Friday, March 21, 2008

Holding a Wolf by the Ears- Iraq five years on

...Mr Obama makes much of his opposition to those (such as his Democratic rival) who authorised the invasion in the first place. Many voters like his anti-war stance; his broad promise to end the war is popular too. He says that he would get troops out by the end of 2009. But Democratic peaceniks might cheer less heartily at some of the details of his plan. He would withdraw one or two combat brigades from Iraq each month, thus keeping American troops present in large numbers for a long time yet. Even after that, he says he would leave soldiers to protect America’s embassy, to fight al-Qaeda where necessary, and that he would “reserve the right” to re-enter Iraq to stop a genocide.... (full story here)

Good Friday

Posted over at Touchstone, texts from the Lention Triodion of the Orthodox Church:

Let us praise Him who was crucified upon the Tree between the thieves, and whose life-giving side was pierced by the lance: and let us bless and exalt Him about all for ever.

How great is Thy compassion! For Thou hast endured the Cross, the nails, the lance, O Lord, for my sake, who am condemned to corruption. Therefore I sing Thy praises, O Christ.

Knowing that Thy power is infinite and Thy Crucifixion voluntary, the hosts of angels were amazed. How wast Thou, upon whom none may look, scourged in the flesh, in Thy desire to redeem man from corruption? Therefore we cry unto Thee as Giver of Life: Glory to Thy Kingdom, O Christ.

The Cross was set up on the earth, and touched the heaven; not because the wood would reach so high, but because Thou who wast crucified upon it fillest all things: Glory be to Thee.

Thou hast redeemed us from the curse of the law by Thy precious Blood; nailed to the Cross and pierced by the spear, Thou has poured forth immortality upon mankind. O our Savior, glory be to Thee!

Empty Churches & the Dull Dogma of Christianity?

From the Kairos Journal, an article by Dorothy L. Sayers (1893 – 1957):
..It is the dogma that is the drama—not beautiful phrases, nor comforting sentiments, nor vague aspirations to loving-kindness and uplift, nor the promise of something nice after death—but the terrifying assertion that the same God who made the world, lived in the world and passed through the grave and gate of death. Show that to the heathen, and they may not believe it; but at least they may realize that here is something that man might be glad to believe.. (full article here)

The Agony

Philosophers have measured mountains,
Fathomed the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walked with a staff to heaven, and traced fountains:
But there are two vast, spacious things
The which to measure it doth more behoove:
Yet few there are that sound them: Sin and Love.
Who would know Sin, let him repair
Unto Mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man so wrung with pains that all his hair,
His skin, his garments bloody be.
Sin is that press and vice, that forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through every vein.
Who knows not Love, let him assay
And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine
Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.

George Herbert (1639) Posted over at Touchstone

Big Truths for Little Kids (and big ones)

From the National Catholic Register:

Why is there so much war in the world?
This may seem strange, but it’s because people are hungry for the happiness of God, and try to get it in wrong ways.
If that sounds crazy, it’s because it is. Sin is basically crazy. Sin means putting yourself before God.

other questions

If God made us who created God?
What does God look like?
Why is the world here?
Why are we here?
Why are people bad to each other? (answers here)

Pope calls for cooperation among Christians against secularism in Europe

.."It is necessary to develop cooperation between Christians in each country of the EU, so as to face the new risks that confront the Christian faith, which is to say growing secularism, relativism and nihilism," the pope told the archbishop in a speech delivered in French... (full story)

God's knitting, eh?

Has the 'notion of sin' been lost?

From USA Today
How can Christians celebrate Jesus' atonement for their sins and the promise of eternal life in his resurrection if they don't recognize themselves as sinners? (full story)

The Meaning of Easter

"...So God sending his only begotten son to die once and for all such that the walls of hostility that has existed between God and men be broken. He did it for once to save mankind from sin.
But the question still remains why still sin remains in every level of human existence. With people killing each other, armed robbery, rape, corruption and war I think it is not bad when a questioning mind asks the question. Salvation has come to the world. It is however available to only those who believe in the Name of Jesus Christ as the Lord...." (entire artcle)

The resurrection of sin

The Age in Australia asks:
Is there still a place for sin in modern society? The language has all but disappeared, but the concept may awaken a greater sense of moral responsibility. (full article here)

Why did Jesus allow his enemies to capture him?

From Seattle:
Why did Jesus deliberately put Himself in the way of harm, when He knew His enemies were planning to put Him on trial and kill Him? Wouldn't it have been better for Him to go into hiding, or something like that? (more)
From the Manila Bulletin:
In his gospel, John’s recounting of Jesus’ passion ended with the cry, "Tetelestai" (Jn 19:30), a Greek word which meant "It is finished, consummated or completed." What astonishing irony. Was there anything apparently less finished than this story? Jesus’ body hanging on the cross left the passersby who knew Him totally hanging in the air. Jesus died claiming that God had in fact had the last word. But God seemed utterly silent on the cross. No spirit like a dove descended. No supernatural light of transfiguration. No voice from heaven. (more)

Good Friday message:

On Good Friday, we contemplate the mystery of God suffering. We ask, "why did God not only become one of us, but also suffer with us?" It was so unexpected and unacceptable. The Cross became an obstacle to faith when the Gospel was first preached and remains so today.
But, for believers, it is a proof of God's love. It is an assurance that he understands everything about our lives, including our suffering. He suffers with us, and what should be intolerable becomes tolerable.
The Cross is proof that everything has meaning in God's eyes. In union with this God we are given strength to endure and to prevail. His victory is our victory.

Saudis to retrain 40,000 clerics

The BBC reports:
Saudi Arabia is to retrain its 40,000 prayer leaders - also known as imams - in an effort to counter militant Islam.
Details of the plan were revealed in the influential Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat.
The plan is part of a wider programme launched by the Saudi monarch a few years ago to encourage moderation and tolerance in Saudi society.
(more here)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

NY Times of Obama: Religious connection with Mr. Wright... none of the voters’ business

According to the NY Times:
On Tuesday, Mr. Obama drew a bright line between his religious connection with Mr. Wright, which should be none of the voters’ business, and having a political connection, which would be very much their business. The distinction seems especially urgent after seven years of a president who has worked to blur the line between church and state. (full article)

On the contrary. I think it very much the business of voters to know, as much as possible, what is going on in the mind and what ideas have formed the mind, of our presidential candidates.

Black Jesus Does Not Exist

From Pro-Existence:
Barack Obama says he is "proud of my Christianity," and that he appreciates his spiritual mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. For one thing, says Obama, the reverend introduced him to Jesus Christ.One does not doubt the sincerity of Obama's feelings. But which Jesus is he talking about? (more here)

The Real Agenda of Black Liberation Theology

From American Thinker
"...The sad truth is that neither the Reverend Wright nor black liberation theology is being misunderstood. Both, thanks to the candidacy of Barack Obama, are being exposed. God, in fact, works in mysterious ways. And unless it's the aforementioned liberals and Democrats who are trying to hush up Wright, Moss and others of their ilk, sensible Americans want to hear more, for knowledge is power, the power to combat hate. ..." (more here)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Google Earth provides bird's eye view of Israeli reactor


..."From now on, when an Islamic Jihad militant is sent to collect information about a sensitive target in Israel, his dispatchers can give him the coordinate to insert in Google Earth on his laptop. "Up until now, to guide a terrorist or an agent with any level of accuracy, it was necessary to collect information, and this wasn't always easy. Today this information is freely available to all. Go get satellite pictures and take a walk through the State of Israel's secret installations.''... full story here

The "Confessio" of Saint Patrick

A few days late but still, From the Confession of St Patrick at CCEL

4. For there is no other God, nor ever was before, nor shall be hereafter, but God the Father, unbegotten and without beginning, in whom all things began, whose are all things, as we have been taught; and his son Jesus Christ, who manifestly always existed with the Father, before the beginning of time in the spirit with the Father, indescribably begotten before all things, and all things visible and invisible were made by him. He was made man, conquered death and was received into Heaven, to the Father who gave him all power over every name in Heaven and on Earth and in Hell, so that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe. And we look to his imminent coming again, the judge of the living and the dead, who will render to each according to his deeds. And he poured out his Holy Spirit on us in abundance, the gift and pledge of immortality, which makes the believers and the obedient into sons of God and co-heirs of Christ who is revealed, and we worship one God in the Trinity of holy name.
The rest here

The Donkey

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me:
I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

-- G. K. Chesteron, The Donkey
(in case you missed it's posting at Touchstone)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Easter Too Scary for Kids

..“because of the graphic nature of the Easter story and the crucifixion specifically, we need to be careful as we choose what we tell our preschoolers about Easter.” Further they say, “We have made this choice because the crucifixion is simply too violent for preschoolers.”... full story here
and excellent commentary as always, from Touchstone here which ends with this gem:

This Easter, preach the Gospel... to the senior citizens, to the middle-aged, to the young adults, to the teenagers, to the seekers, to the hardened unbelievers, to the whole world. And, yes, preach the Gospel to the preschoolers.
I'm not saying it won't be scary. The Gospel will disturb the children. And, if you understand it, it will disturb you too.


Royal college warns abortions can lead to mental illness

Women may be at risk of mental health breakdowns if they have abortions, a medical royal college has warned. The Royal College of Psychiatrists says women should not be allowed to have an abortion until they are counselled on the possible risk to their mental health.

This overturns the consensus that has stood for decades that the risk to mental health of continuing with an unwanted pregnancy outweighs the risks of living with the possible regrets of having an abortion....

(full article here) and some nice commnetary from Touchstone here

The Religious Wright

The WSJ raises an intersting question...
...In a set of "talking points" on the church's Web site, Wright proclaims himself an exponent of "black liberation theology." He cites James Cone, a distinguished professor at New York's Union Theological Seminary, whom he credits for having "systematized" this strain of Christianity.
Here is a quote from Cone, explaining black liberation theology (hat tip: Spengler, a pseudonymous columnist for the Asia Times):
Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community. . . . Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love.

Could Obama really have been unaware for all these years that his spiritual mentor follows a racially adversarial theology, one that demands of God that he be "for us and against white people" and that he participate "in the destruction of the white enemy"? It doesn't exactly sound like the sort of change we can believe in.

National Review's Rich Lowry notes that Obama's 1995 memoir, "Dreams of My Father," cites a Wright sermon called "The Audacity of Hope," the title of which Obama borrowed for his own campaign slogan. Without evident disapproval, Obama quotes a passage from that sermon in which Wright describes "a world . . . where white folks' greed runs a world in need."...full story
at the link above

Obama’s Church Sanitizes Website

NewsBusters reports on some changes at Trinity United Church of Christ (irroneously reported as Trinity Baptist below)
First the controversial pastor disappears from Obama’s website. Then his church plays the victim card. Now Trinity Baptist have removed the “black values” from their about us page! Is the new pastor bringing a new vision and vaules system? Lets hope so, but lets not forget the values they adopted before and are rooted in.
(story here)

ah yes the power of politics...

Weird (and wonderful?!?) 'laboratory art' in Euro culture capital

...They include Orlan, a French woman who is truly prepared to suffer for her art, having undergone surgery several times to have implants inserted into unusual areas of her face, such as cheek implants into her temples.
Visitors to Liverpool are spared the blood which is liberally splashed over photographs on her website -- instead she has crafted "Harlequin Coat", a jacket just a few centimetres (inches) long from a mixture of her own skin cells and animal cells. It is supposed "to symbolise cultural cross breeding".
American artist Julia Reodica, a qualified nurse, has produced designer hymens using her own vaginal tissue, which are displayed in jewellery boxes.
The idea is to show "how different cultures value female virginity and the associated pressures," the organisers said in a statement.
And a video installation shows in detail Austria-based artist Stelarc undergoing an operation to have an extra ear grafted on to his arm.
Laura Sellars, the head of programmes at FACT, denies that the exhibition is merely seeking shock value.
(full story)

Well, OK -if you deny it...