriate quote from, of course, Chesterton that clarifies my point far better than I ever could myself:

Chesterton wrote the definitive portrait of the Boomer generation, way back in 1921. These are the people who now own the Episcopal Church in the US and the Anglican Church in Canada, and this is why it is vain to hope for wisdom and maturity among them, no matter how many years they're given:

“A generation is now growing old, which never had anything to say for itself except that it was young. It was the first progressive generation - the first generation that believed in progress and nothing else…. [They believed] simply that the new thing is always better than the old thing; that the young man is always right and the old wrong. And now that they are old men themselves, they have naturally nothing whatever to say or do. Their only business in life was to be the rising generation knocking at the door. Now that they have got into the house, and have been accorded the seat of honour by the hearth, they have completely forgotten why they wanted to come in. The aged younger generation never knew why it knocked at the door; and the truth is that it only knocked at the door because it was shut. It had nothing to say; it had no message; it had no convictions to impart to anybody…. The old generation of rebels was purely negative in its rebellion, and cannot give the new generation of rebels anything positive against which it should not rebel. It is not that the old man cannot convince young people that he is right; it is that he cannot even convince them that he is convinced. And he is not convinced; for he never had any conviction except that he was young, and that is not a conviction that strengthens with years.”

- G.K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News of July 9, 1921

Friday, March 16, 2007

Three Little Wimps?

From WorldNetDaily:
A school in England attempting to be politically correct toward Muslims ended up offending them even more when it changed the name of its rendition of "The Three Little Pigs."

The Honley Church of England Junior School in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, decided that since pigs are offensive to Muslims, it should rework the classic tale and call it "The Three Little Puppies" instead, according to the Daily Mail of London.

Islamic leaders, however, condemned the move as misguided and said decisions like this were turning Muslims into "misfits" in society.

About 250 children, ages 7 to 11, were to perform "The Three Little Pigs" at Huddersfield Town Hall in June. But at a recent committee meeting, the organizers of the Kirklees Primary Music Festival decided to change the script to be "sensitive" to Muslims.

"We have to be sensitive if we want to be multi-cultural. It was felt it would be more responsible not to use the three little pigs," said committee member Gill Goodswen, head teacher of Stile Common Junior School, according to the London paper.

"We feared that some Muslim children wouldn't sing along to the words about pigs."

Goodswen said there was no complaint that prompted the decision, but after the move, Sheik Ibrahim Mogra of the Muslim Council of Britain called it "bizarre."

"The vast majority of Muslims have no problem whatsoever with the 'Three Little Pigs,'" he told the Daily Mail. "It's always been the traditional way of telling the story, and I don't see why that should be changed."

Mogra acknowledged Muslims are forbidden to eat pork, "but there is no prohibition about reading stories about pigs. This is an unnecessary step."

Mogra asked how far society would go.

"Are we going to change the seven dwarves because it's discriminatory towards people who are physically less able? Where do you draw the line?" he asked.

"Every time we get these stories Muslims are seen more and more as misfits. We have to accept there's a predominant culture here."

Town council member Terry Lyons told the London paper the school was "pandering to a few extremists," making it easier for them to recruit.

Why am I not surprised that the school was affiliated with the Church of England? The Anglican world, at least the Western part thereof, seems to be so eager to throw away any vestige of itself in order to worship before the throne of inoffensiveness that even absurdities like this become the logical norm. A simple secular children’s rhyme, with no significance beyond itself, has to be altered to fit the (incorrectly) perceived sensitivities of a small minority group. This is the same mentality that, on the religious level, changes the words of hymns to keep them from challenging offending anyone. When this sort of thing first started to happen, it was funny; then it became sad; now it is merely pathetic - the ecclesial equivalent of a junkie passed out at the bus stop.

Next year, perhaps, the "Church of England Junior School" can change the title to The Three Little Christians - if, that is, they can still find that many.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Post-Abortion E-Cards

A nonprofit organization has unveiled a series of electronic greeting cards that concerned friends and relatives can send to a woman after she chooses to have an abortion.

Like Exhale's confidential talk line for women who have had abortions, the six e-cards available on the group's Web site were designed to be nonpartisan and encompass the range of someone's potential responses to going through an abortion.

[…] One card expresses sympathy, offering the gentle reminder that, "As you grieve, remember that you are loved." Another provides encouragement for someone who "did the right thing." Yet another strikes a religious tone with the thought that "God will never leave you or forsake you."

The cards, offered in English and Spanish, are part of a broader effort by Baker, who launched Exhale in January 2002, to bring the agency's work into a broader arena. In two weeks, the agency plans to publish a magazine featuring stories, poems, letters and rituals by and for women who have had abortions.

"We designed them to deal with different peoples' response to abortion. Not everyone is grieving their loss. Not everyone has a relationship with God. Not everyone thinks it is the best thing," Baker said. "We hope the people who send them take the time to think not only about the message they want to send, but about what is best for the person receiving it and what they need to hear."

“Not everyone has a relationship with God. Not everyone thinks it is the best thing." Am I the only one that finds that turn of phrase a bit odd when referring to offing a child?

Too bad there aren’t any post-abortion sympathies for the baby. Maybe they will come out with a line of It-Would-Have-Been-Mother's-Day cards.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

German Cops Foil Heist of Pope's Water

From Catholic World News:
Bavarian police have foiled a bizarre scheme to steal water from a garden hose in a house that belongs to Pope Benedict XVI.

Police in Pentling, a suburb of Regensburg, arrested a man who identified himself as freelance journalist who was caught videotaping a break-in at the Pope’s house. Three men - who have to date escaped capture - were drawing water from the garden hose while the “journalist” taped the event. Officials in Pentling say that the water from the Pope’s garden was to be sold on the internet auction site, Ebay.

Attention from neighbors drove the interlopers away, and Hubertus Wiendl was captured because witnesses took note of his license-plate number. The defendant - who tried unsuccessfully to call Pope Benedict as a witness at his court hearing - was fined $134 for his role in the unusual crime.

I'd like to make some trenchant comment on this caper, but, frankly, nothing I could say could top the event itself. The funny thing is, had they actually auctioned the water on E-Bay, I bet somebody would have paid a lot of money for it.

Abortion Linked to Higher Rates of Child Abuse?

From LifeSite News:
Unresolved grief issues, Coleman noted, "may negatively impact parental responsiveness to child needs, trigger anger, which is a common component of grief, and/or increase parental anxiety regarding child well-being." Some research indicates that grief may be more difficult to resolve if women undergo an unwanted abortion due to pressure from others. In one study, cited by Coleman, 64 percent of American women with a history of abortion reported feeling pressured to abort by others.

Dr. David Reardon, director of the Elliot Institute and a leading researcher who has been involved in more than a dozen studies on the impact of abortion on women, said that this latest study confirms the general findings of previous studies linking abortion with a higher risk of abuse or neglect.

"Previous research has also shown that abortion is linked with a subsequent increased risk of alcoholism, drug use, anxiety, rage, anger and psychiatric hospitalization," Reardon said. "Any of these factors, individually or in combination, can significantly increase the personal and family stresses that can lead to maltreatment or neglect."

A previous study by Coleman found that a maternal history of abortion was linked to less supportive home environments for subsequently born children and that subsequent children exhibited more behavioral problems than the children of women without a history of abortion.

A New Zealand study that tracked young women from birth to 25 years of age found that young women who had abortions were significantly more likely to experience subsequent depression, suicidal behavior and substance abuse, even after the researchers controlled for previous mental health problems.

"Taken all together, these studies show that the mental health effects of abortion don't stop with women," Reardon said. "They will impact their families, too."

PK Coleman, VM Rue, CT Coyle, CD Maxey, "
Induced Abortion and Child-Directed Aggression Among Mothers of Maltreated Children," Internet Journal of Pediatrics and Neonatology, 6(2), 2007.

Abortion Linked to Higher Rates of Child Abuse - I find the original LifeSite headline strange. How much more abusive can you get to children than killing them?

The sad thing is that so many of our churches seem eager to march for “reproductive rights” and validate the abortion option, rather than minister to the real needs of women who have been tricked by society into offing their kids. Way too many in ecclesial authority fall all over themselves trying to make evil seem good and good seem evil in order to conform the Church to the repaganized world. The trouble is that, in the final analysis, it doesn’t really fool anyone. We don’t find some new level of understanding, or become more loving to others. All we do is become callous and indifferent, and try to cover it up with rainbow flags and talk of sexual empowerment.

Shark Bites Lawyer

From the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post:
A prosecutor with the Palm Beach County State Attorney's office became the victim of an apparent shark attack Sunday while surfing at the Tiger Shores Beach off Hutchinson Island in Martin County.

Authorities said Adam McMichael, 29, of Boynton Beach, apparently fell of his surfboard just before 2 p.m. when a shark attacked him and tore a lange chunk of flesh from his forearm.

According to reports, two bystanders used a surfboard leash as a tourniquet and wrapped McMichael's wound with bandages until paramedics arrived.

McMichael was taken to Martin Memorial Medical Center in Stuart. He was treated for his injuries and released around noon today, according to hospital spokesman Scott Samples.

The sharkhas had its stomach pumped, and is said to be recovering; it may, however, require long-term counseling for the trauma. There is no word as yet as to whether Attorney McMichael will pursue litigation.

I thought lawyers were supposed to be immune from shark attack as a matter of professional courtesy.

Monday, March 12, 2007

More Jews Fleeing France

From The Miami Herald:
Rod Kukurudz decided to uproot his family from a comfortable life in France to Surfside when his then 16-year-old daughter, Audrey, came home one night in 2005 - upset and fearful.

''Dad,'' she told him, ''now even if it's hot I have to wear a scarf to hide my Star of David,'' while riding the Paris Metro.

French Jews living in South Florida told The Miami Herald that hostility from Islamic militants in France after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States spurred them to leave. Departures surged after last year's abduction and death of Ilan Halimi in France.

The 23-year-old Halimi, a French Jew of Moroccan parents, was kidnapped Jan. 21, 2006, by a gang of youths calling themselves the "Barbarians.''

''The atmosphere created by that episode, plus other incidents and the general hostility of Muslims in France toward Jews, is what's behind my decision to leave,'' said Kukurudz, who now lives with his wife and their three daughters, including Audrey, in Surfside.

Vanessa Elmaleh is among a growing number of South Florida immigration attorneys helping French Jews secure U.S. visas - but not necessarily asylum.

''Asking for asylum can be risky,'' said Elmaleh, a French Jew herself. "If they deny your petition, they can deport you.''

[…] There are no official U.S. government figures on the number of French Jews here, but officials in U.S. Jewish organizations said it could be anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 in South Florida - mostly Miami-Dade.

''I would say they're in the thousands now,'' said Mendy Levy, a rabbi at The Shul synagogue in Surfside.

''There is no question of an increase in the number of French Jews in South Florida, and there's an expectation that that rate of increase will accelerate,'' said Jacob Solomon, executive vice president of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. 'French Jews see the handwriting on the wall and say, 'We're not going to wait until it's too late.' ''

[…] In their hearts, many of the French Jews arriving in South Florida feel they are refugees, and there's a movement to press the U.S. government for such status. A group has posted a petition on the Internet - - urging the U.S. Congress to approve a refugee program for French Jews.

Both Cohen and Kukurudz miss life in France, but they have no regrets about leaving. They did it for their children.

''So they can have a future,'' Cohen said.

When I was a kid, back in those much-maligned, repressive, intolerant 1950’s, the idea that Jews would ever again have cause to fear in Western Europe would have been totally unthinkable. But then, a lot of the commonplaces of our brave new 21st century would have been unthinkable. I think we owe an apology to all those valiant young men who lost their lives in the liberation of Europe. With every year that passes, it looks more and more like it was a waste of time.

Friday, March 09, 2007

March 9 - Get Over It Day!

Today is National Get Over It Day:
  • Get over:

  • An ex-boyfiend,

  • an ex-girlfriend,

  • an ex-fiance,

  • an ex-spouse,

  • any failure or rejection,

  • sadness,

  • frustration,

  • anger,

  • anything at all that you may be struggling to get over.
I wonder if it works for getting over my presenting sins?

(Warning - poem below contains slightly naughty language)

Suitable for Friday in Lent

(From the eminently worthy Catholic Cartoon Blog)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi - An Example

I was absolutely blown away by the precise comments of Alice Linsley regarding a posting on Midwest Conservative Journal (original article and comments here). There is nothing unusual about that – MCJ publishes excellent and frequently hysterical analyses of what’s going on in the Anglican world, and Ms. (formerly Episcopal Rev.) Linsley is one of my heroes. (I hope it’s okay for beef-eating, tofu-free, nuke’m-till-they-glow-then-shoot’em-in-the-dark, manly men to have the occasional female hero.) However, this particular post was so to-the-point that I cut and pasted it in its entirety, trusting that neither MCJ nor the most excellent Ms. Alice would object. I have added paragraph breaks not present in MCJ’s comment boxes for greater clarity.

Baptism is the mother of the sacraments of the Church. Historically, the Anglican understanding of baptism is extremely rich. However, the 1979 rite represents a pathetically impoverished theology and provides no option for the orthodox. It doesn't provide options because it is designed to enforce conformity to ECUSA’s new religion.

A comparison of the 1979 baptismal rite with the rites of 1549 and 1928 reveals that the Standing Liturgical Committee was not fond of the term “spiritual regeneration.” This term is used four times in the 1549 rite and four times in the 1928 rite, but not once in the 1979 rite. Consider the following chart showing the frequency of terms in the three Books. The terms “regeneration or “spiritual regeneration” 1549 - used 4 times 1929 - used 4 times 1979 - not used The terms “born again” or “born anew” 1549 - used once 1928 - used 4 times 1979 - used once The term “reborn” 1549 – not used 1928 – not used 1979 – used once. That the language of spiritual regeneration should be “dumbed down” when spiritual regeneration is beyond human understanding and rational explanation is the height of dumbness! As can be seen from the word frequency chart, the 1928 rite is the strongest on the doctrine of regeneration. The term “reborn” is not used in the 1549 or 1928 rites because it is neither biblical nor historical.

What is accomplished in regeneration is a birth “from above.” The Greek term is anothen and the reference is John 3:3 where Jesus tells Nicodemus: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born from above.” It is possible to be baptized according to the 1979 rite and never have a clue that God’s intention is to give you birth from above. The problem of sin is so serious that we cannot overcome it. Drastic measures must be taken. What is needed is nothing short of spiritual death and resurrection. Jesus spoke of his death as a baptism when he asked the ambitious James and John, “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” The brothers answered, “We can,” and Jesus told them that they would indeed drink from the same cup and be baptized with the same baptism. Jesus was speaking of death and resurrection. Likewise the Apostle Paul explains: “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:3-7, NIV)

The 1979 rite acknowledges the dying and rising aspect of baptism in these words: “We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection.” (p. 306) Yet the words are rendered meaningless because the rite has redefined original sin as “sinful desires” and suggests that it is possible to “renounce” them. (p. 302) If it were possible in our own power to set aside sin, we certainly would not need the drastic measures that Jesus and Paul state are necessary to be free from bondage to our sinful natures.

The 1979 Book also weakens the doctrine of incorporation by subsuming it to the Commission’s preference for initiation. The difference is significant. The biblical understanding of incorporation is that we are made a part of Christ’s Body by God’s grace. Initiation, on the other hand, involves joining a community by personal choice. If someone decides to join the Masons, he must go through the initiation process, but to join the Church, God must graft him supernaturally into the Body of Christ. In the process of initiation the joiner has control, but mystical incorporation is beyond our control. So to be a disciple of Jesus Christ we must be made a part of Him. Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) And if we ever doubted who is in control we should be reminded of these words: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will last.” (John 15:16)

The 1979 Baptismal Rite does not represent the historic Christian understanding of that sacrament. It has lost the covenant language that provides the richest context for what God is accomplishing in Baptism. It fails to take seriously the taint of original sin and the necessity for remission of sin. It has lost the biblical and historic doctrine of spiritual regeneration. It subordinates the biblical teaching on spiritual incorporation to its 20th century understanding of initiation and attempts to impose conformity to its justice agenda.

When we started attending St. Francis Episcopal (a Continuing Anglican church, not TEC), I was struck by the differences between the 1928 and 1979 prayer books. Overall, the 1928 Eucharist is not that different from the 1979 Rite 1. The little differences are very telling, however. The very first time I noticed was when I heard the birthday prayer and realized that ’79 had left out one little phrase – “Bless and guide them wherever they may be, keeping them unspotted from the world.” What a peculiar thing to omit! Could there possibly have been some ulterior purpose besides saving a little space?

Recently, I witnessed my first two Baptismal rites at St. Francis. I was stunned. Having seen many baptisms at St. Previous Church (TEC), the difference in the theological content and significance of the 1928 service was – well, I already said it, stunning.

They say you never know how poor you are until the first time you have a few bucks in your pocket. I never knew how liturgically impoverished I was until I tasted the riches of worship in a few historically faithful churches. I pray that the faithful stiil in TEC someday recover what they have surrendered to the Spirit of the Age.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


How the bloody blue blazes is it possible for a guy to get fatter in the middle of Lent? Yeesh! I give up. I'm going to go seek the wisdom of the timid creatures of the forest, then kill and eat a couple of them. Just not on Wednesday or Friday.

The Hand of the Betrayer

From the Prolog from Ohrid for March 7. Today’s homily is certainly meaningful for so many different churches today, churches which are undergoing assaults from within. I find it very easy to lose perspective and only see the Enemy, winning battle after battle - forgetting that the war itself has already been won, and the only question is which side I pick as my own.

"And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray Me is with Me on the table(St. Luke 22:21).

It is most difficult for a general to wage war when he has an enemy within the camp; not only external enemies, but internal enemies among his own. Judas was considered among his own. However, he was the enemy from within. Rows of enemies crowded and closed ranks around Christ and, from within, Judas was preparing betrayal. His hand was on the table which Christ blessed, and his thoughts were aligned with the enemies where darkest evil, hatred and malice seethed against the gentle Lord.

Is it not also the same today, that the hand of many traitors of Christ are at the table with Him? Which table is not Christ's? On what table are not His gifts? He is the Householder and He nourishes and feeds His guests. The guests have nothing of their own, nothing! All good and all abundance which is given to them is given to them by the hand of Christ. Therefore, is it not so that Christ is present at every table as a Householder and as a Servant? Therefore, are not those also the hands of all who even today betray Christ on the table together with Him? They eat His bread and they speak against Him. They warm themselves by His sun and they slander His name. They breathe His air and they rise up against His Church. They live off His mercy and they banish Him from their homes, from their schools, from their courts, from their books and from their hearts. They trample His commandments willfully, maliciously and ridicule His law. Are they not then the betrayers of Christ and the followers of Judas? Do not be afraid of them! God did not command that we be afraid of them but wait to see their end. Our Lord was not afraid of Judas nor is He afraid of all the traitorous hordes until the end of time. He knows their end and He already has His victory in His hands. Therefore, do not you be afraid either. Adhere faithfully to Christ the Lord, both when it appears to you that His causes succeed and go forward in the world and then, again, when it appears to you that His causes collapse and perish. Do not be afraid! If you become frightened, perhaps your hand will be found clenched under the hand of Judas at the table of Christ.

Wrongful Birth?

BOSTON - A Boston woman who gave birth after a failed abortion has filed a lawsuit against two doctors and Planned Parenthood seeking the costs of raising her child.

The complaint was filed by Jennifer Raper, 45, last week in Suffolk Superior Court and still must be screened by a special panel before it can proceed to trial.

Raper claimed in the three-page medical malpractice suit that she found out she was pregnant in March 2004 and decided to have an abortion for financial reasons.

Dr. Allison Bryant, a physician working for Planned Parenthood at the time, performed the procedure on April 9, 2004, but it "was not done properly, causing the plaintiff to remain pregnant," according to the complaint.

Raper then went to see Dr. Benjamin Eleonu at Boston Medical Center in July 2004, and he failed to detect the pregnancy even though she was 20 weeks pregnant at the time, the lawsuit alleges.

It was only when Raper went to the New England Medical Center emergency room for treatment of pelvic pain in late September that year that she found out she was pregnant, the suit said.

She gave birth to a daughter on Dec. 7, 2004.

She is seeking damages, including child-rearing costs.

[…] Raper alleges in the suit that Planned Parenthood and Bryant were negligent for failing to end her pregnancy and that Eleonu was negligent for failing to see she was still pregnant.

God have mercy! Can anyone say “Culture of Death?” Can you imagine being this poor girl growing up?

Innocent Daughter: “Mommy, how come you don’t have to have a job?”

Mom: “Well, Honey, when you were still little and living in my tummy, Mommy tried to have you whacked. The men I hired to make the hit botched the job, and you were born anyway. So Mommy sued the nasty men because they were the reason you weren’t sent to the landfill, and so they owed me the money it would take to raise you.”

Less-Innocent Daughter: “Oh. Thanks, Mommy. I’ll remember that when you’re old and I need to take care of you.”

What has happened to us as a people, that a news story like this could ever possibly need to be written? We may have abolished slavery in this country, but it certainly hasn’t stopped us from treating people like things. I think we have completely missed the real point of Paul’s letter to Philemon.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Chopper Brought Down in Alaska by Hostile Action

From the Anchorage Daily News:
A routine flight to tag a cow moose took a bizarre turn this weekend when the tranquilized animal charged the tail section of a hovering helicopter, collided with the rear rotor and brought down the aircraft.

The injured animal was euthanized at the scene.

The incident happened near the southeast town of Gustavus late Saturday afternoon, and baffled officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Democratic leaders of Congress have begun issuing calls for the Bush administration to set a timetable for withdrawing all Game Wardens from Alaska.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Another Antichrist Wannabe?

From an Australian news site:
Britney Spears has flipped her lid in rehab, trying to hang herself with a bedsheet after screaming "I am the anti-christ" to frightened staff.

She made the demonic cry after scrawling the devil's number "666" across her head.

Spears's manic behaviour has concerned relatives who once again fear for her safety, and has staff at the Promises Clinic in Malibu, California struggling to cope.

The former chart-topper's troubles have been revealed in Britain's News of the World, which broke the exclusive story.

Within days of her suicidal behaviour, Spears - who was in and out of rehab before shaving her own head and later attacking a photographer's car with an umbrella - was begging estranged husband Kevin Federline not only for a reconciliation, but demanding she wanted to soon have another baby.

The ordeal began when she terrified staff by writing the number of the beast on her head and running around the clinic screaming, "I am the anti-christ!"

"The clinic people just didn't know what to do," a friend claimed.

The pop star then tried to hang herself with a bedsheet was but was found before she could hurt herself.

“I am the anti-christ?” Really, now. Someone tell this poor woman that, like I’ve said before, just because you have the inclination, it doesn’t mean you have the ability.

This whole thing is just overwhelmingly sad – another reasonably talented and attractive young person who has accumulated so much fame and money that it is almost impossible for her to find the help she needs. It is Michael Jackson all over again.