Wednesday, November 30, 2016

40 years ago: Anglican Church of Canada ordains its first female priests

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.
And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
I Corinthians 14:34-35

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
I Timothy 2:11-14

On November 30, 1976, the Anglican Church of Canada ordained its first women as priests, in four dioceses across Canada: Rev. Patricia Reed at St. Michael and All Angels, Prince George, British Columbia (Diocese of Cariboo); Rev. Elspeth Alley and Rev. Virginia Briant at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver, British Columbia (Diocese of New Westminster); Rev. Mary Mills at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, Ontario (Diocese of Huron); and Rev. Mary Lucas and Rev. Beverley Shanley, at Grace Church, St. Catharines, Ontario (Diocese of Niagara).

Putting women in positions of leadership in a church is contrary to scripture, and isn't so much an indication that a church is about to go liberal as it is an indication of how far liberal the church has already gone. I can't think of a church that has begun putting women in leadership positions that hasn't continued in a more liberal, apostate direction. That includes so-called evangelical churches, which should be the subject of another post, if I ever get around to it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

50 years ago: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi underwhelms Edmonton on his first visit to the city

To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Isaiah 8:20

As late as November 1966, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was still so obscure that he could attract only 125 to his first public appearance in Edmonton, and it was relegated to the bottom of page 43 of The Edmonton Journal. The article below doesn't specify, but I suspect that with a crowd that small, the meeting didn't even take place in the concert hall part of the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, but in the basement, in what is now the Kaasa Theatre.

The Maharishi's movement had been incorporated in California in 1959 under the name Spiritual Regeneration Movement and had an explicitly religious emphasis, but by November 1966 the Maharishi had figured out how to combine eastern spirituality with western desires for physical health and material success, and the brand name Transcendental Meditation had probably been adopted by this time. For further reading, see my post 50 years ago: Then-obscure Maharishi Mahesh Yogi tours Canada (September 30, 2013).

As reported by Art Sorensen of The Edmonton Journal, November 11, 1966 (bold in original):

Yogi sells bliss at $50 a course

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Thursday night said he sells the secret to happiness for $50.

For that price a single adult can reach a state of bliss through a process of transcendental meditation, he said.

Preaching the doctrine that no man is born to suffer, Maharishi told a public meeting they would start feeling better as soon as they enrolled in his three-lesson course.

The native of India founded the International Meditation Society at Madras, India in 1957 and says he brought bliss to over 100,000 people since then.

But he wasn't about to drop any hints Thursday night in the Jubilee Auditorium.

Instead Roland Umiker of Calgary will return next Friday to pass on the message to those who can afford it.

Membership 300

Donn McRae of Calgary, provincial president of the society, said the group was organized in Alberta in 1964 and built up a membership of about 300 in the Stampede City.

"But only about 50 of these are considered active in the art now."

Maharishi explained that transcendental meditation takes a person to the source of thought itself--pure intelligence.

This is claimed to bring conscious awareness, more energy, more intelligence, more happiness and better health.

Sitting on crossed legs and playing with a flower, the bearded meditator hinted the process starts with a single thought--"implanted in the mind of the initiate by the teacher who is trained to give the word."

An Hour Daily

After the initiation two thirty-minute periods of meditation a day are required to keep happy.

President McRae said he follows this routine closely.

Although $50 per single adult is charged for the course, a man and wife can get the same instruction for the same price. A student is charged $15.

Many of the 125 plus crowd at the meeting left with the feeling they could perhaps find happiness other ways.

As one University student commented, "I'd have complete happiness if I had $50."

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Reform Judaism's new prayer book is as politically correct as anything in mainline churches

The new prayer book being used in some Reform synagogues sounds as though it's as liberal and politically correct as those in mainline "Christian" churches, such as the Anglican Church of Canada's Book of Alternative Services (1985). As reported by Shelley Benveniste in The Jewish Press, November 3, 2016:

Several South Florida synagogues used a new prayer book this year. Mishkan HaNefesh: Machzor for the Days of Awe was presented to the membership of four Reform congregations this high holiday season. The book is meant to offset what many felt to be the “insensitive” words and themes found in traditional Jewish texts.

“Countertexts” are presented throughout the volume. They are intended to encourage a more open-minded style and discard imagery that might feel uncomfortable in its religious approach. The old liturgy seemed to be filled with xenophobia and in need of a fresh eye.

The idea that traditional Judaism relies on halacha (Jewish law) and Jewish practice seemed to smack of exclusivity in a culture that reveres diversity. Sources in Mishkan HaNefesh include non-Jewish poets and writers like Walt Whitman and Jewish writers like Allen Ginsberg and Grace Paley.

Mishkan HaNefesh was put together with a decidedly non-patriarchal agenda. God is referred to in both feminine and masculine pronouns and terms. Brides and grooms are referred to as non-gender “couples.” Political correctness is paramount. The comfort level of each and every reader is imperative.

The people responsible for Mishkan HaNefesh accomplished their goal. Their prayer book is truly p.c. It embraces all.

And perhaps that is its downfall.

Authentic Judaism’s authority comes from Hashem, not people’s sensitivities. Its directive is the Torah, not attainment of every individual’s optimal comfort level.

The efforts of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which published the book, were obviously well-intentioned. However, the obsession with emphasizing feel-good political correctness in lieu of legitimate Jewish concepts removes Mishkan HaNefesh from consideration as a serious Jewish resource. The book’s content is more akin to a text used in a liberal university’s diversity 101 class than to a Jewish New Year machzor.

Perhaps the authors of Mishkan HaNefesh would benefit from heeding the tagline of a popular hot dog commercial and “answer to a higher authority.”

Monday, November 7, 2016

80 years ago: United Church of Canada ordains Canada's first female minister

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.
And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
I Corinthians 14:34-35

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression...
...This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife,...
I Timothy 2:12, 3:1-2a

On November 4, 1936, Lydia Gruchy was ordained in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan by the United Church of Canada, becoming not only the United Church's first female minister, but the first female "pastor" in any supposedly Christian church in Canada. Even this blogger was surprised to learn that the practice of ordaining female clergy in Canada goes back this far.

The practice of placing women in positions of leadership in a church isn't just a sign that the church will be heading in a more apostate direction, but an indication of the extent to which the apostasy has already set in. I can't think of one church that has put women in leadership that hasn't moved on to further apostasy; for evidence, check the United Church's website, and search this blog for items on the United Church of Canada and other mainline denominations.

In recent years, "evangelical" churches, such as the Christian and Missionary Alliance, have begun ordaining women and making them senior pastors (a topic for another blog post, if I ever get around to it). The pace of apostasy is accelerating, and "Evangelical" churches are rapidly catching up to mainline churches. See my post "Today's Evangelicals, Tomorrow's Liberals"--A Warning from 1983 (January 13, 2010).

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Christian who converted from Islam is forced to flee his home--in Bradford, England--under police guard

There's a reason the English city of Bradford is now commonly referred to as "Bradistan." Submitted for your approval, the following item, especially for those who approve of multiculturalism or think that God is bringing Muslims to Western countries--as reported by Jon Rogers of the London Daily Express, November 6, 2016:

Nissan Hussain, 50, who took part in a Channel 4 documentary about the mistreatment of Muslim converts, suffered a brutal assault last year by two men.

Mr Hussain suffered a smashed kneecap and a broken hand in the attack which was captured on CCTV.

The father-of-six, who converted to Christianity 20 years ago, had been planning on leaving his home town of Bradford in west Yorkshire but armed police arrived on November, 3 as Mr Hussain had already started packing the family’s possessions, and moved him to a safe place.

Mr Hussain said he has suffered “extreme persecution” recently, especially after the C4 programme had aired, but added the arrival of armed police had been a complete surprise.

He briefly returned the following day, once again with armed protection, to collect more items.

He said: "The armed police arrived at about 3pm on Thursday.

"I had been loading a van up with our belongings for eight hours, having to stealthily check no-one could see what I was doing, before they arrived.

"It took me completely by surprise, but their [the police] professionalism was deeply reassuring, and they escorted my family and I to a safe haven outside Yorkshire."

He continued: "My family are distraught and extremely traumatised to be leaving.

"But when your life is at stake there is no other choice.

"This extreme persecution by certain people in the Muslim community because we are converts has broken us as a family,” Hussain added.

“We are fragmented and I do not know how we will recover from this. We haven't functioned properly for years."

Mr Hussain, who had previously worked as a nurse before having to leave his job due to post-traumatic stress disorder, said his six children, who ranged in age from eight to 24, and his wife would not see his friends again.

A spokesman for the West Yorkshire Police confirmed that officers had been working with the family and added hate crime would not be tolerated.

He said: “Our priority has always been to work effectively with our partners to minimise the risk to Mr Hussain and ensure that we maximise opportunities to put control measures in place to safeguard him, his family and consider any wider impact upon the communities across West Yorkshire.

"We are disappointed that Mr Hussain and his family have decided to leave Bradford, particularly as police and partners have been working together for some time to try and resolve the situation to the benefit of all parties concerned."

He added that an investigation is continuing.

The spokesman continued: "Police and partners would like to stress that there are a number of other people living in the Bradford district who have not experienced any issues based on their faith, conversion to another faith or choosing not to have a faith.

"West Yorkshire Police treat incidents of hate crime extremely seriously and will always put the needs of the victim at the heart of the investigation and strive to provide the desired outcome for the victim.

“Under no circumstances will hate crime be tolerated."

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signs anti-BDS bill

As reported by The Jewish Press, November 6, 2016 (link in original):

Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, (the good PA, not the bad PA) signed a bill on Friday prohibiting the State from contracting with businesses that boycott Israel or are connected to the BDS movement.

The bill, HB 2107, sponsored by Representative Matt Baker, prohibits the Pennsylvanian commonwealth from contracting with any company or organization that engages in an economic boycott against Israel.

Governor Tom Wolf said:

“We must make clear that we are in favor of a peaceful, negotiated solution to this conflict and that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the United States, stand behind our friends and allies, and will not encourage economic punishment in place of peaceful solutions to challenging conflicts,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “We, as a Commonwealth, must make sure that Pennsylvania is not contributing to a cause that is antithetical to our country’s position on the world’s stage.”

Representative Matt Baker said:

“I would like to commend and extend my appreciation to the General Assembly and Governor for supporting and signing this important and historic legislation into law,” said Representative Matt Baker. “This legislation makes it very clear that companies can either perform a BDS action or they can do business with Pennsylvania. However, they cannot do both.”


This law will prohibit contracting with BDS businesses, states that a purchasing agency may not contract with a company unless the company certifies that it is not currently engaged in a boycott of an entity based in or doing business with a jurisdiction not prohibited by Congressional statute from engaging in trade or commerce. Also, the entity must certify that it will not engage in such boycotting during the duration of the contract.

Palestinian Authority demands the "return" of the Dead Sea Scrolls

To quote Winston Churchill out of context, "Here, surely, is the world's record in the domain of the ridiculous and the contemptible..." As reported by The Jewish Press, November 6, 2016 (links in original):

Don’t fall off your seats on this one.

Following their success in erasing the Jewish historical connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount at UNESCO, the Palestinian Authority has decided to ramp it up a bit, according to a report on IBA’s Reshet Bet.

At UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property, the Palestinian Authority delegation to UNESCO is now demanding the “return” of the “stolen” Dead Sea Scrolls.

PA representative Dr. Munir said the Dead Sea Scrolls are from the Palestinian Authority territories and are part of the Palestinian heritage!

The PA wants a full session dedicated to this at the next UNESCO meeting of the committee.

Munir also complained to the committee that antiquities were stolen from the Rockefeller Museum (in eastern Jerusalem) and moved to the western side of Jerusalem (the Israel Museum).

Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, David Sharma Hacohen, whom Netanyahu recently recalled to Israel following the previous anti-Semitic UNESCO vote, said from Jerusalem,

“This is just another example of their provocation and chutzpa in attempting to rewrite history. In any case, just like the Temple Mount and Kotel, the Dead Sea Scrolls will stay in our hands, while the Palestinians will be left with their hidden dreams.”

Sharma-Cohen used the word “Ganuz” in Hebrew, playing on the Hebrew name for the Dead Sea Scrolls “HaMegilot HaGenuzot” – The Hidden Scrolls.

The Dead Sea Scrolls website describes the scrolls as follows:

The most well-known texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls are the ancient religious writings found in eleven caves near the site of Qumran… [in the eastern Judean desert]

Scroll dates range from the third century BCE (mid–Second Temple period) to the first century of the Common Era, before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. While Hebrew is the most frequently used language in the Scrolls, about 15% were written in Aramaic and several in Greek. The Scrolls’ materials are made up mainly of parchment, although some are papyrus, and the text of one Scroll is engraved on copper.

About 230 manuscripts are referred to as “biblical Scrolls”. These are copies of works that are now part of the Hebrew Bible.

We have no doubt that UNESCO will fully support the PA’s historical revisionism.

Next they’re going to demand we return the Palestinian Talmud.
For those who are unaware, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently adopted two resolutions that have the effect of denying the historical connection between Jews and Jerusalem's holy sites. As reported by The Jewish Press, October 18, 2016:

The United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Executive Board voted Tuesday in Paris to accept the “Occupied Palestine” resolution advanced in Paris last week by the Palestinian Authority, which erases the connection between Judaism, Jews, Christianity and holy sites in Jerusalem.

Even experts in the United Kingdom clearly recognized that connection, lamenting the horrific tragedy of the division of the holy city of Jerusalem, more than half a century ago, before the 1967 Six Day War.

The resolution has not only deepened the divide between member nations in the organization, but may have also further threatened the funding of the world body.

Mexico had announced its intention to trigger a special clause designed to force a new vote on the issue, but at the end, the nation’s representative elected to issue a statement on its changed position on the resolution. The statement was echoed by Brazil, who also announced it had changed its position as well. Neither statement, in the long run, made any difference in the vote, which has further embittered nations where Christianity is treasured as a natural growth from Judaism.

The resolution has obliterated any mention of the historic link between Jews and the holy sites in Jerusalem and instead refer to Judaism’s holiest sites in Judaism – the Temple Mount and the Western Wall – solely by their Islamic names and referring to them as Muslim holy sites.

Israel suspended its funding to UNESCO when the body approved membership for the Palestinian Authority, as did the United States, which used to provide nearly one quarter (22 percent) of the organization’s budget.

Japan has now also threatened to withdraw its funding as well, warning last week that it withheld its annual dues from UNESCO, pending a review to ensure the world body is properly functioning to “foster trust” between its member nations.
As reported by Hana Levi Julian of The Jewish Press, October 26, 2016 (links in original):

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee passed a second resolution Wednesday morning erasing the historic ancient ties between Judaism, Jerusalem and the holy sites in the eternal Israeli capital.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nachshon called the vote “a piece of rubbish.”

UNESCO's vote on Jerusalem is a piece of rubbish, rightly dumped in the garbage can by our Ambassador!! Long live Jewish Jerusalem!!!

— Emmanuel Nahshon (@EmmanuelNahshon) October 26, 2016
https://twitter.com/EmmanuelNahshon/status/791230263649038336 (link in date)

The measure was proposed by Tunisia and Lebanon on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and Jordan, neither of whom are members of the World Heritage Committee. That did not stop either of the two from threatening the voting members with an ultimatum, however, if they were to decide to vote against the resolution.

Entitled ‘Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls,’ the measure refers to the holy sites in the ancient city – including the site of the two Jewish Holy Temples – exclusively by their Arabic names and solely in terms of their Islamic status.

But of the 21 member states who were eligible to vote on the measure, just 10 voted in favor of the resolution. Eight abstained, and two opposed it. Jamaica was simply absent from the room. Eight others turned in entirely blank voting forms.

Last week the Executive Board of the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted a similar resolution, this one entitled “Occupied Palestine.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response that the vote was a “continuation of the theater of the absurd. Radical Islamic forces destroy mosques, churches and archaeological sites, while Israel is the only state in the region that preserves them and allows freedom of worship for all religions.

“UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee deserves to be condemned, not Israel,” Netanyahu said.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites has also spoken out against the UNESCO Jerusalem resolutions, which are part of a campaign by the Palestinian Authority to reclassify all holy sites in the Israeli capital as solely Islamic in order to strengthen Muslim claims to Jerusalem. Last year’s texts, in addition to the previous resolution, referred to Israel as the “occupying power” and condemned the Jewish State for its alleged “activities” at holy sites in the city.

“There should be a clear distinction between political controversies and scientific facts and that political disputes … and political views cannot justify statements which erase basic and well known and proven historical facts,” said Council Vice President Gideon Koren, an Israeli attorney. The Council, an independent advisory body on manmade World Heritage Sites, decided to speak out after a board meeting in Istanbul.

UNESCO secretary-general Irina Bokova herself also condemned the resolutions, as did outgoing United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and tens of thousands of others who signed a petition submitted to Bokova earlier this week.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

10 years ago: Ted Haggard resigns as President of the National Association of Evangelicals amid allegations of homosexual behaviour and drug use

Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money...
...He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
I Timothy 3:2-3, 7 (NIV)

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:8

On November 2, 2006, Ted Haggard, founder and senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, announced his resignation as President of the National Association of Evangelicals as the result of accusations from homosexual prostitute and drug dealer Mike Jones that Mr. Haggard had paid Mr. Jones for sex for three years and that Mr. Haggard had purchased crystal methamphetamine from his and used it. Mr. Haggard's resignation was accepted on November 3.

In a bit of interesting timing, November 2006 was the date of the issue of Harper's Magazine that contained the article Soldiers of Christ: Insider America's Most Powerful Megachurch by Jeff Sharlet. The article included this passage:

The atrium is a soaring foyer adorned with the flags of the nations and guarded by another bronze warrior angel, a scowling, bearded type with massive biceps and, again, a sword. The angel’s pedestal stands at the center of a great, eightpointed compass laid out in muted red, white, and blue-black stone. Each point directs the eye to a contemporary painting, most depicting gorgeous, muscular men—one is a blacksmith, another is bound, fetish-style, in chains—in various states of undress. My favorite is The Vessel, by Thomas Blackshear, a major figure in the evangelical-art world. Here in the World Prayer Center is a print of The Vessel, a tall, vertical panel of two nude, ample-breasted, white female angels team-pouring an urn of honey onto the shaved head of a naked, olive-skinned man below. The honey drips down over his slab-like pecs and his six-pack abs into the eponymous vessel, which he holds in front of his crotch. But the vessel can’t handle that much honey, so the sweetness oozes over the edges and spills down yet another level, presumably onto our heads, drenching us in golden, godly love. Part of what makes Blackshear’s work so compelling is precisely its unabashed eroticism; it aims to turn you on, and then to turn that passion toward Jesus.

A day or two after the scandal broke, Mr. Sharlet returned to New Life Church, and noticed that the artwork that he had noticed and commented on had all been hastily covered up or removed--which this blogger finds very suspicious.

Check the Infogalactic entry for more information on the duplicitous Mr. Haggard and his scandals. For my views on Mr. Haggard, I refer the reader to my post Ted Haggard refuses to stay out of the limelight (January 6, 2012).

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

New Age false prophet Benjamin Creme dies at 93

For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. Mark 13:22

What a pity that Benjamin Creme, who for decades prophesied the emergence of the New Age "Christ" known as Lord Maitreya, didn't live long enough to see the final revelation. As reported by Mr. Creme's organization Share International (bold in original):

Special announcement

Share International regrets to announce that Benjamin Creme, British artist, author and lecturer has died. He passed away peacefully on 24 October 2016 at his home in London, with his family around him.

Through his work as the Chief Editor of Share International magazine, as author of many books, and as international speaker, Benjamin Creme has been an inspiration throughout the world in presenting information about the emergence of Maitreya the World Teacher and the Masters of Wisdom. Working from a background of the Ageless Wisdom Teachings given to the world by Helena Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theosophical Society, and the Alice Bailey esoteric teachings, he has expanded and brought up to date this ancient knowledge.

Working under the tutelage of one of the Masters of Wisdom, Benjamin Creme dedicated the last 40 years of his life to his work for the Emergence of Maitreya the World Teacher and the Masters of Wisdom, and in doing so inspired hundreds of thousands of people across the world. He began his public work in 1975 and lectured worldwide from 1979 onwards, only finally stopping at the age of 90.

In 1974 he introduced Transmission Meditation – a new group meditation, which is both a means of personal development and a form of service to the world.

Benjamin Creme had been unwell for a long time but had kept going in his usual courageous, determined and humorous way. His was an extraordinary life dedicated to service. He brought hope to the millions who have heard and been touched by the news of the imminent Emergence of the World Teacher, and the consequent transformation of the world by the creation of justice and peace, through sharing.
From the home page of Share International (bold, links in original):

Many now expect the return of their awaited Teacher, whether they call him the Christ, the Messiah, the fifth Buddha, Krishna, or the Imam Mahdi. Millions now know that the one who fulfils all these expectations, Maitreya, the World Teacher, is already living among us and is gradually emerging into full public recognition.


Maitreya is the Teacher for all humanity – those of all spiritual traditions, and those who follow no particular faith. He does not come as a religious leader, but as an educator in the broadest sense.

Maitreya has not come alone, but with a group of wise men, the Masters of Wisdom, who have long worked from behind the scenes as the inspirers, teachers and guides of humanity. They are returning to the everyday world to help us solve our most critical global problems.

PRIORITIES

Maitreya and the Masters will show us that the only way to bring about peace is to create justice; and the only way to establish justice is to share the resources of the world, equitably, among all humanity according to need. Maitreya has formulated a number of simple priorities that demand immediate and worldwide attention. These cover the essential needs of every man, woman and child: an adequate supply of food; housing for all; access to health care and education as universal rights. Another top priority is the restoration of the environment.


Maitreya will inspire us to create a new civilization based on sharing and justice, freedom and peace, so that all may have the basic necessities of life in a world free from want and war. He and the Masters are here to show us the way forward, but they can only guide – we ourselves have to act to save our world.

GRADUAL EMERGENCE

Maitreya has been based in the Asian community of London since July 1977, gradually emerging into full public view. Artist, author and lecturer Benjamin Creme has for 40 years been preparing the way for this extraordinary event. In December 2008 Mr Creme announced that in the very near future a large, bright star would appear in the sky visible throughout the world, night and day, heralding the imminent appearance of Maitreya in His first interview on a major US television network. Within weeks, reports from all over the world of an unusually bright star, often moving and changing colour, began to appear in the media and on the internet. See reports

FIRST TELEVISION INTERVIEW

On 14 January 2010 Benjamin Creme announced that Maitreya had given His first interview, on American television, and that millions had heard Him speak both on television and the internet. Mr Creme explained: “He was introduced not as Maitreya, the World Teacher and Head of our Spiritual Hierarchy, but simply as a man, one of us. In this way He ‘ensures that men follow and support Him for the truth and sanity of His ideas rather than for His status’. He spoke earnestly of the need for peace, achievable only through the creation of justice and the sharing of the world’s resources.” See announcement

Maitreya has since given a series of interviews in the USA, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, China, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and India, and more are expected to take place around the world.

Maitreya’s open mission has begun. As He Himself has said: “Soon, now very soon, you will see my face and hear my words.”
“When men see Me for the first time and know Me for what I am, they will find themselves changing inwardly.
Many will for a time return to the joy of childhood and find the world a better home thereby.
Many will feel strengthened in their desire to serve and to place themselves in the forefront of change.
These are the ones on whom I shall call for the task of replenishment of man’s spirit and joy.
Believe if you can that I am with you, ready to use My strength on your behalf.
Believe if you can, My friends, that I am eagerly awaiting the day of My open return.”
Maitreya, the World Teacher, 7 October 2014

Suggested further reading for first-time visitors:
Brief overview Who is Maitreya Background topics


Message from Maitreya

Benjamin Creme received the following message from Maitreya on 31 March 2016, by a process of mental telepathy.

These days are difficult for many. Even the best and the closest feel the pains of doubt and reservation.

But when I say that I engage with you as one of you before the world, it is the truth.

Likewise when I say that the time is close indeed when all men will recognize My face and respond, it is the truth.

Only the Law bids Me wait a very little time, but within the Law I am verily with you daily, in constant rapport with your needs and the opportunities presented to Myself by you.

Soon humanity as a whole will awaken to My presence and will accept with all willingness the transformation of this, our world.

Remember that we are at the beginning and the end of a civilization, an epic period in the history of the world, and understand thereby that men feel the pain of change.

For some it is a release into freedom. For others it is a loss of surety and calm.

But, My brothers, pain will be short-lived, and already many know this to be so. There is aid in abundance to help you through these difficult times. Accept eagerly this Age and recognize the signs of the new.

Verily, verily, I am with you. Verily, I am among you in many ways.

Judge for yourselves, My brothers, how close you are to My expectations of a new world. This will be a world in which all men are one, in which all men fulfil the joy of creation, and fulfil with love their capacity to show the way to their brothers in simplicity and truth.
As the reader can tell from the passages above, the "Christ" whom Benjamin Creme followed is not the Lord Jesus Christ whom the Bible reveals. I find it interesting that Mr. Creme's last book was titled Unity in Diversity: The Way Ahead for Humanity:

Unity in Diversity: The Way Ahead for Humanity concerns the future of every man, woman and child. It is about the future of the Earth itself. Humanity, Creme says, is at a crossroads and has a major decision to make: to go onwards and create a brilliant new civilisation in which all are free and social justice reigns, or continue as we are, divided and competing, and see the end of life on planet Earth. Creme writes for the Spiritual Hierarchy on Earth, whose Plan for the betterment of all humanity he presents. He shows that the path forward for us all is the realisation of our essential unity without the sacrifice of our equally essential diversity. Creme writes:“The aim of our life,whether we have realised it or not,is the establishment of unity, representing the unity which already exists because every atom in the manifested universe is interrelated with every other atom.”

Not only does that sound like the slogan of the Social Justice Warrior governments and other institutions that have, in recent decades, plagued what used to be known as Western civilization, but, more important, it sounds like the agenda for the society that will exist under the Antichrist just prior to the return to Earth of the true Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Benjamin Creme was heavily deceived, and was used by the powers of darkness to deceive others. The cream may rise to the top, but Mr. Creme will sink to the bottom.

HT: Dracul Van Helsing, TradCatKnight

Monday, October 31, 2016

100 years ago: The death of Charles Taze Russell

On October 31, 1916, Charles Taze Russell died at the age of 64. Mr. Russell founded the Bible Student movement in the 1870s, and Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society in 1881. The latter became known as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in 1886, and the headquarters moved to Brooklyn, New York in 1908. Mr. Russell's theology was a mixture of truth and error, with the errors being serious enough to constitute heresy from the perspective of Biblical Christian doctrine. For instance, Mr. Russell believed that Jesus received His divinity after dying on the cross; taught that the Holy Spirit is not a person, but merely a manifestation of God's power; that Christ had begun ruling the world invisibly in 1874 and that the "Times of the Gentiles" would end in 1914, and Christ would visibly take control of Earth's affairs at that time.

Mr. Russell died of cystitis while returning home to Brooklyn from a tour of western and southwestern states. His death resulted in a dispute over the presidency and a split among Mr. Russell's followers; Joseph F. Rutherford was elected president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in January 1917 and held the position until his death in 1942, adopting the name Jehovah's Witnesses for the organization in 1931.

I haven't time or space here to go into the numerous errors of Jehovah's Witnesses. For information on Jehovah's Witnesses from a Christian perspective, I recommend the site of MacGregor Ministries. The book Witnesses of Jehovah (1988) by Leonard & Marjorie Chretien is written by Jehovah's Witnesses who came to saving faith in Jesus Christ. There is also a documentary film of the same name; I have a VHS copy, but I don't know if it's available in DVD. The Cult Explosion (1980) by Dave Hunt contains an interview with a former member of Jehovah's Witnesses, with an insider's fascinating information on life at headquarters in Brooklyn (known as "Bethel" within the organization). The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses (1984) by Gary Botting and Apocalypse Delayed (1984) by James Penton are exposes by members of the organization, but are not written from a Christian perspective.

Texas mother sets an inspiring example as her baby is removed from her uterus in order to have life-saving surgery

Kudos to this mother for not only wanting to save her baby's life, but for being diligent enough to seek more than one medical opinion. As reported by Reuters, October 25, 2016:

When Margaret Boemer went for an ultrasound pregnancy checkup, she was told that her baby had a rare condition and would require surgery if she were to survive.

“16 weeks being pregnant I found out that our baby had a sacrococcygeal teratoma,” Boemer said.

The condition is a form of malignant tumor that forms at the base of a baby’s tailbone, which can be life-threatening.

“LynLee didn’t have much of a chance, you have a 50/50 chance of making it and the tumour was so big. I was coming for regular checkups and by the time at 23 weeks the tumour was shutting her heart down and causing her to go into cardiac failure,” Boemer said.

While other doctors at different hospitals recommended termination of the pregnancy, Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, pediatric surgeon and co-director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center and Dr. Darrell Cass, explained the surgery option, having performed one seven years ago.

“If we didn’t choose the option of surgery that night within a day or two she would pass,” Boemer said.

“So it was a choice of allowing the tumour to take over her body or giving her a chance at life and so that’s what we chose to give her a chance.”

At 23 weeks in her pregnancy, Boemer had her baby surgically removed from her womb and the tumour taken out. The baby was then returned to her mother’s womb and Boemer remained on bed rest for 12 weeks, before delivering her baby via C-section at week 36.

LynLee was whisked away and examined by the doctors as soon as she was born. She was deemed healthy and was placed in the nursery with the other newborns.

At eight days old, LynLee had another minor surgery to remove the bits of tumour that could not be reached earlier.

“She had more surgery and they were able to remove the rest of the tumour and kind of reconstruct how things looked and moved her muscles around and everything to fill in where the tumour was,” Boemer said.

LynLee was seen with her parents on Oct. 21 nursing and being weighed on.

“How exciting it is that she’s made it through and not only made it through but done so well,” Boemer said. “It’ll be exciting to see how she grows up and what she does,” she added.

Lynlee recovered in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and was able to go home just weeks after her surgery. The family, from Lewisville, Texas, is now enjoying life at home as a family of five and they come to Texas Children’s for checkups as Lynlee grows, the hospital said in a statement.

Hospital officials say the type of tumour LynLee had occurs in one of only 40,000 pregnancies. Its cause is unknown but baby girls are affected four times more often than boys.

HT: Will Morrow

Interview on Dr. Phil leads to increased charges against teacher who had sex with student

...and be sure your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:23b

Confession may be good for the soul, but not for the reputation--or the criminal record. As reported by Chris Jancelewicz of Global News, October 28, 2016:

Dr. Phil McGraw has been on a roll lately.

Not only did he secure the first interviews with JonBenét Ramsey’s brother and Steven Avery’s fiancée, but one of his recent sit-downs has resulted in increased charges for a teacher who admitted to having sex with her 17-year-old student.

Mary Beth Haglin, 24, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was initially charged last July with sexually assaulting a minor after turning herself in. The crime is viewed as an aggravated misdemeanour in the U.S., and carries a maximum prison sentence of two years. She pleaded not guilty.

But Haglin admitted further details on Dr. Phil, including that she had sex with the unidentified student “almost daily” while working as a supply teacher — she later specified “hundreds of times” over the course of six months — and claimed that she was the victim in the relationship, not the perpetrator. Haglin says that his love letters and text messages seduced her, even though she frequently sent him sexually suggestive selfies.

“He did so with such intelligence and such an elevated vocabulary that I was completely duped by the whole facade,” she said to Dr. Phil. “He caught me in my weakest moments, and he used that to his advantage. We had sex — almost daily — in his car, my car, his mom’s house, and his dad’s house. When things got way out of control, and I wanted out, he began saying ‘I will light a match and burn your life down.'”

“Many people see him as the victim and me as the perpetrator,” she continued. “From a psychological standpoint and from every other standpoint, I feel like I am the victim.”

Dr. Phil retorted bluntly, “You have got to be dumber than a box of rocks to share naked pictures with a 17-year-old boy.”

Haglin claimed that she was too afraid to end the relationship for fear of being exposed, but it stopped abruptly when another student caught them together.

Iowa prosecutors happened to catch the Dr. Phil episode, and are now upping the charge against Haglin, who now faces up to five years in jail.

“The defendant has participated in a series of public interviews in which she admitted engaging in a pattern or practice of sexual conduct with a student while employed as a teacher at Washington High School, which supports the more serious felony offence,” a motion filed by the Linn County Attorney’s Office said.

After being fired from teaching, Haglin went on to become a stripper under the name “Bambi.”

She will be arraigned on the new charges on Nov. 4.


HT: Will Morrow

Subaru practices censorship with its car radios

If I hear something on my car radio I don't like, I want to make the choice to turn it off or switch to something else, not have the car manufacturer make that choice. If car manufacturers censor certain words, how far can they be from creating technology that puts those words together and ends up censoring ideas? From a column by Lorraine Sommerfeld in the Postmedia newspaper supplement Driving, October 31, 2016 (link in original):

...Speaking of that radio, a colleague recently brought a Subaru bugaboo to my attention. Subaru is now your raunchy radio censor. If Howard Stern and other adultish talk radio is your groove, rest assured that each time you turn the car off, it will helpfully reset the radio to the preview station to protect any youngsters that may be joining you on your next outing. That’s right: The manufacturer has hardwired a non-overridable command into its Legacy and Outback models that protects you from all the bad words. Talk about annoying.

While Subaru is thinking about the toddlers, other manufacturers are more concerned about the teens. Teen nanny systems – preset radio levels, no radio until seatbelts are done up, speed governors, software to trace where your kid has driven – are all big selling points to owners of teens. My sons have aged out of this sector but I spent years being targeted by carmakers who thought I would love these ideas. I don’t. If I don’t trust my kids, I don’t give them the keys. To monitor their every move is not beneficial, and merely delays people (and yes, teens are people) taking responsibility for their actions. Am I the only one who feels manipulated by auto manufacturers who raced to include ridiculous amounts of distracting technology in cars, only to have them turn around and propose yet more systems that will now protect me from what they introduced in the first place?...

Friday, October 28, 2016

50 years ago: Roman Catholic leaders in Canada relax the ban on eating meat on Friday

Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Mark 7:7 (citing Isaiah 29:13)

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules:
“Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”?
These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings.
Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Colossians 2:20-23 (NIV)

Submitted for your approval, for those who aren't aware or have forgotten, this little item that serves as a reminder that Roman Catholicism is manmade religion that can be changed on the whim of the leaders. As reported by Canadian Press and published in The Edmonton Journal, October 15, 1966:

Ottawa--Canadian Roman Catholics still observing meatless Fridays have been released from the church ban in a general relaxation of penitential discipline.

The new voluntary code went into effect at 2 P.M. Edmonton time Friday.

Children, the aging, the ailing and those who carry their lunch to work had been released from the rule in earlier years. But for other adult Roman Catholics, eating meat on Friday was a mild sin.

Although it eliminates rigid rules on fastings and abstinence, the directive from the Canadian church hierarchy said pentential observance should be continued on Fridays and during Lent. Lent Fridays are particularly important.

Archbishop Philip Pocock of Toronto told a press conference that Catholics, in following their individual conscience, must not go too far on penance relaxation.

"Someone who never does penance in the Lenten season, for example, would be sinful," he said.

The changes are in line with Vatican decisions last year that authorized bishops in each country to set their own fast and abstinence rules.
Roman Catholic bishops in the United States followed suit on November 18, 1966.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Alberta government orders closure of Christian home schooling association amid allegations of financial impropriety

I don't know which side is telling the truth, but it's an item in the news.

As reported by Lucie Edwardson of Metro News, October 25, 2016 (links in original):

An Alberta home-schooling association has been ousted for allegedly pocketing nearly $1 million taxpayer dollars from Alberta Education that was meant to fund the education of thousands of students.

According to the ministry of education, Trinity Christian School Association is suspected siphoning government funds for years.

Effective immediately, the ministry has cancelled their registration and accreditation as a private school operator.

Minister of Education David Eggen said the decision to close the school comes after an audit of Trinity’s financials, which found numerous issues and determined that public funding was directed to a third party, Wisdom Home Schooling Society.

“The decision to cancel accreditation and registration from Trinity Christian School Association was made out of respect for taxpayers and the many families who entrusted this school to properly account for the funding granted for the purposes of their children’s education,” Eggen said.

Alberta Education said they will provide the findings of their review to both the Canada Revenue Agency and the RCMP to allow them to determine if further investigation is warranted.

According to Alberta Education, issues include conflict of interest involving senior management and related-party transactions, including terms of employment contracts and terms of leases with related parties.

They said inappropriate expenses were also found for things not limited to babysitting, funeral expenses and “double dipping” of mileage.

The financial audit also found that Wisdom — who is not the grant recipient — had retained $988,000 in “unclaimed parent funding” for the last three years.

“Our government is committed to supporting Alberta’s students and to ensuring that as much public funding as possible is being directed to the classroom, whether that classroom is in a home or in a bricks-and-mortar school,” Eggen said.

Alberta Education said they have also determined that Trinity hasn’t demonstrated appropriate accountability for the supervision of its home-education program or for public funds.

They said this is due to issues including the transfer of responsibility and supervision of their home-education program and accountability for government funding to Wisdom Home Schooling Society of Alberta.

Wisdom responded directly to many of the allegations on its website.

It claims that it has always overseen Trinity's operations for 21 years, that it has undergone routine financial audits, and that it retained the $988,000 in unclaimed funding because it is supposed to hold onto those funds as per Alberta Education mandates.

There are currently 13 in-school students and almost 3,500 home-education students registered with TCSA for the current school year.

Alberta Education said their staff will be made available to help students register in an alternative public or private school.

Further information for affected families is available on Alberta Education’s website.
As reported by Lucie Edwardson of Metro News, October 26, 2016 (bold in original, links inserted by blogger):

The principal and superintendent of an Alberta school association that was stripped of their registration and accreditation Tuesday said they were blindsided by the closure.

Richard Scheinbein, principal and superintendent of the Trinity Christian School Association which was shut down by Alberta Education due to alleged “financial impropriety,” was shocked by the ministry’s decision.

The comment comes after a government review alleges that nearly $1 million in funds supposed to be returned to parents is apparently listed as revenue for Wisdom Home Schooling Society, which is contracted by Trinity to run their home-education program.

“To tell you the truth I don’t know what’s going on—if we have an enemy there or not—but for the last 10-15 years, every year we’ve had this kind of stuff, and every year it passes,” Scheinbein said.

Education Minister David Eggen announced the decision to close the school citing a financial review of the last three years.

“These are very concerning financial practices,” Eggen said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference in Edmonton.

According to Alberta Education, 3,500 of the 11,000 home-educated students in the province were registered to TCSA’s home-schooling program with Wisdom—which has no legal relationship with the ministry. An additional 13 students attend Trinity in a classroom setting.

“The scale is quite large,” said Eggen.

Family ties

The minister said familial relationships within the school and positions of power were also concerning.

According to the websites of both Trinity and Wisdom, members of the Noster and Bekolay families serve on both boards and are also employed by Wisdom.

The websites indicate that husband and wife Kenneth and Marlane Noster are on the Wisdom board, while Kenneth sits on both boards.

Their son, Saul Noster, is listed as Wisdom’s financial services administrator since 2012.

Metro tried various methods to reach the aforementioned members of the Noster family, but no calls were returned by print deadline.

Audit documents provided by Alberta Education show that Trinity and Wisdom spent approximately 32 per cent of expenses on payments and administration compared to 3.4 to 5.6 per cent range in public school boards.

Although names have been redacted, the document indicated the majority of administration salaries went to members of two families—with total compensation to all members of the two families exceeding $2.76 million over three years.

The audit

Eggen said the review of Trinity financials took place after the school got a new auditor who raised red flags with the ministry.

The minister said through the audit it became obvious that money wasn’t being spent efficiently and that third party contractor—Wisdom—was handling most of the money.

Eggen said their review found inappropriate leases between Trinity and Wisdom, where they were leasing their own properties to themselves at 10 times the market rate, as well as spending money on alcohol, parties and gift-certificates.

“There’s a whole long litany of improprieties,” Eggen said. “They weren’t doing bank reconciliations on a monthly basis—which is the most basic thing you need to do to ensure transparency—so we felt a call to act.”

The audit also noted that in reviewing Trinity and Wisdom’s records they found Trinity’s practices were inconsistent with legislation.

The 13 certificated teachers referred by Wisdom as ‘facilitators’ are paid by Wisdom as independent contractors and aren’t employees at either organization— and Trinity didn’t pay any of the home education facilitators in the periods under review, according to the audit.

Further, the one certified teacher paid by Trinity for the 13 in-school students has no employment contract—all of which goes against the School Act, according to the government.

Wisdom parents question government motives for closure

Members of the Wisdom Home Schooling Society’s parent advisory council said not even Wisdom saw the closure of Trinity Christian School Association coming.

Susanne and David Knoch said they were waiting to hear from Alberta Education at a telephone conference town hall, Tuesday evening, about the closure before making any decisions.

“It’s a total shock. It’s an absolute shock. This is like a sideswipe, not even Wisdom saw it coming,” said David.

But, the couple said they question the government’s objectives.

“We know the NDP government hasn’t been especially welcoming—we’ve just questioned their motives,” said Susanne, when asked if she was referring to Bill 10.

They said throughout the audit Wisdom has fully cooperated with the government.

“The Alberta government has been speaking very favourably to Wisdom,” said Susanne. “Wisdom has been so cooperative, they’ve responded to all their demands, and the government even said thank you.”

She added that the closure of the school in this fashion is “just so unethical based on what the communication has been up until now.”
And Wisdom's response:

WISDOM Shutdown - Statement

WISDOM ALERT
October 25, 2016

Dear Parents,

WISDOM/Trinity has been shut down by AB Education. They announced this with a press release filled with partial truths amounting to calumny.

You are being told to give notification to another school for this year, but we are encouraging you not to do anything yet. Over the next few days the WISDOM Parent Advisory Council will communicate suggestions regarding your options.

Here is a brief overview of the AB Education allegations and our responses.

AB Education has shut down our school. They make untrue claims:

Trinity Christian School has neglected to adequately supervise home schooling.

Response: WISDOM has been Trinity’s home education administration for 21 years. In fact, in 1997 AB Education mandated the establishment of WISDOM Home Schooling Society. Through its WISDOM office, Trinity has administrated home schooling in an exemplary manner.

Alberta Education will be providing the findings of its review to both Canada Revenue Agency and the RCMP so those agencies can determine whether further investigation is warranted….

Response: There has been a transparent financial audit of Trinity/WISDOM every year, and AB Education has conducted many additional audits. Every income and expense is meticulously recorded and accounted for.

The review also uncovered that Wisdom – which is not the grant recipient – had retained $988,000 in unclaimed parent funding over the past three years.

Response: AB Education mandates that unclaimed funding stay with the school. Since WISDOM is Trinity’s home education administration, it is logical that WISDOM retained unspent funds and used them on home education programing.

Alberta Education also determined that Trinity has not demonstrated sufficient accountability for the supervision of its home-education program or for public funds, including transferring its responsibility for supervision of its home-education program — and accountability for government funding — to Wisdom Home Schooling Society of Alberta.

Response: AB Education has arbitrarily determined that the work of WISDOM is not the work of Trinity. All allegations are based upon this false assumption.
October 28, 2016 update: As reported by Lucie Edwardson of Metro News, October 27, 2016 (bold, link in original):

A review into a Christian school board by the Alberta government shows that a “hard deadline,” set by a third-party for parents to request unused government funds be carried over to the following year goes against the School Act.

Alberta education says this resulted in nearly $1 million in funds not returned to parents.

Education Minister David Eggen shut down Trinity Christian School Association, in northern Alberta, and Wisdom Homeschooling Tuesday due to alleged “financial impropriety."

They catered to 3,500 home-schooled students across the province and 13 students in a classroom setting.

Metro reached out Wednesday to employees at both Trinity and Wisdom, and only one responded. Jim Burgess of Wisdom’s financial services said little but that they are considering legal action.

On Tuesday, Metro spoke with Trinity principal Richard Scheinbein who said they’d submitted financial reports to Alberta Education annually with no issues.

According to the review released Tuesday, Wisdom’s policy is that unused monies from the parent portion of the government grant will only be carried to the next year if a form requesting the carry over is received by the set deadline of June 30.

“Otherwise it will end up in the general revenue of Wisdom and unavailable for parents the following year. Any late forms received are not accepted as this is a hard deadline” reads the report.

Metro confirmed this was Wisdom’s policy as it is on their website, also indicating this deadline is imposed by Alberta Education.

“In fact, this deadline is an in-house deadline and is not based on provincial legislation, regulation or policy,” said the report.

Eggen said Tuesday another concern raised during the review of Trinity and Wisdom was inappropriate leases.

According to the report, although a lease with Living Water Arts Foundation – which was founded by Wisdom founders Kenneth and Marlane Noster— was considered a reasonable rate, questions were raised as to why Wisdom paid an annual lease plus utilities for a facility that isn’t used all year.

Again, Metro reached out to the Noster family and calls were not returned.

The facility was constructed using government grants paid to Trinity (approximately $0.5M), then reportedly sold ‘by’ Trinity at a loss, to Living Water only to be leased back to Wisdom, said the report.

Further, the report indicates that Trinity’s audited financial statements are inconsistent with facts about the sale of the land.

The financial statements said the sale occurred in 2006-07, yet not transfer of land happened until 2008, was only for $1 and was never owned by Trinity, but the Noster family.

Petition demands reinstatement of Trinity accreditation

A change.org petition has been launched by supporters of Trinity Christian School Association – and third party Wisdom Homeschooling – saying they’re “under attack” and demanding their reinstatement, after their accreditation was taken away Tuesday by Alberta’s education ministry.

The petition, created by Adam Soos, calls the actions of Education Minister David Eggen and his ministry “reckless” and says they “undermined the education of some 3,500 Albertan home-schooled students.”

The petition, which set a goal of 1,500 signatures had been signed 1,195 times and includes signatures from Wisdom's financial services head, Saul Noster who also made social media posts about the issue Wednesday with #WeStandWithWisdom.

Hundreds of people have commented on the petition calling Eggen’s decision anti-Christian.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Eggen. “We know that the various education providers in our province include the separate school system with private schools and home schooling, and when everything is moving as it should it’s a very high quality of education.”
As reported by Lucie Edwardson of Metro News, October 27, 2016 (links in original):

Parents who have used the northern Alberta home-education company Wisdom Homeschooling Society are coming to their defence using social media and a petition.

Education Minister David Eggen shut down Trinity Christian School Association, in northern Alberta, and Wisdom Homeschooling Tuesday due to alleged “financial impropriety."

They catered to 3,500 home-schooled students across the province and 13 students in a classroom setting.

Allegations against Trinity/Wisdom from Alberta’s education ministry include that Wisdom created a false fee deadline that’s in conflict with the School Act. The deadline required parents to fill out a form before the deadline to get reimbursed.

As a result, Alberta Education said in nearly $1 million was not returned to parents.

Despite these allegations, many supporters are calling the move by the NDP unfair and anti-Christian.

Metro reported Wednesday about the petition launched to have the accreditation reinstated and the #WeStandWithWisdom social media hashtag being used by supporters.

Brian Holdsworth took to Facebook to post an email he sent to Minister of Education David Eggen following the decision, Tuesday. Holdsworth argued the ministry wouldn’t have taken “such heavy-handed action” had Trinity/Wisdom been a “conventional school board.”

“If a superintendent was caught making accounting errors (or at worst corrupt kickbacks), you wouldn’t close down the school board in the middle of a semester,” he wrote. “You’d pressure the superintendent to resign and get the organization running properly.”

Holdsworth said there should be “some kind of due process,” and the allegations should be investigated and the accused should have an opportunity to make a legal defence .

Another parent, Shayne Neal, wrote a blog post about the ordeal titled: How can someone care so little about our youth?

In the post, he lays out a number of his concerns, and stated that although Alberta Education has encouraged parents to register their kids with another accredited school board, he will not.

“As I am concerned I can just send my paperwork into Education Minister David Eggen since he closed down the school that was allowed to accept it for the past 21 years,” he wrote.

On Wednesday Eggen again reiterated that parents should take this step so that they are able to get the funding meant for their child.

Trinity/Wisdom released a statement Thursday saying they will be retaining legal counsel to fight the claims made by Alberta Education.

The message also said the association will continue to advise parents of further developments and deny the accusation of misappropriating funds from Alberta Education.

“WISDOM's holding of funds on behalf of Trinity is neither illegal nor deceptive, a fact that is expected to be substantiated by the Courts in the days ahead.”
As reported by Josie Lukey of Metro News, October 27, 2016:

The Alberta school association at the centre of allegations by Alberta Education of financial impropriety will fight the loss of accreditation through legal channels.

On Tuesday, Alberta Education Minister David Eggen stripped the Trinity Christian School Assocation in northern Alberta, of its license and accreditation after a review that looked at the association for three years was released outlining areas of concern in the board's financial reporting.

According to a message to parents posted on Trinity’s website, they will be retaining legal counsel to fight the claims made by Alberta Education.

“Trinity and WISDOM remain committed to the provision of education in the province of Alberta and hope to be in a position to resume operations soon,” the statement read.

The message also said the association will continue to advise parents of further developments and deny the accusation of misappropriating funds from Alberta Education.

“WISDOM's holding of funds on behalf of Trinity is neither illegal nor deceptive, a fact that is expected to be substantiated by the Courts in the days ahead.”
November 8, 2016 update: As reported by Svjetlana Mlinarevic of the Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune, November 5, 2016:

A small Cold Lake private school and society overseeing a third of Alberta’s home-schooled students will reopen Monday after a judge temporarily set aside the government’s move to cancel their accreditation.

Grande Prairie Court of Queen’s Bench Justice E. J. Simpson granted a temporary injunction Friday that allows Trinity Christian School Association and its contractor, Wisdom Home Schooling, to oversee students’ education until a hearing on Jan. 5. The education minister revoked Trinity’s accreditation Oct. 25, alleging financial mismanagement.

Simpson also ruled Alberta Education can withhold funding from Trinity while it operates for the next six weeks.

“I’m very pleased with the decision. It reinstates the status quo, with the exception of funding, and it ensures that the parents and the students who have been tremendously disrupted by this ill-considered decision will continue to have a school to go to until Jan. 5 at the least,” said Jay Cameron, Trinity’s lawyer.

The ruling is not a final decision on the merits of the case, Alberta’s Education Minister David Eggen said in a Friday afternoon statement.

“We stand behind the actions that we have taken to date based on the evidence made public in the audit,” Eggen wrote.

An investigation by the education ministry alleged that during the last three years, Wisdom had misused public education dollars on alcohol, gifts, gift cards, parties, babysitting costs, and funeral expenses.

Almost all the money given to Trinity was redirected to Wisdom, where alleged financial irregularities included lavish per diems, double dipping on mileage and travel expenses, and employment contracts to family members.

The province also contends Wisdom improperly held back $988,000 in grant money that should have flowed to parents for home-schooling costs.

The government reported its findings to RCMP and the Canada Revenue Agency.

Although contracting out home-schooling services is legal, Eggen has said it leaves school authorities vulnerable to misconduct.

Trinity and Wisdom refute all allegations of financial impropriety.

The judge said his move to temporarily restore accreditation was to allow children to continue with their education until the Christmas break. Simpson said Trinity will have to re-state its case to stay open after January, when court will hear arguments about Trinity’s alleged misuse of funds.

The judge also ordered Trinity to turn over the records of 160 students who have enrolled with a new school or school board.

In a statement, Trinity Christian School/Wisdom Home Schooling said it is grateful for the interim ruling.

“Alberta Education’s imposition of the closure upon the families of 3,500 students, without due process, has been overturned today by due process. The rights of parents, upheld by the Canadian Charter, have been upheld by the Court of Queen’s Bench,” the statement said.

In his arguments, Cameron told the judge the government’s move to yank accreditation was “ill-considered, draconian, unlawful, in bad faith, as well as being extremely rude and inconsiderate to the parents and the children of this province.”

He also said government had done irreparable harm to Trinity’s reputation.

In their application for an injunction, Trinity and Wisdom said people from Alberta Education showed up at the 13-pupil school in Cold Lake Oct. 25, refused to identify themselves to teachers and parents, “accosted” students by demanding their names and handing them letters.

Some home-schooling parents objected to being informed of the shutdown by robocalls, and being suddenly told to register their children with another school.

Parents can continue to home school their children while they look for a new place to enrol their children, the ministry has said. There are 45 other public and private schools and districts in Alberta that accept home schooled students.

The judge requested the next court date be held in Cold Lake or Edmonton.
As reported by Dean Bennett of Canadian Press, November 7, 2016:

EDMONTON — The Alberta government says it will continue to cover the costs of textbooks and other incidentals for thousands of home-schooled students caught in the middle of a funding fight.

A spokesman for Education Minister David Eggen says parents who are having their children home-schooled through the Trinity Christian School Association can soon send their receipts to the government for reimbursement.

Parents of home-schooled children can get slightly more than $800 reimbursed a year for items such as textbooks.

"We're setting up a process where in the interim at least they can go directly through Alberta Education for that funding," spokesman Jeremy Nolais said in an interview Monday.

Nolais said the department will have the reimbursement plan running this week or next.

The province is currently embroiled in a court fight with Trinity, which had been receiving more than $5 million a year from the province to oversee 3,500 home-schooled students along with 13 others being taught in a school in Cold Lake.

That's about one-third of all home-schooled children in the province...

...Each home-schooled student in Alberta receives $1,670 a year to be distributed by the agency that oversees the education, which in this case would be Trinity.

Half of that $1,670 is to go to parents for textbooks and other education-related expenses, while the rest goes for administration and oversight.

Nolais confirmed the other half of that $1,670, which normally goes to Trinity, will not be paid.

Ken Noster, an associate principal at Trinity and the administrator of Wisdom, could not be reached for comment.

The province is urging parents with Trinity to get their students signed up with other boards. Nolais said so far about 135 students have done so.

During question period in the legislature Monday, Opposition Wildrose member Angela Pitt said the government has handled the situation poorly and families are paying the price.

"The minister and this NDP government need to start thinking more about the human impact their heavy-handed governance has on everyday Albertans," Pitt told the house.

Eggen closed Trinity based on the audit, which said the senior ranks of both Trinity and Wisdom were essentially made up of two families. It said those families, whose names were not made public, received $2.8 million in compensation over the last three years.

It also said that almost all the money given to Trinity was redirected to Wisdom, where multiple financial irregularities included lavish per diems, double dipping on mileage and travel expenses, and employment contracts to other family members.

It said taxpayer money was used for alcohol, gifts, gift cards, pizza, parties, babysitting costs and funeral expenses.

The report stated that over the last three years, Wisdom improperly held back $988,000 that was to go to parents for home-schooling.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

New York exhibit shows diversity of medieval Jerusalem

As reported by Milene Fernandez of The Epoch Times, September 29, 2016 (updated October 3, 2016) (bold, links in original):

NEW YORK—If asked to pick the most culturally diverse and tolerant city in the world today, you might think of Amsterdam, London, Paris, São Paulo, or New York City. But in medieval times, Jerusalem would have readily come to mind.

Beginning at around the year 1000, thousands of people from as far as Iceland and India ventured toward Jerusalem to trade and make a profit and to receive artistic or divine inspiration. The phenomenon of “Jerusalem fever,” as it was described at the time, gripped and tugged merchants, artisans, scholars, and pilgrims of various faiths to a city that is just about the size of Midtown Manhattan.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art attempts to capture this medieval cosmopolitan fever with Jerusalem 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven. The exhibition opened on Sept. 26 and is running until Jan. 8, 2017, along with a variety of educational programs, tours, live concerts, and a series of talks.

The Met selected more than 200 objects from 60 lenders from around the world—including treasures that had never been loaned before. About one-fourth came directly from Jerusalem.

The planning for the exhibition began about six years ago. Curators Barbara Drake Boehm and Melanie Holcomb explained: “At the time, our thought was that everyone focuses on the biblical Jerusalem or on the present-day city, but there had not been much attention paid to medieval Jerusalem. Because medieval art is our specialty, we felt this was a topic that we could and should study.”

The exhibition is organized thematically into six sections: trade, diversity, religion, war, patrons, and the concept of Jerusalem as a city situated at the gates of heaven, according to the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Tying it to the present, it also includes videos giving glimpses of people today reflecting on Jerusalem’s legacy.

The scope and ambition of Jerusalem 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven, as the title implies, is overwhelming and warrants repeat visits. Perhaps the museum’s decision to take on this epic feat stemmed from a desire to dispel the public’s general tendency to immediately associate Jerusalem with adversity, and to remind us of a Jerusalem that embodied a more generous spirit of tolerance and coexistence, amid its incredible complexity.

“When people plan a trip to Jerusalem—and likely to our exhibition—they have an expectation of what they will see based on their own background. We hope that visitors who come to our show will find not only what they expected but also things they could not have imagined,” Boehm and Holcomb wrote in an email.

The following are snippets of just a few of the many fascinating pieces in the exhibition, which includes illuminations, devotional objects, architectural elements, weapons, ceramics, glassworks, textiles, and jewelry. They each give some insight into what Jerusalem once was, with threads of influence still palpable today.

Exhibition Highlights

Upon entering the exhibition, next to a heap of gold coins at the very center, are three astrolabes that were created on the Iberian Peninsula with inscriptions in three languages: Arabic, Latin, and Judeo-Arabic (Arabic written in a Hebrew script). The practical objects, showing a beautiful sense of precision, were used to answer questions related to time, geography, and the position of the stars. Jerusalem is inscribed on all three, “raising questions about the owners’ relationship to the city: was it a focus of business travel, pilgrimage, or religious devotion from afar?” the Met’s description reads.

An English monk, Matthew Paris, who never set foot in Jerusalem, created a map detailing a vivid journey to the Holy Land entirely from his imagination. It serves as a little testament to the grand fascination with Jerusalem. In the map, the monk depicted the port of Acre, a frequent place of arrival for European Christian pilgrims; the city of Tyre, famous for its glassware; and Mount Ararat in Armenia, where Noah’s Ark was believed to have landed, among numerous other intriguing landmarks.

Exquisite, opulent 14th-century Jewish wedding rings from Germany’s Rhine Valley were made in the form of miniature buildings, symbolizing the lost Temple of Jerusalem. The Met’s description explains that they were probably used only during the ceremony, since Jewish law stipulates that wedding rings should be unadorned, but played a vital role in the remembrance of a lost temple that perhaps holds a stronger presence in people’s minds than if it were physically present.

Other objects indicate how significantly charged Jerusalem became as a location to be fought over. A knight of the d’Aluye family, a crusader whose mission was to reclaim the Holy Land for European Christians, chose to be remembered as a warrior. The sculpted figure representing him has a sword that does not match his armor but is typical Chinese weaponry. Perhaps he purchased it from a market in Jerusalem or acquired it in battle. A page from “Saladin’s Treatise on Armor” shows an exquisitely detailed gilded drawing of a shield and concealed crossbow, a weapon intended to bring an end to European control of Jerusalem.

In contrast, Christian Gospel books in Arabic, Greek, Armenian, and Syriac, a Samaritan Bible in a distinctive Hebrew script, and the biblical book of Kings in Ge’ez, an ancient language of Ethiopia, given by that land’s king to his community in Jerusalem, show the incredible spiritual richness at times of greater tolerance in the city.

Voices of Jerusalem Today

A total of 10 videos distributed throughout each section of the exhibition show a range of stories from modern pilgrims to scholars to simply travelers.

These videos remind us that Jerusalem is as spiritually vibrant, varied, and complex today as ever.

A textile merchant from Kurdistan describes the striped fabrics he sells to Arabs, the black-and-white vestments he sells to Christian priests, and the embroidered brocade robes he sells to Jewish rabbis.

A scholar in search of Jerusalem’s hidden archives talks about different people preserving the memory of others, of texts translated into various languages. “I think there was much more interaction than we appreciate today. Instead of focusing on the history of Jerusalem as a sequence of wars, it would be more about the exchange—cultural exchange—the debate. It’s fine not to agree but they were talking to each other,” said Merav Mack, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an authority on the libraries and archives of Jerusalem.



A professor of philosophy and Islamic studies at al-Quds University, Mustafa Abu Sway, summed up Jerusalem quite well, not only as a city but also as a place of hope. He said: “There are traders, there are businesses, there are people, families who live here in the Old City. But mostly, Jerusalem is a place of spirituality. Not only al-Aqsa Mosque is there when you enter Lion’s Gate, but all these churches that line up north of the alley. And it’s basically this beautiful mosaic of the whole city. Through which gate you enter, it’s a different experience. And I still find it mesmerizing. It’s poetic.”

Catalog-Related Programs

A lavishly illustrated catalog by more than 50 scholars from the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, suitable for specialists and general readers alike, is available at The Met Store (hardcover, $75)...
Click on the links below to see pictures of some of the works exhibited:

View of Jerusalem

The Archangel Israfil

The Book of Divine Service

The Prophet Isaiah at the Walls of Jerusalem

Map of the Holy Land

Jewish wedding ring

Chasse of Ambazac

Goblet of Charlemagne

The Saint Matthew Capital

A Knight of the d'Aluye Family

Saladin's Treatise on Armor

Gospel Book

The Entry into Jerusalem

Mosque Lamp of Sultan Barquq

Reliquary of St. Anastasios

Bottle with Christian Scenes

Incense box

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Toyota unveils tiny robot friends for lonely people

There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.
Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
Ecclesiastes 4:8-11

You can always trust the Japanese to come up with something like this--as reported by Yuri Kageyama of The Associated Press, October 3, 2016:

TOKYO - The new robot from Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. can't do much but chatter in a high-pitched voice.

The ¥39,800 ($390), 10-centimetre-tall, doll-like Kirobo Mini - whose name comes from "kibo," or "hope," and "robot" - supposedly has the smarts of a 5-year-old.

Fuminori Kataoka, general manager in charge of the project, says its value is emotional, going from home to car to the outdoors as a faithful companion, although the owner must do all the walking and driving.

Preorders start later this year. Shipments are set for next year. No overseas sales are planned so far. The company said it planned a gradual rollout, initially limited to Tokyo and Aichi prefecture in central Japan, near company headquarters, to get feedback from consumers.

It comes equipped with a camera, microphone and Bluetooth, and connects to a smartphone, which needs to be installed with a special software application. It turns its head toward a voice, although sometimes that function fails as its voice recognition is far from perfect.

"Toyota has been making cars that have a lot of valuable uses. But this time we're just pushing emotional value," Kataoka said.

During an interview with The Associated Press, the robot turned its head to the reporter and then to Kataoka when he replied. But the first time Kataoka asked the robot for its name, it replied by asking what kind of car he had. It got it right the second time. Kataoka just laughed.

The robot is not equipped with face recognition technology, and so it cannot recognize different people. The idea is one Kiribo Mini per person, according to Toyota.

More people in Japan are living alone, including the elderly and young singles. And they need someone, or in this case something, to talk to, Kataoka said.

But he was amazingly frank about how useless his robot is.

"This is not smart enough to be called artificial intelligence," he said. "This is about the existence of something you can talk to. A stuffed animal might not answer back, but people do talk to it, like my daughter once did this. But if it talked back, wouldn't that be better? And isn't this better than talking to a box?"

Some may find depressing, if not disturbing, a vision of a society of lonely people turning to dialogue with machines. But proponents say that's the reality, and that the technology can serve as a tool to help care for the sick or the elderly.

Naoki Mizushina, researcher at Tokyo-based MM Research Institute, which studies the robotics market, said the robot was too much like talking toys, on sale at cheaper prices, and it seemed to lack concrete functions to make it a big hit, such as linking to online shopping or furnishing convenient information.

"Will this take off? It might be tough," he said.

But those who like gadgets - and there are quite a few in Japan - may want one. Toyota declined to say how many it planned to ready for preorder, or how many it planned to sell in the first year.

Toyota remains skeptical about how a partner robot would fare abroad, although it remained open to assessing such interest.

The idea of companion robots is already widely accepted in Japan.

Japanese technology and telecom company Softbank Corp. began selling its ¥198,000 ($1,960) Pepper humanoid last year. The first batch of 1,000 sold out immediately, and it has sold 10,000 in Japan so far.

Robo Garage, headed by robot designer Tomotaka Takahashi, has brought an array of Kirobo lookalikes, many with more sophisticated functions at higher prices, including Robi, which must be assembled.

Kataoka is hopeful Kirobo will be able to avoid the fate of the Aibo dog-shaped robot from Sony Corp., which was discontinued in 2006, despite outcries from fans. He cited advances in technology, such as cloud-based upgrades.

Robotics is widely used in auto-assembly plants. Toyota has shown other human-shaped robots before, although this is the first being offered to consumers.

Honda Motor Co., another Japanese automaker, makes Asimo, a humanoid, which can run, pick up objects and talk.

Artificial intelligence is increasingly a part of the auto industry in another critical way - self-driving vehicles. Vehicles are also increasingly connected online.

Toyota, which manufactures the Prius hybrid, Camry sedan and Lexus luxury models, remained vague about how Kiribo Mini might work with its autos, an obvious application.

The only examples it gave were that it might say, "Oh, oh, oh, oh. Be careful" when it detects sudden braking, or chirp, "Let's take a break" when the drive gets long.
I disagree with Mr. Kataoka. I'll take teddy bears; they're a lot cheaper, and I regard their inability to talk as a good thing. As Andy Rooney said about dogs, if they could talk, it would take a lot of the fun out of owning them. See also my previous post Never trust a talking teddy bear (August 15, 2013) .