Friday, October 19, 2018

Use of abortion pill slowly increases in Canada

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: Deuteronomy 30:19

For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.
But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.
Proverbs 8:35-36

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12 (also Proverbs 16:25)

Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20

The following article illustrates abortion advocates' idea of "choice": you can choose to have your child killed by surgery or by a pill. It's easy to forget that the abortion pill was legalized in Canada not by the rabidly anti-Christian Liberal government of Justin Trudeau, but by the "Conservative" government of alleged Christian Stephen Harper; and it wasn't legalized by passage of a law, but by a bureaucratic decision. As reported by Tyler Dawson in the National Post, October 15, 2018:

EDMONTON — It was Calgary’s Kensington clinic that prescribed the first dose of Mifegymiso, the two-pill abortion drug, after it became available in Canada in January 2017.

“When it arrived on our doorstep, we had a patient that day and we offered it to her; we were ready to go,” said clinic executive director Celia Posyniak.

Since Alberta began covering the cost of Mifegymiso last July, at least 2,792 doses have been prescribed — the overwhelming majority of them in Calgary — while 7,197 surgical abortions were performed in the same period. Since the drug became available in January 2017, at least 13,000 prescriptions have been written or filled across Canada, according to numbers provided to the National Post by provincial health ministries.

While the data is incomplete — Yukon wouldn’t release its numbers for privacy reasons and Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island didn’t respond to the Post’s inquiries — it gives some insight into the rollout of the abortion pill in Canada. Long available in other countries, its arrival here was heralded as major progress for women’s health and a step towards addressing abortion shortages outside of urban centres.

But, as with the delivery of surgical abortion services, there are discrepancies between provinces, in terms of public funding for the drug. Newfoundland and Labrador just started offering Mifegymiso last month. Yukon is in the “final stages” of developing its coverage. Other provinces have complex setups, including Manitoba, where Mifegymiso is covered if dispensed by an abortion clinic, but goes through the provincial pharmacare plan if received elsewhere.

What the numbers suggest is that Mifegymiso hasn’t solved issues of access to abortion in rural and remote areas — at least not yet. In Alberta, for example, just 39 claims were made outside of Edmonton and Calgary between July 21, 2017 and June 28, 2018. This could be because rural doctors don’t want to be involved in abortion services, Posyniak said. It’s also possible that women living in rural areas would rather get an abortion in a large city.

“Some women may prefer to travel to larger centres to maintain confidentiality or to receive specialized care,” Rob Gereghty, assistant director of communications for Alberta Health, said in an email.

But, experts say, substantial progress has been made despite some unavoidable hiccups during the rollout of the drug. “Were still on the very early parts of the curve,” said Dr. Wendy Norman, a University of British Columbia professor who researches reproductive services.

The numbers give insight not only into the prevalence of the prescription as a method of abortion in Canada, but also the challenges that have faced clinics, doctors and patients since Health Canada approved it in 2015. The first doses didn’t arrive in Canada until 2017 — and there were supply issues throughout the year, Posyniak said. Even after the drug became available, it took awhile for provinces to start offering public coverage, and it’s still uneven across Canada. The pills can cost between $300 and $450, so, experts said, public coverage was essential to its appeal.

After Mifegymiso became legal, dispensing policies, educational programs, such as online courses, for physicians and pharmacists all took time, explaining the lag between approval, availability and access. Some clinics, such as the Kensington Clinic, were able to get up and running faster because they were already major providers of surgical abortions, with the experience necessary to quickly develop medical abortion practises.

“The change you see in different provinces’ uptake is very much reflective of the fact that it typically takes … between six months and nine months, even for a purpose-specific abortion facility, to agree on protocols and get the infrastructure in place,” Norman said.

In Quebec, that process led to major delays. For example, the college of physicians in Quebec initially wanted doctors prescribing the pill to also know how to perform surgical abortions, limiting the pool of potential prescribers.

By this May, that was abandoned, said Université Laval faculty of medicine professor Édith Guilbert in an email. Instead, there’s a three-day, in-person course at an abortion clinic for “all physicians who wanted to prescribe the abortion pill and had not been trained in family planning or whose training has not been put into practice for the past three years,” Guilbert wrote. “Quebec is the only province in Canada requiring such a training which may be difficult to take for most primary care physicians, obstetrician-gynecologists or nurse practitioners.”

Since the province began covering the cost last December, only 104 prescriptions were filled as of Aug. 6. The province had about 17,000 surgical abortions in that same time period.

Elsewhere in Canada, though, Mifegymiso is making significant inroads, especially after Health Canada relaxed rules around prescribing last fall.

“We are seeing in Canada a strong preference among those presenting for abortion, to choose a medical abortion if it is available,” Norman said. “Reports from centres offering both choices estimate that between half and three quarters of those eligible, will choose medical over surgical abortion.”

The available numbers offer evidence in support of this: New Brunswick, the first province to cover the cost of Mifegymiso, paid for 407 Mifegymiso prescriptions between June 28, 2017 and June 28, 2018, and, in that same time period, there were 654 surgical abortions. Manitoba didn’t have precise data, but estimated that about 15 per cent of its abortions will be done medically.

Frédérique Chabot, director of health promotion for Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, said British Columbia has been particularly supportive of medical abortion services. In the province, about one-third of all abortions are now medical. In Calgary, Posyniak said she expects around 40 per cent of the Kensington Clinic’s clients will eventually choose the pill, now that they’re offered the option, but that the number of annual abortions — surgical or medical — “hasn’t changed at all.”

The available data may be incomplete, but it is a “very interesting pieces of this puzzle,” Chabot said.

“We’re just at the beginning and (the numbers are) demonstrating that there is actually, there was a demand, there was a need,” Chabot said. “It’s actually changing the landscape in terms of what access to a complete package of reproductive health services can look like.”
See also my post Canada's "Conservative" government legalizes RU-486 abortion pill (July 31, 2015)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Bronze Age Israeli artifacts to be exhibited in China for the first time

As reported by David Brummer of Breaking Israeli News, October 18, 2018:

A new international exhibition entitled “Bronze Age Mesopotamia and the Chengdu Plain,” will open October 21 in China – representing the first time that Israeli historical artifacts will be displayed in the Asian superpower. Hosted at the Sichuan University Museum the exhibition focuses on the two ancient civilizations that developed at the opposite extremities of Asia: Mesopotamia in the Middle East and the East Asian Chengdu Valley.

Scholars define the Bronze Age as taking place between 3,300 BCE to 1,200 BCE.

The Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem – the only one of its kind dedicated to the history of the Ancient Near East from a biblical perspective – will loan 15 artifacts to the exhibit. Through these objects – cuneiform tablets, cylinder seals, and a statuette made of precious blue lapis lazuli – visitors will discover the way of life, the royal institutions and the rituals that characterized the ancient Mesopotamian civilization. In addition, the exhibition will include dozens of artifacts on loan from various museums in China and from the Yale Peabody Museum in the United States.

The exhibit has been constructed in such a way to offer visitors a comparative view of two Bronze Age civilizations – separated by 5,500 kilometers (3,400 miles) – and in regions that witnessed the development of rich cultures.

“The goal of the Museum is to connect each individual with their own educational heritage through the treasures on display. Welcoming visitors of all faiths and nationalities, it brings the universal narrative of the development of civilization to audiences through exhibitions, and cultural programs ,” said Director of Bible Lands Museum Amanda Weiss.

“This exhibition provides a wonderful opportunity to extend the limits of our knowledge, to create a dialog between different cultures, to observe the traits they had in common in the past, and to forge fruitful in the present.,” she added.

The exhibition marks the first collaboration of its kind between Israel and China – and is symptomatic of a deepening of ties between the two countries – culturally and economically. Despite a slight decline in Chinese tourism to Israel in 2018 – following a government directive that it was not safe to travel there – numbers are beginning to pick up again. In the first eight months of the year, Israel welcomed a total of 65,500 tourists from China, which was still more than in all of 2015, but down 8 percent from the same period in 2017.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Recent articles from the Daily Telegraph document Britain's--and Western society's--increasing insanity

Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:..
...Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
Isaiah 5:18, 20-21

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come...
...But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
II Timothy 3:1, 13

Here, surely, is the world's record in the domain of the ridiculous and the contemptible... Sir Winston Churchill

Western society is getting more insane every day, fulfilling the prophecy above. The London Daily Telegraph has provided ample documentation of the increasing decadence in recent articles such as the following (links in original).

As reported by Camilla Turner, October 4, 2018:

Parents who refuse to let their son wear a skirt to school may need to be referred to social services, a council’s guidance has advised schools.

Mothers and fathers who dismiss a “gender questioning” child’s requests to change their name could also be a trigger for concern, according to Brighton and Hove City Council’s “Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit”.

It comes after warnings that schools are "sowing confusion" in children's minds by over-promoting transgender issues, and that children are being encouraged to “unlearn” the difference between boys and girls.

The guidance advises teachers on how to handle a number of different scenarios, including if parents say: “I refuse to allow my son to change his name or wear skirts”.

Schools are advised that some parents may “struggle” to accept their child’s gender identity and it may be a long time before they accept the change.

“If a setting has a significant concern about the child’s wellbeing and or safety in relation to how the parents or carers are managing the exploration of the child’s gender identity it may be necessary and advisable to follow safeguarding procedures,” schools are told.

The Department for Education (DfE)’s statutory guidance on safeguarding says that staff with concerns about a child must alert the school’s safeguarding lead, and if necessary contact social services or the police...

...The guidance document, now in its third edition, was produced by Allsorts Youth Project, a charity that supports young people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer (LGBTQ).

It advises that in “all cases”, transgender pupils should be allowed to use the changing room that corresponds to their gender identity, rather than their biological sex.

This means that any boy who identifies as a female should be allowed to use girls’ changing rooms, even if it makes other girls feel “uncomfortable”.

“It is important to ensure that these are safe environments for all by challenging underlying attitudes and bullying behaviours,” the guidance says...

...Earlier this year, it emerged that a teacher who was accused of “misgendering” a child was told by police that she had committed a hate crime.

The teacher, who claimed they were a “grammatical purist”, refused to acknowledge that the pupil self-identified as a boy and failed to use the pupil’s preferred pronouns of “he” or “him”.
As reported by Ms. Turner, October 11, 2018:

A student union is seeking to ban students from dressing up as Tories at fancy dress parties to avoid causing offence.

Kent University’s student union has drafted a new set of “Fancy Dress Guidelines” which say that groups are allowed to host fancy dress parties so long as costumes are not “offensive, discriminatory and prejudice to an individual’s race, gender, disability or sexual orientation or based on stereotypes”.

This is to ensure that the university is a “safe space" for undergraduates, where no one is embarrassed or upset by seeing a fellow student's costume, according to the Canterbury Journal.

Dressing up as “Tories” and “chavs” are given as examples of costumes to avoid, as these would breach the “class and political stereotypes” section of the guidance.

“Fancy Dress themes should also not be centred around political group stereotypes or the stereotypes of different levels of perceived class in the means to diminish their worth or validity,” the guidance says.

“This again would promote an unsafe and exclusive campus to which we do not tolerate.” Among the dozens of outfits it deems "offensive" are cowboys, Native Americans, priests and nuns, and anyone who wears a Mexican sombrero.

Students have also been warned against anything that has a sensitive historical or religious connotations. It gives the Crusades, Isis bombers, Israeli soldiers and The Prophet Mohammed as examples of costumes to avoid.

The guidance says: "Fancy Dress themes should also not be centred around political group stereotypes or the stereotypes of different levels of perceived class in the means to diminish their worth or validity.

"This again would promote an unsafe and exclusive campus to which we do not tolerate."

But the union does list cave people, aliens, Ancient Greeks and Romans, and doctors and nurses as acceptable attire choices.

Costumes of celebrities known for their sexual misconduct or abuse of power have also been banned, including the disgraced DJ Jimmy Savile and movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Aaron Thompson, the Kent Union president, said: “Over the last few years we have received complaints over some student groups’ choice of fancy dress.

“As a result we have drafted some guidelines as a discussion point with some of our groups and as part of a proactive approach to ensure that student events remain inclusive.

“We of course want students to enjoy themselves and often host fancy dress parties in our own nightclub, but we would ask students to be mindful of their choices and whether any offence could be caused.”

He said the fancy dress policy document is currently in draft form, and will the union is seeking feedback on its proposals.
As reported by Jamie Johnson, October 17, 2018:

Waitrose is to change the name of its Gentleman’s Smoked Chicken Caesar Roll because feminist campaigners said it was sexist.

The roll, from Heston Blumenthal’s range at the supermarket, contains anchovy mayonnaise, similar to ‘gentleman’s relish’ but the name was branded “outrageous” on social media and the chain has issued an apology.

Amy Lamé, Sadiq Khan’s London night Czar posted an image of the product on Twitter and said: “I never knew sandwiches were gender specific. I’m female but thankfully Waitrose let me purchase this anyway.”

She tagged the organisation Everyday Sexism, who document instances of sexism experienced on a day to day basis.

Other people were quick to pile in with criticism of the supermarket, with Sian Murray saying: “What a ridiculous name!” and Joe Alessi calling it “outrageous”. Nikki Alvey said she was "disappointed" with the product's name.

The roll costs £3.80, but is currently on sale at a cutdown price of £2.85 and features a picture of a rooster dressed in waders holding a fishing rod with a fish at the end of the line.

Waitrose describes the roll as: “The ultimate Caesar salad to go. A parmesan ciabatta roll filled with pulled, smoked chicken breast, beechwood smoked bacon and Parmigiano Reggiano all topped with anchovy mayonnaise and Cos lettuce for crunch.”

The supermarket addressed the complaints about the product by apologising to anyone who felt offended by the name ‘Gentleman’s Smoked Chicken Caesar Roll’ and promised to change it.

A spokesperson told the Telegraph: "It's never our intention to cause offence - we're not dictating who should eat this sandwich - we hope anyone who tries it will love the distinctive flavours. However we are planning to change the name of the sandwich soon."

They did not confirm when the name change would happen, or what the new product will be called...

...The ‘Gentleman’s roll’ is not the first product to fall foul of sexism claims. Back in 2002, Nestle’s Yorkie chocolate bar launched a brash campaign in which it was labelled “Not for Girls.” The slogan stayed for ten years before being dropped quietly.
It's no wonder that schoolchildren are reporting increasing anxiety, given that the "adult" society is around them has declared war on nature and common sense. As reported by Laura Donnelly, October 9, 2018:

Schools will be asked to monitor children's happiness and mental health in a bid to tackle growing levels of anxiety among young people, the Prime Minister will announce today.

The new measures are part of a wider mental health strategy which will see thousands of therapists sent into classrooms, and annual publication of a ‘happiness index’ tracking the state of the nation’s youth.

Theresa May will also appoint the UK’s first minister for suicide prevention and £1.8m funding for the Samaritans, as she pledges to “end the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence”.

It comes amid concern about an epidemic of anxiety and distress among young people, with record levels of mental ill-health among a generation dealing with the fallout from social media.

Half of mental illness begins by the age of 14, and statistics due out later this year are expected to show levels far higher than has previously been recorded.

Under the plans, the Government will publish a “State of the Nation” report every year highlighting trends in young people’s mental well-being.

This will be the first time it has been given the same focus as physical health and academic attainment.

And all primary and secondary schools will be asked to regularly measure their pupils’ mental well-being, as part of lessons in relationships, sex and health education.

Officials said teachers would be expected to help young pupils to cope with modern pressures, while schools would be offered tools to help them assess pupil wellbeing.

It comes after The Daily Telegraph launched a duty of care campaign calling for more stringent regulation of sites like Facebook and Instagram, in order to protect children from harm.

A report from the National Audit Office today reveals a five-fold rise in the number of children and teenagers ending up at Accident and Emergency departments because of psychiatric problems over the last decade.

It also warns of falling numbers of child psychiatrists, at a time when demand continues to rise.

Today Mrs May will announce the launch of a new campaign to train a million people in mental health awareness, starting with a pilot in the West Midlands...

...Mrs May will announce that new mental health support teams will start working in schools across England next year.

The plans will see a new profession of healthcare professionals trained to deliver therapy in schools, and to ensure specialist help is given to those in need.

And she will appoint health minister Jackie Doyle-Price as the UK’s first minister for suicide prevention.

Around 4,500 people take their own lives each year in England and suicide remains the leading cause of death for men under 45.

In her new role, the minister will lead government efforts to cut the number of suicides, working with charities, clinicians and those personally affected by suicide.

It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock hosts the first ever Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit in London, attended by more than 50 countries as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
While taking what used to be considered sins or symptoms of madness and redefining them as normal and deserving of "human rights" protection from any opposing views, those who presume to define society's values are now criminalizing and pathologizing normal, although perhaps impolite, attitudes and behaviours. As reported by Martin Evans, October 17, 2018:

The drive to target hate crime is forcing police officers to spend valuable time investigating wolf-whistles, bad manners and impolite comments, a police leader has warned.

Sergeant Richard Cooke, the recently elected chairman of the West Midlands Police Federation, said forces were expected to record and follow up reports of hate crime, even when no criminal offence had taken place.

Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Cooke warns police officers would be dispatched to offer words of advice to people, but this meant they had less time to focus on "genuine crimes" such as burglary and violence.

Mr Cooke said he did not believe this was what the public expected of its police service. While applauding the principle behind protecting those at risk of hurtful abuse, officers have expressed their frustration at being drawn into what they see as social rather than criminal issues.

Mr Cooke, who represents 6,500 rank and file officers in the country's second largest police force, said: "I fear a dangerous precedent could be set, where our scant resources are skewed further and further away from the genuine crisis in public safety taking place on our urban homes and streets.

"Nobody, especially police officers, would ever want to see any elderly person or woman subjected to any sort of crime. The same goes for any other innocent member of the community. But we do have laws to address all manner of crimes and anti-social behaviour already."

Earlier this week the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, announced that he had asked the Law Commission to consider whether misogyny and ageism should be added to the list of categories that constitute a hate crime.

It is hoped that by broadening out the definition of the offence, police and prosecutors will have more power to tackle and punish those who deliberately target vulnerable groups.

Newly published figures show how religious hate crimes rose by 40 per cent last year with attacks on Jewish people representing 12 percent of all offences.

Abuse against gay and transgender people and the disabled has also risen.

But there are increasing warnings that in the drive to identify and tackle the problem, police priorities are being impacted.

Mr Cooke said: "We all abhor and want to end genuine crimes motivated or aggravated by intolerance and prejudice. They should be investigated, and those who commit them should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, as should those who incite them."

But he went on: "Let us focus urgently on genuine crime, supported by basic evidence. Let’s not encourage people to think we can solve deep social problems or give impolite people manners.

"Are we really going to be required to routinely record, and potentially act on, incidents like a builder’s wolf whistle or an insensitive comment towards an elderly driver?

"I do not believe for one second that this is what the public, outside of the politically correct 'court of Twitter', expects or wants us to do."

South Yorkshire Police recently came in for criticism after urging people to report insults that did not necessarily constitute hate crimes.

Last month the newly elected chairman of the Police Federation, John Apter, warned that common sense policing was disappearing with officers forced to spend time intervening in trivial social media disputes rather than attending burglaries and other serious crimes.

He said it was time for a debate sensible debate about what the public expected of its police service.

"Where we get drawn into local disagreements, the argument over the remote control, the dispute in the playground, the row on Facebook it is frustrating. I certainly think police time can be better spent and it makes a mockery when we are so stretched," he said.
The immaturity and lack of self-discipline that often characterizes young people who are away from home without adult supervision for the first time is now considered a sign of mental illness, as reported by Ms. Turner, October 16, 2018:

For university students, falling asleep during lectures after staying up all night partying was once considered par for the course.

But now nodding off during classes at Buckingham University will be treated as a possible sign of a mental health disorder.

Under new plans, every member of staff at the university will be given mental health first aid training so they can spot signs of potential distress among students.

Starting from January, all university employees - from professors to cleaners, caterers and gardeners - will be enrolled on a compulsory half-day training course in mental health. They will also be able to sign up for a longer two-day course and become a mental health champion.

Dee Bunker, head of welfare at Buckingham University who is overseeing the staff training programme, said: “We will teach about the signs and symptoms of stress and of someone who is depressed: not being engaged, not attending classes, a lack of eye contact or a lack of sleep.

“If someone is anxious you may find them pale, sweating, wringing their hands or nervous. They may not be able to concentrate, look you in the eye, hold a conversation, sit still or sit in same room with you.”

Academics will be taught that if a “student is falling asleep in your lecture”, this could serve as “an indication that they are not sleeping at night” due to anxiety or depression.

"Our hope is that no member of staff would ever walk past anyone who is upset,” Ms Bunker said. “This training gives people the knowledge and confidence to say: ‘Are you ok? Is there anything I can help with?’ and signpost them towards where they can get more help.”

Ms Bunker said that staff will not be expected to diagnose mental health conditions on the spot. “It won’t make you an expert - but it means you won’t ignore someone who is distressed,” she added.

It is the latest in a series of mental health initiatives launched by Buckingham University, which will host a wellbeing in education conference this Friday.

Sir Anthony Seldon, the university's vice-Chancellor, said: "No member of staff should walk past a student clearly in distress. The aim is to save lives and we should all be playing our part.”

He has previously warned that universities are turning a blind eye to freshers’ week “excesses” and urged fellow institutions to end their “permissive” culture.

Sir Anthony, a former headmaster at Wellington College, said that said that first-year students should be offered alternative activities to parties and social events where heavy drinking and drug-taking are prevalent.

“Every student should be taught how to breathe deeply and to control the breath to manage stress,” the report said.

“Students who learn how to relax deeply and practise yoga, tai chi, pilates or other relaxation approaches develop growing resilience and confidence for life.”

His report, published last year by the Higher Education Policy Institute, outlines how to create "positive universities" also suggests first-year students take psychology courses that teach them about the importance of wellbeing and good mental health.

It suggests all students should be offered mindfulness classes, as well as a psychology programme in their first year which teaches them skills such as resilience, how to deal with emotions, build relationships and identify and use their own strengths...
Of course, it could just be that students drink and have parties because they enjoy it, and regard such activities as part of university life. The perceptive reader will notice that the Vice-Chancellor's solution involves mindfulness, a Buddhist practice masquerading as non-religious. I recommend searching the site of Lighthouse Trails Research Project for information on mindfulness.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Pope Francis "reluctantly" accepts the resignation of Cardinal Donad Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington

As reported by Reuters, October 12, 2018:

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl as archbishop of Washington, DC, the Vatican said on Friday, making him one of the most senior Catholic figures to step down in a worldwide sexual abuse crisis.

Cardinal Wuerl (77), who was bishop of Pittsburgh between 1988 and 2006, has been under scrutiny over his handling of sexual abuse cases during that period. He keeps the title of cardinal.

In a letter by the pope released in Washington, the pope indicated he accepted the resignation reluctantly and at Wuerl’s insistence. He asked Wuerl to stay on as administrator until another archbishop could be appointed.

Cardinal Wuerl has been under fire since the release in August of a US grand jury report on sexual abuse found evidence that at least 1,000 people, mostly children, had been sexually abused by some 300 clergymen over the course of 70 years. The report covered six diocese in Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh when it was led by Wuerl.

He has also been accused of knowing about sexual misconduct by his predecessor in Washington, ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Last August, Cardinal Wuerl cancelled a trip to Dublin where he was to deliver the keynote address at a World Meeting of Families pastoral congress. His topic was “The Welfare of the Family is Decisive for the Future of the World”.

Cardinal Wuerl has defended his overall record in Pittsburgh. He also has denied knowing that McCarrick, once one of the US church’s most prominent figures, had forced male adult seminarians to have sex with him years ago.

In July McCarrick became the first cardinal in about 100 years to be stripped of his red hat and title of “eminence”.

Francis ordered McCarrick to retire to a life of prayer and penitence after American church officials said as part of a separate investigation that allegations that McCarrick had sexually abused a 16-year-old boy almost 50 years ago were credible and substantiated.
As reported by Patsy McGarry of the Irish Times, October 12, 2018:

Cardinal Donald Wuerl was heavily criticised in a US grand jury report over his handling of child sexual abuse allegations while a bishop of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from 1988 to 2006.

Following the publication of the Pennsylvania grand jury report last August, he withdrew from a scheduled appearance at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin.

Cardinal Wuerl was due to give the keynote address on “The Welfare of the Family is Decisive for the Future of the World,” on Wednesday, August 22nd.

The report of the grand jury, published on August 14th, found “wholesale institutional failure that endangered the welfare of children” in Pittsburgh. It faulted Cardinal Wuer for what it said was his role in the concealment of sex abuse.

The report chose three examples from cases involving 99 abusive priests there as “a window into the conduct” of bishops “and the crimes they permitted to occur on their watch”.

The cases concerned Fr Ernest Paone, Fr George Zirwas, and Fr Richard Zula. All three involved Cardinal Wuerl.

Up to 1988, when Cardinal Wuerl became bishop of Pittsburgh, Paone continued in ministry with approval from the diocese “in spite of its knowledge he was a child molester,” the grand jury found.

This continued when then-Bishop Wuerl took over. In 1991 Bishop Wuerl granted Paone’s request to serve in the diocese of Reno-Las Vegas.

Following another abuse complaint against the priest in 1994, he was sent for treatment.

In February 2003, Bishop Wuerl accepted the priest’s resignation from ministry. As the grand jury report put it: “Approximately 41 years after the diocese learned that Paone was sexually assaulting children, he was finally retired from active ministry.”

Monday, October 15, 2018

100 years ago: The death of Shirdi Sai Baba

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; I Timothy 2:5

On October 15, 1918, Indian mystic and guru Shirdi Sai Baba died at a reported age of 83. He was something of a syncretist, as he preached the importance of self-realization and promoted the reading of both Hindu and Muslim scriptures, while opposing religious orthodoxy, whether it be Christian, Muslim, or Hindu.

Shirdi Sai Baba founded a movement that still has Hindu and Muslim devotees throughout the world who regard him as an avatar, an incarnation of the Hindu deities Shiva and Dattatreya. The later guru Saithya Sai Baba (1926-2011), who also founded a worldwide movement devoted to himself, claimed to be the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba. Both Sai Babas were mistaken.



Sunday, October 14, 2018

Witches in Brooklyn plan to hex U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh

Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Exodus 22:18

Having had such notable success in hexing U.S. President Donald Trump, witches are now fixing their evil eyes upon his latest Supreme Court appointee. I'm glad they're identifying as Social Justice Warriors, and increasingly making it clear which side they're on. Look at the causes these witches are supporting, and it leaves no doubt in the mind of this blogger that their movement and the causes they support come from the pit of Hell. As reported by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz of Breaking Israel News, October 14, 2018 (links in original):

In what is becoming a regular political expression of the left-wing, an occult bookstore in Brooklyn is organizing a gathering to hex newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The Facebook announcement read:

“Please join us for a public hex on Brett Kavanaugh, upon all rapists and the patriarchy at large which emboldens, rewards and protects them. We are embracing witchcraft’s true roots as the magik (sic) of the poor, the downtrodden and disenfranchised and its history as often the only weapon, the only means of exacting justice available to those of us who have been wronged by men just like him.

He will be the focal point, but by no means, the only target, so bring your rage and all of the axes you’ve got to grind. There will also be a second ritual afterward – ‘The Rites of the Scorned One’ which seeks to validate, affirm, uphold and support those of us who have been wronged and who refuse to be silent any longer.”

The event was organized by Dakota Bracciale, who sees witchcraft as a social justice movement for the “oppressed, downtrodden and marginalized,” a means of “exacting justice that would otherwise be denied to you.”

“Witchcraft has been used throughout history as a tool and ally for people on the fringes of society who will not ever really get justice through the powers that be,” Bracciale told Huffington Post. “So they have to exact their own justice.”

The event will have photographs of the people being targeted, an effigy of Kavanaugh, graveyard dirt and coffin nails. The venue, with a maximum capacity of 60, is already sold out but the Huffington Post reported that more than one thousand people are planning on attending. Catland is planning on live streaming the event along with instructions for those who wish to hex at home.

This is not the first political hexing for Bracciale. Last year, she organized three similar events to hex President Donald Trump. Such gatherings began to crop up shortly after President Trump’s inauguration. The first was held directly outside Trump Tower in Manhattan one month after the inauguration and was followed by several others. This strange phenomenon was predicted by famed Israeli mystic, Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi, who, shortly before Trump took office, predicted a rise in black magic.

“[God] rules the world, and not the powers of impurity. Idol worshippers look to the stars and tell fortunes in tea cups, using tarot cards, and other methods. They believe these things rule the future,” the rabbi said in a sermon in October 2017.

Tickets for the event at Catland are $10 and half of the proceeds from the event will be donated to Planned Parenthood and the Ali Forney Center, a New York City shelter for homeless LGBTQ youth.

Catland, located in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, touts itself as more than a simple occult bookstore, hosting lectures on Feminist Goddesses and Rebel Saints, Demonology 101, Basic Witchcraft, Potions and TInctures and Yoga for Witches. They offer a lending library under the heading of “Join our Coven.”

Saturday, October 13, 2018

"Christian Efraimites" visit Israel

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Galatians 5:1-4

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath...
...If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—
“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”
(referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?
These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
Colossians 2:13-16, 20-23 (ESV)

The Hebrew Roots Movement seems to be deceiving more people as time goes by, and the "Christian Efraimites" are an example of a Hebrew Roots sect. As reported by Eliana Rudee of Breaking Israel News, October 3, 2018 (links in original):

Sitting beneath the shade of a Jerusalem Sukkah, Pastor Pete Rambo spoke of the prophetic mission of Christians all around the world who are “awakening” from their traditional religious perspectives and embracing the roots of the Christian faith in the Hebrew Bible.

Rambo’s group of 55 internationals, which calls itself B’nei Efraim (children of Efraim, or Efraimites), visited Israel during Sukkot, a Jewish festival in which Jews and non-Jews alike would, in Temple Times, bring offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem.

Ranging from ages 13-79, the group hailed from the US, Australia, South Africa, Germany and the Netherlands – visiting Israel from September 16-October 2 to celebrate Sukkot, while participating in acts of civil service – picking up city trash as a service to their “Jewish brothers” and “to make the holidays even holier.”

Back in their respective countries, each share a love for Israel, are Shabbat and festival observant and “eat clean” similar to the strict Kashrut standards by which Orthodox Jews hold. But they did not grow up observing these traditions – many began as traditional Christians only to stumble on a Bible passage that sparked their interest in returning to the roots of the Christian tradition – the Hebrew Bible.

Now, “very few of us would describe ourselves as Christians, but rather I identify as a lover of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who displays this love through following God and his commandments and desiring restoration,” posed Rambo.

Dorothe Waidelich, an Efraimite from Germany, recalled stumbling on a scripture expressing that “one day for God is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like one day” and connecting this to other scriptures that said “after the 6000thyear, God will reign in his kingdom for the 7000thyear.”

“I connected this idea to the Jewish calendar and days of creation where God told the Israelites to work for six days and rest on the seventh,” she told Breaking Israel News.

After reading this, other scriptures began to make sense as Waidelich came to understand that Shabbat must be remembered and kept holy according to Exodus 20:8.

Likewise, she said, “I realized that the feasts are still God’s feasts and should be celebrated by all of humanity. I realized that Yehuda are Jews, and Christians are a part of the people of Israel who will come together as brothers,” declared Waidelich, who began to attend “Hebrew roots” conferences, eventually meeting Rambo.

Waidelich additionally stressed the importance of supporting Jews and Israel as a German and she has become an ambassador in conversation with colleagues “to show them a different picture of Israel than what is shown in the media.”

Similarly, Ingrid Marais of South Africa began to question why Christians changed Shabbat from Saturday to Sunday and why the festivals as described in the Bible are no longer adhered to.

“God said this is my house, my rules and the Torah is for all of Israel – we see a lot of what is happening as prophecy coming to fruition and are repenting for those who reject the ways of the Torah,” she said, adding that Efraimites reject replacement theology, the idea that God’s covenant with the Jewish people has been replaced with Christians.

“God’s promise for restoration does not mean replacing anyone – as the house of Israel, we come alongside the Jewish people,” Marais maintained.

Efraimite identity is rooted in the prophecies of 1 Kings, concerning ten lost tribes who will forget their original language, culture, history and religion, as well as Ezekiel 37, concerning the ingathering of the exiles of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel:

“And you, O mortal, take a stick and write on it, “Of Yehuda and the Israelites associated with him”; and take another stick and write on it, “Of Yosef—the stick of Efraim—and all the House of Yisrael associated with him.” Bring them close to each other, so that they become one stick, joined together in your hand.” (Ezekiel 16-17)

“Thus said Hashem: I am going to take the stick of Yosef—which is in the hand of Efraim—and of the tribes of Yisrael associated with him, and I will place the stick of Yehuda upon it and make them into one stick; they shall be joined in My hand.” (Ezekiel 19)

“We were dispersed and forgot Torah and Shabbat,” said Rambo, “so we believe that we are Israel, a lost tribe that, during the final redemption, will return to the Promised Land to reunite under one leader as prophesied in Ezekiel. We all feel the Geula (redemption) coming,” he said.

Together, Rambo’s groups come to Israel for the feasts “to bless Israel and be blessed in return,” according to Genesis 12:3:

“I will bless those who bless you And curse him that curses you; And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you.”

But not everyone agrees with this reciprocal blessing.

As Marais also took on Hebrew traditions, she found that “in South Africa, a very Christian country, it was hard for our families to accept our new practices. They believe we are rejecting our Christian faith,” she said.

“Taking on the traditions has come at a heavy cost.”

In the absence of support of some of their Christian family and friends back home, each maintained that they have found great support among Jews and Israelis. Throughout the visit, the group stayed in a Yemenite Jewish moshav (settlement) Givat Ye’arim for the third time since Rambo began bringing groups – aided by facilitator Tzemach, a Givat Ye’arim resident.

On the moshav, they celebrate Shabbat together, learn Israeli folk dancing, sit together in the Sukkah and dance with the Torah for the holiday of Simchat Torah, celebrating the finishing and new beginning of the cycle of Torah readings.

However according to Rambo, this trip’s importance is even greater than a way to celebrate together and build bridges – it’s prophecy. “Prophecy tells us that in the last days, there will be a time when nations will come up for Sukkot.”

“All who survive of all those nations that came up against Yerushalayim shall make a pilgrimage year by year to bow low to the King lord of Hosts and to observe the festival of Sukkot.” (Zechariah 14:16)

Rambo imagines a day when “millions will come, every moshav hosting them like we have been hosted.”

According to Rambo, we are not far off from that reality – he maintained that there are Efraimites everywhere, some of whom, because they are not Jewish and cannot become citizens of Israel, have even moved to Aqaba, Jordan to live inexpensively and be closer to the land for the festivals.

“Around the world there are thousands of us, maybe millions. It’s a growing movement,” he said, encouraging more Jewish people to “understand that we come with no dangerous hidden agenda and to build bridges with us as our hosts of Givat Ye’arim did.”

“Times are changing and we are all a part of it,” he exclaimed.
I have to agree with the South Africans who believe the "Christian Efraimites" are rejecting the Christian faith. They're rejecting the true liberty that Jesus Christ has provided for us and have put themselves under the bondage of the law. When it comes to the Sabbath and holy days, those were given by God for physical Israel; Gentiles were never required to observe them, and Gentiles within the church aren't required to observe them.

The "Christian Efraimites" aren't Jewish, but the more they attempt to identify with Jewish practices, the less able they are to regard themselves as Christians. They claim to be building bridges between Jews and Gentiles, but the only true bridge between Jews and Gentiles is the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on the cross (read Galatians 2).

For more on the Hebrew Roots Movement, I suggest the following articles by T.A. McMahon and G. Richard Fisher at The Berean Call:

Hebrew Roots and the Leaven of Works Salvation - Part One (February 1, 2017)

Hebrew Roots and the Leaven of Works Salvation - Part Two (March 1, 2017)

Messrs. McMahon and Fisher also did the following radio broadcasts:

Uprooting the Hebrew Roots Movement with Dick Fisher (Part One) (May 18, 2018)

Uprooting the Hebrew Roots Movement with Dick Fisher (Part Two) (May 25, 2018)

Friday, October 12, 2018

90 years ago: A Christian Science leader's prophecy is proven false

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die. Genesis 3:4

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: Hebrews 9:27

On October 12, 1928, Augusta Stetson, a disciple and co-worker of Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy, died of heart trouble in Rochester, New York at the age of 86, with a physician in attendance. Mrs. Stetson had proclaimed that she would never die; she was mistaken.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Canada's largest children's hospital drafts policy that could allow for the euthanasia of children

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: Deuteronomy 30:19

For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.
But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.
Proverbs 8:35-36

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12 (also Proverbs 16:25)

Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,...
...And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Romans 1:22,28

Surely some future historian, surveying our times, will note sardonically that it took no more than three decades to transform a war crime into an act of compassion, thereby enabling the victors in the war against Nazism to mount their own humane holocaust, which in its range and in the number of its victims, may soon far surpass the Nazi one. It is significant that, whereas the Nazi holocaust has received lavish TV and film coverage, the humane one goes rolling along largely unnoticed by the media. Malcolm Muggeridge, Sanctity of Life, Chatelaine, December 1979, p. 138

As reported by Sharon Kirkey of the National Post, October 9, 2018 (updated October 10, 2018) (links in original):

Canada’s largest children’s hospital is drafting a policy in preparation for the day when children could decide for themselves to be euthanized.

A team at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children has developed a draft policy on doctor-assisted dying that applies to youth aged 18 and older — the legal age restriction for “medical-aid in dying,” or MAID, in Canada. However, the policy was also developed “with an eye to a future when MAID may well become accessible to capable minors,” the team of bioethicists, palliative care doctors and others report in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

In the introduction to the article, they state, “Thus, this paper is intended as a road map through the still-emerging legal and ethical landscape of paediatric MAID.”

The Sick Kids’ working group says the hospital has willing doctors who could “safely and effectively” perform euthanasia for terminally ill youth 18 and older who meet the criteria as set out in federal law, and that it would be “antithetical” to its philosophy of care to have to transfer these patients to a strange and unfamiliar adult hospital. But it is a suggestion that euthanasia might one day take place without the involvement of parents that has provoked fresh controversy in the assisted-death debate.

The working group said it wasn’t convinced that there is a meaningful difference for the patient “between being consensually assisted in dying (in the case of MAID) and being consensually allowed to die (in the case of refusing life-sustaining interventions).”

In Ontario, “young people can be and are found capable of making their own medical decisions, even when those decisions may result in their death,” they added.

The paper explored a hypothetical scenario: “How should health-care providers respond if a capable patient requests MAID but their parents clearly oppose this request? Are there situations in which MAID requests and administration would be kept secret from parents and other family members, for example, if a capable patient were to indicate that they do not want family members involved?”

The law in most provinces already allows mature minors to make decisions about their own care, including withdrawing or withholding life support. In Ontario, a minor is considered “capable” of providing consent if he or she has the maturity and intelligence to make a decision about the treatment and can appreciate the “reasonably foreseeable consequences” of their decision.

The Sick Kids’ group says families are usually involved in such decisions and that every effort is spent to encourage youth to involve their families but that “ultimately the wishes of capable patients with respect to confidentiality must be respected.”

The draft policy argues the same rules should apply to MAID since there is no meaningful ethical or practical distinction from the patient’s perspective between assisted dying and other procedures that result in the end of a life, such as palliative sedation (where people sleep until they die) or withdrawing or withholding life-sustaining treatments.

The paper comes as a report by an expert panel struck by the Liberals to explore extending euthanasia to mature minors is to be presented to Parliament in December.

The Canadian Council of Academies was also asked to look at cases where mental illness is the sole underling medical condition, as well as “advance requests” to end one’s life in the future.

Sick Kids’ draft policy has riled groups opposed to euthanasia, with the National Review publishing a story with the headline, “Child euthanasia without parent approval pushed for (in) Canada” and The Catholic Register warning, “Assisted suicide plans for children unveiled at Toronto’s Sick Kids hospital.”

But the authors say the government could stipulate the need for parental consent.

“A young person experiencing grievous and irremediable suffering is unimaginably tragic,” said Randi Zlotnik Shaul, director of bioethics at the Hospital for Sick Children and a member of the expert panel studying assisted dying for mature minors.

But assisted dying requests from minors would likely involve “very, very small numbers” and any changes to the law “would, of course, require corresponding changes to hospital policy,” she said.

The draft policy states that, in order to protect staff from “potential violence and social harassment,” it will not make public the names of doctors who have volunteered to provide MAID, nor will it make public a full list of people on the working group.

For some doctors who care for terminally ill children, there is a particular horror at the idea of euthanasia for children. They have argued that when all hope for a cure is gone, virtually all pain and other symptoms can be managed to minimize suffering. In the rare cases where suffering becomes unbearable, they say, a child can be sedated.

Assisted dying involves an injection of barbiturates that abruptly ends life.

Legalization of euthanasia for children under 18 would be “enormously controversial,” said renowned New York University bioethicist Arthur Caplan.

In the U.S., states that have made assisted dying available have done so with very narrow restraints, Caplan said. “I have no doubt that a child might ask for it, but whether they could really fulfill that competency test for such a major, life shattering decision, the U.S. says no,” Caplan said.

“I’m worried about how far people may be pushing this,” said Trudo Lemmens, a professor in health law and policy at the University of Toronto.

When it struck down the Criminal Code prohibitions against euthanasia in 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada “clearly did not equate medical assistance in dying with just any other form of medical care,” he said.

“We do put limits on individual choices of mature minors that expose them to harm,” such as surrogacy and egg donation, Lemmens added.

“I think we have to carefully reflect on what it would mean to allow this particular practice without involvement of the parents.”

The Netherlands and Belgium are the only two jurisdictions in the world where assisted suicide for minors is permitted. The law in Belgium allows terminally ill children of any age to request euthanasia, with their parents’ consent.

In the Netherlands, the law requires parental consent for 12- to 15-year-olds, but permits 16- and 17-year-olds to request a doctor-assisted death.

A survey published last year by the Canadian Paediatric Society found that 45 pediatricians reported receiving requests for MAID by parents. More than half involved newborns or infants under a year old.
It will come as no surprise to this blogger when--not if--this institution that's supposed to be dedicated to healing children prefers killing them instead; such is the way Western society--especially in Trudeaupia--is regressing progressing (see the second post in the list below for information on the relatively benign origins of the German euthanasia policies that ended in genocide).

See also my posts:

One British baby snaps out of a coma after a cuddle from his mother--while another British baby in a coma is ordered by a judge to be left to die (July 31, 2012)

Supreme Court of Canada strikes down ban on assisted suicide (February 6, 2015)

U.K. High Court rejects parents' wishes, orders toddler's life support ended (February 23, 2018)

Belgium now euthanizes children as young as 7 (August 11, 2018)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Vandals spray-paint graffiti on Christian school in Halifax

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you;...
John 15:18-20

This is a minor incident, but there will be more to come. As reported by Meghan Groff of Halifax Today, October 9, 2018 (links in original):

Halifax Christian Academy was the target of anti-Christian graffiti over the weekend.

The head of the school, Shaun Alspach, believes it happened sometime Saturday night.

"Our facility is rented by a community church on Sunday and the pastor of that church texted me ... they had discovered it when they arrived Sunday morning."

"Stop the worship" was among the phrases spray-painted on the building.

Members of another church showed up to help cover up the graffiti before students arrived back at class Tuesday morning.

"We've been in this city 45 years now and it's certainly the first time we've seen a hate crime like this," Alspach said.

Over the weekend vandals also defaced several sites at Point Pleasant Park, including the Halifax naval memorial honouring thousands who died in the First and Second World Wars.

Multiple churches and cemeteries have been targeted this year, and last month racist graffiti was discovered in Dartmouth.

Alspach also knows of several instances that haven't become public.

"It's not acceptable what they've done but I think there's more of a sadness, not a huge sense of anger," he explained. "It's unfortunate that this can happen in our city."

Alspach said they've been in contact with Halifax Regional Police, who were on site late Tuesday morning.
It apparently doesn't occur to the reporter that the removal earlier this year of the statue of Edward Cornwallis, the city's founder--a cowardly response by the city council in response to half-truths and threats of violence from Indians--is a hate crime against white people.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Earliest epigraphic evidence of the full spelling of Jerusalem's name unveiled

https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/IMG_1487-768x576.jpg

As reported by Eliana Rudee of Breaking Israel News, October 9, 2018:

The first epigraphic testimony noting the full spelling of Jerusalem in letters was unveiled at Jerusalem’s Israel Museum for the first time today (Tuesday) in a joint press conference of the museum and the Israel Antiquities Authority.

At the press conference on October 9, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced the 2,000 year-old discovery from the Second Temple Period (First Century CE), which will be part of a new exhibition of artifacts from the capital city of Jerusalem.

Found at the excavation site of an ancient Jewish potter’s quarter near Binyanei Ha’Uma (The International Convention Center) in Jerusalem, excavation director Danit Levy found the limestone inscription last winter. Discovered out of context, the Aramaic inscriptions appear on a column drum supporting the foundations of a Roman structure are Hebrew letters, typical of the Second Temple Period, that read: “Hananiah son of Dodalos of Jerusalem.”

The drum was originally part of a building that stood in a Jewish potters’ village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, the column drum coming from a workshop or other structure belonging to Hananiah or a public building that he helped finance. The site was likely converted into a ceramic workshop for building products by the 10th Roman Legion (Legio X Fretensis).

When Levy saw the inscription and understood its importance, she recalled, “my heart was pounding so hard that it felt like it would break my t-shirt.”

While most artifacts of that period use the shorthand version of the spelling of Jerusalem (Yerushalem or Shalem), this artifact is the oldest stone inscription with the full spelling of Jerusalem, Yerushalayim, as it is written in Hebrew today.

Professor Ido Bruno, director of the Israel Museum and resident of Jerusalem, expressed his excitement that the inscription will be accessible to “every child that can read and uses the same script used two millennia ago.”

Commenting on the uniqueness of the find, Dr. Yuval Baruch, Jerusalem regional archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority, and Professor Ronny Reich of Haifa University, who read and studied the inscription, noted that “First and Second Temple period inscriptions mentioning Jerusalem are quite rare, but even more unique is the complete spelling of the name as we know it today, which usually appears in the shorthand version.”

They continued, “This is the only stone inscription of the Second Temple period known where the full spelling appears. This spelling is only known in one other instance, on a coin of the Great Revolt against the Romans (66-70 CE).”

While Jerusalem is mentioned 660 times in the Hebrew Bible, only five mentions have the full spelling as we know it today, including Jeremiah 26:18, Esther 2:6, 2 Chronicles 25:1, 2 Chronicles 32: 9 and 2 Chronicles 25: 1.

Archaeologists believe that the inscriber, Hananiah, was a Jewish artist-potter who manufactured cooking vessels and sold them to Roman soldiers and Jewish pilgrims on the way to the Second Temple, especially during the Jewish pilgrim festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.

According to Baruch, the inscription speaks to the uniqueness of how Hebrew and the Jewish culture has been preserved from ancient times until today.

“In the Second Temple period, most of people living in Jerusalem were Jewish. It was a Temple city – the only place for Jews to worship. There was no synagogue or Yeshiva – there was only the Temple,” he told Breaking Israel News.

The city, Baruch explained, developed into one of the largest cities in the east according to Jewish and Roman historical sources, with its economic basis provided through food, water and most importantly, ceramic tools like ones unearthed near Binyanei Ha’Uma and manufactured by Hananiah, author of the newly discovered inscription.

According to Baruch, artifacts and inscriptions like the one presented today have a direct relation to ancient Jewish cultures, “that give us the understanding of the roots of the Jewish people here in the land of Israel and of course, in Jerusalem.

“For us, as scientists, there is no doubt about Jews and this part of the history of Jerusalem,” he added.

The find occurs in the context of Israel Antiquities Authority excavations of portions of the potter’s quarter and Jewish village near the manufacturing site.

According to the press release, the site produced vessels for Jerusalem for more than 300 years during the Hasmonean Period through the Late Roman era. Jewish ritual baths, kilns, pools for preparing clay, plastered water cisterns and workspaces for drying and storing the vessels were also found in the excavations.

Representing the largest pottery production site in Jerusalem of approximately 200 dunams (50 acres), the manufacturing of pottery provided hundreds of thousands of Jewish pilgrims on their way to the Temple – and the hostels that housed them – with cooking vessels. The site was likely chosen due to its proximity to water and material sources for ceramics, trees to burn for kilns and the main road leading to the Temple.

According to Dudy Mevorach, chief curator of archaeology at the Israel Museum, after the Roman conquest and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, the potter’s workshop resumed its activities on a smaller scale until the early 2nd Century CE when the Roman 10th Legion established a factory on the site for the mass production of construction materials, typical of the Roman army.

Mevorach noted that it is interesting that the Hananiah son of Dodalos – likely an artist-potter and son of an artist-potter – found it meaningful to note his origin, Jerusalem, as part of his family name, as his village was very close to the city. Hananiah’s father’s name, Dodalos, is based on the name of the mythological Greek artist Daedalos – his name may have been a nickname alluding to the father’s artistic abilities.

“The stone was perhaps a dedication inscription or a way to market his craft,” he said at the press conference.

Additional finds will be displayed at the Israel Museum beginning on October 10, including a Greek mosaic inscription of the 6th Century CE commemorating the construction of a public building in Jerusalem – likely a hostel – which attests to the development of the city as part of the mass pilgrimage of Christians to the Holy Land in this period.

Monday, October 8, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump signs legislation providing criminal penalties for damaging religious property

This is good news for Americans, whatever their religious beliefs may be. If such a law were to be passed in Trudeaupia Canada, it would likely apply to all religious minorities except Christians. As reported by Jewish News Syndicate, October 3, 2018:

U.S. President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan bill on Tuesday to strengthen protections for religious groups and their properties against government persecution.

This legislation modifies the federal criminal code to reflect prohibitions regarding intentionally damaging, defacing or destroying religious property. It establishes a criminal penalty—a fine, a prison term of up to five years, or both—for a violation that results in damage or destruction to religious property, in addition to expanding the definition of “religious real property” to include real property owned or leased by a nonprofit, religiously affiliated organization.

“Crimes targeting religious institutions pose a danger to the religious freedom and security of all Americans,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who introduced the measure, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Jewish groups like the American Jewish Committee, which advocated for the bill, applauded its enactment.

“This important law, which provides for new and strengthened measures to deter, as well as punish, perpetrators of attacks on religious institutions, will provide a much-needed sense of comfort and security,” said Jason Isaacson, AJC associate executive director for policy.

“The solid bipartisan support for the Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2018 is a reaffirmation of our freedom, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, to exercise religion, to practice one’s faith unhindered and without fear,” said Isaacson. “The increasing attacks and threats against churches, synagogues and mosques disgrace our nation’s most fundamental values, and demand the firm response offered by the new law.”

Jews are the leading target of hate crimes annually in the United States, according to the FBI.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Fossil of baby snake found in amber in Myanmar

This blogger is unable to understand how some creatures supposedly evolved to a certain state of complexity tens of millions of years ago--but haven't evolved since.

As reported by Bob Weber of The Canadian Press, July 18, 2018 (link in original):

(image)

EDMONTON — It curves elegantly, its delicate bones looking as if they could easily slither out of the amber encasing them into the forest undergrowth that would have been home.

The oldest fossil of a baby snake ever found leaves University of Alberta paleontologist Tiago Rodrigues Simoes in awe.

"It's like magic," he said.

Simoes, with fellow paleontologist Mike Caldwell, describes their 100-million-year baby in an article published in the journal Science Advances on Wednesday.

The snake skeleton, less than five centimetres long, is almost complete except for the skull. Entombed in a chunk of amber about the size of an adult thumb, it includes 97 tiny vertebrae, most with their feathery ribs still attached.

The sample comes from Myanmar, where amber quarries have been around for decades. Caldwell said the snake was discovered in a quarry that was only opened a couple of years ago.

Amber, fossilized tree resin, usually holds ancient bugs and beetles. This quarry, Caldwell said, has a high concentration of vertebrates.

The paleontologists' attention was first drawn to the amber by a colleague in Saskatchewan, who was interested in what seemed to be pieces of snakeskin within it. That turned out to be true, but a little ho-hum.

"It's kind of cool," said Caldwell. "But you can't tell much of a story with a piece of shed snakeskin, even if it's got colour on it, or at least light and dark patterning."

A couple of months later, the colleague called back. He'd had a chance to examine the sample more closely and thought what was first identified as a centipede looked more like a snake.

The team went at it with sophisticated imaging technology from CT scans to synchrotrons. Without removing the fossil from the amber, they laid bare its smallest details.

"The beauty of this thing is that you can actually see it's a brand-new baby snake," Caldwell said. "It's the interior details that make it clear.

"I've learned critical details about snake development."

It turns out that ancient snakes formed much the same way modern ones do.

The fossilized baby snake's spinal cord was still turning into bone in the same way those of its descendants still do. The fossil also showed the beginnings of other features found in adult snakes that were growing exactly as they do in contemporary snakelets.

"We have some of the major elements of development constant," Simoes said. "Maybe it's common to all of them in their early evolutionary history."

Perhaps just as important is what else was found in the amber — many examples of bugs and debris that would be found on a forest floor.

The baby is the first one to prove that snakes lived in forests, too, fleshing out understanding of both ancient reptile and forest ecology.

"It is an ancient form of super glue," Caldwell said. "That's the magic of amber.

"The marvellous thing about amber is that it falls out of a tree and it hits whatever was at the bottom of the tree. It picks up the bugs and the plants and the bug poop. And the baby snakes.

"We're not ever going to get that in the rock record."

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Whether it's life or planetary bodies, scientists are just guessing about origins

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

Scientists profess to be certain about the alleged facts of evolution, but they're really just guessing about things they weren't around to observe, such as the origin of life itself. As reported by Liam Casey of The Canadian Press, October 4, 2018:

A small group of Ontario researchers believe they may have solved the origins of life mystery.

The results come from early experiments run in a planet simulator at McMaster University's new Origins of Life Laboratory, which started running this summer.

The simulator — the centrepiece of the facility — is testing a theory that suggests life on Earth began in warm little ponds after meteorites splashed into them about four billion years ago. The machine recreates those conditions to see whether cellular life can be created and then evolve.

"This is a very big moment," said Maikel Rheinstadter, a biophysics professor and the lead investigator in the new laboratory. "There's nothing else like this machine in the world."

The warm little ponds theory was first put forth by Charles Darwin, expanded on in the 1990s by Carl Sagan, and further developed by David Deamer, a professor in bioengineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Evidence over the last few years points away from another theory that suggests the building blocks of life came about through vents in the Earth's crust at the bottom of the ocean.

Rheinstadter and two colleagues — Ralph Pudritz, a theoretical astrophysicist and Yingfu Li, a biochemist — are now putting that theory into action.

"We are very interested in understanding how the first very basic cell formed on the early Earth four billion years ago," Rheinstadter said. "Nobody knows, but I think that's what we have: a very solid proposal that this is potentially the mechanism."

The lab's work is in its early stages and the planet simulator's recent results must be replicated, Rheinstadter said, but what researchers have seen so far is promising.

The new planet simulator at the heart of their efforts is about the size of a microwave and can control temperature, humidity, pressure, atmosphere and radiation levels to mimic conditions on Earth at any point in its history. It can also create the conditions of any other planet.

It took years to get the machine built — most companies said they simply couldn't make it — but a company in Kitchener, Ont., was able to take on the project, Rheinstadter said.

When the machine was operational, the researchers used it to mimic a summer season on early Earth — a volcanic environment that was very hot during the day and cool at night, with the odd day of rain and periodic flooding.

Inside the simulator's chamber were elements of the "primordial soup" that existed at the time, which includes inorganic salts, clays, lipid molecules and nucleotides at varying concentrations, Rheinstadter said.

The researchers ran the machine for a few weeks through important wet-dry cycles, which drive biochemical reactions, with entire seasons being replicated in days. After a time, they began to see results.

"The molecules started to form cell-like structures and they started to incorporate genetic material just by themselves," Rheinstadter said. "It's amazing."

The researchers say they have shown that they can create what are known as proto-cells, which aren't considered alive because the scientists still have to demonstrate that the genetic material in the cells can replicate itself and create proteins. But the results are still significant, they said.

The developments in the lab come after research from Pudritz and graduate student Ben K.D. Pearce last year calculated that meteorites bombarded the Earth and delivered the building blocks of life that then bonded together to become ribonucleic acid — the basis for the genetic code. It's that very research that the McMaster team is now testing.

"It's very exciting times," Pudritz said.

It's taken years to get the lab and its simulator up and running.

In 2012, Rheinstadter along with Pudritz and Li applied to the Canada Foundation for Innovation, an independent non-profit, for funding for their research.

The team's proposal to search for the origins of life happened to come at the right time as shortly thereafter NASA began reporting a flurry of discoveries of exoplanets where conditions could exist to support life. Public interest on the subject surged and the team's bid for funds to build their simulator was approved.

The $1-million lab also received funding from the provincial government and McMaster, Rheinstadter said.

"We're really fortunate and we're now about five years ahead of everyone else in the business," he said.

Other leaders in the field are now clambering to get involved with the lab, including luminaries from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, Harvard University and the University of California, Santa Cruz, Rheinstadter said.

The lab and its simulator have also been lauded by Deamer, the California professor who has worked on the warm ponds theory.

"It's marvellous," Deamer said. "They'll be able to do experiments no one else can. They just need the governments to open up their coffers to help pay for more collaborations because laboratories around the world want in on this."

Deamer called the planet simulator "game changing" and said the cells it has created so far are significant.

"These cells are not alive, but are evolutionary steps toward a living system of molecules," he said. "It opens up a lot of experimental activities that were literally impossible before."
Scientists are also just guessing when it comes to the origin of planetary bodies, as reported by Bob Weber of The Canadian Press, October 4, 2018:

EDMONTON — New research suggests Mars' moons were once part of the planet, blasted into space by some cataclysmic collision long ago.

Until now, the most common theory was that Deimos and Phobos were once asteroids, captured into orbit by Mars' gravitational field.

"They kind of look like asteroids," said Chris Herd, a planetary geologist at the University of Alberta and a co-author of a new paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

"They're really pockmarked with craters and they have those characteristics that make them look like asteroids we've seen farther out."

Still, doubts remained — especially since the red planet's two moons are so black.

"Those objects are really dark," Herd said.

"They absorb most of the light, with the exception of a few per cent of the sunlight that comes in. That means the information you have for figuring what they're made of is limited."

Herd and his colleagues took a new approach.

They analyzed light recorded from one of the moons by the Mars Global Surveyor mission that orbited the planet in 1997. They then compared that analysis with a similar look at a meteorite known to have come from the asteroid belt — the Tagish Lake meteorite from northwestern British Columbia.

They didn't look like each other at all.

"It was not a match," said Herd. "The best match is ground-up basalt, the kind of common rock that Mars is made of."

The most likely conclusion is that Deimos and Phobos are chunks of rock blown off the surface of the planet, perhaps by a collision with some other heavenly body far back in the history of the solar system.

The theory may help to explain another puzzling feature of a planet that has fascinated skywatchers for centuries.

Mars' northern hemisphere has a far lower elevation than its southern half. The difference is large — several kilometres.

"We don't really know why that is," said Herd. "It's a pretty fundamental problem in Mars science."

Scientists have long wondered if the difference is the result of some long-ago impact.

"There'd be lots of debris that came off of that. If that was the case, then you you'd probably end up producing a whole bunch of objects in orbit around Mars and Phobos and Deimos are the ones that are left."

Friday, October 5, 2018

"Nested meditations" author uses clever wordplay to disguise deceptive teaching

There's nothing inherently wrong with the technique of "nested meditations," but the man who's popularizing it is using it to promote Roman Catholic mysticism. As reported by Nicki Gorny of the Toledo Blade, September 28, 2018 (link in original):

There’s something therapeutic about wordplay.

At least, there is the way Kevin Anderson does it. In a poetic format the local psychologist calls “nested meditations,” he watches how one idea can shift into another and then another.

Consider how the confessional “I live with self-doubt,” for example, turns into the defiant “I live with self-doubt / no more.” Add one more line to the nested meditation for a more visual metaphor: “I live with self-doubt / no more / than a lone pine tree doing its evergreen thing.”

“It’s what I call a playful form of cognitive therapy,” Mr. Anderson said. “How do you get to new thoughts? Well, this is one tool. You can play your way to new thoughts.”

Mr. Anderson, 58, of Monclova, introduced the nested meditation format in 2003 with a self-published book, Divinity in Disguise, that drew praise from Spirituality and Health magazine as one of the best spiritual books published that year. More than a decade later, he continues to explore and solidify the format in his recently released Now is Where God Lives: A Year of Nested Meditations to Delight the Mind and Awaken the Soul.

The devotional-style book is available online, including at the author’s website, thewingedlife.com, as well as at Reger's Church Supplies and Religious Gifts, 4100 Secor Rd., and Gathering Volumes, 196 E. South Boundary St., Perrysburg.

Mr. Anderson will have copies available at a book signing at 7 p.m. Monday at the Monclova Community Center, 8115 Monclova Rd., Monclova. He will read and perform several of the meditations at the event.

In the years since Mr. Anderson introduced the idea of a nested meditations, he’s seen it embraced by readers, some of whom write and send him their own meditations, he said. He’s also seen it picked up by pastors, teachers, prison-ministry leaders, and others who either use it themselves or encourage others to try their hands at it.

That’s a welcome development to Mr. Anderson, who sees benefits in the reflective nature of the meditations and the way they can take a writer in a unexpected directions.

A nested meditations starts with a phrase, then repeats it, and adds another line for a second stanza; the same pattern goes for the longer third stanza and the even longer fourth stanza. The trick is to add onto the preceding lines in a way that changes their meaning without changing their words: Maybe that’s adding punctuation, hyphenating a word, or playing with a double meaning.

Take “I want to leave this world awake,” a phrase that Mr. Anderson said he found himself scribbling about a year ago as he reflected on the implications of his late mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. When he played with the words, he explained, he came across a new meaning and a different image: “I want to leave this world a wake / of love behind the speedboat of my years.”

“You don’t get to the next line by thinking, What else do I want to write about my mother dying?” he said. “You get there by looking at the words.”

The unexpected places those words can go can be good for the writer.

“By getting out of the rational mind and into the playful mind,” Mr. Anderson said, “we can stumble on interesting stuff. That’s what nested meditations are about.”

Mr. Anderson draws many of the thoughts and images that appear in Now is Where God Lives from his day-to-day life, often universalizing and spiritualizing them as he plays with them. The spirituality that’s thematic throughout the book is particularly influenced by his Catholic faith and the mystic saints within that tradition; he specifically draws on the theology of immanence, which, rather than understanding God as a faraway presence, understands Him as saturating all things.

That idea is referenced in his opening meditation, which, reflecting the title of the book, begins “Now is where God lives.” For readers who engage with the book as a devotional, it sets the tone as the meditation listed for Jan. 1.

Mr. Anderson said he plans to encourage attendees at Monday’s signing to try their own hands at nested meditations. Those interested in learning more about the format are invited to attend.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Current Mormon President Russell Nelson uses the word "revelation" more than most of his predecessors

One of the marks of a cult is that the cult leader claims to receive revelation that others don't have, and which can't be questioned. I have to correct, somewhat, what I said in a previous post, asking when was the last time the "Prophet, Seer and Revelator" of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prophesied, saw, or revelated. The church's current President at least claims, more than most of his predecessors, to receive revelation; as reported by Peggy Fletcher Stack of the Salt Lake Tribune, October 2, 2018 (links in original):

By his own account, Russell M. Nelson speaks often to God, or, rather, God speaks often to him.

Nelson, the 94-year-old president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said recently that he was awakened at 2 a.m. with a distinct impression that he should go to the Dominican Republic.

Within days, the Church News reported, the energetic nonagenarian was on a plane to that Caribbean nation.

This is an “era of unprecedented revelation,” Nelson told the missionaries gathered to hear him there Sept. 1.

Indeed, in his first nearly nine months as the Utah-based faith’s top “prophet, seer and revelator," Nelson has used the term “revelation” again and again to describe his motivation for initiatives and changes.

It is not unusual for Latter-day Saint presidents to speak of being inspired by deity. After all, members believe that their movement began with founder Joseph Smith’s directions from God in a New York forest not to join any other church but to start his own. From then to now, all Mormon prophets believed their calling was to express the mind and will of God for the church and the wider world.

Few of Nelson’s modern predecessors, however, have made such strong use of the word “revelation,” at least in public or in news releases. The current Latter-day Saint leader, on the other hand, speaks boldly of his prayer life and divine mandates.

In January, the month Nelson took the faith’s reins, his wife, Wendy Watson Nelson, reported that one night she was prompted to leave her husband alone in their bedroom.

“Two hours later, he emerged from the room,” Wendy Nelson told apostle Neil L. Andersen, who reported it on Facebook. “Wendy, you won’t believe what’s been happening,” the church president told his wife, according to Andersen’s account. “The Lord has given me detailed instructions on what I am to do.”

His choice of counselors in the governing First Presidency? The Lord instructed him. New apostles? The Lord inspired him. Emphasizing the church’s full name and eschewing its long-standing “Mormon” nickname? The Lord “impressed” it on his mind.

It’s not surprising, then, that Nelson’s first major sermon to the global membership during his inaugural General Conference since taking the hierarchy’s helm was titled “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives.” No church president in recent decades has seemed so at ease with the rhetoric of his own revelation.

Ever since their faith’s founding in 1830, Latter-day Saints have come to expect their prophet to have regular exchanges with the Almighty, who they believe is directing the church.

Smith reported a visionary experience with God and Jesus as well as the spiritual ability to “translate” ancient scripture — including the faith’s Book of Mormon — into modern English.

His adherents collected Smith’s proclaimed interactions with the heavens and published them (as well as other materials) in a volume known as the Doctrine and Covenants.

Subsequent Latter-day Saint prophets were less comfortable than Smith attaching “thus saith the Lord” to their admonitions. But they definitely felt the mantle of godly spokesman.

In the 1930s, Mormon apostle John A. Widtsoe described two kinds of revelation, said historian Matthew Bowman, author of “The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith.”

The first type is the one employed by Smith and his immediate successor, Brigham Young, which “pertained to the cosmos and the kingdom of God.”

The second is “more mundane, day-to-day things of the kingdom,” said Bowman, paraphrasing Widtsoe. “But those are revelations, too.”

Widtsoe was trying to help members, the historian said, grapple with the “fading of the charismatic element in the church.”

Bowman said short-lived church President Harold B. Lee believed that the faith’s welfare plan — to help members during the Great Depression and beyond — was revelatory.

As an apostle in that desperate era, Lee went into an isolated woods to pray about the issue, describing it in language much like Smith’s well-known “First Vision.”

“As I kneeled down, my petition was, ‘What kind of an organization should be set up in order to accomplish what the presidency has assigned?’” Lee recalled in a General Conference speech in 1972. “And there came to me on that glorious morning one of the most heavenly realizations of the power of the priesthood of God. It was as though something were saying to me, ‘There is no new organization necessary to take care of the needs of this people. All that is necessary is to put the priesthood of God to work.’”

Perhaps the most momentous assertion of divine revelation to a 20th-century Mormon prophet happened in 1978 to Spencer W. Kimball, who ended a centurylong ban on black men and boys being ordained to the all-male priesthood and on women and girls entering Latter-day Saint temples.

The decision to change the long-standing policy came first to Kimball after years of prayer and meditation and then to top Latter-day Saint authorities meeting in the Salt Lake Temple.

“We joined [President Kimball] in prayer in the most sacred of circumstances,” recalled Gordon B. Hinckley, who was an apostle at the time and later rose to church president. “I do not recall the exact words that he spoke. But I do recall my own feelings and the nature of the expressions of my brethren. There was a hallowed and sanctified atmosphere in the room.”

For Hinckley, “it felt as if a conduit opened between the heavenly throne and the kneeling, pleading prophet of God who was joined by his brethren,” he told members a decade after the experience. “The Spirit of God was there.”

The future president went on to say that there was not the sound of a ”’rushing mighty wind,’ there were not ‘cloven tongues like as of fire’ as there had been on the Day of Pentecost. But there was a Pentecostal spirit.”

The assembled men did not hear a “voice audible to our physical ears,” Hinckley said. “… But the voice of the [Holy] Spirit whispered with certainty into our minds and our very souls.”

As president, Hinckley did not mention God when introducing “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” or his plans to erect smaller temples — both significant theological and programmatic developments — nor even when he offered his stern 2006 admonition against the sin of racism.

One of the few changes Hinckley attached directly to God, at least in public, was the Perpetual Education Fund, which offers school loans to needy members. He described it in a 2001 General Conference sermon as “a plan which we believe is inspired by the Lord.”

That hardly means these men shied away from mentioning their revelatory experiences in private or from referring openly to their prayers and pleadings with the Lord.

“They clearly believed they were inspired by God and willingly assumed the prophetic mantle,” said Patrick Mason, head of Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University. “But they rarely went to the ‘God spoke to me’ rhetoric.”

Modern Mormons typically say “we’ve been praying and feel inspired,” Mason said. “We teach revelation, but we inhabit inspiration as a practice.”

Most Latter-day Saint leaders are “a little gun-shy to go to the ‘R’ word,” the scholar said. “Nelson isn’t...”

...Even before Nelson became the church’s 17th president, he was comfortable using the “R” word.

In that first sermon, the Latter-day Saint prophet reiterated that “the privilege of receiving revelation is one of the greatest gifts of God to his children.”

Before Nelson’s appointment more than 34 years ago to full-time church service as an apostle, he was a renowned heart surgeon. He said in his April speech that “in an operating room, I have stood over a patient — unsure how to perform an unprecedented procedure — and experienced the Holy Ghost diagramming the technique in my mind.”

He also mentioned that “to strengthen [his] proposal” to his wife, Wendy (his first wife, Dantzel, had died), Nelson told her, “I know about revelation and how to receive it.”

In January 2016, when Nelson was the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he described a controversial policy about gays as a revelation.

The policy, which leaked out the previous November, dictates that married same-sex couples be considered “apostates” and generally bars their children from Mormon rituals until they are 18.

In a speech from Brigham Young University-Hawaii to the faith’s millennials everywhere, Nelson explained the policy’s reasoning.

Balancing their understanding of Mormon doctrine about the “plan of salvation,” which is built on male-female eternal marriage, with compassion for children of same-sex couples, he said the apostles “considered countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios that could arise."

Nelson’s immediate predecessor, President Thomas S. Monson, then declared “the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord.”

“Each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation,” Nelson said, in the first official explanation of the hotly debated policy’s origins. “It was our privilege as apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson.”

That is how, Nelson said, revelation works.

Nelson explained that revelation from on high is a sacred process.

“The [three-member] First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together and share all the Lord has directed us to understand and to feel, individually and collectively,” he said. "And then, we watch the Lord move upon the president of the church to proclaim the Lord’s will.”

Such statements echoed words and phrases used by Kimball and others to describe their experience ending the racial ban in 1978.

This language is one of “authority and legitimation,” Bowman said. “It adds weight to claims [he] is making.”

The “willingness to claim revelation in public,” the historian noted, “has grown more rare over time.”

Stuart Reid, a former Utah legislator who previously worked in the church’s public affairs department, believes that Nelson’s use of the term “revelation” is no accident but rather reflects the Latter-day Saint leader’s real interactions with divinity.

“The Lord really does speak to him in the night,” Reid said on a recent episode of The Salt Lake Tribune’s “Mormon Land” podcast. “He is a person who seeks revelation and insight … of what the Lord expects of this church.”

The elderly leader seems to have a sense of urgency, Reid said. If listeners pay attention to his language and “start connecting the dots, they will see he is laying a foundation for the church in ways we have not heard in a long, long time. … Each intermediate step [announcement] is a building block in that foundation.”

Nelson is preparing the faithful for the long-awaited Second Coming of Christ, Reid said, and relaying God’s will is a key factor in that readying.
This blogger believes that Mormons, like others who are deceived, are being prepared for the day when their "Prophet, Seer and Revelator" will receive a revelation that the Antichrist is the true Christ, and that Latter-day Saints must recognize him as such.

See also my posts: Mormons eschew youth in choosing their latest president (January 22, 2018)

40 years ago: "Revelation" prompts Mormons to reverse long-standing policy and admit Negroes to the priesthood (June 9, 2018)

150 years ago: Future Mormon President delivers false prophecy (September 2, 2018)