Friday, December 14, 2018

Ontario Court of Appeal hears case on whether woman on life support is alive or dead

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

Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; Jeremiah 22:13a

As reported by Lorenda Reddekopp of CBC News, December 12, 2018 (link inserted by blogger):

The family of Taquisha McKitty will argue in the Ontario Court of Appeal Wednesday that she's still breathing and alive, even though a lower court has declared her dead.

"We're not convinced that she's dead," said Bishop Wendell Brereton from his church, the Breakthrough Temple in Brampton.

He has visited McKitty in hospital and witnessed her movements.

"Legs, arms. From head to toe she's moving," he said.

"So, it's not a corpse lying there. It's a person."

McKitty was declared dead by doctors more than a year ago after she went into cardiac arrest following a drug overdose and was put on life support.

McKitty's lawyer will argue in appeal court in Toronto that an Ontario Superior Court judge erred in not recognizing McKitty's charter rights, and not taking into account her religious beliefs in a case that could prove precedent-setting.

"Taquisha is alive according to her own religious beliefs," lawyer Hugh Scher writes in a court factum.

He adds that some jurisdictions do take religious beliefs into account before declaring someone dead.

"Taquisha remains alive in Nova Scotia, New York, New Jersey and elsewhere, but according to [Ontario Superior Court] is dead in Ontario."

Erica Baron, the lawyer representing Dr. Omar Hayani, who first declared McKitty dead at Brampton Civic Hospital, argues Scher is misinterpreting Nova Scotia law, and that McKitty would be considered dead everywhere in Canada.

In her legal arguments, Baron writes that because of the family's doubts regarding McKitty's movements, further neurological tests were done.

"These movements are not brain based," she wrote.

"If mechanical ventilation was discontinued, her heart would cease beating very quickly."

Bio-ethicist Kerry Bowman from the University of Toronto raised a number of questions about the issue.

"Who decides whether you're dead or not?" he asked in a phone interview, adding that as a whole, western societies are more focused on brain activity as an indicator of life than eastern societies.

"Can a doctor say, 'You're dead,' irrespective of what your family and your religion believes to be dead?"

He believes the courts need to clearly rule on what constitutes death.

In another Ontario case, the family of an Orthodox Jewish man declared brain dead also disputed the finding and went to the courts.

In that case, though, 25-year-old Shalom Ouanounou's heart later stopped beating and a Jewish doctor declared him dead.

The judge in that case then declared the case moot.

Bowman says one uncomfortable part of this issue that can't be ignored is money and the cost of keeping people on life support indefinitely who show no brain activity.

"I'm not saying we should make resource allocation decisions at the bedside, to say, 'This loved one of yours is not worth money.'"

But Bowman does say the courts may need to decide the line between life and death.

In the McKitty case, the Ontario Court of Appeal may not be the end.

Brereton says the church is determined to have the issue heard by the Supreme Court of Canada if the appeal decision is not in their favour.
The fact that someone in Ms. McKitty's condition can be considered alive in some places and not in others shows how imprecise the definition of death actually is. The definition of death as "brain death" goes back only 50 years; it was devised in order to salve the consciences of doctors who were starting to perform heart transplants, who were removing hearts from donors who were still alive according to the definition then in place. December 4 marked the 50th anniversary of the American Medical Association's adoption of heart transplant guidelines (one year and one day after the world's first heart transplant was performed in South Africa), which stipulated that a person's death had to be declared "irreversible" by at least two doctors not connected with the surgical team before his heart could be transplanted, with the best definition of death being based on "irreversible brain death." I intend to do a more detailed post on this subject next year, God willing.

I appreciate Mr. Bowman's frankness in mentioning the economic aspect of the issue of euthanasia. With an aging population and a health care system that's becoming increasingly expensive to maintain, economic concerns are becoming increasingly important, and will continue to do so, masquerading as compassion.

Every case is different and should be judged on its own merits, including that of Ms. McKitty. I, of course, know virtually nothing about her case, but I suspect that the kind of church mentioned in the article may have something to do with her case coming before the courts. Breakthrough Temple in Brampton, Ontario is a charismaniac Dominionist church, which seems to lean in the direction of the New Apostolic Reformation. They claim "Kingdom authority" in the here and now, which makes me wonder if they're having trouble accepting that a miraculous healing may not be occurring. Their statement of faith is weak when it comes to the Holy Spirit, which leads me to suspect that Breakthrough Temple is a Oneness Pentecostal church (their statement is so vague that it's hard to tell, which makes me suspicious that they're trying to conceal their true beliefs).

Thursday, December 13, 2018

British Columbia "Human Rights" Gestapo sides with yet another whiny atheist

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Psalms 14:1 (also Psalms 53:1)

Submitted for your disapproval, yet another piece of evidence in support of blogger Vox Day's contention that atheism is a form of autism, and that atheists are socially autistic; as reported by Bethany Lindsay of CBC News, December 13, 2018 (bold in original):

An atheist family whose child was not allowed to re-enrol in preschool after her parents fought against classroom Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations has been awarded $12,000 by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

The case wasn't about whether the school should be allowed to display Christmas ornaments or dreidels, or if teachers can discuss religion and holy days with their young charges. Instead, it was about the school's response to the parents' complaints — a response the tribunal described as discrimination.

The dispute began when Gary Mangel and Mai Yasué, two outspoken atheists, were told their daughter would not be allowed to continue to attend Bowen Island Montessori School (BIMS) unless they signed an agreement confirming their "understanding and acceptance" of all aspects of the school's cultural program.

"At its core, it is about a letter which held [a child]'s registration hostage to a demand," tribunal member Barbara Korenkiewicz wrote in her Tuesday decision on the case.

According to the decision, the events that led to that letter included emotional confrontations, "veiled" Islamophobia and even a mock Nazi salute.

'No discussion of Santa Claus'

Mangel and Yasué's three-year-old was attending BIMS in 2014 when they heard about the school's plans for the month of December, which included decorating elf ornaments and potentially also lighting candles on a menorah.

Mangel, who was on the board of directors for the school, wrote an email to other members saying it wasn't appropriate for preschoolers to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or any other "religious/political event" — including, he said, Remembrance Day.

"I certainly hope that there will be no discussion of Santa Claus at BIMS. I am absolutely against anyone blatantly lying to my daughter," Mangel wrote.

Over the next few months, the dispute snowballed as the couple exchanged colourful and occasionally testy emails with the school's board and had tense meetings with staff about the religious and cultural content of the curriculum. They also objected to celebrations of Easter and Valentine's Day, holidays they believe have become too tied up in materialism and consumerism.

The standoff reached a climax in June 2015, when the school asked Mangel and Yasué to sign off on their acceptance of the curriculum, which emphasizes multiculturalism. When they refused, the little girl wasn't allowed to return to school in the fall, according to the decision.

That demand amounted to discrimination on the basis of race, ancestry and religion, Korenkiewicz said.

"I find nothing in the evidence that could justify the refusal to register [the child] unless Dr. Yasué and Mr. Mangel essentially agreed that they would be significantly limited in their ability to raise issues about the cultural aspects of the BIMS program," Korenkiewicz wrote.

She said the school should pay the child $2,000 and the parents $5,000 each as compensation for the discrimination.

Unacceptable behaviour

That's despite some conduct by Mangel that strayed "beyond the acceptable," in Korenkiewicz's words.

For instance, when Mangel learned the school planned to include clay elf decorations in its December festivities, he wrote an email to the board objecting, and suggested some "atheist Christmas ornaments" that would better represent the views of his family.

That included one that simply says "Skeptic," and another that depicted the World Trade Center in New York with the caption "Atheists don't fly airplanes into buildings."

The latter, according to Korenkiewicz, was nothing more than "a veiled form of Islamophobia."

The tribunal also heard about an uncomfortable conversation Mangel had with the husband of a BIMS administrator. They were discussing the use of religious symbols at the school when the husband pointed out that children in public schools still sing the national anthem even though it includes the word "God."

"Mangel responded, 'I'll sue them too' and then began doing the Nazi salute and marching around while he sung a different version of O Canada," Korenkiewicz wrote.

Mangel told the tribunal he understood he was being politically incorrect but the display was meant to be a "preposterous analogy."

School board president Maria Turnbull described the $12,000 award to the family as a "meaningful sum," and said BIMS officials will need to examine how they can pay it.

She told CBC News: "What the decision provides is a level of certainty that is valued by the school, and we look forward to getting 100 per cent back to our focus on the young people."
It's interesting that this occurs not in a Christian or regular public school, but in a Montessori school, in which children are encouraged to develop what are regarded as their own natural abilities, with less structure than traditional schools. Maybe the reason the school refused to permit the parents to re-enroll their child was because the parents, as typical atheists, were so obnoxious and intolerant, trying to force their views on everyone else. And once again, the "Human Rights" Gestapo conjures up pseudo-legal excuses for preserving its 100% conviction rate. When is anyone ever going to stand up to these pseudo-legal bullies?

As for the claim that "atheists don't fly planes into buildings," they do kill tens of millions of people because they're in the wrong economic class (see "Soviet Socialist Republics, Union of"), and kill more Christians in one particular country than the number of Jews murdered by the Nazi regime in Germany (see "China, People's Republic of").

See also my posts:

British Columbia "Human Rights" Gestapo rules that sodomy trumps religious freedom (July 24, 2012)

University of Windsor caves in to whiny atheists and removes prayer from convocation ceremony (December 20, 2012)

Study finds that atheists are more likely to be left-handed (December 21, 2017)

Another university caves in to whiny atheists (October 1, 2018)

Ontario "Human Rights" Gestapo hammers another nail into the coffin of religious freedom in Canastan Canada (December 7, 2018)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Rare ancient stone mask and stone slab discovered in Israel

As reported by Agence France-Presse, November 28, 2018:

Israeli archeologist Ronit Lupu holds a rare stone mask dating to the Neolithic period which was found at the Pnei Hever region of southern Hebron mount, in this picture taken on November 28, 2018 Israeli archeologist Ronit Lupu holds a rare stone mask dating to the Neolithic period which was found at the Pnei Hever region of southern Hebron mount, in this picture taken on November 28, 2018

Jérusalem--The Israel Antiquities Authority on Wednesday unveiled what it said was a rare 9,000-year-old stone mask linked to the beginnings of agricultural society.

The pink and yellow sandstone object was discovered in a field at the Jewish settlement of Pnei Hever, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, said the IAA.

The artefact was handed in to authorities in early 2018.

"The mask is very naturalistic in the way it was made," said IAA archaeologist Ronit Lupu. "You can see the cheekbones, you can see a perfect nose."

"It's a rare mask," she told AFP. "The last one that we know was found 35 years ago. It's an amazing find, archaeologically speaking."

The West Bank is a Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Disputes over ownership of artefacts discovered there are just part of the long-running conflict with the Palestinians over the land.

The IAA placed the mask at a pivotal period in Neolithic culture.

"Stone masks are linked to the agricultural revolution," the authority said in a statement.

"The transition from an economy based on hunting and gathering to ancient agriculture and domestication of plants and animals was accompanied by a change in social structure and a sharp increase in ritual-religious activities."

Among such activities, it said, was ancestor worship.

"It was part of the ritual and retention of family heritage that was accepted at the time," the statement said.

"Stone masks, such as the one from Pnei Hever, are similar in size to the human face, which is why scholars tend to connect them with such worship."
As reported by the Israel Antiquities Authority in an undated but recent release, circa November 2018:

A Rare Stone Slab c. 9,000 Years Old was Exposed that was used to Ignite Fire

Did you plan a bonfire for Lag B’Omer and forget your lighter at home? An exceptional find uncovered about a week ago demonstrates how to start a fire in the field without matches or a lighter. A rare stone slab that was apparently used by the country’s ancient inhabitants for lighting fire nine thousand years ago was exposed in an archaeological excavation of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in which students of the Hannaton pre-military preparatory program participated. The excavations are taking place at the junction of Highway 38 and Virginia Boulevard in Ramat Bet Shemesh as part of an upgrade and expansion project funded by Netivei Israel, and they attest to the existence of advanced technology for igniting fire.

According to prehistorian Anna Eirikh-Rose, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "The ancient people who lived here during the Pre-pottery Neolithic B period (the New Stone Age) prepared a thick limestone slab with two depressions in it and grooves between them that connected the hollows. Some think this is an ancient game board but according to researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, such slabs were used for starting fire: this device made it possible to rapidly rotate a wooden branch in the hollow (similar to a drill). The rotational energy was translated into heat, and when it came in contact with a flammable material placed inside the hollow, it began to burn and the fire was lit. There are only about ten similar slabs from this period in the National Treasures; thus it is a rare artifact. Additional finds uncovered in the excavation include a fragment of a bracelet, flint tools, and numerous animal bones”.

The Ackerstein Company, which is managing the Highway 38 project on behalf of Netivei Israel, said, “It is exciting every time a rare piece of history is found thanks to the innovative infrastructure work that Netivei Israel is implementing in building the country”.

Evidence of producing fire in the region, in the form of ash and charcoal, already exists from the Old Stone Age – about 800,000 years ago; burnt seeds and flint chips were exposed at Gesher Bnot Ya'akov in the north of the country. The use of fire became significantly more important some 10,000 years ago, during the Neolithic period. Evidence of this is reflected by various finds from the period that are related to different fire-generating technologies.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

World's oldest brewery discovered in Israel

As reported by Melissa De Witte of Stanford News, September 12, 2018 (bold, links in original):

Stanford University archaeologists are turning the history of beer on its head.

A research team led by Li Liu, a professor of Chinese archaeology at Stanford, has found evidence of the earliest brewmasters to date, a finding that might stir an old debate: What came first, beer or bread?

In a cave in what is now Israel, the team found beer-brewing innovations that they believe predate the early appearance of cultivated cereals in the Near East by several millennia. Their findings, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, support a hypothesis proposed by archaeologists more than 60 years ago: Beer may have been a motivating factor for the original domestication of cereals in some areas.

‘Oldest record of man-made alcohol’

Evidence suggests that thousands of years ago, the Natufian people, a group of hunter-gatherers in the eastern Mediterranean, were quite the beer connoisseurs.

Liu and her research team analyzed residues from 13,000-year-old stone mortars found in the Raqefet Cave, a Natufian graveyard site located near what is now Haifa, Israel, and discovered evidence of an extensive beer-brewing operation.

“This accounts for the oldest record of man-made alcohol in the world,” Liu said.

The researchers believe that the Natufians brewed beer for ritual feasts that venerated the dead.

“This discovery indicates that making alcohol was not necessarily a result of agricultural surplus production, but it was developed for ritual purposes and spiritual needs, at least to some extent, prior to agriculture,” Liu said about their findings.

In her lab analysis, Liu said she was surprised to discover evidence of beer brewing in the residue samples they gathered.

“We did not set out to find alcohol in the stone mortars, but just wanted to investigate what plant foods people may have consumed because very little data was available in the archaeological record,” said Liu, who is the Sir Robert Ho Tung Professor in Chinese Archaeology at Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences.

As Liu notes in the paper, the earliest bread remains to date were recently recovered from the Natufian site in east Jordan. Those could be from 11,600 to 14,600 years old. The beer finding she reports here could be from 11,700 to 13,700 years old.

Ancient beer brewing

Ancient beer is far from what we drink today. It was most likely a multi-ingredient concoction like porridge or thin gruel, said Jiajing Wang, a doctoral student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and a co-author on the paper. Wang has helped Liu research ancient alcohol since 2015 when they first looked at 5,000-year-old brews in China before turning their attention to studying the Natufian culture.

In the Raqefet Cave, Liu and Wang unearthed residual remains of starch and microscopic plant particles known as phytolith, which are typical in the transformation of wheat and barley to booze.

The researchers believe that the Natufians used a three-stage brewing process. First, starch of wheat or barley would be turned into malt. This happens by germinating the grains in water to then be drained, dried and stored. Then, the malt would be mashed and heated. Finally, it would be left to ferment with airborne wild yeast.

All of these steps provided clues to help the researchers make their claim.

To test their hypothesis, the researchers conducted a series of experiments to recreate each step the Natufians would have taken to brew their beer.

These brewing experiments allowed the researchers to study how starch granules changed during the brewing process and make comparisons to what they discovered.

Liu and Wang’s brewing experiments showed a clear similarity to what the Natufians concocted.

The researchers also analyzed the artifacts that were excavated. They found that the traces left on the ancient stone mortar closely resembled their own lab experiments of pounding and crushing grain seeds, a process required for beer brewing.

Historical significance

The discovery of ancient brewing shed new light on Natufian rituals and demonstrate the wide range of technological innovations and social organization within their culture, the authors conclude in the paper.

“Beer making was an integral part of rituals and feasting, a social regulatory mechanism in hierarchical societies,” Wang said about their findings.

And those rituals were important to the Natufian culture, she said, noting that the discovery of beer-brewing at the graveyard signifies the emotional ties the hunter-gathers had with their ancestors.

The paper’s co-authors include Hao Zhao, who was a doctoral student at Stanford when conducting the research and is now at Zhengzhou University; Danny Rosenberg and Dani Nadel at the University of Haifa; and Gy√∂rgy Lengyel at the Polish Academy of Sciences.

The research was supported by the Min Kwaan Archaeology Fund at Stanford Archaeology Center. The Irene Levi-Sala CARE Archaeological Foundation, the National Geographic Society and the Wenner-Gren Foundation also supported the project.

Monday, December 10, 2018

60 years ago: The violent death of U.S. cult leader Krishna Venta

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Matthew 24:24 (also Mark 13:22)

Cults, and violent events involving cults, have been around for a while, long before the Jonestown mass suicide/murder in November 1978 and the Heaven's Gate mass suicide in 1997. This blogger had never heard of this one until a few days ago: on December 10, 1958, cult leader Krishna Venta and seven of his followers were killed, and two girls, aged 8 and 9, and a 59-year-old woman were seriously burned, in a suicide bombing in Chatsworth, California performed by Peter Duma Kamenoff and Ralph Muller, two disgruntled former members of the cult, who had accused Mr. Venta of mishandling cult funds and being intimate with their wives. Messrs. Kamenoff and Muller were also killed in the blast.

Mr. Venta, born Francis Penkovic, decided to start his own religion in the late 1940s. Proclaiming himself to be Christ, and to have reportedly claimed to have led a convoy of rocket ships to Earth from the extinct planet Neophrates, he founded the WKFL (Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith and Love) Fountain of the World movement in Simi Valley, California in 1948, and legally changed his name to Krishna Venta in 1951. The cult required new members to donate all worldly assets to the organization; members were required to wear robes and go barefoot, with men being required to grow beards and wear their hair long. The cult performed various relief works, including fighting fires and helping the needy. A second WKFL Fountain of the World branch opened near Homer, Alaska shortly before Mr. Venta's death.

With the object of the cult's worship dead, membership in WKFL Fountain of the World rapidly declined, and the movement had faded away by the mid-1970s, although a couple of female followers later claimed to channel messages from Krishna Venta. Cults never seem to completely disappear, however; Earth's Order of Melchizedek claims to be carrying on the legacy of WKFL Fountain of the World. The WKFL Fountain of the World Official Website, maintained by bombing survivor Jon Layne Fisher, apparently no longer exists.

For further reading, see:

My Search for Krishna Venta by Shawn Sutherland

Califia's Children: Krishna Venta and the WKFL Fountain of the World (December 18, 2014) by Michael Marinacci

50 years ago: The deaths of Karl Barth and Thomas Merton

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

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
I John 2:18-19

These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
Jude 12-13

On December 10, 1968, Swiss theologian Karl Barth died at the age of 82. Professor Barth was a Reformed Protestant pastor who served as a pastor in Switzerland and then in Germany. He opposed the Nazis, and was largely responsible for the Barmen Declaration (1934), which proclaimed that the church's allegiance to Jesus Christ took precedence over loyalty to any human ruler. Prof. Barth was forced to resign his position at the University of Bonn in 1935 and return to Switzerland after refusing to take an oath of loyalty to German Fuehrer Adolf Hitler.

Professor Barth was a man of contradictions, and serves as an example of how a mixture of truth and error still results in error. Although he opposed Nazism, he promoted socialism. He rejected much of the religious liberalism that he was exposed to in his early years, and claimed that God reveals himself to us through Jesus Christ, but denied biblical inerrancy. Prof. Barth rejected the assertion that he was the father of "neo-orthodoxy"--one of whose doctrines is that the Bible isn't the word of God objectively, but becomes the word of God as it interacts with the reader--but he has been hugely influential upon numerous prominent religious liberals. Prof. Barth's best-known books were The Epistle to the Romans (1919/1922) and his multi-volume Church Dogmatics (1932-1967).

Thomas Merton, one of the world's best-known Roman Catholic monks and authors, also died on December 10, 1968, at the age of 53. He was born in France of an American mother and New Zealander father, and lived in France, the United States, and England in his early years. Mr. Merton was generally indifferent to religion, but after reading such books as The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy by √Čtienne Gilson (which contained an explanation of God that appealed to him) and Ends and Means by Aldous Huxley (which introduced him to mysticism), and meeting visiting Indian Hindu monk Mahanambrata Brahmachari (who recommended traditional Roman Catholic books such as Augustine's Confessions and Thomas a Kempis's The Imitation of Christ to him rather than Hindu writings) in New York, he joined the Roman Catholic Church in 1938. He eventually became a Trappist monk, taking temporary vows in 1944 and solemn vows in 1947.

Mr. Merton was a mystic who became increasingly interested in Eastern religions and promoting interfaith understanding. His books included The Seven Storey Mountain (1948) and Seeds of Contemplation (1949). Mr. Merton was also known for advocating a non-violent approach during the Vietnam War and the social and racial upheavals during the 1960s. Indeed, Mr. Merton even took a non-violent approach to World War II. He'd been attracted to the idea of entering the Roman Catholic priesthood, but didn't move on it until he entered the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky at the age of 26 on December 10, 1941, three days after the Japanese attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, conveniently enabling him to avoid military service. As Sherlock Holmes would say, "Most singular! Most remarkable!" Mr. Merton's brother John Paul, who had also converted to Catholicism, didn't take a non-violent approach during World War II, and was killed while flying overseas in 1943 when his plane was shot down.

Ostensibly a Roman Catholic, Mr. Merton was moving toward New Age belief and universalism at the time of his death, which is where mysticism inevitably leads. He was attending an interfaith conference in suburban Bangkok when he died suddenly, reportedly by accidental electrocution from a fan while stepping out of the bathtub. Fifty years later, Thomas Merton remains popular in some circles, especially with practitioners of contemplative spirituality and the pseudo-Christian movement known as the "Emerging Church." An example of this can be found here.

In addition to dying on the same day, Messrs. Barth and Merton had other things in common. Both men, while claiming to be Christians, promoted truth as being subjective rather than objective. Both men have been hugely influential long after their deaths, and that has been in the direction of influencing subsequent false teachers in the perpetuation of false teaching.

For good information on contemplative spirituality, I especially recommend Lighthouse Trails Research Project and Herescope.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Temple Jerusalem Convention brings Jews and Christians together to discuss Temple Mount and Third Temple

As reported by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz of Breaking Israel News, December 5, 2018 (links in original):

The first Temple Jerusalem Convention took place at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center on Wednesday, aimed toward educating Christians about the relevance of the Jewish Temples to their belief. The focus is not only on the Biblical Temples but also on the future Third Temple written about in prophecies.

In his opening address, John Enarson, the Christian Relations Director of Cry for Zion and co-organizer of the conference explained the ground rules for the conference.

“The conference will be a meeting place of Jews and Christians with different perspectives. This should be done with mutual respect, acknowledging differences, and finding common ground on important issues without signing up for any political or religious position. We ask that all participants show grace toward each other.”

Doron Keidar, one of the organizers and the executive director of Cry for Zion, has high hopes for the event.

“This is like the first Zionist conference which brought people together to talk about their hopes and dreams for a Jewish state,” Keidar told Breaking Israel News. “That led to the establishment of the modern state of Israel. We are bringing people together to talk about the Temple Mount. It is pretty clear what can come from this.”

Rabbi Tuly Weisz, head of Israel365, addressed the crowd, emphasizing that it was powerfully appropriate for such a gathering to be held during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

“Many Jewish holidays are about ‘they tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat,’” Weisz jokingly told the crowd. “But Hanukkah is different. The Greeks did not want to kill us. The focal point of the holiday is about the non-Jews preventing the Jews from connecting to the Torah and about the Greeks defiling the temple. It is entirely appropriate to join in with Christians who have come to Israel to honor the Temple, the Torah, and the Jewish people.”

“If you were the Gentiles back then, there would never have been a need for Hanukkah,” Rabbi Weisz concluded.

The conference focused on a theory that is gaining popularity which claims that the Jewish Temples did not stand on the Temple Mount. According to the theory, both Temples were located further south in an area now recognized by archaeologists as the City of King David. This theory was most recently put forth in a series of books written by Bob Cornuke, a former police investigator with no training in archaeology. Cornuke has also proposed that the Ark of the Covenant was taken out of Solomon’s Temple and has been hidden away in a church in Ethiopia for hundreds of years.

Several of the speakers addressed this theory. Harry Moskoff, the author of the A.R.K. report, discussed the archaeological proof of the Temples’ location as well as the lack of proof for the theory’s claims.

Enarson believes the theory hides an insidious theological agenda.

“Rejecting the Temple Mount is the last stand of Replacement Theology,” Enarson explained to Breaking Israel News in an interview in April. “Replacement Theology, a belief that Christianity replaced Judaism in the covenant between Abraham and God, was a core tenet of Christianity. Subsequent to, and because of, the Holocaust, some mainstream Christian theologians and denominations have rejected Replacement Theology.”
As reported by Mr. Berkowitz, December 5, 2018:

A conference on Wednesday brought together religious Jews and Christians to discuss a topic that had never before been addressed in a multi-faith forum: the past and the future of the Temple Mount as it related to their respective religions.

As participants entered the conference, they were greeted by the sight of a 20-foot model of the Second Temple and much of the discussion focused on the subject of the Third Temple. Though the conference was a religious forum, avoiding politics, the political implications of any discussion about the future of the Temple Mount, a location frequently described in mainstream media as a “flashpoint,” bears dire political consequences.

Doron Keidar, one of the conference organizers and founder of Cry for Zion, an NGO advocating for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, was aware that he would likely be accused of incitement when he set out. This point was driven home during the press conference when Keidar was confronted by reporters who asked him several times if speaking about a Third Temple implied an agenda to destroy the Muslim sites on the Temple Mount.

Keidar rejected that claim, telling reporters that Cry for Zion’s main goal was to bring Jewish sovereignty to the Temple Mount.

“Our main goal is not to build the Temple and we are not a Temple organization,” he said. “We are advocating for Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount, petitioning the government to express stewardship of the site.”

This raised concerns among journalists who asked if sovereignty meant oppressing the Muslims or restricting them religiously.

“Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount would benefit everyone,” Keidar replied. “At the Western Wall, there is total freedom of worship for all religions. Muslims are free to pray at the Kotel (Western Wall) as are Christians. Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount would bring equality of religion to the site.”

Keidar pointed out that the peace agreement between Jordan and Israel ensured freedom of religion for all faiths at the holy sites.

“Freedom of worship is also established in international law as described by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights,” Keidar said. “The right for all faiths to pray on the Temple Mount was upheld by the Israeli Magistrate’s court. Right now there is illegal discrimination taking place where only Muslims can pray.”

John Enarson, the organization’s Christian Relations and Creative Director, echoed this assertion.

“Allowing the Jewish flag on the Temple Mount would guarantee that this freedom of religion will exist, just as it does at every other holy site that is under Israeli sovereignty,” Enarson said. “Many Christians believe that there will be a Third Temple but that is not relevant to what our organization or this conference do. We want equality of religion on the Temple Mount, plain and simple. How the Third Temple comes about and what form it takes is in God’s hand.”

“I would prefer that the Muslims would welcome other religions and encourage this, but in any case, it should not be tolerated by the international community or by the Israeli government,’ Enarson declared.

Keidar compared their initiative to the civil rights movement in America, petitioning for equality for blacks.

“Christians can’t take their Bibles with them or pray or wear crosses on the Temple Mount,” Keidar pointed out. “Anywhere else in the world, that would be religious oppression and not tolerated.”

“We are trying to educate the Christian world about the Jewish perspective on their holiest site,” Enarson said. “There has been a lot of mistrust between the Jews and the Christians. This will increase peace, not lead to war.”

The main focus of the conference was on theories that the Jewish Temples stood in an area identified as the City of David.

“There is a mistaken belief that this would enable a peaceable solution in which the Jews could build a Temple in another location, a small distance from the Temple Mount,” Keidar said. Keidar, who works in security in the Old City, rejected that perception. “That area, referred to in the Bible as Shiloah, is known as Silwan. It is a hotbed of hatred and some of the most hotly contested territory in Jerusalem.”

Friday, December 7, 2018

Ontario "Human Rights" Gestapo hammers another nail into the coffin of religious freedom in Canastan Canada

Yet another piece of evidence against the unbiblical nonsense preached from evangelical pulpits that "God is bringing the world here." If He is, it's only as punishment, because there's nothing good either currently or in the future about the foreign invasion of what used to be great nations.

An event like the one mentioned below is one of the reasons I no longer bother to attend Remembrance Day observances. The armed forces personnel who fought for Canada in two world wars (including my father) are almost all gone now, and they weren't fighting for Trudeaupia. There's nobody in Afghanistan, Libya, and Latvia, and whatever other foreign countries we have forces deployed, who is any threat to my freedom; the federal and provincial governments, together with the courts and various "Human Rights" Commissions are very much a threat to my freedom. If the armed forces were really defending our freedom, they'd launch full-scale assaults on these institutions.

As reported by Ezra Levant of The Rebel Media, December 4, 2018 (bold, links in original):

Do you remember John Alabi, the Christian landlord who was sued by his Muslim tenants for not taking off his shoes?

Of course, they didn’t sue him in a real court. They took him to a kangaroo court — the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

They claimed that by not taking off his shoes, John violated their human rights as Muslims.

If that sounds like a joke or a scam or a con, well, you don’t know these kangaroo courts. They agreed with the Muslim tenants and hit John with a massive, $12,000 fine.

It’s nuts.

We offered to help John pay his fine — but then our viewers came up with a better idea:

Let’s crowdfund the money to appeal the case, not to submit! So John appealed.

But unfortunately, he lost — the three-judge panel didn’t say that the Human Rights Tribunal made the “right” decision. They just said that they followed their own procedures. And so the ruling stands.

So not only does John owe the Muslim family $12,000 for wearing his shoes in their “holy apartment", we need to pay the legal costs now, too.

It’s been a terrible trauma for John.
His son committed suicide shortly before the Human Rights Tribunal hearing — but the Muslim tenants insisted on proceeding with the hearing.

So much for “human rights”.

Unfortunately, the stress of the entire battle caused John’s marriage to break. As you can see in my interview, he is a sensitive man who has been put through the meat grinder — by our own government’s kangaroo court.

But I promised John that we’d help him, and I want to keep my promise. Can you please help me, help John?

I’ll kick in the first $100. Can you please put in what you can — $5 or $50 or even $500?

Let’s pay John’s legal bill — his lawyer fought hard.

And as you can see, at the end of my interview, I asked John if he wanted to keep fighting — he still has a few other avenues.

He is still a bit shell-shocked from everything — I don’t think he’s ready to make that decision. And frankly, I think it depends on whether or not we can help him pay his bills. I don’t think he wants to keep fighting, if it means he goes deeper into debt.

But if we can cover the costs for him, I think he might fight on.

I know what I think. I’ve been through the meat grinder of the human rights commissions before. They’re atrocious. And I want to help John.

If you do too, please go to HelpJohn.ca.
I like a couple of suggestions put forward by the commenters at the original post. One is for Ontario Premier Doug Ford to use the notwithstanding clause in the Canadian Constitution to override every decision made by the "Human Rights" Gestapo, although a better idea would be to abolish the Gestapo entirely. Another good idea, to be filed under "scenes we'd like to see," would be for Mr. Alabi and other victims of these kangaroo courts to simply refuse to recognize their authority (they aren't a court of law, after all), and refuse to pay up.

Nebraska elementary school principal is put on leave after attempting to ban Christmas

Let's hope the leave is permanent. As reported by Sheila Gunn Reid of the Rebel Media, December 6, 2018 (links in original):

An elementary school principal in Elkhorn, Nebraska is this year’s Grinch that stole Christmas.

In a memo, Jennifer Sinclair informed her staff and faculty that she comes from a “place where Christmas and the like are not allowed in schools” so she would now make this the “expectation for all educators” at Manchester Elementary.

Her edict then went on to ban:

- Santas or Christmas items (clipart) on worksheets
- Christmas trees in classrooms
- Elf on the Shelf
- Christmas carols
- Christmas music
- Scholastic books that are Christmas related
- Making a Christmas ornament as a gift
- Candy canes
- Red/green items
- Reindeer
- Christmas videos/movies and/or characters from Christmas movies

Yetis and cartoon snowmen escaped her naughty list.

Sinclair acknowledged she was causing a lot of blowback to be directed towards her staff, who are being forced to follow her grinchy mandate, but that she was seeking to be inclusive and culturally sensitive to all students.

Today, I’ll break down the demographics of Nebraska and ask the question: Does Sinclair know what the word “inclusive” means?

In her efforts to be “inclusive” and extra tolerant, she excluded at least 96 per cent of the population and addressed criticisms about Christmas that weren’t even being made.

Sinclair was just put on leave from her role as principal at Manchester. The school board said her Christmas ban was not in line with school policy.

This should give the elementary school principal some free time to terrorize the residents of Whoville.
Earlier, as reported by Michael Foust of Christian Headlines, December 5, 2018 (links in original):

A legal organization that specializes in religious liberty issues is urging a Nebraska school principal to overturn her directive that banned anything related to Christmas – including Christmas music, Christmas carols, Christmas trees, candy canes and the colors red and green.

“I come from a place that Christmas and the like are not allowed in schools, as over the years in my educational career, this has evolved into the expectation for all educators,” Jennifer Sinclair, the principal of Manchester Elementary School, wrote in a letter to faculty.

The banned items involve not only religious symbols but secular ones, too, including Santa.

Liberty Counsel, a legal group that specializes in First Amendment issues, wrote the superintendent of Elkhorn Public Schools, urging him to overturn the policy.

“The ban violates the U.S. Constitution by showing hostility toward Christianity,” the letter read. “The ban also violates Elkhorn Public Schools board policy; the academic freedom rights of teachers; and it violates the First Amendment right of students to receive information...”

...Candy canes were banned because “historically, the shape is a ‘J’ for Jesus.”

“The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection,” the principal wrote. “This would also include different colored candy canes.”

Among the items that are allowed: polar bears, penguins and the Frozen movie character Olaf.

Liberty Counsel said it did not want the principal removed from her position. It only wanted the policy changed.

“The principal appears to have conflated her own values and preferences with the law,” the letter read. “The First Amendment simply does not require elimination of all Christmas symbols – religious and secular – in a misguided attempt to be ‘inclusive’ by eliminating all traditional elements of a federally- and state-recognized holiday. The effort to comprehensively eliminate Christmas symbols is Orwellian.

“Nothing,” the letter added, “prohibits public schools from teaching objectively about religion, or about holidays with religious significance, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Nothing prohibits public school music programs from having a mix of sacred and secular songs relating to the Christmas holiday, as part of a balanced Christmas music program; or classroom assignments from having relevance to Christmas.”

Thursday, December 6, 2018

10-year-old girl in Italy successfully petitions to have Jesus' name included in school's Christmas song

A rare victory for common sense over the forces of political correctness; as reported by Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata, November 30, 2018:

Venezia - A 10-year-old girl launched a petition and managed to get Jesus's name put into a school's Christmas song after it was left out so as not offend the sensibilities of non-Catholic students.

The incident happened on the Riviera del Brenta between Venice and Padua.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Verona declares itself a "pro-life city," in defiance of Italy's abortion law

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

Hear! Hear! As reported by Jessica Phelan of The Local (Italy), October 5, 2018 (links in original):

Verona's town council voted to declare the northern Italian city officially "pro-life", prompting outcry from campaigners for reproductive rights.

Councillors approved a motion put forward by Alberto Zelger, a member of the League party, which declares Verona a "pro-life city", demands public funding for anti-abortion groups and calls for the council to promote a regional project that encourages pregnant women to give unplanned babies up for adoption.

Despite the fact that abortion is legal everywhere in Italy, and amid protests from women's rights group Non Una di Meno – whose members showed up at city hall dressed as "handmaids" in reference to The Handmaid's Tale – the conservative-led council passed the motion on Thursday night by 21 votes to six.

The motion's backers – who included Mayor Federico Sboarina, members of the League and others from the right-wing majority, plus the head of the centre-left opposition – had also sought to add a proposal that would make it obligatory to give aborted foetuses a burial, even if the woman herself opposed it. However, that move did not make it to a vote.

Motion 434, as Zelger's proposal is officially known, calls itself "an initiative to prevent abortion and promote motherhood". The councillor, who heads a pan-European anti-abortion movement, put it forward earlier this year to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Italy's abortion law, which since 1978 has made the procedure legal for any woman in the first 90 days of pregnancy.

The motion is sharply critical of the national legislation, which it claims has "contributed to the use of abortion as a mode of contraception". The text also claims that Italy is "missing" 6 million children from its shrinking population as a consequence of abortion.

"The premises are false and don't cite official data," according to Non Una di Meno, which decries the fact that public funds will not be allocated to health services but to projects run by Catholic groups with which Councillor Zelger has links.

Suggesting that "sometimes just a little economic aid or the prospect of a job is enough to give a woman in difficulty the peace of mind needed to look after her child", his motion calls for funding for anti-abortion projects to be written into Verona's budget – including one that offers monthly payments to women who keep their babies. It also calls for materials promoting another project that encourages women to give up babies for adoption anonymously to be displayed in city hall "and all council spaces".

Italian women already face obstacles to abortion in the form of a clause in the law that allows medical staff to refuse to carry out abortions on the grounds of religious or personal beliefs. According to health ministry data from 2016, just over 70 percent of gynaecologists in Italy refuse to carry out the procedure, a figure that has risen sharply in recent years.

Italy's new minister of families, League member and former vice-mayor of Verona Lorenzo Fontana, is also openly anti-abortion. Shortly after taking office in June he told the press that he would try to reduce the number of abortions carried out in Italy, including by giving doctors greater liberty to try and dissuade women from seeking them.

The official number of abortions in Italy has already been steadily declining for decades, and the country has one of the lowest abortion rates in the EU. While the Health Ministry has argued that the decline means the rise in medical objectors isn't affecting women in crisis pregnancies, many campaigners say it's the opposite, and that increased difficulties in accessing abortion is pushing more women to resort to illegal, unsafe abortions or to seek the procedure abroad.

10 years ago: The death of Russian Orthodox Church primate Alexy II

On December 5, 2008, Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus' since 1990, died of heart failure at the age of 79. Alexy II, born Alexey Mikhailovich von Ridiger in Estonia, became a Russian Orthodox priest in 1950 and worked his way up through the church hierarchy, eventually becoming the last Russian Orthodox Church primate to be appointed during the existence of the U.S.S.R., and the first during the post-Soviet period.

Patriarch Alexy knew how to work the political system. He was identified by many sources as an agent of the Soviet secret police force KGB, beginning in 1958; upon becoming Patriarch, Alexy was a stronger advocate for the rights of the church, and glorified those who had been victims of Communism.

Alexy II pursued ecumenical dialogue, attracting some opposition within the Russian Orthodox Church. He became one of the presidents of the Conference of European Churches in 1964, and in March 1987 was elected President of the CEC Presidium and Advisory Committee, in which post he served until November 1990. Patriarch Alexy had a dispute with the Roman Catholic Church over over the property rights of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, but was on friendly terms with Latin-rite Catholics in France.earning some opposition within the church. Patriarch Alexy II was succeeded by Kirill.

Catholic News Service's Hanukkah tweet includes photo showing relief commemorating ancient Temple's destruction

"Don't mention the Roman sacking of Jerusalem; I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it all right."

I think the technical term is "Oy vey." As reported by Laurel Wamsley of U.S. National Public Radio, December 4, 2018 (links in original):

A relief under Rome's Arch of Titus, built in the first century, shows a menorah being taken away from the Temple in Jerusalem.

Sometimes it's the most well-intended messages that go awry.

Catholic News Service, a U.S. denominational news agency, posted a tweet on Sunday that said: "Hanukkah began at sundown. Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate!"

An accompanying photo showed a relief from the Arch of Titus, a marble structure built in Rome in the first century that commemorates "the victory of the Roman general, later emperor, Titus, in the Jewish War of 66-74 CE," according to a project at Yeshiva University.

The relief shows Roman soldiers carrying the spoils of the war, including a seven-branched menorah from the destroyed Temple of Jerusalem. Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Temple in the second century B.C. and involves a nine-branched menorah.

omg i RT'd it like 2 minutes before they deleted. For Flavian posterity. (appreciate the congrats) pic.twitter.com/27yMXmsi61
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) December 3, 2018

On Twitter, observers immediately noted the problematic choice of photo.

"[B]asically after the Romans sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple they carted off all the goods, brought it all back to Rome and held an epic rally in Rome to celebrate," wrote Josh Marshall, editor of political site Talking Points Memo. "That arch of titus is like a pictorial about the rally. So it's sort of not in a spirit of Happy Hanukkah."

Another Twitter user wrote: "It's a very famous image, from the inside of the Arch of Titus in Rome. It [commemorates] the conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. Which is the opposite of what the Hannukah holiday is about :-)."

According to Steven Fine, professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva University and director of the project there, the arch has long been highly symbolic.

"For centuries the Jews in Rome would not walk under it, as they saw themselves as exiles from Jerusalem forcibly brought to Rome," he told The New York Times in 2012. "Then in the 19th century the arch became a marker of Jewish antiquity and pride, a symbol of exile and redemption that is so important to Jewish heritage."

Catholic News Service deleted the tweet shortly after it was posted and sent two apology tweets.

"Sunday we inadvertently posted an offensive photo. We were sloppy in our tweeting; people were right to be offended," the second apology said. "The person who posted the tweet now fully understands the implications of the picture. We apologize again."

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Swiss feminists publish A Women's Bible to advance their antichrist agenda

There's nothing new about feminist rebellion against God, always masquerading as justice. The reader will note that feminist twisting of scripture easily surmounts denominational divisions. As reported by Agence France-Presse, November 27, 2018:

Tired of seeing their holy texts used to justify the subjugation of women, a group of feminist theologians from across the Protestant-Catholic divide have joined forces to draft "A Women's Bible".

As the #MeToo movement continues to expose sexual abuse across cultures and industries, some scholars of Christianity are clamouring for a reckoning with biblical interpretations they say have entrenched negative images of women.

The women we know from translations and interpretations of Bible texts are servants, prostitutes or saints, seen dancing for a king or kneeling to kiss Jesus' feet.

But while many feminists have called for The Bible, Christianity and religion altogether to be cast aside, an eclectic group of theologians instead insists that if interpreted properly, the Good Book can be a tool for promoting women's emancipation.

'Feminist values'

"Feminist values and reading the Bible are not incompatible," insisted Lauriane Savoy, one of two Geneva theology professors behind the push to draft "Une Bible des Femmes" ("A Women's Bible"), which was published in October.

The professor at the Theology Faculty in Geneva, which was established by the father of Calvinism himself in 1559, said the idea for the work came after she and her colleague Elisabeth Parmentier noticed how little most people knew or understood of the biblical texts.

"A lot of people thought they were completely outdated with no relevance to today's values of equality," the 33-year-old told AFP, standing under the towering sculptures of Jean Calvin and other Protestant founders on the University of Geneva campus.

In a bid to counter such notions, Savoy and Parmentier, 57, joined forces with 18 other woman theologians from a range of countries and Christian denominations.

The scholars have created a collection of texts challenging traditional interpretations of Bible scriptures that cast women characters as weak and subordinate to the men around them.

Parmentier points to a passage in the Gospel of Luke, in which Jesus visits two sisters, Martha and Mary.

"It says that Martha ensures the "service", which has been interpreted to mean that she served the food, but the Greek word diakonia can also have other meanings, for instance it could mean she was a deacon," she pointed out.

Overturning religious orthodoxy

They are not the first to provide a more women-friendly reading of the scriptures.

Already back in 1898, American suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a committee of 26 other women drafted "The Woman's Bible", aimed at overturning religious orthodoxy that women should be subservient to men.

The two Geneva theology professors say they were inspired by that work, and had initially planned to simply translate it to French.

But after determining that the 120-year-old text was too outdated, they decided to create a new work that could resonate in the 21st century.

"We wanted to work in an ecumenical way," Parmentier said, stressing that around half the women involved in the project are Catholic and the other half from a number of branches of Protestantism.

In the introduction to the "Women's Bible", the authors said that the chapters were meant to "scrutinise shifts in the Christian tradition, things that have remained concealed, tendentious translations, partial interpretations."

'Lingering patriarchal readings'

They take to task "the lingering patriarchal readings that have justified numerous restrictions and bans on women," the authors wrote.

Savoy said that Mary Magdalene, "the female character who appears the most in the Gospels", had been given a raw deal in many common interpretations of the texts.

"She stood by Jesus, including as he was dying on the cross, when all of the male disciples were afraid. She was the first one to go to his tomb and to discover his resurrection," she pointed out.

"This is a fundamental character, but she is described as a prostitute, ...and even as Jesus's lover in recent fiction."

The scholars also go to great lengths to place the texts in their historical context.

"We are fighting against a literal reading of the texts," Parmentier said, pointing for instance to letters sent by Saint Paul to nascent Christian communities.

Reading passages from those letters, which could easily be construed as radically anti-feminist, as instructions for how women should be treated today is insane, she said.

"It's like taking a letter someone sends to give advice as being valid for all eternity."

The theologians' texts also approach the Bible through different themes, like the body, seduction, motherhood and subordination.

The authors say they consider their work a useful tool in the age of #MeToo.

"Each chapter addresses existential questions for women, questions they are still asking themselves today," Parmentier said.

"While some say that you have to throw out the Bible to be a feminist, we believe the opposite."
At least Ms. Parmentier is honest enough to say that she and her feminist colleagues are "fighting against a literal reading of the texts." That's true, because there's no way that you can make the Bible support feminism unless you reject a literal reading and put a feminist twist on scripture. When it comes to deacons, one of the qualifications for a deacon is to be "the husband of one wife" (I Timothy 3:12), the same as for a bishop/overseer. That disqualifies Martha. As for Mary Magdalene, the feminists are employing a straw man argument; although it's commonly believed that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, nowhere does the New Testament say that. She's merely described as someone out of whom seven demons had been cast (Luke 8:2).

Pope Francis makes pilgrimage to Geneva to pray for unity with liberal Protestants at World Council of Churches

The religious unity under Antichrist for the end times before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, prophesied in the Bible, continues to proceed. I missed this item when it was first published; as reported by The Local (Switzerland), June 21, 2018 (bold, links in original):

Pope Francis called on Thursday for deeper unity between the Catholic Church and other Christian faiths as he visited Geneva, a centre of Protestantism, amid Christianity's waning influence in Europe.

"I have desired to come here, a pilgrim in quest of unity and peace," Francis told a prayer gathering at Geneva's Ecumenical Centre, shortly after arriving in the City of Calvin.

#Pope Francis has arrived in #Switzerland. The head of the Roman Catholic Church was received by #SwissPresident Alain Berset (BK) #papalvisit #WCC70 @pontifex @alain_berset pic.twitter.com/kHantFHWCo
— Andr√© Simonazzi (@BR_Sprecher) June 21, 2018

The pontiff, who was met by Swiss President Alain Berset at Geneva airport, said Christians were called to follow a path with "a clear aim, that of unity."

He came at the invitation of the World Council of Churches (WCC), which was created in 1948 and groups around 350 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican churches from more than 100 countries around the world, with around half a billion believers among them.

Pope Francis on Thursday visits the World Council of Churches (#WCC70) in Geneva, Switzerland, with a stop at the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey. #papalvisithttps://t.co/2Sx6EXmNL9

— Vatican News (@VaticanNews) June 20, 2018

At the start of his one-day visit, he took part in an "ecumenical prayer" for the organisation's 70th anniversary, highlighting his commitment to unity between various Christian denominations.

'Unbridled consumerism'

"In the course of history, divisions between Christians have often arisen because at their root, in the life of communities, a worldly mindset has seeped in," he told the 230 Christians of various denominations gathered before him.

The pope warned that "indifference prevails in the streets of today's world. Driven by our instincts, we become slaves to unbridled consumerism, and God's voice is gradually silenced."

"How hard it is to leave behind centuries-old disagreements and mutual recriminations," he acknowledged, but insisted that "our differences must not be excuses... We can pray, evangelise and serve together."

"Our world, torn by all too many divisions that affect the most vulnerable, begs for unity," he said.

Historically, divisions between the Catholic Church and the Protestant confessions have run deep.

The dissenting movement launched by Martin Luther more than 500 years ago and its strict interpretation ingrained in Geneva by John Calvin in the mid-16th century launched centuries of often bloody divisions in Europe.

WCC chief Olav Fykse Tveit, a Norwegian Lutheran pastor, told AFP prior to the pope's visit that "it is not difficult to find issues that are still dividing Christians," pointing to attitudes towards "human sexuality and family life".

But he said there was movement towards Christians across denominations becoming "more united, and the pope's visit is a sign of that."

'Speaks for all Christians'

"I think that many Christians, whether they are Catholics or not, see him as a strong voice for what we want to say as Christians today," he said pointing to the pope's message of love and inclusiveness.

"In that sense, he speaks for all Christians," he said.

The Catholic Church is not part of the WCC but Francis is keen to close the gap between its 1.3 billion-strong faithful and the Churches under the WCC umbrella, in particular given the regularity of deadly attacks on Christians.

In April, Egypt sentenced 36 people to death for their role in a string of bomb attacks on Coptic churches in Cairo, Alexandria and the Nile Delta city of Tanta between 2016 and 2017 that killed at least 80 people.

The pontiff has at times faced criticism for making ecumenism and interreligious dialogue -- most notably with Muslims -- one of the priorities of his pontificate.

He has frequently referred to "ecumenism of blood", deploring the indiscriminate murder of Catholics, Orthodox and Protestant Christians.

"If the enemy unites us in death, who are we to be divided in life?" Francis asked in 2015.

Swiss guard

In a nod to his Swiss hosts, Francis's plane was met Thursday by two former Swiss guards, the stoic papal soldiers who have vowed to sacrifice all for the pontiff if need be.

Pope Francis visits #Switzerland pic.twitter.com/VPtJSP3x92

— Christophe Bertschy (@SwissMinipeople) June 21, 2018

The Swiss guard was created in 1506, making it the oldest army in the world, and is made up solely of soldiers recruited among celibate, Roman Catholic Swiss citizens.

The pope is due to wrap up his lightning tour to Geneva by celebrating Mass before some 41,000 Catholics at the city's Palexpo convention centre.

In Switzerland, a country of some eight million people, 41 percent of the population identifies as Catholic, and around a quarter identify as Protestant.
Click on the link for the Vatican's account: Ecumenical Pilgrimage of His Holiness Francis to Geneva to Mark the 70th Anniversary of the Foundation of the World Council of Churches

Monday, December 3, 2018

Meeting of Irish general practitioners reveals divisions over the issue of conscientious objection to providing abortion services

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

Let us pray that the pro-life physicians in Ireland will stand firm. As reported by Paul Cullen of the Irish Times, December 4, 2018 (bold in original):

Bitter, chaotic, uncivil and vitriolic are just some of the words used by doctors to describe the stormy extraordinary general meeting of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) that took place behind closed doors on Sunday.

The meeting highlighted deep divisions within the medical profession on abortion (no less than in the rest of society) and on the specific issue of conscientious objection.

Dozens of mostly anti-abortion GPs walked out of the meeting – and into the lenses of waiting cameras – claiming a “serious crisis” exists about the rollout of abortion services by the Government’s planned start date of January 1st.

But what happened at the meeting also pointed to a wider disaffection among many family doctors with their treatment by the Government and by the ICGP, their professional and training body.

Difficult debate

And even among those who remained for three hours of often difficult debate after the walkout, it is clear few believe the January deadline is a realistic one.

The 300 or so doctors who attended the meeting roughly broke down into one-third pro-choice, one-third anti-abortion and one-third who “could have been either but were mostly just fed up with everything”, one doctor who attended the meeting summed it up for The Irish Times.

“It was an umbrella meeting for a lot of discontent,” said another doctor. “Many of those who spoke felt disrespected and manipulated by the Government.”

Although it was an egm, no motions were on the agenda. From the start of the meeting, however, a number of speakers sought to have the agenda suspended so that five motions could be tabled.

One asserted that general practice was not the appropriate setting in which to deliver an abortion service – the Government’s plan is for a GP-led service for terminations up to nine weeks. Another motion said there should be no obligation on GPs to refer patients for a termination.

Amid chaotic scenes, attempts by ICGP chief executive Fintan Foy to speak were repeatedly interrupted and some members hurled abuse at other speakers, according to doctors who were present. The walkout occurred after the board informed the meeting that on legal advice the motions could not be taken.

“There was an air of menace in the room. A group of 40-50 pro-life doctors were clearly squaring up for a fight,” a doctor with pro-choice views told The Irish Times.

“It was a disappointing day and a bad one for general practice, but people conducted themselves in a dignified way,” said one anti-abortion doctor who was part of the walkout. “There was no abuse while I was there.”

Even after the walkout, the atmosphere at the meeting remained tense.

“The debate was very difficult. It was respectful overall but some of the comments made were ugly,” said one doctor.

Speakers complained that doctors had never asked for a GP-led abortion service – the proposal came from Oireachtas hearings – that the issue had been badly handled by the Government and that the ICGP was acting as the Government’s “patsy”.

Doctors’ pay

Frustration at the Government’s failure to unwind cuts introduced to doctors’ pay during the recession as part of financial emergency legislation (Fempi) and the marathon talks on a new GP contract also surfaced.

It was pointed out that the €450 which GPs will receive for treating women seeking a termination is twice the amount the State pays for antenatal care over the nine months of a woman’s pregnancy.

“Doctors were annoyed at the attitude ‘just give them a few sweeties and they’ll do it’,” according to one GP who was present.

One issue that united many speakers was a belief that there was “no way” abortion could be introduced by January 1st.

Worries were expressed about legal issues arising from a lack of ultrasound or in the cases where the medication failed to work fully.

Issues relating to indemnity, referral pathways, insurance and education remain to be resolved, the meeting heard.

The group of doctors who walked out of the meeting had already begun collecting signatures for a new egm while it was still going on. They will need about 350 signatures – 10 per cent of the ICGP’s members – to force a second meeting but this is unlikely to take place until well into the new year.

Rediscovered heart of Dublin's patron saint goes on permanent display

Submitted for your approval, the following article as evidence that Roman Catholicism is still a religion of idolatry and superstition. As reported by Patsy McGarry of the Irish Times, November 13, 2018:

The once-lost but recently-found heart of Dublin’s patron saint, St Laurence O’Toole, is to go on permanent public display in Christ Church Cathedral from Wednesday.

The relic was stolen from the cathedral in March 2012. It had been in an iron-barred cage on the wall of the chapel of St Laud in Christ Church, its resting place for years.

The heart was recovered, undamaged, by gardaí earlier this year and officially handed over by Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy to Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson at a service in the cathedral on April 26th last.

Born in Castledermot, Co Kildare, in 1132, Laurence O’Toole became archbishop of Dublin in 1161 and was consecrated the following year at Christ Church Cathedral. He died in France at the Abbey of St Victor at Eu on November 14th, 1180, and was canonised in 1226.

Some of his relics were returned to Dublin, where they lay in the cathedral until the Reformation, with the heart on display in its chapel of St Laud until stolen in 2012. It will now be housed in a specially designed art piece by Cork’s Eoin Turner.

At 5.45pm on Wednesday a special ecumenical service of dedication and thanksgiving marking the occasion will be held in the cathedral. Archbishop Jackson will bless and dedicate the redesigned cathedral grounds incorporating the new stone labyrinth.
The ecumenical aspect of the service included Church of Ireland Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, as reported by the C of I's United Dioceses of Dublin & Glendalough, November 15, 2018:

The heart of St Laurence O’Toole went back on permanent public display in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, yesterday (Wednesday November 14).

Dublin’s Church of Ireland and Catholic Archbishops, Archbishop Michael Jackson and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, attended a special ecumenical service of dedication and thanksgiving marking the historic occasion.

Archbishop Michael Jackson, first blessed and dedicated the redesigned cathedral grounds incorporating the beautiful new stone labyrinth. Following this he presided at a service of Festal Choral Evensong, sung by the Cathedral Choirs accompanied by Christ Church Brass, during which he blessed and dedicated the new resting place of the heart of St Laurence.

The heart of the Patron Saint of Dublin is now housed in the cathedral’s north transept in a specially designed art piece, crafted by the renowned Cork–based artist Eoin Turner.

Speaking during the service, Dean Dermot Dunne outlined the background to the redevelopment of the cathedral grounds which has been undertaken as part of F√°ilte Ireland’s Dubline tourism project. He paid tribute to F√°ilte Ireland for their grant for the project and to the team at Dublin City Council for overseeing it. He said his wife Celia was responsible for the idea of a labyrinth. The Dean paid particular tribute to the project foreman, Paul Gough, who carried the central stone of the labyrinth from the cathedral to be put in place by the Dean following the dedication of the grounds.

The Dean also thanked members of An Garda Síochána for their persistence in investigating the theft of the heart and for bringing it back to the cathedral.

“There are so many things coming together today for the cathedral that it is almost impossible to highlight any single one. But there is a common theme running through our celebrations. With the installation of the ancient labyrinth Christ Church is identifying itself as a place of pilgrimage. The cathedral is already a stamping station for the Irish leg of the Camino de Santiago and with the inclusion of the labyrinth, it is demonstrating that not only is it a way mark on the Camino but it is also a place where the pilgrim can engage in an on the spot pilgrimage centred on the heart of the city’s patron,” Dean Dunne stated.

He added: “Christ Church is the spiritual heart of Dublin. With the return of the Heart of St Laurence, the patron of Dublin, an eternal light will flicker over the heart as a sign of blessing of permanency for the city of Dublin. Here, in what is probably the oldest structure in this city, the heart of the city pulsates. Its ancient history informs its present setting and draws the pilgrim, whether local or international, into the sacredness of this space”.

The heart relic was stolen from the cathedral in March 2012 from the iron–barred cage on the wall of the Chapel of St Laud, which had been its resting place for many years. Following a long–running investigation, the heart was recovered, undamaged, by An Garda S√≠och√°na. After a six year absence, it was officially handed over by Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy to the Archbishop of Dublin at a service of Choral Evensong on April 26 this year.
The perceptive reader will note that the installation of the ancient labyrinth was a major part of the service--yet another example of contemplative spirituality being used in the service of ecumenism.

Survey reveals that belief in the existence of limbo is declining in Ireland

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

It seems that in Ireland, the Roman Catholic doctrine of limbo is itself in limbo, as reported by Gerry Moriarty of the Irish Times, November 9, 2018:

A new study from Queen’s University, Belfast has found that belief in limbo – a place for unbaptised babies – has declined throughout the decades in Ireland due to the changing beliefs and values of the country.

Limbo, in Catholic theology, was believed to be the border place between heaven and hell where those souls who died without being baptised, though not condemned to punishment, were deprived of eternal happiness with God in heaven.

The study was led by historian Professor Liam Kennedy in association with the Irish Countrywomen’s Association.

Twenty six women, including 23 from the ICA, took part in the survey which was carried out in 2017. The women varied in ages, with birth dates ranging from the 1930s to the 1960s and represented all four provinces in Ireland.

In the study, 75 per cent of respondents felt the decline of belief in limbo was due to the changing beliefs and values of the Catholic laity in Ireland, rather than change emanating from the Vatican in Rome.

However, 25 per cent of respondents believed that the decline was as a result of changes in church teaching.

Prof Kennedy cited some of the responses to the survey: “More people [were]less accepting of Church/Catholic myths”; “young people became more educated and began to question stuff that did not make sense to them. They were no longer afraid of the ‘fire and brimstone’ that our previous generations were afraid to question”; “people think limbo is a . . . cruel place and don’t think that children go there. They believe in a more merciful God and that children will go to heaven directly”; “because people didn’t buy it anymore”.

“The term limbo does not appear in the Bible or the New Testament,” said Prof Kennedy. “It seems the concept was developed over time by Christians to handle two problems: one was the fate of those who led just lives and who died before Christ came on earth to redeem humankind; the other was the fate of unbaptised babies in the event of death.”

“Children growing up in the Ireland of the 1950s will have a clear remembrance of a metaphysical space or place known as limbo,” he added.

“For Catholics, though not Irish Protestants, this formed part of a spiritual cosmos which viewed heaven and hell as opposite poles, with purgatory and limbo occupying rather vaguely defined intermediate positions. But limbo appears to have disappeared off the spiritual map.”

Prof Kennedy said in Ireland understandings of limbo, along with heaven, hell and purgatory, were handed down by parents, schoolteachers, priests and nuns, drawing on the teachings of the Catholic Church.

“Catholics in Ireland, from the 1960s onwards, turned their backs on a religious belief they found not credible or even cruel and the institutional church itself placed less and less emphasis on the ‘doctrine’ of limbo,” he said.

Added Prof Kennedy, “A fear of limbo drove parents to have their new-born child baptised as soon as was practicable. Otherwise, the infant risked losing eternal happiness and going into a void called limbo. I have little doubt that mothers who had miscarriages or still-births suffered mental anguish as a result of the death of an unbaptised foetus or still-birth. Heaven was closed to the unbaptised, as indeed was consecrated Church ground.”

Prof Kennedy said that hardly any of those born in the new millennium will have the slightest notion of “what limbo was (or is), other than as a colloquial expression for being in some indeterminate mood or situation”.

“But it really did matter for the best part of a thousand years and gave rise to both fear and pain,” he concluded.
The best reason for rejecting the doctrine of limbo is that it's not taught in the Bible, as Prof. Kennedy correctly stated. The doctrine of limbo is the sort of thing that results when a church teaches the false doctrine that baptism is necessary for salvation, and engages in the unscriptural practice of baptizing infants. Nowhere in the New Testament is there any example of anyone being baptized who wasn't old enough to place conscious faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism was always an act that was subsequent to receiving and believing in the salvation offered by the Lord Jesus Christ, and remains so today.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

40 years ago: A testimonial dinner that never took place

A testimonial fund-raising dinner in honour of former San Francisco Housing Authority chairman and Peoples Temple founder and leader Rev. Jim Jones was scheduled to be held in San Francisco. However, the gala, endorsed by 75 prominent leaders in support of this prominent Communist liberal social reformer, was cancelled two weeks before the scheduled date because of the guest of honour's permanent inability to appear at the event.

Israel to resume diplomatic relations with Chad, while seeking relations with Bahrain and Oman

The Russian-led invasion of Israel prophesied in Ezekiel 38 will take place against a "land of unwalled villages...them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates," (v. 11). Could the current moves toward peace between Israel and neighbouring countries be leading to her apparent safety? Time will tell.

As reported by Thomson Reuters, November 27, 2018:

Israel said on Tuesday that it and Chad would resume relations, severed in 1972, after the central African country's President Idriss Deby made a surprise visit to Jerusalem this week.

After Deby wound up his two-day visit, Israel said in a statement that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would "visit Chad soon and announce, with the Chadian president, the renewal of ties." No date was given.

Chad is a Muslim-majority country, and most Muslim or Arab countries do not have formal ties with Israel.

Some African countries have kept their distance from Israel since its occupation of the Palestinian territories in the 1967 Middle East war, but the Netanyahu government has been keen to improve relations with the continent.

Some Sunni Muslim countries have also drawn closer to Israel in recent years due to shared concerns about the rise of Shia power Iran.

Meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu and Deby "discussed shared threats and the struggle against terrorism" as well as co-operation in agriculture, solar energy, water security and health, the statement from the Israeli premier's office said.

Netanyahu has cited Chad's renewed relationship with his country as an example of how Israel can make diplomatic inroads in Africa and in the Middle East despite its ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.
As reported by Itamar Eichner of Ynet News, November 26, 2018 (links in original):

Israel is working to establish diplomatic ties with the Gulf State of Bahrain, which are expected to be announced soon.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at contacts being held with the Muslim country during his joint press conference with Chadian President Idriss Deby on Sunday.

"A few minutes ago, we discussed in my office the great changes that are taking place in the Arab world in its relations with Israel. And this was manifested in my recent visit in Oman with Sultan Qaboos. And there will be more such visits in Arab countries very soon," Netanyahu said.

The Persian Gulf State, which has a population of 1.4 million, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Bahrain has a small Jewish community of 40 people, and it is the only state in the Persian Gulf with a synagogue.

Several Bahraini Jews hold key positions in the country. Huda Ezra Ibrahim Nunu, a Bahraini Jewish woman, served as Bahrain's ambassador to the US between the years 2008-2013. Attorney Nancy Dina Kadouri is of Jewish descent, and serves as one of the members of the upper house of the National Assembly in Bahrain, whose members are appointed by the king.

After Netanyahu returned from Oman last month, officials in Jerusalem said the next Arab country to host Netanyahu would be Bahrain.

As with Bahrain, Israel and Oman do not have diplomatic relations. The meeting was the first between the leaders of the two countries since 1996. In 2000, with the outbreak of the second intifada, Oman severed its ties with Israel.

Over the past several years, the media has reported on secret communications between Israel and Oman, with one report indicating that Israel was about to open a secret consulate in the port city of Muscat.

As part of the US administration's efforts to set in motion a political process between the two countries, the Americans worked to convince Oman to normalize its relations with Israel.

In the past, the Sultanate announced it would resume diplomatic relations with the Jewish State, if the latter agrees to freeze construction in the settlements.
As reported by Tovah Lazaroff of the Jerusalem Post, October 26, 2018:

Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday made a surprise visit to Oman, an Arab Muslim state which has no diplomatic ties with Israel.

He did so at the invitation of the country’s leader Sultan Sayyid Qaboos bin Said Al Said, so that the two men could discuss regional issues.

Netanyahu was in Oman, just two days after a Palestinian delegation led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was in Oman. Abbas also met with Sultan Qaboos.

The visit comes amidst the possible break through in Egyptian efforts to restore calm between Israel and Hamas over Gaza and the pending release of US President Donald Trump’s long waited peace plan.

The last such Israeli visit occurred in 1996, when former prime minister Shimon Peres, traveled to Oman to meet with the sultan and to open an Israel Trade Representation office, which was shut four years later, after the start of the Second Intifada in October 2000. The economic ties never reached the level of full diplomatic relations.

Netanyahu has long argued that the Arab world is open to normalized economic ties with Israel, even in advance of any resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

After Friday’s visit the Prime Minister’s Office said, “Netanyahu's visit is a significant step in implementing the policy outlined by Prime Minister Netanyahu to strengthen ties with the countries of the region, while leveraging Israel's advantages in security, technology and the economy.”

Netanyahu and the Sultan talked about “ways to advance the peace process in the Middle East and discussed a number of issues of mutual interest for peace and stability in the Middle East,” the PMO said.