Giuseppe Genna: Grande madre rossa        
Oggi è il primo di agosto e sono piuttosto insoddisfatto di me stesso in generale e di questo blog in particolare. Vorrei scrivere qualcosa di incisivo e pregnante. Come al solito, non ci riesco. Invece, ho deciso di riciclare una recensione a Grande madre rossa di Giuseppe Genna che scrissi tre anni fa per un sito commerciale e che ripubblico qui di seguito, con minime variazioni. E' brutta, ma se non altro vi trapela un po' di entusiasmo: qualcosa che al momento mi manca.

Che libro è Grande madre rossa? In prima approssimazione, è un thriller. Ma, se incontrate l'autore, non insistete troppo su questa definizione. Tempo fa, Giuseppe Genna dichiarò che avrebbe regalato una copia del Codice da Vinci al primo che gli avesse detto che lui scriveva thriller. Inutile aggiungere che Genna non è precisamente un estimatore di Dan Brown.

Ecco la trama. Una spaventosa esplosione polverizza il Palazzo di Giustizia di Milano, facendo più di mille vittime. L'attentato non è stato rivendicato, ma se ne temono altri e il commissario Guido Lopez della Questura di Milano, sulla traccia dei colpevoli, lotta contro il tempo e forse contro ostacoli e depistaggi dei servizi segreti italiani e di quelli stranieri...

Certo, trattandosi di un thriller, sarebbe delittuoso (appunto) svelare ulteriori dettagli. Non lo farò. Dovete fidarvi della mia parola quando vi dico che il libro l'ho letto per intero e tutto d'un fiato.

Mentre Genna scriveva questo romanzo, vivevo e lavoravo a Milano (tra l'altro abitavo nel quartiere popolare di Calvairate, che Genna conosce bene e di cui spesso parla nei suoi romanzi, compreso questo). Ricordo benissimo la paura, che in quel periodo serpeggiava, di un nuovo e terribile attentato. Infatti, dopo l'11 settembre e dopo la strage della stazione ferroviaria a Madrid, tutti temevano che il prossimo bersaglio dei terroristi sarebbe stato la metropolitana di Milano: la quale, in quegli anni, l'undici di ogni mese risultava stranamente meno affollata rispetto agli altri giorni... Grande madre rossa rende assai bene quel clima di psicosi collettiva.

Ma è veramente un thriller, Grande madre rossa? E' un romanzo di spionaggio, di fantapolitica? E' un romanzo "realistico", qualunque cosa questa parola voglia dire? - Consentitemi di riportare per esteso la nota apposta al suo romanzo da Giuseppe Genna a mo' di premessa.

"Le vicende qui narrate sono finzioni letterarie al 100%. In esse compaiono nomi di persone e circostanze 'reali' in qualità di pure occasioni narrative. I nomi di aziende, strutture istituzionali, media e personaggi politici vengono utilizzati soltanto al fine di denotare figure, immagini e sostanze dei sogni collettivi che sono stati formulati intorno a essi, e si riferiscono quindi a un ambito mitologico che non ha nulla a che vedere con informazioni od opinioni circa la verità storica effettiva degli avvenimenti o delle persone - in vita o scomparse - su cui questo romanzo elabora una pura fantasia."

Attenzione: non si tratta del solito disclaimer messo lì solo per motivi legali (del tipo "ogni riferimento ecc. è del tutto casuale"). In questo romanzo i riferimenti non sono affatto casuali, tuttavia quando Genna usa le espressioni "sogni collettivi", "ambito mitologico" e "pura fantasia" dobbiamo prenderlo sul serio.

Di fatto, Genna dimostra con questo romanzo una eccezionale capacità di giocare con l'inconscio collettivo, di evocare sogni o incubi metropolitani, e di svelare (o forse di creare) archetipi remotissimi e affascinanti. Da questo punto di vista Grande madre rossa è molto più vicino a Lautréamont, ai surrealisti francesi, a William Burroughs, di quanto non lo sia a Grisham o a Ian Fleming.

Ho trovato veramente straordinaria tutta la parte del romanzo ambientata nel Cimitero Monumentale di Milano. Opera architettonica ottocentesca di notevole cattivo gusto, in questo senso equivalente milanese (anche se meno celebre) del Vittoriano di Roma, nonché una delle parti più neglette ed ignorate della città di Milano, nelle pagine di Genna il Cimitero Monumentale diventa genialmente il luogo dell'inconscio e del rimosso ove risiede la verità nascosta della città. Da gustare, in questo romanzo d'azione, crudo e hard-boiled secondo le migliori tradizioni del suo genere, il "cameo" dedicato al Manzoni:

"Non c'era più posto nel Vecchio Famedio, tempestato di lapidi in ogni centimetro quadro. Il tempio del tempo scaduto per Alessandro Manzoni. Manzoni: polvere sul mogano della cattedra, polvere di gesso. L'epidemia ubiquitaria, transgenerazionale, scolastica, che colpisce ogni italiano quindicenne: Manzoni.
Cosa c'entra Manzoni oggi?"


Fin dai tempi di Emilio Praga e della scapigliatura, Manzoni è il bersaglio polemico dell'avanguardia artistica milanese... Anche da questo punto di vista, Genna è veramente figlio della sua città. Qui, però, non è realmente chiaro se Genna stia polemizzando contro l'autore dei Promessi sposi, o non piuttosto contro la nostra epoca, così degradata da non trovare più posto per un Manzoni.

Bellissimo è poi il finale del romanzo, che descrive una ipotetica Milano post-catastrofe, in apparenza uguale ma forse enigmaticamente diversa, forse migliore. La piazza dove prima si trovava il Palazzo di Giustizia, distrutto dall'immane esplosione:

"La nuova piazza, larga, aperta, immensamente chiara: il luogo dove sorgeva, come un sogno, il Palazzo.
Come puntine da disegno e graffette, in controluce, i nonni e i bambini, che giocano, a passeggio, nell'incredibile spazio bianco della nuova piazza."


E, nella piazza,

"il monumento di marmo bianco, una colonna altissima, messo in verticale, l'architrave di quello che fu il Palazzo di Giustizia.
E' la nuova colonna infame."


Ed ecco, dunque, che abbiamo ritrovato anche il buon vecchio Manzoni... L'autore della Storia della colonna infame non poteva essere liquidato così facilmente, dato che la riflessione sul rapporto tra diritto e giustizia è uno dei temi portanti di Grande madre rossa.

Grande madre rossa è stato inserito da Wu Ming 1 nel "canone" delle opere più significative del cosiddetto "New Italian Epic", di cui tanto si è discusso negli ultimi due anni. Se fra le caratteristiche del "New Italian Epic" c'è anche quella di sapersi mantenere su livelli elevati di elaborazione mitico-simbolica, direi che questo romanzo merita ampiamente di rientrare nel novero. Parlando di mitologia, va detto che in Grande madre rossa si trovano quei puntuali riferimenti al matriarcato (il leggendario ordinamento sociale preistorico in cui comandavano le donne, studiato fra gli altri da Bachofen, da L. H. Morgan e da Engels) che il lettore legittimamente si attende da un romanzo con tale titolo.

Il romanzo di Genna può essere interpretato anche come una grandiosa, veramente "epica", fantasia di rivalsa. In questa sede non posso essere più preciso, ma consiglio ai lettori di tenere bene a mente la citazione da Ulrike Meinhof posta in esergo.

A proposito, ho letto recentemente un passo di Bachofen che sembra un commento anticipato a Grande madre rossa:

"Questo diritto materno materiale è il più sanguinario di tutti i diritti. Esso impone la vendetta anche là dove mentalità superiori la fanno apparire come un delitto. [...] Il diritto materiale della prima epoca mostra che la sua legge è quella del sangue [...]. L'idea della giustizia superiore, che considera ogni circostanza [...] proviene dal cielo. In precedenza esisteva solo la vendetta sanguinaria che non ascoltava alcuna difesa e che proveniva dalla materia. [...] L'età del diritto femminile è quella della vendetta e del sanguinario sacrificio umano, quella del patriarcato è l'epoca del tribunale, dell'espiazione, del culto senza spargimento di sangue".

BIBLIOGRAFIA

- Giuseppe Genna, Grande madre rossa, n. 1550 del periodico "Segretissimo", aprile 2009; prima edizione Mondadori, Milano 2004 (attualmente esaurita, spero che venga ristampata presto, perché il libro lo merita assolutamente).

- Johann Jakob Bachofen, Il matriarcato. Storia e Mito tra Oriente e Occidente, [antologia] a cura di Giampiero Moretti, Christian Marinotti Edizioni, Milano 2003, pp. 65, 66-67.

- Sul "New Italian Epic", vedi la relativa voce in Wikipedia.

- Il sito Internet di Giuseppe Genna.

- Per chi ne fosse curioso, la recensione di Genna al Codice da Vinci.
           The IRS and Church Tax Exemptions        

The debate over religion and politicking has pitted clergy against clergy in the key battleground state of Ohio. In a highly unusual move, over 60 members of the clergy of a variety of Christian and Jewish denominations filed a complaint with the IRS accusing Pastor Russell Johnson and another pastor of improperly using their churches in political activities. More

The post The IRS and Church Tax Exemptions appeared first on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.


          '..another Cold War that may last even longer than the war with world communism.' (no replies)        
'..until Muslim scholars find a Koran key to the free world and lead their followers to an entrance.'

'Economists pondering about human action distinguish between four types of individual incomes; the Koran permits only two, which explains much poverty in the Muslim world. Economists speak of labor income which flows from services rendered either in self-employment or working for an employer; the Koran smiles upon this basic kind of income. Economists also discern interest income which, reflecting human frailty and mortality, flows from the differences between man’s valuation of present economic goods and future goods; the Koran condemns “riba”, that is, interest income, and threatens all creditors who may be tempted to demand “riba” with “the fire prepared for unbelievers.” Economists also like to wax eloquent about entrepreneurial income, commonly called profits, which may be earned through correct anticipation of economic changes; failure to anticipate changes correctly may inflict entrepreneurial losses. The Koran simply prohibits economic activity that involves uncertainty, risk, or speculation and may earn “ghara.” The prohibition obviously discourages and hampers economic changes, adjustments, modernizations, and improvements that are uncertain and risky.

..

Muslim clerics are the tutors and preceptors not only of Islamic theology but also of social and economic ideology. Surely, they may not descend to the level of envy but may fly into anger and passion about the sinful behavior of all non-believers, that is, Christians and Jews, who grow rich in market economies, engaging in uncertain, risky, and speculative economic activity and prospering on riba and ghara. For some clerics the United States is the “Great Satan” and Israel his little offspring. It cannot be surprising that faithful followers abhor, fear, and hate the Great Satan and wish him evil. When a few Muslim fanatics flew into the World Trade Center in New York, killing more than 2,900 men and women, and another hijacked plane hit the Pentagon, killing 189 employees, jubilant masses thronged streets across the Muslim world, celebrating and rejoicing about the destruction and massacre.

..

..Today, the United States is in the early stages of a long struggle with radical Islamism that has been waging war against this country for some thirty years. Radical Islamic states have been breeding, sheltering, and financing the terrorist armies and radical clerics are invoking divine favor upon them.

The Western world, and especially the United States, is facing the prospect of a long and bitter war with a fanatical enemy. It is a desperate enemy because powerful forces of change are eroding its very ideological foundation. Modern communication technology has opened the windows of the world and is allowing people everywhere to observe Western mores and living conditions. A network of communication satellites, for instance, is continuously receiving, amplifying, and rebroadcasting signals to earth. Western ideas are reaching the minds of people everywhere and changing social, economic, political, and educational institutions. It cannot be surprising that Muslim autocracies like to keep the windows closed by monopolizing and disallowing access to such technology.

It is doubtful that the U.S. military will crush and completely render inactive a desperate enemy consisting of an organized guerilla force of Allah-fearing men and women. A small army of suicidal fanatics, a diminutive percentage of one billion and three hundred million Muslims in 206 countries, may wear away the patience and resolve of the American public and its political and military commanders. Such a possibility does not in any way intimate a victory and sway of Muslim fanatics over the forces of the West. Its paramount strength does not rest on brute military might but on its free and open way of life, its private property order and individual enterprise system. Its windows are wide open and its busy subjects are at work all over the world, simple ambassadors or even missionaries of its order. Even if the United States should ever stumble and lose its way, the windows are wide open and the bright light of individual freedom and the private property order would remain visible in many other parts of the West. It is unlikely that it can ever be extinguished.

The U.S. military is not going to conquer many Muslim countries, but individual freedom and the private property order may in time..

..

We shall know the future only when it comes. But our thoughts like to live in the future, and what they see is another Cold War that may last even longer than the war with world communism. They see the Muslim world in a crisis which causes a few revolutionaries to strike at Americans. Insurgents may continue to lash out until Muslim scholars find a Koran key to the free world and lead their followers to an entrance.'

- Hans F. Sennholz, In Another Cold War, 2004


Context

'..the battle of ideas taking place in the Muslim world..'

(Bazaarmodel - To Heal - Teal) - '..is it possible to build a truly Evolutionary-Teal school?'

          Three days in Berlin (or improving the pim user experience)        

KDE Project:

Last weekend I've met with some of our old timer KDEPIM developers and some of the newer ones who are interested in KDEPIM or related technologies in the KDAB offices in Berlin.
Being a KDAB employee for a few years already (wow, time is passing quickly), the place was familiar, the people looked familiar. The foosball table was slightly familiar, although some players changed their dresses in order to spread confusion inside the visitor's heads. That is the only reason we've lost against locals with 5-0, 5-0.
Suprisingly enough, the table wasn't used that much. Why? Because people were busy either working and talking. What they talked about I don't know too much, as I focused on some issues I planned to fix, but others can testify that Volker did not sit too much in front of his computers, but was dragged from one place to another for various discussions.
Most of us started on Friday around noon. I won't tell too much about what others did, that is mostly their problem. Especially if they were on the other side of the room and I didn't saw their screens, I can't tell if they worked at all or not. They looked like they did though. ;) I can share some things about what some sitting nearby did. See later.
As recently I became the de-facto maintainer and bugfixer for mail filters, I worked mostly on them. Unfortunately the first attempt to fix a bug failed: a bug that bothers me, although it is not the most reported one. It is about mails not being filtered for a while after a resume from hibernation. It is hard to reproduce, and although I run into it, I couldn't reproduce reliably enough and in a way I can debug it. After fighting with it and realising it won't work, I gave up. See you next time.
Meantime we had some excellent food in an Indian restaurant, then when finally everybody arrived (almost everybody to be honest, plus even some more from KDAB who didn't sign up, but show up there), we were ready to start with presenting the kdepim and Akonadi architecture. Old time pimsters Volker Krause, Kevin Krammer and Tobias Koenig helped me with it, and sometimes saved me, as my knowledge in some area proved to be superficial. We ended up with a pretty impressive drawing on the whiteboard:
Hopefully for those being on site it was understandable.

Time passed, so we went out for dinner to a Greek restaurant at the corner. Nice place, third time being there, good food (seems Berlin has only good eating places). We even saw how Germany won over Ireland. Too bad Steveire (Stephen Kelly) was not there... We continued with some more talks and hacking, then everybody went to their sleeping places.
Some left earlier, some later waiting for remote developers to show up and discuss the patches (he didn't show up).

Day 2
Next day started around 9 o'clock for some. Later for others. I continued with the filter debugging and fixing. I looked at the bugreports and tried to come up with some bugs that are both would help the users and myself. I'm selfish, I want to fix the bugs I run into. ;) One problem that bothered me for a long time is that email content from online IMAP is downloaded even if no filter for IMAP requires it (but a filter for e.g POP3 needs the full content). Now this is fixed and those who use online imap could notice a great speedup in mail syncing (depending on their filter setup). Another often reported issue was duplicating the mails, especially after spam filtering. You've ended up with a mail in the spam folder and a mail in the original place. This could be combined with a conflict dialog shown up as well for that mail. This problem actually revealed a not-well handled case down inside the Akonadi stack that was created by a reordering of filter commands in the filtering code. For those who want technical details: if there was a move action (like "move mail to spam folder") followed by a modify action (like "mark as read"), the filter reordered this to "mark as read" followed by a move. Unfortunately this exposed two problems, (mostly, but not only) IMAP specific: on IMAP you can't modify a mail, instead you create a new one and delete the old. What happened here is that a filter changed the mail (run through bogofilter/spamassasin), then the "mark as read" action was executed, which uploaded the changes, including the changed mail to the IMAP server. This caused a new ID for the item on the IMAP server. The mail with the old ID was deleted. Then the filter agent performed a move, but he had only the *old* ID, before the modifications. The move - if performed between two different resources, like IMAP and local maildir - is technically a copy followed by a delete. The copy worked fine, but the delete didn't. It tried to delete the old mail again (which was gone), not the modified version. That's how you ended up with a duplicate.
The current solution is to reorder the filtering pipeline, so the move is performed before the flag modifications. The extra benefit is that the filtered message is not uploaded again just to be deleted the next second. Speedup, less network traffic, better user experience. This doesn't fix the main problem with Akonadi, but it is an acceptable workaround. The reordering is so far only in the master branch (KDE 4.10), but the relevant code will be backported to the 4.9 branch, so it will be in 4.9.3.
And speaking of conflicts, that was the next hot topic, and one of the often reported bugs. It was mostly caused by conflicting flag changes (read/spam/important/etc), either caused by KMail itself plus the filtering or just KMail. After some discussion we agreed, that reporting conflicts on flag changes doesn't make sense, so we should not bother the user. It is not data loss, and in worst case some flag is reset. In normal case nothing wrong happens, as Akonadi is able to merge two changes in the flags (or so claims Volker).
I have to admit that this fix was not completed at the sprint, I finished it today, as I noticed more code in KDEPIM that didn't disable conflict check on flag changes.
While doing the changes, I did quite some refactoring, cleaning up the code as much as I could do for the parts I touched. The code was originally deep inside KMail (as most of other code), got extracted from it for 4.8.0, and now we are at the stage that we can make the extracted code more cleaner, we can remove some things that doesn't make sense anymore now that the filtering is not inside KMail.
While reading the bug reports, I also run into one indicating that mails arriving to an MBOX account (like /var/spool/mail/username) are not filtered automatically. Sounds like an easy bug to fix and so was it. Now they are filtered.
Finally another annoying issue was fixed: there was no indication that filtering is ongoing. Now when this happens, you can see in the KMail's progress bar.
The net result of the above: faster filtering, less annoying and useless error dialogs for the users. And according to bugzilla, 31 bugs less (some were duplicates though).

Nepomuk...one of the things that, well, so far I was always recommending for users to turn off. Slight detour here: what is Nepomuk and its relation to KMail? Nepomuk helps you to find data. It indexes all kind of data and with some queries you can find e.g every file where my name is mentioned, all email addresses from any file, etc. There is a process that goes through the akonadi data (emails, calendars, etc) and "feeds" to it for Nepomuk to be indexed. Then there are queries and code in KMail accessing Nepomuk: getting email addresses for composer's autocompletion, searching inside mail bodies, tagging your emails with custom tags, etc.
Unfortunately there are problems around it. One is that some queries ae processed quite slowly, that in turn slows down KMail, leading to poor user experience. E.g switching between mails, sending mails, etc. is slow. Or startup is slow or even blocked. I tried to fix the last part as I just run into it, but as this was my very first Nepomuk related patch, I'm not sure 100% succeeded. We found a problem with the Nepomuk API itself, and I informed Vishesh, the Nepomuk developer about it (even if I used non-blocking calls against Nepomuk, one call is blocking without question). He suggested something I might try later, although I'd be more happier if somebody with real Nepomuk knowledge could give a review of the pim Nepomuk usage.
Then there is the Akonadi feeder, that gives the data to Nepomuk. Something is not perfect there and the indexing causes a serious slowdown, where either itself or Nepomuk (actually its storage backend, virtuoso) starts to use the CPU *a lot*. This is the main reason I recommend to users to disable Nepomuk so far. We had Christian Mollekopf the author of the feeder in the sprint, and he worked on some optimizations. Hopefully this will improve the situation. Meantime we (and I) tried to convince Vishesh to use KMail, so he can see himself the problems our users face.

As a break we had another presentation, this time about KMail itself, what components make up KMail, how they are distributed. As far as I saw, this was less interesting to the audience, they rather looked at their computers and hacked on something. Luckily our KMail maintainer, Laurent Montel, is super active, but I wouldn't mind more contributors. Too bad he wasn't at the sprint.

We had a lunch at a nearby place, nothing extra, but the food was (again) good.

What did other do? Let's see what I can remember... Sune dreamed about crypto stuff and composite jobs. He worked on making some cryptographic code asynchronous and started to get faimiliar with kdepim code. I'd not say he picked up the easiest job.
Volker run around all the time, discussed various things like "spanish sync" with Alex Fiestas (see here), database backends with Martin, change recorder with David Faure (who remotely joined the meeting and got lost inside the change recorder code ... he has the solution now in his head, so be patient, we will end up with a better implementation for it that again speeds up Akonadi), job pipelines with me, and who knows what with others, as for a long time he just disappeared with a bunch of developers. They actually ended up in the lobby discussing "stuff". Milian Wolf, who is not (or not yet?) a KDEPIM developer, but mainly a KDevelop one, joined us and used massif to track down some ugly memory usage in KMail. And he did a good job in it. Previously KMail used more and more memory as you navigated between large folders (Alex mentioned some 2GB for him), while now it levels up at one point and doesn't increase. He might blog himself about, as he has also some nice graphs.
Then there were two guys from KDAB, who are old time pim developers (quiz: find their names in this blog), but they cooked something else, not related to KDEPIM, not related concretely to KDE, but to a lower level: to Qt. It is an amazingly cool stuff, but I don't want to give more details. Expect it to be presented a the Qt Developer Days, either in a talk or at the KDAB booth. Don't worry, I'm pretty sure it will be freely available what they did and KDE can enjoy it in the future.
I'm sorry that I don't remember what the rest did. In general I know that Martin Klapetek worked on the social network resources, Mark Gaiser, who recently started to work on KDEPIM stuff eagerly listened to our presentations and worked on a QML calendar application, Alex kept reporting bugs and discussed improvements with Volker, while John Layt, the "timezone KDE guy" worked on plasma calendar related issues.
As a KDE person Chani also joined us for a while, we quickly nominated her as the QML and Plasma person, so all questions related to them were immediately redirected to Chani. Jos Poortvilet was also supposed to join for some talks, but he could show up only on Sunday for personal reasons.
At the end of the day everybody was so busy, so instead of going out for eating, we just ordered some pizza. And most of us stood in the office well past midnight.

Day 3
Well, the above partially happened on Sunday. It was a shorter day for me, due to the late night standup before, and that I had to go to the airport after lunch. A lunch that wasn't exactly as planned. We went out for a Doner Kebab place that is supposed to be the best one in Berlin. It is just a small kiosk on the sidewalk in a street, but man, there was a big queue for it. On a Sunday! Locals says it is worse on weekdays. Even after almost an hour, we still had 10 persons in front of us, my departure time was approaching, so I gave up and instead bought some (quite good) chinese fast-food from a nearby place, then rushed to the airport.
A long journey awaited me with a 3 hour stopover in Munich, but luckily I had a power supply there and even some network (they offer 30 minutes/day/phone number), so I could continue on the work I started at the sprint. After flying and driving another 2.5 hours, I arrived late (or rather early) morning next day back home, and after sleept until around 10. Then I started to work again for KDAB, a work that is just as enjoyable as working for KDE. After all, the two communities has a serious overlap. ;)
That's from the sprint. If you'll be at the Qt Developer Days Europe, we might meet there. I'm looking forward for a good conference.


          A Fifteen-Year Summer Tradition        
Do you have summer traditions you look forward to each year? A summer tradition that we both share has happened in August for the past fifteen years: the Global Leadership Summit. Our church, Central Christian AZ is a satellite host for this huge event. Every year we participate with new anticipation and expectations depending on…
          Horner: 2017 regs a missed opportunity        
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Formula 1 is missing an opportunity to draw up regulations for 2017 he feels would 'sort the men out from the boys'
          I Found the One Place Where the Terrorists are Losing, and it's on FX's 'Tyrant'        

It’s been kind of a rough couple millennia for Christians in the Middle East. Whether faced with persecution from Jews, Romans, Palestinians, Syrians, Egyptians, Iraqis, or ISIS, the common denominator has always been Christians remaining strong and showing unbelievable courage, but pretty much living in a world where everyone and everything tries to kill them.


          Lost At Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries        
Lost At Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries
author: Jon Ronson
name: Marisa
average rating: 3.95
book published: 2012
rating: 4
read at: 2015/06/10
date added: 2015/06/10
shelves:
review:
It's a good sign of a great writer when it doesn't really matter to the reader the subject they are writing covering. Jon Ronson's fantastic "Lost at Sea" explores varying non-fiction stories from the disappearance of a crew member on a Disney cruise ship, psychics, the wealth gap, credit card predatory practices and the new popularity of Christianity in Britain. At first, it seems like these stories are disconnected, but the through line is Ronson. His writing is both narrative, investigative,humorous and respectful. He asks his subjects questions with a genuine curiosity! I sped through this read and would recommend to anyone looking to know more about the world and all it's interesting inhabitants.

          Retirement of Priests and Nuns        
[0] Question by gollum on 07/29/12 2:24 PM Replies: 3 Views: 1,640
Tags: Religion, Christianity, Retirement, Nuns, Priests
Last Post by George on 07/29/12 6:06 PM
          Daniel Boone        

Daniel Boone

BOONE, Daniel, pioneer, born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, 22 October, 1734 (For more on Daniel Boone's birthplace please visit his Homestead); died in Missouri, 26 Sept., 1820. Among the immigrants that landed, 10 Oct., 1717, at Philadelphia was George Boone, of Exeter, England, who came with his wife and eleven children, bought land near Bristol, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and joined the society of Friends. His son, Squire Boone, married Sarah Morgan, and Daniel was their son. Squire Boone, who was a farmer, moved, about 1748, to Holman's Ford, on the Yadkin, in North Carolina.

Daniel's education was very limited; he could read and write, but beyond that all he knew related to the fields, the woods, the net, the rifle, and hunting. He was a hunter born, and loved the solitude of the forest. Strong, brave, lithe, inured to hardship and privation, he traced his steps through the pathless forest, sought out the hiding places of panther, bear, and wolf, and was the match of any Indian in the sagacity with which he detected the footsteps of the red man. About 1755 he married Rebecca Bryan and set up his own log cabin, but, displeased with the encroachments of civilization on his solitude, and incited by the glowing accounts brought by John Finley, who had penetrated into the unknown regions of Kentucky, formed a company of six kindred spirits, and, bidding adieu to his family and the comforts of home, on 1 May, 1769, set out on his perilous journey of exploration.

America's Four Republics: The More or Less United States
By: Stanley Yavneh Klos
Edited: Naomi Yavneh Klos, Ph.D.

  • First United American Republic: United Colonies of North America: 13 British Colonies United in Congress was founded by 12 colonies on September 5th, 1774 (Georgia joined in 1775)  and governed through a British Colonial Continental Congress.  Peyton Randolph and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief;
  • Second United American Republic: The United States of America: 13 Independent States United in Congress was founded by 12 states on July 2nd, 1776 (New York abstained until July 8th), and governed through the United States Continental CongressJohn Hancock and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief; 
  • Third United American Republic: The United States of America: A Perpetual Union was founded by 13 States on March 1st, 1781, with the enactment of the first U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, and governed through the United States in Congress Assembled.  Samuel Huntington and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief; 
  • Fourth United American Republic: The United States of America: We the People  was formed by 11 states on March 4th, 1789 (North Carolina and Rhode Island joined in November 1789 and May 1790, respectively), with the enactment of the U.S. Constitution of 1787. The fourth and current United States Republic governs through  the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate in Congress Assembled, the U.S. President and Commander-in-Chief, and the U.S. Supreme Court.  George Washington served as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief.

After numerous adventures with the Indians, having become intimately acquainted with the character of the country, established an enviable reputation for sagacity and integrity on important frontier service assigned to him by Lord Dunmore in the campaign against the Indians, usually called "Lord Dunmore's War," and constructed a strong fort on the left bank of Kentucky river, which he named "Boonesborough," he determined to bring his wife and family to the new home. Some of his neighbors joined him, and he conducted the party, numbering upward of thirty, safely to "Boonesborough" without having encountered any other difficulties than such as are common to this passage. 



 Daniel Boone founded Boonesborough while he worked for Richard Henderson of the Transylvania Company.


On one occasion Boone, with an armed party of thirty men, had gone for a supply of salt to a place called "Salt Licks," nearly 100 miles north of Boonesborough, and was captured, with twenty-seven of his men, by a band of more than 100 Indian warriors led by two Frenchmen. 



They carried them first to Old Chillicothe, on the Miami, and then to Detroit, where they surrendered for a ransom all their prisoners except Boone; him they took back to Old Chillicothe, where the great Blackfish, a renowned Shawanese chief, adopted him into his family under an imposing but painful ceremonial; all his hair, except a tuft three or four inches in diameter on the crown of the head, was plucked out; that tuft was allowed to grow to the length of the "warlock," dressed with feathers and ribbons; an ablution in the river was supposed to cleanse him from the taint of white blood; a coat of paint on his face, and a solemn charge from Blackfish, completed the rite. 

After a prolonged and anxious residence among them, during which he was kindly treated, he discovered their intention of marching upon Boonesborough, and resolved, at the peril of certain death in the event of recapture, to attempt his escape and save his family and friends. Chased by 450 Indians, he performed that daring feat in the forty-third year of his age, and thus simply records it: "On the 16th [of June], before sunrise, I departed in the most secret manner, and arrived at Boonesborough on the 20th, after a journey of 160 miles, during which I had but one meal." 




At the fort he learned that his wife and children, despairing of ever seeing him again, had returned, and safely reached her father's home in North Carolina. The Indians assailed the fort, but were repelled with loss, and retreated. Boone then, in the autumn of 1778, rejoined his family on the Yadkin, and returned with them to Kentucky in 1780. 

The country, though well settled, was still unsafe, and, soon after his return, Boone and his brother, Squire, were surprised by Indians; Squire was killed and scalped, and Daniel had a narrow escape. A sanguinary engagement, called the "Battle of the Blue Licks," took place in 1782, in which Boone's two sons fought at his side. One of them was killed, and the other severely wounded. Boone was full of expedients, and on one occasion extricated himself from four armed Indians by blinding them with tobacco dust. Kentucky was admitted into the union, 4 Feb., 1791, and in the survey of the state the title to Boone's land was disputed. The case was decided against him, and, stung to the quick by the wrong, he had again to seek a new home, which he established at Point Pleasant, between the Ohio and the Great Kanawha; but in 1795 he removed to Missouri, then a Spanish possession, and received not only the appointment of commandant of the Femme Osage district, but a grant of 8,000 acres. The Spanish possessions passed into the hands of Napoleon, who sold them to the United States, and, in the survey that followed, the Spanish grant of Boone's lands was pronounced invalid. An appeal to the legislature of Kentucky, and another to congress, resulted in a grant by the latter of 850 acres. Boone was then seventy-five years of age, hale and strong. The charm of the hunter's life clung to him to the last, and in his eighty-second year he went on a hunting excursion to the mouth of Kansas river. He had made his own coffin and kept it under his bed, and after his death they laid him in it to rest by the side of his wife, who had passed away seven years before. 

On 13 Sept., 1845, their remains were removed to the cemetery near Frankfort, Kentucky, a few miles from the fort of Boonesborough, by the concurrent action of the citizens of Frankfort and the legislature of Kentucky. 


Cemetery in Frankfort, Kentucky where Daniel and Rebecca Bryan Boone were re-interred


His son, Enoch, born in Boonesborough, Kentucky, in 1777 ; d. 8 March, 1862, was the first white male child born in Kentucky. Daniel Boone's wife, with her daughters, went to live with her husband in his palisaded fort in June, 1776, and while there gave birth to this son; but after Boone's capture, on 7 Feb., 1778, his family returned to North Carolina. -- Edited Appleton's American Biography Copyright© 2001 by Stan Klos TM




An American biographical and historical dictionary Containing an account of the lives, characters, and writings of the most eminent persons in North America from its first settlement, and a summary of the history of the several colonies and of the United States. By: W. Hyde, 1832.


BOONE, Daniel, colonel, one of the first settlers of Kentucky, was born about 1730. While he was young, his parents, who came from Bridgeworth,England removed from Pennsylvania or Virginia to the Yadkin river in North Carolina. 






He was early addicted to hunting in the woods; in the militia he attained to the rank of colonel. In 1769, in consequence of the representation of John Finley, who had penetrated into the wilderness of Kentucky, he was induced to accompany him in a journey to that country. He had four other companions, John Stuart, Joseph Holden, James Money, and William Cool, with whom he set out May 1. On the 7th of June they arrived at the Red river, a branch of the Kentucky; and here from the top of a hill they had a view of the fertile plain's, of which they were in pursuit. They encamped and remained in this place till Dec. 22, when Boone and Stuart were captured by the Indians near Kentucky river. In about a week they made their escape; but on returning to their camp, they found it plundered and deserted by their companions, who had gone back to Carolina.




Stuart was soon killed by the Indians; but Boone being joined by his brother, they remained and prosecuted the business of hunting during the winter, without further molestation. His brother going home for supplies in May 1770, he remained alone in the deep solitude of the western wilderness until his return with ammunition & horses July 27th. During this period this wild man of the woods, though greeted every night with the howlings of wolves, was delighted in his excursions with the survey of the beauties of the country and found greater pleasure in the solitude of wild nature, than he could have found amid the hum of the most elegant city. With his brother he traversed the country to Cumberland river. It was not until March 1771, that he returned to his family, resolved to conduct them to the paradise, which he had explored.


Students and Teachers of US History this is a video of Stanley and Christopher Klos presenting America's Four United Republics Curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. The December 2015 video was an impromptu capture by a member of the audience of Penn students, professors and guests that numbered about 200. - Click Here for more information



Having sold his farm, he set out with his own and 5 other families, Sept. 25,1773, and was joined in Powell's valley by 40 men. After passing over two mountains, called Powell's and Walden's, through which, as they ranged from the north east to the south west, passes were found, and approaching the Cumberland, the rear of the company was attacked by the Indians on the 10th of October, when six men were killed, among whom was the eldest son of colonel Boone. One man was also wounded, and the cattle were scattered. This disaster induced them to retreat about 40 miles to the settlement on Clinch River, where he remained with his family, until June 6,1774, when, at the request of gov. Dunmore, he conducted a number of surveyors to the falls of Ohio. On this tour of 800 miles he was absent two months. After this he was entrusted by the governor, during the campaign against the Shawanese, with the command of three forts. 



Early in 1775, at the request of a company in North Carolina, he attended a treaty with the Cherokee Indians at Wataga in order to make of them the purchase of lands on the south side of the Tennessee river. After performing this service, he was employed to mark out a road from the settlements on the Holston to the Kentucky river. While thus employed, at the distance of about 15 miles from what is now Boonesborough, the party was attacked March 20, and 23, 1775 by the Indians, who killed four and wounded five. Another man was killed in April. On the first day of this month at a salt lick, on the southern bank of the Kentucky,in what is now Boonesborough a few miles from Lexington, he began to erect a fort, consisting of a block house & several cabins, enclosed with palisades. On the 14th of June he returned to his family in order to remove them to the tort.. His wife and daughters were the first white women, who stood on the banks of the Kentucky river. Dec. 24th one man was killed and another wounded. July 14, 1776, when all the settlements were attacked, two of Colonel Calway's daughters and one of his own were taken prisoners; Boone pursued with 18 men and in two days overtook the Indians, killed two of them, and recovered the captives.






The Indians made repeated attacks upon Boonesborough; Nov. 15,1777 with 100 men, and July 4 with 200 men. On both sides several were killed and wounded; but the enemy were repulsed; as they were also July 19 from Logan's fort of 15 men, which was besieged by 200. The arrival of 25 men from Carolina and in August of 100 from Virginia gave a new aspect to affairs, and taught the savages the superiority of "the long knives," as they called the Virginians. Jan. 1, 1778 he went with 30 men to the blue licks on the Licking river to make salt for the garrison. Feb. 7, being alone, he was captured by a party of 102 Indians and 2 Frenchmen; he capitulated for his men, and they were all carried to Chillicothe on the Little Miami, whence he and 10 men were conducted to Detroit, where he arrived March 30. The governor, Hamilton, treated him with much humanity, and offered 1001, for his redemption. But the savages refused the offer from affection to their captive. Being carried back to Chillicothe in April, he was adopted as a son in an Indian family. He assumed the appearance of cheerfulness ; but his thoughts were on his wife and children. Aware of the envy of the Indians, he was careful not to exhibit his skill in shooting. In June he went to the salt springs on the Sciota. On his return to Chillicothe he ascertained, that 450 warriors were preparing to proceed against Boonesborough. He escaped June 16, and arrived at the fort June 20th, having travelled 160 miles in 4 days, with but one meal. His wife had returned to her father's. Great efforts were made to repair the fort in order to meet the expected attack. On August 1st, he went out with 19 men to surprise Point Creek town on the Sciota; meeting 30 Indians, he put them to flight and captured their baggage. At last, Aug. 8, the Indian army of 444 men, led by captain Dugnesne and 11 other Frenchmen, and their own chiefs, with British colors flying, summoned the fort to surrender. 



The next day Boone, having a garrison of only 50 men, announced his resolution to defend the fort, while a man was alive. They then proposed that 9 men should be sent out 60 yards from the fort to enter into a treaty; and when the articles were agreed upon and signed, they said it was customary on such occasions, as a token of sincere friendship, for two Indians to shake every white man by the hand. Accordingly two Indians approached each of the nine white men, and grappled with the intent of making him a prisoner; but the object being perceived, the men broke away and re-entered the fort.



An attempt was now made to undermine it; but a counter trench defeated that purpose. Atlast on the 20th the enemy raised the siege, having lost 37 men. Of Boone's men two were killed and four wounded. "We picked, up," said he, "125 pounds of bullets, besides what stuck in the logs of our fort, which certainly is a great proof of their industry." In 1779, when Boone was absent, revisiting his family in Carolina, Colonel Bowman with 160 men fought the Shawanese Indians at old Chillicothe. 



In his retreat the Indians pursued him for 30 miles, when in another engagement col. Harrod suggested the successful project of mounting a number of horses and breaking the Indian line. Of the Kentuckians 9 were killed. June 22nd,1780, about 600 Indians and Canadians under col. Bird attacked Riddle's and Martin's stations and the forks of Licking river with 6 pieces of artillery, and carried away all as captives. Gen. Clarke, commanding at the falls of Ohio, marched with his regiment and troops against Reccaway, the principal Shawanese town on a branch of the Miami, and burned the town, with the loss of 17 on each side. 


About this time Boone returned to Kentucky with his family. In Oct. 1780, soon after he was settled again at Boonesborough, he went with his brother to the Blue Licks, and as they were returning the latter was slain by a party of Indians, and he was pursued by them by the aid of a dog. By shooting him Boone escaped. The severity of the ensuing winter was attended with great distress, the enemy having destroyed most of the corn. The people subsisted chiefly on buffalo's flesh. In May 1732 the Indians having killed a man at Ashton's station, captain A. pursued with 25 men, but in an attack upon' the enemy he was killed with 12 of his men. Aug. 10 two boys were carried off from major Hay's station. Capt. Holden pursued with 17 men; but he also was defeated, with the loss of four men. In a field near Lexington an Indian shot a man and running to scalp him, was him- self shot from the fort and fell dead upon his victim. On the 15th Aug. 500 Indians attacked Briant's station, five miles from Lexington,and destroyed all the cattle; but they were repulsed on the third day, having about 30 killed, while of the garrison 4 were killed and 3 wounded. Boone, with cols. Todd and Trigg and major Harland, collected 176 men and pursued on the 18th.



They overtook the enemy the next day a mile beyond the Blue Licks, about 40 miles from Lexington, at a remarkable bend of a branch of Licking river. A battle ensued, the enemy having a line formed across from one bend to the other, but the Kentuckians were defeated with the great loss of 60 killed, among whom were cols. Todd and Trigg, and Major Harland, and Boone's second son. Many were the widows made in Lexington on that fatal day. The Indians having 4 more killed, 4 of the prisoners were given up to the young warriors to be put to death in the most barbarous manner. 

General Clarke, accompanied by Boone, immediately marched into the Indian country and desolated it, burning old Chillicothe, Peccaway, New Chillicothe, Willis town, and Chillicothe. With the loss of four men he took seven prisoners and five scalps, or killed five Indians. In October the Indians attacked Crab orchard. One of the Indians having entered a house, in which were a woman and a negro, and being thrown to the ground by the negro, the woman cut off his head. From this period to the peace with Great Britain the Indians did no harm. "Two darling sons and a brother," said Boone, "have I lost by savage hands, which have also taken from me 40 valuable horses and abundance of cattle. Many dark and sleepless nights have I spent, separated from the cheerful society of men, scorched by the summer's sun and pinched by the winter's cold, an instrument ordained to settle the wilderness."

From this period he resided in Kentucky and Virginia till 1798, when in consequence of an imperfect legal title to the lands, which he had settled, he found himself dispossessed of his property. In his indignation he fled from the delightful region, which he had explored, when a wilderness, and which now had a population of half a million. With his rifle he crossed the Ohio and plunged into the immense country of the Missouri In 1799 he settled on the Femme Osage river with numerous followers. In 1800 he discovered the Boone's Lick country, now a fine settlement: in the same year he visited the head waters of the Grand Osage river and spent the winter upon the head waters of the Arkansas. At the age of 80, in company with a white man and a black man, laid under strict injunctions to carry him back to his family, dead or alive, he made a hunting trip to the head waters of the Great Osage, and was successful in trapping beaver and other game.




In January 1812 he addressed a memorial to the legislature of Ky. stating that he owned not an acre of land in the region, which he first settled; that in 1794 he passed over into the Spanish province of Louisiana, under an assurance from the governor, who resided at St. Louis, that land should be given him; that accordingly 10 thousand acres were given him on the Missouri and he became Syndic or chief of the district of St. Charles; but that on the acquisition of Louisiana by the United States his claims were rejected by the commissioners of land, because he did not actually reside; and that thus at the age of 80 he was a wanderer, having no spot of his own, whereon to lay his bones.

The legislature instructed their delegates to congress to solicit a confirmation of this grant. He retained, it is believed, 2,000 In his old age he pursued his active course of life, trapping bears and hunting with his rifle. Though a magistrate and sometimes a member of the legislature of Virginia, and much engaged in agriculture; yet he preferred the solitude of the wilderness to the honors of civil office and the society of men.


He died at the house of his son, Major A. Boone, at Charette, Montgomery Company, September 26th, 1820, aged nearly 90 years. His wife died in the same place. He left sons and daughters in Missouri. In consequence of his death the legislature of Missouri voted to wear a badge of mourning for 20 days. A brother died in Mississippi Oct. 1808, aged 81. 

Col. Boone was of common stature, of amiable disposition, and honorable integrity. In his last years he might have been seen by the traveler at the door of his house, with his rifle on his knee and his faithful dog at his side, lamenting the departed vigor of his limbs, and meditating on the scenes of his past life.

Whether he also meditated on the approaching scenes of eternity and his dim eyes ever kindled up with the glorious hopes of the christian is not mentioned in the accounts of him, which have been examined. But of all objects an irreligious old man, dead as to worldly joy and dead as to celestial hope, is the most pitiable. An account of his adventures, drawn up by himself, was published in Filson's supplement to Imlay's Description of the Western Territory, 1793.— Niles Register, March 13, 1813.

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Christmas in Nazareth

On Christmas Eve my brother invited us to go with him on an urban evening stroll in Nazareth, to experience the holiday at the historic birthplace of Christianity. My brother is a tour-guide, so it's always an experience to go for walks with him. He always knows about more than what meets the eye, and has connections with people where we visit that makes every trip with him, even to familiar places, a different experience.

Our experience started on a rather stressful note, being stuck in traffic in a very narrow, one-way downhill street that would make San Francisco's terrain look rather friendly. There was no traffic control despite very heavy flow of visitors to watch the festivities. We were stuck in what should have been a two minute drive for 45 minutes. When we finally found a 3/4 parking spot between a dumpster and another truck and got out, it was drizzling and cold, as it should be in midwinter in the Galilee.

The large square in front of the Church of the Annunciation was festive with an enormous tree-like construction with many lights and a big glowing red star on top and next to it the customary nativity scene. Many people around were wearing Santa Claus hats, blowing little annoying-sounding horns; but thankfully above it all was a recording of Fairuz singing Christmas songs. Christmas in the Middle East is certainly very different than anywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere.

I don't recall ever visiting in Nazareth, even though our family has special ties with the city. My mom's midwife, a Christian-Arab from the neighbouring village of Kfar Yasif is originally from Nazareth. Both our families have five children each (aside from me, my mom has four boys, and her midwife has five daughters). We are all in more or less the same ages. If it weren't for the strange political climate of this country, they'd all be married to each other by now...

Safdi's in Nazareth
Aside from the religious spots (Nazareth's spring, bath house and historic city centre, Mary's Well and its Church, AKA Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, and the Roman Catholic Basiclia of the Anunnciation (كنيسة البشار  in Arabic בזיליקת הבשורה / כנסיית הבשורה) - we also went into the old souk (market) of Nazareth, which is sadly mostly dormant due to modernization. Very few people have the desire or time to find parking in narrow alleyways that were built thousand years ago and wander between merchants to compare prices and negotiate bargains. It's much easier to go to the mall and pay with plastic cards all in one place, and cart your goods to the car underground. It was very sad to see so many stores closed, behind them are beautiful old shops with arched ceilings. Some of the old apartment buildings - although mostly neglected - were used to be effendi's homes, and their ceilings are made of Cedar of Lebanon, and hand-painted by a Lebanese artist from the time of the Ottoman empire. It's a lost world, and only recently some brave entrepreneurs have taken the initiative to renovate such places and open boutique hotels, hostels and cultural centres in the ancient cities of the country. There was also a little shop in the entrance to the empty souk, full of beautiful local craftsmanship. I hope to see more such things develop.

Meicines for the Soul
Once we reached the part of the souk that was still alive, I bought a cupful of coal-roasted chestnuts, reminiscing the cold foggy nights in Vancouver when we'd buy them from Yve's Chestnuts and warm our frozen mittens with their starchy, caramel-scented comfort. At the bottom of the hill there were some of the country's best Halawiyat (Arabic patisseries), where one should stop by for kunafeh - even if they don't have time or room in their stomach. But we were in a group with a different agenda than enjoying life on the stop - and instead continued on to Ziad Safdi's grocery store, which is really more of a magical old-fashioned herb and spice shop, that contains many folk remedies for all kinds of physical ailments, a collection of essential oils from local plants that is distilled in Nablus; speculates such as mastic gum, and mastic-flavoured chewing gum; and last but not least - assortment of medicines for the soul in the form of incense (pictured above) to be burned in special clay pots. You could find there anything from frankincense and myrrh to colourful and sparkling blends typically burned in churches.

Fine Nazarethi Baclava
As we continued on, we stumbled upon other interesting merchants, such as this man who brews coffee in a special pot decorated with olive branches and misbaha (prayer beads) that has hot charcoal in a pipe in the middle, and sends impressive steam to the air. We continued to El Babour Mill - Nazareth original steam-powered miller (the name is a mispronunciation of the English word "vapour") -  now more of a live museum for old mills, sieves and pieces of history from the family that keeps this tradition - and a spice and candy shop. I bought there a jar of black-coloured nigella spread, and green frikeh (charred green wheat berries). The tour ended there and once everyone spread to all four direction of the winds, my brother, daughter and I stopped at a more humble bakey and bought some spinach-filled sambusac, date-filled sesame balls, and karakish - savoury cookies that look like hard flatbreads studded with fragrant seeds of sesame and fennel.
Charcoal Coffee


          Homily: 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time        
This past Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that it is legal for all Americans, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, to marry the people they love. The controversial decision is a historic victory for the LGBT Community who have fought for years in the lower courts. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia already recognize marriage equality. The remaining 13 states ban these unions, even as public support has reached record levels nationwide. This Sunday we hear a story a well-to-do synagogue official, Jairus, who begs Jesus to spare the life of his daughter. And sandwiched in that story is another story of a poor, outcast woman who has been hemorrhaging for years and who seeks to be healed. Both show incredible levels of faith….both shed some light on how we as Christians should respond to this recent Court decision. You may be surprised at the answer. Check it out.
          Homily: Ash Wednesday        
So why do we gather today to receive ashes? It is not a Holy Day of Obligation and yet today our liturgies will be filled with those looking to receive ashes. Ashes – is it just a tradition that we follow? Or…are we looking to make an outward of our Christianity? Or…are we remembering our own mortality and/or that of our loved one? It is for my friend, artist, writer and minister, Jan Richardson, who lost her husband this past December. As I was preparing my homily for this Ash Wednesday her blog post dealing with this loss…and the ashes came to light. And it hit me. Her story…your story…the ashes…and God. It is all there.
          #070: Wie man sich als erfolgreicher Unternehmer organisieren kann – Ein Interview mit Christian Gursky        

Diese Woche bei mir im Interview: Christian Gursky

Christian Gursky ist Podcaster, Berater und Online-Unternehmer. Er zeigt seinen Kunden Wege, wie sie das Internet auf seriöse Weise für sich und ihr Business nutzen können.

Es geht bei ihm also um echte Arbeitsentlastung durch Unternehmensentwicklung. Er bedient sich moderner Online-Business-Tools und schafft es so, den Tausch der eigenen Zeit gegen Geld hinter sich zu lassen.

Wenn Sie jetzt nur Bahnhof verstehen, dann hören Sie in das Interview, lassen Sie sich inspirieren und lernen Sie, wie Christian Gursky sich einen Rahmen schafft, der ihn zum Erfolg führt.

Außerdem erfahren Sie auch, wie leicht es Christian schafft, vom Interviewten zum Interviewer zu werden und mich mit Fragen zu löchern. :-)


          #053: Mit vielen Bällen jonglieren: Interview mit Christian Müller        

Diese Woche bei mir im Interview: Christian Müller

Christian Müller ist Blogger, Coach und Berater. Seine Themen sind so vielseitig wie er selbst: Kommunikationsberatung, Mobile Produktion von Videos (mit Smartphones!), Gadgets, Lebenskarriere usw.

Da stellt sich natürlich sofort die Frage: Wie bekommt er das alles unter einen Hut?

Hören Sie hier ein Gespräch rund um Intuition, Wachstum, Veränderung, Begeisterung und vieles mehr.

Die Notizen zur Folge

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          "Jesus and the Apostles: The Rise of Christianity" from NatGeo        

National Geographic has an Easter season special issue (in supermarkets) for coffee tables, “Jesus and the Apostles: Christianity’s Early Rise”, 128 pages. This booklet succeeds "The Story of Jesus" from NatGeo, March 29, 2016 here.

The editor, Chris Johns, the Chief Content Officer of the National Geographic Society, opens with “A Matter of Faith”, starts out by saying “Faith … is a firm belief in something for which there is no proof”.

There follows a keynote essay (p. 28) by Don Belt, “Life in the Time of Jesus”.  One of the remarkable points made by the essay is the rampant lawlessness of ordinary life in the country.  That would continue past Roman times into Europe and contribute to a medieval system of feudalism.  There was a lot of vigilantism and populism in the desire to resist external Roman rule by various Jewish sects.

 All of this is carried much further in the recent film on PBS, (“Last Days of Jesus” ) which brings up the role of Roman deputy Sejanus, kept out of the Gospels out of political repression, not covered in this booklet.

Another essay, “Taking the Stage” (p. 40) makes the point (as did the film) that it is not completely clear if Jesus saw himself as a Messiah (despite the Temptation), at least until his baptism by John the Baptist and his ministry, which frankly advocated communalism and distributed consciousness.  There are the Miracles (rather like a young Clark Kent’s powers), and a Jesus imploring others to stand by their feelings for him and “believe”, indeed a moral paradox of upward affiliation.  But this was an era when people thought the end of time could come soon.  Did it make sense to have children?



When Jesus took on the money changers, it’s interesting, as the film points out, that the authorities didn’t resist much.

“The Gospels” looks at the three synoptics and questions whether there is a common hidden source “Q”.

The booklet looks at both the Gospel of Judas and later the Gospel According to Thomas, “The Secret Sayings” (of Doubting Thomas).   Could Judas’s have been a forgery?  The booklet does take up a little bit the controversy of “Judas Kiss”, and the 2011 gay sci-fi film of that name may have more to do with that then critics recognize.
 
The booklet goes on to enlarge the disciples into the Apostles, and account for the formal creation of Christianity by Emperor Constantine by the Council of Nicaea in AD 325.



          LGBT Christians Blog for Sanity        

Today, Christians across the internet are blogging their faith and their support for LGBT people through a synchroblog project organized by Justin Lee, the Executive Director of the Gay Christian Network. The synchroblog is timed to match the launch of Lee’s new book, TORN: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate.

Tired of politicized “debates” about the lives of LGBT people and Christians, Lee has attempted to take a middle approach. “This is an issue that is tearing apart families and damaging the reputation of Christianity. But as much as our culture talks about this issue, there’s very little actual conversation going on,” Lee claims.

Lee’s book, TORN, will reach those in both the Christian world, and those who are, know, or care for someone who is LGBT identified. It asks for people to examine assumptions and to have careful conversations with one another that seek to learn, instead of to “win”.

The synchroblog draws others into the same conversation. Bloggers are asked to write a blog post in favor of sanity and compassion in LGBT/Christian conversation. Several popular Christian bloggers are already participating, including Rachel Held Evans and Matthew Paul Turner.

As the country reflects on the successes of marriage equality campaigns, we are seeing that caring conversation is making a real difference. Many in Minnesota credited the defeat of the anti-marriage equality amendment partially on a campaign of conversations across the state. Just a year ago, GLAAD launched a Thanksgiving campaign “I’m Going to Let Aunt Betty Feel a Little Awkward This Thanksgiving” to encourage conversations around the Thanksgiving table.

Check out the posts that have been submitted so far at Justin Lee’s Tumblr. Share the best quotes or links to the blogs that speak best to your experience. Bloggers interested in joining the synchroblog can still offer submissions and join in the conversation.

November 13, 2012
Issues: 

                  

 2017 KIDS ANNUAL YOUTH TURKEY HUNT

The Auriemma’s and Andrews kids tournament attracked 32 team and a total attendance of 80 people. And I hope I can get a tom turkey as big as the 8 that did. Leading the way was  Robert Kurharski Jr (13)   22#-13oz  11.25" beard 1-1/8 spurs,His Dad called in the Bird Robert Karharski Sr.  Canajoharie; Jarrett Flanders (14) 22# 8oz  10-3/8" beard 1" spurs called in by Dave Paro & Dwight Flanders; Joshua Hazelton (15) 20#12oz. 8.75" beard 1" spurs Called in by Mark Serafin Amsterdam; Joshua Hazelton (15) 20#12oz. 8.75" beard 1" spurs Called in by Mark Serafin Amsterdam; -Adam Oertel (15) 18#14oz. 10" beard 7/8" spurs called in by Gary Oertel Fort Plain; Colby Fisher (14) 18#10oz. 9.25" beard 3/4 spurs called in by Mark Serafin Amsterdam; Christian Robinson (13) 14#8oz. 5.5" beard 1/2" spurs Called in by Aaron Robinson & Stan Posluszny Amsterdam; Shane Viscosi (13) 12#13oz. 4" Beard 5/8" spurs called in by Patrick Viscosi Fultonville; Hunter Jones (13) 12#6oz. 4" beard 1/4" spurs called in by Grandfather Son Team of Kenny & Dave Jones Mayfield.

Gracious Donations by; Franks Gun Shop,Charles Parrino,Wal*Marts,BCI Ind.,Ricks Robo Car Wash,Louies Food & Fuel,Vince Orcutt,Robert Reakes,Dick Andrews,Gary Dlugas,Kenny Jones,Jason Crouch,Kevin Baudhuin,Stan & Dee Posluszny,John Loucks,Jay Affinito,John Affinito ,Gun Smoke Handgun Safety,Susan Knapik,Joe Benanto,Greg & Roberta Heck,CPR Tent Rentals,Tim Longo,Steve Masters,Fred Kuntzch,Jeremy & Temple Wilson,Annie & Scott Himsle,Stewarts & Danny Sala...Wouldn't be such a success without These People!!! Great Time,Great Stories,Some Lucky & some Hard Luck but all the Kids had one & everyone Had one think that We Love the most HUGE SMILES..

GREAT JOB AGAIN   MIKE, MICHELLE AND DICK


          Primer Vistazo a la Campaña de Robert Pattinson para Dior Homme + Detalles sobre la Conferencia de Prensa        
La espera ha terminado: POR FIN tenemos las primeras imagenes (aunque estén en mala calidad, mejor que nada) de Robert Pattinson en el famoso y esperadísimo anuncio para Dior. OMG tiene muy buena pinta.

Para ver el video tendremos que esperar un poquito más :(

Dior: Dior se complace en anunciar que el actor Robert Pattinson es la nueva cara de la fragancia Dior Homme fragrance. #DiorRob

De la web de Dior Mag

"El hombre detrás del perfume"
Él ha vuelto de Autralia dónde estaba rodando la nueva película de David Michod con Guy Pierce, The Rover. Y pronto comenzará el rodaje de Maps to the Stars de David Cronenberg junto a John Cusack y Julianne Moore. Y luego será el turno de Hold On To Me, de James Marsh. Alguna idea? Preciavente, estuvo en Cosmopolis y Water For Elephants. Los cinéfilos deberían haberlo averiguado ya... Y su primer papel? Cedric Diggory en la cuarta entrega de la serie de Harry Potter. Caliente? Y luego... Bueno luego, por supuesto, vino la inolvidable Twilight Saga. No puede quedar ninguna duda, y lo has averiguado: Robert Pattinson dará cuerpo al nuevo hombre Dior, el nuevo Dior Homme.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

imagebam.com

• Primeras Imagenes:

imagebam.com imagebam.com imagebam.com imagebam.com imagebam.com imagebam.com imagebam.com imagebam.com imagebam.com imagebam.com imagebam.com imagebam.com imagebam.com imagebam.com imagebam.com    

• Yves Bongarçon: Rob dice en el anuncio: "Sueña como si fueras a vivir para siempre. Vive como si fueras a morir hoy"
 
  
Canción usada para el anuncio:



Conferencia de Prensa: 

*Es una periodista famosa aquí en España. Ella escribe para revistas como Vogue y GQ ;)*
#Dior y #RobertPattinson que combinación para esta noche...

Tiempo para él
Estamos listos amantes del tumblr, el anuncio de #Dior con #RobertPattinson es muy sexy
#RobertPattinson está delante de mí hablando, es agradable, lindo, dulce y dice que le encanta el olor de Londres

"Como un actor tu estas por tu cuenta" #RobertPattinson

Lo siento no permiten tomar Fotos de él
Fiesta de Dior Homme en Soho House


_analeia 

Rob?

tommyraffa

Sí, Rob esta aquí

*Este chico se encuentra en la fiesta y efectivamente ha confirmado que Rob ya se encuentra en Soho House :)*
Cenando con #RobertPattinson. Realmente genial
*Natalie Portman también se encuentra allí, recuerden que ella es imagen de Miss Dior*

Artículos

• De Women's Wear Daily:

PARIS - Christian Dior Perfumes ha confirmado que el actor Robert Pattinson es la nueva cara de la fragancia de Dior Homme.
La estrella de "Crepúsculo" se une a una lista de embajadores famosos iluestres para las fragancias de Dior, que incluyen a Jude Law, Alain Delon, Natalie Portman y Charlize Theron.
El fotógrafo americano Nan Goldin y el director francés Romain Gavrais grabaron las campañas que protagoniza Pattinson, dijo Dior, haciendo notar que serán difundidas en Europa excluyendo UK, y Asia, excluyendo China y Japón.

• Comunicado Oficial de Dior - De Marie Claire UK

Después de meses de especulación sobre la colaboración de la estrella con la marca, la casa de Dior ha lanzado un comunicado oficial hoy confirmando la campaña.
Ellos han dicho: 'La Casa de Dior está encantada de anunciar que el actor Robert Pattinson va a ser la nueva cara de la fragancia Dior Homme'.
El comunicado después alaba la exitosa carrera de Robert en un gran número de películas de alto-perfil, diciendo: 'Desde su primer papel relevante en 2005 en la 4º secuela de Harry Potter, la estrella de cine Robert Pattinson ha sido más conocido recientemente por su papel en el éxito de taquilla, The Twilight Saga.
'Desde entonces él ha probado el alacance de sus talentos actorales eligiendo películas tan variadas como Remember Me de Allen Coulter, Water for Elephants de Francia Lawrence, en la que fue protagonista junto a Reese Witherspoon, o con su papel como Bel-Ami, el famoso personaje de Maupassant.
En el último tributo a su talento, David Cronenberg le escogió para protagonizar su última película, Cosmopolis, adaptada de la novela de Don De Lillo. Un papel sorprendente como el chico de oro que se estrenó en el Festival de Cine de Cannes de 2012.
Recientemente ha terminado de grabar The Rover, de David Michod, en Australia con Guy Pearce y pronto estará en el set en la próxima película de David Cronenberg, Maps To The Stars. Después, protagonizará Hold On To Me, dirigida por James Marsh y co-protagonizada por Carey Mulligan'.
(...)
Dior Homme añade: 'Hoy estamos emocionados de anunciar que se unirá al privilegiado círculo de caras de Dior. Fotografiado por el artista americano Nan Goldin y grabado por el director francés Romain Gavras, esta nueva campaña publicitaria de Dior Homme será distribuida ahora exclusivamente en Europa (excepto UK) y Asia (excepto China y Japón).

• Glamour.es

[...]

Y es que acabamos de saber que la maison le ha nombrado imagen de la nueva fragancia masculina de Dior Homme. El 'estreno' de esta nueva faceta lo podremos ver en septiembre, cuando se presentarán el perfume y la campaña con Robert como protagonista.

Además, Glamour será la primera de las revistas femeninas en tener una entrevista exclusiva con el actor. Será en el número de septiembre, y en ella nos contará todos los detalles de su nueva faceta como embajador de una firma de lujo. No es la primera vez que Robert Pattinson trabaja como modelo (recordemos que los inicios de su carrera fueron posando) pero sí lo es como imagen de una casa como Dior.

Fuentes 1 2 3 4 5 6
Traducción: LaSagaRobsten

Todo Twilight Saga
          Witchcraft and Abortion        

  • Abigail Seidman Interview - Wiccan Rites
  • Witchcraft and Abortion
  • Massacre of Innocence
  • Child Sacrifice in the New Age
  • Witchcraft and Satanism: Are they one and the same?
  • Puritans and Witches
  • Frequently Asked Questions: Wicca and Abortion Rites
  • The Long Hard Road Out of Hell: A Book Review
  • Child Sacrifice: Nothing New Under the Sun
  • Ritualizing Abortion
  • Statements of a practicing witch?
  • What is the Wiccan religion?
  • Witchcraft and Politics: An "Official" State Witch?
  • A letter to witches and pagans by Jay Rogers

    I welcome all comments to these articles on witchcraft and abortion. By far, the most common objection to these articles is: “Wicca does not promote the sacrifice of human beings.”

    In a certain sense, I agree with this statement. Unlike Christianity, Wicca has no Bible, no system of orthodoxy, no rule of faith. Since there are no laws which bind Wiccans, the “Wiccan Rede” is subject to private interpretation. Therefore, it is impossible to speak of Wicca as a whole as promoting abortion as a form of child sacrifice. Most Wiccans do not believe this.

    I am concerned in these articles mainly with Wiccans who do believe this. The Wiccan religion needs no further condemnation than the fact that it denies the God of the Bible. I cannot add anything further to what the Bible teaches in condemnation of magic arts. Nor is my goal to promote a persecution of witches.

    This web page serves as a warning to Christians who stand for the sanctity of life. There are a small segment of Wiccans who practice abortion as a form of child sacrifice to their false gods. To those who doubt this, I highly encourage you to read the words of Wiccans and pagans themselves who promote this demonic practice before responding to me.

    — Jay Rogers

    The following links contain excerpts from Wiccan writings promoting abortion as a form of child sacrifice:

    When Abortion Is a Sacrament
    More Grist for the Abortion Mills
    Abortion and Pagan Spirituality
    Abortion as a Sacrifice to Artemis


    The Abortion Matrix: Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death (DVD)

    Download the free Study Guide!

    Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?

    This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.

    Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.

    The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?

    As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).

    Speakers include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Porter and many more.

    Ten parts, over three hours of instruction!

    Running Time: 195 minutes

    $19.95 — ORDER NOW!

    (We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

    Click here for more information


          The Following        
  • Media Blog Project.
  • Topic #2: TV as a cultural mirror.

     I watched The Following episode 2 "Chapter Two", which aired on FOX Monday, January 28th at 9:00 pm.  The Following is a drama and suspenseful TV show that stars Kevin Bacon who is a former FBI agent that has been asked to come back for a very large case involving a murderer that he put away for life who has amassed a "cult following" to do his dirty work for him now.  In this particular episode, Dr. Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), who Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) has put in jail previously, has had his "followers" kidnap his his son from his ex-wife and Hardy and the FBI agents and police officers he is consulting with are looking for him.  Hardy discovers the house where the "followers" meet and they reconfirm that all of Carrolls symbolism and antics are based off Edgar Allen Poe's writings.  In that house, Hardy was attacked by a man wearing a Poe mask and later at the end of the episode we see a masked Poe man light a man on the street on fire and run away.
     The ads that aired during this episode are pretty much the stereotypical ads that you would expect.  There were ads for cars and car dealerships; including Honda, Kia, Chevrolet, Ford, Subaru, and Buick.  There were also ads for different foods like Lean Cuisine, Campbell's, and Weight Watchers meal plans.  In the category of online dating, notable services were Christian Mingle, Match.com, and eHarmony.  Major commercials that were most prominent and were aired multiple times included Ford, Honda, Chevrolet, Comcast, Direct TV, Kiefer Kia, John and Phil's, Guaranty in Junction City, beer brands like Coors, Heineken, and Budweiser, and of course there is always the Fox News ads that feature their anchors for around 15 seconds each time a commercial ends to continue with the program.  These commercials all fit the demographic that the TV show is trying to reach.  Younger adults through mid-life adults.  These are all people who have cars or will by buying new cars in the future, they may be insecure about their weights or just want some food that is not only tasty but healthy or a viewer who is single and wants to find somebody.  The commercials are definitely spot on for their target audiences as far as I am concerned. 
     The Following is meant for more mature audiences and was rated TV 14 for language, images, sexual situations and the like.  The actors and actresses were dressed appropriate for our time period and the authority figures has appropriate looking uniforms.  Most of the men who were FBI agents wore suits and the women wore suits as well.  Compared to other shows like this one, I would say that dress and mannerisms are identical and what you expect and would want to see for a drama/suspenseful TV show.  The main thing, for me, that makes this show different than others is the fact that the whole show is based around an ex FBI agent and the man he put away years before and the this guys "followers" and how they are operating.  I have never seen a show like this one in terms of that.
     A major stereotype that occurred in this particular episode was about police officers.  There were several cuts to them just standing around and drinking coffee around the house they were supposed to be guarding.  Same thing happened when they were shown at the scene of the murders in the sorority house after they had come in and done the initial reports on the situations.  The other stereotype that I noticed, and probably the most prominent, is that the wife of Carroll, who is an attractive woman, had an affair with Hardy who was the main FBI agent that was there when her husbands case was first taking place.  This refers to her being maybe a weak and needy woman who has lost who she thought was her best friend and trusted lover and in walked tough, strong, independent agent Hardy who was not married.  These kinds of relationships always happen in TV shows and movies and aren't always the reality of true real life.  Other than these two outstanding stereotypes, I think the directors and producers have done a pretty good job at trying to be new and different in the ways of how the TV show operates within the story lines and isn't too predictable.  If I were a viewer from another country, I would not think much of the shows Americans watch because I am sure there are many good dramas that air in other country's.  In fact, The Following actually airs in the U.S. plus another 17 countries.  If I were not from here, based on the commercials, I would say that there is a problem with people being overweight and single and everybody is buying new cars.
    I do not watch many crime/drama/suspense TV shows but I would say that this one, as of now (it's only aired two episodes total so far) is a TV show that I am expecting to be kept on FOX and be aired for at least several seasons or until the story is wrapped up and concluded.  What really keeps me interested in this show is that it's not as predictable as other similar shows.  Usually I am able to predict what can happen in a TV show after 15 minutes or so.  I am not so accurate with this one.
    I would tend to agree with the 7.5 stars that IMDB gave them.  If I never watched it I wouldn't feel like a part of my life was missing but if I just stopped watching I would be very curious as to what happened in each episode.  My girlfriend watches the this show with me and what she likes most about The Following is all the plot twists.  I definitely agree.  It's a very engaging TV show.  One thing that all TV shows like this one do is end with a cliff hanger.  That cliff hanger keeps you wondering all week what is going to happen in the next show and that brings back viewers from previous weeks.
    I have seen every single episode The Following! Wait, that's only two episodes.  But still, it is one that I am going to have to add to my list of shows that I try to keep up on.  I am not a user of social media so I don't follow the show on Twitter or on Facebook but I have visited the shows page on FOX and the opening sentence on their page paragraph about the show is very interesting.  "The FBI estimates there are currently up to 300 active serial killers in the United States."  This is a very bold statement and scary statistic.  One thing that the average viewer may not know is that Hardy wrote a book sharing the details of his previous investigation and other factoids about his case regarding Carroll.  If a book like this came out or is already out here in real life, that would be a very interesting and possibly quite controversial book.
    Overall, I would recommend The Following to most normal people who enjoy good TV shows that keep the viewers eyes glued to their TV.  Upon further examination, one could come to the conclusion that TV programs, the ads run, and the particular channel or station that is airing all have very close relation and share the same views and interests. 
          Missing nuns surface in video, deny being kidnapped        
From Reuters:  A group of nuns who went missing in Syria after Islamist fighters captured a Christian village this week have appeared in a video, saying they are in good health and denying that they had been kidnapped. The nuns were taken after militants seized the ancient quarter of Maaloula, a Christian village north of […]
          Syrian rebels kidnap nuns        
From the Associated Press:  The mother superior of a Syrian convent says 12 nuns have been abducted by opposition fighters and taken to a rebel-held town. Febronia Nabhan, Mother Superior at Saidnaya Convent, said Tuesday that the nuns and three other women were taken the day before from another convent in the predominantly Christian village […]
          â€œSyria is walking the Way of the Cross”        
Heartbreaking:   Bombs, kidnapping and financial extortion are among the problems facing Syria’s Christians, the leader of the country’s Catholics told a meeting in Westminster Cathedral Hall. Speaking to more than 300 benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need, Patriarch Gregorios III – the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church – said: “Syria […]
          â€œEnough, Enough, Enough…”: Powerful Video on the Plight of Christians in Syria        
This is something to see, from Aid to the Church in Need.  As described on YouTube: The promising future that the so-called Arab Spring foretold has become rather a nightmare in Syria: an escalating conflict that has forced thousands of Syrians to leave their country. Christian families in particular face a hardship reality in the […]
          The Trappist nuns of Syria: “Christian hope…is stronger than all the horrors”        
Eight years ago, a small group of Trappist nuns founded a monastery in Syria, in the countryside along the border with Lebanon. The atmosphere, while heavily guarded, remains tense.  Why do they stay when every day puts their lives at risk? An Italian news service recently interviewed the sisters.  Read the conversation here. Last fall, […]
          Church says it has no information on kidnapped bishops, after group claims they have been freed        
  Details:  Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox archdiocese said Wednesday it had no news on two Orthodox bishops kidnapped in Syria, a day after a Christian association said the two men had been released. “We have no new information,” Ghassan Ward, a priest at the archdiocese, told AFP. “We can say that (as far as we know) they […]
          Someday My Prince Will Come: 3 Reasons To Believe In Fairy Tales        

If you believe in God, then you believe in miracles.

The post Someday My Prince Will Come: 3 Reasons To Believe In Fairy Tales appeared first on Believe by ChristianMingle.


          Speak Up: How To Break Free From Intimidation        

God wants us to walk in freedom and love.

The post Speak Up: How To Break Free From Intimidation appeared first on Believe by ChristianMingle.


          Megan & Justin: “I was in tears as he asked me to be his wife!”        

We started exchanging emails on ChristianMingle and we couldn't stop...

The post Megan & Justin: “I was in tears as he asked me to be his wife!” appeared first on Believe by ChristianMingle.


          Why Your Spouse Comes First Over Immediate Family        

It’s important to create healthy boundaries that protect the life you two are building together.

The post Why Your Spouse Comes First Over Immediate Family appeared first on Believe by ChristianMingle.


          Dating With Gratitude: How Positivity Increases The Chances For Love        

If you focus on your fears and perceived lack of love, that’s exactly what you’ll experience.

The post Dating With Gratitude: How Positivity Increases The Chances For Love appeared first on Believe by ChristianMingle.


          How God Sees You: What You Believe Shapes Your Identity        

Why should we bear the weight of a false identity that even The Lord doesn’t see?

The post How God Sees You: What You Believe Shapes Your Identity appeared first on Believe by ChristianMingle.


          Julie & Robert: “As we continued talking, my love for him grew stronger!”        

Robert was in the chat room on ChristianMingle when I entered, and he greeted me...

The post Julie & Robert: “As we continued talking, my love for him grew stronger!” appeared first on Believe by ChristianMingle.


          5 Things That Could Destroy Your Relationship With Your Children        

Parenting is a journey, complete with ups and downs.

The post 5 Things That Could Destroy Your Relationship With Your Children appeared first on Believe by ChristianMingle.


          5 Ways To Continue Growing Spiritually After You Get Married        

Accept every challenge God sends your way and you will continue to evolve.

The post 5 Ways To Continue Growing Spiritually After You Get Married appeared first on Believe by ChristianMingle.


          Carlee & Josh: “What sealed the deal was his Christ-like mentality!”        

I read Josh's profile and immediately reached out to him with a simple smile...

The post Carlee & Josh: “What sealed the deal was his Christ-like mentality!” appeared first on Believe by ChristianMingle.


          BELLE ET SÉBASTIEN: L'AVENTURE CONTINUE        
Réalisé par Christian Duguay Avec Félix Bossuet, Tchéky Karyo, Thierry Neuvic Sortie le 9 décembre D'après l'oeuvre de Cécile Aubry : Septembre 1945. Au village, on a fêté la fin de la guerre. Sébastien [...]
          A Christian Response to Racism        
One common thread throughout mankind is the endemic ugliness of racism. Human history is rife with examples: early Romans subjugated the Jews; slavery was rampant; India’s caste system ostracizes the untouchables; Japanese immigrants to Canada and the United States were rounded up and forced into internment camps; indigenous peoples in Canada, Australia, the United States … Continue reading A Christian Response to Racism
          Coup de cœur Théâtre: Perrichon voyage toujours        
Au Théâtre la Bruyère du mardi au vendredi à 19h - matinée samedi à 15h De Gérald SIBLEYRAS D'après Eugène LABICHE Avec Gilles GASTON-DREYFUS, Jean-Luc PORRAZ, Christiane BOPP, Arthur [...]
          Casting Crowns - Does Anybody Hear Her (Official Music Video)        
Preview

Watch the music video from one of the hottest Christian bands of today! This Casting Crowns hit will remind you that God never gives up on you!


          DC Talk - Jesus Freak (ChristianRemix.com)        
Preview

No God, no peace. Know God, know peace.


          Worship Night – Premium A5 Flyer Template        
The Worship Night is the exclusive Photoshop PSD flyer template designed by ExclusiveFlyer to promote your Worship Night. This is a modern, stylish flyer and just be used for a Church Conference, Christian Conference, Gospel etc.

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          Join Us For Sunday Service – Premium A5 Flyer Template        
The Join Us For Sunday Service is the exclusive Photoshop PSD flyer template designed by ExclusiveFlyer to promote your Join Us For Sunday Service. This is a modern, stylish flyer and just be used for a Church Conference, Christian Conference, Gospel etc.

[membership][button href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/lla29bowblk4gx7/join_us_for_sunday_service_by_exclusiveflyer.zip?dl=1" colorstart="#000000" colorend="#FFFFFF" colortext="#FFFFFF" icon_size="12" class="" target="_top" color="red-button" align="horizontal" width="large" icon="icon-align-center" ]DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE[/button][/membership]


          Bible Study – Premium A5 Flyer Template        
The Bible Study is the exclusive Photoshop PSD flyer template designed by ExclusiveFlyer to promote your Bible Study. This is a modern, stylish flyer and just be used for a Church Conference, Christian Conference, Gospel etc.

[membership][button href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/95r3f92r3gf6gvq/bible_study_by_exclusiveflyer.zip?dl=1" colorstart="#000000" colorend="#FFFFFF" colortext="#FFFFFF" icon_size="12" class="" target="_top" color="red-button" align="horizontal" width="large" icon="icon-align-center" ]DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE[/button][/membership]


          Christian Conference – Premium A5 Flyer Template        
The Christian Conference is the exclusive Photoshop PSD flyer template designed by ExclusiveFlyer to promote your Christian Conference. This is a modern, stylish flyer and just be used for a Church Conference, Christian Conference, Gospel etc.

[membership][button href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/0zlawa6my1sng3e/christian_conference_by_exclusiveflyer.zip?dl=1" colorstart="#000000" colorend="#FFFFFF" colortext="#FFFFFF" icon_size="12" class="" target="_top" color="red-button" align="horizontal" width="large" icon="icon-align-center" ]DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE[/button][/membership]


          Run The Race – Premium A5 Flyer Template        
The Run The Race is the exclusive Photoshop PSD flyer template designed by ExclusiveFlyer to promote your Run The Race. This is a modern, stylish flyer and just be used for a Church Conference, Christian Conference, Gospel etc.

[membership][button href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/qyharybj90rk67k/run_the_race_by_exclusiveflyer.zip?dl=1" colorstart="#000000" colorend="#FFFFFF" colortext="#FFFFFF" icon_size="12" class="" target="_top" color="red-button" align="horizontal" width="large" icon="icon-align-center" ]DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE[/button][/membership]


          FROZine vom 03.03.2016 – Feminismus und Krawall        
Feminismus & Krawall ist ein politischer Zusammenschluss für einen Aktionstag – dem Internationalen Frauentag am 8. März – in der Stadt Linz. An verschiedenen Plätzen in der Linzer Innenstadt werden musikalische, akustische und performative Aktionen für Frauenrechte stattfinden. Aktivistinnen von Femenismus und Krawall sind heute um 18.00 Uhr Live im Studo bei Christian Aichmayr zu […]
          Gespräch mit Bürgermeisterin Elisabeth Feichtinger, Marktgemeinde Altmünster – VOR ORT 21        
Eine Bürgermeisterin mit 28 Jahren ist in der österreichischen Politik keine Selbstverständlichkeit sondern eine ziemliche Ausnahme. Die Sozialdemokratin Elisabeth Feichtinger ist seit 27. September 2015 in Altmünster die erste SP-Bürgermeisterin im Bezirk Gmunden seit der 2. Republik. Im Zuge des herannahenden Internationalen Frauentages, dem 8. März, hat Christian Aichmayr sie am Marktgemeindeamt Altmünster besucht und […]
          Wo steht Mediation heute? – VOR ORT 20        
Mediation ist das lateinische Wort für „Vermittlung“ und ist ein strukturiertes, freiwilliges Verfahren zur konstruktiven Beilegung eines Konfliktes, bei dem unabhängige, sogenannte allparteiliche Dritte – also Mediatoren – Konfliktparteien in ihrem Lösungsprozess begleiten. Mit Martina Pruckner, u. a. Juristin, eingetragene Mediatorin, Moderatorin, Konflikt- und Mobbingberaterin, hat Christian Aichmayr im Rahmen eines gemeinsamen Cafehausbesuches einige Worte […]
          Betriebliche Gesundheitsvorsorge – VOR ORT 19        
Gesundheitsförderung in Unternehmen spielt eine immer wichtigere Rolle. Ihre Bedeutung wird in Zukunft, wie Experten überzeugt sind, weiter steigen. Denn immer mehr Unternehmen erkennen, dass körperliche, psychische und soziale Gesundheit wesentliche Faktoren für die Leistungsfähigkeit und die Motivation von MitarbeiterInnen sind und damit direkt zum (wirtschaftlichen) Erfolg des Unternehmens beitragen. Christian Aichmayr hat mit Roland […]
          Die Frau in mir! Wie viel Frau steckt in einem Mann? – VOR ORT 16        
Der Münchner Christian Seidel war im Jahr 2014 mit seinem Buch „Die Frau in mir – Ein Mann wagt ein Experiment“ wochenlang auf der Spiegel-Bestsellerliste. Sein Buch ist ein provokanter Aufruf, die gängigen Klischees endlich über Bord zu werfen, und ein wohltuend authentischer Beitrag in der oft theoretisch ausufernden Geschlechterdebatte. Seidel, glücklich mit einer Frau […]
          FROZINE vom 19.02.2016 – Prophylaktische Gesundheitsvorsorge in Unternehmen        
Die Arbeiterkammer Oberösterreich legt Unternehmen seit Jahren nahe, in die Gesunderhaltung ihrer MitarbeiterInnnen zu investieren. Im ersten Teil der heutigen Ausgabe von FROZine ist Roland Spreitzer von der AK Oberösterreich bei Christian Aichmayr Live im Studio zu Gast. Seit Jahren ist er seitens der AK Oberösterreich Ansprechpartner der Unternehmen für die EIn- und Durchführung von […]
          Interview mit Efgani Dönmez – VOR ORT 15        
Christian Aichmayr hat mit Efgani Dönmez, der für die Grünen von 2008 – 2015 als Bundesrat agierte, ein Gespräch geführt. Dabei hat er ihm Fragen zum Begriff Parteilinie gestellt, wie er zu der oftmals seitens der Bevölkerung in den Mund genommenen „Abschaffung des Bundesrates“ steht, er wollte auch wissen was er von einer Frauenquote in […]
          Pressekonferenz über Debatte der Deckelung der Bedarfsorientierten Mindestsicherung – VOR ORT 14        
Am 09.02. wurde seitens der SPÖ im Rahmen einer Pressekonferenz in Linz informiert, dass sie den von der ÖVP und der FPÖ am 28. Jänner 2016 eingebachten Antrag im OÖ. Landtag, betreffend die Reduktion der Mindestsicherung für Flüchtlinge und subsidiär Schutzberechtigte auf das Niveau der Grundversorgung, auch in den bevorstehenden Ausschussberatungen ablehnen wird.Christian Aichmayr hat […]
          40 Jahre Zivildienst (1975 – 2015), Interview mit Landesrat Elmar Podgorschek und Peter Peraus – VOR ORT 11        
Die Möglichkeit Zivildienst anstatt des Wehrdienstes zu leisten, wurde in Österreich im Jahr 1975 eingeführt, 344 junge Männer wurden österreichweit damals im ersten Jahr zum Zivildienst zugeteilt. Im Laufe von 4 Jahrzehnten hat sich der Zivildienst zu einer gesellschaftspolitischen Einrichtung entwickelt, die für den Sozialbereich inzwischen eine unentbehrliche Notwendigkeit darstellt. Christian Aichmayr hat mit Landesrat […]
          Frauenpolitik in Oberösterreich – Interview mit Judith Raab, OÖ. Landessprecherin der NEOS – VOR ORT 10        
Christian Aichmayr hat mit Judith Raab, OÖ. Landessprecherin der NEOS, anlässlich des Frauen-Parallellandstags vom 28.Jänner 2016 des Bündnisses 8. März sowie der überparteilichen Initiative #OhneUnsVielSpaß, welcher als Gegenpol zur frauenlosen Landesregierung organisiert wurde, ein Interview geführt. Im Rahmen des Gespräches hat er bei ihr über die Forderungen des Parallel-Landtags nachgefragt und wollte auch über ihre […]
          „Dabei sein macht stark“ – VOR ORT 9        
Die größte Mitgliederwerbekampagne in der Geschichte des ÖGB läuft an – das Motto: „Dabei sein macht stark“. Dazu hatte die Gewerkschaft am 25. Jänner 2016 ins Veranstaltungszentrum Doppl Punkt nach Leonding eingeladen. Christian Aichmayr hat mit Andreas Stangl, dem stellvertretenden Landesvorsitzenden des ÖGB in Oberösterreich einige Worte gewechselt.
          Linzer Posthof, Veranstaltungsreihe Heimspiel 2016        
Die Veranstaltungsreihe HEIMSPIEL des Linzer Posthofes, geht vom 15. Jänner bis 5. März 2016 in die nächste Runde. Heimspiel bietet eine Plattform zur Förderung der jungen österreichischen Szene aus Musik, Tanz, Thater und Kleinkunst. Christian Aichmayr hat mit Mag. Gernot Kremser, der Artistic Director Music des Posthofes, über die Veranstaltungsreihe ein Interview geführt.
          Der Verrückte vom Freiheitsplatz – VOR ORT 3        
Christian Aichmayr befasst sich in seinem aktuellen Beitrag mit Hassan Blasims aktuellem Buch, „Der Verrückte vom Freiheitsplatz“, welches beim Kunstmann-Verlag in  München erschienen ist. Der gebürtige Iraker, der inzwischen in Finnland als Flüchtling anerkannt ist, präsentiert 24 Kurzgeschichten die sich mit dem Alltagswahnsinn im Irak bzw. auf der Flucht befassen. Blasim ist aber auch ein […]
          Infobox Vöcklabruck Jänner 2013        
Infobox Redakteur Christian Aichmayr hat am 11.01.2013 im Veranstaltungszentrum Oberndorf bei Schwanenstadt einen Abend mit dem Unternehmer und Schuhfabrikanten Heini Staudinger besucht, der unter dem Motto „Geld oder Leben“ vom Verein wi(e)so veranstaltet wurde. Einen Schwerpunkt der Veranstaltung bildete der aktuelle Konflikt von Staudinger mit der Finanzmarktaufsicht. Der Gemeinderat und Energiesprecher der Grünen in Vöcklabruck […]
          Infobox Vöcklabruck – Hanna’s schlafende Hunde        
Die Salzburger Buchautorin und gebürtige Welserin Elisabeth Escher war für ein Gespräch bei unserem Redaktionsmitglied Christian Aichmayr zu Gast. Im Rahmen des Gesprächs erzählt sie über ihr facettenreiches Leben und ihr aktuelles Buch „Hanna’s schlafende Hunde“. Durch die Sendung moderiert Jolanda de Wit.
          Infobox – Suchtprävention + Wagenplatz Treibstoff + Frist Lady        
Am 24. März 2010 war Margit Fischer, die Frau unseres Bundespräsidenten Dr. Heinz Fischer, im Rahmen der offiziellen Eröffnung von Otelo im Gebäude der ehemaligen Landesmusikschule in Vöcklabruck zu Besuch. Christian Aichmayr von der Infobox-Redaktion nahm dabei die Gelegenheit wahr, Frau Fischer für das Freie Radio Salzkammergut kurz einige Fragen zu stellen, zu deren Beantwortung […]
          Infobox VB: Worte verändern die Welt – Interview mit Thomas Erlach        
Ein Interview von Christian Aichmayr mit Thomas Erlach über sein Buch „Worte verändern die Welt“ – Die Macht der Sprache in der ökonomisierten sozialen Arbeit. Thomas Erlach, Mitarbeiter der oö. Sozialeinrichtung „exit sozial“, die psychisch kranke und beeinträchtigte Menschen betreut, hat mit „Worte verändern die Welt“ ein Buch geschrieben, welches die Entwicklung der letzten 10 […]
          Kommentar zu Docs & Demo von Christian        
Hallo Gibt es einen code bzw ein Flag, damit bei google maps standardmässig 'beschriftungen' selektiert ist und damit ortschaften und länder angezeigt werden? Ansonsten ge...niales plugin! Gruss Chris
          Europe Summit Aims to Revive Lost Momentum Toward Unity         

WITH public opinion soured on the merits of European unity, European Community leaders hope to ``relaunch Europe'' with a special summit tomorrow celebrating ratification of the long-awaited Maastricht Treaty.

``It's important to get the public thinking in terms of Europe again,'' says one Belgian Foreign Ministry official.

But the celebration risks being seen as irrelevant by much of the public it targets, as Europeans worry about record-high unemployment, challenges to their infant-to-elder social-welfare system, and instability on the continent's eastern borders.

``In Germany, at least, people are thinking about their job security, while published opinion is wondering about the future course of Russia, and neither one sees how the EC can have a major impact on those concerns,'' says Josef Janning, deputy director of the research group on Europe at the University of Mainz in Germany. ``People are seeing such issues less in European and more in national terms.''

The Maastricht Treaty, an ambitious blueprint for providing the EC with a monetary union and a common foreign and security policy by the latter part of the decade, was supposed to have been ratified and the process of its implementation begun in January 1992. That the treaty was not fully ratified until this month, when the German constitutional court finally approved it, provides a measure of the public doubt about Maastricht's goals.

In the two-year delay, Maastricht was battered by an initial outright rejection by Danish voters in a referendum, plus rough ratification battles in Britain and France. The European currency crises of October 1992 and this past summer mocked the monetary union goal, while the EC's weak and disjointed response to the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina posed deep questions about the feasibility of a common foreign policy. Operation `restore stature'

Tomorrow's summit, held in Brussels, is a German-French initiative to try to restore both Maastricht's and Europe's public stature. But even in France, where regard for the Community runs high, doubts are strong about what this summit can accomplish.

``No one should expect much of anything concrete out of this summit,'' says Phillipe Moreau-Defarges, an EC specialist at the French Institute of International Relations in Paris. ``There's too much division among the EC countries for decisions to be made.''

One possible area of action that Mr. Moreau-Defarges cites provides a good example of the Community's current lack of a common vision. The summit could give a new boost to earlier economic ``growth initiatives'' that have had trouble getting off the ground, he says.

Elsewhere in Europe, where public spending is already causing record debts, and where skepticism is strong over the actual impact of large public-works programs, enthusiasm for such proposals is slight.

``The German public is definitely not in favor of this kind of centralized program to rebuild Europe's economic strength,'' Dr. Janning says. ``People in Ireland or Portugal may see Brussels [EC headquarters] as a guarantor or creator of jobs,'' he adds, since those countries receive substantial EC development funds, ``but they certainly don't in Germany.''

Germany and France also had wanted to take up another issue at the summit: Community institutional reforms. The larger countries feel their power is too limited by the generally equal rights of smaller members, and concern is growing that the Community's enlargement to include three or four new small members by 1995 will further tilt the balance and generally render the Community more bureaucratic and plodding. Putting off reform

German proposals for streamlining the EC administration met with staunch resistance from small members, and reform will likely be put on hold until the next EC treaty review in 1996.

To demonstrate that Maastricht is now in force, EC leaders are expected to prepare the next stage of economic and monetary union by launching the European Monetary Institute, ``embryo'' of a future European central bank. The institute's location in Germany is likely to be approved, a move that could open the way for decisions on the placement of several other new EC institutions, including a patent office and environmental agency.

Still, there is a lingering feeling that Maastricht, negotiated in 1990, is a treaty already left behind by European events. ``By spring of next year we may very well have a new imperial Russia to contend with, something never imagined when Maastricht was written,'' Janning says. ``Economies are seen more in national terms. [Community] leaders will have to work hard,'' he adds, ``to demonstrate that Maastricht is relevant in these conditions.''

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          Como que eu faço para criar um arquivo JNLP ?        
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          Who Is Imam al-Mahdi?        
Who Is Imam al-Mahdi? Who Is Imam al-Mahdi?     I’m publishing this article because i received lots of emails and question on my debate page,asking more about this subject.Many wished that i reply with refutation of lies spread by Christians related to imam Mahdi.but before publishing refutation i wish to give basic info about him,so […]
          Christiane F.        
Christiane F.
author: Christiane F.
name: Kristin
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          SEE THRU EXHIBITION OPENED 8.14.10 GALLERY 825 LOS ANGELES        


THURSDAY, AUGUST 19, 2010

SEE THRU EXHIBITION OPENED 8.14.10 GALLERY 825 LOS ANGELES

Professor Shinsuke Shimojo of CalTech, 
a world-renowned researcher and expert in field of vision, 
perception and cognitive neuroscience inspired artists from LAAA/Gallery 825 
to create new work reflecting scientific principals 
exploring the intersection between photography, neuroscience and the arts.

Ann Marie Rousseau photographs Romann Weber for "Science and Surveillance" 
Photo by Ginger Van Hook 

SMALL GALLERY and MAIN GALLERY

Science and Surveillance
A.M.Rousseau

Description:
The work in this project plays off Shinsuke Shimojo’s studies on perception and the interplay of emotion, decision-making and consciousness.* Our eyes are constantly scanning our surroundings in rapid leaps, instantaneously accumulating information as they move several times per second, all without conscious effort or knowledge. Shimojo describes the “gaze cascade effect,” in which a subject's gaze between two objects under consideration gradually shifts to favor the object ultimately chosen.  Research has indicated that these gaze cascades, also called orienting, are deeply involved in higher-level brain functions such as decision making.

In experiments asking subjects to compare two faces and label one as either attractive or unattractive, Shimojo discovered that the more that someone looks at a particular face, the more he or she wants to look at it, and consequently the more likely it becomes that the face will be labeled as “attractive.”  This happens even before the viewer makes a conscious decision.  His research also found that the participants' judgments of attractiveness versus unattractiveness could be manipulated by limiting the length of time they were allowed to look at a particular face. According to Shimojo, the unconscious, spontaneous movements of the eyes work in concert and affect what are presumed to be more deliberate cognitive tasks when making choices.  

Various studies in cognitive and neuro sciences have demonstrated that images—of a face, for instance—and semantic contents such as verbal labels interact through various mechanisms in order to produce a stable and consistent interpretation of the image.  In today’s modern surveillance society, labeling occurs in myriad ways, both benign and nefarious.  This continual labeling has far broader scope and more serious consequences than ordinary judgments of "attractive" and "unattractive," but it is perhaps influenced by some of the same subliminal forces shown in Shimojo’s work.

The lineup of "perpetrators" in this installation shows faces with labels quite contrary to the presumed task of security surveillance, which aims to identify malefactors, terrorists, criminals, dangerous subjects and other potential wrongdoers. Instead these labels, which have been loosely extrapolated from the Buddhist tenets of the ten perfections, seek to discern those with traits most useful, beneficial, lasting and constructive for society.  Although these labels are essentially positive, the viewer cannot help but approach them with a consciousness of what it is to be watched and labeled specifically, and an appreciation of the complex tensions inherent in labeling in general.

•“Gaze bias both reflects and influences preference,” Shinsuke Shimojo, Claudiu Simion, Eiko Shimojo, & Christian Scheier, Nature Neuroscience, Advance online publication, 9 November 2003; doi:10.1038/nn1150



Romann Weber






Marcie Kaufmann


Ginger Van Hook


Elizabeth Tobias


Krista Kahl


Mei Xian Qiu


Meg Madison

Siri Kaur



Ching Ching Cheng



Shana Mabari

Krista Kahl and Ann Marie Rousseau


Krista Kahl, Mei Xian Qiu and Ann Marie Rousseau


Krista Kahl and Ginger Van Hook during the installation 
of Connection 1 and Connection 2. Photo by Ann Marie Rousseau


ASSEMBLE
Dori Atlantis, Ching-Ching Cheng, Meg Madison and Mei Xian Qiu
6' x 17' x 13'   Digital Photographs, Plexiglass, Monofilament     
Photo by Ann Marie Rousseau


Color Space
Ching-Ching Cheng
9"x9"x9" Urethane, Pigment Photo by Ann Marie Rousseau


Blue Volumetric
Yoichi Kawamura, Shana Mabari and Shinsuke Shimojo
42” x 42” x 42” Plexiglass Cube + Mixed Materials
Photo by Ann Marie Rousseau 




Color Space
Ching-Ching Cheng
9"x9"x9" Urethane, Pigment 
Photo by Ginger Van Hook



Blue Volumetric
Yoichi Kawamura, Shana Mabari and Shinsuke Shimojo
42” x 42” x 42” Plexiglass Cube + Mixed Materials (Photo by Ginger Van Hook)



Optic Chasm
Mei Xian Qiu
Dimensions Varied – Plexiglass Cube, Water, 
Used Motor Oil, Projector, Tempera. 
(Photo by Ginger Van Hook)








------------
Note 1: This is the fourth consecutive year when I am doing this. Hopefully this one will be much more readable compared to my previous attempts. Hopefully. (prev:
87th, 86th, 85th) This year, I also wrote a story with the tag-lines of the Oscar-nominated movies.

Note 2: I suspect the ratings for this year's Oscars are going to be very low. I mean, outside of #OscarsSoWhite, Studios and producers need to freakin' make the movies available for viewing online (or in theaters)! I will pay money to watch these movies BEFORE the Oscars goddamit! Events are successful when people talk about it. And to talk about it, people need context. What should we talk about instead of the movies themselves, Clooney's tux, JLaw's stumble, host's fumble, and hot cleavages?
------------


This is one of those years when I am not particularly attached to any movie that has been nominated. Atleast not for the big awards. But this year's Animated and Documentary nominations are a bunch of powerhouses compared to any year in recent history for these categories. It beats me why Inside Out didn't get a Best Picture nod. This just might have been a year when a Pixar movie, or any animated movie for that matter, won the top prize. Instead, we get Oscar-bait movies such as Room, Bridge of Spies, or even The Revenant. Mad Max getting in there is quite a surprise, not so much in retrospect. And yet, the top prize this year remains wide open, probable front-runners being Spotlight, The Revenant, and The Big Short, with the race getting more interesting than the movies themselves.

Emily Blunt's omission from Supporting Actress and Villeneuve's from Director (yep, I loved Sicario!) seems a little strange, but Villeneuve's time will come. His every successive movie gets better than the last! And Quentin, what did you do? He is forgiven though for getting too indulgent, considering that he might be nearing the end of his filmography. I hope though that I get to see him, among others, getting a Directing Oscar some day. Some day.

Right then.




Category / PickNomineesVishesh TippaniHit / Miss
Motion Picture


Spotlight

The Big Short

Brooklyn

Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight
The Big Short: After The Wolf of Wall Street's rollercoaster ride, this seemed like pony carousel. I mean, we get it. Financial meltdown happened, and no-one responsible went to jail. Bravo! Selena Gomez explaining Collateralized Debt Obligations was cute though. Heh.

Brooklyn: It gets a lot of things right. Saoirse Ronan is an absolute delight to watch on screen, with a well-deserved Actress nomination for her. And the way the movie transports you to the 50s is incredible, effortlessly shattering a lot of things we take for granted today. And we are not talking about an ancient era, just 60-70 years ago. Brooklyn also does not resort to evil-looking people to further the plot in a way Titanic did, and in a way that makes the protagonists' struggles relatable, real, and very palatable - in a way that triggers a "Life is such," response rather than "They deserved this".
"I'd forgotten what this town is like. What were you planning to do, Miss Kelly?" 

Bridge of Spies: This is the "America is the best country in the World" movie for this year. Although both Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance nailed it with chiselled performances. Coen brothers wrote this, perhaps it would have been a much better movie if they directed it as well.
"Aren't you worried?"
"Would it help?"

Mad Max: Fury Road: This movie was an adrenalin-induced delight without end. Stunning camera work, absurdist humour, and louder than loudest everything, so much that one literally felt exhausted after the movie did not give any breathing space during.
"WITNESS ME!"

The Martian: Someone please explain to me why Inside Out is not in this category, and why The Martian isn't in the Best Animated movie category instead? What is the line between special effects and animation? Considering the state of the art for motion capture and 3D rendering techniques, maybe it's time we do away with the distinction. Anyway, The Martian falls flat compared to Gravity, or even Interstellar. Maybe it was just an excuse to rescue Matt Damon... again.

The Revenant: A lot of people, including the Academy, seem to be particularly fond of Iñárritu. I find his movies boring, the technical brilliance notwithstanding. Birdman was perhaps Iñárritu's most enjoyable movie, and I didn't want Birdman to win (Boyhood... sigh). If The Revenant wins this one, of which there is a more than significant chance, it will be several firsts, perhaps the most interesting one being successive wins by the same Director. Sure looks like Leo's year though.

Room: This was a hit or miss and all over the place. Some scenes were striking, in particular the one towards the end where Brie Larson goes back to the Room. Jacob Tremblay was spectacular until he was inside the room, and made his escape. After that it seemed like the director just didn't give a shit anymore.
"There's so much of "place" in the world."

Spotlight: This is my favourite movie from this category. Tense, crisp, great characters, performances, writing, Spotlight ranks high up there.
"We got two stories here: a story about degenerate clergy, and a story about a bunch of lawyers turning child abuse into a cottage industry. Which story do you want us to write? Because we're writing one of them."
Hit!
Director
Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant

Adam McKay, The Big Short

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant

Lenny Abrahamson, Room

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
As much as I loved Spotlight, I am not sure if Tom McCarthy's time has come for a directing Oscar. The race mostly seems between Iñárritu and Miller, both of whom are really fine directors. If Iñárritu pulls this one off, back-to-back Director Oscars would be a tremendous feat.

Although, if I had my way, Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman (directors of Anomalisa),  Andrew Haigh (director of 45 years), would have found a spot here. And when-o-when will Denis Villeneuve's (Sicario) time come?
Hit!
Writing (Original)

Spotlight

Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

Inside Out

Spotlight

Straight Outta Compton
Bridge of Spies is probably in here because... Coen brothers. Perhaps the movie would have been significantly better had they directed it as well.

Ex Machina had some really smart writing as well, reminded me of "Her" in a lot of ways.
Ava: "What will happen to me if I fail your test?"

I loved the fact that Inside Out got nominated for this, if not for Best Picture. They really got me from the moment the "train of thought" arrives. As cheesy as that is, really made me chuckle.
"Take her to the moon for me."

And as much as Tarantino would like to say "I truly believe in the material" for The Hateful Eight, he needs to sit on the bench for this one.

Spotlight though, crisp, taut, engaging from start to finish truly deserves this one.
"If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse them."
Hit!
Writing (Adapted)

The Big Short

The Big Short

Brooklyn

Carol

The Martian

Room
The Big Short is a no-brainer for this. I haven't read the book so I do not know how it reads, but this is one of those examples of an "adaptation", from a non-fiction, that would have truly meant a LOT of work.

Aaron Sorkin could have been slipped in here (for Steve Jobs), again adapting a non-fiction. Plus, in my opinion, his approach with the source material was remarkable and creative. With all the different sorts of issues Steve Jobs ran into during production, Sorkin was probably the only one who did the cleanest job for this movie.
Hit!
Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

FINALLY, LEO! Boy am I waiting for his acceptance speech! SIXTH nomination, and what a journey! A story of survival, revenge, and life is also possibly the most fitting way he could have won this one!

But this doesn't go without mentioning the other quite remarkable performances in this category. Trumbo felt a lot like Argo, even besides the 'Hollywood making a movie about Hollywood thing' and John Goodman's huge (literally) presence. And I love this "genre" (if you may) too - Sunset Bldv., Chaplin, The Artist, to name a few.

Michael Fassbender did a fine job and literally saved the movie, but the most striking performance for me from this movie would definitely be that of Winslet's.

There are some roles where it is unimaginable for anyone else doing them except for Eddie Redmayne (you know, the kind of feeling we get quite often for Benedict Cumberbatch). I doubt anyone else would have been able to do Theory of Everything or The Danish Girl.
Hit!
Actress


Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years



Prediction: Brie Larson
Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Brie Larson seems sealed for this category. She isn't on my top 3 out of these 5, so I will be a little bummed about this one.

I am conflicted between Charlotte Rampling and Saoirse Ronan for my top spot. 45 years is a stunning film, and deserved much more than the solitary nomination it received, but Charlotte is really the heart and soul of the film. After Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) lost to JLaw, I would be too pleased to see Charlotte win this one, for a movie that has too many similarities to Amour.

I wouldn't mind Saoirse winning this one either. Her nuanced performance in Brooklyn left you yearning for more.
Hit!
Supporting Actor

Christian Bale, The Big Short


Prediction: Sylvester Stallone
Christian Bale, The Big Short

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Sylvester Stallone, Creed
The one thing that I loved about The Big Short was Christian Bale's performance. In the very limited time that he occupies the screen, every freakin' scene is fireworks. He would be my pick for this one, but Sylvester Stallone makes for a great Oscar story, so yeah... Mark Rylance.
Supporting Actress

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs


Prediction: Alicia Vikander
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
It's a shame that Alicia Vikander got nominated for The Danish Girl instead of Ex Machina. I am nuts about Alicia Vikander, she is what I would call "vanilla" beautiful. I know she is beautiful, I don't know why, and I find it hard to be able to figure it out. It's like she only registers when she's in front of me, but poof as soon as she's not, enigmatic almost. I think it was a stroke of casting brilliance to cast her in Ex Machina, a role which hinged significantly on this quality of hers in my opinion. You know, artificial... but not really, feels real... but can't put a finger on why.

But between her performance in The Danish Girl, and Kate Winslet's in Steve Jobs, my vote definitely goes to Kate. Them glasses. Sigh. And a performance that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Fassbender's as Jobs, that's really something.
Hit!
Animated Movie

Anomalisa


Prediction: Inside Out
Anomalisa

Boy & The World

Inside Out

Shaun The Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There
What a collection of movies in this category! This is a collection which is missing The Peanuts Movie and The Good Dinosaur - movies which in any other year would have made the nomination cut and might even have won!

I want to especially talk about three movie here, Anomalisa, Inside Out, and Boy & The World, although Shaun The Sheep and When Marnie Was There are brilliant movies in their own right.

Anomalisa is one of those movies that leave you going "How on Earth did they pull this off on screen?!" The stillness of this movie, the calm, the poise, the detail - both in the little things and the not-so-little things - is astounding. I could write at length about this movie, but anyone who has spent any time travelling to a smaller city in the US (especially to the mid-west) will get all intricate details they have managed to so gloriously capture. The absolutely shocking sex scene, the long takes, the movie playing almost in real time... Anomalisa is an anomaly done right when it comes to pushing the boundaries of what can be done on animation.

Talking about pushing the boundaries of animated films, Boy & The World is gorgeous! Such raw beauty, it is a spectacle to behold. Lovingly crafted hand-drawn animation, the colors, the playfulness, the airiness, the fireworks-y sparkle, the dazzle, every still of the film could be a framed painting in an art gallery. This is how, I wish, The Peanuts Movie had been made. HAND-DRAWN! I hope we get to see more of Alê Abreu's work.

Inside Out is almost surely going to win this one. Don't get me wrong, it is a great film, perhaps one of Pixar's top 3, if not the best. But it is going to win it for the wrong reasons. Animation has very little to do with what makes Inside Out a great film, which is why it was much better off getting a Best Film nod, along with the Writing nod that it deservedly received.
Hit!
Cinematography

Sicario


Prediction: The Revenant 
Carol

The Hateful Eight

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Sicario
The Hateful Eight is on this list because... 70mm, Ben Hur lenses, yada yada yada. It's not the tooling that maketh a genius. Nope. But okay Quentin, you were indulging yourself, you are allowed to do that, of course.

It will be a big surprise if The Revenant does not win this one. The cinematography, after all, is one of the biggest reasons why it has been getting oh-so-much love. But, have you seen Sicario! Especially the one scene where they perform the extraction from Mexico, sent a chill down my spine. That is a scene in the same league as the car scene from Children of Men.
Hit!
Editing

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
If there is one award that Mad Max truly deserves, it's got to be this one. How do you even cut this movie?! Hit!
Production Design

Mad Max: Fury Road

Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant
Hit!
Score

Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight

Bridge of Spies

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Hateful Eight, again, is here because... Morricone. This is probably Academy's last chance to give a real Oscar to Ennio Morricone rather than the honorary one they had to give him a few years ago.

Sicario and Star Wars (obviously) truly deserve a special mention though.
Hit!
Visual Effects

The Revenant

Ex Machina

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
This category is really losing its significance extremely fast. It is too hard to tell what's special effects and what's not, considering almost every movie undergoes huge transformation during post-production. Ex Machina.
Deserved!
Documentary

Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight For Freedom


Prediction: Amy
Amy

Cartel Land

The Look of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight For  Freedom
Just like the Animated Feature Film category, this was another powerhouse collection of films. I wouldn't mind Amy winning this one, Asif Kapadia is an accomplished director, his Senna ranks amongst my favorite movies. And, to be fair, Amy is an amazing movie, except, I didn't care a lot about the subject matter.

Winter on Fire, on the other hand, is a movie extremely relevant in today's day and age, and has managed to put together some really spine-chilling footage and beautifully. It also managed to give a first-hand glimpse into a country that we (I) know so little about, and around events that are being played out right now on the global political arena.
Hit!

Total: 13 / 15




          Comment on Spring Into Action: Griffis Sculpture Park by carpinteyrofqe        
The retrospective showcases more than 200 of Louboutin’s designs, stretching help to when he launched his mark in the early 1990s, and also gives visitors a glimpse into his creative process. A <a href="http://christianlouboutin-pascheronline.com/" / rel="nofollow">CHAUSSURES LOUBOUTIN PAS CHER </a> scene of the designer’s Paris atelier sits at the center of the showing, featuring a columnar list strewn with paints, sketches and shoes, as admirably as Louboutin’s trapeze hanging in a corner of the room. “I righteous wanted to due this doll-sized interest of the behind the scenes, which is in actuality a gargantuan delight in my profession,” said Louboutin during a hidden viewing of the show Monday evensong, when he was joined next to guests including Dita Von Teese and India Hicks. “What I ambivalent up doing is these beautiful things, but ahead that, there’s a group that is happening.” Surrounded by the shoe designs on display are innumerable of Louboutin’s all-out glamorous <a href="http://christianlouboutin-pascheronline.com/" / rel="nofollow">christian louboutin</a> pieces, such as party line pumps crafted in menacing lace and magenta-colored silk heels adorned with a develop of ruffles at the ankle and toe. From the archive, the Pensee, the Mary-Jane emphasize that Louboutin created in 1992, gives visitors a look at the opening shoe to sport his now-signature red sole. The exhibition also features the schemer’s darker side, with a dim segment spotlighting the fetish-inspired shoes that Louboutin created for a 2007 collaboration with peel director David Lynch. London-based make consultancy Household crafted the campy backdrop after the show. The shoes are displayed on a fairground carousel, a plate glass steeple and the red unique of a exclusively created 17-meter shoe. Donna Loveday, the exhibition’s curator, esteemed during a urge congress Monday that “theater and performance” are at the heart of the show. “It reveals the true artistry and theatricality of #8217;s] shoe designs,” said Loveday. The demo also explores Louboutin’s a variety of sources of guide, including proceed, transparency and architecture. Another cut up is staunch to showgirls, whom Louboutin described as “the first spur behind my shoes.” Putting together the express was an buddy experience, said Louboutin. “I not in reality organize my private survival from my professional vim,” he said. “So it’s a touch emotional to see bring into play function that’s wholly <a href="http://christianlouboutin-pascheronline.com/" / rel="nofollow">CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN PAS CHER</a> coupled to your familiar life.”
          The History and Symbolism of the Celtic Cross        

Celtic Crosses dot hundreds of cemeteries across Ireland and Scotland, as well as Wales, England, Europe, and beyond. Few symbols are as recognizable as the Celtic Cross as the embodiment of Celtic Christianity. It is popularly believed that St. Patrick introduced the Celtic Cross in Ireland, during his conversion of the kings from paganism to […]

The post The History and Symbolism of the Celtic Cross appeared first on Irish Fireside Travel and Culture.


          Postcard From Ireland: Castlewellan Castle        

  Built by the 4th Earl Annesly in the Scottish Baronial style in 1856 Castlewellan Castle  is located in a large  forest park and is framed by the Mountains of Mourne.  Below the castle is a scenic lake. The estate includes the lovely, walled Annesly Gardens. The castle is currently used as a Christian Conference Center. Forest walks, […]

The post Postcard From Ireland: Castlewellan Castle appeared first on Irish Fireside Travel and Culture.


          Postcard from Ireland: Monasterboice        

  North of Drogheda is the early Christian settlement of Monastboice. The round tower is 35m (114.9ft) high. This place is most famous for it’s 3 high crosses, with Muiredach’s High Cross the most intact and possibly the finest high cross in Ireland. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muiredach%27s_High_Cross We stopped by one afternoon while in the area for a […]

The post Postcard from Ireland: Monasterboice appeared first on Irish Fireside Travel and Culture.


          What I've learned in Africa        
I failed miserably in the two learning targets I set myself when I arrived here - mastery of the French language (I get by but am by no means fluent) and competence at drumming (I've managed to fit in two lessons in over six years).  But I have learned a number of things, some about myself and some about Africa.

I learned that I'm not as emotionally self-sufficient as I'd always thought - that I need people.  My first couple of years were really quite lonely, until I worked out that the best response was not to try to toughen myself up so I could cope better but to go out and find friends.

I learned that I'm not a very compassionate person.  I care about injustice towards groups of people and want to do my bit to put that right, but I don't cry over the suffering of individuals nor do I give and share what I have in the way that Africans (and some Europeans/Americans) do.  I don't feel sympathy when I see someone begging, I just feel a need to try to change the system.  It's not a trait to be particularly proud of, but then again it is one that makes it easier to cope with a job like mine where you do witness a lot of suffering.

& I learned (or rather confirmed my suspicion) that I am physically suited to the environment here.  I love the heat - don't miss winters, or indeed seasons, at all - and my only illness during my time here was the bronchitis I picked up on a winter trip to the US and a touch of flu in my first month here.  Not only have I avoided malaria but I haven't even suffered one bout of diarrhoea in more than six years here!

As regards Africa and its people?  Well, I've learnt that it is a highly materialistic society and with conspicuous consumption preferred over savings or investment, that Africans of different shades of brown and black can be far more racist (towards eachother) than any whites I've ever met, that things will happen when they happen no matter how many times an impatient white person looks at their watch in irritation, and that when things appear to have gone wrong, there is always a solution, especially when Africans spot a white person in need.

I've learnt a lot about the huge importance of the obligations that come with the extended family system, and the way in which this system is a strong barrier against Africa developing on the same path that the West has.  On the one hand it works against people building up the kind of wealth necessary to build businesses, as the more one earns the greater the number of family members who come calling for help; I don't think I have any African colleagues who don't spend a significant proportion of their income supporting their extended family.  On the other hand this means that what we in the West would call corruption and nepotism (those with power using it to favour/benefit family and friends) are in Africa normal and acceptable forms of behaviour.  I'll never forget the dinner in Mali where I heard a government minister tell some friends that he was going to resign as he couldn't cope with the constant demands for money and jobs from his family and community.  Taken up to the next level - the tribe - this also explains in large part why Western-style democracy does not really work in Africa.

I learnt that every sub-Saharan African, whether Christian, Muslim, atheist or animist, believes in a spirit world. This world operates in parallel with the material world but with the ability to interfere in the latter for good or evil.  Typical manifestations of this belief include the protective amulets worn by many people and widespread accusations of witchcraft to explain what we would call bad luck.

Finally, I learned about a very important existential difference between the West and Africa - or, more accurately I suspect, between the West and rest of the world - in the way we look at a human being.  In the West we focus almost entirely on that person as an individual, with rights and choices that attach to him/her as an individual.  Here in Africa, that is not important.  A human being is not seen as an individual but in terms of their relationship to others.  So one is a mother, a sister, a chief, a Christian, a member of a certain tribe...

I recently spent a few days in an African household, where I was soon referred to as "aunty", the usual term for a respected (older) family friend; there was no way I would have been called by my name.  Birthdays are not celebrated here either.

Of course those relationships carry obligations and expectations (built up in the culture over many generations) which are considered far more important than anything the individual concerned might prefer were they to be given free choice.  It shows what a clash of cultures it is to try to impose individual human rights (eg the right of a child to go to school rather than to help with the family business, or the right of a man to live and sleep with another man rather than to marry a woman and to produce children) on societies where the happiness of the individual is considered far less important than the well-being of the community.  Particularly in a part of the world where it is believed that failing to maintain the traditons of the ancestors is likely to bring misfortune.

It's ironic really that one of the things many expats relish, myself included, is the freedom from expectations and obligations that we have through living outside of our own cultures.


Unless anything momentous happens in the next 48 hours that has to be reported here, this is my last post on louiseinsenegal.  Hopefully it won't be long until my first post on louiseinpanama.
          EVOLUTION OF SUN HO'S HORSE FACE TO PLASTIC FACE?        

Today, the courts have finally delivered the guilty verdict to the 6 CHC leaders for breaking the 8th commandment. But during the trial that spanned 2 long years, did Sun Ho undergo plastic surgery to alter her face? Look at the evolution of her face and judge for yourself! 

Original face given by God. 

Subsequent new faces given by doctors-who-play-God?

What do you think? 

Editor's Note: 

Do you have a story to share? Please use our submission form or email us at editorial@allsingaporestuff.com. If not, why not give us a 'Like'?

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          RECNOV a Todo Vapor        
                                            




A partir de novembro, o RECNOV (Record Novelas), complexo de estúdios da TV Record, no Rio de Janeiro, vai ficar mais movimentado. Atualmente, figuram por lá as produções de Ribeirão do Tempo e Sansão e Dalila. Mas, nos próximos meses, com o início das gravações da próxima novela das 22h, com autoria de Christianne Friedman, o início de produção de A História do Rei Davi, e as gravações de Rebelde, os estúdios vão funcionar a todo vapor. 


Rola nos bastidores da Record a possível data de estreia de Rebelde. A data em questão seria 22 de novembro deste ano. Já entramos em contato com a emissora atrás da confirmação da informação. 
          The Christian and material things        
A new MP3 sermon from Grace Presbyterian Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: The Christian and material things
Subtitle: Exodus
Speaker: Jeff Sheely
Broadcaster: Grace Presbyterian Church
Event: Sunday Service
Date: 12/11/2016
Bible: Exodus 20:15
Length: 44 min. (32kbps)
          Being a Christian woman in the modern world        
none
          Smart Football Helmets May Help Detect Concussions        
Liberty Christian High School has installed sensors in all Varsity and Junior Varsity helmets designed to keep records of how hard a player is hit as well as the force of the hit.
          "Add to Your Faith"        
A new MP3 sermon from Freely We Give Broadcast is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: "Add to Your Faith"
Subtitle: Early radio message
Speaker: G. D. Fulton
Broadcaster: Freely We Give Broadcast
Event: Radio Broadcast
Date: 12/6/1983
Bible: 2 Peter 1:3-11
Length: 23 min. (64kbps)

Overview: The reason so many religious professors fail is that when they make that -decision for Christ,- they are told by the pastor, evangelist or soul-winner- -You are completely saved now, and don't allow anyone to cause you to doubt it------Such new professors of Christ are not properly prepared for the WARFARE of the Christian faith, because they have not been told the whole TRUTH. The Bible tells Christians some things that WE have to DO ... especially this text- -ADD THESE THINGS TO YOUR FAITH.-----May the Lord bless all who hear this message, recorded by a small microphone at a distance and thus inferior audio quality. BUT, IF YOU PERSEVERE you can hear this needed message by my dear father, G. D. Fulton, who died March 10, 1995.
          Christian Conflict in Times of Apostasy - 2        
A new MP3 sermon from Freely We Give Broadcast is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Christian Conflict in Times of Apostasy - 2
Subtitle: Conflict w/ Powers of Darkness
Speaker: Tom L. Daniel
Broadcaster: Freely We Give Broadcast
Event: Sunday - PM
Date: 10/31/1971
Bible: Isaiah 64:1-12; Jeremiah 37:16-21
Length: 48 min. (64kbps)

Overview: -Continuing from the morning message,he begins by reading a letter from one of his radio listeners in South Carolina.-----In days of apostasy, God's true people stand out in bold relief against the dark spiritual background. They seek to -fight the good fight of faith,- laying hold on eternal life. The apostates never understand a faithful child of God and often accuse him of being stubborn and unloving.----May God help us to ever -contend for the faith once for all delivered unto the saints------Hear Pastor Tom Daniel in these two expositions -morning and evening services on Oct. 31, 1971- - during his final year on earth. He died Oct. 1, 1972, much beloved of his church members and friends far and near by means of his tape-recorded sermons and radio broadcasts, plus 39 printed booklets of messages.----SOLI DEO GLORIA-
          Christian Conflict in Times of Apostasy - 1        
A new MP3 sermon from Freely We Give Broadcast is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Christian Conflict in Times of Apostasy - 1
Subtitle: Conflict w/ Powers of Darkness
Speaker: Tom L. Daniel
Broadcaster: Freely We Give Broadcast
Event: Sunday - AM
Date: 10/31/1971
Bible: Isaiah 64:1-12; Jeremiah 37:16-21
Length: 51 min. (64kbps)

Overview: In days of apostasy, God's true people stand out in bold relief against the dark spiritual background. They seek to -fight the good fight of faith,- laying hold on eternal life. The apostates never understand a faithful child of God and often accuse him of being stubborn and unloving.----May God help us to ever -contend for the faith once for all delivered unto the saints------Hear Pastor Tom Daniel in these two expositions -morning and evening services on Oct. 31, 1971- - during his final year on earth. He died Oct. 1, 1972, much beloved of his church members and friends far and near by means of his tape-recorded sermons and radio broadcasts, plus 39 printed booklets of messages.----SOLI DEO GLORIA-
          God's Grace Calling a Sinner        
A new MP3 sermon from Freely We Give Broadcast is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: God's Grace Calling a Sinner
Subtitle: Preachers who influenced us
Speaker: Tom L. Daniel
Broadcaster: Freely We Give Broadcast
Event: Sunday Service
Date: 11/20/1966
Bible: Galatians 1:15; 1 Corinthians 1:18-30
Length: 46 min. (64kbps)

Overview: The Gospel of God is effective and powerful when we can give our personal testimony of what that GRACE has done for us personally.----No man can plumb the depths of the Grace of God and God's sovereign election and effectual calling ... but we must believe it and experience it. Yes, in the midst of the Gospel story we find the great doctrines that are so often opposed today - God's election and predestination - doctrines that are precious to the heart of God, and we might say also to the heart of a child of God.----HOW DOES ONE BECOME A CHRISTIAN- It is by a definite, singular, personal and most effective work of the Spirit in grace CALLING THE SINNER TO LIFE. Have you been called- Hear this wonderful message.----For further encouragement on this theme, go to our store and order the booklet A PERSONAL CALL TO SALVATION.
          Purifying Their (Our) Hearts by Faith        
A new MP3 sermon from Freely We Give Broadcast is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Purifying Their (Our) Hearts by Faith
Subtitle: Preachers who influenced us
Speaker: E. W. Johnson
Broadcaster: Freely We Give Broadcast
Event: Sunday Service
Date: 11/11/1979
Bible: Acts 15:6-11
Length: 45 min. (64kbps)

Overview: -Purifying their hearts by faith ...- It is the principle of the new covenant of grace in Christ our Lord.----Here is a message that can encourage the Christian who oft times feels defeated in the battles of life. It is a message to awaken the legalist and to strike the terrors of the Holy Law in the heart of the antinomian.----Hear Bro. Johnson here and may the LORD'S SPIRIT accompany this message.
          The Ten Commandments and Cleansing our Way        
A new MP3 sermon from Freely We Give Broadcast is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: The Ten Commandments and Cleansing our Way
Subtitle: Preachers who influenced us
Speaker: E. W. Johnson
Broadcaster: Freely We Give Broadcast
Event: Sunday Service
Date: 12/4/1994
Bible: Psalm 119:9-16; Exodus 20
Length: 32 min. (64kbps)

Overview: The TEN COMMANDMENTS - what numbers of preachers and churches IGNORE God's Holy Law- But a true, God-called preacher of the Christian faith is called to be a proclaimer of -The Law and the Gospel, in their proper order.-----One cannot be saved without bowing to his own soul's condemnation under God's Law- But that Law can never save or justify him - he will have to be JUSTIFIED through faith in the Crucified, Buried and Risen Lord Jesus Christ. A Christian knows that he or she could never be saved thru the works of the Law but by grace through faith ... as God has given him repentance and faith in Christ.----Then a believer is cleansed as both grace and the Law are operative in his heart, as he runs the race and learns to separate himself more and more from the sin of this present life.----Dr. Johnson brings the truth here, and we are thankful to present this good message. HAVING SAID THIS, WE WOULD NOT ENDORSE EVERY STATEMENT HE MAKES ... for example, he seems to deny the keeping of a weekly Sabbath Day which we believe in.
          Natural Man to Spiritual Man - What a Change!        
A new MP3 sermon from Freely We Give Broadcast is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Natural Man to Spiritual Man - What a Change!
Speaker: G. D. Fulton
Broadcaster: Freely We Give Broadcast
Event: Radio Broadcast
Date: 6/16/1987
Length: 19 min. (64kbps)

Overview: We speak of the -natural man- as the unchanged, unregenerate, unsaved man or woman. Then the -spiritual man- is that member of Adam's fallen race that has undergone the GREAT CHANGE - by grace alone, regenerated, born again, a -new creature in Christ Jesus.-----This work of God's saving His elect people does not make them perfect, however, for all Christians continue to have in possession a fleshly as well as a spiritual nature - thus the great warfare between the two natures, and the good fight of faith to overcome thru the grace of Christ.----Here is a challenging message from a simple man who proclaimed profound truth from the Scriptures of truth.
          The Reason of Your Hope        
A new MP3 sermon from Freely We Give Broadcast is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: The Reason of Your Hope
Subtitle: The Burden of this Ministry
Speaker: G. D. Fulton
Broadcaster: Freely We Give Broadcast
Event: Radio Broadcast
Date: 3/14/1989
Bible: 1 Peter 3:15; 1 Thessalonians 1:10
Length: 18 min. (64kbps)

Overview: The Lord saves three kinds of people---- He saves the LOST--- He saves those in DARKNESS--- He saves those who are GUILTY.----In churches today, we are just trying to get people to join in religion or to make a move. What can a LOST man do- What can those in TOTAL DARKNESS do- What can the GUILTY do- Can he put his GUILT away- NO - he can never undo his sin - he can only come guilty before God and beg for mercy.----Have you ever come to CHRIST as this kind of a needy sinner- If you've never been to the Cross as a poor sinner and become identified with Christ, your religion is no good.----Friend, HOW DID YOU COME TO BE WHAT IS CALLED A -CHRISTIAN-- HAVE YOU TRULY COME TO A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD JESUS CHRIST-
          What is a Real Christian? - 2        
A new MP3 sermon from Freely We Give Broadcast is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: What is a Real Christian? - 2
Subtitle: Real Christian
Speaker: G. D. Fulton
Broadcaster: Freely We Give Broadcast
Event: Radio Broadcast
Date: 5/28/1985
Length: 20 min. (64kbps)

Overview: We often are dismayed when we see all this religious profession, and many people in different denominations. They all say, -We're Christians.-----BUT WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY IS A REAL CHRISTIAN- Hear Bro. Fulton's teaching here in a 2-part series of radio talks from 1985. -We regret that the AUDIO TAPE QUALITY HERE is not as good as most of his radio recordings.-
          What is a Real Christian? - 1        
A new MP3 sermon from Freely We Give Broadcast is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: What is a Real Christian? - 1
Subtitle: Real Christian
Speaker: G. D. Fulton
Broadcaster: Freely We Give Broadcast
Event: Radio Broadcast
Date: 5/21/1985
Length: 17 min. (64kbps)

Overview: We often are dismayed when we see all this religious profession, and many people in different denominations. They all say, -We're Christians.-----BUT WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY IS A REAL CHRISTIAN- Hear Bro. Fulton's teaching here in a 2-part series of radio talks from 1985. -We regret that the AUDIO TAPE was not up to par with most of his radio recordings.-
          The Testings of John the Baptist        
A new MP3 sermon from Freely We Give Broadcast is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: The Testings of John the Baptist
Speaker: G. D. Fulton
Broadcaster: Freely We Give Broadcast
Event: Radio Broadcast
Date: 1/13/1986
Bible: Matthew 3; Matthew 14:1-12
Length: 21 min. (64kbps)

Overview: John the Baptist didn't know the victories over all suffering and sickness that some modern preachers say are sure for all true Christians.----According to the Lord Jesus, no man born of woman was any better man than John the Baptist ... yet he suffered loneliness, rejection and finaly martydom.----For a look at the true path of every obedient chid of God, take time to hear this brief radio talk by Mr. Fulton.
          Taking Heed to the Lord's Claims and Demands        
A new MP3 sermon from Freely We Give Broadcast is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Taking Heed to the Lord's Claims and Demands
Speaker: G. D. Fulton
Broadcaster: Freely We Give Broadcast
Event: Radio Broadcast
Date: 5/24/1988
Bible: 1 Corinthians 16:22; James 1:22-24
Length: 19 min. (64kbps)

Overview: Brother Fulton loved to preach to Christians the demands of Christ's Lordship. In fact, that person who makes a public religious profession but does not live a life of obedience - to our radio speaker such a one was only a false professor, and would surely be LOST in the end.----Take stock- Examine yourself- What is your attitude towards the One who solemnly declared, -If ye love me, keep my commandments--
          The Warfare        
A new MP3 sermon from Freely We Give Broadcast is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: The Warfare
Subtitle: The Flesh vs. the Spirit
Speaker: G. D. Fulton
Broadcaster: Freely We Give Broadcast
Event: Radio Broadcast
Date: 2/11/1986
Length: 18 min. (64kbps)

Overview: Only the Christian knows the depths of the spiritual battle with the sin, Satan, the world and the flesh.----GOD'S PEOPLE ARE OVERCOMVERS-
          The Battle        
A new MP3 sermon from Freely We Give Broadcast is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: The Battle
Subtitle: The Flesh vs. the Spirit
Speaker: G. D. Fulton
Broadcaster: Freely We Give Broadcast
Event: Radio Broadcast
Date: 2/4/1986
Length: 19 min. (64kbps)

Overview: This message begins with our speaker displaying a heavy heart in the aftermath of the great space tragedy - January 28, 1986, the exposion of the spacecraft THE CHALLENGER.----Only the Christian knows the depths of the spiritual battle with his sin, his flesh, Satan and the world flesh.----GOD'S PEOPLE ARE OVERCOMERS by the grace of God that indwells them-
          Fight the Good Fight of Faith        
A new MP3 sermon from Freely We Give Broadcast is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Fight the Good Fight of Faith
Speaker: G. D. Fulton
Broadcaster: Freely We Give Broadcast
Event: Radio Broadcast
Date: 5/24/1988
Bible: 1 Timothy 6:12
Length: 19 min. (64kbps)

Overview: The fight of faith - that's how Paul describes Christian living. But today we are told it's the easiest life there is- just take Jesus as Saviour, walk the aisle, join the church, pay your tithe, don't get into any serious troube - you are then eternally secure in the fold and don't have to worry about it any more. But Christ our LORD told a different story, didn't HE- He said to forsake everything and follow after Him wherever HE goes. Are you in this race- Are you fighting the fight-----Listen to Freely We Give program, from Kings Mountain NC years ago-
          Satan in a Sunday Hat        

As most of you probably won't be familiar with the above term, I shall elaborate. Ok, I'll give you a clue- it's another True Blood reference. The term is used by the characters Tara and her cousin Lafyette- a term they've inherited from Tara's alcoholic (but delusively devout) mother Lettie-Mae, meaning that 'if something looks too good to be true, then it probably is.' I just love in Season Two when Lafyette tells Tara that her new beau Eggs is 'Satan in a Sunday hat, girl. I'm trying to tell you, Satan in a f***ing beautiful Sunday hat.' You gotta love Lafyette. Anyway- for me- this phrase kind of sums up the whole vibe of the show. From the title sequence onwards, the juxtaposition of religious fanaticism and ecstatic spirituality with images of sexuality, violence and decay captures that whole Southern Gothic vibe that the entire show encapsulates. The contradictory images of religious purity and sexuality, violence and death kind of point to the idea of dark truths that lurk behind the stereotypically polite/devout Southern facades, and this idea continues to be explored throughout the entire programme. First of all, you've got the central relationship; you have Bill- a dark, dangerous, mysterious Vampire and Sookie- a pure, innocent, blonde-haired, blue-eyed virgin; two entirely different characters, one a metaphor for darkness and the other for light- falling desperately in love with eachother.

I love the way that the use of wardrobe in the programme reflects this theme; suddenly, the sweet, sundress-wearing Sookie is getting bloodstains on her floaty white nightgown courtesy of the the smoldering, leather-clad Bill Compton and his piercing fangs. The scene where she runs barefoot through the graveyard in the darkness to make love to Bill for the first time, said flowing white nightie glowing faintly in the moonlight, just makes my heart stop. The mix of dark and light seems to be mirrored by the pure and good Sookie Stackhouse with her golden tan, sunshine hair and floral prints getting mixed up in the dark and seductive world of stone-cold, deathly-white Vampires. Likewise, you've got Lettie Mae attending Gran's funeral in her Sunday finest, church hat and all, when really she is an alcoholic who believes she has a 'demon' inside of her. Then you've got the Fellowship of the Sun Church storyline in Season Two- Steve and Sarah Newlin are all sunny smiles and matching, buttercup-yellow outfits, when really they are leaders of a vampire hating cult (basically a metaphor for deluded, religiously fanatic homophobes who call themselves Christians.)  The entire idea of darkness lurking beneath an exterior of beauty is summed up by Tara in season one, when she rages at her newly-reformed mother and her church-going friend that 'you can lie to yourself and everybody else, but when you go to bed, you just as f***ed up and miserable as I am, and going to church, and wearing a crazy-ass hat, ain't gon' make you a better person.' (Yes, I did spend ages going through each scene on the box set to find that exact quote, and yes, I did have to replay it 3 times before I got it word-for-word ;-) ).


Anways, let’s get onto the fashion. About this time last year, when I first got into True Blood, I was totally loving the whole Sunday dress/ church hat/southern Belle theme but with added creepy vibes that was depicted in parts of the show’s wardrobe. Think old-fashioned white church dresses complete with matching hats and fans from the blood-spattered worship scenes in the opening sequence, and Sookie’s lemon coloured sundresses accessorized with none other than Alice bands and bleeding fang punctures. It seemed like everywhere I went there were pretty, chiffony vintage dresses in respectable knee-length styles and candy colours which were just begging to be taken to church and worn with a Sunday hat/vintage fascinator. For weeks, my head was filled with visions of old fashioned hair rolls (like Sookie’s when she wears the lilac chiffon dress Bill buys her) and pleated fabric in pastel hues. However, one can’t exactly stroll down to Sainsburies in this sort of attire. I waited patiently, but sadly, I didn’t exactly receive heaps of invites to attend christenings, summer weddings or holy communions (or one of those gospel choir concerts in the Deep American South that you always see in films like Forest Gump and The Color Purple. Is it weird that I’ve always wanted to go to one and wave one of those fans? Ok, don’t answer that.) 

I did get to work the look at a few occasions that summer, but sadly, my fashion dreams didn’t get to be lived out any more than that, so I’ve decided I’m carrying on with the theme this spring. I have a holy communion to attend this May, and I’m already SUPER excited about my outfit. I did find the perfect dress- it was kind of like the blue one Kate Middleton wore when she and Prince William posed for all those engagement piccies- but it had to be altered and it sort of got totally ruined and butchered in the process. I know- don’t.  It was gutting. But after seriously mourning my vintage tragedy, I had to take a deep breath and let it go. These things happen. (Although I still haven't had the heart to throw it away.) But hey, I’ve always got my never-ending store of ideas inside my head- I’m sure I’ll pull something from my imaginary vault.
 Me working Sunday-dress chic at a wedding back in the summer
Moi again, taking my vintage dress for a spin on the dancefloor

So. I'm thinking pale, pretty ice cream hues, faded floral prints, nipped in waists, airy cotton fabrics, sun-bleached gingham, cream lace tights, ankle socks, softly falling pleats and tea-coloured accesories, but all with a dusky, faded sort of look to imply a Gothic undertone. Think crumpled cotton Sunday dress, dusty from a dirt road in the Southern heat, or Sookie in her cherry-print sundresses with a devilish flash of cleavage. Or I'm thinking I could add a subtly dark, creepy undertone by patting on some deep red lipstick with my finger for a bloodstained lip effect. I think there's always something a little creepy anyway about looking too sweet and innocent and perfect- like with china dolls. They have those pretty porcelain faces and angelic curls and those huge, innocent, long-lashed glassy eyes- but everyone finds them a little bit scary. Here are some pictures which capture the creepy, Southern Gothic, dark-meets-light ambiance of True Blood and the whole Satan in a Sunday hat concept. Be inspired, be very inspired :-)
Grainy image of gospel-worshipers from the opening sequence
Lettie Mae in her Sunday best

Sunny smiles and hate messages; Sarah Newlin with her 'no special rights for dead people' apron.

  A graveyard steeped in darkness provides the perfect backdrop for Sookie in her pale blue printed sundress.

         Another haunting still from the opening sequence

           Lettie Mae works florals and a hat at Gran's funeral.
Sookie wearing a white cotton sundress for a date to solve vampire mysteries at Fangtasia
Sookie looking like 'vampire bait' in another fifties style sundress

Classic Sook on the right. I cannot even tell you how much I love Sookie's yellow ensemble. Just the perfect look to solve vampire crime in Dallas.
I felt it deserved two pictures ;-)
Seductive, smouldering Bill in his dapper vampire finest, and Sookie looking sweet as sugar in her lilac dress (the one he buys for her- awwww) and her hair swept up in that elegant forties-style hair roll. This picture just makes me fall in love with the gorgeous Bill just a little bit more each time I look at it.
LOVED this moment. Sookie unwrapping the beautiful lilac dress from Bill...

Collection of images from the opening credits...kind of a mood board for the creepy Southern Gothic vibe.
Beautiful image from the film adaptation of Alice Walker's The Color Purple
Another still from The Color Purple
 A few of the vintage dresses I have to work with. From left: yellow floral dress, only £2 from Greenwich Market! (Was altered ALOT though), bright blue dress (the one that got ruined-it's too short and the hem is wonky) purchased from an old lady selling her old clothes, dusky blue one-shoulder dress, Greenwich Market (was taken up a lot), floral dress, Rokit Vintage, yellow pleated skirt, purchased from the aforementioned old lady (also taken up a lot).
Same but without the bright blue dress.

Also, I've recently got really into lookbook.nu, a website where anyone can join and post pictures of their outfits. It's an online treasure trove of endless style inspiration, and I must admit that I am a little obsessed. One girl that I'm a fan of is Dee. N, whose sugary sweet Sunday dress and straw hat looks are totally part of the inspiration behind my Satan in a Sunday hat look. Do check her out, she's amazing!
Thanks for reading, and please leave your comments :-) xxxx 
          The travesty that is Australia's asylum seeker offshore detention policy -"If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here."         

It seems the truth will out.

After the United States completes its vetting of asylum seekers held in overseas detention by the Australian Government it is not obliged to take even one of those individuals U.S. immigration officials have examined.

In May 2017 the Department of Immigration and Border Protection confirmed 268 people had completed their second-stage security interview with US officials: 220 in Nauru and 48 on Manus Island.

U.S. immigration officials halted screening interviews and departed Nauru on 14 July 2017, two weeks short of their scheduled timetable and a day after Washington said the US had reached its annual refugee intake cap.

However, under the original agreement once that vetting is completed Australia becomes obliged to resettle between 20 and 50 people under a U.S. "Protection Transfer Arrangement" in Costa Rica set up to resettle refugees from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

Prime Minister Turnbull verbally changed that undertaking to an open-ended number of people the Trump Administration might be “very keen on getting out of the United States”.

There is no indication that the U.S. Government intends to complete its vetting of those detained on Nauru and Manus islands.

The Washington Post, 3 August 2017:

The Washington Post has obtained transcripts of two conversations President Trump had with foreign leaders: one with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and another with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The transcripts were prepared by the White House but have not been released. The Post is publishing reproductions rather than original documents in order to protect sources. The reproductions below also include minor spelling and grammatical mistakes that appeared in the documents………………


JANUARY 28, 2017 FROM 5:05 TO 5:29 P.M. EST.

TURNBULL
Good evening.

TRUMP
Mr. Prime Minister, how are you?

TURNBULL
I am doing very well.

TRUMP
And I guess our friend Greg Norman, he is doing very well?

TURNBULL
He is a great mutual friend yes.

TRUMP
Well you say hello to him. He is a very good friend. By the way thank you very much for taking the call. I really appreciate it. It is really nice.

TURNBULL
Thank you very much. Everything is going very well. I want to congratulate you and Mike Pence on being sworn in now. I have spoken to you both now as you know. I know we are both looking to make our relationship which is very strong and intimate, stronger than ever – which I believe we can do.

TRUMP
Good.

TURNBULL
I believe you and I have similar backgrounds, unusual for politicians, more businessman but I look forward to working together.

TRUMP
That is exactly right. We do have similar backgrounds and it seems to be working in this climate – it is a crazy climate. Let me tell you this, it is an evil time but it is a complex time because we do not have uniforms standing in front of us. Instead, we have people in disguise. It is brutal. This ISIS thing â€“ it is something we are going to devote a lot of energy to it. I think we are going to be very successful.

TURNBULL
Absolutely. We have, as you know, taken a very strong line on national security and border protection here and when I was speaking with Jared Kushner just the other day and one of your immigration advisors in the White House we reflected on how our policies have helped to inform your approach. We are very much of the same mind. It is very interesting to know how you prioritize the minorities in your Executive Order. This is exactly what we have done with the program to bring in 12,000 Syrian refugees, 90% of which will be Christians. It will be quite deliberate and the position I have taken – I have been very open about it – is that it is a tragic fact of life that when the situation in the Middle East settles down – the people that are going to be most unlikely to have a continuing home are those Christian minorities. We have seen that in Iraq and so from our point of view, as a final destination for refugees, that is why we prioritize. It is not a sectarian thing. It is recognition of the practical political realities. We have a similar perspective in that respect.

TRUMP
Do you know four years ago Malcom, I was with a man who does this for a living. He was telling me, before the migration, that if you were a Christian from Syria, you had no chance of coming to the United States. Zero. They were the ones being persecuted. When I say persecuted, I mean their heads were being chopped off. If you were a Muslim we have nothing against Muslims, but if you were a Muslim you were not persecuted at least to the extent – but if you were a Muslim from Syria that was the number one place to get into the United States from. That was the easiest thing. But if you were a Christian from Syria you have no chance of getting into the United States. I just thought it was an incredible statistic. Totally true – and you have seen the same thing. It is incredible.

TURNBULL
Well, yes. Mr. President, can I return to the issue of the resettlement agreement that we had with the Obama administration with respect to some people on Nauru and Manus Island. I have written to you about this and Mike Pence and General Flynn spoke with Julie Bishop and my National Security Advisor yesterday. This is a very big issue for us, particularly domestically, and I do understand you are inclined to a different point of view than the Vice President.

TRUMP
Well, actually I just called for a total ban on Syria and from many different countries from where there is terror, and extreme vetting for everyone else – and somebody told me yesterday that close to 2,000 people are coming who are really probably troublesome. And I am saying, boy that will make us look awfully bad. Here I am calling for a ban where I am not letting anybody in and we take 2,000 people. Really it looks like 2,000 people that Australia does not want and I do not blame you by the way, but the United States has become like a dumping ground. You know Malcom, anybody that has a problem – you remember the Mariel boat lift, where Castro let everyone out of prison and Jimmy Carter accepted them with open arms. These were brutal people. Nobody said Castro was stupid, but now what are we talking about is 2,000 people that are actually imprisoned and that would actually come into the United States. I heard about this – I have to say I love Australia; I love the people of Australia. I have so many friends from Australia, but I said – geez that is a big ask, especially in light of the fact that we are so heavily in favor, not in favor, but we have no choice but to stop things. We have to stop. We have allowed so many people into our country that should not be here. We have our San Bernardino’s, we have had the World Trade Center come down because of people that should not have been in our country, and now we are supposed to take 2,000. It sends such a bad signal. You have no idea. It is such a bad thing.

TURNBULL
Can you hear me out Mr. President?

TRUMP
Yeah, go ahead.

TURNBULL
Yes, the agreement, which the Vice President just called the Foreign Minister about less than 24 hours ago and said your Administration would be continuing, does not require you to take 2,000 people. It does not require you to take any. It requires, in return, for us to do a number of things for the United States – this is a big deal, I think we should respect deals.

TRUMP
Who made the deal? Obama?

TURNBULL
Yes, but let me describe what it is. I think it is quite consistent. I think you can comply with it. It is absolutely consistent with your Executive Order so please just hear me out. The obligation is for the United States to look and examine and take up to and only if they so choose – 1,250 to 2,000. Every individual is subject to your vetting. You can decide to take them or to not take them after vetting. You can decide to take 1,000 or 100. It is entirely up to you. The obligation is to only go through the process. So that is the first thing. Secondly, the people — none of these people are from the conflict zone. They are basically economic refugees from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. That is the vast bulk of them. They have been under our supervision for over three years now and we know exactly everything about them.

TRUMP
Why haven’t you let them out? Why have you not let them into your society?

TURNBULL
Okay, I will explain why. It is not because they are bad people. It is because in order to stop people smugglers, we had to deprive them of the product. So we said if you try to come to Australia by boat, even if we think you are the best person in the world, even if you are a Noble [sic] Prize winning genius, we will not let you in. Because the problem with the people —

TRUMP
That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am.

TURNBULL
This is our experience.

TRUMP
Because you do not want to destroy your country. Look at what has happened in Germany. Look at what is happening in these countries. These people are crazy to let this happen. I spoke to Merkel today, and believe me, she wishes she did not do it. Germany is a mess because of what happened.

TURNBULL
I agree with you, letting one million Syrians walk into their country. It was one of the big factors in the Brexit vote, frankly.

TRUMP
Well, there could be two million people coming in Germany. Two million people. Can you believe it? It will never be the same.

TURNBULL
stood up at the UN in September and set up what our immigration policy was. I said that you cannot maintain popular support for immigration policy, multiculturalism, unless you can control your borders. The bottom line is that we got here. I am asking you as a very good friend. This is a big deal. It is really, really important to us that we maintain it. It does not oblige you to take one person that you do not want. As I have said, your homeland officials have visited and they have already interviewed these people. You can decide. It is at your discretion. So you have the wording in the Executive Order that enables the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State to admit people on a case by case basis in order to conform with an existing agreement. I do believe that you will never find a better friend to the United States than Australia. I say this to you sincerely that it is in the mutual interest of the United States to say, “yes, we can conform with that deal – we are not obliged to take anybody we do not want, we will go through extreme vetting” and that way you are seen to show the respect that a trusted ally wants and deserves. We will then hold up our end of the bargain by taking in our country 31 [inaudible] that you need to move on from.

TRUMP
Malcom [sic], why is this so important? I do not understand. This is going to kill me. I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week.

TURNBULL
With great respect, that is not right – It is not 2,000.

TRUMP
Well, it is close. I have also heard like 5,000 as well.

TURNBULL
The given number in the agreement is 1,250 and it is entirely a matter of your vetting. I think that what you could say is that the Australian government is consistent with the principles set out in the Executive Order.

TRUMP
No, I do not want say that. I will just have to say that unfortunately I will have to live with what was said by Obama. I will say I hate it. Look, I spoke to Putin, Merkel, Abe of Japan, to France today, and this was my most unpleasant call because I will be honest with you. I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.

TURNBULL
I would not be so sure about that. They are basically —

TRUMP
Well, maybe you should let them out of prison. I am doing this because Obama made a bad deal. I am not doing this because it fits into my Executive Order. I am taking 2,000 people from Australia who are in prison and the day before I signed an Executive Order saying that we are not taking anybody in. We are not taking anybody in, those days are over.

TURNBULL
But can I say to you, there is nothing more important in business or politics than a deal is a deal. Look, you and I have a lot of mutual friends.
Look, I do not know how you got them to sign a deal like this, but that is how they lost the election. They said I had no way to 270 and I got 306. That is why they lost the election, because of stupid deals like this. You have brokered many a stupid deal in business and I respect you, but I guarantee that you broke many a stupid deal. This is a stupid deal. This deal will make me look terrible.

TURNBULL
Mr. President, I think this will make you look like a man who stands by the commitments of the United States. It shows that you are a committed —

TRUMP
Okay, this shows me to be a dope. I am not like this but, if I have to do it, I will do it but I do not like this at all. I will be honest with you. Not even a little bit. I think it is ridiculous and Obama should have never signed it. The only reason I will take them is because I have to honor a deal signed by my predecessor and it was a rotten deal. I say that it was a stupid deal like all the other deals that this country signed. You have to see what I am doing. I am unlocking deals that were made by people, these people were incompetent. I am not going to say that it fits within the realm of my Executive Order. We are going to allow 2,000 prisoners to come into our country and it is within the realm of my Executive Order? If that is the case my Executive Order does not mean anything Malcom [sic]. I look like a dope. The only way that I can do this is to say that my predecessor made a deal and I have no option then to honor the deal. I hate having to do it, but I am still going to vet them very closely. Suppose I vet them closely and I do not take any?

TURNBULL
That is the point I have been trying to make.

TRUMP
How does that help you?

TURNBULL
Well, we assume that we will act in good faith.

TRUMP
Does anybody know who these people are? Who are they? Where do they come from? Are they going to become the Boston bomber in five years? Or two years? Who are these people?

TURNBULL
Let me explain. We know exactly who they are. They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.

TRUMP
Malcom [sic], but they are arrived on a boat?

TURNBULL
Correct, we have stopped the boats.

TRUMP
Give them to the United States. We are like a dumping ground for the rest of the world. I have been here for a period of time, I just want this to stop. I look so foolish doing this. It [sic] know it is good for you but it is bad for me. It is horrible for me. This is what I am trying to stop. I do not want to have more San Bernardino’s or World Trade Centers. I could name 30 others, but I do not have enough time.

TURNBULL
These guys are not in that league. They are economic refugees.

TRUMP
Okay, good. Can Australia give me a guarantee that if we have any problems – you know that is what they said about the Boston bombers. They said they were wonderful young men.

TURNBULL
They were Russians. They were not from any of these countries.

TRUMP
They were from wherever they were.

TURNBULL
Please, if we can agree to stick to the deal, you have complete discretion in terms of a security assessment. The numbers are not 2,000 but 1,250 to start. Basically, we are taking people from the previous administration that they were very keen on getting out of the United States. We will take more. We will take anyone that you want us to take. The only people that we do not take are people who come by boat. So we would rather take a not very attractive guy that help you out then to take a Noble [sic] Peace Prize winner that comes by boat. That is the point.

TRUMP
What is the thing with boats? Why do you discriminate against boats? No, I know, they come from certain regions. I get it.

TURNBULL
No, let me explain why. The problem with the boats it that you are basically outsourcing your immigration program to people smugglers and also you get thousands of people drowning at sea. So what we say is, we will decide which people get to come to Australia who are refugees, economic migrants, businessmen, whatever. We decide. That is our decision. We are a generous multicultural immigration nation like the United States but the government decides, the people’s representatives decides. So that is the point. I am a highly transactional businessman like you and I know the deal has to work for both sides. Now Obama thought this deal worked for him and he drove a hard bargain with us – that it was agreed with Obama more than a year ago in the Oval Office, long before the election. The principles of the deal were agreed to.

TRUMP
I do not know what he got out of it. We never get anything out of it – START Treaty, the Iran deal. I do not know where they find these people to make these stupid deals. I am going to get killed on this thing.

TURNBULL
You will not.

TRUMP
Yes, I will be seen as a weak and ineffective leader in my first week by these people. This is a killer.

TURNBULL
You can certainly say that it was not a deal that you would have done, but you are going to stick with it.

TRUMP
I have no choice to say that about it. Malcom [sic], I am going to say that I have no choice but to honor my predecessor’s deal. I think it is a horrible deal, a disgusting deal that I would have never made. It is an embarrassment to the United States of America and you can say it just the way I said it. I will say it just that way. As far as I am concerned that is enough Malcom [sic]I have had it. I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.

TURNBULL
Do you want to talk about Syria and DPRK?

TRUMP
[inaudible] this is crazy.

TURNBULL
Thank you for your commitment. It is very important to us.

TRUMP
It is important to you and it is embarrassing to me. It is an embarrassment to me, but at least I got you off the hook. So you put me back on the hook.

TURNBULL
You can count on me. I will be there again and again.

TRUMP
I hope so. Okay, thank you Malcolm.

TURNBULL
Okay, thank you.
END OF CALL

* My yellow highlighting.

          Schule, Schulprojekte und mehr        
DI, 06.06.2017, 16.00 Uhr: SchülerInnen des ersten Aufbaulehrgangs B der Schule Santa Christiana in Rodaun machen den Anfang und bringen Hörspielszenen zu Erlebnissen in Bus und U-Bahn sowie die Kurz-Show ‚Ohne Korrekturrand‘, die Schulisches zur Sprache bringt. Viel Vergnügen beim Zuhören!SchülerInnen des BRG Anton Krieger-Gasse setzen fort und bringen in ihrer Sendung Beiträge verschiedenster Art. […]
          Surprise, surprise - those Murray-Darling Basin water raiders have slithered over the horizon once more and are eyeing off the Clarence Valley river system yet again        

With so little fanfare that much of  Northern Rivers region missed it, the NSW Berejiklian Government reopened the March 2016 inquiry into augmentation of water supply for rural and regional New South Wales on 28 May 2017, with Terms of Reference published in July 2017.

This Upper House inquiry is chaired by Robert Brown MLC, from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and its reporting date has been extended to 30 March 2018. 

Current committee membership is as follows:

Robert Brown MLC, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Chair
Mick Veitch MLC, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Chair
Jeremy Buckingham MLC, The Greens
Rick Colless MLC, The Nationals
Scot MacDonald MLC, Liberal Party
Greg Pearce MLC, Liberal Party
Penny Sharpe MLC, Australian Labor Party
Daniel Mookhey MLC, Australian Labor Party
Paul Green MLC, Christian Democratic Party
* Jeremy Buckingham MLC (Greens)is substituting for Dr Mehreen Faruqui MLC for the duration of the inquiry.
* Matthew Mason-Cox MLC (Liberal)  is substituting for Hon Greg Pearce MLC for the duration of the inquiry.
* Paul Green MLC and Penny Sharpe MLC will be participating for the duration of the inquiry.

A poorly advertised public hearing scheduled for 1 August 2017 in Lismore (with details sent to media on 31 July 2017) excluded Northern Rivers residents from giving evidence unless they represented a small number of invited groups.

It appears the committee had also determined that Clarence Valley Council was to be asked its view on diverting Clarence River system flood water.

Given flood water is already diverted to the purpose built Shannon Creek side dam to ensure a sustainable water supply for the est. 125,103 residents (Census 2016) currently living in Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour local government areas, there are no prizes for guessing where any additional water diversion would be allocated.

Yes, that paragon of sustainable water mismanagement - the cluster of councils, industries, irrigators and water traders within the Murray-Darling Basin.

It will come as no surprise that Griffith Council is still pursuing a Clarence River dam and divert scheme. North Coast Voices reported on its obsession in August 2016.

This is what the Griffith City Council Deputy mayor, Dino Zappacosta of Zappacosta Estate Wines in Hanwood, told the inquiry on 1 March 2017:

The issue that my committee, Build More Dams, has looked at is that we need more water because farmers are crying out for more water. We need new water. By "new water", I mean water that is not currently being used at all. We looked at various options, including the Clarence Valley area, where millions and millions of megalitres of water flow out into the sea for what seems to be no real benefit at all for the community of the Clarence region, other than for the natural farming land and the fishery industry there.

It soon became apparent that, appart from the notion of free water at the expense of Clarence Valley communities’ social, cultural, aesthetic, environmental and economic values, Griffith Council knew little about how this dam and divert scheme would work.

The Hon. RICK COLLESS: You have been talking about the Clarence River diversion scheme. Is it correct that that is essentially restricted to the Mann River subcatchment?

Mr ZAPPACOSTA: To the best of my knowledge, it covers most of the tributaries—for example, the Boyd River, the Mann River, the Nymboida River and the Timbarra River. They are highlighted on map 2, which was provided to the Committee.

The Hon. RICK COLLESS: I am a little confused about the way the map reads. It appears as though the water is coming out of the Mann River catchment, which is a subcatchment of the Clarence. The divisions appear to be above the confluence of the Nymboida and the Mann. You recommend a 23 per cent Clarence River diversion, but the question is: What percentage of is that of the Mann River flow and what environmental impact will that have on the Mann River below where it is diverted? We should keep in mind the history of the Snowy River and what has happened there over the past 50 years. Does anybody have any thoughts about that? Mr ZAPPACOSTA: I will have to take on notice exactly how much comes from the Mann River itself.

The Hon. RICK COLLESS: What is the reduction in flow from the sub-catchment rivers below where the water is diverted from them? What environmental impacts will that have on those rivers?

Mr ZAPPACOSTA: I appreciate the question. I think what you are asking is something we should dig into a bit deeper; there should be a study of it, preferably a feasibility study.

The Hon. RICK COLLESS: There needs to be a lot of work done on this, as you would appreciate.

While the Director of Utilities at Griffith City Council stated:

As an engineer I see the great benefits of supporting a scheme such as the Clarence River diversion scheme, not only from a water augmentation point of view. My directorate covers water supply as well as the flooding impacts caused by rainfall run-off. The Clarence River diversion scheme is not only a supply scheme but a flood mitigation solution, as the general manager mentioned. In my research I have referred to the document entitled Lower Clarence Flood Model—Update 2013 produced by BMT WBM consultants. They happen to be the same consultants who undertook our flood study and provided our flood mitigation options. They work across the State and they are well versed in flooding, from the Northern Rivers down to our area.

The Clarence River catchment on the far North Coast of New South Wales is one of the largest catchments on the east coast of Australia. It is approximately 20,000 square kilometres. It is above the towns of Grafton, Maclean and Yamba, and it is home to more than 20,000 people. The lower Clarence Valley has a long history of flooding, since settlement in about 1850. Bear with me as I read out the dates of the flooding events. I was just going to say a number, but it has more of an impact when you follow the years of flooding that the area has endured due to the large catchment that sits above it. Floods were recorded in 1863 and 1864. There was a record flood in 1890 in which two people lost their lives and there was extensive damage to the rural area. Further floods occurred in 1921 and 1928. Since 1945 the incidence of major flooding has been much higher, with floods occurring in 1945, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1959, 1963, 1967, 1968, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1988, 1996, 2001, 2009 and 2013.

There is a regular occurrence of extreme flooding in the Northern Rivers catchment, below the Clarence River. Section 4.4 of the Lower Clarence Flood Model—Update 2013 acknowledges that "the river flows originating from upstream of Grafton dominate flooding in the Lower Clarence Valley". Diversion of the Clarence River flows for that area towards the west, and the 25 per cent or 23.8 per cent that will be captured, diverted and controlled, will be of great benefit to flood mitigation in the Northern Rivers area. The document further says that it will maximise the investment from the Government not only to help solve water augmentation issues but to reduce the financial and human impacts flooding has in the northern coastal areas. The Clarence River diversion scheme was documented in 1981 by David Coffey and he estimated costings back then. We have done a projection to a present-day cost of approximately $10 billion. There are statistics on the map that I have provided to the Committee.

The Snowy Mountains scheme would have cost $10 billion in present-day money, so there are similar costings in the schemes. The 1,100 gigalitres diverted per annum from the Clarence River has generated $1.82 billion in agriculture. The scheme means that 23.8 per cent of the flows that would be heading down to flood people can be diverted. When you equate the $550 million a year in flood damages with the cost of a diversion scheme, 1,100 gigalitres can generate $1.8 billion a year in agriculture growth. The additional water means that 118,000 hectares of viable open country can be farmed. The offset of diversion and flood protection is that it is beneficial to all. That is where I will leave it.

The public hearing in Griffith was reported thus by The Area News on 2 March 2017:

HIGH-profile Griffith water users and city officials enjoyed a rare opportunity to sit face-to-face with Members of the NSW Upper House on Wednesday to discuss their handling of water….

The Honourable Rick Colless, The Honourable Paul Green, The Honourable Matthew Mason-Cox and The Honourable Penelope Sharpe were on hand to hear the concerns of the community….

Along with wanting to fix the water sharing plans, the other hot topic was the Clarence River Scheme, initially conceptualised by David Coffey in the 1970s.

The plan outlined diverting river flows westward from high rainfall catchments in the Northern Rivers.

According to Griffith City Council, the scheme will benefit lands south of the Dumaresq River while also providing flows into the Murray River, reducing the reliance for Murray-Darling Basin allocations to fill the original allocation to the basin. 

“We have looked at various options and we look at the Clarence Valley area where there are millions of millions of megalitres of water flowing out into the sea for what seems to be for no real benefit,” Councilor Dino Zappacosta said.

Griffith City Council general manager, Brett Stonestreet said it’s time the scheme is looked at again.

“It provides new water to give this state another shot in the arm,” he said.

“It also looks at potentially reducing flooding impact of the coastal communities adjacent to the Clarence by 25 per cent.

“There is a huge amount of money that can be generated and inland communities rediscovered and regenerated through new water.”

Mayor Dal Broi was pleased with how the inquiry was conducted and the feedback from the Senators.

“Some of the questions that were asked by the panel members, we know now what they are thinking,” he said.

“They were very receptive to the concept of new water so whether it's the diversion of the Clarence or lifting the wall on Burrinjuck Dam ... they were very receptive to that because we tried to make the point that the limited resources at the moment.”

“We need new water if our regions are to grow and have a better long-term sustainable allocation.”

Not content with bringing down the largest river system in Australia in order to line their own pockets, these wanabee water raiders just keep on coming after what they see as more 'free' water for the rorting.

Clarence Valley Council gave evidence at the re-opened inquiry on 1 August and the only question of interest to the water raiders came after a few minutes of questioning at Page 26 of the Lismore public hearing transcript:

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Thank you for your submission. In your submission you talk about this idea of diversion of the Clarence River to west of the Great Dividing Range. Could you give us a bit of a background on that proposal and what your council thinks about it?

Mr ANDERSON: I will start but Mr Mashiah might finish. Our council has resolved six times that they do not support the diversion of the Clarence, and each time that has been unanimous in regard to council's position. That is based on the fact that damage to the environment and the ecological systems that work within the Clarence River emerge from there. 

The CHAIR [Robert Brown MLC, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party]: You probably cannot answer this, but that is an all-encompassing position of council?

Mr ANDERSON: Yes.

The CHAIR : I wonder what the council's position would be on the diversion of floodwaters only.

Mr ANDERSON: Again, Mr Chair, like you said, I cannot answer that question.

The CHAIR: What I am asking you is that I guess the council's resolutions were not burrowed down to that extent to be able to answer that question. We might ask Clarence council for an opinion on that.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Are those decisions supported by an independent side to pick advice? How were they derived?

Mr MASHIAH: There was a Healthy Rivers Commission inquiry into the Clarence in I think it was 1999, from memory, and part of the outcome of that commission inquiry was the importance of regular flood events in terms of the fishing industry and also the cane industry. I believe you have representatives from the cane industry here with us later.

The CHAIR: This afternoon, yes.

Mr MASHIAH: And also in terms of fisheries, one of the aspects that Clarence Valley Council has been active in for the past 20 years is trying to manage the floodplain to address issues such as acid runoff.

The CHAIR: Solid sulfate soils.

Mr MASHIAH: As the sulfate soils and particular acids run off. So we have done things like open floodgates and—

The CHAIR: And you should be congratulated.

Mr MASHIAH: Thank you, Mr Chair, for that. I will pass that on to the relevant staff who have been coordinating that. The regular flushing of those areas, which are fish breeding grounds, by floodwaters is very important. So if floods were diverted there are significant concerns from the fishing industry about the ongoing viability of the industry because the grounds where fish breed, according to the studies that have been undertaken, would then be adversely impacted. So that is one of the reasons that the fishing industry has very strongly opposed, through our estuary management committee in particular and through the estuary management plan, any diversion of water and we have tried to ensure that the fish breeding grounds are protected.

The CHAIR: I just made the observation that most of those fish breeding grounds would not be the same areas of land that are subject to high residential development or business or commercial or other aspects. In other words, you are not talking about the township of Grafton itself, you are talking river peripheries, flooded-out areas, for breeding concerns?

Mr MASHIAH: The challenge is that the urban footprint on the lower Clarence floodplain is probably about 1 to 2 per cent of the total surface area and all the urban areas are surrounded by rural areas. So it is very hard to work out how you manage that 1 or 2 per cent without adversely impacting the other 98 per cent, or vice versa, how do you manage the 98 per cent without adversely impacting 1 or 2 per cent of urban area?

The CHAIR: The 2013 flood, you have described it as a major flood, correct?

Mr MASHIAH: It was the flood of record at Grafton.

The CHAIR: I am wondering how the 2013 flood would have enhanced the fishery on the Clarence?

Mr MASHIAH: The main issue with the 2013 flood—I guess with any flood in the Clarence the flood behaviour in the upper river is a lot different to the flood behaviour in the lower river because of the tidal influences in particular and also how wet the floodplain is already. The 2013 event was actually three floods.

The CHAIR: And they rolled up on each other?

Mr MASHIAH: Yes, within a three-week period—quite distinct flood events.

The CHAIR: So it was a prolonged flood.

Mr MASHIAH: It was a prolonged flood and that meant there was significant inundation of back swamp areas, and I understand that there were some areas that effectively were areas that were flushed that had not been flushed in floods probably since 2001, so it is probably 12 years. So from an ecological perspective, talking to our environmental scientists, I understand that it was actually quite beneficial because the bigger floods only get into those areas once every 10 to 20 years.

The CHAIR: Were there any concurrent blackwater events for the fishery?

Mr MASHIAH: Not that I can recall, and I think that is a result of the management measures that have been undertaken on the floodplain because most of the farmers now operate the floodgates and so only shut the floodgates when there is actually a flood coming and open them fairly soon afterwards.

The CHAIR: So it is their responsibility to operate their own floodgates, is it?

Mr MASHIAH: That has been passed on to them, yes.

The CHAIR: Do you have any oversight of that?

Mr ANDERSON: Yes, we do, and we work with those groups and undertake training et cetera . It is a two-way street of communication: they tell us what they need and, vice versa, we provide training associated with that and inductions and operate that through a number of committees et cetera as well.

Evidence was also given by the NSW Professional Fishermen’s Association (commencing Page 38) the NSW Canegrowers Association (commencing Page 45) and the Clarence Environment Centre (commencing Page 56).


One has to wonder why the committee members of this reformed Water Augmentation Inquiry didn't seek the views of those holding Native Title (See Yaegl People #1 Yaegl People #2) over the Clarence River from the waters approximately half-way between Ulmarra and Brushgrove right down to the eastern extremities of the northern and southern breakwater walls at the mouth of the river.

After all they are significant stakeholders in any discussion of water policy and water management in the Clarence River catchment area.

The other matter of note, arising from North Coast Voices somewhat belated discovery that the water raiders were back on the scene, is the suggestion that not all Clarence Valley councillors had forewarning that council staff were appearing before the inquiry on 1 August.

If true this would be a disturbing indication that council administration has retained some of the bad habits it acquired under the former general manager who was handed his hat in March this year.


          Hotel Babylon: Season 2 [DVD] [Import]        
Hotel Babylon: Season 2 [DVD] [Import]
DVD / TVドラマ
Rishma Malik, Awaovieyi Agie, Charlotte Asprey, Anne Bedian, Ramon Christian
BBC Warner (2008-08-05)
価格:7,662円

          Musik klassisch – Texte aktuell – Witze neu        
DI, 10.01.2017, 12.30 Uhr: Musikalisches und humorige Texte aus verschiedenen Schulen – und wir beginnen mit einem Experiment. SchülerInnen der Volksschule Christian Bucher-Gasse begleiten eine Einspielung eines Satzes aus der Symphonie Nr.40 von Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart mit ihren Orff-Instrumenten. Zu hören sind Trommel, Essstäbchen (!), Triangel und Klangstäbe. Weiter geht’s mit SchülerInnen der Volksschule Notre […]
          Christian Adrianto – Motivator Indonesia – Training Motivasi        
  –“Belajar Dari Yang Terbaik, Action yang Terbaik, Kerjasama Dengan yang Terbaik, Harapkan Yang Terbaik, Berdoa Yang Terbaik, Keajaiban dan Kesuksesan Terjadi ” Christian Adrianto Motivator - Motivator Indonesia – Training Motivasi Terbaik
          Siaran TV Christian Adrianto Motivator & Feni Rose Motivatalk – POWERFUL MOTIVATION by Christian Adrianto- Motivator Indonesia – Training Motivasi        
  –“Pada dasarnya tidak ada orang yang malas, yang ada hanya orang yang tidak termotivasi.Setiap orang bisa melampaui batas2 kemampuannya ketika dia termotivasi” Video Siaran TV Christian Adrianto Motivator & Feni Rose Motivatalk Christian Adrianto Motivator- Motivator Indonesia - Training Motivasi
          Leadership by Christian Adrianto- Motivator Indonesia – Training Motivasi        
    –”Tantangan dari kepemimpinan adalah menjadi kuat tapi tidak kasar, bertindak baik tapi tidak menjadi lemah, berani tapi tidak kalap” Jim Rohn, MOTIVATOR Leadership Training by Christian Adrianto Motivator – Motivator Indonesia - Training Motivasi Ingin Mengundang Top Motivator Indonesia – Christian Adrianto, untuk memberikan Training Motivasi, Kepemimpinan dan sdm untuk perusahaan / instansi […]
          A Question of Faith        
One of my friends asked this week how do they explain that true Christians are not tollerant of other religeons. Is it not difficult in this world. The all inclusive all is correct none are bad or wrong feel good society has taken the CHRIST out of Religeon. God, Jesus, and the Spirt are the trinity that are true, all others are false gods.

I explained to her that my faith has no room for tollerance of that which is of the devil.
          Coach fired over social media posts        

LOCUST GROVE, Ga. -- Just 20 days after he was hired, former NFL corner back Fernando Bryant was fired from the head football coaching job at Strong Rock Christian School because of questionable social media posts, according to his termination letter.

       

          We’re being analysed        
A new era of data analysis is dawning, and it’s because people are sharing so much information about themselves. Christian Rudder is one of the founders of the popular online dating site OkCupid. People under 50 can go to the site, enter information about themselves and then make contact with prospective dates and mates according … Continue reading We’re being analysed
          A New Poll Shows American Muslims Are Less Homophobic Than White Evangelical Christians        
Group:

Evangelicals


Headline: A New Poll Shows American Muslims Are Less Homophobic Than White Evangelical Christians

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          Pat Robertson Says ‘Totally Bogus’ Fox News Scandals Are The Result Of A Conspiracy To Destroy The Network        
Group:

Christian Broadcasting Network


Headline: Pat Robertson Says ‘Totally Bogus’ Fox News Scandals Are The Result Of A Conspiracy To Destroy The Network

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          1 John #1 - Who is a Christian?        
none
          ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 5        

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 5: Analyzing Records    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 5: Analyzing Records,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-5-analyzing-records : accessed 30 March 2016)

For this weeks lesson I would like to refer you to an earlier post which includes a transcription of a record I found when I visited the archives in Southampton, Hampshire, England.

I had contacted the archives before I visited as I had been looking for a bastardy record for my 2xgt grandfather. The baptism record, that I had received a copy of from my aunt, showed that Stephen was the illegitimate son of Stephen Buckle and Louisa Richards and was christened in 1827 at St Michael's Church in Southampton. 

When I received the baptism record I could have left it at that as I had the name of the father recorded. However even though I had this information I had heard of bastardy records and hoped that I might learn more. I have still not used these records in my research yet.
Fortunately for me the settlement examinations for this time period had been indexed and as Louisa Richards appeared in this index I looked at the record transcribed in the aforementioned post.
Understanding of why a record was created is important and may lead us to discover more.
Why were they asking about where the mother was born, and had worked. In this document there is also reference to the grandparents. To fully appreciate what information is contained in this document we need to know more about settlement and how the parish of settlement is determined. Why were they trying to determine a parish of settlement?
The analysis of this document reveals many details about the early life of my ancestor and creates many questions. 
I refer you to my preferred reference source for more information about settlement
Herber, Mark D. Ancestral trails : the complete guide to British genealogy and family history. Stroud: Sutton, 2004. p 345-349.
Questions posed by this document were touched upon in this earlier post and some of these can now be answered by further research. Discovering the marriage of Edward and Mary revealed her maiden name. Her christening revealed her father's name and the Christian name of her mother this led to marriage of the parents. Records for Jersey are difficult to find but I discovered a transcription online so a trip to the beautiful island of Jersey is now required. I may have discovered more about Thomas Richards but I need to discover what military records are available for this period. I believe he may have been involved in the Napoleonic wars as I found a record for his regiment.
Thorough research involves more than analysis of documents. Context and understanding of what may help your research ensures that everything is looked at in the context of when and where the record was created.




          Comment on Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard by Christiana        
I read Untamed which goes into the epilouge after Ensnared, and I actually accidentally skipped Ensnared, thinking it came after Untamed (whoops!) and boy was I mad when I read she chose Jeb. I mean yeah, she really thinks he's the one and stuff, but SHE AND MORPHEUS HAD SO MUCH MORE PASSION AND THEY JUST CONNECTED! (Also, hellooo? Morpheus encouraged her wild side, but Jeb would get afraid of it a lot, and Morpheus had wings like her, and they both had eye pathces.) JUST WHY, OH WHY HOWARD, DID YOU MAKE HER CHOOSE JEB?!
          Comment on Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard by Christiana        
I hated how she chose Jeb for the rest of her mortal life, although I get Howard was trying to please the team Morpheus fans by making her have this eternal life with Morpheus. As much I love Morpheus and Alyssa together so much, I hated that Howard made her end up with both of them. It was kinda weird how Jeb was so loving on his death bed, knowing she'd be with Morpheus after she passed on eventually. Like... what? Not to mention, Alyssa already had kids with Jeb, and is having MORE kids with Morpheus. Wait, what?
          Eruv Enmity - Take II        
This article, about the efforts on the part of a Hamptons Orthodox community to build an eruv, is outrageous. It has a lot in common with a similarly offensive story I posted about some time ago that shows a proposal for an eruv eliciting wild overreaction and disinformation regarding its impacts and properties. Some choice bits from a story about this year's version of the eruv battle - over a proposal to install one in Westhampton Beach:
The negative e-mails started soon after word spread that the Hampton Synagogue was asking the tony Village of Westhampton Beach for a proclamation permitting it to erect an eruv, or symbolic boundary, around the synagogue.

It would, one e-mail said, “allow the Jewish people to pass through people’s property on their way to temple. ... It is the beginning of a ‘push’ by the rabbi to create another Tenafly or Lawrence [both have large concentrations of Orthodox Jews]. Shopkeepers have already been asked rather strongly to please close their stores on Saturday.”

Another claimed that the “natural outcome of a designated area would alter the real estate complexion and property values within the area. ... What is to stop the Orthodox from demanding that Christians, within the eruv, not put up say Christmas ornamentation on their properties within the eruv?”

There were also those who insisted that “people would not be able to drive cars in the eruv ... and that [Jews] don’t like to walk on sidewalks within the eruv because of the cracks in the sidewalk,” said Clint Greenbaum, a member of the synagogue’s eruv committee.
"Allow Jewish people to pass through people's property on their way to temple"? Stopping Christians from putting up Christmas ornamentation on their properties within the boundaries of the eruv? Where do people come up with these unfounded fears? And of course, no article about the encroachment of the Orthodox into a community would be complete without vague, unproven allegations of "Shopkeepers have already been asked rather strongly to please close their stores on Saturday" (previous versions of this canard here). While an eruv doesn't have any of the magical properties its opponents seem to ascribe to it, it does seem to have an almost magical ability to make reasonable people lose their rationality completely.

Oh, and who can ignore this particular tidbit, a fun little dig at our own South Shore community of Lawrence by a member of the Westhampton Beach eruv committee:
Joel Cohen, a member of the synagogue’s eruv committee, said he agrees that withdrawing the request was a prudent step.

“When a segment of a greater community feels threatened by an ethnic or racial group, the best way to gain acceptance is to explain it so there is no fear,” he said. “Shoving it down one’s throat leads to enmity. ... There is no intention by the rabbi to create a shtetl or another Lawrence.”
Sweet.
          Board Boycott        
From Yeshiva World:
Given the option of spending the first night of Chanukah with family and friends, or going to a meeting, Monticello school board officials didn’t have to think twice - reports the Record Online.

They are reportedly boycotting a Sullivan County School Board Association dinner meeting that was curiously scheduled for the night of Dec. 4, which has been on the calender for a year as the first night of Chanukah.

Monticello Superintendent Pat Michel said he contacted the organizers, including BOCES Superintendent Martin Handler, asking them to reschedule.

“They mulled it over,” Michel told the Record.

“They said that is the night.”

“I don’t think they would schedule the event on Christmas Eve,” said Monticello school board member Jacob Billig, noting that the consensus of his board is to not attend. “To me it is very insensitive.”
Totally agreed. I think it is terribly insensitive to schedule a board meeting for the first night of Chanukah, and I completely support the Jewish board members in their plan to boycott the meeting. Christian members of the school board would never allow a meeting to be scheduled for Christmas or Easter, so it is unreasonable to expect board members of a different religious denomination to show up on a holiday that is as important to them. And for the record, I would feel exactly the same way if members of the Hindu religion were being asked to show up to a meeting scheduled for Diwali, or Muslims on Eid. This is America, and we all need to be respectful of each other's religious differences and boundaries, even if that happens to entail rescheduling a board meeting.
          Alternate-Side-of-the-Street Amusements        
Clyde Haberman amuses in tomorrow's NYT:
Today is Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, celebrating the triumph of good, represented by Lord Rama, over the forces of evil. It is a holiday that thrills some of my friends. Not that they are Hindus themselves.

The three-day Islamic feasts of Id al-Fitr and Id al-Adha thrill them, too. They aren’t Muslims, either.

They are, in the main, Christians and Jews. Most of them are not the sort to be found in church or synagogue every Sunday or Saturday morning. But they derive enormous satisfaction from holy days like the Feast of the Assumption or from a days-long Jewish festival like Passover.

That is because they answer to a separate authority. Their true devotion is to the Church of Internal Combustion. You probably know these people better as car owners.

Nothing delights them more than a religious holiday, any religious holiday — Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, it really doesn’t matter — that liberates them from the city’s alternate-side parking rules.

In the New York diocese of the Church of Internal Combustion, the highest virtue is being able to leave one’s car parked on the street for days at a time. Church members reach this state of exaltation through a special dispensation granted by a nonecclesiastical synod, a body called the City Council. The Council is vested with the supreme authority to suspend alternate-side rules. This it does. Faithfully.

Diwali, celebrated by Sikhs and Jains as well as by Hindus, is the latest holiday to receive the sacrament of discarded parking regulations. By official count, there are 35 such holidays through the year, spread across 44 days. Council members love few things more than adding days to the list. They have done so with fair regularity.

Although some members of the Church of Internal Combustion may not believe it, alternate-side parking does not exist to torment them. The rules were created for the common weal: to make it possible for Sanitation Department sweepers to do their stuff.

Once upon a time, the main exceptions to the rules were legal holidays, when city employees are off, and certain days on which observant Jews are forbidden to drive: Yom Kippur, for example. There is no known Talmudic exception for alternate-side parking rules.

But any privilege for a particular ethnic or religious group is not allowed to exist in this city without others’ claiming it as well. And so, over the years, the Council has steadily expanded the exemption list to include all sorts of holidays with no inherent proscription against driving: Ash Wednesday, Purim, the Asian Lunar New Year and All Saints’ Day, to name a few.
I always think it's hilarious when I hear the radio announcer declaring that "alternate side of the street parking rules are suspended" due to some minor Jewish holiday or other - particularly because if I am listening to my radio, it follows that there is no religious reason I can't get into my car and move it. But hey, it's certainly nice to see NYC celebrate and give equal footing to the different religious groups that make the city the great place it is.
          Perfume Culture: J'adore Dior... J'adore Perfume        

"Uma marca de alta costura deve oferecer perfumes que sejam um testemunho de suas origens e sua consciência"
(François Demarchy, Master Perfumista Dior)


Contemplar a imagem dourada e iluminada da musa Charlize Teron é encantar-se com a história de Dior e seu clássico floral J'adore, uma emblemática homemagem perfumada da Maison que projetou a magnífica e vibrante imagem de feminilidade na alta costura, exaltando a mulher de impecável postura envolvida por fluídos tecidos finos e uma cintura emoldurada pela beleza da sedutora moda de Christian Dior.

A  mítica história da fragrância J'adore, o icônico bouquet floral de rosa Damascena, jasmin, ylang-ylang e sândalo, se entrelaça com a história da valorização do feminino, de sua silhueta, de seu poder de sedução e ousadia  e de sua felicidade. O estilista Christian Dior concebeu uma moda além do refinamento do vestir o corpo de uma mulher, ele concebeu um atemporal conceito de autoestima feminina: o de ser feliz com ela mesma, de expressar este "J'adore" consigo, o de se amar ao vestir um deslumbrante vestido que contorna suas formas com delicadeza e sedução, o de sentir-se maravilhosamente iluminada.

Como a perfumaria sempre acompanha a moda, como duas almas gêmeas que se comunicam, se entendem e se completam, Christian Dior criou a expressão perfumada da sua Haute Couture, de sua Haute Parfumerie:  J'adore, um dos clássicos de Dior que exaltam o requinte, a beleza e a feminilidade da mulher Dior em sua mais sofisticada aparição, um clássico que sempre se renova com suas campanhas belíssimas com o brilho estelar de Charlize Teron, a face da fragrância desde 2004. Somente uma fragrância criada com a seletividade de matérias primas e sob a brilhante orquestração de François Demarchy,  Master perfumista in-house de Dior, poderia trazer um time de estrelas eternas em sua nova campanha: Além de Charlize Teron, o novo ad, filmado direto da Galeria de Glaces do Palácio de Versailles e sob a direção de Jean-Jacques Annaud, surgem como que em um sonho Hollywoodiano, Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich e Marilyn Monroe. Assim com a Sétima Arte eternaliza divas, a Arte da Perfumaria eternaliza as melhores fragrâncias e só nos resta dizer com devoção e afeto: J'adore, J'adore perfume!



Por Cristiane Gonçalves para Perfume da Rosa Negra, um novo tempo, um novo perfume.




Visite o hot site da fragrância Dior
e confira a entrevista de François Demarchy




"A Haute Couture's brand have to offer perfumes that be a testimonial of its origins and its conscience"

(François Demarchy, Master Perfumer Dior)



Contemplating the golden and luminous image of the muse Charlize Teron is to  be delighted by the own history of Dior and its classical floral J'adore, an emblematic and fragrant homage from the maison which created the magnificent and vibrant image of femininity in the Haute Couture, evoking the woman of impeccable attitude enveloped by voluptuous and fine fabrics and waist and by the beauty of the seductive Christian Dior fashion.



The mythical history of J'adore fragrance , the iconic floral bouquet composed by Damascena Rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang and sandalwood, is interlaced with the history of feminine value, the praise of her sillhouette, her seduction and daring power and her happiness. The fashion designer Christian Dior conceived
a fashion that is much more than the act of sophistication in dresssing the female body, he conceived a timeless concept of feminine self-steem: to be happy with herself in expressing this magical word "J' adore" myself, to be happy in loving herself when wearing a fabulous dress that contours her body forms with tenderness and seduction, in feeling herself wonderfully illuminated.

 

As the perfumery always goes along with the fashion, like two twin souls that communicate, understand and complete each other, Christian Dior created the scented expression of his Haute Couture, of his Haute Parfumerie: J'adore, one of Dior Classicals that exalts the refinement, the beauty, the femininity of Dior woman in her most sophisticated apparition, a classic that is continuously renewed with its beautiful ads campaigns staring the stellar shining of Charlize Teron, J'adore face since 2004. Only a fragrance created with a selective range of raw materials and under the brilliant orchestration of François Demarchy, In-House Dior Master Perfumer, should bring a time of eternal stars in its new campaign: Besides Charlize Teron, the new advertisement, shot direct from Gallery of Glaces in the Versailles Palais and under the direction of Jean-Jacques Annaud stars like a Hollywoodian dream, Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich and Marylin Monroe. As well as the 7th Art become Diva eternal, the Art of the Perfumery become eternal the best fragrances and all that we can say with devotion and affection  is J'adore, J'adore perfume.

 
Visit the hot site of Dior fragrance
and enjoy the interview of François Demarchy


By Cristiane Gonçalves for Perfume da Rosa Negra, a new time, a new perfume.











          Six of the Best 714        
Peter Geoghegan offers an enlightening "semi-personal reflection" on the Irish border and Brexit.

"If a week is a long time in politics and there’s plenty of evidence for that at the moment, perhaps eight months will seem a veritable eternity." Even so, Stodge forecasts next May's London borough elections.

Christian Wolmar asks if there is any price the proponents of HS2 will regard as too steep for their cherished scheme.

"Education should be about kindling a thirst for knowledge – children discovering who they are, what brings them joy and what does not, how to work, how to learn and how to think." Music is an essential part of that discovery, says Philip Viveash.

Patrick Patterson, perhaps the most fearsome of Caribbean fast bowlers, disappeared into oblivion in the 1990s. Bharat Sundaresan seeks him out.

Retired Martin visits Frome.
          Annual Mormon Book Review        

Carrying on from last year's review of David Robert's Devil's Gate: Brigham Young and the Great Mormon Handcart Tragedy, here is a second review of another Mormon-centered book. Enjoy!

Jared Farmer. On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008. 455 pages. Cloth: Alkaline Paper. $29.95.


From the early days of the inception of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS), the Mormons were concerned with place-making. Joseph Smith, the religion’s founder, initially identified Jackson County, Missouri as the “center place,” where the Garden of Eden had once stood. However, the devout were soon thrown out of the state by the governor, and moved on to Nauvoo, Illinois. Later, after Smith was assassinated, the new Mormon leader, Brigham Young, turned his gaze farther west and in 1846-1847 led a party of followers to Utah, which he claimed as “Deseret”—their Zion. There, the Saints found their “place apart” from the rest of the world.

Jared Farmer’s 2008 book On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape adroitly traces Mormon place-making in Utah. His story is ostensibly about Mount Timpanogos, a landmark known as “Timp” that unites the skyline above Orem and Provo. But the history involves much more than the mountain. It is a microcosm of Angloamerican settlement in the west. Using a singular landmark, Farmer delves into the importance of creating place out of space. He asks why Mount Timpanogos usurped the importance of the historically and agriculturally significant Lake Utah, and how the Mormon settlers manipulated their turbulent history with the Ute Indians in order to make myths and claim places as their own. The book deals with two centuries of history, as well as the interaction between varied cultures and the sometimes contradictory dogma of the LDS Church. Though complex, On Zion’s Mount is a wonderfully executed book—well written, insightful, and an excellent example of how to use local history to illuminate greater historical narratives.

The book is divided into three sections, each focusing on a different step in the climb to the veneration of “Timp.” The first, “Liquid Antecedents,” deals with the early history of the Ute Indians and the Mormons. It also concentrates on how bodies of water were significant to residents and settlers in the Utah Valley. This section is compelling, as Farmer explains just how distinct the freshwater Lake Utah was in the arid Great Basin. The lake was a natural landmark for the Utes, who relied heavily on its plentiful supply of fish. In the mid-1800s, it became a landmark for the Mormons, who arrived predisposed to seek out monuments in their new “holy land.”

Despite the Mormons’ intention to find a locale that was disconnected from the rest of the world, the Utah Valley, where the first waves of Mormons settled, was not a “place apart.” It was populated with Ute Indians, who had lived in the area for centuries. The wellspring for many of these Utes was Utah Lake, a freshwater reservoir southeast of the Great Salt Lake. The Indians there called themselves Timpanogos Nuche—“Rocky River Fish Eaters.” They identified themselves in connection with the body of water. The Mormons entered into an unstable relationship with the Timpanogos; an association characterized by violent fits, uneasy alliances, and contradictory feelings. This fluctuating friendship came with a bond to Utah Lake.

Both the Timpanogos and the Mormons emphasized the importance of place. The Utes classified bands by “geographic food names” like “Lake People” and “Fish-Eaters.” (25) The Saints were concerned with place as it related to Millenialism. While other religions affected by the Second Great Awakening believed in a prediction of when Christ would return, the Mormons were concerned with where. (36) When the Mormons arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, the hot springs, streams, and of course the Great Salt Lake all contributed to the Saints’ belief that they had found their promised land. In the waters they took healing baths, baptized their children, and fished. These same waters had been frequented by the Utes for decades, if not centuries.

From their introduction onward, relations between the Mormons and the Timpanogos were rocky. In 1849, the former noticed that livestock was missing, and rallied a group to ride south and confront Little Chief, a Ute leader who lived on the shores of Utah Lake. The chief turned the Saints towards some “mean Ewtes,” who they subsequently slaughtered for stealing.(62) Three days afterward, a band of Mormon men decided to relocate their families to Utah Lake. The Saints settled in the midst of hostilities between bands of Utes. In order to secure their own safety, the settlers at Utah Lake as well as the LDS leadership engaged in unsteady diplomacy and occasional fights with different Indian contingents.

To complicate the already problematic situation, Mormons arrived in Utah with preconceptions of Native Americans. In fact, Indians were integral to the burgeoning religion’s discourse. According to LDS dogma, Indians were descendants of the “Lamanites,” once followers of Christ who traveled to America before the Babylon captivity. In the New World, the hostile sect broke away from their brothers, the “Nephites.” For this, God cursed the Lamanites with dark skin. The ill-fated group waged war on the Nephites and erased any fragments of Christianity from the land. The last Nephite scribe, Moroni, was the impetus for the Mormon religion. He came to Joseph Smith in a dream and told him where to find the scriptural record of this lost history. With his revelation of the sanctity of the Lamanites, Smith incorporated proselytizing to Indians into the Book of Mormon. The descendants of the Lamanites who converted would be saved during the Second Coming. More importantly, they would assist Christ in destroying the earth as soldiers of the apocalypse. This created a contradictory idea of Native Americans: “They were cursed to be inferior yet promised to be superior. They were destined to save the world, yet they couldn’t save themselves.”(57) Furthermore, dealing with real-life Utes proved harder than the LDS leadership imagined.

The tension in Saints’ beliefs between “Indian-as-brother and Indian-as-other” continued to influence their interactions with natives around Utah Lake.(61) Young was wary of the amicable relations between his followers and the Timpanogos and wished that the two groups not mix. In 1850, following the murder of an Indian man, the Mormons and the Utes engaged in the “Indian War.” Later, LDS leadership chastised natives for engaging in slave trade with a New Mexican. Though in Mormon thought there were some redeemable Indians, by 1860 Young was determined that the Utes ought to be displaced. He wrote to Washington, D.C.: “It is our wish that the Indian title should be extinguished, and the Indians removed from our Territory (Utah) and that for the best of reasons, because they are doing no good here to themselves or any body else.”(82) By the latter half of the 1860s most of the Timpanogos people moved to the Uinta Basin, estranged from the place upon which they based their identity.

Following the removal of the Utes, Utah Lake experienced a surge and then a decline in popularity that mirrored the fate of other regional waterways. In the late 19th century, tourists came to the area to take in the healing waters of the hot springs, the Great Salt Lake, and Utah Lake. Additionally, the latter continued to be a distinguished fishery. However, this fame did not last. In the first half of the 20th century, fires destroyed a number of Salt Lake resorts. Overfishing and the introduction of nonnative species affected Utah Lake. The Great Depression and WWII furthered the destruction of water sport popularity. The federal government opened the Geneva Steel plant on Utah Lake; its smokestacks and pollution diminished the reservoir’s beauty and water quality. Even after the plant closed in 2001, the lake had lost its reputation. Residents considered it dirty, shallow, and full of undesirable fish. Furthermore, during the twentieth century Utahans rethought their sense of identity. Instead of revering the hydrological geography of Utah, its residents had turned their gaze upward to the peaks.

The second section of the book, “Making a Mountain: Alpine Play,” discusses how Utahans built Mount Timpanogos into a landmark. Farmer makes great use of the exclusion of certain places as well as their later inclusion. Using topographical resources from the four western surveys, as well as mormon settler drawings and maps, Farmer shows how Timpanogos went from being an undefined ridge in the Wasatch Range to a distinct massif that overshadowed both the larger Mount Nebo to the south and the historically significant Lake Utah to the west.

As in the first three chapters, Farmer employs LDS beliefs to form the basis of his argument. The Saints’ theological sense of place included an emphasis on mountains. Settlers viewed their new homeland through religion; mountains pervade world religions as the geographical pathway to God. Peaks were of special importance to Mormons, since Joseph Smith purportedly prophesied that they would “become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.”(150) When the Saints arrived in Deseret, they labeled many geographic sites with biblical names, including Mount Nebo, the highest peak in the Wasatch range. However, in the 1880s Mormons began to secularize their environment. This shift was motivated by the United States Congress, which outlawed theocracy and polygamy. During what Mormons call “The Great Accommodation,” the Saints rethought the peaks in a patriotic light.

The King Survey was the first to identify “Tim-pan-o-gos Peak” in 1869.(164) However, no one considered it a defining aspect of the region, and many could not even see it; the massif was just a part of the jagged wall between Provo and American Fork Canyons. It wasn’t until the early decades of the 20th century that residents of Provo “began to visualize a mountain.”(167) The view of Timpanogos from Provo changed as the town relocated to the east of its original home at old Fort Utah. Spurred by the historic importance of mountains to the Mormons as well as the “European vogue of alpine aesthetics,” it was not unnatural for the residents of Provo to revere a nearby peak.(141) By 1910, the town described itself in relation to the mountain.

The King Survey did more than just identify Mount Timpanogos—the survey also pronounced it (erroneously) the highest peak in the Wasatch Range. In reality, that title belongs to Mount Nebo. However, the claim persisted even after the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey corrected the record, and tourists began arriving to climb the “highest mountain in the Wasatch.”(175) With the boosterism of Eugene “Timpanogos” Roberts, Brigham Young University’s athletics director, and the national increase in the popularity of hiking, “Timp” became a recreational landmark. Roberts led yearly hikes to the top of the massif, and along with the claim that they were climbing the highest peak in the Wasatch, boosters “endlessly repeated claims that the Annual Timpanogos Hike ranked as the biggest hike in America, the greatest community hike in the world, and the largest ‘pilgrimage’ to any mountain over 10,000 feet.”(202) The peak, as well as its ascent were powerful symbols of community strength.

Though the hike was discontinued in the 1970s, the peak remained emblematic of Provo. The Forest Service designated Timpanogos as wilderness. They banned the grazing of domestic animals and introduced mountain goats to the area in 1981. Meanwhile, Provo and Orem transformed from farming communities into suburbia and Robert Redford bought and built up Sundance. These changes emphasized the dichotomy between wilderness and urban areas. With the growth in population of the two cities and the ski resort, Timpanogos increased in importance. In 1996 the mountain’s significance was solidified in Mormon minds when the LDS Church built Mount Timpanogos Temple. Farmer ends this section with a rumination on environmentalism. Despite all the reverence for place, Mormons are not conservationists, and do not engage in preservation of their landmark. “Sense,” he concludes, “is not the same as sensibility.”(238)

The final section of the book, “Making a Mountain: Indian Play,” investigates how “Timp” was marked with cultural meaning. Farmer examines the place name as well as the legends that surround it. In the nineteenth century, white Americans like Henry Schoolcraft and Lydia Sigourney advocated the use of Indian place-names, despite the usual miscommunication, misappropriation, or blatant invention of “native” words. The American government continued the trend by accepting Indianist names of states. In Utah, “Timpanogos” was a long-remembered name in the Provo region. The Indians themselves were displaced to the Uinta Band, and though the name had originally designated a river, the waterway had been renamed “Provo River.” For locals, associating the mountain with a Native word “gave the landmark a heightened semblance of antiquity and authenticity.”(281)

Ironically, to further this authenticity, Eugene “Timpanogos” Roberts provided the mountain with a fake Indian legend. “The Story of Utahna and Red Eagle, an Indian Legend of Timpanogos” retold a familiar Angloamerican tale of the Indian Princess—the “dark-skinned Sappho” throwing herself from a precipice in response to a suitor.(287) These stories, all of which have suspect providence, used Native American tragedies to deepen American antiquity.(297) In a land without any ancient city walls or moldering castles, a sense of historic depth was created through legend. Additionally, the legends of leaping maidens alleviated whites’ guilt on displacing the Indians across the continent. The tales emphasized either brutish men that the women could only escape by committing suicide or savage societies that forced women to neglect her chosen lover. Either ended with the implicit message: the race of Indians is uncivilized. More importantly, the destruction of these Native maids was self-imposed. In an age when America was dealing with the morality of Indian Removal, it was more convenient for white storytellers that the natives to make the choice of self-destruction.(314)

The Legend of Timpanogos gained further footing by its performance in Utah. People repeated the story of Utahna and Red Eagle, and the tale influenced an opera, a ballet, and an oratorio. Locals further promoted the fake history by dressing up in war paint and moccasins and climbing the mountain “as Indians.” The mountain was seen as the embodiment of a Native woman; like the “Sleeping Ute” in Colorado, “Timp’s” ridge resembles a slumbering Indian maid. The Mormon use of Indianist music, storytelling, and fashion to create the Legend of Timpanogos was paradoxical in that they paid homage to a romanticized version of the people that they had forced out of the Utah Valley—the Timpanogos’ ancestral home. These cultural performances replaced history with both fiction and selective memory. Modern residents of Utah formed their own heritage; no matter that their memory is based on a fallacy.

But of course it does matter, which is Farmer’s point. Mormons produced a heritage that all but erased the Utes, just as it effaced the importance of Utah Lake. Instead of concentrating on their forebears’ efforts to colonize a “place apart,” which would necessitate emphasis on their interactions with the Indian inhabitants, Saints overwhelming focused their attention on the successive journeys westward. LDS theologians went so far as to modify the meaning of a Lamanite, so that Amerindians lost their scriptural status.(370) When they did incorporate Native Americans into their heritage, they did so with Indianist fictional stories that obscured history with romanticism. In this way, Farmer’s book acts as a historical monument, countering the heritage attached to Mount Timpanogos. Using “Timp” as a framework for his study, Farmer is able to resurrect the forgotten history of the Timpanogos Nuches and Lake Utah.

On Zion’s Mount is an outstanding cultural, local, environmental, and religious history. Farmer engages readers with his lucid prose even as he presents the tangled story of Mormons, Utes, and the western landscape. Such excellent writing is especially important when one is reminded of some of the recently popular books on Mormon history: Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven and David Roberts’ Devil’s Gate: Brigham Young and the Great Mormon Handcart Tragedy.19 Krakauer and Roberts are both professional journalists and authors; their work is aimed at the populace rather than the academy. And yet Farmer rivals these works in its composition and surpasses them in its historic breadth and depth. More importantly for scholars, his argument illuminates the American inclination to transform its landscape and pinpoints those transformations in culture and historic memory. Overall, Timpanogos’ jagged ridge proved an excellent vantage point from which to view Utah’s past.
          Jon Kyl: Christians are as victimized by hate crimes as Muslims in America        
WASHINGTON – Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) implied Tuesday that Christians are as victimized by hate crimes as Muslims in the United States. Speaking at a hearing called by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) about the civil rights of Muslim Americans, Kyl said, “I’m a bit perp...
          dépression        
Elle écrit à Emmanuel Macron après le suicide de son père agriculteur Une jeune femme endeuillée par la mort de son père agriculteur a décidé de s’adresser au Président de la République dans une lettre partagée à de nombreuses reprises sur les réseaux sociaux. Une pression administrative C’était au printemps dernier, Christian éleveur laitier en Seine-Maritime mettait fin à ses jours. Quelques jours avant son geste fatal, il avait reçu un courrier de mise en demeure pour une facture de 200 euros. Un courrier de plus… cet agriculteur, qui était à 5 ans de la retraite, ne supportait plus cette pression administrative, lui qui gérait sa trésorerie avec une grande rigueur. Depuis 3 ans, il n’avait plus goût à rien et présentait tous les symptômes de la dépression. Une maladie malheureusement répandue dans le monde agricole. (...)
http://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/normandie/seine-maritime/elle-ecrit-emmanuel-macron-apres-suicide-son-pere-agriculteur-1308519.html
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(dépression septennale de la période critique des 56 ans - rythmes courts à voir)
          PT Security Officer - Christian Care - Phoenix, AZ        
Perform campus patrols to act as a deterrent to crime; Patrol Christian Care property and facilities as a deterrent to crime and criminal activity....
From Christian Care - Tue, 27 Jun 2017 17:32:18 GMT - View all Phoenix, AZ jobs
          Filipino-Christian Blogger Ganns Deen's Official Website        
GannsDeen.com is the official website of Ganns Deen, a Filipino-Christian writer, musician, and God-servant.
          Terps Storm Past Abilene Christian 67-44        
Maryland began the game without its best shooter and endured much of the first half without its top scorer, Dez Wells, who was being punished by coach Mark Turgeon.
          Russell's Cabin        

I have been talking over E-mail to a very nice gentlemen named Russell out in the North East. He has built a beautiful cabin as shown from the picture here, and has been helpful in me making a decision about what to build. Here is a picture of his gorgeous 16x20 cabin. His blog as is at http://logcabinhomestead.blogspot.com . He built the cabin some 10+ years ago and has lived in it for several months at a time with his 3 kids. They also rent it out. on the weekends. http://www.logcabinhomestead.net

Russell told me that the total cost to construct the cabin for everything except power, road work, etc was around $20,000. He said he could have saved thousands if he would have had someone mill the lumber on-site or work with a logger. Notice the comp roof on the house alone will run several thousands, versus a DIY metal roof. The comp is more attractive and will have a better insulation value than metal. Currently, metal roofing is about $2.33 per linear foot for a 26" wide piece.

Overall Russell has about 40K into the project when including hooking up power and road work. I can empathize with these costs as my power hookup alone with PG&E is looking at around $22-$25k even with PG&E discounts.

Russell's blog features daily updates on critters, substructures and gas price talk. A great place to visit if you are a conservative Christian.
          Lesung am 24.06.2017 : Bianka Perez und Dr. Christian Discher, „Lebensgeschichten aus der Psychiatrie“!        
    Schicksalhafte Lebensumstände führen Christian Discher in die umstrittene Psychiatrie im vorpommerschen Ueckermünde, doch der Heranwachsende kämpft sich frei, holt sein Abitur nach, studiert und promoviert. Von diesem Weg – und von einigen anderen weiter lesen
          Movies 3/3 Christian Sanctification, Entertainment, Theater, TV, Recreation, Phones        
A new MP3 sermon from Still Waters Revival Books is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Movies 3/3 Christian Sanctification, Entertainment, Theater, TV, Recreation, Phones
Subtitle: Jim Dodson Messages
Speaker: Jim Dodson
Broadcaster: Still Waters Revival Books
Event: Bible Study
Date: 4/22/2017
Bible: Matthew 5:27-29; Matthew 5:18-19
Length: 70 min. (64kbps)

Overview: See covenanter.org for many free Reformation resources.----More Free SWRB Reformed Resources http---ow.ly-vXqTJ----Puritan Hard Drive at http---ow.ly-fPY4o----If you love the Bible, then you may well be--Reformed. If you think of yourself as Reformed, but--you have seldom or have never read older Reformed--literature, prepare to be challenged. The Puritan--Hard Drive provides primary sources and depth of--theological and spiritual insight which is lacking--in much of what is passed off as genuine Reformed--theology. If you think of yourself as conservative,--the older Puritan and Reformed authors will help you--sort reality from myth in your quest to be truly--Reformed. There are more solid resources for less--money here than anywhere else. I highly recommend--you take responsibility for your soul and spend a--few shekels for this cup of cold water in the midst of the modern religious desert.----- Jim Dodson, Reformed Presbyterian -Covenanter- Scholar, http---www.covenanter.org-----If you want to understand Reformed theology -i.e.,--the whole counsel of God- the Puritan Hard Drive is--unsurpassed, outside the Bible itself. The First and--Second Reformations gave us the most faithful--Scriptural teaching and preaching since the time of--the Apostles, and there is no other resource,--outside Scripture itself, where you can find so much--of God's truth as in the Puritan Hard Drive -http---ow.ly-fPY4o-.----May the Lord continue to use this most profitable--tool to promote a Third Reformation that encompasses--the whole world -Isaiah 2-2-4------- Pastor Greg Price -Covenanter Pastor, Author, Theologian, etc.-----Free online resources by Greg Price at http---ow.ly-uHHAl
          Movies 2/3 Christian Sanctification, Entertainment, Theater, TV, Recreation, Phones        
A new MP3 sermon from Still Waters Revival Books is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Movies 2/3 Christian Sanctification, Entertainment, Theater, TV, Recreation, Phones
Subtitle: Jim Dodson Messages
Speaker: Jim Dodson
Broadcaster: Still Waters Revival Books
Event: Bible Study
Date: 4/22/2017
Bible: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17; Hebrews 12:14
Length: 70 min. (64kbps)

Overview: See covenanter.org for many free Reformation resources.----More Free SWRB Reformed Resources http---ow.ly-vXqTJ----Puritan Hard Drive at http---ow.ly-fPY4o----If you love the Bible, then you may well be--Reformed. If you think of yourself as Reformed, but--you have seldom or have never read older Reformed--literature, prepare to be challenged. The Puritan--Hard Drive provides primary sources and depth of--theological and spiritual insight which is lacking--in much of what is passed off as genuine Reformed--theology. If you think of yourself as conservative,--the older Puritan and Reformed authors will help you--sort reality from myth in your quest to be truly--Reformed. There are more solid resources for less--money here than anywhere else. I highly recommend--you take responsibility for your soul and spend a--few shekels for this cup of cold water in the midst of the modern religious desert.----- Jim Dodson, Reformed Presbyterian -Covenanter- Scholar, http---www.covenanter.org-----If you want to understand Reformed theology -i.e.,--the whole counsel of God- the Puritan Hard Drive is--unsurpassed, outside the Bible itself. The First and--Second Reformations gave us the most faithful--Scriptural teaching and preaching since the time of--the Apostles, and there is no other resource,--outside Scripture itself, where you can find so much--of God's truth as in the Puritan Hard Drive -http---ow.ly-fPY4o-.----May the Lord continue to use this most profitable--tool to promote a Third Reformation that encompasses--the whole world -Isaiah 2-2-4------- Pastor Greg Price -Covenanter Pastor, Author, Theologian, etc.-----Free online resources by Greg Price at http---ow.ly-uHHAl
          Movies 1/3 Christian Sanctification, Entertainment, Theater, TV, Recreation, Phones        
A new MP3 sermon from Still Waters Revival Books is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Movies 1/3 Christian Sanctification, Entertainment, Theater, TV, Recreation, Phones
Subtitle: Jim Dodson Messages
Speaker: Jim Dodson
Broadcaster: Still Waters Revival Books
Event: Bible Study
Date: 4/22/2017
Bible: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7; Romans 6
Length: 66 min. (64kbps)

Overview: See covenanter.org for many free Reformation resources.----More Free SWRB Reformed Resources http---ow.ly-vXqTJ----Puritan Hard Drive at http---ow.ly-fPY4o----If you love the Bible, then you may well be--Reformed. If you think of yourself as Reformed, but--you have seldom or have never read older Reformed--literature, prepare to be challenged. The Puritan--Hard Drive provides primary sources and depth of--theological and spiritual insight which is lacking--in much of what is passed off as genuine Reformed--theology. If you think of yourself as conservative,--the older Puritan and Reformed authors will help you--sort reality from myth in your quest to be truly--Reformed. There are more solid resources for less--money here than anywhere else. I highly recommend--you take responsibility for your soul and spend a--few shekels for this cup of cold water in the midst of the modern religious desert.----- Jim Dodson, Reformed Presbyterian -Covenanter- Scholar, http---www.covenanter.org-----If you want to understand Reformed theology -i.e.,--the whole counsel of God- the Puritan Hard Drive is--unsurpassed, outside the Bible itself. The First and--Second Reformations gave us the most faithful--Scriptural teaching and preaching since the time of--the Apostles, and there is no other resource,--outside Scripture itself, where you can find so much--of God's truth as in the Puritan Hard Drive -http---ow.ly-fPY4o-.----May the Lord continue to use this most profitable--tool to promote a Third Reformation that encompasses--the whole world -Isaiah 2-2-4------- Pastor Greg Price -Covenanter Pastor, Author, Theologian, etc.-----Free online resources by Greg Price at http---ow.ly-uHHAl
          Comment on Psychology is the Devil: A Critique of Jay Adams’ Counseling Paradigm by T h e o • p h i l o g u e        
@Paul, (i) I appreciate the time you have taken to reply to my thoughts with your own. Before I respond, a brief summary is in order: <i>After concluding in my book review of Jay Adams’ position as stated in one of his books is both unbiblical and problematic, you asked to choose the source of my authority, and gave me only two options: Science or God. I responded that the question bears an assumption I do not hold, then I explained my reasons for not sharing the assumption of the question. In your response, you argued that I had intentionally avoided your original question, and instead attacked a position that you don’t actually hold. You protested loudly that you love and trust science, do not have a problem with it, admitted it as a source of authority, and most importantly, that you never were or will be asking me to choose between the two authorities of God and science as I made you out to have done. You contrast my “misrepresentation” to your actual view, where God’s authority is “above” science’s and is “ultimate” in comparison, even though both authorities are trustworthy. </i> You call my motives and character into question for the length of my response and it’s hastening to digression from the real issue.</i> In my rejoinder below, I will show that you have failed to take responsibility for your own word choice, and instead shifted the blame on me, making judgments about my moral character and motives (wow… you went way too far here) on the basis that I had intentionally distorted your original question to avoid answering it and hide something shameful. (ii) PLEASE NOTE: The aim of https://theophilogue.com is openly stated to be critical research and open-minded exploration of philosophy and theology rather than the propagation or defense of religious dogmas. It’s the wrong forum for calling the motives and character of strangers into question. You don’t know me. If you did, we would be having this discussion over the phone, because I would’ve deleted your comments and called you at my earliest convenience. If you are sensitive to the purpose of online forums, you would understand that a face to face talk in private would be the best venue for you to offer—unsolicited—judgements about my moral character and motives in love and with gentleness, believing the best about me in principle unless evidence seems to demand otherwise—not when you happen to be stricken with a hunch or “impression.” Your attention and respect for the purpose of this venue is appreciated, and I’ve never blocked comments of a critical nature aimed at me or my writing. Only spam. I don’t run from confrontation, but the type of confrontation I’m willing to face here spelled out in my description of this forum—see my section "Three things you should know about this site" on my home page. ============= <blockquote> I’m really curious to know Bradley, where does your authority come from.., science or God?</blockquote> (A1) It is one thing to ask someone the source of their authority (SOA), it is quite another to ask which of two authorities they see as “ultimate” (WO2U) (A2) It is one thing to ask someone which of two authorities they see as “ultimate” (WO2U) and which of two authorities should be seen as “ultimate” (WO2S) (A2) In the question quoted above from your 1st response, you did not ask WO2U or WO2S, but rather SOA (A3) My response was to SOA (A4) Now in your 2nd response, a rejoinder, depicted your question as follows: <blockquote>…the question isn’t do I trust science, it is what is my ultimate authority and that is the question that you seem to have ignored in your response</blockquote> (A5) I will refer below to the expression and word choice we find in your original question as “OE1” (original expression #1) (A6) I will refer below to the expression and word choice we find in your re-wording of the question as “E2” (original expression #2) (A7) I will refer to your position that I misrepresented question OE1 in my response as “ORP1” (original response problem #1) (A8) I will refer to the intended meaning of your original question as IMOE1 (intended meaning of expression 1) (B) Now that you have the convenience of comparing the difference in wording from the way you asked your question originally, to the way you represented your original question in your 2nd response, I have hope to get more sympathy from you in your next reply (and more humility too honestly) (B1) in the wording of your original question (hereafter OE1), you chose to ask about the source (“from where”) of my authority (B2) in your 2nd response, you re-worded your original question (OE2) as a principle of binary discrimination (“between which two”) (B3) the binary discrimination question concerns which among two possible authorities is my “ultimate” authority (B4) in your 2nd response, you did not take any responsibility for having worded OE1 in a way that mis-communicated your actual meaning or intent (B5) in your 2nd response, you blamed me for failing to correctly interpret OE1 as you intended it (B6) in your 2nd response, you claim you intended OE1 as OE2 (B7) OQ1 is really a different question than OE2 (B8) therefore, the charges you have leveled against me, do not hold (B9) the charge of red herring does not hold (B10) the charge of dishonesty does not hold (B11) the charge of ill intentionality does not hold (B12) the charge of mis-representing your question (as you originally worded it) does not hold (B13) the charge that I am being surreptitious does not hold (B14) the charge of ignoring your question (as originally worded) does not hold (B15) Now although you made many other mistakes in your 2nd response, it was this one that seems to drive your confidence, shape your posturing, provide the foundation for your critiques, and takes up the majority of your attention judging by the amount of space you gave to discussing it. (C) Below I have teased out a number of what I see to be the meaning of some of your words to make it easy for you to read through and clarify if I have properly understood the intention behind the word choices of your expressions: (C1) that in my response, I’ve committed the red herring fallacy: http://preview.tinyurl.com/hs6aoqc (C2) that in my response, I fail to respond to your question as you originally intended it (C3) that in my response, I avoid the principle meaning of your question (C4) that in my response, I got off topic “quickly” (C5) that in my response, I was at some point on topic (C6) that in my response, I have taken extreme measures in ignoring and misrepresenting your question (C7) that in my response, I illustrate what “lengths some people will go” to avoid the principle meaning of a question (C8) that in my response, my motive for going to “great lengths” was “to avoid the principle meaning of a question” (C9) that in my response, I’ve misrepresented your question (C10) that in my response, I’ve ignored your question (C11) that in my response, I was lengthy (C12) that in my response, the speed in which I digressed and the length of my digression gives me an appearance of not holding to biblical inerrancy (C13) that in my response, I “seem” to want to “turn to” biblical inerrancy (C14) that in my response, I “seem” to want to “turn to” divine inspiration (C15) that in my response, the way in which I “seem” to want to “turn to” biblical inerrancy can be described as “authoritative” (C16) that in response, that the way in which I “seem” to want to “turn to” divine inspiration can be described as “authoritative” (C17) that seeming to “turn to” as “authoritative” divine inspiration and biblical inerrancy while not holding to them is dishonest (C18) that seeming to “turn to” as “authoritative” divine inspiration and biblical inerrancy while not holding to them is surreptitious (C19) that in my response, I was dishonest (C20) Before our discussion ever got started, in my first reply to your question, I made an apology *just in case* I had poorly expressed myself and thereby had been the one responsible for any misunderstandings of my own position that provoked your confrontational tone and barrage of questions. You see Paul, we don’t always know what the best word choice for our intentions will be until we see the aims, assumptions, misperceptions, and unshared meanings for those same words that belong to those who end up interpreting them. So re-wordings of one’s understanding are often the result of poor word choice, careless thinking, and hasty writing. But they don’t always result due to a deficiency in one’s capacity for proper word choice, critical thinking, and careful writing. No. Sometimes they are just the bane of language’s existence—reminding us of it’s painful limitations and shortcomings as the creation of finite creatures with imperfect skills. (C21) Upon further examination of the wording of your original question, I conclude that you never gave me sufficient reason to interpret the question as you had actually intended it, but sufficient reason to interpret it the manner I instinctively chose. Therefore, even though you were the one who hasten to judge me, I believe you now owe me an apology. I’m not holding my breath, but I am optimistic about others until they give me a reason not to be or pose an immediate threat to my family’s well being so as to require caution in keeping them safe. (C22) Now that I’ve established whose paying closer attention to whom, and who is being more careful with their word choices, I hope our dialogue does not continue to devolve into the basic meaning of basic words anymore, where poor word choice is blamed on me instead of simply clarified, or the harsh premature judgments of my motives and character. (C23) If you find yourself still opposed to me on this, the only way I would know how to move forward would be take each word of OE1 and OE2, parse each according to normative meanings, and challenge you find shared meanings matching your intentions anywhere in any other source. Or I could simply ask you this: Since it’s one thing to ask another what the source of her authority is, and another still to ask which authority between God and science she chooses to give ultimacy, please provide quotations from your original wording of the question, or any later articulation of it where that articulation is clearly indicated as the same question. Only evidence please. Make your case. ____——____—___—_-SHEEESH!!!!!! (D) Below I have teased out a number of what I see to be the meaning of some of your words to make it easy for you to read through and clarify if I have properly understood the intention behind the word choices of your expressions: (D1) that my argument included falsely depicting you as “shooting down science” which is not what you want to do (D2) that I’ve represented your argument as presenting a “false dichotomy” of choosing either the authority of science or choosing the authority of God (D3) that you never presented the issue as which authority (God or science) to choose between so I misunderstood the word choice in your expressions (D4) that you never intended to force me to choose between the authority of science and the authority of scripture as I had accused you of doing by the word choice found in your expressions (D5) that in what you have said, you do not set God’s authority “against” science (D6) you don’t have a problem with science (D7) you, on the contrary, love science (D8) you do not distrust science (D9) that the “only” issue was the question of which authority (science or God) I view as ultimate (D10) that your position places God’s authority above science (D11) that in placing God’s authority above science, you do not do so in a way that sets them contrary to, or against, one another (D12) Now the above leads me to logically conclude you could never see a scenario where one authority would actually contradict another in such a way as to force anyone committed to one to reject the other. (D13) Yet strangely, this is exactly what you continue to do in the choice of words found in your expressions where you present the question. (D14) I have provided examples below: <blockquote> I am curious to know Bradley, where does your authority come from… science or God? Now the question I am asking you is, do you take as authoritative what science tells us, or what scripture tells us? …science tells us about our origins, both for humanity and for the universe as a whole. Scripture tells a different story than what science does… When I read Genesis I have no qualms in saying that what it says is diametrically opposed to what evolutionary science has to say. </blockquote> (D15) Nowhere is it more clear that you do actually have a problem with science; that you do actually distrust science; that you do actually intend to make me choose between these two authorities in a zero-sum fashion; that the authority of one is contradicting the authority of another; that science is “against” God’s authority. (D16) The clarity of this reaches a peak when state the two are “diametrically opposed.” This statement was ironically followed by one of the rewordings of your question, which goes to prove that the intention of your original question is to have me choose between the two: <blockquote> Science tells us about our origins, both for humanity and for the universe as a whole. Scripture tells a different story than what science does. When I read Genesis I have no qualms in saying that what it says is diametrically opposed to what evolutionary science has to say. Jesus, in the New Testament, speaks of the Genesis account in a literal way, and speaks of Adam and Eve as historical persons who were created from the dust of the earth. Now the question I am asking you is, do you take as authoritative what science tells us, or what scripture tells us? </blockquote> (D17) May I remind you that you told me that you have no mistrust of science? I can assure that I don’t think it is self referentially absurd. <b>Only if you believe that I have some distrust of science can that premise be true, and I assure you that I don’t</b>. (E1) I would suspect there is a problem with your interpretation before I would call science into question. (E2) After all, a text can be “infallible” and “inerrant” in the most supreme way and to the furthest possible extent. The superiority of an authority and the method of exercising that authority are two different things. When it comes to the Bible, Christians believe God exercises his authority primarily through the true meaning of the Bible. But if its interpreters are so beset with human depravity, interpreting with an sinful heart, and prone to mistakes without any last “stronghold” or aspect of human nature to trust in, that I find good reason to not trust in myself or my own abilities, transcendency or supremacy of authority provides no more assurance that I can attain to a proper understanding of the meaning of such an authoritative and inerrant words. In fact, it actually creates a defeater, since whereas science does not and cannot provide prescriptive morality so as to make demands that address human depravity head on, we would have less reason to be prejudiced against it, seeing no threat or demand is necessarily placed on our moral lives. But with Scripture, humans have plenty of reason to be bias and prejudice in their interpretations of it. (E3) So long as it depends on one’s own ability to prevent any influence of the deeply troubling imperfections, depravities, and limitations of my heart and mind on my interpretation of such an inspired, authoritative, and inerrant message, there is no hope such doctrines offer her towards that end. If in fact we did not have to rely on ourselves, because correct interpretation of God’s words depended on God alone and was therefore most certain, we would not only be guaranteed an infallible message, but an infallible interpretation of it. Oh how wonderful such a scenario would be, and how our past in the West would’ve developed so differently, and how many mothers and their small children, for example, would’ve never had to be publicly disgraced and killed on account of heresy, since God’s protection would’ve prevented different interpretations, making human interpretation of God’s intended message and the message itself virtually impossible to distinguish! (E4) Now if my interpretation of an infallible and inerrant message fails to square with what we already know from some other authority that we trust, does it make sense for me to take for granted that my own interpretation is not to blame? Is it most faithful to what I already believe to instead mistrust science? Would we really trust in our own abilities as individual persons knowing we are prone to unpredictable and extensive error in our human interpretation, refusing to even consider favoring another authority we already have good reason to trust, an authority we already consider so trustworthy that in principle it can never be set “against” God’s authority, such as … say … science? I am arguing the more humble (and consistent) thing to do would be call into question one’s own fallible, imperfect, limited, and bias interpretation ability as applied in this case. (E5) I have constructed a rough-draft of an argument in attempts to analyze the components involved in thinking this way, and give you the opportunity to be very specific if you want to challenge any step of the argument: (E6.1) Messages using human words require interpretation to be understood properly (E6.2) The Bible is a message from God using human words (E6.3) Therefore, the Bible requires interpretation to be understood properly (E6.4) Human interpretation of messages communicated with human language has no protection from endless erring (E6.5) The Bible requires human interpretation of messages communicated with human language to be understood properly (E6.6) Therefore, nothing protects humans from endless erring in biblical interpretation (E6.7) Human interpretation cannot be trusted in principle (E6.8) Science can be trusted in principle (E6.9) Therefore, science can be trusted more than the human interpretation of Scripture (E6.10) Human interpretation of passage X in the Bible contradicts science (E6.11) Science should be trusted in principle, but human interpretation should not (E6.12) Therefore, human interpretation of passage X is in err (E7) Now Paul, if you believe (1) through (11) above, I can’t see why you ended up stuck with a war between God and science? If you do not agree with (1) through (11), please point out where it goes wrong—and don’t forget to distinguish between whether you think my conclusions are not following from the premises or whether the premises themselves are unsound, referring to them specifically using the numbers assigned above. (F1) I have also made a rough draft (you can help make it better) of an element of your argument, as best I understand it, below in parallel fashion: (F2.1a) The Bible is more inspired, inerrant, and authoritative than even science, (F3.1b) or transcends the authority of science (F3.2) Human interpretation of passage X in the Bible contradicts science (F3.3) Therefore, with respect to passage X in the Bible, one must choose between God’s authority and that of science (F3.4) Bradley chooses science over human interpretation of passage X (F3.5) Passage X has divine authority (F3.6) Therefore, Bradley’s action betrays God’s authority (F4) There are really unspoken premises needed to complete this argument in order for (6) to be a valid conclusion. You would have to establish, it seems to me, that the ultimacy of authority assigned to Scripture had some ability to make human interpretation more reliable in interpreting it. Or better yet - that when I chose science over human interpretation, I am really choosing human authority over God’s authority. Then I could see how I might be accused by you of failing to give ultimacy of authority it’s proper place in a divine-human hierarchy. (F5) I don’t want to address your example of Genesis, since you and I clearly have a vastly different appreciation for the science of hermeneutics, and the role of science in the art of interpretation—especially where the knowledge of the use of ancient languages, literary influences, known writing genres and their corresponding language practices, and historical and socio-political contexts becomes necessary for a responsible interpretation. Although your arguments sometimes seem to require beliefs about hermeneutics that I do not think are most advantageous to interpretive accuracy, it would seem this would entangle us in the question of interpretation instead of authority. But I don’t want to have that discussion because it’s not necessary at this point. Nevertheless … (G1) I will grant you your wish. (G2) I will answer your question, in spite of what appears to be a confused expression on your part about what you really mean, since you deny that you are forcing me to choose between the authority of science and the authority of God because you trust science’s authority in such a way that such a dilemma should not occur. And yet, I’ll answer your question anyway. For the sake of clarity, however, I want to place your question as close to my answer as possible so you see another irony: <blockquote> Now the question I am asking you is, do you take as authoritative what science tells us, or what scripture tells us? That is a pretty simple question and I would think it would be able to be answered in a fairly simple way. Yes or no would probably suffice. The reasons as to why you answer yes or no would require much further discussion I would suppose, but at least we would then have a starting point. </blockquote> (G3) Yes. (G4) Was that direct enough? I’ve answered your question. The one I was supposedly avoiding—thought I faced it head on. Not only this, but I have even accommodated myself for your convenience to answer your question in the exact fashion you suggested: with a “yes” or a “no.” My guess, however, is that you will still have some sort of hermeneutic of suspicion to apply to all this still, even when I’m bending over backwards to do as you ask, not only in answering your question directly, but using the limited choice of words you suggested for such a “simple” question. I have not only met your challenge, but I have done so in a manner I allowed you to chose, and after you have had the privilege of re-wording your question in attempts to clear up any doubts about its meaning. Are you happy about that? (G5) Can you stop accusing me of not answering your question? I would appreciate it. (H1) Now, irony of ironies. Although I am the one who was put on the stand and judged harshly by you as misrepresenting the word choice found in your expressions, it is actually you who are guilty of this. Below do not understand my argument to be that asking OE1 entails an dubious assumption in such a way that answering it with a “yes” or “no” would entail taking on that assumption. That is my position, but below you will see that you have recklessly misconstrued my position without even offering any reasons for why the wording in my expressions would require the meaning you are assigning to it, much less did you offer sufficient reasons for the same. <blockquote> It seems obvious to me that to you, to question where our ultimate authority lies, means that I must disregard what science has to say altogether! </blockquote> (H2) Here you claim not only that I have argued asking OE1 entails disregarding any truth claims reached on the basis of sciences’ authority, but that such a rendering of my position “seems obvious” (to you anyways). But after investigating again the words I used in expressing my position, I have failed to find any place in my reply where I make this argument or imply it logically. If you are going to advance this kind of careless interpretation, you need to quote me. Where do claim this? I am eager to discover in which place you see me making this argument. It is a stew man if I ever saw one. (H3) Now in my discourse with you, I assumed at the outset the inevitability that both of us ought to be humble enough to consider the possibility that defects exist in our communication and that we will at times choose words that in retrospect have to be clarified when their intended meaning fails to get through to the intended reader. Therefore, I open my own reply as follows: <blockquote> I may not be articulating this perfectly, so I am willing to clarify or restate anything I said if I have not chosen the right way to say it, but… </blockquote> (H4) In contrast to this, you not only blame me for the shortcoming of your own communication, but you go on to misrepresent my position—the very thing you seemed so indignant about when you perceived me to be the one guilty of doing this to you. This makes you guilty here of a kind of hypocrisy, being the aggressor who challenged me with a barrage of questions under suspicion of my impiety in the thread of my post. When I did not answer your question because I argued that doing so would entail sharing the assumption inherent in the words of it’s expression, you not only openly judged my motives and character, you then falsely accused me of being the one misrepresenting arguments when upon scrutiny it was you who were guilty of this. Understanding the intended meaning and analyzing the logic of the meaning of someone who decides to explain why she differs in opinion from yourself requires sufficient mental energy and attention in and of itself. I don’t see need to spend extra time and energy speculating about unspoken motives in the heart of the person who disagrees with you. After all, isn’t there supposed to be only one who can see the heart? (H5) It is a difficult enough task judging the secret, unspoken motives behind the words of persons you love most, persons you are close to you and see every day. With such loved persons you will have the deepest level of familiarity with the way they use language, how to place things they say in the larger context of what things you know about them and their character; you will become accustomed to their mannerisms and quirks. Yet, it is often difficult even with this we love most and care for most, to read properly the secret motives behind their words and actions. Much less, therefore, is it appropriate or wise for you to judge me so extensively, thinking of your hunches about my motives and character as somehow clever in spotting something “bad” in me, slandering me as purposefully avoiding your question because of my hidden motives. (H6) The fact that you would fail to think the best of me (whatever that would mean for you) is violation enough, but to make it part of the structure of your argument or message to me (being all too quick to judge) certainly appears to say more about you than it does about me. It is appropriate to the form of love to assume the best of others until they give you good reason not to assume the best of them. This is especially needed when you don’t see eye to eye with someone else, because everyone knows we be vulnerable to demonizing others with whom we find ourselves in sharp disagreement. I have no control over your imaginative suspicions of me as your interlocutor; I can’t help it if in your imagination you are unable to conceive of my motives as being being good, even if you think my arguments are flawed. It’s neither fair to me nor appropriate to the form of love and respectable, civil engagement in a forum such as this. (H7) I want to make one last argument in as a draw to a close. You used a certain kind of logic in your argument below that I want to borrow for my own argument: (H7.1) If the Scriptures are not divinely inspired (H7.2) then they are certainly not inerrant, (H7.3) and if they are not inerrant, (H7.4) then they certainly cannot be trusted, (H7.5) if they cannot be trusted (H7.6) they would certainly have no authority in what they say or teach. (H8) Below I have construed two arguments that appears to make the logic of own position problematic. (H8.1) If science is not divinely inspired (H8.2) then science is certainly not inerrant, (H8.3) and if science is not inerrant, (H8.4) then science certainly cannot be trusted, (H8.5) if science cannot be trusted (H8.6) science would certainly have no authority in what it says or teaches (H9.1) If human interpretation is not divinely inspired (H9.2) then human interpretation is certainly not inerrant, (H9.3) and if human interpretation is not inerrant, (H9.4) then human interpretation certainly cannot be trusted, (H9.5) if human interpretation cannot be trusted (H9.6) human interpretation would certainly have no authority in what it says or teaches (H9.7) what we understand as “God’s Word” depends on a correct interpretation of God’s Word (H9.8) therefore, the method we use to construe what is “God’s Word” cannot be trusted (H9.9) if “God’s Word” can be trusted in theory, but in practice amounts to human interpretation of it (H9.10) then anything concrete we intend to mean when we say “God’s Word” will amount to a particular human interpretation (H9.11) therefore, practically speaking, “God’s Word” cannot be trusted and has no authority in what it says or teaches (H10) If your own position is not problematic in this way, I have provided the numbering system for you to specify which parts of it to find fault. Be sure distinguish between soundness and validity of argument so it will be clear in what way you plan to make uncertain it’s conclusion—that is, by arguing my conclusion does not follow from the premises, or by arguing that one or more of the premises is unsound. (H11) If I have mistakenly chosen words that are ambiguous I will be glad to restate my meaning and clarify. Making logical blunders is not beyond me, but you’ll need to take advantage of my numbering system above to make a case. The lengths I have gone to in using them are intended for easy reference, which makes communication more efficient and makes it easier for you spot the exact error in my thinking and refer to it shorthand. If my arguments hold, your position is shockingly vulnerable again in a self-referentially absurd way. If nothing human interpretation or science says can be trusted based on your own logic, we have indeed arrived at an unintended absurdity as the byproduct of a misstep somewhere. (H12) Why do you trust human interpretation? Why do you trust science and assign to it authority? This brings me to my last point. <blockquote> …I can assure you that I don’t think it is self referentially absurd. </blockquote> (I) I’m not sure why you would respond to me as though I were misperceiving you in this way. Usually the people who believe an argument is self referentially absurd are not the one’s that are themselves also seeking to advance the absurd argument; as though you actually thought the argument that you were yourself advancing, was at the same time perceived by you to be self referentially absurd. And I’m not really interested in discussing so much which positions we find persuasive personally vs. which one’s we find unpersuasive, but rather on focusing attention on the logical consequences of adapting one view vs. another, and the demand for the totality of our adopted positions to be coherent once properly understood. When one person claims that another person has misunderstood their words, they get the chance to then clarify what their true position actually is on a matter. This is almost always progress. (I1) Unless of course, the person is confused about what position he or she actually holds, or has difficulty in choosing his or her words carefully enough to be sufficiently understood by those they accost with accusations, for whom the words are intended. We can neither hold to claims that themselves are problematic when there appear to be good reasons to believe the one claim is internally incompatible with another we also hold, so that without further tweaking or clarification, they do not appear rationally coherent together. And now I await your thoughts, and hope for a more gracious interaction from you. Bradley
          Comment on Psychology is the Devil: A Critique of Jay Adams’ Counseling Paradigm by Paul        
I’m sorry (in many ways) that I’ve forced you to repeat yourself Bradley, but in other ways I’m glad that you did. You have shown me to what lengths some people will go to avoid the principal meaning of a question. You say that you, “don’t think Christians with a historical interpretation of Scripture who view it as divinely inspired and inerrant have thought through this binary approach to authority expressed in your comment above” and that “If such a Christian shoots down science, she will be unwittingly shooting herself in the foot if she fancies herself to have good reasons for trusting what we call ‘Scripture’ or ‘The Bible’ or ‘God’s Word’,” but if you start out by misrepresenting what I’ve asked, how can I ever be sure that you will ever answer my original question honestly? I never said that I was “shooting down science”; I have a real love for science and what it can tell us about the world we live in. There is no shooting down; there is merely the question of authority. Don’t assume that I have to disregard one to ask the question concerning authority. You also state that in “forcing me to choose between here—either the authority of science or the authority of God—appear influenced by a false dichotomy that is ultimately self-referentially absurd.” I can assure that I don’t think it is self referentially absurd. Only if you believe that I have some distrust of science can that premise be true, and I assure you that I don’t. What the intent of my original question was is what is your ultimate authority on a matter? It seems obvious to me that to you, to question where our ultimate authority lies, means that I must disregard what science has to say altogether! A bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater I would think. I won’t bother to comment on what you say about what role the sciences play in the translation, preservation or interpretation of Scripture, because quite frankly, I don’t have a problem with science as you so presumptively assume. In stating “But if the science of archeology, linguistics, and interpretation cannot be trusted, we have no reason to believe the Bibles we use today and our interpretation of them are any more reliable in principle” you present a red herring and I’m not buying into it. As I stated above, the question isn’t do I trust science, it is what is my ultimate authority and that is the question that you seem to have ignored in your response. Let me put it another way. Science tells us about our origins, both for humanity and for the universe as a whole. Scripture tells a different story than what science does. When I read Genesis I have no qualms in saying that what it says is diametrically opposed to what evolutionary science has to say. Jesus, in the New Testament, speaks of the Genesis account in a literal way, and speaks of Adam and Eve as historical persons who were created from the dust of the earth. Now the question I am asking you is, do you take as authoritative what science tells us, or what scripture tells us? That is a pretty simple question and I would think it would be able to be answered in a fairly simple way. Yes or no would probably suffice. The reasons as to why you answer yes or no would require much further discussion I would suppose, but at least we would then have a starting point. I’ll be honest Bradley, by the length of your response, and how quickly you got off topic, I’m under the impression that you don’t hold to Biblical Inerrancy, or the divine inspiration of scripture, yet you seem to want to have some sort of ability to turn to it in some authoritative manner. I would propose that that is being dishonest and surreptitious. If the Scriptures are not divinely inspired, then they are certainly not inerrant, and if they are not inerrant, then they certainly cannot be trusted, and if they cannot be trusted then they would certainly have no authority in what they say or teach. You conclude by repeating your false dichotomy, “Setting God’s authority against the authority of science is therefore problematic to human reason and rationality—that is, it places in jeopardy our reasons for trusting we have the right message today that was inspired and written in ancient times.” I don’t set God’s authority “against” science; I place it above science, which is a completely different thing.
          Comment on Psychology is the Devil: A Critique of Jay Adams’ Counseling Paradigm by T h e o • p h i l o g u e        
@Paul, <blockquote>I’m really curious to know Bradley, where does your authority come from... science or God?</blockquote> I'm afraid I must now repeat myself (see my response to this type of criticism from earlier in this thread). I may not be articulating this perfectly, so I am willing to clarify or restate anything I said if I have not chosen the right way to say it, but I don’t think Christians with a historical interpretation of Scripture who view it as divinely inspired and inerrant have thought through this binary approach to authority expressed in your comment above. If such a Christian shoots down science, she will be unwittingly shooting herself in the foot if she fancies herself to have good reasons for trusting what we call “Scripture” or “The Bible” or “God’s Word,” etc. What I mean by this I hope will become progressively clear as I restate it in various ways and provide some examples. The options you are forcing me to choose between here—either the authority of science or the authority of God—appear influenced by a false dichotomy that is ultimately self-referentially absurd. Your stance seems to imply the assumption that human sciences are not somehow organically related to what Christians understand as God’s authority in such a way as to be necessary in establishing such authority. This does not need to be seen as a zero-sum game, where a victory for the authority of science means a defeat for the authority of Scripture. For if the reliability of science is questioned, this poses a reasonable and rational threat to what is considered God's authority where such divine authority must be understood through the mediation of, or in terms of, inspired human words. If God has communicated his authoritative truth through the inspired human words of the Bible or Christian canon for all the world to access, suddenly science must also be reliable to establish both the words inspired and their true meaning. *Likewise, where science can be trusted to be reliable, so can the sciences that aim to establish the existence of such inspired human words and their intended meanings.* This is because without the reliability of the science of archeology, interpretation, and linguistics we have no more assurance of the reliability of that which is rationally established by their methods. Christians take for granted the reliability of the findings or conclusions the fields of human science produce that I have in mind so instinctively, it rarely dawns on anyone to question it. Yet when a relationship of dependency is uncovered I find Christians get uncomfortable, perceiving it as a threat to divine authority. The relationship of dependency is between the reliability of human science and the reliability of the claim that we can know exactly what God actually said and meant by the use of those human words that Christians believe were originally written and compiled progressively across a span of ancient times by various human authors living in various contexts. Some examples of the areas of human sciences related to establishing the reliability of today’s translations of what is believed to be the very words God used to convey a message that makes clear his supremely authoritative will for humans: ============== 1) the accuracy of any translations of any ancient texts--especially "dead" languages no longer in use today 2) which books belong properly to those considered inspired by God 3) what it means for ancient texts to be considered "Christian" 4) whether "Christian" describes anyone who is fond of the person they imagine Jesus to have been 5) how to determine a criterion for establishing the plausibility of any interpretation of any text 6) how to interpret ancient literature based on the common uses of comparable literature from the times in which each biblical author wrote 7) how to choose which words one should translate as original "Scripture" when discrepancies exist or are widespread among the families of discovered manuscripts 8) whether it's reliable to use critical methods to reconstruct an "original" based on available manuscript evidence or whether one should decide which manuscript or family of manuscripts is most accurate and simply translate only that manuscript or rely only on that family of manuscripts 9) how to decide between two possible, but different, intended meanings in any given book of the real Christian canon -- assuming the original words can be confidently established -- when both possible meanings fit within the semantic range of the original linguistic construct of that ancient language 10) whether or not its even true that manuscripts on which today's translations are based actually do exist, one's that are as ancient as required to have been the one's that Christians believe them to be 11) whether all extant manuscripts are significantly corrupted versions of the originals that were written by a divinely inspired author 12) how to know whether or not the manuscripts of Christian Scriptures were invented just 400 years ago in Dallas, Texas 13) how to determine the criterion for originality in general with respect to ancient texts 14) the "true" meanings of such ancient texts: once criterion for originality can be established, if it can be established what words were originally used by the author, there remains the task of relying on the known semantic ranges of each word and each construction to determine the most plausible meaning intended by the author 15) how to know if any words or linguistic structures available in the repertoire of any given language in use today convey clearly the "original" meaning of the words translated, once it can be determined they were indeed "original" and their clear meaning can be reliably established based on all we know about the use of that ancient language in that same time period and its use within the genre of the sacred literature in question ========= Most Christians take for granted the methods we use to reasonably conclude that in ancient times certain inspired humans wrote down God’s words for humankind, and to reasonably conclude that they were “such and such” words, “such and such” books, with “such and such” meanings, and that “such and such” modern words used in today’s translations convey “such and such” divinely inspired meanings clearly that were originally communicated in ancient times. It just so happens that as the human methods found in science are called into question that are used to rationally establish the reliability of today’s Scripture translations, so by extension does it call into question whatever we thought was communicated by humans in God’s authority. Some Christians believe an objectively discernible message is thought to have been clearly intended by God through human words in ancient languages. In order to establish the very existence, meaning, and universally intended message of such ancient human words, it just so happens that we need to believe that science and its method have some kind of reliable authority, otherwise we might as well be talking about copies we have of the Bibles originally written in Dallas by those in power who wanted to control the masses by faking a variety of archeological discoveries of manuscript evidence from which to construct a false history of human civilization and make plausible a religion that believes such texts are ancient and divinely inspired and tell us to worship human authorities as gods. No Christian who relies on proper interpretation of Scripture to know God also believes the Bible’s books to be corrupted or to have originated as a part of a recent conspiracy in Dallas, Texas that teaches us that God wants us to worship human authorities as gods. But if the science of archeology, linguistics, and interpretation cannot be trusted, we have no reason to believe the Bibles we use today and our interpretation of them are any more reliable in principle. If science establishes what Christians call “Scripture,” its methods cannot be called into question by Christians without calling into question what is even meant by “Scripture,” and any hopes for rationally defending why it’s believed today’s translations clearly communicate the original inspired meanings intended by God in ancient times. In other words, whether one would have no reliable reasons to believe God has communicated clearly to humans in ancient societies certain messages that were carefully passed on through the use of written language and preserved uncorrupted and perspicuous for later generations. One can’t argue that one trusts that the Bible is reliable using unreliable principles of interpretation from poorly translated corruptions of such ancient messages to establish that such messages ought to be trusted because they come from God. At least not without the embarrassing feedback of circular reasoning. We know they aren’t corrupted because they say so - we know they don’t deceive us because they tell us they don’t deceive us. If this did not happen as Christians take for granted, and today we have only corrupted versions of the original that mislead, even if God communicated in ancient times, Christians today would have no reason to trust the evidence we use today to accurately understand what God communicated in ancient times. On the other hand, if science is reliable, then the sciences that establish criterion for what is considered “original” in the text, and how to reliably translate and interpret the original meaning of that text, may likewise be treated as reliable. Bible-based Christians need science to be authoritative in order to trust today’s Bible. Setting God’s authority against the authority of science is therefore problematic to human reason and rationality—that is, it places in jeopardy our reasons for trusting we have the right message today that was inspired and written in ancient times. Your thoughts? Bradley
          Comment on Azusa Street Prophecy – Certainty or Warning? by Sam        
While I agree with you 100%, I think it is also people not spending intimate time alone with God (or here in the USA). When they come together to worship corporately, there is really nothing there. I see some people at the alter that can only pray for a minute or two and that's it. No true relationship with Jesus at all. There is also another part of the Azusa St. Prophecies that say...in the last days Christians will serve a God they will not pray to and will not fast before (not exact wording). Also fasting is something almost extinct in the body of Christ today. Per Jesus' examples, and in the old and new covenant it is something we need to do to keep our flesh under subjection, and afflict our soul as the word teaches. Thanks for your wonderful post I stumbled upon today. May God Richly Bless and Keep You!! Sam
          Congratulations Nick Colebourn - Microsoft Certified Master        

Congratulations to Nick Colebourn who was brave enough to take his MCM lab exam in Seattle during PASS last month (at very short notice!) and is now a Microsoft Certified Master in SQL Server!

MCM(rgb)_1262

Nick’s momentous achievement is especially exciting for us as he’s now the 5th member of our team to achieve Microsoft’s highest technical qualification for SQL Server – Coeo now has more SQL Server MCM’s than any other Microsoft customer or partner in the WORLD!

Thank you Nick, and congratulations; it’s well deserved and we’re all very proud of you!

 

Christian Bolton - MCA, MCM, MVP
Technical Director
http://coeo.com - SQL Server Consulting & Managed Services

You can read more about the Certified Master program on Microsoft’s website here: http://bit.ly/aOFLxm


          Congratulations to Gavin Payne–Microsoft Certified Architect        

Huge congratulations to Gavin who became the 6th person in the WORLD outside Microsoft to qualify as a Microsoft Certified Architect in SQL Server today.Gavin Payne - Architect Extraordinaire

Gavin’s worked so hard for this since the start of the year and all that work culminated in a grilling 4 hour review board during the PASS summit in Seattle less than 2 weeks ago -- he received his official results last night.

To put things into perspective, there are only 25 people on the planet that are qualified to this level in SQL Server; only 6 of those don’t work for Microsoft; and 2 of those work for Coeo.

Coeo is the only partner in the UK to have an MCA in SQL Server, and now we have 2!

Well done Gavin, we’re all very proud of what you’ve achieved!

 

Christian Bolton - MCA, MCM, MVP
Technical Director
http://coeo.com - SQL Server Consulting & Managed Services

You can read more about the Certified Architect program on Microsoft’s website here: http://bit.ly/4ar5QP


          PASS Summit book launch and meet the authors - Professional SQL Server 2012 Internals & Troubleshooting        

I’m very pleased to announce that we’ll be officially launching our new book, Professional SQL Server 2012 Internals and Troubleshooting at the PASS Summit in Seattle tomorrow.

In partnership with our great friends at SQL Sentry we’ll have most of the authors at the SQL Sentry exhibitors stand from 12:30 on 515pDp1dw9L__SS500_Thursday 8th November for a book signing event which will give you a rare opportunity to meet with the authors and contributors, many of which have flown in from around the world.

SQL Sentry also have lots and lots of copies to give away for free so be sure to drop by their stand and ask about it!

If you really can’t wait or run the risk of not getting a copy then the PASS bookstore has a few copies for sale but don’t expect them to be there for long!

You can also order it from your favourite online retailer:

amazon.com: http://amzn.to/U9IlPV

barnesandnoble.com: http://bitly.com/Ux1gog

amazon.co.uk: http://bitly.com/WBJ18l

I’ll be writing a follow-up post very soon explaining why I think you should buy this book so look out for it!

 

Christian Bolton - MCA, MCM, MVP
Technical Director
http://coeo.com - SQL Server Consulting & Managed Services


          Hekaton – SQL Server’s in-memory database engine        

Microsoft have just gone public at the PASS Summit in Seattle about a new SQL Server engine that they’re working on which is optimized for high-memory servers – an in-memory OLTP database engine which is built-in to SQL Server rather than a separate entity.  This means that you can move just the performance critical parts of your database to Hekaton.

The new engine really pushes the performance boundaries by eliminating as many instructions as possible:

  • Main memory optimized tables which are decoupled from on-disk structures;
  • Everything is lock and latch free;
  • More work is pushed to compile time so your T-SQL code is compiled natively into low-level code.

We’re already working with a customer on an early adoption program so expect to hear from us on what we learn about implementing it!

 

Christian Bolton - MCA, MCM, MVP
Technical Director
http://coeo.com - SQL Server Consulting & Managed Services


          Showing support for Movember 2012        

01-11-2012 11-09-07Somehow, I managed to miss Movember last year but this year I’m lined-up to grow an outrageous moustache for charity.

Movember is a global movement which aims to raise awareness of men’s health and supports prostate and testicular cancer initiatives.  On the 1st of November hundreds of thousands of men around theClean shaven on Day 1 world will start a journey to grow and groom a moustache for the 30 days of November becoming walking, talking billboards for men’s health.

I’ll also be parading my Mo’s progress in Seattle next week during the SQL PASS Summit so be sure to look out for me and show some support!

If you’d like to give a donation to support this worthy cause you can visit my Mo Space by clicking on the logos where you’ll also find more details about Movember and where the money goes.

Finally, if you’re a Coeo employee, customer, or partner and you’d like to join the Coeo Mo Bro Team drop me an email and I’ll sign you up!

01-11-2012 11-09-29

Thanks for your support!

Christian Bolton - MCA, MCM, MVP
Technical Director
http://coeo.com - SQL Server Consulting & Managed Services


          Welcoming Karl Grambow to Coeo        

After a massive search for our next ‘Mission Critical SQL Server DBA’, I’m very pleased to announce that we welcomed Karl Grambow into our team this week!Rambo?

Karl joins us from Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) in the UK and started his career as a SQL Server 6.5 Developer before moving quickly into the operational DBA space where he’s been ever since.

He also dabbles in .NET and SSMS-Addin development and has created a versioning tool called SQLDBControl.

Outside of work he enjoys photography and Formula 1 and has recently become a Dad for the second time (congratulations!).

Welcome Karl, we’re all looking forward to working with you!

Karl will be manning our stand at SQLBits10 this week so if you’ll be there, be sure to say come over and say hi.

 

Christian Bolton - MCA, MCM, MVP
Technical Director
http://coeo.com - SQL Server Consulting & Managed Services


          SQL Server troubleshooting in Chinese…        

If you feel like you know everything there is to know about SQL Server 2008 and you wish Microsoft would just hurry up with SQL Server Denali so you can learn some new stuff, here’s something to try while you wait: troubleshooting SQL Server 2008 in Chinese:

ChineseCover

I arrived home today to find a couple of copies of  the newly translated Chinese version of Professional SQL Server 2008 Internals and Troubleshooting waiting for me and I’ve been flicking through it this evening in childish awe that someone would want to go to all that trouble.

ChineseLifecycle

Thank you mystery translators for such an object of curiosity to decorate the Coeo office, I hope your efforts are rewarded well and it proves to be a popular read in China!

 

Christian Bolton – Coeo Ltd
Technical Director
Microsoft Certified Architect: SQL Server
Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server
SQL Server MVP
Follow me on Twitter|Watch me at SQLBits


          Coeo are giving away the entire SQL Server MCM reading list at SQLBits        

I’m thrilled to announce that we’ll be giving away the entire recommended reading list for the Microsoft Certified Master on SQL Server 2008 certification to one lucky attendee at the upcoming SQLBits 8 event in Brighton between 7th and 9th April 2011.

Click here to see the full list on Amazon.co.uk

This dream collection of books, worth the over £500, will be useful to anyone who considers SQL Server to be a significant part of their career and will provide essential preparation for anyone pursuing the certification.

If you are studying for the MCM qualification or even just thinking about it, make sure you come and visit our exhibitor stand on the 8th and 9th April to share your MCM preparation stories with us and get more details on how to enter the competition.

Click here to read more about  Microsoft Certified Master- Microsoft SQL Server 2008.

Good luck!

Regards,

Christian Bolton – Coeo Ltd
Technical Director
Microsoft Certified Architect: SQL Server
Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server
SQL Server MVP
Follow me on Twitter|Watch me at SQLBits

Coeo - The SQL Server Experts


          Welcoming Gavin Payne to Coeo        

I’m very pleased to announce that Gavin Payne starts with us today as a Senior Consultant! Gavin11

We’ve known Gavin for a while now through his work in the UK SQL Server Community and when a role came up in our consulting practice I took the opportunity to talk to him about it.

Gavin brings a broad range of experience from his recent background as a Solution Architect and has a particular interest in virtualization which is very prominent in the work that we do so we’re thrilled to have him on board.

He’s also presenting a couple of sessions at the upcoming SQLBits conference in Brighton where Coeo is once again sponsoring and exhibiting so be sure to congratulate him in person if you’re going to be there!

Gavin has a prolific online presence so be sure to subscribe to his blog and follow him on twitter!

Blog: http://blog.gavinpayneuk.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/gavinpayneuk

SQLBits: http://sqlbits.com/Speakers/Gavin_Payne

 

Welcome Gavin!

Christian Bolton  - MCA, MCM, MVP
Technical Director
http://coeo.com - SQL Server Consulting & Managed Services


          Learning about sparse columns and filtered indexes        

I’ve been brushing up on sparse columns and filtered indexes recently and two resources stood out for me as indispensable so I’d thought I’d share them.

Those of you studying for Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server will no doubt have found the Readiness Videos published on TechNet and Kimberley Tripp’s (Blog|Twitter) webcast in this series on Sparse columns provides an excellent resource showing different schema designs and specifically where sparse columns fit in.

MCM Readiness Video on Sparse columns by Kimberly Tripp

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sqlserver/ff977043

The second resource is a session from this years PASS Summit (2010) by Don Vilen (Twitter) called Filtered Indexes, Sparse Columns: Together, Separately (AD203).

I thought this session was great and in combination with Kimberly’s Not a filtered indexwebcast provides the perfect background for anyone wanting to learn this topic, especially for those studying for the MCM knowledge exam.

If you attended PASS you should have a login to stream Don’s session but if not you can buy the official DVD’s from http://www.sqlpass.org The DVDs are worthy investment considering how much material you get access to!

 

Regards,

Christian

Christian Bolton  - MCA, MCM, MVP
Technical Director
http://coeo.com - SQL Server Consulting & Managed Services

twitter: @christianbolton


          Belonging Is About More Than Biology        
As an adoptee and adoptive mom, God is teaching me about his welcoming love.
          Why Christians Should Avoid Watching Rape Scenes        
What if there's a hidden human cost to our entertainment?
          Miriam: A Pivotal Prophet        

          'Atomic Blonde' Delivers Female Action Without An Action Hero        
After seeing the new spy thriller, I still don't know what a female action hero looks like.
          The Pay Gap Is Worse for Pastor-Moms        
How being married with kids complicates church compensation.
          When Your Spouse Is Mentally Ill        
My husband’s schizoaffective disorder devastated our family. Here’s what I’ve learned in the years since he was first diagnosed.
          Simple Joys        

          After 50 Years in a Wheelchair, I Still Walk with Jesus         
On the anniversary of her accident, Joni Eareckson Tada reflects on God’s faithfulness.
          Young, Female, and Pro-Trump        
How white evangelical millennials are defying political predictions.
          Why Evangelism Requires Both Logic and Loveliness        
An apologist argues that beauty and imagination are key to faith formation.
          Subscribe to the CT Women Newsletter        
Know what's being discussed on CT Women, Christianity Today's special section for women. We report on news and give our opinion on topics such as church, family, sexuality, discipleship, pop culture, and more!
          As Students Struggle to Pay Tuition, Schools Scramble to Trim Budgets         

HOLLY SNIFF, who is the first person in her family to attend college, found out about making hard choices early on. "I really wanted to go out of state for school, but because of financial reasons I couldn't," says Ms. Sniff, who is now a sophomore at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

For as long as she can remember, Sniff has been putting away money for her education. "I saved every dollar I was given as birthday presents or special treats as a child," she says.

Those childhood savings along with summer earnings and additional financial help from relatives got Sniff through her first year of college. But tuition continues to rise, and Sniff, along with millions of other students, is struggling to keep up.

At the same time, both private and public colleges and universities are moving beyond trimming at the margins to control costs.

Many schools are freezing faculty salaries, suspending hiring, delaying building maintenance, limiting course offerings, and even cutting academic departments.

Administrators are finding that they can no longer fund every project, department, or program. In the 1991-92 academic year, 57 percent of all colleges and universities were forced to reduce their operating budgets, according to an annual survey by the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C.

At the University of Vermont, a budget committee's proposal to eliminate the School of Engineering led to an uproar and the eventual resignation of the university's president.

AS state funding shrinks, public universities are being forced to increase class sizes and cut back on student services. Students at California's public universities have staged massive student protests against overcrowded classes and eye-popping tuition increases.

Nationwide, public colleges raised their tuition and fees an average of 10 percent and private-college increases averaged 7 percent this year, according to the College Board's annual survey released last month.

"Given the state of the economy and its impact on state budgets, many people expected much larger [tuition] increases this year, particularly in the public sector," says Donald Stewart, president of the College Board.

The rate of increase for public-college tuition is actually down this year compared with last year's 13 percent rise. And private colleges held their increases to last year's rate.

Yet that doesn't mean tuitions are gravitating back to earthly levels, warns Arthur Hauptman, a college tuition consultant.

"What the public tuition number says is that the recession has eased a little bit," he says. "If things get better [in terms of the economy], you would expect to see some additional reduction in those numbers."

In the '90s, Mr. Hauptman points out, there is much more competition for state funds than there was in the 1980s. Health care, prisons, and elementary and secondary education are all clamoring for funding.

"Despite predictions at the beginning of the '80s that it would be a tough decade, it turned out to be a very good decade for higher education in terms of revenue growth," Hauptman says. "Every major revenue source for colleges grew in real terms during that time - federal, state, tuitions, endowments, sales, and services."

And how were those revenues spent? Some faculty critics argue that the funds were spent on administrative bloat. "The fact is that in the '80s administrative staff at both private and public colleges grew much faster than the faculty," Hauptman says. "It is also true, however, that in the 1980s faculty salaries increased in real terms."

Last year, Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D) of Colorado launched a congressional investigation into the skyrocketing cost of tuition at public colleges.

"When it comes to college education, American families are paying more and getting less," she said. "Since 1980, the cost of sending our kids to college, a key part of the American dream, has doubled or tripled the rate of inflation every single year."

The investigation found that the growing research orientation of public higher education has fed the spiraling tuition costs. The teaching load of professors dropped from the traditional 15 hours per semester to as low as six hours per semester at some institutions, according to the study.

Pinning down the cause of increased tuition at either public or private universities isn't easy. Education is a labor-intensive enterprise that does not lend itself to productivity gains, administrators argue.

"Because faculty salaries have lagged in the past and because of competition for faculty among universities and industry, faculty compensation [increases] now exceed inflation," points out Paul Locatelli, president of Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, Calif.

Yet it is possible to increase teaching loads, reexamine the length of the academic year, and de-emphasize research in an effort to gain productivity, argues Hauptman.

"Colleges want to increase their resources; it's a natural inclination," he says. "If you read the college presidents' letters to the parents, you would assume costs are pushing tuition increases. But I think it's more that the revenues provided by the tuition hikes allow the schools to increase costs."

Meanwhile, students like Holly Sniff are willing to work harder or borrow more in order to get a college degree. Sniff expects to have accumulated about $10,000 in loans before she graduates. "I think I'm better off taking out loans now and using my life savings so that hopefully in the future I can find a better-paying job," she says.

Increased indebtedness raises the stakes for many students. "I'm not really concerned with it now," Sniff says, "but as soon as I graduate I'm going to have to get a good-paying job to pay off all of these loans."

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          Cross factor        

Reality TV show producers are getting really desperate for topics. On the face of it, this would seem unlikely, given that reality is infinitely interesting, but to run out of ideas you have to redefine “reality” in a novel way. You have to take the word “reality” to mean “Start from an absurd premise. Gather a few people with moderate to severe psychological problems. Put them under pressure until they break.”

Granted this sounds like the actions you’d expect from a cult. So, it’s appropriate that a new UK Channel 4 “reality” show is called Make me a Christian. A crack team of four types of Christian try to change a comically diverse set of subjects.

Charlie Brooker’s introduction to this series in Saturday’s Guardian said more or less all you ‘d want to know about it.

In true oversimplified TV-conflict tradition, it’s a clash of absurd extremities. The Christians, for instance, consist of an evangelical preacher, a lady vicar, a Catholic priest and – very much heading up the pack – the Reverend George Hargreaves, founder of Operation Christian Vote, and the Christian Party, and the Scottish Christian Party, and the Welsh Christian Party. If it’s Christian and a Party, chances are George is its figurehead. He scatters Christian joy like a muckspreader flings shit: indiscriminately and everywhere.
Said Christians are pitted against a group of volunteers containing the following widely representative social types: a lesbian schoolteacher, a tattooed militant atheist biker, a white Muslim convert, a boozing fannyhound who claims to have slept with over 150 women, and a lapdancing witch. Nice work, C4. I’m sure we can all learn from this. Let battle commence.

The atheist (militant, tattooed, biker, yada, yada) complained about brainwashing. He refused to even go into York Minster, on the grounds that it was built just to keep the peasants down and had nothing to do with the “love” that this programme is supposed to be about. Well, this may have been pretty a statement of fact, but his attitide didn’t exactly endear him the other volunteers. The others hated him for his strident opposition, seemingly becoming more responsive to the evangelical message just to prove that their manners were better.

While the evangelists were cleaning out the suspiciously generic items of decor in the lesbian’s and lapdancer’s homes, the Catholic priest was bringing fresh kitsch to the home of the 17-year-old lapsed catholic father-to-be. A terrifying picture of the Pope, for instance. Some icons. You know the sort of thing. The participant’s girlfriend drew the line at one item of sculpture. “I don’t think that a dead man hanging on a cross is a nice thing to have hanging up in your house.”

When I say that the decor was “suspicious,” I mean this in the sense that the mansions of minor rock stars are suspcious on MTV Cribs. Just as the owners of many Cribs don’t seem to have ever walked through the front door before the start of filming, these people’s homes seem to have been madeover in special “reality” mode. They didn’t seem to have a book or a photograph that didn’t fit into their TV programme persona. You didn’t see the random trash that turns up in real people’s rooms. The witch’s books seemed to have been bought by the yard from the New Age section of Waterstone’s. It looked as if none had ever been opened.

She didn’t really seem like a great reader. For a start, she’s a lapdancer and would-be glamour model who has had her chest and nose cosmetically enhanced and who owns thousands of pounds worth of hideous and expensive shoes. Call me a godawful snob, but there is nothing in that list that you would usually associate with the profile of a deeply philosophical thinker.

She was a great crier, though. She was sobbing at the first suggestion from her selected christianiser that her lifestyle may not be ideal. Well, he put it much more forcefully. He said she was chasing the false idols of materialism and demonic powers and was on a trajectory to hell.

Her achievements to date don’t suggest philiosophical depths, but they do suggest a pretty low level of respect for herself and an excessive willingness to please. So, she seemed to me to be fair game for a conversion.

Her evangelist clearly felt the same. He said “She is a broken lady … but it’s a good place to be to welcome Jesus into your life.”

How transparent is that? The more fucked up the person, the more likely that the Christian can get them to accept Jesus into their lives, yada yada. What was it the biker chap said about brainwashing, again?

The religious converters have been recruited as a spiritual makeover team. The equivalent of those TV presenters who tell receptive morons how overweight they are, how filthy their houses are or how badly they are dressed.

It’s exactly in tune with standard reality tv – a messed-up person is encouraged to fall to bits on camera for the entertainment of the masses. In return they get access to the magic of fame and, if they are really lucky, a couple of years in which they are mildly interesting to the readers of Heat and can earn good money for nothing.

I tried to come up with good arguments for why the existence of a religious makeover show is even more disgusting. But I’m not going to bother. It just somehow seems even more repellent when religion comes into it.


          Don’t have nightmares        

This is a link to a really good, if disturbing, video. It discusses parallels between extreme Islam (in the shape of a Muslim man with a Hitler moustache) and Christian fundamentalism and how this has given our rulers a pretext to build up our fears to achieve their ends.

h/t to paul canning whose blog reminded me about the video Charlie Brooker showed to da yout’ this week, and even provided a link.

Charlie Brooker’s sample of young people found it infinitely more interesting than the youth tv dross he also showed them.

Oddly, given that Charlie Brooker is a tv critic so brilliant that he can make you chortle out loud, (hence giving away the fact you are secretly reading his Guardian column in work) his own tv ventures are not usually crowned with glory. But, even so, it takes a superhuman effort of will to disagree with his conclusions on any programme. And, he’s right on this one.


          Chendamangalam - My kind of Shangri-La        
November 24, 2007

Two days before the start of SAP TechEd Bangalore '07 we set out to visit Cochin in Kerla. From my scant knowledge of the history of this coastal town, we would find an amalgam of culture; Cochin having been home during various periods of history to Chinese settlers, the Portuguese, Dutch and English. We went to the bay to see the Chinese fishing nets and fisherman, learned from them of the inability to make a living from this activity beyond being a tourist attraction, visited a spice factory, tried unsuccessfully to book a homestay in the house where Vasco DaGama ended his days and took a cab out to the nearby village of Chendamangalam, which we had heard was home to four major houses of worship and disparate communities living side by side.


"The hillocks at Kottayil Kovilakom are unique as the site of a Hindu temple, a Christian church, a mosque and the remains of a Jewish synagogue, all within 1 km of each other." (Wikipedia)

"A popular account goes that the town of Chennamangalam was planned ... by a liberal and tolerant Maharajah who wished to have four major religious faiths equally represented in town. He designated a site on each of the cardinal points for the construction of a Jewish synagogue, a Christian church, a Hindu temple, and a Muslim mosque. At the crossing of the axis, so the tale continues, was the palace for his minister set on a hill."

Truth or fiction aside, we visited 3 of these sites and were warmly greeted by parishioners in two of the places where we found activity: the mosque and the Hindu temple. The synagogue was recently reconstructed but its worshipers were long departed and unfortunately we did not see the church.

I was particularly uplifted by the fact that these communities had for all intents and purposes, managed to exist side by side despite the religious strife and discord found in many other places in the world at the exact time that these house of worship were erected.

A ray of hope for the possiblity of peaceful co-existence...
          Ali and Nino (2016)        

Ali and Nino (2016)Love story of a Muslim Azerbaijani boy and Christian Georgian girl in Baku from 1918 to 1920. Directed by: Asif KapadiaYear: 2016 | Duration: 100 minGenre: Drama, RomanceStarring: Adam Bakri, Connie Nielsen, Mandy Patinkin, María ValverdeCountry: UKLanguage: … Continue reading

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          Dos alumnos de la UPO participan en un curso de verano de la Universidad de Pardubice        
Dos alumnos del grado en Traducción e Interpretación (Alemán) de la UPO ha sido invitados a asistir en agosto en un curso de verano de alemán intensivo de la universidad checa de Pardubice (UPa). Los alumnos Paula López Herrera y Jose Mª Rosso Sánchez, del segundo y primer curso respectivamente, reciben la beca de matrícula del Estado Checo. El curso reúne a alumnos universitarios de diferentes países de procedencia y lenguas maternas para que aprendan alemán y observen conscientemente las dificultades distintas de aprender alemán como lengua extranjera según la lengua materna del alumno. Están inscritos alumnos de la Universidad Minsk (Bielorusia), de la Universidad Konya (Turquia), de la Universidad Pablo de Olavide (España) y de la propia Universidad de Pardubice. La colaboración entre la UPO y la UPa (Universidad de Pardubice) ha ido creciendo desde la firma del convenio Erasmus hace 12 años. Hace 2 años se llevó a cabo un proyecto de innovación docente internacional e intercultural coordinado desde la UPO por el profesor Karl Heisel y programado entre asignaturas de las dos universidades. La coordinación de la participación de los alumnos de la UPO en el curso de verano de la Universidad de Pardubice lo realiza una comisión interuniversitario a la que pertenecen por parte de la UPO los profesores Christiane Limbach y Karl Heisel y, por parte de la UPa, el profesor Jan Capek. Para más información consultar el siguiente documento:
          Showbiz Sandbox 350: Hollywood Has Faith in Religious Marketing        

Organized religion and the film industry have traditionally not played nicely with one another. Recently however, movie studios have been courting Christian filmgoers, in hopes of increasing audiences for certain titles. Brooks Barnes, a staff reporter for the New York Times, joins us to discuss one of Hollywood’s latest marketing trends. The Writers Guild and […]

The post Showbiz Sandbox 350: Hollywood Has Faith in Religious Marketing appeared first on Showbiz Sandbox.


          The Carbon (dioxide) Tax: a religious perspective        
Peter Finlayson

With the die now cast for the imposition of an onerous carbon tax on the Australian economy it is timely to consider how this senseless position was reached and forecast what lies ahead for an Australian society of 22 million souls.

While the more courageous scientific and economic lobbies are protesting the rationale for the tax, there should be no doubt now that it is being forced upon this nation for political reasons simply to safeguard the majority Greens-Labor-regional independents' alliance in the federal parliament.

For the present the Greens effectively control federal policy, especially on issues that really matter, with the carbon tax but the tip of an iceberg. Consequently, those complicit in their election have much to answer for.

That the alarmist measures are unnecessary and result from a systematic Green's-driven campaign is evident from the fact that science has yet not found a clear link between man-made CO2 and climate change. There has been no increase in global temperatures, as predicted by IPCC computer modelling, since 1998, nor has there been any decline in the arctic polar bear population, nor any abnormal rise in ocean levels, nor damage to the Great Barrier Reef, etc.

Furthermore, far from being a pollutant, CO2 is necessary for plant life with a scientifically-proven positive correlation between atmospheric CO2 concentration and plant growth. Indeed, the planet supported an abundant plant life during the Carboniferous era with CO2 concentrations more than five times today's levels of less than 400ppm.

That the tax is futile in terms of any global impact on emissions is self-evident from the fact that Australia's contribution to global emissions is negligible at under 2% and Australia has failed to influence the big emitters to follow suit.

In compensating households for the increase in their utilities' costs the government provides no incentive for domestic energy users to change their behaviour; in addition, some economists are predicting that the government will not be able to meet its compensation promises.

That the tax will have a serious negative impact at all levels of the economy is becoming clearer daily. At domestic level, the cost of living will increase due to the direct and indirect impact of the tax on processed consumer goods and utilities. Despite denials by the pro-tax lobby and policy-makers the impact on industry and commerce will be variably significant depending on their energy consumption.

Heavy industry and mining will likely be at a comparative disadvantage to their overseas competitors and forced to go offshore where emissions will continue, or shut down with consequent unemployment issues.

The seriousness of many social impacts is only slowly beginning to unfold as these are not immediately apparent and the wider community has not yet realised the serious longer term implications of the relentless Greens'-driven 'reforms'.

Moreover, the UN's 'Green'-motivated international agencies such as the UN Women's and radical feminist groups, with their anti-life (abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage and the like) policies are already disrupting traditional family life.

Greens' assault

With their electoral power now assured, and in accord with their Global Charter, the Greens will intensify their assault, firstly on Australian society, to ultimately create a biocentric world in which nature (landscape, plants, animals, insects) is superior to humanity and becomes the focus of humanity's development.

This means that resources and activity now used for the benefit of human society will be transferred to enhancing nature, including reversing the scientific advances that have fed, clothed and kept healthy an increasing, longer-living population.

The carbon tax is but a legal ploy for forcing our (mineral and energy) resources to remain untouched. It joins the long-time successful challenge by the Greens and other groups who demanded that water flow out to sea where its (edible) creatures could enjoy an unmolested existence!

Without coal, society will depend for its energy on renewable sources, which scientists have warned will be very expensive and cannot match fossil energy, thus enforcing a reduction in living standards. Energy-dependent industry will be forced to downsize with inevitable flow-on effects on economic development.

At the same time measures to lower national (and global) population will emerge to reduce the human 'polluters' to a level that will accommodate society within the limited resource and economic base permitted by a nature-oriented world. The Green's sustainable human population estimate for Australia is seven million.

The dilemma for many environmentally conscious Australians is that the anti-humanity focus of the Greens' policies is completely at odds with the Judaeo-Christian principles governing a balanced relationship between humanity and nature. Successive popes have stressed that nature is at the service of humanity which may use and develop its natural resources, always mindful of the obligation to safeguard nature for the benefit of future generations, while emphasising that nature must not be glorified.

The blame for the political rise of the Greens-dominated environmental lobby can include a sympathetic media, influenced by the clever Greens'-driven propaganda campaign that began fifty years ago, along with the failure of orthodox science to be more outspoken, especially those employed in the public sector.

In addition, according to anecdotal information, the religious education system, in encouraging an environmental consciousness, has failed to get the correct balance between a (Christian) humanity-centred and a (atheistic) biocentric focus, in accord with Christian principles. Sadly, a number of influential clergy and religious have also lost sight of a human development imperative within a theology of the environment.

Peter Finlayson is an active Catholic in the Ballarat Diocese and an agricultural scientist who has worked in many developing countries.


          Britain's anti-Christian brave new world        
AD2000 REPORT

The head of the British Christian Legal Centre sees persecution of Christians in public life looming behind controversial recent remarks by the Equality and Human Rights Commissioner Trevor Phillips.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, who directs the legal centre, said that Phillips also sounded "naive," saying he "doesn't seem to be living in the same Britain that I'm living in."

Williams is not the only one who wondered where Phillips got some of the ideas he expressed in an interview on 19 June with the London Telegraph newspaper. The equality commissioner indicated that Muslim immigrants were integrating better into British society than many Christian populations, and said that Catholic adoption agencies were more clearly discriminatory than Sharia courts.

Phillips also said British Christians tended to imagine discrimination against them where none existed. And he indicated that believers should not expect exemptions from the 2010 Equality Act, with its controversial language on sexual orientation, once they stepped outside "the door of the church or mosque."

Williams, whose legal centre advocates for the rights of British Christians in the public square, said her country's Christian roots once made it "a land of great freedom," where "freedom of conscience" was respected.

"Those things we have seen eradicated under the Equalities agenda, which is Trevor Phillips' approach," she said in a 30 June interview. "Secularism, under the Equalities agenda, is not neutral. It punishes dissenters."

Williams said the system of equality laws, which began under Prime Minister Tony Blair and continued with his successor Gordon Brown, "sounds like utopia - but in fact, it leads to the beginnings of tyranny."

"If you enter into the public sphere, or a public sector job, you have to speak and act the prevailing Equalities agenda. If you do not do that, if you disagree, then you are punished. You lose your job. You become under investigation. You perhaps get accused of hate speech. These are our realities in the United Kingdom."

Phillips' most blatant criticism of traditional Christianity in the Telegraph interview came during a discussion of immigrant populations from Africa and the Carribean.

The commissioner acknowledged that there was "an awful lot of noise about the Church being persecuted," but said the "more real issue" for "conventional churches" was the influx of "people who ... believe in an old time religion which in my view is incompatible with a modern, multi-ethnic, multicultural society."

Williams explained that this perception of "incompatibility" came from a caricature of Christianity, not from the Gospel of Christ himself. "Everything that flows from him," she said, "leads to the recognition of the innate dignity of every human being."

"Because Christianity is not coercive - unlike secularism, and unlike Islam - it leads to true tolerance."

In his extensive interview with the Telegraph, Phillips said individual believers could expect the commission to stand up for their right to worship and believe as they pleased. He said it was "part of the settlement of a liberal democracy" for individuals not to be "penalised or treated in a discriminatory way" on account of "being an Anglican, being a Muslim, or being a Methodist, or being a Jew."

Discrimination

But Williams charged that the commission is not upholding even this limited interpretation of religious freedom.

"What Mr Phillips needs to do," she said, "is to come spend a day at the Christian Legal Centre, run through the cases, and see the discrimination that is out there."

"In the Sherry Chapman case, for instance - the nurse who was told to take off her cross after 38 years of wearing it in frontline nursing - exceptions were made for the Muslims, with the long flowing hijab and a big brooch."

"Down in a South London council, Muslims are allowed to pray five times a day, but Christians are not permitted to display Christian calendars on their desks. These are our realities."

She also pointed to the case of Eunice and Owen Johns, the elderly Pentecostal couple who were rejected as foster parents - despite their extensive experience - because they disapproved of homosexuality. "The Equality Commission intervened in that case. They intervened against the Christians," Williams noted.

"They've intervened in a number of other high-profile cases. They have not, ever, intervened against Muslims. They've only ever intervened in the Christian cases to stand against the Christians. This is not equality. This is inequality."

"There's a complete making-way for Islam, and yet Christianity is suppressed," Williams observed.

"This notion of accommodating Sharia, of accepting it - and then, of saying that Catholic adoption agencies, which believe a child needs a married mother and father, should be closed - is devastating for society."

Williams says Britain's aggressive pursuit of secularism was creating a "vacuum" that radical Muslims could seek to exploit. "Radical Islam has an agenda in this nation, and works hard," she noted.

But many English Christians fail to stand up for biblical truth in this context. "In many ways, the Church has herself to blame for the state we're in. What we've got to do is find our voice. Otherwise, there will be increased oppression and suppression."

Williams observed that Christianity has historically "survived much worse than attacks by Trevor Phillips." But she acknowledges that things look "very bleak" at the moment.

"We've currently got a government that's consulting on extending civil unions to religious premises," she noted. "They said they would never do that."

Williams and other English Christians want authentic religious freedom for themselves and others. But they understand the conflict with secularism is part of the cost of discipleship.

"Jesus suffered a false trial, was hated by the world, put on the cross," she recalled. "But there was his resurrection, and the great hope that flows from that."

With acknowledgement to Catholic News Agency.


          Genesis account of creation and fall: what does the Church teach?        
John Young

The book of Genesis gives a vivid picture of creation. God is like a workman, constructing the universe over a period of six days, then resting on the Sabbath. There is a beautiful garden, trees with strange properties, the first two human beings, an evil serpent, an angel to guard the entrance after the couple have been cast out as punishment for eating forbidden fruit.

Clearly there is a wealth of symbolism in the account but there is also true history. The Pontifical Biblical Commission, in 1909, declared that the first three chapters of Genesis contain true history, basing this answer on the testimony of both the Old and New Testaments, the almost unanimous opinion of the Fathers of the Church, and "the traditional view which - transmitted also by the Jewish people - has always been held by the Church" that these chapters contain the narrative of things that actually happened (see AAS, 1909, 567-569).

Extremes

Two extremes need to be avoided in biblical interpretation, whether in Genesis or elsewhere: taking things too literally or not taking them literally enough. Those who do the former are labelled fundamentalists, but we should recognise that they want to be faithful to the fundamentals of Christianity, whereas those who too easily dismiss the literal sense of a passage will often deny key doctrines - for instance, some even see the Resurrection of Christ as not involving the body that was buried in the tomb.

In conversation with a Baptist student for the ministry, I once interpreted a Bible passage in a non-literal sense, and he suggested that if we do that with this particular text, we will not know where to stop. I can sympathise with his difficulty, for he didn't accept a Church that can guide us infallibly. But given a Magisterium guided by the Holy Spirit, we can stay on the right path.

With that in mind, what things in the Genesis creation accounts must be accepted as having happened, and what is, or may be, only symbolism? First let us look at a number of things in the first category.

Genesis says God created the heavens and the earth. This means that he willed the world to exist and it came into being from nothing. It depended on his infinite will, not on any previously existing matter - for there was none. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 293) quotes the words of Vatican I that God, "from the beginning of time made out of nothing both orders of creation, the spiritual and the corporeal."

That teaching has profound consequences for our spiritual lives because it shows our utter dependence on God. Once things got into existence they didn't become independent of their Creator: each being, including ourselves, depends as utterly on the divine will holding it in existence from moment to moment as creation did in its first instant (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 301.) A realisation of this lets us see more profoundly the truth of St Paul's words: "What have you that you have not received and if you have received why do you glory as though you had not received?" I Cor 4:7).

It is a fact is that Adam and Eve were real individuals. They are not symbolic figures simply standing for early humanity. Pope Pius XII expressed the constant belief of the Church when he rejected the idea that Adam was not an individual man but only a name given to some group of our ancestors. He declared: "Original sin is the result of sin committed, in actual historical fact, by an individual man named Adam" (Encyclical Humani Generis, n. 37).

It is certain that Satan tempted our first parents to commit the first sin. St John, in the Apocalypse, writes of "that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world" (Rev 12:9). He is the leader of the fallen angels, those purely spiritual beings who rebelled against God and were cast into hell. (For the fallen angels and their tempting of the human race, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 391ff.)

After Adam and Eve sinned, work became laborious, they suffered and would eventually die. These afflictions flowed from their fall from God's grace. The Catechism recalls: "By the radiance of this grace, all dimensions of man's life were confirmed. As long as he remained in the divine intimacy, man would not have to suffer or die" (n. 376).

But Adam and Eve lost this grace when they sinned. "The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed, the control of the soul's spiritual faculties over the body is shattered" (n. 400).

Bodily death

God had warned our first parents that they would die if they ate the forbidden fruit. We don't know concretely what the sin was (eating fruit from a tree may be mere symbolism), but we do know that physical death was a consequence - people would not have died had Adam and Eve remained faithful to God's command. Vatican II speaks of "bodily death from which man would have been immune had he not sinned" ( Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, n. 18).

In a sense death is natural, for the body, from its very nature, is vulnerable to destruction, but God would have given us the preternatural gift of bodily immortality had Adam not sinned. Other preternatural gifts were lost too: we would have had clearer understanding, a stronger will, control over our passions.

Seeing the present state of human nature we may be tempted to think God was unfair to us, for it was Adam, not us, who committed original sin. As the saying goes: Adam ate the apple and we get the stomach ache. But we need to realise that the gifts just mentioned are not owed to human nature since they would have been something over and above the natural.

Most serious of all, sanctifying grace was lost by original sin. It is this grace which, infused into the soul by God, gives us a share in his own divine life. It raises us to a new level of being, making us capable of seeing him face to face in heaven. The essence of original sin in us consists in the privation of that share in the divine life.

Genesis depicts the fall and its consequences in terms of Adam and Eve's attempts to hide from God, their expulsion from the garden, and their struggle to survive in a hostile world.


          Young adult Catholic ministry: further progress        
Br Barry Coldrey

On 17 May, over 500 young Catholic adults packed the recently renovated, century-old Commercial Hotel in Parramatta to listen to visiting American speaker, Jason Everitt. Some 10 to 20 priests and religious from the Dominicans, Franciscan Capuchins and the three seminaries in Sydney were also in attendance.

After this event, Jason Everitt flew to Melbourne and on the following evening over 300 young men and women packed the Pumphouse Hotel in Fitzroy to hear him address the gathering on another aspect of the Church's sexual teaching.

This Theology-in-the-Pub commenced in Melbourne in 2008 and over the following three years a similar event under a slightly different name has taken off in most capital cities: Pub Theology (Adelaide), Guinness and God (Canberra), Faith-on-Tap (Brisbane), Theology-on-Tap (Parramatta) and Urban Theology (Sydney).

Signature event

This monthly event has been the signature Young Catholic Adult gathering over the past three years with the organisers such as John Smythe and Penny Badwai (Melbourne), Jessica Langrell (Parramatta) and Tristan McLindon and David Chilnicean (Brisbane) being well educated, gifted and orthodox, practising Catholics.

The events are open to young men and women, 18 to 35 years of age, with priests and members of religious Orders of any age always welcome.

One priest (or several) is available to hear confessions in an alcove separate from the speaker and discussion.

This ministry is flourishing because talented and orthodox young Catholics are managing the activities. For it is axiomatic that young adult ministry must be largely, or entirely in the hands of young Catholics.

The latest variation of this phenomenon, which is energising the Australian young adult Catholic world is the monthly Urban Theology at the St James Hotel in Castlereagh Street, central Sydney. In this case, the principal focus is not an invited speaker but a semi-formal debate plus discussion.

The history of this encouraging revival of young adult ministry is a quite recent one.

In 2000, after World Youth Day, a number of returning Catholic pilgrims approached (then) Archbishop George Pell to establish a weekly hour of adoration for young Catholics in St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne. He agreed and the time chosen was 6.30pm on Thursday evenings and the event quickly became known as SIX30.

SIX30 is planned and led by young Catholic adults who invite the priest to guide the weekly Holy Hour, arrange the music, make the announcements and publicise the event. During the hour at least one priest is available for confessions.

In Sydney, a Holy Hour, arranged by the Franciscan Capuchins, has been held in St Mary's Cathedral on Wednesday evenings for some years but more recently the venue has been moved to St Benedict's, Broadway, in the centre of a major university precinct which includes three tertiary institutions: Sydney University, UTS (the Technology University) and Notre Dame University (Sydney).

In Brisbane, there is a similar monthly event in the Cathedral called the Leaven Hour.

Meanwhile, in Melbourne, around the time SIX30 was commenced, Archbishop Pell encouraged a group of dedicated young Catholics to attend the Annual General Meeting of the Australian Catholic Students Association which was largely moribund and had been espousing unorthodox positions on matters of Catholic faith and practice.

These young Catholics voted the existing ACSA executive out of office and rejuvenated ACSA as a strong Catholic association with separate state affiliates.

Retreats

The Annual Conference - with some aspects of a classic retreat - is the central event of the ACSA year's activities and has inspired a number of other Catholic groups to arrange retreat/conferences such as:

"Reasons for Hope" at the Chittick Lodge Conference Centre, Gerringong, NSW, in April.

"Firm in the Faith", University Students' Retreat at the Wedderburn Christian Centre, near Appin, south of Sydney, in July.

Still to come later in 2011:

Young Men of God Conference, Collaroy Centre (Sydney's Northern Beaches), 13-15 October, Missionaries of God's Love and the Disciples of Jesus Covenant Communities. See the website: www. ymgmovement.org.

The iWitness Retreat, 'The Tops' Conference Centre, Bendena Garden Road, Stanwell Tops, NSW, 2508, 8-11 December 2011. The relevant website for the iWitness Retreat is www.lifetothe full.com.au; the email address is iWitness2011@gmail.com and one of the key organisers is Amy Vierboom whose address is: Life Marriage and the Family Centre, Polding House, Level 11, 133 Liverpool Street, Sydney, 2000.

Each of these conferences has become very popular with many young adult Catholics and, while each is distinctive, they all tend to have the following common features: strong speakers dealing with topics important to Catholic adults, robust discussion, daily Mass, confessions, Eucharistic Adoration, along with a sporting activity during the second afternoon and a social function on one evening.

There is therefore much reason for hope in the Church's future.


          Christian heritage        
Fr Bernard McGrath

Christianity works well for the greater good of society despite some doubters. It benefits millions by the moral improvements due to the churches, schools, hospitals and institutions it runs.

Three of the greatest commandments of our Judeo-Christian heritage form the very bulwark of our civilisation: the sacredness of human life, the purity of marriage and the right to private property. Without these laws, many unwanted or allegedly useless lives are killed for convenience: the unborn, the defective, and the aged. And without these laws increasing numbers cannot be trusted to be honest in their dealings regarding property, and the fair time, money and effort needed for work and social affairs. Fewer seem to care anymore and the trend is tragic.

Even 4,000 years ago Hammurabi of Babylon had the wisdom to discern six of the ten commandments for the peace and prosperity of his people, recognising the natural laws of good behaviour/morality. But unique to our Judeo-Christian heritage are the commandments against polytheism, idolatry, and evil thoughts. These are ennobling rules and are hard to account for without a revelation of God as a loving creator, law-giver and saviour giving us the necessary reason and strength to be self-sacrificing, when required, for the sake of others, and the truth.

Churches preach, teach and practise persuasively against hate in thought, speech and deed whereas mere civil laws on such are easily used to suppress free speech and religion by those who claim to be offended "victims" of others' beliefs.

Democracy works best when most people, most of the time, are virtuous and can be trusted. Few laws are then needed: "He governs best who governs least". A South-Sea Islander once reproved a soldier for using the thin pages of a Bible to roll his cigarettes: "If it weren't for the Bible, you'd be in my cooking pot!", he said.

What will stop the present mad rush into lawlessness and the slaughter of the innocents?

What the gods (devil) wish to destroy they first make mad. How mad is it when evil becomes a free choice?

FR BERNARD McGRATH
Bendigo, Vic


          Order books from www.freedompublishing.com.au        

The King's Highway
Kenneth R. Guindon
This is the fascinating story of Kenneth Guindon's amazing and unusual spiritual journey: born a Catholic, then 16 years with the Jehovah's Witnesses, 12 years as a Baptist minister, before finally returning to the Catholic faith. He is now a lay Catholic evangelist and apologist.
212 pages • Softcover • $33.00
ISBN 978-0-89870-581-9

Maiden and Mother
Edited by Margaret Miles
Margaret Miles, a former Anglican, has gathered together a collection of hymns, prayers, songs and poems written over the centuries in honour of the Virgin Mary. These are grouped around the major seasons of the Christian calendar: Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, etc.
211 pages • Softcover • $29.95
ISBN 978-0-86012-305-7

Youcat (English)
With a foreword from Pope Benedict XVI this Youth Catechism deals with the entire Catholic faith as presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The work is structured in Question-and-Answer format, is beautifully illustrated and contains an index and definitions of key terms.
303 pages • Softcover • $30.00
ISBN 978-1-58617-516-0

The Holiness of G.K. Chesterton
Edited by William Oddie
A range of distinguished contributors, including Sheridan Gilley, Ian Ker, Aidan Nichols OP and John Saward, consider the question of whether there are good grounds for considering G.K. Chesterton for canonisation.
140 pages • Softcover • $29.95
ISBN 978-0-85244-725-3

Blessed (John Paul II)
L'Osservatore Romano
This is a special glossy edition of the Vatican weekly, L'Osservatore Romano, commemorating the beatification of Pope John Paul II. It is profusely illustrated along with highlights of his remarkable pontificate. An essential souvenir of this historic occasion.
96 pages • Softcover • $8.00

Prayer: The Great Conversation
Peter Kreeft
Popular American spiritual writer, Peter Kreeft, explores many aspects and questions about prayer. Written in a practical and imaginative manner through a series of conversations, this book will appeal to Christians of all age groups and denominations.
178 pages • Softcover • $23.95
ISBN 978-0-89870-357-3

The Council in Question
Moyra Doorly & Aidan Nichols OP
With a foreword by Cardinal Pell, this book presents a fascinating exchange between Moyra Doorly, representing the viewpoint of the Society of St Pius X, and Fr Aidan Nichols who sets out the orthodox post-Vatican II view.
97 pages • Softcover • $19.95
ISBN 978-0-85244-765-9

On Missionary Roads
Cardinal Jozef Tomko
Cardinal Tomko was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 1985-2001 under Pope John Paul II. Here he shares his experiences of visiting numerous far-flung corners of the universal Church with first-hand accounts of the growth and the challenges.
390 pages • Softcover • $49.90
ISBN 978-1-58617-165-0


          MARY: VIRGIN, MOTHER AND QUEEN: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics        
Paul Simmons

The scriptural foundations of Marian devotion

MARY: VIRGIN, MOTHER AND QUEEN
A Bible Study Guide for Catholics
by Fr Mitch Pacwa SJ
160pp, PB, ISBN 978-1-61278-715-2. Our Sunday Visitor 2013. Rec. price: $19.90

Very well known as an author and presenter on EWTN, Fr Mitch Pacwa is a respected biblical scholar who brings together a rigorous intellect with a pastoral concern to make the truths of faith accessible to all.

This book was planned as a group study guide, but can be read by anyone wanting to tap into his insights into the role of Mary in the mystery of salvation.

Fr Pacwa’s introduction discusses the decline in devotion to Mary in the Catholic church since the 1960s. He attributes this to an attempt to refocus Catholicism towards Jesus and concerns that Catholic devotional practices were offensive to Protestants.

As a young priest, Fr Pacwa noticed that Catholic academic circles were generally hostile to Marian devotion, and this affected the attitude of both teachers and pastors.

It was the continued attachment to Marian devotion in one of the new liturgical movements and anti-Catholic propaganda from some American evangelicals which prompted him to re-examine the foundations of Catholic belief.

He discovered a rich intellectual and spiritual tradition which had been almost lost, encouraged by the very public devotion to Mary by Pope St John Paul II.

This book is a result of this reflection. He begins with the Old Testament, and looks at how the prophets and patriarchs looked forward not only to the Messiah, but also foretold the role of His Mother.

This begins with the role of Eve in the fall of Man, and God’s promise to Adam that a woman would exactly reverse the negative role of Eve in the Garden of Eden.

A quote from Fr Pacwa’s discussion of the fall, and its foretelling the role of Mary, shows how profound is his analysis.

He says, “Consider: a very odd phrase in Genesis 3:15 says that the enmity will be ‘between your seed and her seed.’ The serpent is depicted as masculine, so there is no problem with speaking of his seed.

“However, since the ‘seed’ always refers to the man’s contribution to the conception of a child, one must ask how the woman can have ‘seed’? This would have perplexed the ancients, and most modern people ignore it. However, in light of Jesus’ virginal conception in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, this promise takes on a new importance.

“No male seed was introduced to Mary’s womb to conceive her child; only her child can be identified as a woman’s seed. Therefore he will be the seed that crushes the ancient serpent’s head in a thorough defeat.

“For this reason, this passage is frequently identified as the ‘Proto-Gospel,’ the first proclamation of what Christ, the son of God and Son of the Virgin, will accomplish for the human race that fell into sin with Adam and Eve’s sin.”

It is this which has given the church the understanding of Mary as the “new Eve”, in parallel to Jesus Christ as the “new Adam”.

Fr Pacwa then refers to other Old Testament references, including the Ark of the Covenant, and the prophet Isaiah’s extraordinary prediction that a virgin will conceive and bear a child, fulfilled in the Annunciation, as told by St Luke.

He discusses the important role of Mary throughout Jesus’ life: from his conception, to the visit to Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, his birth, his flight into Egypt, his time lost in the Temple, and then his public life, beginning with the miracle at the marriage feast at Cana, up to her presence at his Crucifixion, and later at Pentecost.

This is a very useful text which will give Christians a deeper appreciation of the crucial role of Mary in the life of Jesus and in the early Church.

Fr Pacwa concludes by discussing the contemporary relevance of Mary, and the importance of our devotion to her.


          Defending the Catholic Church against ill-informed attacks        
Fr John Flynn LC

Anti-Catholicism might be the last acceptable prejudice in many Western societies today, but Canadian author and journalist Michael Coren isn't going to take this situation lying down.

In his recently published book, Why Catholics Are Right (McClelland and Stewart), he examines a number of common criticisms of the Church and provides telling rebuttals.

Coren, born into a secular family, with a Jewish father, became a Catholic in his mid-20s.

Being Jewish has helped him in his career, he says, but as he explains in the book's introduction, his Catholic beliefs have caused two job losses and many closed doors in the media.

Abuse scandal

He commences with a topic that he said he didn't want to write about and which he should not have had to write, namely the clergy abuse scandal. He acknowledges the immense damage caused to many people as a result of the abuses, but also argues that some of the criticism has gone beyond what was justified.

The abuse says nothing specific about Catholicism, Coren insists. Critics who are eager to prove that the abuse was linked to the structures or teachings of the Church ignore the fact that abuse by clergy occurs in other churches and religions at the same or even higher rates.

As a result of the lessons learned from the abuse scandal the Catholic Church is now one of the safest places for a young person to be according to Coren. These events should rightly lead to a condemnation of the abuses, but not to a condemnation of the Church.

Another chapter deals with historical events, such as the Crusades and the Inquisition. It's true that the Church did not always act in the best manner, he admits, but overall the Church was mostly ethically ahead of its time and a force for good.

On the matter of the Crusades, Coren points out that the Holy Land was Christian and subsequently invaded by Muslims. It is wrong to consider the Crusades as some kind of imperialism or colonialism. Far from being an exercise in exploitation and reaping profits, many noble families were bankrupted by the expense of arming a knight and maintaining him and his retinue.

Modern research has disproved the affirmation that many crusaders were the sons of poor families looking for plunder. In fact, they were often the cream of European chivalry. In the territories conquered by the Crusades the Muslim population could continue its normal life and there wasn't even any serious attempt to convert them to Christianity.

What can we conclude about the Crusades, Coren asks.

"They were not the proudest moment of Christian history but nor were they the childish caricature of modern Western guilt and certainly not that of contemporary Muslim paranoia."

Turning to the Inquisition he observes that the underlying premise is that Catholics are nastier than anyone else and that only the Church could organise something like the Inquisition.

This is simply ridiculous as for a start more men and women were slaughtered in a couple of weeks of the atheistic French Revolution than in a century of the Inquisition. There were also inquisitions in a number of Protestant nations, he notes, aimed particularly at those suspected of witchcraft.

The purpose of the Inquisition was to combat doctrinal errors and heresies, with the aim of bringing people back to the Church. Torture did exist, but it was carried out mainly by secular authorities. The Inquisition used it no more and usually less than other judicial bodies of the time.

Most of the criticism centres on the Spanish Inquisition. In an aside Coren wonders why so little attention is paid to the massacres and torture of many Catholics by Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I in England.

It is true that in the early days the popes did support the Spanish Inquisition but it soon became an organ of the state and monarchy. After the final defeat of the Muslims in Spain a large number converted from Islam or Judaism to Catholicism.

Many were genuine, but as it was politically and economically advantageous to be a Catholic some who converted were not genuine. This led to the investigations by the Inquisition about the situation of those who had converted.

There were certainly abuses committed, Coren says, but while Spain might have been a flawed society it did not experience the bloody civil wars of religion that affected many other European countries. The Inquisition went mainly unnoticed until the mid-19th century when anti-Catholic writers used and distorted it to attack the Church.

Wealth

Another frequent criticism of the Church is about its wealth. "We're hit with the old regular that the Church is dripping with money while the rest of the world starves," Coren comments.

Yes, there is a lot of wealth at the Vatican, in the museums that are open for all to visit. The Church has preserved these works of art for centuries and keeps them as a patrimony for humanity.

Selling the artwork and giving away the money would just be a one-off event whose benefits would soon be over. Instead, the artistic treasures are kept for the future, available to all, instead of being locked away in private collections.

Moreover, Coren adds, the Catholic Church builds and runs hospitals, schools and does an enormous amount of charitable work around the world.

One of the chapters is dedicated to the subject of life and sexuality. The Church is often under attack for its stand on matters ranging from abortion to condoms and contraceptives. The position the Catholic Church takes in this area is not only based on moral beliefs but is also supported by science and human rights, Coren argues.

The affirmation that a new life exists from the moment of conception has solid biological foundation with the fetus being a distinct human life and as such should having a right to exist. In spite of this, in recent years prolifers have often been depicted as extreme zealots.

Moreover, while contemporary society considers itself to be more progressive and tolerant than at any time in the past, the disabled or handicapped in the womb are now deliberately targeted and killed.

Stem cells

When it comes to the Church's opposition to the use of embryonic stem cells for research, this is used by opponents to accuse it of being an obstacle to a cure for sicknesses and diseases that could be overcome in the very near future.

The truth is, however, there have been no successful cures with embryonic stem cells, in contrast to the successes obtained with adult stem cells, which is supported by the Church, as Coren points out.

On the subject of condoms and contraceptives the Church warned decades ago that their availability would be harmful to society. In fact, Coren says, since that warning there has been a steady rise in sexually transmitted diseases, divorce, family breakdown and sexuality has been downgraded from what should be a loving act into a mere exchange of bodily fluids.

The vilification of the Church and Benedict XVI for being opposed to the use of condoms in the effort to control AIDS is yet another case of injustice, Coren notes. Relying on the use of condoms simply hasn't worked in Africa. Instead, programs based on abstinence and fidelity have had the greatest success.

Coren's book deals with many other topics and he pulls no punches in defending the Church against what he considers ill-informed attacks. It should prove a useful aid for those interested in replying to the all too frequent swipes against the Catholic Church.


          Pourquoi Eric Zemmour peut remercier RTL        
A en croire le tamtam médiatique, les auditeurs de RTL n’auront plus droit, à la rentrée de septembre, au prêche matinal d’Eric Zemmour. Une décision qui ne serait pas liée à la récente sortie de l’éditorialiste sur Christiane Taubira, mais à l’ensemble de son œuvre radiophonique : « Voilà plusieurs semaines que la décision de suspendre la [...]
          East Market Kicks Off Demolition and Construction with Lt. Governor Jim Cawley and Mayor Michael A. Nutter        

Briefing highlights included recent state and city funding, totaling $14M, anticipated economic and social impact and featured original artwork by local artist, Christian Cantiello.

(PRWeb October 03, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/10/prweb12218711.htm


          New Sermon Series at Cleveland Road Baptist Church        


If you've been in the kids's section of any Christian bookstore, you've seen them. If you've ever worked in the Church nursery, you've probably picked one up from time to time. And if you're a parent of a young child, chances are you own one or more of them. Yes, Childrens' Bible Storybooks are everywhere these days. They seem to a huge hit with all Christians. In fact they are so ubiquitous, it's shocking that Jon Acuff didn't include them in his bestselling book, Stuff Christians Like.

But as much as Christian parents and nursery workers love these Bible storybooks, most of them have an inherent flaw - they treat the events of the Bible like every other storybook. Many reduce the various pericopes of the Bible (particularly the Old Testament) down to little more than a Christian version of Aesop's Fables - a collection of various parables, each of which can be boiled down to a terrific little morality lesson for the growing child.

The problem of course becomes worse as these children move into adolescence and then into adulthood still believing that the events of the Bible should be viewed as tales of morality instead of what they really are - episodes in the grand story of redemptive history. And that's what our new sermon series at Cleveland Road Baptist Church is all about - showing how these storybook narratives of the Old Testament all point forward to one culminating event in the Coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the World.

So we invite you to come to Cleveland Road, or listen in on the internet as we seek to understand how talking serpents, tall towers, angry brothers, loud trumpets, strong men, and weak kings all point us to the reality that Jesus Christ bore the guilt and shame for sinners like you and I. And hopefully the Bible will open up to you like a child reading an amazing story for the first time. I promise, it will be worth the journey!

...


Here's links to each of the sermons. I will try to add more as the sermons are preached each week. So if you are interested, you can bookmark this page and check back regularly:



          Courageous: A Brief Review        
On Sunday night, November 6th, I finally got a chance (thanks to the help of my visiting mother-in-law and grandparents-in-law) to view, with my lovely wife, Courageous, the new movie by Sherwood Pictures. As you probably already know this is the latest installment of motion pictures produced by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA. With each new release, the studio gets larger, the movies are shown in more theaters, and, as I will show below, the films get better. Courageous represents Sherwood's most ambitious project to date, having clearly spent more money and time on every aspect of the movie. But, before I go and hand over any Oscars, I do have to say that there are some elements that still need improvement. And so here is my brief review of the movie - the good and the bad.


THE GOOD

Courageous is by far the best Christian film I've seen. The storyline, the acting, and the cinematography all far exceeded any previous Christian movie. The Kendrick brothers have certainly progressed as filmmakers and the future of Christian cinema looks brighter.
  1. The storyline was terrific. It was believable, emotional, and heartwarming. Nothing about it seemed contrived or odd. I wasn't forced to suspend reality in order to accept the scenario presented. The conflict and rising action were presented well, there was good character development, and the climax and resolution were complex and believable. Everything at the end wasn't neatly tied with a bow (e.g., the young officer still left trying to reconnect to his long-lost daughter), forcing the viewer to continue to process the movie, long after it ended.

  2. The acting was far better than in previous films and, for the most part, better than most movies labeled "Christian." Alex Kendrick (Adam Mitchell) is clearly maturing as an actor. Ken Bevel (Nathan Hayes) was even better the second time around. T.C. Stallings (T.J.) was terrific and convincing. But the guy who had the best acting chops in the whole film (and probably the most experience) was undoubtedly Rusty Martin, who played Dylan Mitchell, the son of Adam Mitchell (Kendrick), the main character. He didn't have a lot of lines, but he delivered them well and the subtly of his derisive and dismissive looks were perfect. He performed like a real teenager would in the situations of his character.

  3. The cinematography was excellent. The HD format brought out a richness to the film that few other low budget productions are able to emulate. The close-ups and camera angles didn't distract the viewer, but rather accentuated the film and made the emotions even more real. In the shootout scene, the gunfire, the broken glass, the chaos, and even the physical altercations were all accentuated by the filmmaking, leading to heightened senses and racing pulses for the moviegoers.

  4. The message was clear - Biblically-faithful fathers are vital in the lives of their sons and daughters. But it wasn't forced or contrived. The viewer saw struggle, conflict, emotion, victory, and joy, but none of it came without honest heartache and realistic storytelling. Regardless of whether one is a Christian or not, this film leads the male viewer to reassess his character and his role as a father. And in that way the message came through loud and clear.


THE BAD

With any lower budget film, especially those produced by Hollywood outsiders, there are going to be issues. And with any Christian film specifically written to reach a broader audience, there are going to be some elements that appear more secular than sacred. Courageous is no exception to these two rules.
  1. While the acting has certainly improved, it is by no means Oscar-quality. Alex Kendrick, as the main character, was much more believable this time around, but he's still a bit stiff and at times unnatural. Whenever his character attempts humor, it looks forced. He seems much more comfortable with dramatic scenes. And at times, he's very good in those aspects of the film; other times, not so much. I thought Ken Bevel was great again, but there are times when he sounds like he's reading lines instead of actually acting. And, like most films unfortunately, the worst acting comes from the supporting cast. In this case, it was the Latino couple, Javier and Carmen Martinez (played by Robert Amaya and Angelita Nelson). I really wanted to believe in their performance, but it was just too cheesy at times. At other times, it was far too stereotypical, though some of the fault there may lie with the writers. However, having said that, it is true that one of the best scenes in the film (and certainly the funniest) was delivered by Amaya in the back of the patrol car.

  2. The timeline of the film seemed to be completely ignored at times. I couldn't figure out how much time elapsed between the beginning of the film, the tragedy, the signing of the resolution, and the shootout. Sometimes it seemed like the events took place over a series of a few weeks. At other times it seemed like months had passed. Some events took too long to materialize (the young officer's reconnection with his daughter and the Father-Son 5K) and others seemed too short (the young officer's participation in the resolution ceremony, and partner officer's imprisonment). This was certainly a detail to which the filmmakers should have paid more attention.

  3. With any Christian movie, there are sappy elements that fit in better in a low-budget, secular film and Courageous unfortunately contains a couple of these. One such sappy moment is the solo dancing scene at the bank by Adam Mitchell (Kendrick). Other elements often found in Christian movies are the contrived "Evangelism" and "Spiritual Advice" scenes. The presentation of the Gospel by Bevel's character is far too scripted and delivered with too much stiffness. The pastor's advice to Kendrick's character lacks strong Biblical conviction. It's sounds a lot like what a secular hospital chaplain would say. The Bible is merely referenced at times and rarely quoted. As a pastor, I am disappointed that there is not more uniquely Biblical speech in the movie. It often sounds too much like a Hallmark card and not enough like Pilgrim's Progress.


THE CONCLUSION

Despite some glaring problems with the film, I would grade it a B+ or 4.25 stars. It was by far the best Sherwood production and indicates how bright the genre of Christian film is becoming. The message of the movie was presented well and, like any good movie, with strong emotion. I would see this movie again and highly recommend it to any Christian. Men should especially go and see this movie and I pray that its impact is far-reaching in Evangelicalism. Thanks to the Kendrick brothers and Sherwood pictures for producing a film for which Evangelicals can be proud.

          Emir Caner Should Apologize for Tweet: UPDATED!!        
***SEE UPDATE BELOW

On Monday, Dr. Emir Caner, President of Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, GA took to his iPhone to tap out the following tweet:


The military discovered a large stash of pornography in bin Laden's compound. I was unaware that Islam had its own Acts 29 Network.
It's hard to imagine the president of a Southern Baptist college, which is supported by the Cooperative Program ($1 million a year in fact), would stoop to such levels as to place on his Twitter account such an unChristlike statement.

There has been some reaction and backlash to Caner's tweet, but from my standpoint not enough. I am thankful for Danny Akin's tweet yesterday:


@EmirCaner I love you my brother & I am proud of U in so many ways. You a better man than your bin Laden/Acts 29 tweet.
My hope is that Dr. Caner will recognize his error and how it hurts the Body of Christ and causes division and seek to rectify this wrong by apologizing and removing the tweet from his Twitter page. If you join me in calling Dr. Caner to apologize, please say so in the comments. I hope to direct a trustee or two of Truett-McConnell to my blog tomorrow.

***UPDATE***

This morning, Emir Caner posted the following statement to his blog:

I have come to realize over the past few days that Driscoll's vulgarity is far too serious an issue to simply put out a satirical tweet. While it is easy to find Driscoll crossing the line (see articles by John MacArthur and Cathy Mickels) it should not be likewise with me, and for that I apologize.
Soon after seeing this I was contacted by a few pastors who expressed their displeasure with Caner's statement. While speaking to one such pastor, I was contacted by Mike Dorough, Youth Pastor at Second Baptist Church, Warner Robbins, GA, and current Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Truett-McConnell College. He noted that Emir Caner had asked him to call and hoped that his statement would be sufficient.

I informed Mr. Dorough that no one that I have spoken with was pleased with the statement. Mr. Dorough's words were that it was more than he had expected Dr. Caner to say and that he had spoken to others who felt the statement was sufficient.

After a tense, but (I believe) God-honoring discussion by both of us, we parted ways without any resolution, but (I hope) without any ill feelings. Mr. Dorough is a fine man and I appreciated very much his call to me. However, during the discussion one area of disagreement we had was on whether or not I should have blogged about this incident.

As I indicated to Mr. Dorough, Dr. Caner's original inappropriate tweet was public and thus his call to repentence should be public as well. Mr. Dorough brought up the principle of Matthew 18 - a passage that I believe is very essential for us as Christians to understand. I explained to Mr. Dorough that Matthew 18, when read properly speaks about private sin ("if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone"), not public sin. The two passages that show us how to deal with public sin are Galatians 2 (where Paul confronts Peter publically) and 1 Corinthians 5 (where Paul calls out a couple engaged in sin that is publically known). Again, because Dr. Caner's actions were performed in the public domain, a public call to repentence is necessary.

Now, having read Dr. Caner's statement and his tweet, what do you think about his apology? Is it enough? How might Dr. Caner's statement been more conciliatory and satisfying to his brothers and sisters in Christ that he harmed?
          Why Eugene Peterson is Wrong on Rob Bell and Love Wins (Among Other Things)        
While reading up on the recent controversy over Rob Bell's new book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, I came across several in the larger "evangelical" community who are actively defending Rob Bell against his critics (and even against himself). One of the largest names in that group is Eugene Peterson, author of the most popular paraphrase of the Bible, The Message. Peterson is currently Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, BC. He is also an accomplished author, with some of his books winning awards and becoming best sellers.

Peterson's defense of Rob Bell started even before there was a controversy. Peterson supplied Bell's publisher, HarperOne, with the following endorsement blurb for Love Wins:
It isn’t easy to develop a biblical imagination that takes in the comprehensive and eternal work of Christ . . . Rob Bell goes a long way in helping us acquire just such an imagination--without a trace of soft sentimentality and without compromising an inch of evangelical conviction.

Recently Peterson spoke to Timothy Dalrymple of patheos about his endorsement and the controversy that has erupted over the book. When asked why Peterson endorsed the book, he said:
Rob Bell and anyone else who is baptized is my brother or my sister. We have different ways of looking at things, but we are all a part of the kingdom of God. And I don’t think that brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God should fight. I think that’s bad family manners.

I don’t agree with everything Rob Bell says. But I think they’re worth saying. I think he puts a voice into the whole evangelical world which, if people will listen to it, will put you on your guard against judging people too quickly, making rapid dogmatic judgments on people. I don’t like it when people use hell and the wrath of God as weaponry against one another.

I knew that people would jump on me for writing the endorsement. I wrote the endorsement because I would like people to listen to him. He may not be right. But he’s doing something worth doing. There’s so much polarization in the evangelical church that it’s a true scandal. We’ve got to learn how to talk to each other and listen to each other in a civil way.

There is much in Peterson's statement with which we could disagree. In fact, I would disagree with almost all of it. But I think it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how we as believers are taught to confront error in the Bible. Before I get there, Peterson was asked the follow-up question, "Do evangelicals need to reexamine our doctrines of hell and damnation?" and he replied:
Yes, I guess I do think they ought to reexamine. They ought to be a good bit more biblical, not taking things out of context.

But the people who are against Rob Bell are not going to reexamine anything. They have a litmus test for who is a Christian and who is not. But that’s not what it means to live in community.

Luther said that we should read the entire Bible in terms of what drives toward Christ. Everything has to be interpreted through Christ. Well, if you do that, you’re going to end up with this religion of grace and forgiveness. The only people Jesus threatens are the Pharisees. But everybody else gets pretty generous treatment. There’s very little Christ, very little Jesus, in these people who are fighting Rob Bell.

Again, Peterson sounds like a man who both doesn't understand the significance of the Doctrine of Hell and hasn't read the parts of the Bible where false doctrine is confronted and condemned. And interestingly he includes in his defense against arguments in the Church a quote by Martin Luther, a man who saw no small amount of criticism levied against him for his overly sharp tongue.

Let's take a minute here, though, and examine what Peterson actually says about Bell and about the criticism directed towards him. First, he starts out by saying, "Rob Bell and anyone else who is baptized is my brother or my sister." Now, I am going to give Peterson the benefit of the doubt here and assume that he is referring to the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" (i.e., regeneration through the gift of the Holy Spirit). I shudder to think that Peterson would believe that the act of baptism either saves or confirms that one is truly a born-again believer of Jesus Christ.

But then he builds on that statement and claims that he doesn't "think that brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God should fight", that doing so is to practice "bad family manners." I hate to tell Peterson this, but Jesus argued with His disciples. Paul argued with Peter. The Apostles argued with one another at the Council of Jerusalem. Members of the Kingdom argue. And often times it is quite beneficial. In Church History, debate has not always been kind, but very often it has been healthy. To claim that we shouldn't argue over doctrine because it's "bad family manners" is Biblically and historically ignorant.

Peterson adds further down, "I don’t like it when people use hell and the wrath of God as weaponry against one another." I agree wholeheartedly with Peterson here, but is this really what is happening? Are people using the issues over the Doctrine of Hell as weapons against Bell? Of course not! In the ironic words of Billy Joel, "we didn't start the fire". The Doctrine of Hell has invoked heated arguments in the Church for centuries. And Bell threw himself into the line of fire by writing a book which advocates for a position against the one universally agreed upon by the Church for 2000 years. "Hell and the wrath of God" isn't a weapon being wielded against Bell, but rather are the objects of the firestorm that Bell ignited by writing a book on these subjects.

Now, from there I believe Peterson's words better represent a man who hasn't read the Bible, not one who wrote a bestselling paraphrase of the Bible and who taught classes on the Word of God and spirituality for decades. Two statements Peterson makes lead me to this criticism. First, he says, "...the people who are against Rob Bell are not going to reexamine anything. They have a litmus test for who is a Christian and who is not. But that’s not what it means to live in community." Then he says, "The only people Jesus threatens are the Pharisees. But everybody else gets pretty generous treatment. There’s very little Christ, very little Jesus, in these people who are fighting Rob Bell."

Has Peterson read Galatians lately? How about 1 John? Maybe he needs to reread the Gospels, particularly John 8. And heaven forbid he stumbles upon 1 Corinthians 5 or Matthew 18, where confrontation is not only spoken of, but encouraged by both Paul and Jesus, respectively.

Both Paul and John advocate for litmus tests for Christians. Jesus, Himself, does the same thing. Living in community means precisely that we confront one another for not only sin, but false doctrine as well. Paul tells the Corinthians to cast people out of the community for sin and in Galatians he pronounces curses on those who advocate for a different Gospel. And I'm guessing that all of those he was speaking of were probably thought to have been baptized by the Holy Spirit. The fruit of their actions and beliefs, however, communicated otherwise.

Finally, Peterson saves his most damning words for the end. He claims that that the "only people Jesus threatens are the Pharisees" and based on that he concludes that "there's very little Jesus, in these people who are fighting Rob Bell." Not only is Peterson making a huge assumption about the spiritual lives of those "who are fighting Rob Bell" (notice how Peterson personalizes it, instead of relegating it to theological debate), but he is also completely wrong about Jesus.

In John 7:45, prior to the passage on the adulterous woman, we see that Jesus is speaking to the Chief Priests and the Pharisees. After v.11 of Chapter 8, Jesus picks up his conversation with the Jews (many have rightly concluded that 7:52-8:11 is out of place here in John and is not original to this Gospel, but rather represents good oral tradition which eventually found a home here). But in v.21, it appears that Jesus' conversation with the Pharisees is overheard by other Jews and they begin to talk among themselves in v.22. Jesus answers these Jews in v.23. Then further down in v.31, John identifies another group to whom Jesus is speaking as "the Jews who had believed in Him." Peterson identifies these in his Message as, "the Jews who had claimed to believe in Him."

Jesus then begins to speak to these Jews and they don't seem to like what He's saying. By the time the conversation is over, Jesus has told them that they are not children of Abraham or children of God, but rather they are children of their father, the devil. In v.47, Jesus says, "Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God." Now, I don't know about you, but it seems clear her that Peterson's claim that "the only people Jesus threatens are the Pharisees" is not only terribly incorrect, but a false basis for his further claim that "there’s very little Christ, very little Jesus, in these people who are fighting Rob Bell."

I've always respected Eugene Peterson, but in this case he's wrong. He's wrong on Rob Bell, he's wrong on the significance of the Doctrine of Hell, he's wrong on how to live in community, and more importantly, he's wrong on Jesus and on what the Bible teaches about confronting those teaching false doctrine. I get why Peterson doesn't like controversy in the Church and why he believes it is "bad family manners". None of us find it comfortable to confront sin or enjoyable to correct false teaching. But unfortunately, Peterson's attitude doesn't line up with the Bible and consequently it is him and not Bell's critics in whom one can find "very little Jesus."
          The Holy Spirit and the Exclusivity of the Gospel        
Unless you have been away from the Christian blogosphere for the last month, you are probably aware of the rampant controversy surrounding Rob Bell's most recent book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, which was released today. In response to the book, which seems to advocate for inclusivism or even universalism in regards to the salvation of those who do not actively place their faith in Jesus Christ, it seems appropriate to consider the historic, orthodox position of the Church - exclusivism.

According to Theopedia, exclusivism "refers to the fact that orthodox Christian doctrine maintains only faith in the Jesus Christ of the Bible leads to salvation or heaven. Christianity is exclusive in that its teachings indicate that the faith of other sects or religions will not lead to eternal life; or in other words, that Jesus Christ is the only true way to God."

Exclusivism is a doctrine that has no shortage of credible defenses. It is not my goal to rehash the numerous arguments that have been made which seem to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Bible teaches an exclusive position on salvation. Instead, I want to point out one specific argument that is rarely considered, but is significant because of its Trinitarian focus.

Very often the contemporary Evangelical Church speaks of salvation only in terms of the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is said to have propitiated the wrath of God through His substitutionary work on the Cross. Every once in a while, you might actually hear talk of Christ's active obedience in securing the perfect righteousness which is imputed to us (credited to our account). But much less often do we speak of the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation.

So what exactly is the Spirit's role in redemption? Well, first we must recognize that the Spirit has placed Himself in subjection to both the Father and the Son. John tells us that the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and by the Son in the name of the Son and that He does whatever He is told to do and says whatever He is told to say. In this way, the Holy Spirit acts as a sort of ambassador for the King and His Son. He is co-equal with these Regents, but His role is to work in the world. And as an ambassador, it is His job to point back to Those from whom He is sent, namely the Father and Son. Regarding the Spirit's work, Jesus says:
And when [the Holy Spirit] comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see Me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you (John 16:8-15, ESV).

Here Jesus says several things about the work of the Spirit in salvation. First, He convicts of sin. This is the first action wrought in the believer. Salvation does not come without conviction of sin. Those who are poor in spirit understand that conviction. And notice that the sin directly relates to their unbelief in Christ. So not only does the believer get convicted of sin, but of unbelief in Christ. Then the Holy Spirit guides the believer into truth and glorifies Christ. Finally, He discloses the Father's will and Christ's words and deeds to the believer so that He might be sanctified, another act of the Holy Spirit.

Now, those who believe in a salvation for people who do not confess Christ as Lord, they have no outs here. There is nothing in this text or any other that suggest that the Holy Spirit works apart from Christ and glorifies God without glorifying Christ. Both Father and Son are uplifted by the Spirit. Further, the Spirit brings life. He is the one who applies the work of salvation to the believer. Thus He only applies it by means of the formula given by Peter in Acts 2:38, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (ESV). The Holy Spirit can only apply the work of salvation to those who by faith acknowledge the Lordship of Christ. Otherwise, He would be working outside of His jurisdiction and thus be making Christ a liar and usurping His subordinate role. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit would be denying Christ His due glory -- the glory due His name, the name at which all men will bow.

So, what we have here is a thoroughly Biblical argument which once again ends in the exclusivity of the Gospel call. No one can be saved apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. No one can inherit eternal life without the righteousness of Christ. And the Holy Spirit cannot give anyone that righteousness anonymously. He must do it as every good ambassador does, by means of His King, the One who sent Him. In this case, it is Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.

As Rob Bell's book appears, let's pray that the Holy Spirit continues to glorify Christ by reminding us of the truth that He has communicated for 2000 years - the truth that He inspired Peter to communicate in Acts 4:12:

...there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

          A Life Shaped by Books        
Last week at SBC Voices, Dave Miller asked the question, "What are the books that have formed your views on ministry or have helped you to be more effective in what you do?" The Title of the post was "Books that Shaped My Life and Ministry." Taking those two together, I essentially posted on the books that have shaped me as a person and therefore as a minister. As I said in the comments, "There are a lot of books I could include in my top 5, but as far as shaping my life and ministry, there are very few." Here are some that came to mind in no specific order:

1) God Came Near by Max Lucado - this book is what actually got me into reading Christian books on my own, without being forced to because of some teacher. Though today it wouldn't be considered one of my favorite books, it certainly started me down the path of reading Christian Living books.

2) Desiring God by John Piper - Piper opened by eyes to how theology truth could profoundly affect me both emotionally and spiritually. His concept of "Christian Hedonism" showed me how I could pursue happiness by pursuing God.

3) A combination of The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur, The Race Set Before Us by Tom Schriener and Ardel Canaday, and Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan - Starting with MacArthur's book, during my time just after seminary, I started to understand what salvation was actually supposed to look like and how our behaviors should affect how we perceive our perseverance and assurance.

4) Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem - This book, combined with the 2 theology courses I took under Dr. Stan Norman at NOBTS led me to inerrancy and a deep love for theology. It also drew me away from Dispensationalism. I think it is probably the best basic, Baptist Systematic ever written.

5) Power in the Pulpit by Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix - This book, combined with the "Proclaiming the Bible" class I took with Dr. Shaddix at NOBTS is essentially how I was taught to preach. I refer to it often and the method is deeply inscribed in my preparation each week, though I am not nearly as organized in presentation as Shaddix or Vines advocate.

There are so many more I could list that have had big influences on me like, The Pursuit of God by Tozer, Knowing God by Packer, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by Piper/Grudem, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Cymbala and Brothers, We are Not Professionals by Piper. Recently, I can say that
Father, Son, & Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, & Relevance by Bruce Ware has been extremely impactful to my ministry.

What books have shaped your life and ministry?

          Lottie Moon Christmas Offering: Ideas to Up Your Small Church Giving        
As a small Church pastor, sometimes I am overwhelmed by the need that I see around the world and the lack of resources that my Church has to offer. I want to lead my Church to give as much as possible to international missions (IMB - Lottie Moon), domestic missions (NAMB - Annie Armstrong, hunger relief (World Hunger & Relief Fund), child evangelism (Samaritan's Purse - Operation Christmas Child), and tons of local ministries like food banks, shelters, clothes closets, battered women's shelters, and alcohol and drug rehabilitation ministries. In short, there is so much need, but few resources in a small Church like ours.

Out of all of those, by far our largest offering each year is the Lottie Moon Christian Offering, which goes to support international missions through the IMB of the Southern Baptist Convention. Over the past two years, our giving to LMCO has more than doubled previous years' offerings. During my first year as pastor in 2008, we gave over $2500, an amount close to $50 per active member. Last year (2009), our Church gave almost $4300, which is over $80 per active member.

So how did we do it? How did we raise our giving by $30 per active member? Quite simply, we did one simple fundraiser - A YARD SALE! That's right. All we did is hold a Church-wide yard sale on the property. That sale, combined with a small benevolence offering, took in over $1700. That's almost as much as we gave in personal offerings!

This past Saturday we held our yard sale for this year. It was another successful year. Despite not being listed in the local paper (which was the paper's fault, not ours), we still raised over $700, which is 25% of our offering goal. So in essence, due to a simple 5-hour yard sale, our giving is going to be 25% higher than our simple offering contribution.

Another way we plan on upping our giving by an additional 10-15% is through what we call the "Lottie Moon Post Office". In a small Church like ours, everyone sends Christmas cards to everyone else in the Church. Instead of sending them through the mail and paying the Post Office 44 cents per card, we give 50 cents per card to our youth group members, who then deliver the cards before our worship service on Sunday mornings during the month of December. We estimate that this year we will raise some $300-400 more through the "Lottie Moon Post Office."

I hope that if you are a small Church pastor (or even a member of a small Church), these suggestions will help you to raise your international missions giving this year. If every small church our size raised just $700 through a yard sale and/or a "Lottie Moon Post Office", then our giving over last years total Lottie Moon Christmas Offering would be $17.6 million. That's an incredible amount of ministry that could be done simply by selling our unnecessary junk and sending Christmas cards to one another.

If you're a pastor or a member of a small Church, let me know what other programs have worked in your Church, which have fueled your Lottie Moon giving to new heights.

          ANNOUNCEMENT: Debate with Wade Burleson on Complementarianism v. Egalitarianism - SBC Annual Meeting 2012        
In recent days I have found myself fed up with constant attacks against the clear Biblical teaching that God designed men and women with distinct roles in mind for each to fulfill in both the home and in the Church. For 2000 years, the Holy Spirit has illuminated texts like Ephesians 5 and 1 Timothy 2 consistently to reveal that God intends that men and women to take on different roles and created them to do just that.

But, let's face it - the culture has changed (or at least it has in America). Increasingly, Christians have begun to eschew their fidelity to Scripture in favor of adopting cultural mandates in regard to gender roles. They have even radically reinterpreted passages, with no historical or exegetical precedent in order to render them incapable of providing the very clear instructions God gave us through the Biblical writers by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

In light of this assault on Biblical truth, I have decided that enough is enough and challenged one of the most vocal critics of the Biblical position to step out from behind his keyboard and debate me publicly on the main Scriptures which those who hold to the traditional position (known popularly as the Complementarianism) find the most compelling.

Wade Burleson, Southern Baptist pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, OK and owner and operator of the very popular Baptist blog, Grace and Truth to You, in both public and private correspondence has accepted the challenge and agreed to debate me on Complementarianism v. Egalitarianism at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2012, which will be held in New Orleans, LA. In the coming weeks I hope to secure an organization to sponsor and a venue to host the event. Check back for more details.

My hope is that through this debate the Word of God will be illuminated, the Glory of God magnified, and the design of God's creation celebrated.
          A New Church Website Means I Have to Get Back to Blogging        
You've heard it before. I'm going to start blogging again. Did you see the last time I posted? It was over a year ago! But, recent developments in the Southern Baptist Convention, controversies over theological positions that long ago should have been settled, and the fact that our Church is now fully exposed on the internet, have led me to want to come back to the keyboard and punch out some more of my thoughts - even if no one is listening anymore.

One reason I want to do this is in hopes that some of the members of my congregation will begin to catch a vision for a greater Evangelical purpose and see themselves as part of a national and, more importantly, global network of Christians seeking to glorify and exalt the name of Christ.

Internet hot-spots like Facebook and Twitter present opportunities for Christians to put their best feet forward in regards to the Gospel and Orthodox Theology. More than ever we need each other to counteract the vast influences of both the secular culture and the insulated Christian community (read "Suburban, middle-class, Republican, disengaged, self-focused, and man-centered"). Pointing my people, as well as those I encounter from my past and present on Facebook, toward Gospel-centered, Christ-exalting, globally-focused ministries and tools helps us as a universal Christian community grow together in unity and move ever more swiftly in the direction of glorifying God to the ends of the Earth.

I have never been more optimistic about the present effectiveness of the Gospel's influence and the Holy Spirit's power than I am right now. Revival is coming and I want to be a part of that, even if it means the Church down the street grows, but ours doesn't. If we just become a more generous, Christ-centered, and spiritually mature congregation, then I will count my ministry a success. Far too often, we get wrapped up in what God is doing (or not doing) visibly in our own Church and forget that it's not about us, it's about His glory. So if my blog can be used to point those who may read it toward the encouragement and optimism that I have experienced over these past few months, then it is effective. And that's really all I can ask - to be effective in actively glorifying Christ and bringing His Kingdom to bear on the Earth.


So check out our new Church website and listen to some of these guys' sermons:

Cleveland Road Baptist Church
David Platt
Francis Chan
John Piper

          The Gospel and Jeremiah Wright        
I have avoided speaking about Barack Obama's former pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, for about as long as possible. There are a number of reasons for this. Foremost among them is the irritation I have felt in seeing political pundits and news personalities (most of them unbelievers), attacking a pastor for view he expressed from a pulpit in a church. Now, don't get me wrong. I disagree heartily with what the man said, whether or not it was taken out of context. But I am very uncomfortable with a pastor being criticized publicly for his views by those outside of the faith. And yet, this has become the norm in the U.S. these days - and that worries me a great deal.

I recently wrote a comment on another man's blog about the criticism being heaped upon Wright (and consequently, Barack Obama), and pointed out that, while I am disgusted by the media's treatment of Rev. Wright, I do believe there are some upsides to the controversy, namely that it puts a spotlight on the inherent problems of Liberation Theology and its influence in the African-American church. I don't have the time, nor the patience (or really the education) to dive deeply into Liberation Theology, so let me offer a few links for further study:

An article, "What is Liberation Theology?" at GotQuestions.org
An interview with Eric Redmond, an African American Pastor in Maryland, by Albert Mohler
A partial transcript of that interview at Townhall.com entitled, "Is Jeremiah Wright Mainstream?"
Eric Redmond's post, "Jeremiah Wright’s BLT" (Black Liberation Theology), on his blog, A Man From Issachar

Suffice to say, the problems of Liberation Theology are vast, and they are a stumbling block to the gospel. As one commenter at Townhall.com wrote:
Liberation theology creates further division.
Liberation theology counters racism with racism.
Liberation theology is man-made and runs perpendicular to the gospel.
Liberation theology is no gospel at all.
I would agree with this assessment. And since Rev. Wright resurfaced a few days ago and today was blasted by Barack Obama for remarks he made at
the National Press Club Monday in Washington, I have been thinking even more about Wright and his theology. As I was considering this, I stumbled across Warren Kelly's post on Wright at his blog View From The Pew. Kelly discusses Wright's answer to a question posed to him by a moderator after his speech at the National Press Club on Monday. The moderator stated, "Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the father but through me.'" Then the moderator asked, "Do you believe this? And do you think Islam is a way to salvation?" Wright replied simply, "Jesus also said, 'Other sheep have I who are not of this fold,'" seeming to indicate that indeed Muslims and those of other religions would inherit eternal life apart from a personal relationship with Christ. Sadly, applause followed his comment. Kelly noted,
Wright had what I call an Osteen moment. He had the chance to share the Gospel in front of millions. Not only that, but he had the chance to calm the fears of evangelical Christians that his church was somehow not really a Christian church. He could have done so much, but he decided not to.
He then wisely observed that, "Jeremiah Wright did to Jesus exactly what the news media have been doing to him -- taken [sic] a part of a sermon, quoted it out of context, and made it sound like something that wasn't intended."

Denny Burk, Assistant Professor of New Testament at Criswell College in Dallas, Texas. and blogger extraordinaire picked up on the story as well and explains what Jesus was actually referring to in John chapter 10:
When Jesus says that he has “other sheep who are not of this fold,” it’s likely that he is referring to Gentiles who would later come to faith in Christ. The sheep that are following Him at that point in the narrative are Jews, but Jesus aims to have followers from among the Gentiles as well. Whoever the “other sheep” are understood to be, they nevertheless have the characteristics of “sheep.” They listen to and follow Christ, and they are saved only by Him.
Additionally, he points out that, "To say that 'other sheep' refers to unbelievers (or followers of Islam in Reverend Wright’s case) simply runs roughshod over the plain meaning of the passage."

So, as I noted to the other blogger in my comments referred to at the start of this post, Jeremiah Wright's pulpit rhetoric doesn't really bother me - it's his misunderstanding of the Gospel and disregard for the fundamentals of the faith that worry me.
          A Christian Response to Earth Day        
Since today is Earth Day 2008, I felt compelled to post to post a response from a Christian worldview. After all, the original purpose of this blog was to respond to a post-Christian world with a uniquely Christian viewpoint. And it seems that nothing dominates this culture's attention these days than does the phenomenon of Green. Environmentalism has become a new religion, a new way for individuals to feel as though they are a part of something larger than themselves and thus inflict change upon a society that seems stagnant at times.

I want to begin, however, not with how I believe Christians should respond to Earth Day, but rather how they should not. There are two extremes which clearly should be avoided.

1) We must avoid becoming obsessed with environmental aims. Not long ago I saw an article praising a youth Disciple Now weekend in which the theme was "Go Green." The author (a speaker at the event) noted that "the curriculum allows students to explore why the environment is important and what they can (and should) do about it." Disciple Now events often have a huge impact on a youth group and many result in revivals in the lives of the youth who participate. Yet, this church chose to focus not on the Gospel, but on the environment. This is a tragedy and an inappropriate response to environmental concerns. We have to remember that this world we live in, while it is under our charge, is ultimately passing away. We should expect that it will deteriorate and ultimately be destroyed. Romans 8:19-23 speaks to this reality.
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
2) The opposite response, while not as dangerous, is also inappropriate. That response is apathy, or even contempt, for environmental issues. A friend recently told me of his mega-church pastor who declared before his congregation - in response to the idea of global warming - that because such was false, we should gleefully turn on every light in our household and to be as wasteful as we desire. He claimed that Jesus was coming back soon anyway, so why worry about the environment? After all, a new heaven and a new earth is soon to appear! There are many problems with this response. Besides the fact that it is built upon a false eschatological view, the greater problem is that it does not take seriously our God-given responsibility to rule and reign over the Earth. We are called to be good stewards of all that is within our realm of responsibility. And certainly the Earth is one of those things. Another problem is that our excesses often causes others' insufficiency. I believe we are beginning to see the fruit of that in current food shortages.

So what should our response be?

1) We should reject the cult of environmentalism and not be swayed by the so-called "science" that seems to change daily. We should not place our faith in charts, weather patterns, or biofuels. Our faith firmly rests on Jesus Christ. He is not surprised by what has happened in our world. In fact, He is sovereignly in control. He alone controls the weather, the amount of radiation emanating from the sun (which actually was determined thousands of years ago), and technologies which either alleviate or add to our sufferings. Additionally, we must remember that our stewardship of this earth is not our ultimate command, nor even our penultimate one. No, we are called to be like Christ, who said nothing of taking care of the earth. His concern was that we glorify Him by being holy, loving His children, and pointing others to Him. To the extent that caring for the environment does these things, we should be involved. When it distracts us from our central message we should refrain from emphasizing it.

2) We should do what we can to insure we are indeed fulfilling our duty to attend to the creation placed in our care. That involves conservation by using our recycling bins and reducing our use of resources. We must be mindful that overuse causes a burden on others. I can't imagine that mega-church pastor preaching to the people of my congregation in Georgia that they should use as much water as they want and not worry - after all Jesus is coming soon! (For those who do not know, last year Georgia had a drought so severe that some places were forced to ration water so the supply did not completely run out.) In such cases, it is the poor who suffer the worst, since they have less resources from which to draw help. Imagine if this country experienced a famine, or energy crisis, or widespread water shortage. The impact would be massive on the poor. As the people of God we are charged to remember the poor - alleviate their suffering and prevent them from being burden.

Thus, by watching our lifestyles and taking steps to protect our world, we can fulfill God's call without losing our focus and hindering the work of the Gospel. So here are five practical ways we can make an impact on the Earth while being fixated on Christ:

1) Replace your incandescent bulbs with CFL's. This will not only lower your electricity bills, it will also lessen the load on your power grid. If whole churches did this, they could save thousands a year and make a huge impact on our energy needs.
2) Recycle. This is an easy one for most of you. All it takes is placing your recyclable items in a specific bin and placing it outside of your home with the rest of your garbage. For others, it may mean driving a short distance. But, if more did this we could lower the cost of oil-based products, and possibly oil itself, which would lessen strain on families struggling with the current fuel costs.
3) Adjust your water heater or replace it. Lowering your water heater setting to "warm" can save hundreds of dollars a year. Also, consider wrapping your heater with an insulated blanket. For more savings, replace your gas water heater with a tankless one. These cost upwards of $2000, but a federal tax credit is available for it. Finally, for the truly adventurous, you can build your own solar water heater for a few hundred dollars. Not only will you save money, but you may help alleviate the current oil shortage (which may last a long time).
4) Weather-proof your home. This is a practical, inexpensive solution that can save you hundreds of dollars a year. Weather-stripping is relatively cheap and there are plenty of guides on the internet as to how and where to apply it.
5) Purchase and use a programmable thermostat. Costs range from $40-200, but the Energy Star website claims that when properly used you can save up to $150 a year. And again, by using less energy you can lessen the burden on others.


Hopefully, this was helpful and challenged you as a Christian to take care of creation and alleviate suffering without feeling as though you have to accept the theory of global warming (which I, by the way, do not), or worship at the altar of environmentalism.
          More Changes        
Over the past few months (o.k. the past year), I have neglected my blog. I have had plenty of things to say (as most of you know), but unfortunately, I have been lazy in my writing. However, I hope to once again begin to blog soon.

Just to update those of you who still visit the blog or who subscribe by RSS, I have recently accepted a position as Pastor at a church just outside of Athens, GA - Cleveland Road Baptist Church. My wife and I will be moving there in the next couple of weeks and my first Sunday is tentatively set for May 4th. We are thrilled to have been led by the Lord to serve this congregation.

Because of that, I believe I should get back in the habit of blogging, not just for myself, but for those in my congregation, and those considering attending Cleveland Road in the Athens area. Currently we do not have a church website, but I hope to eventually put one together and link my blog to it. And I am considering a second blog, specifically for the congregation, which would be a 5-day devotional reading related to the Sunday morning sermon.

To those ends, tomorrow I will be attending the Band of Bloggers fellowship, which coincides with the Together for the Gospel Conference, which I will also be attending this week. Hopefully, I will be able to fellowship with fellow bloggers and possibly get some ideas about how to make my site better and more pointed. One of the things I have struggled with over the past year is what I should or shouldn't post on my blog. Having the title of "Christ and Culture" seems like it allows a great deal of flexibility, but in reality I believe that I want narrow the focus to issues which Christians should consider in the public square. I think other points of interest, such as liberal theological positions and Scriptural interpretation are important, but often so wide that my blog ends up being about everything instead of anything in particular. Thus, my ideas are too plentiful to create a true niche in the Christian blogosphere.

So, be patient and watch for future posts. And pray for the new chapter of our life to unfold with wonder and awe and that it would be glorifying to God.
          Through the Grace of the Lord        
A new MP3 sermon from Harmony Primitive Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Through the Grace of the Lord
Speaker: Daniel Samons
Broadcaster: Harmony Primitive Baptist Church
Event: Sunday Service
Date: 8/5/2017
Bible: Acts 15
Length: 43 min. (64kbps)

Overview: Grace is fundamental to the faith once delivered to the saints and it is the main way in which -religion- departs from the truth. Religion insists that eternal salvation is based on man's merits. Christianity teaches that eternal salvation is based entirely on the merits of Christ.
          Dual Citizenship        
A new MP3 sermon from Harmony Primitive Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Dual Citizenship
Subtitle: Sermons From the Road
Speaker: Daniel Samons
Broadcaster: Harmony Primitive Baptist Church
Event: Sunday Service
Date: 5/14/2017
Bible: Romans 13:1; Acts 5:29
Length: 43 min. (64kbps)

Overview: Christians have dual citizenship as they walk through this life. They are citizens of an earthly nation as well as citizens in the kingdom of God. The bible exhorts disciples to obey their civil government, but not without some qualifications, for -we must obey God rather than men.- -Preached at Macedonia PBC in Dalark, AR-.
          Mixtures of Joy and Sorrow        
A new MP3 sermon from Harmony Primitive Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Mixtures of Joy and Sorrow
Subtitle: Philippians
Speaker: Daniel Samons
Broadcaster: Harmony Primitive Baptist Church
Event: Sunday Service
Date: 5/7/2017
Bible: Philippians 1
Length: 43 min. (64kbps)

Overview: The Christian life is a mixture of joy and sorrow. We see this in the writings of David -Psalm 13, 20, 32- as well as in Paul's prison epistle to the church at Philippi.
          Witness: Our Purpose as Christians        
A new MP3 sermon from Harmony Primitive Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Witness: Our Purpose as Christians
Speaker: Neil Phelan Jr.
Broadcaster: Harmony Primitive Baptist Church
Event: Sunday Service
Date: 4/16/2017
Bible: Acts 5
Length: 40 min. (64kbps)

Overview: What's our purpose here as Christians- We are witnesses to the reality of a risen savior whom we have experienced and come to know by grace.
          Doth This Offend You?        
A new MP3 sermon from Harmony Primitive Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Doth This Offend You?
Speaker: Daniel Samons
Broadcaster: Harmony Primitive Baptist Church
Event: Sunday Service
Date: 4/2/2017
Bible: John 6:22-66
Length: 39 min. (64kbps)

Overview: Biblical offense is related to the idea of having a stumbling block placed before you. When Jesus Christ preached salvation by the monergistic, sovereign grace of God many were offended by this teaching, even as the majority of professing Christians are today. Doth this offend you- It shouldn't. It's the clear teaching of Christ and it utterly confounds the doctrines taught among the majority of Christians in our time. This is an hard saying. Who can hear it-
          Meet the Holy Spirit        
A new MP3 sermon from Harmony Primitive Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Meet the Holy Spirit
Subtitle: The Holy Trinity
Speaker: Neil Phelan Jr.
Broadcaster: Harmony Primitive Baptist Church
Event: Sunday Service
Date: 3/12/2017
Length: 47 min. (64kbps)

Overview: A variety of attributes and works that we as Christians can attribute to the third person of the Trinity - the Holy Spirit.
          What We Learn From Cornelius        
A new MP3 sermon from Harmony Primitive Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: What We Learn From Cornelius
Speaker: Neil Phelan Jr.
Broadcaster: Harmony Primitive Baptist Church
Event: Sunday Service
Date: 2/26/2017
Bible: Acts 10
Length: 42 min. (64kbps)

Overview: The example of Cornelius dispels two common myths in Christianity today- 1- that you become a Child of God and a Christian at the same time and 2- that you have to do something to make this happen. When we examine the scriptures we find that one does not do anything to become a child of God or to become born again, but one must be baptized under a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to become a Christian - a member of the Lord's New Testament Church.
          Born Again Chaos in the Christian Church        
A new MP3 sermon from Harmony Primitive Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Born Again Chaos in the Christian Church
Speaker: Neil Phelan Jr.
Broadcaster: Harmony Primitive Baptist Church
Event: Sunday Service
Date: 9/11/2016
Bible: John 3:7
Length: 59 min. (64kbps)

Overview: A proper understanding of the new birth shapes our doctrine and practice in the NT church.
          02 - The Beatitudes        
A new MP3 sermon from Harmony Primitive Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: 02 - The Beatitudes
Subtitle: 2016 Fall Meeting
Speaker: Don Farris
Broadcaster: Harmony Primitive Baptist Church
Event: Special Meeting
Date: 9/10/2016
Bible: Matthew 5
Length: 45 min. (64kbps)

Overview: A very profitable examination of the beatitudes of Christianity.
          A City of Refuge        
A new MP3 sermon from Harmony Primitive Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: A City of Refuge
Speaker: Neil Phelan Jr.
Broadcaster: Harmony Primitive Baptist Church
Event: Sunday Service
Date: 8/21/2016
Bible: Numbers 35:6
Length: 41 min. (64kbps)

Overview: We can draw a lot of parallels between our Christian walk and refuge we find in the NT church from the cities of refuge found in the OT.
          Christian Experience, Christian Hope        
A new MP3 sermon from Harmony Primitive Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Christian Experience, Christian Hope
Speaker: Daniel Samons
Broadcaster: Harmony Primitive Baptist Church
Event: Sunday Service
Date: 6/5/2016
Bible: Romans 7; Romans 8
Length: 55 min. (64kbps)

Overview: Those who experience the struggle of walking by the Spirit in this lifetime -Romans 7- should never lose sight of the hope that attends this experience -Romans 8-.
          New book coming soon!        
We've been hard at work on the next Restaurant Owners Uncorked book. The first one, available here on Amazon, came out five years ago next month. It has sold around 15,000 copies and has received great reviews. If you'd be interested in knowing the stories of 20 successful independent restaurant owners, you'll enjoy it. All of the owners were very honest with both their successes and their failures.

The second book features 21 owners, many of whom read the first one and told us they enjoyed it, so we asked them to be in this one! We've been collecting their pictures lately, and I wanted to share a few of them. All of them have inspiring stories and offer extremely useful wisdom they've picked up along the way in their journeys in the restaurant business.

Lisa and Julian Siegel, Riverside Market & Cafe

Rayme Rossello, Comida


Van Nolintha (right), Bida Manda

Jess Killeen, Grassburger

We hope to have the book ready for sale on Amazon by March. In the mean time, stay tuned here as we'll be sharing some of the great stories we heard from these awesome folks!

The Schedulefly Crew
Wes, Tyler, Wil, Charles and Hank

          Full Episode: December 24, 2015        

As Christians in the tri-state area settle down to celebrate Christmas Eve, we talk with a Jesuit priest who literally followed in the footsteps of Jesus through the Holy Land. Meet Father James Martin and hear the story of his New York Times best-selling book, “Jesus: A Pilgrimage.”

The post Full Episode: December 24, 2015 appeared first on MetroFocus.


          Pilgrim Meets Flatterer        
A new MP3 sermon from Center Effingham Baptist is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Pilgrim Meets Flatterer
Subtitle: Pilgrim Progress
Speaker: David L. Gilpatric
Broadcaster: Center Effingham Baptist
Event: Sunday Afternoon
Date: 7/23/2017
Bible: Proverbs 17:4-5
Length: 22 min. (64kbps)

Overview: Christian and Hopeful were on their way to the Clestial City and they meet with a man wearing a white robe but in led them astray and gave them a trial, therfore were they made sad for their error.
          Atlas Excerpt #3: The First Two Convert Priests        

Recently, Holy Cross Orthodox Press published the Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches, edited by Alexei D. Krindatch. I contributed several pieces to the Atlas, including the article “Ten Interesting Facts About the History of Orthodox Christianity in the USA.” With Alexei’s permission, we’ll publish excerpts from that article over the next couple of months.…

The post Atlas Excerpt #3: The First Two Convert Priests appeared first on OrthodoxHistory.org.


          The Virus - An Ultra Lite Novel        


The Virus
(An Ultra Lite Novel by Howdy)

This Monday started like most any day but would end anything but
typical. The Weather Channel forecasted mild atmospheric conditions
(even for November) but unfolding events would soon challenge and
startle mankind as never before.

In an elaborate government building somewhere in Rome, a multitude
of dedicated world renowned computer and technology experts studied
The Virus that had already secretly infected 98% of the planet's
computers in its first stage. Up to this point, none outside this edifice
had ascertained the existence of the silent menace.

In Jerusalem, heavy crowds were milling around The Dome of the Rock,
the third holiest site to Muslims worldwide. On the other side of the
Wall, a larger than expected crowd of Jewish worshipers prayed even
as portions of the wall continued to collapse.

In New York City, the Stock Market opened slightly higher while
down in Washington - Pentagon officials poured their second cup
of Maxwell House Decaf. Further south, the last edition of The
Atlanta Journal was being prepared while further west, parents
turned toward their offices after depositing their children at school.

Work halted temporarily in the government building as the new
dynamic and charismatic leader's entourage entered. He spoke
over the JBL sound system. "Good associates, The Virus is
scheduled to be released as planned in two stages. Stage one as
you know affects all the world's primary computers while the
second will decrease the excess occupiers that have so strained
our fragile environment. Both will begin to take effect within the
hour thanks to your hard work." He will later become Time Magazine's
"Man of the Year".

Unexpected to those in Rome, The Wall in Jerusalem collapses and
thousands of Muslims lose their lives along with hundreds of Jewish
worshipers. The Dome of the Rock along with all nearby buildings of the
Islamic Faith disappear into rubble. Within moments a very great riot
commences with each side blaming the other. Syria (with Iraq's lost
WMD) & Iran ready their hidden nuclear arsenal.

With a new surprising show of unity in Beijing, Hanoi, Jakarta, Tokyo,
Pyongyang, New Delhi along with other Far East capitals, 200 million
multi-asian troops are placed on alert. Moscow prepares its revived
army for an eventual march south....very far south.

Stage one hits Wall Street, the Pentagon, Main Street and homes
across America as well as the entire Western World. Business stops
as all funds - the complete wealth of the Industrialized World - is
transferred by computer virus via the web to Rome. All modern military
weapons are now under the new leader's absolute command as well as
the world's media (Rule of Rome once again).

As the second stage of The Virus is released, millions will become sick
and die with a highly infectious disease stronger that the SARS & Ebola
viruses combined. Fortunately for some, certain large groups of people
have been quietly immunized earlier. Millions of Christians disappear at
5 PM EST (Midnight in Jerusalem) virtually unnoticed because of the
pandemonium. The controlled media is not allowed to print this story.

The President is declared lost because Air Force One is down over the
Atlantic according to managed reports but did his aircraft ever leave
Andrews Air Force Base? Is this a cover up from Rome to perhaps hide
his evanescence also? Other prominent members of the President's
Party are missing but from the other side? Exiguous.

This disappearance will go virtually unnoticed because of the manipulated
media and its potentate who controls also the world's assets & armaments -
the ultimate coup d' tat - all without a shot being fired. He will woo the planet,
restore peace to the Middle East for a short time with false promises of pro-
tection as well as rebuild a new Jewish Temple on the destroyed site. The
Islamic world will cheer because their faith has expected this great new leader.
With an appearance before nearly all mankind live on all media (TV, radio, &
even computers on-line), men, women, and children are mesmerized. Stay tuned...

After The Return of The King:
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall
not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they
learn war anymore.


          When Your Husband Derides Your Faith        
In response to a recent post of mine entitled When You Love Someone Who Doesn’t Love Christ, a woman wrote me the following heartbreaking letter: John, I don’t believe that I happened across your blog by accident. I’m fairly new to the Christian journey, being a “recovering Catholic.” When my husband and I got married eight […]
          No One REALLY Walks and Talks With Jesus        
When speaking about matters of faith, we Christians use (duh: what else?) the only language available to us. But using language to capture the reality of God is like trying to use numbered children’s blocks to teach quantum physics. It’s simply insufficient for the job. By default, then, the language we employ to describe our […]
          4 Common Myths of Christians Rationalizing Cohabiting        
The church is also seeing an increase in cohabitation. In recent months, one particular article has struck a chord among many believers by declaring that moving in together before marriage may be acceptable. The author tells the story of how she and her boyfriend have bought a house and moved in together. She’s received a fair amount of criticism, but she explains it away.[2]
          How Evangelicals Lost the Culture War Before it Started: LGBTQ Infiltrators and Facilitators        
By Thomas Littleton Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to change the churches’ Biblical stand on LGBTQ.  In 2014, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) came to the deep south with $8.5 million to push Project One America with “A Christian Conversation Guide” training manual to organize and mobilize the LGBTQ community into the […]
          sambungan ancaman dari dalam negeri        
4. Gerakan Republik Maluku Selatan ( RMS )
Gerakan Republik Maluku Selatan dipelopori oleh Mr. Dr. Christian Robert
Steven Soumokil ( mantan Jaksa Agung Negara Indonesia Timur ) dibantu oleh
Manusama. Soumokil tidak setuju atas terbentuknya Negara Kesatuan Republik
Indonesia. Bahkan, ia sendiri tidak menyetujui penggabungan daerah – daerah negara
Indonesia Timur menjadi kekuasaan Republik Indonesia. Ia berusaha melepaskan
wilayah Maluku Tengah dari NIT ( Negara Indonesia Timur ) yang menjadi bagian dari
RIS. Manusama menghasut para Rajapati ( Kepala Desa ) untuk setuju mendirikan
RMS, melalui rapat umum di Kota Ambon tanggal 18 April 1950.
Ketika jalan damai tidak menghasilkan apa – apa, Pemerintah RIS
memtuskan untuk melaksanakan ekspedisi militer. Pimpinan ekspedisi adalah Kolonel
A.E. Kawilarang ( Panglima Tentara dan Teritorium Indonesia Timur ). Melalui
ekspedisi militer itu secara perlahan wilayah – wilayah gerakan RMS berhasil dikuasai
kembali oleh pasukan APRIS. Beberapa anggotanya melarikan diri ke negeri Belanda.
Gerakan RMS berhasil diatasi sehingga keamanan di wilayah Maluku Tengah pulih
kembali.
5. Gerakan Pemerintah Revolusioner republik Indonesia / Perjuangan Rakyat
Semesta ( PRRI / Permesta )

Gerakan PRRI / Permesta muncul di tengah keadaan politik yang sedang
tidak stabil dalam pemerintahan. Hubungan yang tidak mesra antara pemeritah pusat
dengan beberapa daerah menjadi salah satu pemicu timbulnya gerakan ini. Keadaan itu
disebabkan oleh ketidakpuasan beberapa daerah di Sumatera dan Sulawesi terhadap
alokasi biaya pembangunan dari Pemerintah Pusat.
Untuk memulihkan kembali keadaan negara, Pemerintah dengan KSAD
memutuskan untuk melaksanakan operasi militer gabungan yang diberi nama Operasi
17 Agustus.
Untuk menghadapi kekuatan Permesta, Pemerintah melancarkan Operasi
Sapta Marga pada bulan April 1958. Ternyata gerakan Permesta mendapat bantuan dari
pihak asing. Terbukti dengan tertembak jatuhnya pesawat asing yang dikemudikan oleh
A.L. Pope ( Warga Negara Amerika Serikat ), pada tanggal 18 Mei 1958 di Kota
Ambon. Gerakan Permesta baru dapat dilumpuhkan sekitar bulan Agustus 1958, tetapi
sisa – sisanya baru dapat ditumpas secara keseluruhan tahun 1961.
          Cara Memperbanyak Teman di Facebook Dalam 5 Menit        
http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=448913350003

1. Masuk ke http://www.facebook.com/invite.php?ref=tn
2. Copy Seluruh Email Di bawah.
3. Paste di kolom Kepada atau To
4. Klik Undang atau Invite... teman anda akan bertambah dalam sekejap.

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caron_sinclair@hotmail.com,raveslave@hotmail.co.uk, alexdo128@gmail.com, alexdo128@hotmail.com, voldemort_316@hotmail.com,jenjenwalters@gmail.com, kittpry@yahoo.com, courtneamore@gmail.com, jonathangibbs@adelphia.net, matt.shipstone@blueyonder.co.uk, jenjenwalters@yahoo.com, roarkssister@gmail.com, gogowhippets@yahoo.com, zenchar87@gmail.com, shocker1345@adelphia.net,donnydonny66@hotmail.com,ginoboscariol@hotmail.com,pjcogar@yahoo.com, joecramp123@hotmail.co.uk, kirstypeacey19@hotmail.com, perlauritzen@hotmail.com, lau-kile@online.no, kcattine@hotmail.com, kcattine@yahoo.com, xtremeganesh@hotmail.com, neo_inside@yahoo.com, rajer_94@yahoo.com; amsouthworth@hotmail.com,btassignon@gmail.com,mrbags@hotmail.com,danny.solomon@gmail.com, iacovus79@yahoo.com, kullest_destiny@hotmail.com, ,Ombada@gmail.com,a.r.o2006@hotmail.com,aloyaal@hotmail.com,psyrus_10@hotmail.com, damian_amberg@yahoo.com, gen711@aol.com, sweetlemon888@hotmail.com,mike_gil@sympatico.ca, riomenajang@yahoo.com,j 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calluch@hotmail.com,tonmoy_alam19@hotmail.com,vinay_bgh@rediffmail.com,enyaht_sivad190@hotmail.com,traceyx35@hotmail.com, john_young33@yahoo.com, kahyoon@gmail.com, A_roc636@yahoo.com, elizabethabauer@gmail.com,mblake@mix.wvu.edu, hazon-midion@hotmail.com, youngkiwis@gmail.com,midknyghtdrym2001@yahoo.com,rayan_a_s@hotmail.com, amalone13@hotmail.co.uk, silver.amir@yahoo.com, tma122@hotmail.com, discoverystore@gmail.com, m_843589@hotmail.com,sunnyy2k1025@hotmail.com,landon_89@hotmail.com, chiefbradd@aol.com, johnthemobster@yahoo.com, tangiblewhisper@gmail.com,gz410@verizon.net, rrw2659@email.vccs.edu, amir_ben_abou@yahoo.com, amirco2@hotmail.com, voodoo.woman@comcast.net, shareanoxley@yahoo.com, frutariano@hotmail.com, devojkt@hotmail.com, courtneamore@yahoo.com, pchak420@yahoo.com, j_a_west@hotmail.co.uk, caron_sinclair@hotmail.com, raveslave@hotmail.co.uk, alexdo128@gmail.com, alexdo128@hotmail.com, voldemort_316@hotmail.com,jenjenwalters@gmail.com, kittpry@yahoo.com, 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          MLK Day and Your Average Wiccan Priestess        
There is a huge ambivalence in this community--and I suspect in others--between traditional African-American Christians and people who self-identify as Wiccan, Pagan or, heaven forbid, witches. It is deeply cultural and entrenched, and will require a concerted effort on both sides to come to a place of reconciliation.
          Booking Through Thursday        
Booking Through Thursday can be found right here.

Movies have a rating system to help guide the consumer weed out adult/violent/inappropriate kinds of films. Video games do, too. Do you think BOOKS should have a ratings system?

I really, really don't. I believe that parents should pay attention to their children's reading, and in some cases screen (a friend once asked me, "How old do you think a girl should be to read Twilight?" and I replied, "About 28") and definitely discuss, but I don't like the "slap a rating on it" approach. It oversimplifies. And in the case of the MPAA, let's look at the ridiculousness of a bit of nudity warranting a stricter rating than, say, a character gunning down dozens of people. I think that parents should be tuned in to what their children are reading, but I don't know that a rating system is at all helpful. There have been books I've picked up without knowing they were Christian fiction, and I wished there had been a warning label, so I do think an accurate synopsis/teaser is a good thing. My daughter is only six, but as she gets older and reads more independently, I plan to keep an eye on her reading, not to censor, but to ensure we discuss complex issues that may come up. I don't see how an outside agency's opinion really helps me do that.
          Boys’ basketball: 2009-10 rankings        
Four weeks after I posted next year’s girls’ basketball preseason rankings, I’m giving equal time for the boys. Again, the rankings are loosely based on mathematics — (2008-09 W-L pct. ) x (pct. returning ppg) — with a little fudging based on tradition. For instance, Linn-Mar, Western Christian, Pella Christian and others get a little bit […]
          Top 5 ‘heresies’ of 2016: ‘One God,’ biblical authority and more        
(RNS) As Christians prepared to mark 500 years since Martin Luther -- one of history's great heretics, or heroes, depending on your point of view -- 2016 found them debating theological questions most thought had been settled a millennium ago.
          Richard Rohr wants Christians to see the Trinity as a divine dance        
(RNS) A Franciscan priest and a popular spiritual writer, Rohr encourages Christians to avoid dualistic thinking.
          Seeing Through Jazz, Darkly        
Being a Christian artist—or an artist who happens to be Christian, or however you want to taxonomize it —can make you feel a bit like Odysseus. Caught between the Scylla of earnest preachiness and the Charybdis of vague nothingness, how do you create art that is meaningful but not pedantic, rooted in a Christian vision […]
          Comment on Why Does Megan Fox Hate Christians and Middle America? by Missouri Chan        
She's a satanist like most of the mainstream actors/actresses/singers. Christians need to have compassion and pray for her. Paula Patton is the most stunningly drop dead gorgeous actress in Hollywood and she's also a Christian with a warm, loving, beautiful heart. Everyone in Hollywood isn't biased, hateful and mean spirited. But we have to pray for the people who are because many times they may be hurting more deeply than we realize.
          Sacred Music From Syria        
Erik Hillestad is the founder of a Norwegian record label called Kirkelig Kulturverksted, or KKV. He just wound up a two-year project in which traveled to the Middle East and made recordings of sacred music of both the Christian and Muslim faiths. The result is a CD entitled “Syrian Prayers: Sacred Music from Bilad Al […]
          Separation and Divorce – Correctly Understanding Matthew 19 – From A First Century, Jewish Context        
Hey there Christian – Yeah you!  Do you really think that our Messiah and Master taught against marriage?  Do you really think that the very One who ordained marriage in Genesis 2 and spoke the very words, “It is not good for man to be alone” – would then openly oppose marriage and endorse “the […]
          WHY I DO NOT CELEBRATE BIRTHDAYS        
Have you ever prayed and asked Father, whether (or not) you should be celebrating birthdays? Most of us grew up as Christians and earnestly believed we were “set free from the law” (when all reality it is the curse of the law that we were set free from – i.e. sin and death – Gal. […]
          Black Boys and Gorillas: The Cincinnati Zoo Incident and Alice Walker’s “Entertaining God”        
Earlier this summer, a three-year-old boy entered a gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo and was violently and repeatedly dragged through a moat by a 450-pound gorilla before zoo officials killed the gorilla and rescued the boy, who sustained no serious injuries. News of the encounter between boy and gorilla, only ten minutes in total, and the subsequent killing of a western lowland silverback gorilla, one of a critically endangered species, spurred a lot of response on the web. Outraged by the gorilla’s death, news stories and independent commenters questioned the zoo officials’ haste in killing the gorilla without trying other methods of rescuing the boy first, the boy’s mother’s childrearing abilities, and even the jail record of the boy’s father (not present at the time of the incident). These kinds of responses might seem ridiculous at first glance. Yes, it is tragic that a gorilla was killed, but the incident is not incomprehensible. Haven’t most of us momentarily looked away from a child under our care only to turn back and find him or her doing something dangerous? And, in any case when a child is the grasp of a wild animal, wouldn’t most of us agree that he or she should be saved in the timeliest way possible? As others have since pointed out, race is the underlying issue in many of the comments that people have made regarding this little boy and his parents, all of whom are black. The disparaging—and cruel—remarks that people have made regarding these three are ultimately unsurprising, given the predominant understanding in the US of black fathers as absent, black mothers as negligent, and black boys as delinquent.

In interesting ways, the Cincinnati Zoo incident echoes the plot of Alice Walker’s short story “Entertaining God” (1973). “Entertaining God” contains three sections that seem to connect only loosely. In the first section, a black teenager, named John, leads a gorilla away from the Bronx Zoo, performs ritual sacrifice to the gorilla, and is killed by the animal; in the second one, John’s father dies in a tornado; and, in the third, John’s mother attempts, only somewhat successfully, to connect to her dead son by performing poetry readings for college students. Stereotypes of black men, women, and boys are in play in this story as well, as John’s father has left his son to pursue a relationship with another woman, John’s mother is distant and clearly unaware of her son’s plans for the gorilla, and John himself succeeds in stealing an animal from the zoo.

In preparation for teaching “Entertaining God” next semester, I poked around in the MLA Bibliography database to get a sense of the critical conversation surrounding Walker’s work. It turns out that there isn’t much written about her short stories at all, and some of what I found isn’t flattering. In “Alice Walker: The Achievement of the Short Fiction,” for instance, Alice Hall Petry discusses Walker’s “capacity to produce stories that are sometimes extraordinarily good, sometimes startlingly weak” (12). Petry seems to place “Entertaining God,” included in Walker’s first collection, In Love & Trouble, in the second category, claiming that “the story comes across as a disjointed, fragmentary, aborted novella” (21). According to Petry, the story “would make no sense to a reader unfamiliar with Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood” (21), a novel that also includes a series of episodes with a teenaged boy—in this case white—and a gorilla. Although I agree with Petry that Walker’s stories are hit or miss, I see “Entertaining God” as a better one. I think that the story coheres thematically, despite the fact that each section takes on a new main character and setting, and that it provides the details needed to comprehend its meaning. And, although familiarity with Wise Blood might enhance a reader’s appreciation for the inclusion of a gorilla, the Cincinnati Zoo incident provides a new context for the story, placing it in conversation with those who have questioned the parenting abilities of the mother and father in Cincinnati and the value of their son’s life in comparison to that of a zoo animal as well as in historical relationship to the shooting of a gorilla to save a black boy’s life. I would argue that the three vignettes presented in the story portray the struggle for and difficulty (impossibility?) of survival for black men, women, and children in a white supremacist culture, both of which are still at issue in the rhetoric surrounding the recent Cincinnati Zoo incident.

As the title indicates, “Entertaining God” is particularly interested in religion in a way that the commenters on the Cincinnati Zoo shooting have not been. The subheading for the first part of the story, “John, the son. Loving the God given him” (99), suggests that what follows will depict an act of worship. And, indeed, John’s two days with the gorilla, at first “drowsy from the medicine the zoo keepers had given him” (99) and later “powerful and large and twitching with impatience” (105), are depicted as a journey toward the spiritual ecstasy that inhabits John’s final act of sacrifice to the idolized gorilla. To begin, John and the gorilla hike to the top of a hill near the zoo, a vantage point from which John is able to observe the activities of everyday human life below, perceiving the “cars whiz[ing] to and fro” as insect-like nuisances, “wasps or big flies,” to be “swatted” away in order to focus on his higher purpose with the gorilla (100). When the gorilla passes out as an effect of the drugs he received before John led him away from the zoo, John prepares a loaf of bread and bottle of red wine, traditionally used to symbolize the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood in the Christian sacrament of communion, for giving the gorilla “the homage he deserved from him” the next day (101). When he wakes up the next morning, John is “exhilarated” (102) and begins to build a fire “with slow ritualistic movements” (103). He positions the still-groggy gorilla above him, on “a shallow rise overlooking the fire,” and proceeds to burn several pieces of bread and repeatedly “[bow] all the way down to the ground in front of the gorilla” (104). Finally, John pours the contents of the wine bottle into the fire and lays “the burnt offering at the feet of his savage idol” (105). By this time, the gorilla has reclaimed full consciousness and is frustrated by John’s destruction of each item of food before him. Predictably, even to John, who anticipates with some relish that, after the ritual, “everything [will] be over” (101), the gorilla quickly dispatches with the boy and eats the burnt bread.

In its depiction of John’s experiences with the gorilla, the story reveals that the boy is simply “embrac[ing] the God that others—his mother—had chosen for him” (100). Here, John’s mother is singled out as having significantly contributed to the designation of the gorilla as John’s God. After learning more about the mother’s character in the course of the story, however, it becomes clear that she would never literally encourage the worship of a gorilla. She is, however, at least before John’s death, fervently devoted to assimilation to the dominant white culture, taking great pains to approximate whiteness in both her appearance and behavior. In the last minutes of his life, John’s father reflects on the changes that she underwent in the first years of their relationship. He was initially attracted to her because she was “loose and fun and because she had long red hair” (106). After they were married, though, she stopped dying her hair and started wearing gray suits. Because he was a hairdresser, she had him “conquer the kinks” to create an “unimaginative” hairstyle, and he found that “the duller he could make [her] look the more respectable [she] felt” (106-107). She acted as if she would have liked to change her husband’s appearance as well, having their wedding pictures “touched up so that he did not resemble himself,” replacing his “black and stubbly and rough” skin in the photographs with “olive brown and smooth” skin (106). When John was born, his parents discovered that the child possessed “all of the physical characteristics that in the Western world are scorned,” that “[h]is nose was flat, his mouth too wide” (108). John’s father recalls that “John’s mother was always fussing over John but hated him because he looked like his father instead of her. She blamed her husband for what he had ‘done to’ John” (108). In this passage, it is unclear whether John’s mother “hated” her husband or her son because of either of their characteristically African American features, but, either way, her son ultimately internalizes her antipathy toward blackness, learning to view his father “with an expression faintly contemptuous” (108) and destroying his own black person through self-sacrifice to the gorilla. Fittingly, as she is the one who chose John’s God, “[o]nly his mother had been able to piece together the details of his death” (110). In response to her son’s death, John’s mother seeks to “vindicate herself from former ways of error” (109) and, thus, begins writing poetry lamenting her previous attempts at “incipient whiteness” (110). Although John’s mother didn’t tell her son to worship the gorilla that he takes from the zoo, she clearly feels responsible for his misguided act of self-sacrifice and atones for her mistakes by reversing her position on assimilation. Through John’s mother’s attitudes toward race before her son’s death and her drastic reversal of these attitudes after his death, the story makes the symbology of the gorilla very clear. It represents that which is most predominantly worshipped in the story’s setting of the US in the 1960s and 70s—whiteness.

John’s father had rejected this worship of whiteness after he left John and his mother, marrying “a sister in the Nation” and then endeavoring with her “to preach the Word to those of their people who had formerly floundered without it” (107). Instead of assimilating, as John’s mother did, John’s father had followed the custom of many in the Nation of Islam of taking the last name of X (107), a practice intended as a reminder that the ancestors of many black individuals in the US were stripped of their surnames and renamed by slaveholders. Unlike John’s mother, John’s father’s new wife “wore his color and the construction of his features like a badge” (108). Still, in the moments before his death, John’s father recalls that he had chosen “a new religion more dangerous than the old” (108). The danger of his new beliefs is perhaps most fully manifested in the tornado that takes his life. In the world of this story, it seems that neither acceptance nor rejection of white supremacy can ensure a black person’s survival.

Besides John’s mother, there are two others who do likely survive in “Entertaining God,” however. When they realize that they are destined for the belly of a tornado, John’s father and “the plain black girl who was his second wife . . . . r[u]n toward the refrigerator, frantically pulling out the meager dishes of food, flinging a half-empty carton of milk across the room, and making a place where the vegetables and fruits should have been for the[ir] two children to crouch” (105). John’s father imagines that the children will be rescued after the storm and will mostly forget “in twenty years the plain black girl and the man who was their father” (106). The implication is that the children will live—knowing nothing of the gorilla that killed their brother and remembering little of the tornado that took their parents. At the end of the action relayed by the story, readers are then left with three characters: a “black radical [poet]” (109) who inspires “new proud blackness and identification with their beauty” among the students—about the same age as her son would have been had he lived—who attend her readings (111) and two children who will grow to adulthood among the rhetoric of “the Black revolution” (109) espoused by the activists and poets of John’s mother’s elk. Instead of fulfilling the stereotypes of black men and women that they seem to fit upon first glance, the three adults in “Entertaining God” actively work to protect their children and to create a changed world for future generations. The story leaves open the possibility that the students who John’s mother inspires with her poetry and the two children who John’s father and stepmother shelter from the tornado will live fulfilling lives in a world changed by the difficult social projects undertaken by those of the older generation introduced in the story.

This hope for the future, which is partially concealed within the sad story of John’s death at the hand of a gorilla, is perhaps realized in its contemporary corollary, the incident at the Cincinnati Zoo. Like “Entertaining God,” the incident in Cincinnati began with a black boy’s violent encounter with a gorilla. Unlike in the story, though, the Cincinnati Zoo incident ended with the rescue of the boy. That the boy’s rescue has been challenged and his mother and father’s willingness and ability to parent questioned does not change the fact that the zoo officials very quickly chose the survival of a black boy over the life of a gorilla. Read in tandem with “Entertaining God,” the Cincinnati Zoo incident perhaps indicates some amount of social progress. In the case of the Cincinnati Zoo, black life was protected, at least initially. It did not succumb to the white supremacy that destroys it in Walker’s story. The public backlash against the boy in Cincinnati and his parents are of a piece with other movements in the contemporary US through which radical social conservatives are voicing their desperation in opposing the unstoppable train of social progress that has transported us from the revolutionary poetry and Black Nationalists of the 1960s and 70s to the Black Lives Matter movement in the present and that must—and will—continue to move us, despite the protests of white supremacists, toward a future of racial equality.

Works Cited

Petry, Alice Hall. “Alice Walker: The Achievement of the Short Fiction.” Modern Language Studies19.1 (1989): 12-27.


Walker, Alice. “Entertaining God.” In Love & Trouble: Stories of Black Women. Orlando: Harcourt, 1995. 

          Christianity as Progress in Season 3 of Vikings?        
Big fans of television series available for binge-watching after the kids go to sleep, my husband and I recently worked through the first three seasons of the History Channel’s hit Vikings. So far, the series has followed the rise of Scandinavian Ragnar Lothbrok from farmer to earl to king and his growing interest in Western Europe and mostly successful exploits in England and France. Although roundly criticized for its historical inaccuracies, Vikings is loosely based on Scandinavian figures and events passed down through the oral tradition to writers who finally recorded them during the late Middle Ages. It includes the infamous Viking raid of the monastery at Lindisfarne, for instance, as well as the figure of Rollo, known in history as having founded the Scandinavian settlement of Normandy and as the great-great-great grandfather of William the Conqueror. The character of Ragnarhimself is based on a legendary king and hero, said to have battled Charlemagne and borne important warrior sons (the same sons whom he is shown to have fathered in the show as well). The accuracy of the legends of Ragnar are debated by historians, some saying that they are based in truth and others perceiving them as mostly fictional. Vikingsadmittedly plays fast and loose with history, combining legends from diverse regions of Scandinavia (by, for instance, depicting Rollo as Ragnar’s brother) and often flouting the chronology of historical occurrences (by placing Ragnar in the time of Charles II’s rule instead of Charlemagne’s, to name one example). Moreover, while many of the events depicted in the show might plausibly have happened within the Scandinavian cultures of the early Middle Ages, others seem unlikely. The intense (and often homoerotic) friendship that develops between Ragnar and Athelstan, a monk who Ragnar captures in the Lindisfarne raid, is one such fabrication, perhaps unrealistic but effectively used in the show to heighten one of the central tensions of the series—between the paganism of the Scandinavians and the Christianity of the Western Europeans.

Athelstan originally perceives the Vikings as heralds of Satan, sent from God as punishment for the sins of man, but he comes to respect and love Ragnar, teaching him the language of the English and sharing information about the cities and cultures of Western Europe. When he is first taken captive, Athelstan brings a religious text with him to Scandinavia, and he is shown as reading it faithfully during his first few months as a slave to Ragnar and his family. He also maintains his practice of tonsure, very painfully and bloodily using a dull blade to shave the top of his head. But, as he becomes more and more integrated into Ragnar’s family and community, Athelstan begins to doubt the existence and power of Christ. He calls out to God, saying that, for the first time in his life, he cannot feel His presence. Eventually, Athelstan’s holy book disintegrates, and he begins wearing his hair in the style of the Scandinavians. He accepts an arm ring from Ragnar when the latter becomes earl, thus pledging his allegiance to Ragnar and the ways of the Scandinavians. In Season 2, Athelstan returns to England to raid with Ragnar and, through a series of extraordinary events, becomes the prisoner—and confidant—of the intelligent but morally dubious King Ecbert of Wessex. At this point, Athelstan eagerly returns to the kind of writing that he once did at the monastery, this time transcribing Ecbert’s secret Roman scrolls. He is unable to resume priesthood, however, professing that he has strayed too far from his Christian beliefs. A dark beast—symbolic perhaps of his sin against God or maybe of the duty that he now owes to Odin—haunts him in waking dreams, and he seems to feel, at once, disloyal to Christ and to the belief system of the Scandinavians. Athelstan even admits to Ecbert that Scandinavian customs are, in some ways, superior to English customs. When given the opportunity, Athelstan leaves England, to reside again in Scandinavia with Ragnar, who offers him affection and protection—as well as a somewhat more consistent moral code than Ecbert’s.

In his interactions with both Ragnar and Ecbert, Athelstan acts—sometimes unwittingly—as an agent of what either king, and certainly the show’s viewers, might perceive as “progress.” As a former monk, he is a learned man, and he affirms Ecbert’s appreciation for Roman architecture, art, and literature. He agrees with Ecbert that the Christians have much to learn from pagans—presumably both Roman and Scandinavian—and encourages Ecbert’s curiosity in Scandinavian customs and his decision to allow the Scandinavians to settle in Wessex. Athelstan shares information with Ragnar about England and France that ultimately facilitates profitable Scandinavian raids, settlement in the fertile regions of Western Europe, and adoption of important technological advances in farming equipment (a plough in Season 2) and weaponry (a cross-bow in Season 3). On many occasions, Athelstan acts as translator between the Scandinavians and the Western Europeans, enabling that which we know to be the massive changes in the cultures and languages of Western Europe that the Viking settlements ultimately produced. Perhaps most importantly, Athelstan promotes the blending of traditions, teaching Ragnar to recite the Lord’s Prayer, for example, before taking up arms himself to fight in his now beloved friend’s battle for the kingship of Scandinavia. Indeed, Athelstan seems to embody cultural exchange, which both Ragnar and Ecbert value, at least in part, and certainly that many 21st-century viewers imagine as progressive in our age of globalization.

(As another example of how Vikings plays with history, we might note that Ecbert, Athelstan, and Athelstan’s son Alfred, borne of Athelstan’s affair with Ecbert’s daughter-in-law and so far fiercely protected by Ecbert despite the infant’s well-known status as a bastard, are all also based on historical figures. The historical Ecbert was a Christian king of Wessex who battled regularly with the pagan Vikings. Alfred the Great was Ecbert’s grandson, and he made peace with the Scandinavians after their king Gunthrum was baptized. Finally, the historical Athelstanwas the grandson of Alfred, and he ousted the sitting Scandinavian ruler from the Viking settlement of York. As with their counterparts in the show, the lives and times of these three figures were very much influenced by the conflicts—and blending—of English culture and Viking culture as well as Christianity and paganism.)

Late in Season 3, however, Athelstan’s symbology in the show shifts. No longer does he seem to promote the blending of traditions but, instead, advocates for a return to seeing Christianity as distinct from—and superior to—paganism. He experiences a sign from God and returns with fervor to his Christian faith. After a scene in which he seems to re-baptize himself in the waters off the coast of Scandinavia, he tosses his arm ring out to sea. Athelstan then announces to Ragnar that he has been born again and that he can no longer stay in Ragnar’s kingdom. Ragnar refuses to allow him to go, saying that Athelstan is the only person who he can truly trust, and the scene ends with Athelstan reaffirming his dedication to Ragnar’s planned attack on Paris. In some ways, this seems another example of Athelstan’s ability to blend belief systems: he is renewed in his Christianity but willing to facilitate a Viking raid of an important Christian city, indeed, the center of Western Christendom during much of the Middle Ages. But, when Athelstan is killed by a member of Ragnar’s inner circle who fears Athelstan’s growing Christian influence over the king, Ragnar remembers him as a Christian, first and foremost. Ragnar carries Athelstan’s dead body to the top of a tall hill and buries him there, intending to lay him to rest as close to Athelstan’s god as he can get him. He then places Athelstan’s cross necklace around his own neck and shaves his head in a bloody scene reminiscent of Athelstan’s shaving episode at the beginning of the series. As Vikings creator Michael Hirst has pointed out in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, here, Ragnar adopts a version of the Christian practice of tonsure to signal the significant change that he has experienced as a result of his friend’s death.

Like Athelstan during his time in Wessex, Ragnar seems caught between Christianity and paganism at this point in the show. When he is injured in the raid on Paris and fears that he is dying, he imagines two competing visions of that which awaits him after death. One of these is the figure of Odin, pictured throughout the series as a black silhouette with a raven on his shoulder; the other is Athelstan, who seems to function, for Ragnar, as a stand-in for the Christian God. Ragnar reaches toward Athelstan, but the latter turns to walk away, and Ragnar is left with Odin. Fearing eternal separation from his friend, Ragnar bargains with the Parisians, agreeing to send his warriors back to Scandinavia in exchange for a large quantity of gold and, more importantly, his own baptism and Christian burial. When he is baptized in front of his shocked and angry kinsmen, Ragnar seems to have finally chosen, like Athelstan, Christianity over paganism. After he is carried inside the Parisian cathedral for his final rites, however, Ragnar jumps up from his casket and brutally slays the Christian priest who had previously expressed revulsion at the prospect of having to baptize him. Ragnar escapes the battle that ensues and, then, in the final scene of the season, is shown aboard a Viking longship bound for home in Scandinavia.

Given Althelstan’s and Ragnar’s conflicted thoughts and contradictory behaviors in Season 3, it is difficult to interpret the show’s message regarding Christian conversion. Throughout Season 1 and Season 2, Athelstan suffers with his conflicting feeling of duty toward Christ and his attraction to the Vikings gods, but he lives with both and seems to work toward an ethic of cultural exchange that perhaps most viewers in the 21st-century can get behind. For his part, Ragnar is presented as a visionary, a leader who imagines a better future for his people through raiding and settlement in Western Europe. His attachment to Athelstan is used to highlight the conflicts between Christianity and paganism in the Viking Age, but viewers are also able to see it as indicative of Ragnar’s willingness to embrace the kind of progress embodied in the priest-turned-Viking-warrior, the progress of economic and financial advancement for the Scandinavians as well as of the cultural blending that occurred between Scandinavians and Western Europeans during this historical period. Given their characterization throughout the series, what are we to make of Athelstan’s and Ragnar’s actions in Season 3? Is Athelstan still representative of progress? Is Ragnar still dedicated to progress? Maybe most importantly, is cultural blending still inherent to progress?

Since Athelstan is gone from the show by the end of the season, we are left to reckon most violently with Ragnar’s lingering dedication to his dead friend and his resulting baptism, as well as his decision in the last episode to kill the Christian priest and return to Scandinavia with his people. I would argue that there are ways to read Ragnar’s actions in the last few episodes as in keeping with his role as visionary. It is plausible, for example, that Ragnar is baptized only to ensure that he rejoin Athelstan in the afterlife but that he intends to remain loyal to Scandinavian traditions during his remaining time on Earth and, thus, that the baptism signals only the further blending of cultural systems that we have witnessed heretofore through Athelstan. Ragnar’s baptism might also serve as simply one more move toward the progress that he sees as essential for his people. Historically, of course, the adoption—or partial, or even feigned, adoption—of Christianity eased the way for Scandinavian groups’ acceptance in Western European trading and settlement. Renowned Viking historian Anders Winroth offers further clarification of the reasons for conversion, stating that the Scandinavians came to perceive Christianity as prestigious by associating it with the material wealth that they found in raiding monasteries and, ironically, that Scandinavian leaders sometimes used the practice of converting potential followers to Christianity as a way of convincing them to dedicate themselves to these leaders’ future raids in Western Europe. Whether to align their beliefs with those of new friends, to appease the Christian rulers of Western Europe, or to gain Scandinavian followers, masses of Scandinavians did eventually convert to Christianity throughout the Middle Ages. Ragnar’s baptism, therefore, seems at least somewhat historically plausible and, in that it foreshadows the future of conversion in store for his people, in keeping with his characterization as adept at navigating the tides of change in order advance the interests of his kinsmen.

Nonetheless, it is difficult (and disappointing) to imagine this show as depicting progress as simply a matter of conversion to Christianity instead of a process of cultural blending. My hope is that Ragnar and Ecbert, as well as other important figures in the show, will continue to contend, in complex and convincing ways, with the clashes between their two cultures and belief systems in Season 4, scheduled for release in early 2016—despite the show’s loss of Athelstan as a figurehead of cultural exchange.

Ready for a new show . . .
Until then, my husband I will have to find a new series. Any suggestions?




          "The Golden Virgin" of Amiens Cathedral        
I'm not quite sure how, but I survived my first semester of teaching two literature classes and two humanities classes. I finished up this week, submitting final grades on Monday. Since then, I've been fine-tuning my syllabi for next semester. I'll be teaching two sections of the literature course that I've been teaching for a year now and two sections of HONRS 202, the second course in the humanities sequence. This course will cover The Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Enlightenment. In preparation for the HONRS 202, I've also designed a sample "Art Presentation." For this assignment, I'm going to ask student groups to design a presentation that analyzes a work of art from the period. The assignment is detailed; if you're interested, let me know, and I'll send you a copy.

So, here is the rough script for my sample presentation entitled, "The Golden Virgin: A Tale of Lost Luster." Actually, it's a lot more like an essay at this point. I'll more it into a speech format at some point before I present it in January. The link to the slide show (which I made in Mixbook, so is more like a scrapbook than a slide show, really) is listed at the top. Enjoy, and give feedback!

The Golden Virgin: A Tale of Lost Luster

1. Today I’ll be talking to you about a sculptural piece built into the Amiens Cathedral in France known as “The Golden Virgin.” “The Golden Virgin” is a full-length depiction of Mary, who, in the Christian tradition, conceived a child through an act of God and ultimately bore Jesus Christ the Savior. In this piece, a crowned Virgin is holding the baby Jesus with one arm against her hip and pointing toward him with the other hand. Surrounded by angelic figures, Mary is smiling down at her child. In its typical Gothic portrayal of the Virgin Mary as both a sort of divine queen and a very earthly mother, this piece resonates with the larger tension of our Middle Ages unit between the spiritual and the secular. Because of this conflicted depiction of such an iconic female figure, “The Golden Virgin” also raises questions about the roles and treatment of women—and especially mothers—during this historical period. This presentation will show that the changing representations of the Virgin during the Middle Ages empowered women in some ways but mostly worked to contain them within the oppressive rhetoric of a male-centered church and culture in general. My subtitle, therefore, is meant to connote a double meaning; just as the Virgin’s original gold paint finally faded away, so, too, did the initial appeal of the “Cult of the Virgin” ultimately lose its luster for the women of the Western world.

2. In fact, I would argue that the rhetoric of the “Cult of the Virgin,” which we will examine in this presentation, has left us with a legacy that continues to work to oppress women. In order to move toward this point, I would like to start with a look at a couple of relatively contemporary depictions of mothers. As we are watching these clips, in fact, I’d like for you to watch for the tension between a spiritual form of mothering and a worldly form of mothering, the sort of tension that is depicted in “The Golden Virgin” of the early 13th century. So, now I present you with June Cleaver vs. Claire Dunphy. The first clip that I’d like to show you is from an episode of Leave It to Beaver, a popular sitcom that ran from 1957-1963. In this clip, the stereotypical 1950s suburban housewife June Cleaver is talking to her son about God. (Play June Cleaver clip.) Let’s take a look at a mother who plays her more earthly counterpart, Claire Dunphy of the currently popular Modern Family. (Play Claire Dunphy clip.) We will return to these two clips at the end of the presentation, but just keep these in the back of your mind as contemporary representations of the two sides of the tension between divine and earthly motherhood depicted in “The Golden Virgin.”

3. To return to Amiens Cathedral, let’s begin with some history suited to the Gothic style of the church. A cathedral at Amiens was originally built in 1137, and it always attracted its fair share of pilgrims because of its reputation for housing relics of local saints. But, when the head of St. John of Baptist was purportedly brought back from Constantinople by Crusaders in 1206, the cathedral became one of the most important pilgrimage destinations of Europe. So, when a fire destroyed the original Romanesque structure in 1218, church leaders used the money collected from pilgrims to fund a new Gothic construction. According to A Dictionary of Architecture of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, the current Amiens Cathedral was planned and begun under the leadership of Robert de Luzarches in 1220. Thomas de Cormont and then his son, Regnault de Cormont, later took over the project, finishing around 1288.

4. Amiens Cathedral is a typical Gothic cathedral. The term “Gothic,” according an entry in Grove Art Online, refers to the architecture and visual arts of Europe during a period from about 1120 to as late as the 16th century. This style “overlapped chronologically with Romanesque and flourished after the onset of Renaissance art in Italy and elsewhere.” Gothic Cathedrals tended to use a “Latin Cross” or Cruciform floor plan, as is shown here to ideologically resemble a Christian cross. They are characterized by pointed arches. They give the impression of great height, and they emphasize light through expansive windows and less weighty walls than those used in the Romanesque style. They often contain multiple and richly decorated portals. They include stone sculpture depicting biblical figures. The Virgin Mary was a common choice for representation in this type of sculpture. To move on to talk a little bit about Gothic sculpture in particular, the characteristics of this art form include ornamentation with jewels and gold, attachments such as crowns, swords, etc., rounded features and draped clothing, and realistic stance and expression.

5. As we can see in these close-ups, “The Golden Virgin” fits many of these criteria. She clearly has a rounded nose and mouth and chin. Anyone who has ever held a baby would recognize her stance of propping the baby on one hip as highly realistic. She is also wearing draped clothing and, overall, her realistic posture is of that which art experts have labeled “Gothic sway.” And yet, to point to something that is less realistic and more heavenly, she is wearing an ornate crown. In this way, of course, “The Golden Virgin” represents a joining of the earthly and the divine.

6. The Virgin Mary was not always portrayed in sacred art as both queenly and tender, as she is in “The Golden Virgin.” Indeed, numerous scholars have shown that “the cult of the Virgin”—which is, according to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, “the external recognition of [the Virgin Mary’s] excellence and of the superior way that she is joined to God”—was manipulated throughout the ages by church officials in order to meet the various needs of the developing church; her portrayal in art, therefore, changed significantly over time. Mary Thurlkill points out, for instance, that Mary was confirmed as the mother of Christ in 431 BCE in the first place only in order to settle a dispute between “two important church leaders” and to “prove,” for once and for all, “that Christ was God and man simultaneously” (13). In this way, stories about the Virgin Mary—who in this 5th century fresco proves that Christ is human by breastfeeding him—served to justify the ideological basis of Catholicism. During the Romanesque period, an expressionless Mary, like this second one, was often pictured as holding the Christ child in her lap and therefore served as a sort of throne for him herself. In this way, as Penny Schine Gold points out, Mary was literally used to “[present] her son to the world” (10). Through the end of this period, she was not necessarily a figure that women perceived as a model for their personal lives but instead as divine queen, an impersonal figure who served as a backdrop for Christ’s power and grace. And, finally, as in this final depiction, Gothicism was the first movement to present the Virgin as an earthly mother with feelings in her own right. For the first time, then, with the emergence of Gothicism, Mary became at least somewhat relatable, a model for real life women to emulate.

7. The new, more earthly representations of Mary affected women in both positive and negative ways. As Georges Duby explains, the most widely available model of womanhood during this time was of the type attributed to Eve: the treacherous sinner who just could not control “the raging sensuality that [people of the Middle Ages] believed naturally consumed [women]” (7). The Gothic Mary offered women a new ideal. Instead of sinful, women could reinvent themselves as the moral leaders of their homes. Instead of always suspect, they could imagine and portray themselves as valuable and sacred to the community. On the flipside, though, women were limited in some significant ways by the iconography surrounding this new Gothic Virgin. First and foremost, the Virgin is . . . well, a virgin. This required women who wanted to fit this model to reign in expression of their sexuality, to, in a word, turn ownership of their own bodies over to their husbands and the patriarchs of the community and the church. Also, the Virgin is a largely silent and sacrificial figure. In this way, of course, women who wanted to live up to this standard learned to care for their children and husbands and churches and not for themselves. With tongue-in-cheek, Thurlkill says that Mary provided “the right gender model for women to emulate: active within the domestic sphere as virgin, mother, and bride, yet yielding to masculine, public authority as holy [handmaid]” (98). In other words, because the Virgin is always portrayed in the rhetoric of the Church as submitting to and serving men, she is a problematic model for women in the real world to emulate.

8. At this point, I’d like to return to the two clips that we viewed at the opening of my presentation—of June Cleaver and Claire Dunphy. Even though we might now consider June’s model of motherhood outdated and Claire’s model of motherhood perhaps more realistic, I’d be willing to bet that many of us would still use words like “perfect” and “imperfect” or “moral” and “amoral” to discuss the differences between these two women. In this way, of course, I’d suggest that we still consider June Cleaver the ideal mother and Claire the “fallen” version of motherhood. And what is interesting to me about our continued respect for June Cleaver over women like Claire Dunphy is how it resonates with the rhetoric surrounding “the cult of the Virgin.” June Cleaver is more like a Mary figure than Claire Dunphy will ever be. If you recall, in the first clip, June is talking to her son about God’s ability to see all of his actions; in this way, she certainly acts as a conduit to God, a “holy handmaid,” happily going about the task of teaching God’s children to submit to his ultimate authority and discipline. When her son goes on to ask about his father’s morally questionable behavior, June is careful to maintain an attitude of the utmost of respect for her husband at the same time that she continues in her role as ethical guide to her son. In all ways, June takes on the posture of self-sacrifice and submission to the needs of her male relatives and God. In return, she is clearly venerated in this clip as the perfect spiritual mother, much like Mary herself. In the second clip, Claire Dunphy contrasts sharply with this image of June as a Mary figure. Instead of acting as a spiritual or moral guide for her children, Claire gives in to temptation and joins her daughter’s in talking negatively about the members of another family. Instead of bringing glory to a male God or patriarchal figure, Claire literally assaults a man because she is so wrapped up in her “sin” of gossip. While the Beaver perhaps ends up closer to God after his mother’s intervention, Claire’s daughters end up cracking jokes about being “felt up” by their mom and with lipstick all over their faces. Claire’s behavior—while perhaps more realistic than June’s—is not presented as suitable for emulation but instead laughable. So, although we perhaps acknowledge our imperfections as mothers and women more freely than 60 years ago, we still look to Mary-types as ideal mothers in many ways. This is one result of the introduction of the more realistic, relatable Virgin in the Gothic period. “The Golden Virgin” typifies the tension of the “cult of the Virgin” at this point in history between a queenly divinity and an earthly tenderness, a tension that ultimately led to less than lustrous results for the women of the Western world.

9. And here is my Works Cited page. Thank you.
          Genesis: More and Less, Or, What I Didn’t Learn in Sunday School        
As I am preparing to teach the “Christianity and Judaism” segment of my upcoming Humanities course, I’ve returned to some of the Biblical stories that I haven’t thought about for many years. With adult eyes, training in literary and feminist theory, and quite a bit of distance from my evangelical Christian upbringing, I am discovering that many of these stories are quite different than I remember. Indeed, they are both more and less than how they were presented to me in Sunday School: more in that together they demonstrate the beautifully complex human construction of a religious tradition, a way of making sense of and being in an unpredictable and often brutal world, and less because, by way of uncompromising misogyny and an assumption of “racial” superiority, they exclude most of humanity from the chosen people. For me, these stories represent a certain literary greatness, but I don’t find them particularly helpful in guiding my own spiritual growth. In this post, I point out some discrepancies between the ways that these stories are typically taught in Christian settings to children in their spiritually formative years and how they are actually presented in Biblical verse.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll just stick with one book, the foundational book of Genesis. And, as a disclaimer, I am no theologian, so my claims may not bear out against those of Biblical experts. All the same, my interpretations represent the careful, reasoned responses of a layperson to the incidents recounted in Genesis.

Here are some things about Genesis mythology that in my day were—and likely still are—glossed over, misrepresented, or simply ignored in Christian Sunday School:

1. Genesis is clearly not a linear, singularly-composed narrative, and nor even are its individual “stories.” There are in fact two renditions of human creation, for example, and, what’s more, they contradict each other. In the first one, God creates man and woman at the same time. In the second one, God creates man and then woman out of man’s rib. It is this second story which also includes the legend of “the fall.” Indeed, there is no indication that “the fall” portion of the tale is connected in any way to the first story of human creation, which comes to a full stop before the second one is introduced with the concluding statement: “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created” (Gen. 2:4). One could easily read these two versions of the story—one in which men and women are created as equals and God sees them as “very good” (Gen. 1:31) and the other in which God positions man as superior to a female being who ultimately brings about the onset of human suffering—as indicative of the changing status of women as ancient cultures moved from hunting and gathering to agriculture and, therefore, became more male-centered and militaristic over time. In any case, these are two different stories of creation, probably circulated orally in different eras and/or among different Hebrew sub-sets and likely recorded at a much later date as alternative versions of the same mythology. Other stories also repeat or overlap, such as the conception and birth of Seth, in Gen. 4:25 and again in Gen. 5:3. These repetitions of stories, of course, calls into question the belief, so relied upon in contemporary Christian churches, that the Bible is more than a book of stories, that it is in fact a divinely inspired narrative of the development of the one true religion.

2. In contrast to this belief in the singular “truth” of the Christian doctrine, Genesis presents the God of the Hebrews as not all that different from other gods of the ancient world. Indeed, the mythology surrounding this God is fairly unexceptional compared to that surrounding the gods of Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome. Although most historians and theologians understand a monotheistic belief system as unique to the Hebrews, the assumed monotheism of this group is at least questionable. In one place in Genesis, for instance, God calls himself “us” (Gen. 3:22). Most Biblical scholars argue that he is here referring to himself and his host of heavenly beings, namely the angels. This is problematic because it implies that he does indeed share power with other superior beings. Certainly, the angels interact physically with the characters of these Biblical stories, not unlike Athena in The Odyssey or Cupid in The Aeneid. Furthermore, in a couple of scenes at least, the narrator(s) refer(s) to an angel as “Lord,” the same name that he also calls God (Gen. 16:11-12 and Gen. 19:2). Is it not likely that the angels are Hebraic representations of Zeus’s or Jupiter’s host of less powerful gods? It seems also significant that the narrator(s) implicitly compare(s) God to other higher beings by repeatedly referring to him as the “Most High” (Gen. 14:17-20). Clearly, God is the supreme protector and ruler of the Hebrews, but this doesn’t foreclose the possibility that the people depicted in the Biblical stories believe in other opposing gods of surrounding peoples, just as the people of Uruk, for example, saw Inanna as their protectress from the powers of other Mesopotamian deities. It is certainly possible that the Hebrews perceived monotheism in very different terms than we perceive it now, in terms that allowed for the presence of “lords” in heaven and gods of other lands.

3. The mention of temple prostitution in Genesis also seems to imply a tolerance for other gods. In one scene, Judah has intercourse with a woman whom he assumes is a temple prostitute (Gen. 38). This scene is of course interesting in many ways. In that Judah is a married man, this story’s inclusion in the book of Genesis might imply an early acceptance that male “needs” sometimes exceed legitimate female accessibility. Even more shocking, this anecdote might also indicate that the Hebrews did indeed worship gods other than God. Temple prostitutes were revered in ancient Mesopotamian culture as physical conduits to fertility gods and goddesses. Was Judah’s casual copulation with a woman he thought was a temple prostitute simply his way of getting the action he is denied at home, or is it an act of worship?

4. Whether or not he is the only god whom the Hebrews worshiped or believed in, the God of Genesis certainly behaves in ways similar to the polytheistic gods mentioned above. He engages in very human activities and acts upon very human emotions, for instance. In a seeming assertion of his superiority over man, for example, he wrestles with Jacob and, after much struggle, manages to land a final injurious blow to Jacob’s thigh (an incident that inexplicably leads to the declaration that Hebrews should consequently refuse thigh meat) (Gen. 33:22-32). God is also fickle, “opening and closing the wombs” of Jacob’s wives with seeming caprice, for instance, transferring allegiance from Leah to Rachel and then back again as the two wives vie for the title of giving Jacob the most sons (Gen. 30). Finally, like other polytheistic gods, God requires sacrifice as a way of giving thanks and ensuring his continued good favor. I think that we can all agree that, as an institution, sacrifice makes no logical sense. Why would God need human food? Why would he require his people to give up their precious sustenance? Like all of the gods of the ancient world, though, God wants his choice cuts of meat. (In Exodus, in fact, it appears that his choice cuts of meat include first born sons [Ex. 22:29], but that is a topic for another day.) God’s similarities to other gods clearly points to the development of the Judeo-Christian tradition out of the religious beliefs of other ancient cultures.

5. Again like other religious groups of the ancient world, the Hebrews of Genesis had no conception of hell, and instead seem to have believed in a shadowy underworld, a place that they called “Sheol.” Pretty much everyone in Genesis goes to Sheol when they die, except for a few named exceptions in Gen. 5, who are chosen by God to join him in heaven. The fact that hell becomes part and parcel of Christian doctrine but does not exist in Genesis shows, of course, the fine-tuning of the Judeo-Christian belief system over time.

6. It is also important to note that, in Genesis, deceit is acceptable under certain circumstances. Both Abraham and Isaac, during times of famine or journey, lie in order to earn the favor of rulers in surrounding areas (Gen. 12, Gen. 20, and Gen. 26). Both, in fact, present their wives as sisters in order to allow the inclusion of these women into the royal harems of Egypt and then Gerar and to secure the aid of those in power. (In this way, of course, arranged prostitution seems also acceptable under certain circumstances; more on that later.) To name another example, Rachel’s theft of her father’s “household gods” (the existence of which also call into question the monotheism of the Hebrews) and her false insistence on being in “the way of women” in order to disallow the search of her person for these items also show that it is okay to lie (Gen. 31). Whether Rachel took the idols because she wanted to deny her father access to their power or because she wanted to worship them herself, the implication seems to be that her quick thinking here aids in her husband’s successful escape of his overbearing father-in-law, and, more importantly, Isaac’s return to his people and fulfilling of his important in God’s plan for the Hebrews.

7. This brings me to a crucial point, perhaps especially for all of those female Sunday School teachers out there: with the possible exception of the woman in the first creation story, women in the book of Genesis exist only as tools through which men fulfill God’s plan for the Hebrew nation. Women bear sons and, in this way, further the lineage of God’s chosen people (read: chosen men). Now, this fact can become obscured by the rhetoric of the portions of Genesis that name both mothers and fathers as ancestors of important Hebrew figures. It would appear that, in this way, female lineage is as important as male lineage. Just as in other ancient cultures, though, it seems most likely that female lineage is presented as significant in this way only because it represents the joining of two male-headed households. Isaac, for instance, enjoins his son to find a wife among the daughters of Laban, his wife’s brother (Gen. 28:1-4). Decrying other possible wives of the “Canaanite women,” Isaac thus works to ensure the pure Hebrew lineage of God’s chosen people, Jacob’s sons who later become the heads of the tribes of Israel. Because women are important only in helping men to fulfill their covenants with God, it makes sense that they should be sacrificed sexually for the Hebrew cause when necessary. If Sarah or Rebekah must be prostituted for the patriarchs to avoid starvation or death, as I mentioned above, the stories in Genesis imply, then so be it.

8. Indeed, female sexuality is quite frequently presented as an invaluable bartering chip. To name another instance of male trading of women’s sexuality, Lot is willing to hand over two likely adolescent daughters to a band of angry “sodomites” in order to preserve the purity of his male guests, saying, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof” (Gen. 19:7-8). As in The Odyssey, then, hospitality it tied to male honor, and women are sacrificed to preserve the ties between men.

9. As outrageous as it seems, the narrator(s) of Genesis present(s) women as taking pride in their purposes as embodied representations of the ties between men and as reproductive units. In order to ensure the continuation of their father’s male lineage, for instance, Lot’s daughters are, in a later scene, willing to deceive him into copulating with them—presumably multiple times—until both are pregnant with male heirs (Gen. 19:32-36). These nameless women are then venerated as the mothers of the male ancestors of the Moabites and the Ammonites (Gen. 19:37-38). When Sarah, Rachel, and Leah experience periods of barrenness (due to God’s inexplicable “closing of their wombs”), they are ashamed and, in seeming atonement, offer their slave women to their husbands for the procurement of male children (Gen. 16 and Gen. 30). These incidents clearly show that women in Genesis are in fact rendered heroically when they prostitute themselves and other women for the future of Israel!

10. Now for a word about slavery: simply put, the early Hebrews were for it, and God never disallows it. (Even after their captivity in Egypt, not incidentally, the Hebrews functioned under codes and laws, passed directly from God to Moses, regarding the proper treatment of slaves, but that gets into Exodus.) What I am most interested in, though, is not slavery in and of itself—because obviously it was a bad thing—but the relationships between wifehood, concubinage, prostitution, and female slavery. All of these are mentioned in Genesis, and they seem to overlap in significant ways. As I have already demonstrated, wives and daughters are sometimes nearly prostituted (in each of the cases that I’ve mentioned, the “foreign” men who are offered the Hebrew women in trade reject these offers), and slaves seem to be routinely prostituted. Also, it appears that many of the patriarchs of Genesis held multiple wives, concubines, and female slaves and seemed to use them somewhat interchangeably. There is a definite slippage between these classes of women, and one passage demonstrates this point most succinctly. It picks up after Abraham has already had Ishmael by Hagar, Sarah’s slave, and Isaac by Sarah. After Sarah’s death, “Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him [six sons who went on to sire a total of ten more sons]. All of these were the children of Keturah. Abraham gave all he had to Isaac. But to the sons of his concubines Abraham gave gifts, while he was still living, and he sent them away from his son Isaac, eastward to the east country” (Gen. 25:1-6). In this passage, Keturah is given the title of “wife,” but she is clearly classed with Abraham’s other “concubines” when Abraham sends all of his sons away except for Isaac, whom God has chosen as a leader of the Hebrew people. Hagar is presumably also considered a “concubine” in this instance, as Ishmael is grouped in with all of the other sons who are sent away. In sum, it seems that there is little difference for a man of God in Genesis between a wife, a prostitute, a concubine, and a female slave. They each exist for the sole purpose of producing male heirs in the Hebrew line and aiding in male endeavors to fulfill pacts with God.

Culturally, historically, and literarily, the Biblical stories in Genesis are extraordinary. But their being taught to children in Christian settings as morality tales and as evidence of a coherent religious tradition is perplexing to me. The morality here is shady at best, and the tradition is almost certainly both composite and constructed to promote the solidarity and empowerment of an exclusive class of Hebrew men.
          Sacred Texts        
If a trip to the British Library isn't in your plans, don't worry. Their newest exhibit is at your fingertips. Sacred Texts is an online exhibit at the British Library's website.

The online gallery (with zoomable images) and exhibit feature 78 of the world's greatest collection of Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy books: "The rarest and most exquisite sacred books and manuscripts presented and explored, side by side, in a major UK exhibition for the first time..."

The online exhibit's features include videos, slideshows, podcasts and interactive material for schools and students. The site is regularly updated with news, reviews, and blogs about the Sacred exhibition.

Well done!
          John Murray Day        

We celebrated John Murray Day at our house this week.

We’ve been attending a local Unitarian Universalist church for a couple of months, and, in a church-sponsored parenting book group, I recently encountered John Murray for the first time. According to uuworld.org, Murray is “often referred to as the father of American Universalism, helping to found Universalism as a denomination in the 1790s” (par. 10). The story goes that fierce winds prevented Murray from leaving the shore of New Jersey for his intended destination on September 30th, 1770, and, because he was detained, he agreed to speak at a Universalist meetinghouse, thus preaching the first Universalist sermon in America. He went on to serve as a minister for the first Universalist church in Massachusetts for the better part of the next couple of decades. As a Universalist, Murray espoused that salvation was for everyone, not just “the elect,” as the Calvinists of his day believed (or “the saved,” as contemporary conservative Christians believe today). Universalism of Murray’s time was driven by the belief that if Jesus was sacrificed for all of humanity, as the Bible states, then even non-believers could not be doomed to Hell. Today, Universalism is much less confined within a Christian worldview and, in UU theology, has come to stand for the inclusion of all people, regardless of faith or creed. Many Unitarian Universalists see Murray as helping to build the foundation for acceptance of difference within a religious community.

In order to commemorate John Murray’s contribution to Unitarian Universalism, my family and I instituted a new ritual involving dessert! (As my husband says, my daughter and I can turn anything into an opportunity to consume chocolate.) We started with two scoops of ice cream. I poured chocolate syrup over one of the scoops, and we all observed how it flowed over the ice cream. I then stuck an Oreo part-way into the other scoop, taking care to position it so that it was perpendicular to the bottom of the bowl. I poured chocolate syrup into the ridge between the two chocolate wafers of the Oreo, and we observed how it flowed differently than it did in the first. We talked about how the ice cream represents the world and the Oreo represents a person, like John Murray. The syrup flow over the Oreo demonstrated, then, that one person can make a difference in how the world experiences the forces of life. After discussing the demonstration, we all had Oreo sundaes!

Okay, so maybe it’s a stretch. But I wanted to find a way to celebrate this day, one of the only “special” days of a specifically UU history. It is important to me to reinforce that we are a family grounded in a free-thinking spiritual tradition, a tradition founded on principles of Universalism, both of the new definition and the old.

Perhaps because I come from an evangelical Christian upbringing, I see the concept of Universalism not just as a tenet of the UU church but also as a marker in my own spiritual journey. To move beyond the (fear-based) belief in Hell has been a major milestone for me and has allowed me—just as it allowed the Calvinist-turned-Universalist John Murray, I suspect—to join in meaningful community with believers and non-believers of all sorts.

I also believe that we might all benefit from the adoption of a belief in Universalism, as it seems to me to not only prevent our condemnation of each other to spiritual damnation but also, and perhaps more importantly, to pave the way from toleration to associationism, a journey that very well might led all of us to further spiritual enlightenment by virtue of learning from others. In a post over at A Commonplace Blog, D.G. Myers defines toleration: “Toleration, on my showing, would entail the unspoken agreement to put up with religious differences without ever undertaking the impossible mission of reconciling them, which—in the absence of any logical method for doing so—can only end in coercion or violence —separatism to learning from each other” (par. 6). Myers thus describes toleration as enduring the religious opinions of others without budging on our own beliefs. As Kevin points out in a comment, though, it seems a bit ridiculous to envision living in harmony with people of differing beliefs but remaining unchanged by this diversity. Kevin states, “Perhaps the world’s religions aren’t as insular as [Myers] suggest[s], aren’t self-contained circles” (Myers, par. 11).

Indeed. It seems to me, in fact, that the concept of Universalism allows for a more positive—and perhaps more practical—way of living with difference, a way that Daniel Harper at Yet Another Unitarian Universalist describes as associationism. Harper sees associationism as “refer[ing] to a form of voluntary association in which local organizations or voluntary associations are connected into a larger association or network of local organizations, by means of written records (minutes of meetings, bylaws, etc.), and formal and informal exchanges between associated local organizations (informal local cooperation, formal regional and national conventions, annual meetings, etc.)” (par. 8). In short, associationism allows people of divergent belief systems to come together in community, to support each other, to work toward common goals, and to help each other attain spiritual enlightenment. Associationism differs from toleration in that it implies more than a respect for spiritual difference; instead, it opens up the possibility of learning from the diversity of a common religious community.

John Murray Day is, for me, then, not just an opportunity to rejoice in my family’s recent inclusion into a local spiritual community but also a celebration of Universalism itself, a concept that has played a major role in my own religious liberation and that offers the promise of uniting us for the purpose of individual and communal spiritual growth. And, of course, the kids and I liked the ice cream and Oreos!
          Courage to Do the Will of God        
A new MP3 sermon from Westside Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Courage to Do the Will of God
Subtitle: Acts: Authentic Christianity
Speaker: Craig D. Houston
Broadcaster: Westside Baptist Church
Event: Sunday - AM
Date: 7/30/2017
Bible: Acts 21:1-16
Length: 69 min. (64kbps)
          Review of 'Dangerous Years'        
SUBHEAD: David W. Orr he demolishes the lies of climate crisis denial, and a  minimalist response to this emergency.

By Gene Marshall on 28 July 2017 in Resilience -
(http://www.resilience.org/stories/2017-07-28/dangerous-years-a-conversation-with-david-orr/)


Image above: Apocalyptic vision of buildings sinking into landscape. From original article.

[Resilience Editor's note: This piece was originally published in the Realistic Living newsletter. More information about the work of Realistic Living can be found on their website.

I started to write a brief review of David W. Orr’s 2016 book Dangerous Years: Climate Change, the Long Emergency, and the Way Forward. I found, however, that a longer “essay” was what I felt called to write.

Orr’s book is the best thing I have read on the overall social-change challenges of this century. I am ranking this book, along with the Bible, as something to read over and over for the rest of my life. I recommend that you buy a hard copy, and wear it out over the next decade.

The social content of this book is broad, deep, and on target, and Orr’s prose reads like poetry. His choice of words is beautiful, gripping, and often funny. I am going to quote some examples for you to taste.

First of all, he demolishes the lies of climate crisis denial, as well as the lies of minimalist response to this emergency:

Nearly everything on Earth behaves or works differently at higher temperatures. Ecologies collapse, forests burn, metals expand, concrete runways buckle, rivers dry up, cooling towers fail, and people curse, kill, and terrorize more easily. Climate deniers . . . are doomed to roughly the same status as, say, members of the Flat Earth Society. page 25

The solutions Orr develops begin with a shift in the human will or heart, then move on to a shift in the human mind, and end with real-world, down-and-dirty, power-politics, as well as the year-in-and-year-out local tasks of reconstruction. Here is a quote about the educational care of our social minds:
We would be embarrassed to graduate students who could neither read nor count.  We should be mortified, then, to graduate students who are ecologically illiterate—clueless about the basics of ecology, energetics, systems dynamics—the bedrock conditions for civilization and human life.  page 110
Orr prepares our awakening “hearts,” “wills,” and “minds” for our real-world politics with sentences like these:
And there will be no Deus ex machina, or cavalry, or invisible hand, or miracle technological breakthrough that will rescue us in the nick of time.  It will be up to us to change the odds and the outcomes on our own.  page 144
The next passage I will be reading aloud in my speeches. It is a gem that notices the spirit depth of our call to action:
If humanity is to have a better future it will be a more “empathic civilization,” one better balanced between our most competitive, hard-driving selves and our most harmonious, altruistic traits; one that embraces the yin-yang poles of behavior.  It must be a change sufficiently global to bridge the chasms of ethnicity, gender, religion, nationality, and politics and deep enough to shift perceptions, behaviors, and values. The change must enable people to grow from a “having” orientation to a “being” orientation to the world.  It must deepen our appreciation, affiliation, and competence with the natural world, albeit a natural world undergoing accelerating changes.

I do not think, however, that we can simply will ourselves to that empathic new world.  The transition will result from social movements, activism, education, and political changes.  But there is always an X-factor, an inexplicable process of metanoia, a word meaning “penitence; a reorientation of one’s way of life; spiritual conversion.”  It is a change of inner sight.  “I once was blind, but now I see” as the former slave trader John Newton wrote in the hymn “Amazing Grace.”  Metanoia is liberation from bondage—physical, mental, emotional—a total change of perspective. pages 147-8
I view the core of the revolution for a next Christianity to be the creation of metanoia circles, small groupings of people in which our deepest humanness can be nurtured on a regular basis and our compassion and persistence prepared for our wide-world responsibilities.

Orr pictures the role of politics as a “long revolution.” We now need more than small teams and edge movements: we need large structures of action that year-in-and-year-out for decades do all the little and big things that need to be done for this huge transition.

Orr works through our core challenges with thorough analysis and inspiring description of practical options. He also continues to indicate the spirit courage and persistence it is going to take. He deals with sustainable democracy, ecological design, hotter cities, systemic thinking, a new agriculture, and much more.

Orr concludes his book with a description of the Oberlin Project—a multi-committee, local project of community-renewal organized by Orr and others, in Orr’s Oberlin, Ohio home town. He pictures the kind of things that the co-pastors of future Christian Resurgence Circles might envision for their quality action in their local parishes of responsibility. Here is a quote taken from that final chapter:
We need people who make charity and civility the norm.  We need more parks, farmers’ markets, bike trails, baseball teams, book groups, poetry readings, good coffee, conviviality, practical competence, and communities where the word “neighbor” is a verb, not a noun.  We need people who know and love this place and see it whole and see it for what it can be. page 227
Orr is also clear that we need people who lead the global level responses to the climate crisis, economic equity, democratization, campaign financing, racism, sexism, and more.

• Gene Marshall has a long history of participation in Christian renewal and interreligious dialogue. In 1952 he made a decision to leave a mathematics career and attend seminary at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas. In 1962 he joined a religious order of families, the Order Ecumenical, and became a teacher and lecturer of Spirit topics.
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          Steadfast Church        
A new MP3 sermon from Westside Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Steadfast Church
Subtitle: Acts: Authentic Christianity
Speaker: Craig D. Houston
Broadcaster: Westside Baptist Church
Event: Sunday - AM
Date: 6/25/2017
Length: 53 min. (64kbps)
          A Heart to Protect and Serve Christ's Church        
A new MP3 sermon from Westside Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: A Heart to Protect and Serve Christ's Church
Subtitle: Acts: Authentic Christianity
Speaker: Craig D. Houston
Broadcaster: Westside Baptist Church
Event: Sunday - AM
Date: 6/4/2017
Bible: acts 20:17-38
Length: 63 min. (64kbps)
          A Desire to Live and Serve by Faith        
A new MP3 sermon from Westside Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: A Desire to Live and Serve by Faith
Subtitle: Acts: Authentic Christianity
Speaker: Craig D. Houston
Broadcaster: Westside Baptist Church
Event: Sunday - AM
Date: 5/28/2017
Bible: Acts 20:17-27
Length: 53 min. (64kbps)
          A Heart for the Gospel        
A new MP3 sermon from Westside Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: A Heart for the Gospel
Subtitle: Acts: Authentic Christianity
Speaker: Craig D. Houston
Broadcaster: Westside Baptist Church
Event: Sunday - AM
Date: 5/21/2017
Bible: Acts 20:17-27
Length: 60 min. (64kbps)
          Romantic Systems        

Table of Contents

March 2016

Parent Section: 

Edited By: 

Resource Technical Editor: 

Tags: 


          A Heart for Faithful Shepherding        
A new MP3 sermon from Westside Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: A Heart for Faithful Shepherding
Subtitle: Acts: Authentic Christianity
Speaker: Craig D. Houston
Broadcaster: Westside Baptist Church
Event: Sunday - AM
Date: 5/7/2017
Bible: Acts 20:13-28
Length: 54 min. (64kbps)
          A Heart for Humble Service        
A new MP3 sermon from Westside Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: A Heart for Humble Service
Subtitle: Acts: Authentic Christianity
Speaker: Craig D. Houston
Broadcaster: Westside Baptist Church
Event: Sunday - AM
Date: 4/30/2017
Bible: Acts 20:13-28
Length: 47 min. (64kbps)
          The Gathering of Christ's Church        
A new MP3 sermon from Westside Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: The Gathering of Christ's Church
Subtitle: Acts: Authentic Christianity
Speaker: Craig D. Houston
Broadcaster: Westside Baptist Church
Event: Sunday - AM
Date: 4/23/2017
Bible: Acts 20:7-12
Length: 62 min. (64kbps)
          Whose Land? Whose Promise?: What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians        
Whose Land? Whose Promise?: What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians
author: Gary M. Burge
name: Sara
average rating: 4.34
book published: 2003
rating: 5
read at: 2016/03/17
date added: 2016/03/17
shelves: ridiculously-good-non-fiction
review:


          Teamwork in Christ's Church        
A new MP3 sermon from Westside Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Teamwork in Christ's Church
Subtitle: Acts: Authentic Christianity
Speaker: Craig D. Houston
Broadcaster: Westside Baptist Church
Event: Sunday - AM
Date: 12/18/2016
Bible: Acts 20:1-7
Length: 71 min. (64kbps)
          Love for Christ's Church Part II        
A new MP3 sermon from Westside Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Love for Christ's Church Part II
Subtitle: Acts: Authentic Christianity
Speaker: Craig D. Houston
Broadcaster: Westside Baptist Church
Event: Sunday - AM
Date: 12/11/2016
Bible: Acts 20:1-7
Length: 64 min. (64kbps)
          Gospel Provoked Riot        
A new MP3 sermon from Westside Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Gospel Provoked Riot
Subtitle: Acts: Authentic Christianity
Speaker: Craig D. Houston
Broadcaster: Westside Baptist Church
Event: Sunday - AM
Date: 11/20/2016
Bible: Acts 19:21-40
Length: 65 min. (64kbps)
          The Power of the Way II        
A new MP3 sermon from Westside Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: The Power of the Way II
Subtitle: Acts: Authentic Christianity
Speaker: Craig D. Houston
Broadcaster: Westside Baptist Church
Event: Sunday - PM
Date: 11/6/2016
Bible: Acts 19:10-19
Length: 62 min. (64kbps)
          The Power of the Way I        
A new MP3 sermon from Westside Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: The Power of the Way I
Subtitle: Acts: Authentic Christianity
Speaker: Craig D. Houston
Broadcaster: Westside Baptist Church
Event: Sunday - AM
Date: 11/6/2016
Bible: Acts 19:10-19
Length: 59 min. (64kbps)
          Found Wanting in Ephesus        
A new MP3 sermon from Westside Baptist Church is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

Title: Found Wanting in Ephesus
Subtitle: Acts: Authentic Christianity
Speaker: Craig D. Houston
Broadcaster: Westside Baptist Church
Event: Sunday - AM
Date: 10/16/2016
Bible: Acts 19:1-10
Length: 75 min. (64kbps)
          A Muslim's Top 10 Wishes for 2016        

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post on January 3, 2015. You can find the original article by clicking here or on the title. 


Have you ever made a wish that's come true -- because you made the wish? Until now, making a wish, whether at the sight of a shooting star or when blowing out the candle(s) on your birthday cake or when breaking a wishbone, has not yet been scientifically proven to actually work, as far as I know. Yet, in the spirit of hope, I am making 10 wishes at the beginning of the New Year. And as is always the case, as a Muslim, I speak on behalf of 1.5 billion people. So here goes...
1. People no longer confuse me with ISIS.
My name isn't ISIS. It's not even Islamic State. In fact, the words Islamic or State are not actually in my extended name. Nevertheless, time and time again, I keep getting requests to respond to the group's actions. I swear, ISIS or ISIL or IS -- none of them are in my family tree; they're not some distant cousins of mine. In 2016, I just want people to stop confusing me with ISIS. I really don't know what ISIS is thinking and why they do what they do. It's not like the State Department is asked for comment because of the State-to-State connection. As a postscript, can ISIS stop using the word Islamic? 
2. Muslims stop killing Muslims for being Muslim.
Somewhere, along the way over the last couple of decades, Muslims started killing other Muslims for being Muslim in the wrong way, or at least took it to a whole new level. There's a whole ideology out there built around takfir or essentially "declaring Muslims as kufar or unbelievers" for failing an evermore peculiar litmus test. Imagine if death squads emerged killing Black people for not being Black enough. Originating in some of the philosophical exhortations by scholar Ibn Taymiyyah 700 years ago, the criteria by which you are deemed "takfir-ed" and permissible to be killed has reached insane if not idiosyncratic levels. It would be funny if the situation weren't so deadly. Even barbers were caught in the crosshairs and were being assassinated in Baghdad in the 2000s. 
3. Death and destruction in the Muslim world have a timeout. 
From Yemen to IraqLibya to Somalia, and from Afghanistan to far beyond, civil strife is rife in too many parts of what is defined as the Muslim world. Autocrats, militants, extremists and terrorists, don't care who they kill: men, women, children -- everyone is fair game. I wish this would stop. Into this toxic mix, the last thing needed is more killing coming into these countries from the outside; the 2003 invasion of Iraq proved that. I wonder if Russia will hear that message? 
4. We all get comfortable with the "other."
What a difference it was in 2015 between Trudeau and Trump in the North American political cycle. The world needs more Trudeaus and less Trumps (Donalds that is). The fear of the "other" is starting to define Western politics and it is not just about Trump. The rise of right-wing political parties in Europe from Hungary to Denmark is a poignant reminder of the breadth of this phenomenon. Yet, outside the West this fear of the other also permeates and often dominates. In Turkey, we are seeing a renewed vilification of the Kurdish population. Further afield in Burma, the Rohingyaare cast as outsiders. In Malaysia, Christians are prohibited from using the Arabic word for God. And, in nearby Brunei, Christmas was simply cancelled. In some of the war zones in the Middle East, Christians are on the verge of disappearing. The world would be a lot better off if we weren't so afraid of the bogeyman of the other.
5. The Muslim world deals with its taboos. 
Speaking of an aversion to the non-orthodox, there's a whole set of taboos that many Muslim countries and societies need to start dealing with. A lot of them relate to sex. Sometimes the Muslim world acts like it has one big case of the cooties. There have been attempts by some to break through these restrictions. Wedad Lootah in the UAE comes to mind. Shereen El Feki's Sex and the Citadel is another. This is not an issue to take lightly, especially in societies where 60-70 percent of youth are under the age of 30. Bombarded by sexualized imagery from modern and digital media, these youth then live, essentially, in an austere second world that is their reality. More importantly and tragically, rape and sexual assault are simply not talked about; child abuse is an even worse curse hidden under the rug. Finally, at some point Muslim countries - and the clerical establishment -- will need to come to terms with the fact that gay Muslims exist
6. Somewhere, over the rainbow, democracy and Islam go steady. 
Let's be honest, a lot of people have tried to set up democracy with Islam for a relationship. Sometimes it has been a surprise blind date (e.g. Iraq in 2003). Other times, it was a relationship that grew from blind passion (e.g. the Arab world in 2011). Often, the sparks of love eventually turn into animus and things quickly go south. In the Arab world, Tunisia is carrying - with some fragility -- the banner of democracy. Many Muslim-majority countries that used to be counted as democracies now suffer from authoritarian syndromes (e.g. TurkeyMalaysia, and Bangladesh). In other cases, democracy in its infancy quickly devolved into score settling or majoritarian mafias (e.g. the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt). Perhaps Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country is our hope that can breathe life into this wish. 
7. Averroes comes back in style. 
Averroes -- or Ibn Rushd -- was a man's man. He schooled his way into Raphael's The School of Athens. The polymath kept alive ancient Greek philosophy, paving the way for much of Europe's modern intellectual movements. Back in the day, in Andalusia, he was a big deal (Biden-style). And, why not? He vociferously argued for the co-existence of secular and religious thought in a posthumous debate with the Abbasid scholar Al Ghazali. Ultimately, Ibn Rushd lost the debate to the detriment of the Muslim world, but his arguments culminated with the work, The Incoherence of Incoherence, which I think would be a great riposte to all ISIS ideologues and their friends. If Ibn Taymiyyah came back, then let's bring Averroes back too. 
8. Flying while Muslim is no longer a thing. 
They say that flying while Muslim is the new driving while Black. I guess if you're a Black Muslim, this really sucks, especially if you drive to the airport for your flight. So my wish maybe can be two-pronged: getting rid of both 'driving while Black' as well as 'flying while Muslim.' What is flying while Muslim? Well, it often starts with a casual stare or two from across the way. A timid approach then ensues: "Excuse me sir." This is normally followed by a more forceful: "Please follow me." It can then get quite aggressive, with clothes falling by the wayside. It normally ends with your belongings in disarray, your belt on backwards, and you fast-walking without turning back in the hope that no one thinks twice about you boarding your flight. Oh, and don't watch the news while on the plane. I hate flying while Muslim. 
9. Trump presides over a Muslim beauty contest. 
Was 2015 the year of Trump? You have to hand it to Trump; he sure knows how to grab the spotlight. Unfortunately, he's used that spotlight to spew increasingly populist venom targeted at Muslims (and others). Maybe, we need to better appeal to Trump's core interest: beauty pageants. There are a few lists circulating online for potential Muslim contestants (for Men: click here | for Women: click here). Yet, I think we should make this a mipsters pageant and turn this whole thing on its head. 
10. Peace comes to Syria. 
This Muslim (me) -- speaking on behalf of 1.5 billion people around the world -- has 10 wishes for 2016 but if only one of them came true it should be this one. No country has been more ravaged in recent memory than Syria. Hundreds of thousands have been killed as gangsters, terrorists, and dictators fight for supremacy. The surrounding region, instead of trying to promote a solution, has sent in weapons, fighters, and incitement. The world, instead of trying to mediate, has sought to settle old scores. All the while, the people in Syria live in lifeless limbo amidst daily death and destruction. If I had only one wish it would be that the violence in Syria would come to an end. 
This wish list is non-exhaustive. I think I may have missed a few...