Sunday, September 16, 2012

Break Forth Canada 2013 lineup includes adulteress Amy Grant

May 10, 2013 update: I've been informed that the Gary Chapman who appeared at Break Forth 2013 was the author of The Five Love Languages, not the musician of the same name, who is Amy Grant's ex-husband. I was relying on information provided by the Break Forth website, which listed the names of those appearing at the conference. The link provided by the Break Forth website for Gary Chapman was to the musician, not the author, so I assumed that was the one who was at the conference. I apologize for the error, and the post has been corrected.

It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
Matthew 5:31-32

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
Matthew 19:3-9

And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.
And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.
And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.
Mark 10:10-12

Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. Luke 16:18

Anyone looking for evidence of declining standards of holiness in the professing evengelical church of Jesus Christ in the United States and Canada need look no further than the 2013 edition of the "Christian Youth" event known as Break Forth (I think "Break Wind" would be a better name) scheduled to take place in Edmonton, Alberta from January 25-27. The lineup includes contemplative spirituality proponent John Ortberg, psychologist Steve Arterburn (author of, among other books, Toxic Faith, one of the worst books of the 1990s). Most notably, Amy Grant, who has returned to "Christian" music now that her career as a mainstream popular artist has run its course (quite some years ago, actually) has been added to the lineup, which could make for some interesting dynamics, since her first husband, Gary Chapman, is also listed among the scheduled performing artists.

The item announcing Ms. Grant's appearance uses the following euphemistic language:

Like so many, Amy went through challenging times as her superstar status launched her to a level that no Christian artist has ever visited. Yet, these times forged her faith in the fires of trials and she came out stronger. When Amy speaks and sings she now brings a depth to her walk with Jesus that is known for its authenticity and humility.

To read the paragraph above, one would think that Ms. Grant passed whatever tests of faith she was subjected to. I can't judge her actual spiritual condition, but I'm entitled to an opinion based on behaviour, and when "challenging times" result in the collapse of a marriage and subsequent remarriage with no apparent remorse or repentance, I have my doubts about "authenticity and humility."I believe that it's possible for Christians to commit great sins; the church at Corinth in the 1st century was characterized by immorality (see I Corinthians 5:1 for a particularly grievous example), but even in this state Paul addressed them as Christians. He did, however, rebuke the believers at Corinth (see I Corinthians 5:2 ff.) for taking a boastful, rather than mournful, attitude. Fortunately, the Corinthians took Paul's attitude to heart (see II Corinthians 2) and repented. So far, I see no such repentant attitude toward immorality among celebrities in American and Canadian evangelicalism in the early 21st century. These celebrities should have the decency to shut up and refrain from proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ until they repent and give some evidence that He's actually the Lord of their lives, instead of exhibiting an attitude of "Let's just put this behind us and move on." As for Break Forth, I recommend that Christians call on those in charge to restrict the lineup of speakers and performers to those who are demonstrating faithfulness to Jesus Christ and the Bible not only in their doctrine, but in their lives as well.

Venus has always appealed to New Agers

According to Scott Van Wynsberghe in the Canadian newspaper National Post, September 4, 2012:

The existence of the planet has been known to humanity, in one way or another, for thousands of years. Yet much of its modern reputation rests on a dubious Russian-born mystic named Helena Blavatsky.

Celebrated as the co-founder (in 1875) of the occult movement Theosophy, but also denounced as a charlatan, Blavatsky issued a sort of planetary manifesto on behalf of Venus in 1887 that helped usher in decades of fascination with our closest planetary neighbour, Earth’s so-called “sister planet.”

Considering how its rival Mars has regularly hogged humanity’s attention, Venus needed the help, and it snagged a big fish with Blavatsky. Although she was already in her twilight years in the late 1880s (she died in 1891), Blavatsky had toured the world in search of arcane knowledge ranging from Western paganism to Eastern metaphysics. She also has exploited a number of men along the way, and otherwise misbehaved so badly that she was accused of both systematic plagiarism (by near-contemporary scholar William Emmette Coleman) and spiritualist fraud (by Britain’s Society for Psychical Research, in 1885).

Prior to 1887, Venus had received only sporadic interest. French novelist Achille Eyraud imagined a trip there in an 1865 book that apparently had little impact. More important was American occultist Thomas Lake Harris, who, around Eyraud’s time, wrote about such topics as his belief in a Venusian master-race that oversaw early human development. L. Sprague de Camp, a historian of such claptrap, regarded Harris as a forerunner to Blavatsky.

Blavatsky issued her Venusian manifesto in the form of a magazine and an essay. The magazine, which she founded, was ominously entitled Lucifer, and its first issue was dated September 1887. Inside, one found her article entitled The History of a Planet, which clarified the publication’s title. Venus, she announced, was an occult casualty of early Christian arrogance — “sacrificed to the ambition of our little globe to show the latter [as] the ‘chosen’ planet of the Lord.”

In ancient Greek times, Blavatsky continued, Venus had been known under a variety of names that came to be translated by the Romans into Latin as Lucifer (“Light-bringer”). Unfortunately, an ambiguous Old Testament passage (Isaiah, 14:12), once rendered into Latin, also used that name and gradually came to be regarded by early Christian theologians as a reference to Satan. So Venus became tainted, along with all pagan beliefs associated with the planet, making Blavatsky’s initiative an effort to reclaim that non-Satanic pre-Christian heritage. (For the record, Blavatsky was rather accurate about that problematic Isaiah passage, judging from Bible scholars Otto Kaiser and Jeffrey Burton Russell.)

Regardless of the state of what might be called Venusian popular culture before Blavatsky, that culture certainly flourished after her — but it was weird.

According to L. Sprague de Camp, one Frederick Spencer Oliver claimed in an 1894 tome that he had encountered a secret society of mystics that had taken him on an out-of-body visit to Venus. Likewise, around the turn of that century, British Theosophist W. Scott-Elliot began reiterating the notion of Venusian supervision for prehistoric humanity.

Not helping matters at this point was astronomer Percival Lowell, now infamous for claiming non-existent canals on Mars. Lowell insisted he saw spoke-like structures spreading from a central hub on the face of Venus, but nobody else did, and it is now thought that glaring light from the planet inadvertently illuminated the blood vessels of Lowell’s eye, as in an ocular examination.

Such novelists as Gustavus W. Pope (1895), John Munro (1897), George Griffith (1901), and Garrett P. Serviss (1911) all described trips to Venus. Going by Den Waldron, who has reviewed some of this material for the ERBzine website, the Serviss book may be particularly important, because it describes a Venus that is partly oceanic. This concept of a “wet” Venus received backing in 1918, when Sweden’s Nobel-laureate chemist (and part-time astronomer) Svante Arrhenius recklessly declared in a book that “everything on Venus is dripping wet.”

Sorry, Svante: As described by British astronomer Bernard Lovell in a 1967 article for the Times of London, a spectroscopic analysis of light from Venus in 1922 showed very little water or even oxygen. This study was repeated a decade later with even more disappointing results, with large amounts of carbon dioxide now turning up. However, the influence of Venusian popular culture was such that denial set in. In a 1932 adventure set on Venus, Edgar Rice Burroughs acknowledged discouraging data but went ahead with his tale anyway. Another science fiction writer, Stanley G. Weinbaum, did the same thing in a 1935 short story.

Occultists were even more oblivious. In 1934, the American couple Guy and Edna Ballard formed the “I AM” sect, which drew heavily on Theosophy, and featured Venusian elements. In 1943, Britain’s C.S. Lewis restaged the Garden of Eden fable on Venus in his Christian-mystical novel Perelandra. In 1945, John Whiteside Parsons ­— a ubiquitous figure who linked the worlds of rocketry, science fiction and the supernatural — reportedly had a vision in the Mojave Desert involving a Venusian. In turn, Parsons knew L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, who later claimed his own Venusian experience (although this would be downplayed by Scientology officials in the early 1970s). Other religious groups related to Venus included the Aetherius Society (founded in 1956) and Eckankar (1965). By the 1950s, Venus was so influential in popular culture that it sometimes outdid Mars — even, amazingly, in the UFO field.

Of course, Venus always has had the advantage of its brightness, which has caused countless mistaken reports of flying saucers. Although UFO researchers can be touchy about Venus, such prominent figures as J. Allen Hynek, Jacques Vallee and Frank Salisbury all conceded that the planet caused a lot of false sightings. As well, many of the people who surfaced in the 1950s to report not just sightings but actual contact with alien beings were talking about Venusians. In a 1977 survey by J. Gordon Melton, a sampling of 35 of these early “contactees” featured 13 cases of Venusians and only 11 with Martians. Suspecting something other than spacemen, UFO writers Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman have commented: “The Venusian claims usually contain the strongest religious overtones..."

...And then it all came crashing down. In 1962, the U.S. unmanned space vehicle Mariner 2 flew close to Venus and became the first Earth probe to complete an interplanetary mission. A flurry of U.S. and Soviet spacecrafts followed, and the results were nasty. The atmosphere turned out to be mostly carbon dioxide (with a bit of sulfuric acid) and was so thick that surface pressure was 90 times that of Earth, while the surface temperature was not far off 500C...

...So the fun was gone, and Venus really did merit a Satanic image. Interest among authors and filmmakers dwindled, although environmental scientists now had a poster girl for the dangers of greenhouse gases. “Venus,” concluded space historian William Burroughs in 1998, “was a warning.”

Friday, September 14, 2012

Britain's chief rabbi accuses Richard Dawkins of anti-Semitism in his view of the Bible

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

As reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, September 14, 2012:

Britain's chief rabbi has accused the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins of relying on an anti-Semitic view of the Bible in his recent book.

Speaking at a debate filmed by the BBC earlier this month in Salford, Sacks said that a remark in Dawkins’s best-selling book "The God Delusion" was based on “centuries of prejudice.”

"I read it as a profoundly anti-Semitic passage,” the chief rabbi said.

Sacks was referring to a passage in the book that said the God of the Old Testament was the “most unpleasant character in all fiction”.

Dawkins, a professor at Oxford University, dismissed the allegation as “ridiculous” and said he was not “anti-Jewish” just “anti-God”.

Dawkins said he was joking when he asserted that the stories of the Old Testament suggested God was “jealous,” “petty,” “pestilential,” a “megalomaniac” and a “bully."

“There are Christian atheists and Jewish atheists, you read the Bible in a Christian way," Sacks said in response. "Christianity has an adversarial way of reading what it calls the Old Testament -- it has to because it says 'We’ve gone one better, we have a New Testament.'"
Of course, Rabbi Sacks' comment that there are "Christian atheists" is just as silly as the drivel spewed by Richard Dawkins.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Scientology treatment to be used on Vietnamese Agent Orange victims

As reported by Chris Brummitt of The Associated Press, September 6, 2012:

HANOI, Vietnam - Alleged victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam are set to receive a controversial "detoxification" treatment developed by the Church of Scientology.

Scientologists use the "Hubbard Method", which involves saunas and vitamins, to try to cure drug addiction and alcoholism. The church set up a center in New York after the 9/11 attacks offering a similar service for first responders who may have been exposed to toxins.

Many researchers have criticized the method as pseudoscientific and useless.

A hospital official and state-controlled media said 24 people were at a Hanoi hospital on Thursday waiting for the program. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The U.S. military dumped some 20 million gallons (75 million liters) of Agent Orange and other herbicides on about a quarter of former South Vietnam between 1962 and 1971, decimating about 5 million acres (2 million hectares) of forest , roughly the size of Massachusetts.

Dioxins in it have since been linked to birth defects, though the United States maintains there is no evidence of any link between Agent Orange and health problems among Vietnamese.

"I hope my wife and I will fully recover completely and will not suffer after-effects to pass on to my descendants," prospective patient Nguyen Dai Sang was quoted as saying in the Viet Nam News daily.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Christopher Hodges said Washington was not funding the program and said "we are not aware of any safe, effective detoxification treatment for people with dioxin in body tissues."

Last month, the U.S. began a landmark project cleaning up toxins from the site of a former air base in Danang in central Vietnam. Part of the former base consists of a dry field where U.S. troops once stored and mixed the defoliant before it was loaded onto planes.

Washington has been quibbling for years over the need for more scientific research to show that the herbicide caused health problems among Vietnamese. It has given about $60 million for environmental restoration and social services in Vietnam since 2007, including to disabled people, but the Danang project is its first direct involvement in cleaning up dioxin, which has seeped into Vietnam's soil and watersheds for generations.

The "Hubbard Method" is named after Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

Its adherents have tried unconventional approaches to health issues in Asia at least once before. In 2004, they travelled to Indonesia's Aceh province to offer massages to survivors of the Asian tsunami, claiming they could relieve trauma from the disaster.
Go here to see the article in Viet Nam News.

Jewish Democratic county chairman in Florida resigns after inflammatory remarks about Christians

As reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, September 9, 2012:

The chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party resigned after saying that pro-Israel Christians want to see Jews "slaughtered and converted."

Mark Alan Siegel resigned on Friday, a day after he apologized for the remarks he had made two days earlier during an interview on the sidelines of the Democratic National Convention.

“My comments merely served as a distraction to the good work of Democrats in Palm Beach," Siegel said in a statement released Friday by the state party, according to the Palm Beach Post. "Again, I express my deepest apologies to anyone I may have offended.”

Siegel, an attorney, had apologized the day after making the comments but reportedly refused to resign, instead offering to take an extended leave of absence.

Siegel had told the conservative Patriot Update website that as a Jew, he was "not a fan of any religion other than Judaism." Asked if he is a fan of Christianity, Siegel responded, according to the Palm Beach Post, "No, I'm not. The Christians just want us to be there so we can be slaughtered and converted and bring on the second coming of Jesus Christ."

He continued, “They’re not our friends. They want Israel to pursue policies which are antithetical with its security and existence. The worst possible allies for the Jewish state are the fundamentalist Christians, who want Jews to die and convert so they can bring on the second coming of their Lord. It is a false friendship. They are seeking their own ends and not ours."

A group of Buddhist monks in Thailand claims that Steve Jobs has been reincarnated as a divine being

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

As reported by James Hookway in The Wall Street Journal Southeast Asia, August 31, 2012:

KHLONG LUANG, Thailand – When Apple Inc AAPL -2.60%. founder Steve Jobs died after a long fight with cancer last year, software engineer Tony Tseung sent an email to a Buddhist group in Thailand to find out what happened to his old boss now that he’s no longer of this world.

This month, Mr. Tseung received his answer. Mr. Jobs has been reincarnated as a celestial warrior-philosopher, the Dhammakaya group said in a special television broadcast, and he’s living in a mystical glass palace hovering above his old office at Apple’s Cupertino, California headquarters.

Mr. Jobs’s death unleashed a wave of grief across the world when he died last October. From Shanghai to Sydney to New York, admirers of his iconic devices laid flowers and lit candles to mourn his passing. Some commentators described the outpouring as an homage to a kind of secular prophet whose innovations changed the ways millions of people live their lives, strengthening the appeal of a brand which already was approaching cult-like status.

Some of Mr. Jobs’s admirers in Malaysia later gathered on a tropical island and in a religious ceremony each took a bite from an apple before flinging the fruit into the sea in a bid to speed up his reincarnation.

Now, Phra Chaibul Dhammajayo, abbot at the Dhammakaya Temple here just north of Bangkok, claims Mr. Jobs has already been reborn.

“After Steve Jobs passed away, he was reincarnated as a divine being with a special knowledge and appreciation for science and the arts,” the Dhammakaya leader said in the first of a series of sermons beamed to hundreds of thousands of the group’s followers around the world.

Phra Chaibul’s claims are impossible to corroborate, and his sermons have unleashed significant criticism, including from some skeptics who suspect he is just trying to get attention to help with fundraising. Among other things, he has said the reincarnated Mr. Jobs spends much of his time lounging in a glass palace resembling an Apple store. Phra Chaibul also has said the being formerly known as Steve Jobs is attended by 20 servants, who seem to resemble the Apple store ‘Geniuses’ who help customers set up their iPhones and other devices here on earth.

Senior monks at the Dhammakaya Temple declined requests for comment.

Either way, it’s not surprising that 68-year-old Phra Chaibul (the ‘Phra’ is a religious title) has latched onto the Jobs phenomenon. Many Thais are well aware of the interest Mr. Jobs had in Buddhism. Biographies of the former Apple chief were translated into the local language and took up entire shelves in local bookstores, while dozens of local magazines featured him on their covers.

Apple’s mantra of using technology to bring people closer together also dovetails neatly with the teachings of the orange-robed monks at the Dhammakaya Temple. They preach a worldly, tech-savvy form of Buddhism which instructs worshipers that it isn’t a sin to grow rich, as long as they contribute a chunk of their earnings to the Dhammakaya cause.

At the group’s headquarters here in Khlong Luang, a little north of Bangkok, tens of thousands of worshipers flock each weekend to a giant flying saucer-shaped structure surrounded by a vast network of airport-like corridors and meeting halls that’s comparable in size to the Pentagon. Anthropologists frequently liken the Dhammakaya group to Christian televangelists operating in countries such as the U.S., Brazil and the Philippines.

“The Dhammakaya Temple identifies itself as a ‘modern temple for a modern age,’” Rachelle Scott at the University of Tennessee wrote in a recent book on Thai religious movements. “It chooses to present itself as modern in select ways, whether by employing a contemporary aesthetic, using new technologies, or re-interpreting key doctrines and practices through a modern lens.”

But by adopting Mr. Jobs to help spread its theology, the Dhammakaya group has certainly raised eyebrows, including upsetting some Buddhists.

Other Buddhist leaders disapprove of Phra Chaibul’s sermons, which are titled “Where Is Steve Jobs?” They say they are a stunt designed to lure more followers to Dhammakaya’s vast sanctuary. “Even if it is true, it is just showing off and has nothing to do with Lord Buddha’s teachings,” said one prominent religious authority, Phra Payom Kallayano.

Another revered scholar and temple abbot, Phra Paisal Visalo, told local media here that he is worried that many more people will follow Mr. Tseung, the software engineer at Apple in California, by seeking Dhammakaya’s help in contacting deceased friends and relatives.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter...

...Sporting a shaved head and over-sized glasses, Phra Chaibul, a soft-spoken trained economist, advises students to closely analyze Mr. Jobs’s life so they can better understand their own role in this world, and beyond...

...The spiritual rewards also appear to be worth the effort, at least according to Phra Chaibul. He says that Mr. Jobs now enjoys sleeping on a floating hover-bed, and when he thinks of a piece of music he would like to hear, it automatically plays. If he is hungry, an aide quickly brings him a tasty treat...

...What’s more, Mr. Jobs was reborn in a younger, more handsome form. Phra Chaibul says he now appears to be around 35 to 40 years old, with a full head of hair. Artist renderings accompanying Phra Chaibul’s lectures show a rejuvenated Mr. Jobs living in a photo-shopped, air-brushed utopia where he hangs out with other sprites and revels in the achievements of friends and colleagues he left behind on earth.

30 years ago: Episcopal Church revises its hymnal

On September 9, 1982, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America adopted a revision of its hymnal, adding some hymns, dropping others, and revising lyrics to eliminate masculine language:

"The Hymnal 1982 retains the best of the past and sets forth many riches of our own time. [The Standing Commission on Church Music] looked for theological orthodoxy, poetic beauty, and integrity of meaning. At the same time, the Commission was especially concerned that the hymnody affirm 'the participation of all in the Body of Christ the Church, while recognizing our diverse natures of children of God.' … Texts and music which reflect the pluralistic nature of the Church have been included, affording the use of Native American, Afro-American, Hispanic, and Asian material" (Preface, The Hymnal 1982, Church Pension Fund, 1985).

According to an Associated Press article filed September 9, 1982 that appeared in The New York Times the following day:

The new collection, a result of a decade of work by scholars, poets, musicians and theologians, is the first hymn book revision in 42 years for the denomination's 7,578 congregations.

Among other changes, James Russell Lowell, the 19th-century American writer, is out and W.H. Auden, the Anglo-American poet who died in 1973, is in. About 40 per cent of the book involves new hymns.

Lowell's lyrics for "Once to Every Man and Nation" in the old hymnal were voted out of the new book as the delegates made several refinements late Wednesday. But Auden's poem "He Is the Way" was voted for inclusion among 262 new hymn texts for the revised hymnal, to retain 347 of 600 numbers in the old book.

In the three hours of debate and voting on the new hymnal, some old-time hymns that had enthusiastic advocates were deleted in the prolonged discussion.

Among those delted were "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," "I Need Thee Every Hour," "Turn Back, O Man," and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic..."

...In other convention actions, the bishops approved recognition and provisional intercommunion with three Lutheran denominations that have voted to merge. The House of Deputies has yet to act on the matter...

...In the debate on the hymnal, some songs that were recommended for deletion by a hymn revision commission headed by the Rev. Marion Hatchett of Sewanee, Tenn., were restored in floor action by the bishops or deputies.

These included "Now the Day is Over," "America," "I Sing a Song to the Saints of God," "Almighty Father, Strong to Save," and "Stand Up, Stand Up, for Jesus."

Lowell's poem was dropped because it seems to deny a Christian premise that God repeatedly forgives people and gives them many chances to mend their ways, Mr. Hatchett said. The opening verse reads:

Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some grerat cause, God's new Messiah,
Offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
'Twixt that darkness and that light.

A hymn text by Rudyard Kipling, England's first Nobel Prize winner in literature (1907), was deleted because it was "uncomfortably imperialistic," the commission said.

The hymn was Kipling's "Recessional," an 1897 poem also called "God of Our Fathers, Known of Old." The offending words were in the last two verses:

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law--
Lord god of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget--lest we forget!
For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word--
Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!
Syndicated columnist Andy Rooney, who was not a Christian, criticized the new hymnal in a column that appeared in the September 20, 1982 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

"The Battle Hymn of the Republic" is out of their new hymn book, for example. Can you believe that? There won't be any more singing: "In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,/With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me..."

...Several years ago, after a bitter argument in church hierarchy, women were admitted to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. Now, church leaders are going even further by eliminating references to sex in the hymns. Where a hymn uses the word "brother" or "son," they're changing it to a word with a neuter gender, like "disciple" or "child."

At the meeting where the changes were approved, the Episcopalians had an argument over whether or not to leave in the patriotic hymn "My Country, 'Tis of Thee." It was left in, but I imagine the people who didn't want it were sixth grade English teachers who sais that there was no such word as 'tis in the dictionary.

We'll close today by singing the first three stanzas of "Onward Christian Military Personnel."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

30 years ago: Three liberal U.S. Lutheran churches agree to merge

On September 8, 1982, the Lutheran Church in America, American Lutheran Church, and Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches voted to merge to form a new church, which would become the third-largest Protestant denomination in the United States. The merger, which created the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, didn't come into effect until January 1, 1988. A more accurate name for the organization would be the Apostate Lutheran Poliical and Social Advocacy Organization in America.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Worship at the Water offers church in a bar in Florida

Unfortunately, the following news report offers little information on the content of the sermons, but given the United Methodist Church's liberalism, I have my suspicions. As reported by Melissa Nelson-Gabriel of Associated Press, August 25, 2012:

Perdido Key, Fla.

On a balmy Sunday morning at the Flora-Bama Lounge, Package and Oyster Bar, barkeeps set up their stations as churchgoers filtered in under a Jack Daniels banner.

The bar, which sits on the Florida and Alabama state line, is famous for its annual mullet-tossing contest — patrons gather on the beach and throw dead fish from Alabama into Florida.

Bikini contests, bar brawls and drink specials are the day-to-day business of the beach bar that calls itself "America's last roadhouse."

But for one hour every Sunday, the Flora-Bama is home to about 450 regular congregants of Worship at the Water, an outreach service of the Perdido Bay United Methodist Church. More than 1,100 filled the place on Easter Sunday.

Bible study is in the upstairs bar.

If Jesus returned to Earth, he'd probably kick back at the Flora-Bama, said Jack de Jarnette, a founding pastor of the church.

"It's the sort of place he often went and hung out with people," he said. "When you cannot get people to come to church, the alternative is to bring the church to them."

A band in tie-dyed T-shirts played Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready," as parishioners gathered underneath an awning adorned with rows of Land Shark beer flags on a recent Sunday. Most wore flip-flops and shorts, but some wore swimsuits.

"If you look closely, you might see a few of the churchgoers having a Bloody Mary or a bushwhacker," longtime bar employee Blitz Poston said. "It's really a wonderful thing that brings together people from all walks of life."

Offerings are collected in neon tackle boxes placed throughout the bar.

Pastor Jeremy Mount wears Mardi Gras beads, shorts, sandals and T-shirt that is fringed around the sleeves.

"There are seven places to drink and no place to worship God on this key," he said. "We feel like God has called us here to be a ministry. Where would there ever be a better place than the world-renowned Flora-Bama?"

His sermon is one of redemption and hope, followed by a communion with bread and grape juice instead of wine.

Many members of his flock were regular churchgoers before they started attending the Flora-Bama service. Others have become regulars because they like the unique setting, Mount said.

"Some had never been to church, ever, but they felt so comfortable here in the Flora-Bama," he said.

Church member Paul Holland is a longtime fan of the Flora-Bama, which he says is a five-star honky-tonk filled with top-shelf rednecks. He has become an even bigger fan of the church service.

"I don't want to be judged because I don't have a three-piece-suit and I don't drive a brand-new car and this is that kind of church — they don't judge you. I feel like I'm more welcome in this church than any I've ever attended in my life," he said.

The service is just a year old, starting on July 4, 2011.

Church volunteer Joye Fletcher was baptized behind the Flora-Bama in the Gulf of Mexico during Worship at the Water's first anniversary. "It's just an awesome spirit-led service," she said.

The service is often a surprise for the tourists who flock to the strip of snow-white sand and turquoise water during the summer months, said Bruce Barrios, the bar's Sunday manager.

"We have so many people in from out of town. We have people come in and when they see we are having church they pick up a Bloody Mary, a bushwhacker or a soft drink, sit down and listen to the sermon. It's really cool, you know, it's unique."

San Francisco Roman Catholic Archbishop-elect apologizes for drunk driving arrest

As reported by Elliot Spagat and Lisa Leff of Associated Press, August 28, 2012:

San Diego — The Roman Catholic archbishop-elect of San Francisco has apologized for his arrest on suspicion of drunken driving, behavior that he said brought "shame" and "disgrace" on himself and the church, though legal experts said was unlikely to derail his promotion.

The Rev. Salvatore Cordileone said in a statement issued Monday by his office that he was driving home from a dinner with friends in San Diego with his mother and a visiting priest friend early Saturday when he was pulled over at a DUI checkpoint near San Diego State University.

The statement said a sobriety test showed his blood-alcohol level to be above the legal limit, although Cordileone did not reveal by how much.

"I apologize for my error in judgment and feel shame for the disgrace I have brought upon the Church and myself," he said. "I pray that God, in His inscrutable wisdom, will bring some good out of this."

Cordileone, 56, serves as bishop of Oakland and is scheduled to be installed as San Francisco archbishop on Oct. 4, five days before his first court date.

Pope Benedict XVI selected him last month to replace Archbishop George Niederauer, who is retiring in October.

Cordileone was stopped around 12:30 a.m. on the outskirts of the campus, a residential area of modest houses, apartment buildings and restaurants where college students mix with the general population.

The archbishop-elect was booked into San Diego County jail two hours later then released at 11:59 a.m. Saturday on $2,500 bond, sheriff's records show. The San Diego city attorney's office, which prosecutes misdemeanor DUI offenses, said it had not received a report on the arrest.

Cordileone took a breath test that confirmed his blood-alcohol content exceeded California's legal limit of 0.08 percent, said Officer Mark McCullough, who declined to say by how much.

"He was a driver that was obviously impaired, but he was quite cordial and polite throughout," said McCullough, who was at the scene. "He was not a belligerent drunk at all. ... There were no problems with him throughout the night.

Cordileone, one of 11 people arrested at the checkpoint that night, identified himself as a priest, said McCullough. An officer did an Internet search and learned he was archbishop-elect.

Canon law experts said a criminal charge would not automatically prompt a delay in Cordileone's installation as archbishop, which is scheduled to take place at St. Mary's Cathedral on Oct. 4, the feast day of San Francisco's patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi.

Because Catholic bishops are answerable only to the pope, any potential discipline would have to come from the Vatican, said Michael Ritty, a canon lawyer in private practice in upstate New York.

"If there was anything, it would be handled in Rome, most likely by the Congregation for Bishops. Depending on the question or type of criminal charge, it might go directly to the pope or as directly as you can get," Ritty said.

Cordileone is a native of San Diego, where he was ordained as a priest in 1982. He has been bishop of Oakland for a little more than three years, and before that, he served as an auxiliary bishop in San Diego.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, predicted that Cordileone's arrest, while embarrassing, would only draw a response from Rome if it appeared he had a serious substance abuse problem that prevented him from carrying out the archbishop duties.

"The bottom line is there is no real requirement that he resign," Reese said. "If he is an out-of-control alcoholic who can't function, that would be an issue, but obviously he has been the bishop of Oakland all these years and he seems to be able to function. Nobody knows if he has a drinking problem or was one fraction over the (blood alcohol) limit."

Noting that forgiveness is an integral part of the Catholic faith, Reese recalled the 1985 DUI arrest of the late Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop John Roach, who pleaded guilty and served two days in jail but remained popular in the post for another decade.

Cordileone will have to "explain this to people, and depending on what he does and how it's perceived, we'll see how it goes," he said. "It could make him more human."

While serving in San Diego four years ago, Cordileone was instrumental in devising an initiative to strip same-sex couples of the right to wed in California. He was part of a statewide network of clergy that promoted the measure, known as Proposition 8. Campaign finance records show he personally gave at least $6,000 to back the voter-approved ban.

Since last year, Cordileone has been chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

Religion has a great influence on Americans' charitable donations

As reported by Ben Grose of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, August 19, 2012:

Regions of the country that are deeply religious are more generous than those that are not. Two of the top nine states—Utah and Idaho—have high numbers of Mormon residents, who have a tradition of tithing at least 10 percent of their income to the church. The remaining states in the top nine are all in the Bible Belt...

...Perhaps nowhere is the role of religion clearer than in Utah, where the majority of residents are Mormon.

The Provo-Orem metropolitan area is especially generous, with its residents giving an average of 13.9 percent of their discretionary income to charity.

James T. Evans, chief operating officer at Xactware, a software company in Orem with 450 employees, says he saw the number of Xactware employees who donate to the United Way shoot up from a handful a few years ago to 70 last fall, after the company sent a record number of volunteers to a “Day of Caring” event organized by the United Way.

“The volunteering hooks people into the important needs in our community,” Mr. Evans says. “Then during the workplace campaign, they say 'Gosh, I’ve seen some of those needs—I should give a little more.’”

Mr. Evans and his wife, Tana, also give generously, on top of their support for the Mormon Church. While watching their daughter play high-school basketball, they noticed the boys teams always got more attention. That prompted the couple to endow a women’s basketball scholarship at Brigham Young University for $250,000.

The Evanses also give more than $10,000 a year to the United Way and make gifts to their school district to pay for small projects. “After taking care of our home and putting some aside for retirement, we just look for opportunities to give the other stuff away,” says Mr. Evans, who became mayor of Orem last October.

Giving 'Primes the Pump’

People like Mr. Evans are common across America, says Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. Mr. Brooks wrote a book, Who Really Cares, that examined research on giving and found that religious people give more generously to secular charities—even environmental causes and the arts—than nonreligious people.

“They’re just in a giving culture,” Mr. Brooks says. “You give to one thing, and it primes the pump and you give more to everything.”

But some nonprofit experts question whether religious donations should even factor into generosity rankings. “Giving to a church is a different kind of giving than giving to other charities,” says Steve Rothschild, founder of a job-training program in Minneapolis. “Giving to a church is 'inward-centered’: You get a personal benefit from it. If you’re giving to an antipoverty program, it’s 'other-centered.’”

Nonprofit boosters in New Hampshire might be happier if religion were excluded. A study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University found that the residents of New Hampshire—which ranked dead last in both surveys by The Chronicle—weren’t stingy; they were simply nonbelievers.

“New Hampshire gives next to nothing to religious organizations,” says Patrick Rooney, the center’s leader, “but their secular giving is identical to the rest of country.”

In The Chronicle’s study, New Hampshire rises from last to 38th—still in the bottom quartile—after the adjustment to remove religious giving.

Starting in 1999, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation tried to stimulate greater generosity through a public-awareness campaign about the state’s low giving rates, but it didn’t accomplish much, and it has since been largely disbanded.

“I don’t think data and finger-wagging inspire people,” says Deborah Schachter, who once directed the Giving New Hampshire drive and still works at the community foundation.

No matter how hopeless the situation seems to be, Israelis never quit and ask no mercy of their opponents...

...even in Little League baseball. As reported by Adam Soclof of Jewish Telegraphic Agency, August 26, 2012:

On July 24, 1989, Israel had a rough introduction to the Little League Baseball arena at the hands of Saudi Arabia. Reports on the severity of the shutout varied -- JTA said 30-0, Reuters 50-0, and self-proclaimed "King of Jewish Baseball" blogger Nate Fish claims the box score read 51-0. Whatever the final score, JTA's Hugh Orgel wrote at the time, "It was perhaps the worst defeat ever suffered by Israel at the hands of an Arab country. Luckily, the lopsided battle took place on a baseball diamond."

During the drubbing, Israel had the chance to forfeit under the league's mercy rule. But Reuters reported, According to Reuters, though, Israel's coach Larry Blecher made his players stick it out:

If a team is completely outclassed, the rules allow them to concede when they trail by 10 runs. But Israeli coach Larry Bleicher refused, even though the Saudis had already scored 13 runs in the first inning and 22 in the third on their way to victory, saying he wanted his team to have the practice.

One poll finds a decrease in the proportion of the world's people describing themselves as religious--while another poll finds Israelis going in the opposite direction

As reported by Yoav Friedman of Ynet News, August 28, 2012:

A poll conducted last February by the Guttman Center for Surveys of the Israel Democracy Institute shows a rise in the proportion of Israelis who define themselves as religious Jews, yet the world is heading in the other direction.

The latest Gallup poll the results of which were published on Monday show that 59% percent of the world's population labeled itself religious, a 9% drop from previous surveys.
The poll, titled “The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism" included over 59,000 people from 57 nations, Israel not included. Each person was asked the following question "Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say that you are a religious person, not a religious person, or an atheist?"

Results show that alongside the 59% "religious",23% define themselves as "non religious"; 13% as "atheists" and 5% "without definition."

Despite the large scope of the poll, only 106 Jews were interviewed. They turned out to be the most secular group compared to other religions. Only 38% of the Jews defined themselves as religious; 54% defined themselves non religious and 2% - atheists. In comparison, 83% of Protestants and 81% of Catholics defined themselves as religious. Some 74% of Muslims claim they are religious.

The low proportion of religious Jews coincides with a 2009 Poll by the Guttman center which found that 7% of Israelis define themselves as "ultra-Orthodox"; 15% as "religious"; 32% as "traditional"; 43% as secular and 3% as anti religious seculars.

The Gallup poll also shows that the poorer you are the more religious you're likely to be. While the bottom 20% of the population (in terms of income) boasts 66% who define themselves as religious, the top 20% has only 49% religious.

Of the 57 countries who participated in the poll, the top 10 most religious countries were Ghana: (96%) Nigeria, Armenia, Fiji, Macedonia, Romania, Iraq, Kenya, Peru, Brazil (85%).

The top 10 atheist countries were China: (47% atheist), Japan, Czech Republic, France, South Korea, Germany, Netherlands and Austria, Iceland, Australia, Ireland (10% atheist each).

Vietnam displays the largest drop in self proclaimed people of faith - from 53% to 30% - in the past six years. France showed the biggest increase in "atheists" - from 14% in 2005 to 29% in 2011.

The poll didn't find a large gap between women and men who define themselves as religious (57% and 60% respectively) but there seems to be a link between education and religiousness. Of the interviewees who have only an elementary education 68% consider themselves religious compared to 61% and 52% of high school & university graduates respectively.

Assault on rabbi in Berlin prompts Jewish seminary to advise students not to wear skullcaps in public

As reported by Madeline Chambers of Reuters, August 30, 2012:

One of the first rabbis ordained in Germany since the Holocaust has been beaten up on a Berlin street, prompting a seminary to advise its students not to wear skullcaps in public.

Daniel Alter, 53, was attacked in front of his young daughter after collecting her from a piano lesson on Tuesday after a young man asked him "Are you a Jew?", said Berlin police.

A group of four young men hit him in the face repeatedly, shouted religious insults and threatened to kill his daughter. The rabbi needed hospital treatment to his face.

German media reported that the attackers "probably had an Arab background". The country's Central Council of Muslims condemned the attack.

Alter told Bild daily he was shocked at the shameless way his attackers had assaulted him in front of his daughter.

Germany's Central Council of Jews condemned the attack, saying it showed violent anti-Semitism had again become a serious social problem.

Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit said the incident was "an attack on the peaceful co-existence of all people in the capital".

Germany's official Jewish population has grown more than 10-fold in the last 20 years, largely thanks to an influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union, but anti-Semitic attacks are commonplace and policemen guard synagogues round the clock.

SECURITY

Alter was made a rabbi in Dresden in 2006. He and two others were the first to be ordained in Germany since 1942, when the College of Jewish Studies in Berlin was destroyed by the Nazi Gestapo secret police.

His father survived Auschwitz concentration camp.

In an interview with Reuters in 2007, Alter said he was worried about anti-Semitism and wore a baseball hat over his skullcap because he was worried about being identified as a Jew.

At the time of the attack, however, his skullcap was not concealed.

The Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam, currently training 28 rabbis, said it had boosted security around the building as a result of the attack and was checking mail.

"We have also given guidelines to our students on how to behave so that they do not become victims of such attacks," the college's rector Walter Homolka told the Berliner Morgenpost.

"We have advised them not to wear their skullcaps on the street, but to choose something inconspicuous to cover their head with," he said.

He urged the police and intelligence services to deal with violent Muslims. "It would be fatal if we were to see a proxy Middle East war on German streets," he said.

The Central Council of Muslims said Muslims were shocked by such incidents.

"At this time, Jews and Muslims must stand together and make clear: violence of any color has no place with us," said the Council's chairman Aiman Mazyek in a statement.

The American Jewish Committee called on Germany's parliament to act on a report on anti-Semitism which included recommendations on ways to combat anti-Semitism.

The report also said that anti-Semitism was entrenched in German society, manifesting itself in hate crime as well as in abusive language used by ordinary people.

"German lawmakers should not delay any longer adopting a comprehensive plan to combat anti-Semitism," said Deidre Berger, the AJC's Berlin director.

Fourth Muslim-Jewish dialogue to take place in Toronto

As reported by The Algemeiner, September 2, 2012:

On the initiative of Weekly Press Pakistan news service, a fourth Muslim – Jewish dialogue meeting will take place in Toronto, Canada on September 9th.

The dialogue is comprised of sessions of group discussions between Jews and non-Arab Muslims, geared towards the boost of people-to-people dialogue. The meeting is for adults as well as for teenagers, who will meet in separate groups. The meetings are designed to provide an opportunity to meet new friends and remove stereotypes. The demand from potential registrants for the coming session is reportedly high, including six requests from Pakistan-based Muslim journalists who want to attend.

Forty Muslims and Jews participated in the last meeting which took place in April. The two hour meeting involved men and women convening in four small work groups. The Muslims, on their part, stressed the difference between Arbi (Arab) and Ajmi (non-Arab) Muslims, and the positive attitudes of the latter toward Israel. The participants from both sides talked about the importance of tolerance and mutual respect, as well as the importance of confronting stereotypes. They explored topics such as spirituality, what makes for a good person, and what is necessary for enlightened collaboration between the two religions.

Khaleel Siddiqui, a senior Pakistani-Canadian journalist, stated during the last meeting: “The frank discussions, I hope, will open a new chapter in Jewish – Muslim relations. I believe that the misunderstanding between the two communities will be ended. Real Muslims are not terrorists and enemies of the Jewish people. Judaism and Islam have the same source – the religion of Abraham. Our God is one; we have similar religious instructions regarding many issues.” Another participant commented: “I am glad to be part of another very successful session of Jewish-Muslim Toronto Dialogue. It was very friendly, and intellectuals from both sides exchanged their thoughts. We also talked about what one idea or thought each can bring to the table which can help resolve present problems in the world.”

Alexandria, Egypt's last active synagogue will not be open for Yom Kippur

As reported by Roi Kais of Ynet News, September 4, 2012:

For the first time in years, it appears that Alexandria's ancient Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue will not open for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur prayer services. The magnificent building, erected in the 19th century, is considered the last active synagogue in Egypt.

According to reports, the Egyptians have decided not to allow the prayer this year for security reasons.

The decision was delivered to Rabbi Avraham Dayan, an Israeli of Egyptian descent and the former rabbi of Alexandria, who every year organizes a quorum of volunteers from Israel and other countries to pray at the ancient synagogue on the High Holidays.

Rabbi Dayan told Ynet, "We are trying to organize a quorum, but because of the security-related situation we're not really succeeding. We are still in touch with the Egyptian security organizations and are trying to make some progress…

"This year there have been some violent demonstrations in Alexandria, and they're afraid to take responsibility over people."

According to the rabbi, the decision to prevent the quorum has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power in Egypt. He said he had spoken to the leader of the Jewish community in Alexandria, who expressed his fear that worshippers would be targeted.

"Of course I'm disappointed," said Rabbi Dayan. "Everything was ready, and now we're forced to cancel. But we are preparing for any change, and if that happens – we'll leave for the synagogue."


'Mubarak era was different'

According to Levana Zamir, president of the Israel-Egypt Friendship Association, "Rabbi Dayan holds a quorum at the synagogue every year. There used to be a quorum of Jewish men in the city in the past, but there are fewer people in recent years so they had to bring some 'reinforcement' from Israel.

"The volunteers would stay in Alexandria 10 days, and the flights would be funded by the Joint. I personally supplied Rabbi Dayan with people from the community who were ready to come. It's not that pleasant to leave one's family for 10 days, but there are those who care and were willing to do it."

Zamir believes there is a connection between the new government and the failure to hold a quorum in Alexandria this year. "When they don't want something to take place, they mention security reasons," she claims.

"This will be the first time that this synagogue will not host Rosh Hashana prayers, and this means the end of Judaism there.

"The building's architecture is amazing. It was built there instead of a synagogue from the Hellenistic period. A year and a half ago it was supposed to be renovated with American funds, but the process was halted immediately after (former Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak was toppled. There were restrictions in Mubarak's era as well, but not like this."

Egypt's National Security Council was expected to hold another meeting and make a final decision on the matter.

According to Zamir, "The leader of the Jewish community in Alexandria, Ben Gaon, told Rabbi Dayan that there may be a change, but our friends in the organization of Egyptian Jews in Paris, who are in touch with Ben Gaon, say he doesn't think there will be a change.

"The new people in the security organizations are not well-established there yet, and it's easier to say no than yes."

According to several reports, there are only one or two Jewish men in Alexandria, and another 15 Jewish widows who married non-Jewish men. In Cairo there is a very small number of Jewish widows, who have also married non-Jewish men.

50 years ago: American mother of thalidomide baby gets an abortion in Sweden

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

On August 17, 1962, Sherri Finkbine, 30, a mother of four from Phoenix, Arizona and hostess of the local Romper Room television program, obtained a legal abortion in Sweden. Mrs. Finkbine had taken the morning sickness drug thalidomide (which her husband obtained during a visit to England in 1961) and was afraid that the child she was carrying would be born with serious physical defects. She told her story to the Phoenix newspaper The Arizona Republic, and interest in her case extended to an article about her and thalidomide in the August 10, 1962 issue of Life magazine.

At the time, abortion was permitted in Arizona only if the mother's life was believed to be in danger. A Phoenix hospital had originally promised to perform an abortion for Mrs. Finkbine, but when the newspaper story broke, the hospital cancelled the procedure. Mrs. Finkbine became the target of much criticism; she was unsuccessful in obtaining a court order to obtain the abortion and ended up going to Sweden. The abortion was permitted on the grounds that Mrs. Finkbine's "mental health" was in danger. The Finkbine case is cited by abortion advocates as a turning point in the history of abortion laws in the United States, as there was an increasing sympathy for and use of mental health as a ground for abortion. Danger to the mother's "mental health" was also a loophole criterion for allowing large numbers of "therapeutic" abortions to be performed in Canada from the time the practice was legalized in 1969 until the law permitting, but restricting abortion, was struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1988.

Another aspect of the increasing sympathy for abortion that resulted from the Finkbine case that legislators and media, now as then, seem reluctant to address (although it's what directly influenced Mrs. Finkbine's decision), is the belief that abortion is permissible if the baby is likely to be deformed. As the saying goes, hard cases make bad law. The Swedish abortionist who performed Mrs. Finkbine's abortion said that the baby had no legs and only one arm, and could not have survived. When Mrs. Finkbine asked if the baby was a boy or girl, the doctor reportedly told her that the deformity was so severe that he couldn't tell. I don't believe that the baby's certain death justified an abortion, as severe as the deformities may have been. If you allow an abortion for that baby, what is the next level of deformity where you draw the line? Those who object to the "slippery slope" argument should read Dr. Leo Alexander's classic article Medical Science Under Dictatorship, which appeared in the July 14, 1949 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Alexander, an American psychiatrist and neurologist, was a leading adviser to the Nuremberg war crimes trials after World War II. The article is must reading. This paragraph is particularly relevant:

Whatever proportions these crimes finally assumed, it became evident to all who investigated them that they had started from small beginnings. The beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitude of the physicians. It started with the acceptance of the attitude, basic in the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as life not worthy to be lived. This attitude in its early stages concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick. Gradually the sphere of those to be included in this category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, the racially unwanted and finally all non-Germans. But it is important to realize that the infinitely small wedged-in lever from which this entire trend of mind received its impetus was the attitude toward the nonrehabilitable sick.
On a personal level, I went to university with a thalidomide victim, a young lady who was born with phocomelic arms and hands without the usual number of fingers. I was amazed at how well she did despite her disability. I haven't seen her in many years, but she was a lovely woman, now living in another city. I know another woman who was born a couple of years later with deformities that weren't caused by thalidomide, but were rare enough to be reported in medical textbooks. We became good friends, and I'm very glad that neither of these people were aborted.

As for Mrs. Finkbine, she reportedy received hate mail and death threats, which is regrettable. It would have been much better had Christians and other pro-life advocates reached out in love to the Finkbines, without approving of the abortion. Indeed, the pro-life movement is much better at that now. Mrs. Finkbine lost her job at the television station; she and her husband had two more children before the marriage ended in divorce, and she acquired six stepchildren through a subsequent marriage. Back living under her maiden name, Sherri Chessen is now 80, and not beyond the grace of God. Let us pray for her.