Sunday, June 30, 2013

Muslims killing Muslims in Egypt

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) published a fact-finding report produced by a designated committee on 24 June 2013 surrounding the events of the Zawyet Abu Musallam village in Giza, Egypt, during which four Egyptian Shiites were killed after being accused by Sunni villagers of trying to spread their version of Islam. 

Background on the Egyptian village Zawyet Abu Musallam 

Zawyet Abu Musallam is one of the villages in the township of Abul Nomros in Giza, the third largest city in Egypt. There are about 17,000 people living in this relatively peaceful village, most of who identify as Sunnis. There are around 200 Egyptian Shiites living among them. 

Background on ANHRI's committee and the methodology used 

The committee, which consists of two lawyers from ANHRI's Legal Aid Unit, began its research soon after news broke on 23 June of the clashes between Shiites and Sunnis in the village. 

The committee visited the site of the clashes and interviewed villagers, government personnel, police officers, eyewitnesses, and some of those who knew the victims. The committee partially relied on videos taken during the events and TV interviews conducted with government officials on the topic. 

Challenges encountered by the committee 

Members of the committee were unable to move around freely inside the village as the Central Security Forces (CSF) had closed down most entrances. They were also unable to reach the victims as many of the injured were sent to hospitals away from the village, and others had, by the time the committee arrived, fled the village. 

Witness statements 

All witness testimonies, whether from villagers or government officials, unanimously agreed that the crisis had begun over a month ago when some Sunni imams in the village's mosques broadcast a speech filled with hatred and incitement against Shiite Muslims living in the village. Their speeches turned into fatwas, in which Shiites were called infidels, thus leading to the rise of demonstrations led by certain Muslim groups against the village's Shiite community. The demonstration took place in the streets of the village over the course of next three weeks and was particularly targeting the Shiite Abu Meshry family. They stood in front of the family's home and chanted loudly, calling the Shiites infidels who cursed two of the first four Muslim Caliphs, Abu Bakr and Mu'awiyah. 

On 23 June, Shehate Abu Meshry invited Sheikh Hassan Shehata, a prominent figure in the Shiite community, to his house even though, according to witness statements, some villagers had demanded that he not receive Shehata. Abu Meshry refused to comply with their demands prompting the villagers to surround his house in the late afternoon. They then attacked the house by throwing bricks and Molotov cocktails. Abu Meshry and his guests tried to flee the house by heading to the second floor of the building but couldn't escape as villagers began raiding the house, partially destroying the roof with iron hammers. Shehata and three others present at the house were killed and he was then dragged into the streets while the CSF and the mayor of the village stood by, refusing to intervene because they had reportedly not received any orders to do so. 

According to an officer of the CSF who spoke to the committee, investigators asked Abu Meshry to hand Shehata over to them, he refused by replying, “Over my dead body.” 

The committee also visited the Abul Nomros police station to speak to some officers but they refused to comply. However, one person at the station, who also happened to be a resident of the village, did co-operate. He told the committee that the four Shiites killed where at the Hawamdiya hospital. He added that the reason for the violence was the hate speeches delivered at the mosques at Friday prayers against the Shiite community. He refused to offer any additional information regarding the incident. 

The committee then headed to village and found it partially surrounded by the CSF. There were eight security vehicles spread out across the village. One police officer they were able to speak to said that clashes took place at around 3 pm between the villagers and that those killed were not involved in the clashes whatsoever. 

ANHRI's committee also spoke with a resident of the village who explained that people in the village disapproved of the Abu Meshry family because they were 'Shiites and infidels'. He said that some Shiites in the country had invited other Egyptians to join their religion and that some had accepted the invitation and joined in their rituals. The reason those present at Abu Meshry's house that day were killed, he said, was because the Sunni preachers in the village had called them infidels. 

The last testimony given to the committee was by another resident of the village and a photographer, Hazem Barakat. “Today [23 June 2013], I was surprised to see a procession of people walking through the village. I went down to see what was going on and found that people had attacked Abu Meshry's house and threw stones and Molotov cocktails at it. The house didn't burn though, but Abu Meshry and his guest tried to flee to the second floor. The house was then raided, Shehata and three others were killed, and he was dragged across the streets and his body was mutilated,” he said. Barakat then added that he had asked the police officers to interfere but they refused, “their only role was to remove the bodies from the streets later.” 

Videos of the incident on 23 June obtained by ANHRI's committee verified eye witness accounts and media reports. The videos show people dragging lifeless bodies across the streets while the CSF stood by watching until after the bodies were abandoned. Officers then carried the bodies to their police vehicles. In one TV interview, Giza's head of security stated that the police officers present did do their jobs. He said that when the villagers surrounded 34 Shiite citizens, policemen were able to smuggle out 30 of them, but the villagers got of four. 

Report results 

Four Shiites were killed, three of whom were Hassan Shehata, Shaban Abu Meshry, and AbdulMonjy Abu Meshry. The fourth victim's name could not be obtained. 

Police officers knew about the event, some of them were present at the scene, but none had taken an precautionary measures to prevent a potential attack. 

Leading up to the incident, there had been hate discourse targeted at Shiites in the village by Sunni imams. 

There is a lack of supervision by the Ministry of Awqaf, which is in charge of religious endowments, over the village's mosques and imams. 

  • The government should launch a prompt and fair criminal investigation into those who incited hatred against Shiites in the village.
  • The government must arrest the perpetrators for raiding a house and killing four people.
  • The Ministry of Awqaf must take legal measures against the imams responsible for spreading fatwas in the village.
  • The government must take the necessary measures to investigate police inaction during the incident.
  • The government must reaffirm the right of citizenship and a citizen’s right to freedom of belief and religion.
  • Islamic TV stations must remain professional and must not be allowed to spread hatred.

We must not distinguish between the spread of hate speech against religious minorities in Egypt, especially Shiites, Christians, and Baha'is, and especially after such discourse had reached a conference held by Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi last week. Hate remarks were uttered in Morsi's presence and those who uttered them were not deterred nor stopped. Recently, posters displaying clear incitement against minorities have also been hanged around the country and there has been no intervention by the authorities. President Morsi should be held accountable for this widespread sectarianism being witnessed in the country, whether it is for turning a blind eye to the hate speech or by failing to end impunity.

Source: IFEX

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Syria Peace Conference Unlikely

25 June 2013 – An international conference to find a political solution to the Syria crisis is not likely to be held in July, the Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the Arab League for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said today.

“Frankly now, I doubt whether the conference will take place in July,” Mr. Brahimi said ahead of talks in Geneva with Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikhail Bogdanov and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman.

This meeting, the first since the officials last met on 5 June, is due to pave the way for a potential conference aimed at finding a political settlement to the fighting between the Syrian army and opposition forces seeking to oust President Bashar Al-Assad, which since March 2011 has claimed more than 93,000 lives and sent some 1.5 million people fleeing to neighbouring countries for safety.

Read it all here.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Demise of Fatherhood

In this day and age, we are being told to come to terms with the fact that marriage is on the decline. What we don’t often hear about however is one huge consequence, as pointed out in an article by author and director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, Bradford Wilcox: and that’s the decrease of genuine and holistic fatherhood.

Why’s this? Wilcox points out that as society retreats from marriage, there’s a growth in fatherless families. With cohabitation, these couples are already more likely than married couples to end up on the rocks. But the institution of marriage is the only one that binds men to their children, the only one that can keep them under the same roof. Statistics make it clear that while the number of married middle-aged women in America fell from 82 per cent in 1970 to 62 per cent today, the share of children living in fatherless homes has doubled from 14 to 28 per cent.

Read it all here.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Costa Rican Organ Trafficking

Costa Rican police have arrested a doctor for organ trafficking. Dr Francisco Jose Mora, a prominent nephrologist, is allegedly the key figure in a large-scale transnational racket, linked to Israel and Eastern Europe. A police officer who allegedly sourced potential organ donors was also arrested.

"Dr Mora was the general coordinator of the entire international operation," said Jorge Chavarría, Costa Rica's chief prosecutor. "He did everything from interviewing donors to financing tests to determine compatibility."

According to the Mexican newspaper El Universal two Israelis had paid to a Costa Rican and a Nicaraguan US$6,000 to obtain two kidneys that were transplanted in a Costa Rican private clinic. The Costa Rican newspaper CRHoy reported that a woman donor had died on her way back from Israel after a transplant.

The arrests shines a light on the dark side of Costa Rica's booming medical tourism industry. "Costa Rica is known worldwide for its transplant tourism," Roberto Tanus, president of the Transplant Society of Latin America and the Caribbean, told El Universal. "Everyone knows what we are talking about here. Transplant tourism is an elegant disguise for what is really the illicit trafficking of organs."

Related reading:  Organ Trafficking

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Quote of the Week - Senator Chris Coons

“America is losing ground and ceding economic opportunities in Africa to competitors. China, which has made dramatic inroads across the continent in recent years, may undermine or even counter value-driven U.S. goals in the region, and should serve as a wake-up call for enhanced American trade and investment. This is truly a critical moment, as our Chinese competitors are securing long-term contracts that could lock American companies and interests out of fast-growing African markets for decades to come.”--Senator Chris Coons, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on African Affairs

Nelson Mandela's Condition

Nelson Mandela

Close relatives of Nelson Mandela and chiefs of the Abathembu royal family gathered at his home in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, on Tuesday morning.

The gathering was reportedly in response to an urgent call made by his children, as the anti-apartheid icon lies critically ill in hospital.

On Tuesday the Presidency announced that Madiba’s condition was unchanged and the doctors continued to do their best to ensure his recovery. President Jacob Zuma also restated his appeal for support for Mandela and urged the public to respect the family’s privacy and dignity.

Napilisi Mandela, an elder in the Mandela family who usually presides over the family’s meetings and rituals, confirmed that the meeting was called to discuss delicate matters pertaining to the former president.

Among those who arrived at in Qunu were Mandla Mandela, Thanduxolo Mandela, Ndaba Mandela and Ndileka Mandela. Also present was chief Bhovulengwe of the Abathembu royal council.

Read it all here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Anglicanism and the Death of the Anglican Mind

By the Rev. Fr. Samuel L. Edwards SSM
Anglican Church in America/Traditional Anglican Communion

As a prevailing feature in the life of the Anglican churches, the Anglican mind is all but dead. This is analysis, not epitaph; a description of reality, not a prescription for despair. In fact, it may well prove that wrapped within this gloomy shroud there is reason for orthodox Anglicans to hope.

The Anglican mind fell victim to a degenerative, parasitic disorder, which itself is now in the process of dissolution, having all but consumed the institutional host which sustained it. The culprit parasite is Anglicanism.

The Anglican mind (also referred to as the Anglican Way or the Anglican ethos) was a variety within the species of the Christian mind. To be sure, there was a distinct flavour to its mixture of aesthetic, moral, and intellectual styles – a sort of golden moderation, reflecting a blend of the temperaments of the British, Celtic, and Norse cultures which were a part of the making of England, yet there was never any serious contention that such things as distinguished the Anglican mind from, say, the Roman or Gallican or Iberian or Germanic or Slavic or Greek or Syrian or African or Oriental Christian mind were indicative of a difference in kind. All these were at least implicitly considered to be local or cultural streams flowing from the great well of Christian orthodoxy, and the Anglican mind habitually enriched and renewed itself by drinking liberally from all of them.

The Anglican mind, in its highest state of development, was supple without being flaccid, liberal yet disciplined, conservative yet open. It recognised that the opposite of protestant is not catholic, but corrupt, and that the opposite of catholic is not protestant, but sectarian. Even at its most polemical, it sought more reconciliation with its opponents than triumph over them. In every generation of its life – from Hooker and Field to Taylor and Cosin to Wesley and Wilberforce to Keble and Pusey to William Temple and Michael Ramsey – it has produced pastors and theologians who exemplify these characteristics. Its ethos informed an entire family of national Churches. Now, however, though the Anglican intellectual tradition remains alive in certain individuals and groups of Anglicans, it can no longer claim to have any substantial influence on what currently passes for life in the national and international institutions of the increasingly moribund Anglican Communion.

It should be noted that the death of the Anglican mind in the institutional Anglican Churches is not an isolated phenomenon or a curious, rather sad sideshow. Rather, it is a subset of the moribundity of the Western Christian mind which lies beneath the continuing slow decay of western civilisation and thought. This, too, is the result of a parasitic infestation, in which the parasites are the various ideologies – the ‘-isms’ – which foolishly pluck up one flower from the garden of reality and seek to make it the focus of the entire garden at the expense of all the other flowers, forgetting that the separation of the plant from that in and by which it has been rooted and grounded – Reality Himself – ensures both the death of the plant and the marring of the garden.

It is necessary to spend some time considering the characteristics and consequences of -isms in general, so that at length we can see what has happened to the Anglican mind in particular at the hand of Anglicanism. An ‘-ism’, as the term is used here, is an ideology. It is an intentionally comprehensive system of belief which attempts to interpret and organise reality in accordance with a single idea or agenda. This idea or agenda it substitutes for God or religious dogma.

Please note that this definition refers to an ‘-ism’ as a system of belief, not a system of thought. This is quite deliberate, for -isms actually have the effect of inhibiting thought. Indeed, they end (and often begin) by substituting slogans for thought. This is one of the things that makes them so attractive to fallen man, who is lazy and likes nothing better than a chance to appear to be intelligent without the effort of actually exercising his intellect. Thought – logical analysis and intellectual synthesis – is the deadly enemy of -isms, and this accounts for the mania among ideologues for politically-correct ways of expression, for the purpose of these is to bind and direct thinking into channels which do not threaten the credibility (and thereby the existence) of the ideology. Since the ideologue does not believe in concrete, objective truth, he lacks the conviction of the orthodox Christian that the truth will eventually triumph (with our assistance or without it), and therefore he must exercise himself to guarantee the success of his -ism by whatever means.

It might be argued that all -isms derive from or through Nominalism, which (in consequence of its rejection both of the notion of a common nature and its focus on God as absolute Will rather than absolute Being) laid the foundation for the collapse of Christendom into the abyss of individualism, relativism, and positivism. After all, the road is open to the complete dissolution of thought once one accepts such nominalistic propositions as that which asserts that the classification of things into categories is a matter of subjective decision on the part of, and for the convenience of, the taxonomist, rather than a recognition on his part of an objective, inherent, natural commonality which existed prior to the classification.

As has been mentioned already, -isms are parasitic in nature. This is unsurprising. Error is always a parasite on the truth; were it not for the element of truth in the error, the error would have no existence at all. An -ism often behaves in much the same way as does a creature known as a rhizocephalan, or ‘roothead’. This relative of the barnacle attaches itself to a crab, pierces the crab’s shell, and injects specialised cells into the crab. These quickly subvert the crab’s immune system so that it can no longer recognise the roothead as an intruder rather than a part of itself. They then take over the crab’s internal systems, shut down those which they do not need (including, interestingly enough, the generative organs) and convert the crab into nothing more than a factory for the production and support of more rootheads. The net result is the destruction, if not of the crab’s life, at least of its basic purpose (the production of more crabs) in the interest of the production of more rootheads.

The ultimate result of an -ism, in the intellectual, moral, and aesthetic as well as in the biological sphere, is the destruction of the very thing upon which it centres its attention. It erects an idol, but (so to speak) it then loves it to death. Theologically speaking, -isms are forms of idolatry, for, whether explicitly or implicitly, they uniformly put something less than God in the place of God.

As the result of idolatry is always the eventual humiliation, or even the destruction, of the idolaters (and often of the larger group of which they are a part), so is the result of the -ism. Thus, on the political scene, ideological liberalism destroys liberty and after anarchy (which can never be tolerated for long) it ends in tyranny. Likewise, ideological pacifism paves the way for war; militarism destroys the military; nationalism brings down nations (and imperialism empires); feminism destroys women. Rationalism destroys reason, issuing in madness; activism overwhelms measured and purposeful activity, resulting in accidie; sentimentalism jades the affections, precipitating anaesthesia.

In the history of the Church we see the same phenomenon amply demonstrated. For example, Calvinism and Lutheranism brought about the dissolution of the Reformed and Evangelical vision of a renewed and more faithful Church, and Protestantism as a whole, by accepting the false characterisation of itself as anti- catholic, and thus paved the way for the overthrow of the Reformation by the French philosophies and the German liberals. In each case, a shift of focus within the institutional manifestations of these movements away from the original vision, of their founding figures and toward narrower aspects of that original vision led eventually to a failure of the movement to achieve its goals, and to the emergence of a new and permanent denomination existing either in truce or in competition with the parent Church – a result quite contrary to the intent of the founders to reform the existing Church.

The Anglican Church, on its face, probably had less reason to succumb to emergent denominationalism than the continental Churches, having gone out of its way to avoid claiming that It was more than part of the true Church of Jesus Christ. Yet by the middle of the nineteenth century, the denominational style of self-consciousness had taken firm root in it and the erosion of the Anglican mind at the hands of Anglicanism had already begun.

It is noteworthy that the very word, ‘Anglicanism’, (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) has no recorded written instances prior to 1846. In the same way that consciousness precedes speech, phenomena tend to predate the words which designate them, but not by much. So it is safe to assume that the erosion of the Anglican Church’s concept of itself as the reformed Catholic Church in England into an assumption that it was but one of a variety of denominational options began before 1846, but not by very much. The roots of the shift are likely to be found in the situation of the Church following the Revolution of 1688, when a general weariness with religious strife found expression in a broadening tolerance for, and enfranchisement of, non-Anglican Protestants, which was eventually extended to Roman Catholics and non-Christians in the nineteenth century.

This attitude of tolerance need not have been, but nonetheless was anti-ecclesiological, which contributed substantially to the theological tepidity which characterised the following century. The association (fairly or not) of the High Church party with the Jacobite cause seriously impaired their ability to mount an effective challenge. As it was, most of the opposition to the decline in the self-concept of the Established Church was instinctive rather than reflective, which made it an easy mark for charges that it was mere Tory prejudice. The High Church party indeed vigorously opposed such reform through the 1830s, and the Oxford Movement itself was occasioned by a reform measure, but in fact (as by this time was being more clearly articulated) their opposition was not based on an undifferentiated hatred of change but on the reasoned conviction that if the Church of England was what her formularies said she was, a Parliament which now included many who had nothing in her should not be dictating reform to her.

It was the misfortune of the Oxford Movement that it arose when secularising liberalism had attained a well-nigh irresistible momentum. The nineteenth century was the first full century in the age of -isms, and the intellectual landscape of the time, both ecclesiastical and secular, was cluttered with them. The list of them would be good fodder for a Gilbert and Sullivan patter-song: Liberalism, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Conservatism, Romanticism, Impressionism, Scientism, Fideism, Anglo-catholicism, Anglo-papalism, Evangelicalism, Ritualism, Ultramontanism, Unitarianism, Universalism, Humanism, Feminism, and so on almost ad infinitum and certainly ad nauseam. In such a climate of fragmentation, it is hardly surprising that the genuinely comprehensive and unifying vision of the Body of Christ toward which the Oxford Fathers (continuing in the central stream of the Anglican Way) were pointing would not have sustained success in effecting and maintaining the full interior renewal of the Anglican Churches.

Given that historical environment, it may have been practically unavoidable that the Tractarian movement would decline into Tractarianism and become just one among a variety of rarely co-operating and frequently competing ideologies within the Anglican stall of the fold. Combined with the tendency to confuse the God-given order of the Church with the humanly-constructed institutions that are meant to serve that order, the lesser heirs of the Catholic renewal (with some shining exceptions) led the movement into the status of one party among many, with interests to be balanced against those of the others (the same thing happened on the Evangelical side). For the health of the Anglican mind, this was not a good thing. The initial character of the renewal movements was prophetic, but (again with notable exceptions) they became political, and serious thought about the long-range implications of ideas and policies is not a normal component of the politician’s makeup.

As the Anglican mind was supplanted by Anglicanism, and in exact proportion to that pre-emption, the institutional Anglican Church began to be excessively concerned with questions of its identity. ‘What does it mean to be an Anglican?’ and ‘how is Anglicanism distinctive?’ became new and fashionable questions, asked in scores of different ways with scores of different answers. This sort of concern is a salient characteristic of any organisation which has been infested by an -ism. It results from the loss of a true focus on the central purpose for which the institution exists, which is a consequence of the ‘-ismatic’ substitution of internally-focused, institutional concerns. The loss of the original purpose issues in the loss of a sense of identity, and since the human person is so constructed that he cannot bear such chaos, he is likely to accept any plausible alternate purpose that is proposed.

Another key symptom of infestation by an -ism is a preoccupation on the part of the infested institution with its own survival, and this is certainly evident in the multiple reports and schemes documenting and suggesting means of combating the numerical decline of the various Anglican Churches in the First World. This concern implies the existence of an unspoken assumption that the institution is intended to continue its independent existence indefinitely. So far as the Anglican Churches are concerned, this is a clear sign of a major shift in self-understanding, since the Anglican Reformers never intended or envisioned that the institutional separation within the Church would continue indefinitely, still less that it would come to be considered an acceptable state of affairs. They would have found fatuous and bizarre in the extreme the notion that a national Church could unilaterally alter basic elements of the common ecclesiastical order without both destroying its internal relations and fatally compromising the prospects of restoring its impaired external relations. Yet such is the very attitude now firmly rooted in the centres of governance and learning in the First World Anglican Churches.

Anglicanism insinuated itself by slow degrees and with little notice on the Anglican Church, which was to become its host. Like the rhizocephalan mentioned earlier, once in place inside, it began to take over the organism, to anaesthetise its defences by undermining the Anglican mind, and to subvert its purpose from the fostering of Christians to the making of denominationalist Anglicans. At the latter task, it has proved all too effective. The capacity of the institutional Anglican Churches in the First World to accomplish their designed purpose has practically vanished on all but the parochial level (and even there it is all too rare). The prospect that the parasite will soon have destroyed its host is very real. In the judgment of some, this has already happened in principle.

Yet, for a people formed by the Resurrection, the virtual death of the Anglican mind and the dissolution of the ecclesiastical institutions commandeered by Anglicanism is not an unmitigatedly bad prospect. After all, taken both as persons and as a whole, Anglicans are not crabs. The dissolution of institutional structures may leave us naked for a while, but it will not of necessity be fatal. The Anglican mind may no longer have an effective life in the institutional Anglican Church, but that is bad news more for the institution than for its members. In what setting these dry bones may live is as yet an open question. Whether they shall live is not, and we may confidently hope that at the breath of the Holy Spirit, they shall be knit together, clothed in power, and spring up an exceedingly great host which will move resolutely forward in faith.

This essay appeared in a collection titled Quo Vaditis? The State of Churches in Northern Europe (1996). The volume was edited by Bishop John Broadhurst, a leader of Forward in Faith UK.

Samuel L. Edwards
Fr. Edwards departed for Rome in 2010.  Here he describes his journey and reasons for his decision.

As a young man, in order to remain, and more perfectly be, Methodist, I became an Anglican by confirmation in the Episcopal Church. Since I had learned that, so long as John and Charles Wesley lived, they refused to countenance the separation of their movement from the Church of England, I believed I was simply doing what they would have wanted.

As a middle-aged man, following years of “fighting the long defeat” of apostolic Christianity in the Episcopal Church and the official Anglican Communion and concluding that there was no lasting desire or intention in them to allow the survival, let alone the extension, of the catholic faith within them, I entered the Continuing Anglican movement in order to continue to be an Anglican.

My combined experience within both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Continuum has finally led me to the same conclusion so many of my friends, mentors, and colleagues reached long before I did, which is that nothing good about the Anglican Way ultimately can survive if it remains cut off from its fount and origin. The past four and one-half centuries of organic disunion have demonstrated to my own satisfaction that apart from its union with the main trunk, the Anglican branch of the Christian tree –finest and most humane product of the Reformation though it is – can only either (1) rot from the heart out, until merely the bark is left to give it shape until it is fragmented by external pressure, or (2) become fossilized, in which case it may be more solid but no less subject to fragmentation.

Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Experiments succeed whether they prove or disprove their hypothesis. So far as I can see, the Anglican experiment has succeeded in that it has disproved the hypothesis that catholic faith and practice can endure indefinitely apart from visible communion with that See of which Peter and Paul were co-founders.

This is coupled with the realization that – notwithstanding all the faults and sins of its members and even of its leaders (which it acknowledges) – for the last hundred years and more (while one by one the churches of the Reformation have succumbed, through surrender to or by retreat in the face of the spirit of the age) there has been in the world but one Christian communion which has consistently and proactively stood for divine truth and the dignity of man against every idolatrous tyranny which destroys and degrades him. This perception finds confirmation in the prophetic ministries of Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, and – and with more besides – it has made clear to me beyond a reasonable doubt my own call into full communion with the Catholic Church.

From here.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Academic Integrity: What's that?

College cheating by the numbers:

60.8% Students who admitted to cheating

16.5% Said they didn't regret it

3.41 GPA of students who admitted to cheating

2.85 GPA of students who did not cheat

41% of Americans consider cheating a serious issue

8,000 hits a day to, a top paper mill website

95% of cheaters don't get caught

Sources:,, Fordham University, the Ad Council and Educational Testing Service, U.S. News and World Report

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Morsi to Hezbollah: Get out of Syria

Elizabeth Arrott

Egypt has further aligned itself with those trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It remains unclear, though, how far Egypt will back its words with action.

Syria's civil war has increasingly drawn in outsiders, from individual fighters to regional and international powers lining up on opposing sides. Egypt recently has stepped up its role, but the message appears mixed.

President Mohamed Morsi has severed Egypt's already tenuous ties with Syria's government, a move denounced by Syrian officials as influenced by the United States and Israel.

Morsi also lashed out at intervention by Lebanon's Hezbollah fighters on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Speaking at a rally Saturday, he said Hezbollah must leave, adding “there is no space or place for Hezbollah in Syria.”

The open presence of the Shi'ite militant group in Syria has highlighted the conflict's increasingly sectarian nature.

Read it all here.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Secular squatters on Biblical land

Jeff Fountain

Human dignity and rights needed to be set free from religious foundations. Only a secular basis can maintain their continued existence free from religious violence and tensions.

At least, that was the learned opinion one of Holland’s best-known atheists as expressed in a seminar last week in The Hague. Dr Margriet Krijtenburg, who spoke in Dublin at a recent State of Europe Forum, was presenting her doctoral thesis on Robert Schuman to an invited audience, and had invited her supervising professor, Paul Cliteur, to be one of her respondents.

As in Dublin, Margriet had described Schuman’s conviction that the Christian faith had a significant role to play in restoring unity in Europe and in Europe’s future. Concepts such as human dignity and solidarity were, in Schuman’s understanding, intrinsically linked with a Christian concept of humanity.

Margriet’s professor agreed that the identification of such values as the freedom of expression, of religion and of assembly had laid foundations for the unique European project. But fortunately, he said, those values had been set free from their religious roots and redefined within a sustainable secular framework. Such a framework protected human dignity from religious intolerance and offered it a tolerant pluriform context.

A few days after attending this seminar, an engagement near Den Bosch gave me the opportunity to visit the former Nazi concentration camp in Vught while in the neighbourhood.

Some 31,000 Jews, political prisoners, resistance fighters, students, Jehovah’s Witnesses, tramps, black marketeers and criminals were thrown together into Kamp Vught, some for short periods, others longer. Almost all of the 12,000 Jewish internees, over a third of the camp population, were later murdered in extermination camps in Poland.

A reconstructed cell remind visitors of the so-called “bunker drama” of January 15, 1944. In response to a protest by prisoners, the camp commandant ordered 74 women to be locked up together in one cell in a space of nine square metres, without ventilation. When the doors were finally opened after 14 hours, ten of the women had died.

Most sobering, however, was a memorial to the 1,800 Jewish children taken away from the camp on June 6 and 7, 1943, to a “special children’s camp” -- or so the parents were told. Some parents were allowed to accompany the children. After a three-day train ride to the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland, almost every person perished.

The cold metal monument carried those names and ages of 1,269 of the children that are known. I stood there transfixed and emotionally disturbed reading the ages of these little defenceless human beings. I sought out the ages of my own three grandchildren: three months, two years and four years.

At the base of the monument was a sculptured teddy bear, a truck and other toys. In the trunk of my car was a wrapped present for my grandson celebrating his second birthday. What if he had been born 70 years earlier, to Jewish parents?

What was the source of the evil that had led to this vile crime? Was it not a denial of the Biblical truth that the dignity of every human is rooted in the understanding that life is a gift of the Creator? and that each one of us has been created in His image, Imago Dei?

Had not the “freeing from religious foundations”, the rejection of the Biblical view of humanity, by Hitler and his henchmen caused this European tragedy? Was it not this very tragedy that had led Schuman and others to formulate the European Convention on Human Rights, to which every member nation of the Council of Europe had to agree? Was it not their aim to render such “state gangsterism” impossible, to prevent for ever the atrocities of Kamp Vught, Dachau and Auschwitz?

How quickly we are forgetting this most important lesson of modern times! No, Professor, it is not “fortunate” that in the minds of millions of Europeans today human dignity has been freed from its historical and transcendent foundations. For there are no other foundations. We can’t invent foundations or roots. A process of materialistic evolution in which only the fittest survive can never result in protection and rights for the weak and vulnerable.

As (non-believer) John Gray, formerly of the London School of Economics, wrote in his 2007 book Straw Dogs: humanists are simply Christians in disguise. If there is no God, there is no basis for human dignity and human exceptionalism. Humanism is the creed of those who have “given up an irrational belief in God for an irrational belief in humans”.

The truth is, many Europeans are squatters living in a house built on Judeo-Christian foundations -- but they don’t want to pay the rent.

Jeff Fountain and his wife Romkje are the initiators of the Schuman Centre for European Studies in The Netherlands. This article has been republished here with permission from the Centre’s website.

Friday, June 21, 2013

RT Media versus US "Lame-stream Media"

"RT Media tells more truth about America than CNN, FOX, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, and all the newspapers combined. That in itselt makes RT a saint compared to the trash fed to Americans and the rest of the world. That’s why the attack dogs are out in force to try and discredit RT. I am very pleased with the truth RT uncovers, or at least, asks the questions no one else is asking in the media.” YouTube comment

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Another Media Fact-Checking Failure

Fathers Rights Group protested Enda's house, not pro-lifers; major media fail

17 June 2013

Pro-life groups have criticised the Irish media for their failure to carry out basic fact-checking in their rush to demonise pro-life activists.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said that media reports that pro-life activists had carried out a protest at Enda Kenny's home were "entirely incorrect and had no basis in fact", and that the Irish media had engaged in "sloppy and unprofessional journalism".

In fact, the Fathers' rights group who carried out the protest had posted it on the internet for any journalist who wanted to check the facts.

Ms Ui Bhriain said that reporters had got the facts inexcusably wrong.

"There was no masked pro-life protest at Mr Kenny's home," she said. "This is a false claim, entirely manufactured by the media. If there was a protest because of some other issue, the media need to investigate and establish the facts rather than jumping to conclusions. "

"It is inexcusable that the media are printing misinformation of this sort, and it smacks of a rush to try to demonise pro-life activists," she said.

"The media need to get their act together and politicians need to discuss the reality of this cruel and unacceptable abortion legislation and stop trying to deflect from the issue with unsubstantiated claims and false allegations," added the Life Institute spokeswoman.

"Last week we saw that Fine Gael TDs were upset when attempts were made at the top level of the party to carry out a 'political hanging' of the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. Now we are seeing similar dirty tricks where baseless allegations and false stories are being circulated in order to try to silence genuine pro-life people who are fully entitled to make their voices heard against abortion," she said.

"The notion of former Worker's Party members, who now run Labour, complaining about imagined intimidation was deeply, deeply ironic," she said, adding that it was no surprise that such people supported the taking of innocent unborn life.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

US Talks with Taliban Compromised

The United States and Afghanistan have announced their intention to hold talks with the Taliban in Qatar. The plans were announced on Tuesday as the Taliban officially opened a new office in Doha. The group said it wants to find a political solution to Afghanistan's crisis.

Meanwhile, the Taliban killed 4 American soldiers in a rocket attack on a convoy near Bergram Air Base in Afghanistan (June 19, 2013), just hours after the the Taliban office opened its doors for peace talks with the U.S. in Doha, Qatar, according to the Newser website.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which came as Afghan forces formally took charge of the country's security. In another setback for the hopes of military stability, Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced today that the Afghan government was pulling out of talks on a new security deal with the U.S.

Karzi said on Tuesday that his government would send envoys to Qatar to try to open peace talks with the Taliban. He made the comment during a ceremony in which Afghan forces took over responsibility for security for the entire country from an international military coalition.

The United States has dropped some of its preconditions for engaging the Taliban and is now willing to hold direct talks with the militants, senior Obama administration officials said on Tuesday.

The Taliban too have agreed to support the Afghan peace process and the talks can now be held within days, officials said.

The White House deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, Ben Rhodes, however, told reporters that he could not yet give a date for the talks.

It could be a “matter of days” when US talks to Taliban, he added, pointing out that US officials would also discuss the release of an American soldier now in Taliban’s custody.

“The United States will be supporting a process that is fundamentally Afghan-led,” he said. “We can play a role in talking to the Taliban as well in supporting that peace process and because we have issues of our own to bring up with them.”

Senior Obama administration officials told a briefing in Washington that the talks that led to this breakthrough involved the Taliban’s core leadership and included the Haqqani network.

The officials said the Taliban also have vowed not to allow their soil to be used for threatening other countries.

“I think the US will have its first formal meeting with the Taliban, and the first meeting with the Taliban for several years, in a couple of days in Doha,” said one US official.

Political representatives of the Taliban will shortly meet Afghan and US officials in Doha to discuss an agenda for “peace and reconciliation” before further talks with the Afghan government later this week, said another official.

“The Taliban will release a statement that says two things: First, that they oppose the use of Afghan soil to threaten other countries; and second, that they support an Afghan peace process,” the official said.

“These are two statements which we’ve long called for and together, they fulfil the requirements for the Taliban to open an office, a political office, in Doha for the purposes of negotiation with the Afghan government.”

Another US official said the Taliban and other insurgent groups were now required to meet three end conditions: Break ties with Al Qaeda; end the violence; and accept Afghanistan’s constitution, including its protections for women and minorities.

Read more here and here.

When Journalists Fail to be Credible

Mark Judge

There are few sights in modern life more ridiculous and sickening than watching a journalist try and explain why people hate him and his profession. When asked why this is so, the journalist will breathe in deeply, adjust his mien to express both noble victimhood and self-righteousness, and explain that he is disliked because he tells the truth. Sometimes people don’t like to hear the truth.

This, of course, is a lie. Most journalists are not interested in the truth, and most people know this. What is remarkable is how so many journalists think they can get away with obscuring or eliminating facts that they don’t like. After cable, after Fox News, after Bernie Goldberg, the media still thinks its problem is that people can’t stomach fearless truth-telling.

What I find interesting is that things in the fourth estate weren’t always this way. In my desk I have a copy of a column written by Meg Greenfield, the late and celebrated editorial page editor of the Washington Post. It is dated October 3, 1979. It is called “The Power of the Pope,” and was written when John Paul II was visiting America for the first time. From time to time, when I feel sickened by the stupidity and arrogance of modern journalism, I reread these two paragraphs:

My favorite story about [John Paul II] is that he caused great consternation by insisting, against scandalized advice, that he wanted a papal swimming pool built at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. You got the idea that the pope 1) refused to view swimming as an act that could affect, let alone destroy, his dignity, 2) at the same time did not view it as some kind of humanizing or popularizing hey-look-the-pope-is-swimming gambit, but 3) wanted a swimming pool for the simple, direct and authentic reason that he likes to swim.
This evident self-possession looks to be the style of a man who is comfortable with his choices and the values they dictate. I know I am leaving out a religious dimension here that is unfamiliar to me, and also that some of those choices have worldwide political and social implications that many people, myself included, think are truly harmful. But I think there is a wholly admirable and tragically rare aspect to this man: he exudes the authority of personal strength, belief and commitment in a way that practically no other leader does. And this authority, clearly, does not depend on the orthodoxy and church law he is seeking to maintain. Rather, it comes from within the man, is in that place between insecurity and dumb arrogance where genuine leadership reposes.

Meg Greenfield was a liberal. Her claim that the authority of the pope has nothing to do with the law and orthodoxy of the Catholic Church is bunk.

But this passage is also filled with the kind of questing intelligence that modern journalism no longer allows for. Greenfield opened her eyes up to the pope in his entirety; she allowed herself to be surprised, to learn, to come to conclusions that would even challenge her worldview. And then she honestly wrote about it. She also displayed an attractive humility at not being an authority on Catholicism.

Read it all here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Anglicans Need a Few Good Men


One of the remarkable developments of recent years has been the growth in the number of men who stand firmly in the catholic tradition whom God is calling to the priesthood in the Church of England and who have responded in faith to that call. The number in formation at St Stephen’s House and the number who will be beginning their studies there this autumn are very encouraging. This is a sign of hope for our future. A high proportion of them are young men who can offer up to forty years of service or even more.

But although this growth is encouraging, it is not enough. We need more priests than we have, yet the number who will retire in the coming years means that we shall have even fewer unless an even larger number respond to God’s call.

Vocation involves a double call – an internal calling discerned by the individual, but also a calling through the Church. This means that Vocations are the concern of the whole Church and not just of the individuals concerned. We all need to think and pray about who in our parishes might be called by God to ministry in his Church.

The next Vocations Conference will be held at St Stephen’s House from 30 August to 1 September. Forward in Faith calls on its clergy and people in each parish to consider prayerfully whether there is someone in their midst whom God might be calling to the priesthood, and who should be encouraged to attend the Vocations Conference in order to explore this.

In calling young men to the priesthood, God assures us that he has a future for us. But it is also true that if there is no response to that vocation, we shall have no future. Please play your part in the process of discernment, by encouraging those who may have a vocation to come to the conference and find out more.

For further information about the Anglican Vocations Conference, go here:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Quote of the Week - Richard Dawkins

With respect to those meanings of 'human' that are relevant to the morality of abortion, any fetus is less human than an adult pig.--Richard Dawkins' Tweet

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Rowhani wins in Iran

TEHRAN, June 15: Moderate cleric Hassan Rowhani was declared Iran’s new president on Saturday in a surprise and outright election victory that ended eight years of conservative grip on the top office.

“This victory is a victory for wisdom, moderation and maturity… over extremism,” local media reported Mr Rowhani as saying in the first statement after his win.

A former top nuclear negotiator who championed more constructive engagement with world powers, Mr Rowhani, age 64, won outright with 18.6 million votes, or 50.68 per cent of those cast.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s website congratulated Mr Rowhani on his victory and urged the people to work with him.

“Congratulations to the people and to president-elect Hojatoleslam Hassan Rowhani,” Mr Khamenei’s website reported.

“I urge everyone to help the president-elect and his colleagues in the government, as he is the president of the whole nation.”

Crowds marched through Vali-Asr Square in central Tehran carrying pictures of the winner and chanting pro-Rowhani slogans.

In northwest Tehran, people in Kaj Square cheered as passing cars sounded their horns in approval.

Source: Pakistan Dawn

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Tony Blair on the Problem Inside Islam

Tony Blair

There is only one view of the murder of Lee Rigby: horrific.

But there are two views of its significance. One is that it is the act of crazy people, motivated in this case by a perverted idea about Islam, but of no broader significance. Crazy people do crazy things. So don’t overreact.

The other view is that this act was indeed horrible; and that the ideology which inspired it, is profound and dangerous.

I am of this latter view.

So of course we shouldn’t overreact. We didn’t after 7 July 2005. But we did act. And we were right to. The actions by our security services will undoubtedly have prevented other serious attacks. The ‘Prevent’ programme in local communities was sensible.

The new measures of the Government seem reasonable and proportionate.

However we are deluding ourselves if we believe that we can protect this country simply by what we do here. The ideology is out there. It isn’t diminishing.

Read it all here.

Friday, June 14, 2013

NSA Snooping Strains US-Pakistan Relations

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has sought explanation from the United States over reports that its citizens have been a major target of intelligence surveillance and asked the latter to respect the privacy of its citizens.
The apprehensions were conveyed to US Chargé d’Affaires Richard Hoagland by senior Foreign Office officials at a recent meeting.

“We have taken up the matter with the US to ascertain veracity of the news and obtain facts of the matter. We are awaiting their response,” Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry said at the weekly briefing on Thursday.

A Guardian report earlier this week claimed that information obtained from the US National Security Agency’s data-mapping tool ‘Boundless Informant’ had shown that Pakistan was second among the countries most subjected to US intelligence surveillance with almost 13.5 billion reports in just one month — March.

`Boundless Informant’ catalogues the volume of intelligence being collected from different countries. Most of the intelligence has been gathered from computer and telephone networks. The tool, however, did not detail what intelligence had been collected by the NSA.

The country subject to more intense watch was Iran where 14 billion reports were obtained during the same period.

A senior official told Dawn that the Foreign Office, though unsure about the authenticity of the leak, was concerned about the intelligence, if any, being used against the Pakistanis living in the US and about violation of their privacy. The official said Pakistan considered the intelligence scam to be an internal matter of the United States.

Washington is facing growing international pressure to explain the previously undisclosed surveillance programme identified in the documents leaked by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as ‘Prism’.

The disclosure is also likely to complicate relations with the US as the new government tries to build a working relationship with Washington.

Pakistani intelligence agencies, a source said, were particularly upset over the revelation about the intensity of the surveillance.

When US Secretary of State John Kerry visits Pakistan this month, he will be confronted with tough questions over drone war and the paranoid snooping programme.

Mr Kerry is due in Islamabad either on June 25 or 26.

The new government has taken a hard line on the drone attacks which have always been resented by Pakistan.

“There is an across-the-board political consensus with regard to Pakistan’s position on the issue of drone strikes. ...this matter is receiving priority attention of the government,” the FO spokesman said.

Source: Pakistan Dawn

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pope on Vatican "Gay Lobby"

Pope Francis has acknowledged the existence of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican and says he is consulting advisers on what to do about it.

Speaking informally to a confederation of religious groups from Latin America and the Caribbean, he said: “In the Curia, there are also holy people, really, there are holy people.” 

But, he added: “There also is a stream of corruption, there is that as well, it is true... The 'gay lobby' is mentioned, and it is true, it is there... We need to see what we can do.”

Read it all here.

Maine Rejects Physician Assisted Suicide

The Maine House of Representatives has decisively rejected a bill to legalize physician assisted suicide , just days after Vermont legalized it. The Patient Directed Care at End of Life bill was defeated 95-43. The legislation would have lifted criminal sanctions on doctors.

The bill was sponsored by the independent Rep. Joseph Brooks. Brooks gave an emotional address to the house about the slow death of his own father. Rep. Deborah Sanderson who used her mother’s death to argue the opposite case: “I sat with my mom the last five days of her life. I slept in a wheelchair by her bed,” she explained. “The night before my mother passed, my mother said, ‘It’s not like what I thought it would be.’ She said, ‘It’s peaceful.’”

The Maine Medical Association opposed the bill, as did the Maine Osteopathic Association, which called it "very dangerous public policy." Both groups strongly support better palliative care. Assisted suicide was defeated in a 1990 referendum.

Source: BioEdge

Monday, June 10, 2013

Quote of the Week - John Henry Newman

Newman                              Darwin

In 1868 John Henry Newman wrote to a fellow priest regarding evolution. Newman was open to Darwin’s theories, and was not intimidated by modern science. This is what he said:

“As to the Divine Design, is it not an instance of incomprehensibly and infinitely marvelous Wisdom and Design to have given certain laws to matter millions of ages ago, which have surely and precisely worked out, in the long course of those ages, those effects which He from the first proposed. Mr. Darwin's theory need not then be atheistical, be it true or not; it may simply be suggesting a larger idea of Divine Prescience and Skill. Perhaps your friend has got a surer clue to guide him than I have, who have never studied the question, and I do not [see] that 'the accidental evolution of organic beings' is inconsistent with divine design – It is accidental to us, not to God.”

(John Henry Newman, Letter to J. Walker of Scarborough, May 22, 1868, The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973)

H/T to Bishop David Chislett

Friday, June 7, 2013

Myanmar's 2-Child Policy for Muslims

Michael Cook

It is hard to imagine a more inhumane policy than China's one-child policy. But there is one: the two-child policy imposed on Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims. Late last month government authorities in the largely Buddhist country reaffirmed a 2005 policy which punishes Rohingya women who bear more than two children with hefty fines and loss of legal rights for the children.

After a long silence on the issue, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has condemned the measures. She has told the media that if reports of the policy were true, it was illegal. "It is not good to have such discrimination. And it is not in line with human rights either."

According to al-Jazeera, a government spokesman, Win Myaing, explained that the regulations were meant to dampen sectarian tensions. The Rohingya live mostly in two town, which are islands in a sea of Buddhists. "The population growth of Rohingya Muslims is 10 times higher than that of the Rakhine (Buddhists)," he said. "Overpopulation is one of the causes of tension."

The Rohingya number between 800,000 and 1 million, most of them living near the border with Bangladesh. They have been the target of legal discrimination and sectarian violence. Human Rights Watch has accused the Myanmar government of conducting a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against the Rohingya.

Tensions between Buddhist Burmese and the Muslim Rohingya go back centuries but were greatly heightened during the British colonial period and the Japanese occupation in World War II. Since 1982 Myanmar has not even acknowledged that they are citizens.

In 2005 local authorities began to enforce a two-child policy. Rohingya couples who wish to marry must seek government approval - a process which can take up to two years. They must agree to have no more than two children. More children are punishable with fines and imprisonment. As a result unsafe abortions are common among women who become pregnant before they are legally married or who are carrying a third child.

According to Human Rights Watch, "Rohingya children born out of wedlock or in a family that already has two children do not receive any status whatsoever from the government, making them ineligible for education and other government services, unable to receive travel permissions, and they are later not permitted to marry or acquire property. They are subject to arbitrary arrest and detention."

Source: BioEdge

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Trouble Brewing in Turkey

Protests continue in the Turkish cities of Ankara and Istanbul. Riot police were called out and used tear gas against the protesters in Gezi Park. In the western city of Izmir police raided the houses of dozens of students and took them into custody for sharing this photo via Twitter.

The picture is taken from a video (02.06.2013 İzmir Gündoğdu Meydanı polis müdahale) that shows a policeman randomly and violently pulling the hair of passerby girl who had done nothing wrong.

Even the Turkish media was targeted, though it has remained silent about the abuse.

Reuters' photojournalist Osman Orsal was seriously injured when he was hit on the head by a tear gas grenade last Friday. He was near the French consulate in the Beyoglu district at the time and was taken to Taksim Hospital where he received nine stitches. His condition is reported to be improving.

The riots are turning into an anti-government protest movement and two people have been killed and many injured among participants and observers,” the press freedom organization said. “We regret that, despite many appeals for calm made since late last week and the partial withdrawal of police from Istanbul's Taksim Square, police violence has continued.

Orsal took the photograph that symbolises the police crackdown on the Gezi Park occupation.

Erhan Karadag, a journalist with the privately-owned national TV station Kanal D, was questioned by police in Ankara on Saturday night on the grounds that he was believed to support the protests in the capital. He was held at Ankara security headquarters and released the next day. His lawyer said he was detained for taking milk to the demonstrators so they could use it on their faces to soothe the effects of tear gas.

Ahmet Sik, who was hit on the head on Friday, left hospital the next day, after his wound was stitched. His stitches will be removed after 10 days.

The demonstrations began in protest against the government's plan to develop Gezi Park, located on the symbolic Taksim Square on the city's European side. Media workers have been hit by water hoses and tear gas directed against the demonstrators.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the brutal police action against media workers covering the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul. We understand that 14 journalists have been injured, some seriously, since the protests began in Istanbul and elsewhere. Dozens of other people have been affected by tear gas, which has been used widely against the protesters.

“We strongly condemn the deliberate targeting of journalists by the police during the protests. In common with dozens of organizations, including the Journalists' Association of Turkey, we express our outrage. We call for the safety of journalists covering the protests to be guaranteed and for the protest movement to be treated fairly impartially by government media.”

The demonstrations began in protest against the government's plan to develop Gezi Park, located on the symbolic Taksim Square on the city's European side. Media workers have been hit by water hoses and tear gas directed against the demonstrators.

Read more here.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Anglicans Seek to Navigate Around God's "NO"

The Anglican Way has become the way of compromise, group process, and concession.

Women bishops in the Anglican circus

Alice C. Linsley
(Formerly the Rev. Alice C. Linsley, Episcopal priest)

In November 2012 General Synod of the Church of England did not to give approval to the proposed legislation to enable women to become bishops. Though the proposal seems to have widespread support, when it came time to vote it lacked the necessary two-third majorities in all three Houses of Synod. This after after much prayer and invocation of the Holy Spirit.

Those comfortable with compromise of the Gospel see no danger in departing from the tradition of the Church. They did not anticipate this development and were confident that the Holy Spirit was leading in the direction they wanted to go. The proposal having failed, they regrouped in December to produce a "new legislative package" to bring before the Synod in July.

This "working group" presented to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York a report in May which placed emphasis on simplicity, reciprocity, mutuality and the need to make rapid progress.

Progress. Rapid. Lord, have mercy!

What does this mean?  It means that the Church of England is not content with God's answer.  It insists on moving forward to the consecration of women bishops and once that is done, it will require all clergy to consent to that decision. The report is unequivocal on this point:

Once legislation has been passed to enable women to become bishops the
Church of England will be fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of
ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and will hold
that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are the true and
lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and
canonical obedience;

Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must then be prepared to
acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the

This will be the equivalent of an ethnic purge. Anglicans holding to the Tradition of the Church will be forced to leave, compromise their consciences and the Gospel, and/or incur "significant costs in defending themselves against legal challenges."

It will create even greater distance between Anglicans and the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics. It will mean no longer sharing the historic episcopate with those churches.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are fooling themselves if they think otherwise. Here is how they justify such disorder in the church: 

Since it will continue to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and those provinces of the Anglican Communion which continue to ordain only men as priests or bishops, the Church of England will acknowledge that its own clear decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God;

This has become the "Anglican way" and it leads to disaster.  Dear Dr. Toon is rolling in his grave.

Jupiter, Venus and Mars conjunction

The astrophotographer Thierry Legault took this beautiful picture on the northwest coast of France on May 36, 2013. The image shows a triple conjunction involving the planets Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury.

David Grinspoon, a NASA astronomer and the author of a history of Venus observation, offered the following summary of the ancients' preoccupation with Venus:
"Venus must always have seemed a unique, animated entity. For our ancestors the details of the complex movements of Venus served as important harbingers of war and peace, feast and famine, pestilence and health. They learned to watch every nuance for the clues they could wrest of what nature had in store. They watched carefully, obsessively, through skies not yet dimmed by industrial haze and city lights, and they learned to predict accurately, for years and decades to come, the rising, setting, dimming, brightening, and looping of Venus."
By 4245 BC, the Horite priests of the Nile had already established a calendar based on the appearance of the star Sirius that becomes visible to the naked eye once every 1,461 years. Apparently, Nilotes had been tracking this star and connecting it to seasonal changes and agriculture for thousands of years. This is verified by the Priest Manetho who reported in his history (241 BC) that Nilotic Africans had been “star-gazing” as early as 40,000 years ago. Plato, who studied in Egypt, claimed that the Africans had been tracking the heavens for 10,000 years. 

The ancient Kushite astronomers would make much of this conjunction in the West. Jupiter represents the King and Creator of the universe. Mars represents "Horus the Red" (Hor Dshr), and Venus is the emblem of Hathor-Meri, the virgin queen who brought forth Horus, the Seed of Ra. We have the divine Triad of the Horites. The west is the direction of the future.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Quote of the Week - Pascal

"Not only do we know God through Jesus Christ, we only know ourselves through Jesus Christ."-- Blaise Pascal

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Storm Chasers Killed in Oklahoma

Three stars of the former reality show Storm Chasers were among the nine people who were killed in the powerful storms that struck Oklahoma on Friday night, reports CNN. Tim Samaras, one of the world’s best known storm chasers, was among those killed highlights National Geographic. Samaras’ son, 24-year-old Paul Samaras, was also killed, along with Carl Young. The three were best known for starring in the former Discovery Channel reality show Storm Chasers. "They all unfortunately passed away but doing what they LOVED," Jim Samaras, Tim's brother, wrote on Facebook.

Read it all here.