Monday, December 30, 2013

20 years ago: Israel and the Vatican agree to establish full diplomatic relations

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
Zechariah 12:2-3

And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth...
...And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
Revelation 17:1-5, 9

On December 30, 1993, the government of Israel and the Vatican signed, in Jerusalem, the Fundamental Agreement Between the Holy See and the State of Israel, establishing full diplomatic relations between them. Included in the agreement were:

Preamble

The Holy See and the State of Israel,

Mindful of the singular character and universal significance of the Holy Land;

Aware of the unique nature of the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people, and of the historic process of reconciliation and growth in mutual understanding and friendship between Catholics and Jews;

Having decided on 29 July 1992 to establish a "Bilateral Permanent Working Commission", in order to study and define together issues of common interest, and in view of normalizing their relations;

Recognizing that the work of the aforementioned Commission has produced sufficient material for a first and Fundamental Agreement;

Realizing that such Agreement will provide a sound and lasting basis for the continued development of their present and future relations and for the furtherance of the Commission's task,

Agree upon the following Articles:

Article 1

§ 1. The State of Israel, recalling its Declaration of Independence, affirms its continuing commitment to uphold and observe the human right to freedom of religion and conscience, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in other international instruments to which it is a party.

§ 2. The Holy See, recalling the Declaration on Religious Freedom of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dignitatis humanae, affirms the Catholic Church's commitment to uphold the human right to freedom of religion and conscience, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Hu-man Rights and in other international instruments to which it is a party. The Holy See wishes to affirm as well the Catholic Church's respect for other religions and their followers as solemnly stated by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council in its Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Nostra aetate.

Article 2

§ 1. The Holy See and the State of Israel are committed to appropriate cooperation in combatting all forms of antisemitism and all kinds of racism and of religious intolerance, and in promoting mutual understanding among nations, tolerance among communities and respect for human life and dignity.

§ 2. The Holy See takes this occasion to reiterate its condemnation of hatred, persecution and all other manifestations of antisemitism directed against the Jewish people and individual Jews anywhere, at any time and by anyone. In particular, the Holy See deplores attacks on Jews and desecration of Jewish synagogues and cemeteries, acts which offend the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, especially when they occur in the same places which witnessed it.

Article 11

§ 1. The Holy See and the State of Israel declare their respective commitment to the promotion of the peaceful resolution of conflicts among States and nations, excluding violence and terror from international life.

§ 2. The Holy See, while maintaining in every case the right to exercise its moral and spiritual teaching-office, deems it opportune to recall that, owing to its own character, it is solemnly committed to remaining a stranger to all merely temporal conflicts, which principle applies specifi­cally to disputed territories and unsettled borders...

...
Article 12

The Holy See and the State of Israel will continue to negotiate in good faith in pursuance of the Agenda agreed upon in Jerusalem, on 15 July 1992, and confirmed at the Vatican, on 29 July 1992; likewise on issues arising from Articles of the present Agreement, as well as on other issues bilaterally agreed upon as objects of negotiation.
The view of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Israeli-Vatican relations from 1993 on is:

3. 1993 and onwards - de jure recognition

A year and a half of complicated negotiations culminated with the signing of the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel on 30 December 1993. Then, in accordance with the Additional Protocol to the Fundamental Agreement, fully accredited ambassadors were exchanged in May 1994. More in the nature of a framework agreement, the Fundamental Agreement opened the way for the establishment of juridical and fiscal subcommissions to deal with an array of substantive matters that were consciously left outstanding. Adding an unusual dimension, the Agreement acknowledged the unique nature of the relationship between the Church and the Jewish People and reiterated the Church's condemnation of anti-Semitism in all its forms, as voiced in Nostra Aetate.

Since that point in time, Israel and the Holy See have maintained a close diplomatic relationship - which has not been without its periods of strain and even crisis. The deliberations of the juridical sub-committee were concluded relatively quickly with a supplementary agreement signed on 10 December 1997, in which Israel recognised the juridical personality and the authority of canon law within the Catholic Church and its institutions, as well as those of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchates and their respective dioceses in the territory of Israel, while for their part those ecclesiastical entities recognised prevailing Israeli law in civil and criminal matters. On the other hand, the work of the fiscal sub-committee is still unfinished, due to serious difficulties in bridging the principled positions of the two sides and, from Israel’s point of view, because of the potential fiscal and material implications of any special privileges that may be granted to the Catholic Church for other Christian and non-Christian groups in the country.

A high point in the relationship was reached when Pope John Paul made his Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the Jubilee Year of 2000. Whilst the religious nature of the visit was pre-eminent, the political aspects could not be ignored - as, for example, when John Paul called on the President of Israel and when he met with the Prime Minister and members of his Cabinet.

High hopes in Israel of a closer political-diplomatic relationship with the Vatican in the wake of that visit were dashed with the outbreak of the second "intifada" in September 2000. Critical of Israel's military response to the Palestinian uprising and of the inevitable halt in the peace process, the Vatican put its diplomatic relationship with Israel on a chilly hold. Mindful, however, not to cause a complete hiatus, the Vatican put greater emphasis on the Jewish-Catholic dimension of the relationship. A number of initiatives were encouraged, including the launching of a remarkable dialogue between the Holy See and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in 2003, which still goes on productively today.

Strains of a different kind were put on the relationship in 1998 when Muslims in Nazareth sought to build a large mosque adjacent to the Church of the Annunciation with, it was thought, tacit agreement from political elements in Israel. This problem, directly involving a Catholic Holy Place, was only resolved in January 2002 when a governmental committee advanced a landscaping plan effectively putting an end to the building of the mosque. As against that, the diplomatic relations proved their strength and value when the Vatican and Israel worked closely and discreetly to help find a solution to the difficult situation created in April 2002 when armed Palestinian gunmen took control of another Holy Place, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and trapped inside it numbers of clerics (Catholics, Armenians and Greek Orthodox) as well as unarmed Palestinian civilians.

For the most part, the relationship proceeds on an even keel. Ministerial visits to the Holy See are frequent and too numerous to count. The first President of Israel to be received by the Pope was President Moshe Katsav in December 2002. On a day-to-day basis, the Israel Embassy to the Holy See seeks to keep the Vatican informed of official policies on current issues, while the Vatican's Embassy in Jaffa sees to its manifold property and other interests in Israel. Both sides seek avenues to broaden cultural, educational, academic and inter-religious cooperation and understanding. And mundane matters, such as visa problems and the entry into Israel of Catholic clergy from Arab lands not at peace with Israel, are dealt with routinely.

Israel and the Vatican attach particular importance to this diplomatic relationship. In many ways, it is a unique relationship, infused with centuries of Catholic-Jewish encounters, and encompassing interests that both sides regard as paramount. The relationship can therefore be expected to remain solid and vibrant, and to weather the occasional strain that will inevitably recur.
It should be kept in mind that the Roman Catholic Church officially teaches replacement theology, with the Roman Catholic Church as the new Israel. According to Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium, Solemnly Promulgated by His Holiness Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964 (from Chapter II: The People of God):

Israel according to the flesh, which wandered as an exile in the desert, was already called the Church of God (2 Esd. 13:1; cf. Num. 20:4; Deut. 23:1 ff.). So likewise the new Israel which while living in this present age goes in search of a future and abiding city (cf. Heb. 13:14) is called the Church of Christ (cf. Matt. 16:18).

We know from scripture that the last chapters on Israel and the Roman Catholic Church have yet to be enacted. Those who are interested in the future of Israel and Jerusalem would do well to read and heed such passages as Daniel chapters 8 and 9; Ezekiel chapters 38-48; Joel chapters 2 and 3; Zechariah 12; Matthew 24/Mark 13/Luke 21; and Revelation chapters 6-21.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

25 years ago: The death of J. Vernon McGee

On December 1, 1988, Dr. J. Vernon McGee died at the age of 84. Dr. McGee pastored a number of Presbyterian churches before serving as the pastor of the non-denominational Church of the Open Door in Los Angeles from 1949-1970.

Dr. McGee is probably best known for his Thru the Bible radio ministry, a series of broadcasts covering the entire Bible over a five-year period. His messages are still being broadcast today, which shows that if your messages are entirely taken from the Bible, you'll never be out of date.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

TV Guide salutes Billy Graham as an "American Icon"

Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. Luke 6:26

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: John 15:19a

Currently available at newsstands is a special edition of TV Guide magazine--in the category of "American Icons"--titled Billy Graham: The Reverend at 95 years. The cover photo may be seen here. On TV Guide's website, they have a page for Mr. Graham, where he's listed as a "celebrity." The reader may draw his own conclusions.






Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Then as now? Masculine Women! Feminine Men!--from 1926

And now for something completely different: If Irving Kaufman didn't like what he saw in 1926, he should see things now. From the good old days, when men were men and women weren't--or were they?

Masculine Women! Feminine Men!

Lyrics are by Edgar Leslie, music by James V. Monaco

Hey, hey--women are going mad today.
Hey, hey--fellows are just as bad.
I'll say!
Go anywhere--just stand and stare.
You'll say they're "bugs" [nuts] when you
Look at the clothes they wear.

Masculine women, feminine men--
Which is the rooster?
Which is the hen?
It's hard to tell 'em apart today.
And, say, sister is busy
Learning to shave.
Brother just loves his
Permanent wave. It's hard to
Tell 'em apart today, hey, hey!

Girls were girls, and boys were boys,when I was a tot.
Now we don't know who is who or even what's what!
Knickers and trousers, baggy and wide--
Nobody knows who's walking inside!
Those masculine women and feminine men.

Stop, look, listen, and you'll agree with me.
Things are not what they used to be, you'll see.
You say hello to Uncle Joe.
Then look again, and you find it's your Auntie Flo.
Masculine women, feminine men--
Which is the rooster? Which is the hen?
It's hard to tell 'em apart today!

Why, Auntie is smoking, rolling her own.
Uncle is always buying cologne.
It's hard to tell 'em apart today, hey, hey.

You go to give your girl a kiss in the hall,
But instead you find you're kissing her brother Paul.
Ma's got a sweater up to her chin;
Papa's got a girdle holding him in--
Those masculine women and feminine men!

Now, wifey is playing billiards and pool.
Hubby is dressing the kiddies for school.
It's hard to tell 'em apart today, hey, hey.
Since the Prince of Wales in ladies' dresses [kilts] was seen,
Now what does he intend to be--the King or the Queen?
Why, grandmother buys those tailor-made clothes;
Grandfather tries to smell like a rose.

Those masculine women and feminine men!

California pastor protests Costco's classification of the Bible as fiction

As reported by Joel Furches of Jarrettsville Christianity Examiner, November 20, 2013:

On November 15th, 2013, Pastor Caleb Kaltenbach was shopping at his local Costco in Simi Valley, California, when he was surprised to see a Bible in the Fiction section. On inspecting the $14.95 price tag, he found that, sure enough, it was labeled as Fiction.

Upset, Kaltenbach attempted to complain to Costco, but was unable to find an employee, so instead tweeted a picture of the Bible and its label.
Kaltenbach argues that this is a matter of tolerance. He claims that labeling a Bible as Fiction is tantamount to calling out Christianity as untrue, a claim not to be made lightly, and certainly one that should be avoided by a public company such as Costco.

There are four attitudes likely to be adopted on this news item: those who consider it a bold and proper stance for Costco to finally label the Bible for what it really is; those who hold that the Bible is an accurate representation of history, or at the very least, a legitimate and ancient system of belief, and should therefore fall in the category of non-fiction; those who would be willing to give religious believers their freedom to believe, but don't think that the Bible rises to the level of "non-fiction"; and finally, those who think that the whole affair is much ado about nothing, and couldn't care less what Costco chooses to label their Bibles.

In an increasingly Postmodern culture, rigid categories such as "Fiction" and "Non-Fiction" may be seen as increasingly too narrow, especially to classify a book as controversial as the Bible. More than ever, a distinction is being made between the categories of History and Religion. More and more people - professing Christians even - would consider the Bible to be a kind of "Religious Truth" without being a historical one. Only those at the extremes would continue to maintain that the Bible is either true or it isn't; that no shades of grey are permitted to enter the discussion.

Adding to this confusion is the fact that there is a very real argument to be made that the authors of scripture claimed to be transmitting actual history...

...Not only does the Bible claim that it is literally true, it admits that if it is not true, it is a lie and a vain faith.

If the Bible cannot be taken literally, it cannot be taken at all. It does not, by its own admission, leave anyone the option of an airy, poetic, spiritualized reading that sets it aside as historical fact.

The first century Christians certainly didn’t have that option. Of the handful of writers that composed the New Testament, most of them were supposedly executed for their beliefs according to early church writers, including Peter, Paul, and James. Men do not willingly suffer such abuses for what they believe is not literally true.

By the same token, the concept of scripture as Fiction is a mockery of those in totalitarian countries who, today, are imprisoned or executed for their beliefs...

...The Bible is either true or it is a lie. It is either fact or it is fiction. There is no third option.
Amen, Mr. Furches and Pastor Kaltenbach.

Friday, October 25, 2013

25 years ago: Ian Paisley "renounces" Pope John Paul II

And as for the Pope, I refuse him, as Christ's enemy, and antichrist, with all his false doctrine. Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1532-1556, moments before his execution by burning at the stake, March 21, 1556. Cited by John Foxe in Actes and Monuments (Foxe's Book of Martyrs) (1563).

I should have posted this a couple of weeks ago: On October 11, 1988, Pope John Paul II addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, but was interrupted by Rev. Ian Paisley, MEP from Northern Ireland, who gave the pope the reception he so richly deserved, shouting, "I renounce you as Christ's enemy and antichrist, with all your false doctrine..."

Mr. Paisley was physically attacked and ejected from the House, despite the fact that according to the rules of the Parliament he had every right to protest as he did, and Lord Plumb, President of the European Parliament, had no right to silence him or permit the attacks upon him. Mr. Paisley's protest, which received media coverage around the world, encouraged the Protestant minority populations in countries dominated by Roman Catholicism. The incident offered a glimpse into the future--and past--of a Europe dominated by the Roman Catholic Church, and of that church's tolerance of opposition. It's also worth noting that Mr. Paisley's attitude toward the pope is considerably different from that of Billy Graham, who wrote a glowing foreword in a special issue of Life magazine that was a tribute to John Paul II after his death in 2005.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

40 years ago: The Yom Kippur War begins

Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.
And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God.
For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.
Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.
Leviticus 23:27-32

For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. Zechariah 2:8

On October 6, 1973, the nation of Israel was observing Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, when she was hit by a combined attack of Egyptian forces on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal and Syrian forces on the Golan Heights, which had been captured by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967. The invasion by Egypt and Syria, who were both backed by the U.S.S.R., achieved initial success, but, like all other attempts to destroy the nation of Israel since its inception in 1948, the war ended in defeat for Egypt and Syria, with most hostilities ending on October 22. The Soviet Union suddenly became interested in promoting peace when the side she was backing started getting the worst of the fighting. While Israel received help from the United States, some things occurred in that war that prompted even secularist Israelis to believe that they had been the beneficiary of divine intervention.

A good quick overview of the Yom Kippur War from a Christian perspective can be found in the September 2013 newsletter of Crown & Sickle Ministries. Zola Levitt's book Israel in Agony (1975) is long out of print, but is useful for providing a look at the Yom Kippur War and other contemporary events from a Jewish Christian perspective.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Headline of the year: "The Mecca That Is Jerusalem"

Since the day that I brought forth my people out of the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build an house in, that my name might be there; neither chose I any man to be a ruler over my people Israel:
But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel.
II Chronicles 6:5-6

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.
Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King...
...As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah
. Psalms 48:1-2, 8

For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. Psalms 132:13

This is the funniest headline I've seen in a long time, and you'll find it here, over a review by Susan Hallett of the IMAX 3D documentary film Jerusalem in the Canadian edition of The Epoch Times, September 25, 2013 (updated September 28, 2013).

Monday, September 30, 2013

50 years ago: Then-obscure Maharishi Mahesh Yogi tours Canada

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

In September 1963 Hinduism in Canada was so outside the mainstream that its practitioners and promoters were regarded as exotic. One of its evangelists spent a couple of weeks training disciples in Parksville, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island before brief speaking engagements in Victoria, Calgary, Winnipeg, and Ottawa before leaving for the Himalayas by way of Europe. As reported by Eileen Learoyd in the Victoria Daily Colonist, September 20, 1963:

Indian Mystic Passes on Wisdom of the Ages

A man from the Himalayas has come to Parksville.

Many have never seen his like before. He has the deep, mysterious eyes of a mystic, and he is reputed to be the greatest living saint in India today...

His name is Maharishi.

He sits in his room at the Island Hall Hotel where he can see an arc of sand and sea and the islands of Texada and Lasqueti rising blue in the sky.

But he doesn't look out the window much. He talks to those who knock at his door, and once a day he leaves his room to speak in the lecture hall across the lawn. He speaks on deep meditation, the evolution of the soul, and the riddle of Maya.

His listeners have come here for two weeks to hear the ancient wisdom that has been passed down from Master to Master in Asia for innumerable centuries.

One hundred and fifty people from all parts of the world have followed him here. They come from Japan, Hawaii, Germany, New York, Australia, Montreal, Los Angeles and Duncan and Regina. They are architects, geologists, housewives, students, actresses, health-faddists, millionaires and those of modest means. They are 18 to 88 years.

Two of the people from New York are colored. The women from Hawaii brought a bower of fragrant leis with them.

The people are interesting, but beside the man from India they pale to shadows.

One feels the force beyond the soft voice, for it carries the kind of authority that only comes from the direct experience of a thing.

Like the Rishis of old, he has spent 13 years in meditation in the austere fasts of the Himalayas. Now he has come "out" to help humanity with a method of meditation formerly kept among the intimates of an ashram.

The soft voice says, "Our real ability is infinite. Meditation transcends thinking, it takes us consciously to levels beyond thinking where we now have the ability to use finer, more subtle faculties of experience.

"You can't shoot the tiger of the waking state with the rifle of the dreaming state."

He speaks of the personal and impersonal aspects of God. "God appears to be changing, but is Absolute, never changing. As hydrogen and oxygen become water, then ice--creation is like a change of qualities. This is the unity of life."

Maharishi likes to laugh with his listeners, but when he speaks seriously he is the Guru, the teacher who imparts his light and knowledge, and then he dominates the room.

Sometimes he seems the lonely recluse that he is. He looks lonelier than anyone we have ever met--perhaps because he knows how little we understand of what he says.

As he said one day, "God watches us at play, with our toys."

Great saint or extraordinary man, he lives the life he talks about.

That's why everyone listens.

Maharishi will speak in the Crystal ballroom of the Empress Hotel Monday at 8 p.m., then returns to India via Europe.
Page 5 of the same edition of the Daily Colonist carried an advertisement similar to that which appeared in the bottom left corner of page 2 of the Calgary newspaper The Albertan for September 24, 1963, reading:

TO-NIGHT

AUDITORIUM


A "MASTER" from India speaks in Calgary. Founder of the worldwide SRM, he flies back to the Himalayas this week.

He speaks on deep meditation, key to the unfoldment of latent faculties of the mind and on the evolution of the human spirit. The glory within each man flowers with this unique method of meditation.

Often called the light and hope of this age, this great saint of India teaches contact of the Inner Being as handed down from Master to Master.

MAHARISHI SPEAKS

at

the

JUBILEE AUDITORIUM

Social Room

Tuesday, 8 P.M. -- September 24
A feature article, anonymously written, appeared on page 3 of The Albertan, September 25, 1963:

Mystic Movement

TOPIC: 'Deep Meditation'

The man with the service-club pin and the well-dressed woman halted at the door.

You don't wear shoes before a saint.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the spiritual regeneration movement, sat cross-legged on a deer skin amidst a pile of newly-delivered flowers which he continuously fingered.

He wore a white robe, a long string of small red beads and the long shoulder-length dark hair was greying around the chin. He regarded the press with glowing dark eyes behind which seemed to lurk hidden amusement.

The well-dressed woman rushed in with a small table. "Somebody donated a coffee table, Master," she said. "There was none in the hotel."

The Maharishi doesn't worry about finances. "If I did," he explained, "I would begin to look down on the poor man." His followers, "thousands" in India, 1,000 in Canada, 116 in Calgary, supply the cash backing.

Tuesday night, the "great saint of India" rented the Jubilee Auditorium.

He came to bring peace of mind, self realization, better behavior, more understanding, happiness and harmony, and unfold latent talents--through a simple system of meditation.

"Thought arises from the deepest level of consciousness," he said in quiet, lyrical tones, "as the bubbles rise from the sea and explode.

Our thinking is so shallow, it is always on the surface of the sea of the mind."

The flowers he holds is the symbol of his message. "It invites every man to enjoy its outer beauty and inner honey."

Every man, he says, has a "word" which is his revealing characteristic. It is born with him and dies with him.

The Maharishi can find that word.

He examines a simple questionaire (name, address, state of health) given to those who wish to be initiated and finds the word vibration to correspond with the vibration of the man who filled the form.

It does not matter who or what the applicant is. Religion does not matter. The Maharishi is concerned only with raising the standard of humanity.

He has taught 60 other persons this power and they, with 1,300 lecturers, spread the word.

Personal questions are lost on the man. (How old are you? "We don't go by age." What area did you begin your work in India? "Big cities.")

The "light and hope of this age" as his followers call him speaks fluent English. He misses a question. "I didn't get you," he says.

Before coming here, he spent two weeks near Vancouver training 110 would-be teachers. "All have come out regenerated."

After leaving Calgary, he will continue east to Ottawa, Iceland, Europe and eventually the Himalayas. "I will go to Russia," he says, "when the government invites me."

Transportation? "I have just been given a four-seater Cessna plane," the Maharishi said, obviously pleased, "so that quickly I go ahead and bring peace to people."
The Calgary Herald of September 25, 1963 ran its own anonymously-written article on the bottom of page 18:

Indian 'Saint' Delivers Message

Meditation 'Key' To Inner Self


From the Himalayan foothills, Maharishi, whose followers consider "the greatest living saint in India," Tuesday night brought his message to the foothills of Calgary.

"Through deep meditation, man's mind can seek the inner spheres of his own personality and find the kingdom of heaven within," he says.

With his black, shoulder-length hair, beard and white robe, he is the traditional figure of the Indian mystic.

A rosary of 108 beads, each representing a prayer, hangs about his neck. Attached to the rosayry is a "picture of my master who left his body 10 years ago."

In his hotel room, he assumes a familiar, cross-legged position on a deer skin on his bed.

Thick perfume from dozens of flowers fills the room. In his hand he holds a rose.

NO MYSTIC

"But I'm not a mystic," he says, in excellent but hardly audible English.

"There is no mysticism in my message. It is a purely scientific way of exploring the glories of inner life through meditation.

Anyone can understand and practise it. It's simply a matter of thinking in terms of the subtle states of thought which are more charming than gross states of thought.

"This increasing charm draws the mind because by its very nature the mind goes to the area of greater happiness.

ONE WORD

"For every man there is one specific word--a word which has the vibration to set loose all his tensions, clear his mind."

Because of time limitations, he has devised a questionnaire and from the answers, decides on the word which suits "each person's level of intelligence."

"Having grasped the practice of meditating of the word--not its meaning, since meaning is static--they meditate morning and night on that word.

"From the first day, they begin to feel free from worries and anxieties."

With the release of tensions, body cells are rejuvenated, and people begin to look years younger, he says.

"And with spiritual regeneration comes happiness, peace, harmony and intelligence."

Founded in 1958, the spiritual movement now has 50,000 disciples in 23 countries, he says.

Calgary has 120 folowers and is the movement's Canadian headquarters, with Roland Umikar, oil company geologist, as president.

Tuesday night, the graduate with a science degree in math and physics who renounced his academic life to meditate and fast for 13 years in the Himalayas, addressed a gathering in the auditorium's social room.

He will make stops at other Canadian cities before flying to India via Europe.
The September 26, 1963 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press included an ad similar to the one in The Albertan, mentioning that the Maharishi would be giving a public lecture in the Oak Room of the St. Regis Hotel on Friday, September 27 at 8:30 P.M. The Winnipeg Free Press didn't regard the Maharishi's visit as an event worthy of a feature article.

The perceptive reader will notice that the Maharishi's movement still had the overtly religious title Spiritual Regeneration Movement--the name under which it was registered in California in 1959--and the technique he taught was called "deep meditation." While the Maharishi stated in his interview with the Daily Colonist that "meditation transcends thinking," the word "transcendental" as a brand name for his movement was nowhere to be found in 1963. It wasn't until several years later, after the Maharishi had figured out how to combine eastern spirituality with western desires for physical health and material success, that the brand name Transcendental Meditation came into existence. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi became famous when he met the Beatles in London in August 1967, and he became their spiritual adviser for a time (the Beatles were topping the British charts in September 1963 with their single She Loves You, but Beatlemania in North America was still several months in the future). The Maharishi died on February 5, 2008 at the apparent age of at least 90.

The Maharishi was being disingenuous when he said that religion didn't matter, when what he was teaching was Hindu meditation. In Vedantic Hinduism (i.e., the school which organized and systematized the Hindu writings known as the Upanishads), there is one impersonal god known as Brahman. Brahman alone is real, and everything else is a dream or illusion, known as maya. As stated by John Ankerberg and John Weldon:

However, Hinduism also teaches that Brahman exists "beneath" this illusory universe. In other words, Brahman resides "in" and "underneath" the material creation. This explains why the goal of Hinduism is to go inward to allegedly discover that one's true nature is part of God or Brahman. Hinduism aims at supposedly revealing one's inward divine nature by "contacting" Brahman through occult practice. The Facts on Hinduism in America (1991), p. 10

Phrases such as "latent faculties of the mind" and "evolution of the human spirit" come from the Hindu belief that sin is not transgression of the law of God (I John 3:4), but is lack of enlightenment and lack of self-realization. The technique of "deep" or "transcendental" meditation involves emptying one's conscious mind and concentrating on the mantra, resulting in an altered state of consciousness leading to enlightenment. If I actually stop to think about it, it seems quite nonsensical that I would have an inner divine nature and yet not know that--and to discover that true nature, I have to enter an altered state of consciousness where I'm unable to distinguish subjective from objective reality. In contrast, the Bible consistently upholds the reality of the material world, even to the point of stating that God--who exists apart from His creation--even became one of us (John 1:14), taking on an actual physical body (Luke 24:39, I John 1:1).

As for the particular word (the technical term is "mantra") given to each man, which he is then to keep to himself, Christian apologists such as the late Ron Carlson have pointed out that the reason for this is that there are only 16 mantras, and they're distributed according to the age of the initiate, which goes a long way in explaining why the initiate isn't to reveal his mantra to anyone else.

The perceptive reader will notice the similarities between the "deep" or "transcendental" meditation technique taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the contemplative prayer techniques being advocated today in Western evangelical Christianity, especially in the so-called "Emerging Church." The similarities--which can include even the promotion of two 10-minute sessions per day--are not coincidental. Contemplative "prayer" is in fact eastern meditation disguised in Christian garb.

For more information on contemplative spirituality and the Emerging Church, I suggest the sites for Lighthouse Trails Research Project, Caryl Productions, and Crossroad. Informative books on contamplative spirituality and the Emerging Church include A Time of Departing, 2nd edition, by Ray Yungen (2006); Faith Undone by Roger Oakland (2007); The Emergent Church: Undefining Christianity by Bob DeWaay (2009); and A "Wonderful" Deception by Warren Smith (2009). I don't know if it's still in print, but The Facts on Hinduism in America by John Ankerberg and John Weldon (1991) provides a good, quick review of the subject. It's also worth visiting the site of the Ankerberg Theological Research Institute.

TM-Free Blog and Meditation Information Network aren't written from a Christian perspective, but they provide useful information on Transcendental Meditation from the perspective of people who were formerly involved in TM.

While the 1963 newspaper advertisements proclaimed the Maharishi as "the light and hope of this age," there's someone who has a true claim on those titles for this and every age, and it isn't the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, but the Lord Jesus Christ:

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8:12

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. John 9:5

I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. John 12:46

90 years ago: British Mandate for Palestine comes into effect

And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. Isaiah 11:12

For, lo, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it...
... Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the Lord; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.
For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet I will not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished...
Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof.
Jeremiah 30:3, 10-11, 18

If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Jeremiah 31:36

On September 29, 1923, the British Mandate for Palestine took effect, creating Mandatory Palestine. The Mandate, i.e., the legal instrument authorizing British control of the area, was a result of the ratification of the Treaty of Lausanne on July 24, 1923 which officialy ended the state of war that had existed between Turkey and the British Empire, France, Italy, Japan, Greece, Romania, and the Serb-Croat Slovene State since the beginning of World War I. The Mandate was based on the principles adopted in the San Remo Resolution of April 25, 1920, embodied in Articles 94 and 95 of the Treaty of Sevres (signed August 10, 1920) and contained in Article 22 of the draft Covenant of the League of Nations, which stated, in part:

To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, there should be applied the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilisation and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in this Covenant.

The best method of giving practical effect to this principle is that the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations who by reason of their resources, their experience or their geographical position can best undertake this responsibility, and who are willing to accept it, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them as Mandatories on behalf of the League.

The character of the mandate must differ according to the stage of the development of the people, the geographical situation of the territory, its economic conditions and other similar circumstances.

Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory...

...In every case of mandate, the Mandatory shall render to the Council an annual report in reference to the territory committed to its charge.

The degree of authority, control, or administration to be exercised by the Mandatory shall, if not previously agreed upon by the Members of the League, be explicitly defined in each case by the Council.

A permanent Commission shall be constituted to receive and examine the annual reports of the Mandatories and to advise the Council on all matters relating to the observance of the mandates.
The Council of the League of Nations had formally confirmed the draft of the Mandate on July 24, 1922, and had amended it on September 16, 1922 with the Transjordan memorandum. From the time of the Transjordan memorandum, Great Britain administered the area west of the Jordan River as Palestine, and east of the Jordan River as Transjordan. While they technically remained one mandate, they were regarded as separate mandates in most official documents, and Transjordan was granted internal self-government in May 1923. The Kingdom of Transjordan was proclaimed in 1946; it became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949.

The Mandate, which formalized British control of southern Ottoman Syria, ended with the creation of the state of Israel at midnight on May 14, 1948.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Swedish judge exhibits the wisdom of Solomon

This sounds like a real-life episode of the 1990s television comedy series Seinfeld. Maybe this is how the proverbial 60-year-old Swedes (or 65, in this case) stay in shape. As reported by the Swedish English-language site The Local, September 12, 2013:

A man who openly masturbated on a Stockholm beach has been acquitted of sexual assault in court after it was ruled he was not targeting a specific person, with the prosecutor saying it's "okay" to play with yourself in public.

The incident occurred on June 6th at the Drevviken beach when the man removed his shorts and began masturbating close to the water. He was subsequently charged with sexual assault.

The SΓΆdertΓΆrn District Court has now acquitted the 65-year old in a judgement which stated that it "may be proven that the man exposed himself and masturbated on this occasion".

However, the court added that no offence had been committed as the masturbating man was not pleasuring himself towards a specific person.

Public prosecutor Olof Vrethammar told the Mitti newspaper that he wasn't planning to appeal the ruling.

"For this to be a criminal offence it's required that the sexual molestation was directed towards one or more people. I think the court's judgement is reasonable," he said.

When asked if it was now acceptable to masturbate in public if you don't direct it towards a specific individual the prosecutor said it was "okay."

"The district court has made a judgement on this case. With that we can conclude that it is okay to masturbate on the beach. The act may be considered to be disorderly conduct."

In another recent judgement a 15-year-old boy was acquitted after being previously charged with sexual assault. The teen had thrown his underwear into a lake and stood naked in front of two under-age girls.

The SΓΆdertΓΆrn District Court said that his behaviour did not have a sexual undertone and the charge was dismissed. Both the girls had requested the boy be charged with molestation.
And as reported by Helen Collis in the London Daily Mail, September 18, 2013:

Sweden, like its Scandinavian neighbours, tends to have a more tolerant and sometimes progressive approach to social issues.

But this landmark ruling raises concerns over the extent to which people will take advantage of the freedom to masturbate with impunity in public.

Dr Liz Davies, a Reader in Child Protection at London Metropolitan University who has carried out research into Sweden's child protection system, said she thought this ruling was surprising.

'Sweden has a really robust child protection system and very rigorous investigation around sexual abuse.

'So this judgement is surprising given that such an act could be witnessed by children as well as adults' she said...

...In the UK anyone who masturbates in public or exposes themself in any way faces an indecent exposure charge.
I infer from this story that Sweden, unlike countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada, has no law covering (pun intended) indecent exposure. This case shows a problem with not having such laws--a country with such liberal views on morality as Sweden probably doesn't think it worthy of its liberal open-mindedness to legislate against such trivial behaviour as "taking it out."

However, when such an incident occurs and a charge is deemed necessary, because there's no minor moral offense he can be charged with, he gets charged with the major offense of sexual assault, which is ridiculously out of proportion to the offense. The judge accordingly renders an acquittal because no real assault has taken place--although, in this case, the media reports don't state what evidence was actually presented in court. The offender is freed, and an unpleasant precedent is set. In countries where indecent exposure is in the criminal code the offender would be convicted and given an appropriate punishment, even if that punishment is just a fine, and the criminal may possibly be registered as a sex offender.

Monday, September 16, 2013

10 years ago: Garner Ted Armstrong goes to the "Wonderful World Tomorrow"

On September 15, 2003, Garner Ted Armstrong, the second son of Worldwide Church of God founder Herbert W. Armstrong, died at the age of 73. The WCG, founded as the Radio Church of God by Herbert W. in 1933, was a hodgepodge of various false doctrines that added up to a false gospel that could prove quite deceptive to those not steeped in Biblical truth (see my previous post on the death of Herbert W. Armstrong for more on the Worldwide Church of God and its derivatives). In the 1960s Garner Ted took over from his father as host of the WCG's radio and television programs titled The World Tomorrow, and was editor-in-chief of The Plain Truth magazine. Garner Ted was a more dynamic and telegenic speaker than Herbert W., and the programs' popularity increased during the years when Garner Ted was the host.

"Mr. Ted Armstrong," as WCG members referred to him--Herbert W. was "Mr. Armstrong"--was known to indulge in fornication. Mr. Armstrong ignored his son's sins for years, but in a 1978 power struggle, used Mr. Ted Armstrong's immorality and differences in opinion over the direction of the church as excuses for removing him from his positions with the WCG.

After his forced exit from the WCG, Garner Ted Armstrong founded the Church of God, International, based in Tyler, Texas, but was forced to leave in January 1998 after numerous verified instances of being caught with his pants down. He remained in Tyler and founded the Intercontinental Church of God (also based in Tyler), which he was leading at the time of his death.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

10 years ago: The execution of Paul Hill

On September 3, 2003, Paul Hill was executed by lethal injection in Florida State Prison in Starke, becoming the first American to be executed for murdering an abortionist. Mr. Hill was ordained in 1984 and was a minister affiliated with both the Presbyterian Church in America and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He was excommunicated in 1993 after publicly speaking and issuing statements under the name "Defensive Action" in favour of vigilante action to murder abortionists. On July 29, 1994, Mr. Hill fatally shot abortionist Dr. John Britton and bodyguard James Barrett and wounded Mr. Barrett's wife June outside the Ladies Center abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida. On December 6, 1994, Mr. Hill was sentenced to death.

I have no objection to capital punishment for abortionists--that is, execution by the state after due process of law. Nor do I object to the state's execution of Mr. Hill for his act of premeditated murder. The Bible nowhere permits individuals to execute people on their own, as horrible as their acts may be. One of the things that most angers me about vigilante killing of abortionists is such action may be interfering with the work of God in the life of the abortionist. Dr. Barnett Slepian, who performed abortions in Buffalo, was gunned down at his regular medical clinic in Amherst, New York on October 23, 1998 by "pro-life" terrorist James Kopp. Dr. Slepian was regularly meeting with a husband-and-wife couple of Baptist protesters outside his clinic, and was said to be open to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I don't know if Dr. Slepian had trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as his saviour before his sudden death, but I hope so. In any case, God seemed to be working on him, and Mr. Kopp's criminal act interrupted that. I'd rather have abortionists quit performing their evil deeds because they've become convinced that such acts are morally wrong, rather than to have them quit performing abortions because they've been gunned down or are in fear of such.

Mr. Hill's church acted correctly in not only defrocking Mr. Hill but excommunicating him--meaning that he wasn't to be regarded as even being a Christian. However, a "Christian," "pro-life" terrorist movement called the Army of God recognizes Mr. Hill as a hero, and publishes the Authorized Paul Hill Website. I recommend visiting the site just to see how extreme and off-base some people can be, while being thoroughly convinced that they're carrying out the will of God. In his nine years on death row Paul Hill showed no remorse, and said that he expected to receive a "great reward in Heaven." I believe Mr. Hill went to "his own place" instead.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

40 years ago: Egypt and Libya announce their intention to unite in a single state

On August 29, 1973, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat and Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar el-Gaddafi announced the "birth of a new unified Arab state." The declaration, however, made it clear that actual unification would come gradually, although Col. Gaddafi had supported immediate full union. If you're not old enough to remember--or, if like this blogger, you're old enough, but still don't remember union between Egypt and Libya--that's because it never, as Howard Cosell would say, eventuated.

Egypt, Libya, and Syria had comprised the Federation of Arab Republics since 1971. 38 days after the August 29 announcement, Egyptian and Syrian forces invaded Israel to begin the Yom Kippur War. Col. Gaddafi was reportedly infuriated that Egypt and Syria had planned the war without consulting him and was further angered when Egypt agreed to peace talks rather than pushing for total victory (the fact that Israel was getting the better of the war may have had something to do with Egypt's willingness to negotiate). The breach in relations between the Egyptian and Libyan leaders eventually reached the point that Col. Gaddafi called for the overthrow of Mr. Sadat.

On January 11, 1974, Col. Gaddafi and Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba met on the Tunisian island of Djerba and signed the Djerba Declaration, committing the two countries to unite in a single state to be known as the Arab Islamic Republic. Mr. Bourguiba soon reconsidered his decision to unite with Libya, and the union lasted no more than a month, if that; the date of dissolution is uncertain, and some say that Mr. Bourguiba changed his mind after only a day or so.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Take me out to the ball game funeral

In 1979 the television situation comedy series WKRP in Cincinnati aired an episode titled Commercial Break in which the radio station produced a commercial--featuring a snappy, upbeat jingle--for a funeral home. The program was ahead of its time; in 2013 a professional baseball team has decided to offer a free funeral to the winner of a contest as part of a commercial tie-in to a funeral home. I agree with their choice for the winner, but I prefer the old-fashioned kind of baseball promotion that Bill Veeck used to have--such as sending a midget up to bat.

From the same team that brought you the "urinal gaming system," as reported by Precious Petty of the Lehigh Valley Express-Times, August 20, 2013:

Most funeral directors will tell you that the best time to discuss after-death arrangements is well before a loved one passes away.

That's why Kevin Reichel, of Reichel Funeral Home in Northampton, agreed to sponsor the Lehigh Valley IronPigs' "Celebration of Life" tonight at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown. He wanted to start a conversation.

It would seem that Reichel succeeded.

News that the IronPigs would award a free funeral to one essay contest entrant grabbed national headlines. Fans who showed up to watch the Pigs play the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders were abuzz about the atypical giveaway.

Steve Paul, who's battling Lou Gehrig's disease, penned the winning essay. Doctors in June diagnosed the Freemansburg man with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. The news got him to thinking about his mortality, and he decided to enter the contest.

The 64-year-old said he wrote and rewrote the essay four or five times before submitting it...

...Paul, who uses a wheelchair, said it's a relief to know that his family won't have to worry about shouldering the financial burden of his funeral. But now that he has the prize in hand, Paul hopes to put off using it for as long as possible...

...Entrants submitted essays describing their ideal funeral and explaining why they deserved a free sendoff. The contest drew more than 50 essays from people looking to score a funeral worth nearly $10,000...

...A few entrants aimed to put the "fun" in funeral and called for memorial services held at Coca-Cola Park's home plate or to be attended by the IronPigs starting lineup, Reichel said. Other essayists, like Paul, struck a serious tone.

"It has been fun and crazy and goofy and that's part of what our fans have come to expect, but after the winner's announced, I think it'll be a new kind of story," Landes said before the IronPigs named Paul.

"People are going to be really appreciative of the Reichel Funeral Home and what they've done for this family," he said.

Paul's prize includes a casket, embalming or cremation, hearse, headstone, flowers and a funeral or memorial service. Reichel said his services are valued at $7,500. Northampton Memorial is pitching in with a headstone worth up to $1,500 and RichMar Florist is donating $300 in flowers...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The most unwelcome invention of 2013: the "urinal gaming system"

I'm sick and tired of sports events and leagues being used to promote trendy and politically-correct charities and causes. In recent years the Canadian Football League season has been commandeered during the month of October by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, with teams wearing pink uniforms for selected games (I'd like to see what would happen if a player balked at supporting the cause). Now a guy can't even go to the men's room at a baseball game without being exposed to a moralizing lecture about his health.

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs of the International League are the AAA farm team of the National League's Philadelphia Phillies. The IronPigs play their home games at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania. As reported by Jon Schaeffer of the IronPigs on March 26, 2013:

(Allentown, PA) - Coca-Cola Park will be the first sports venue in the world to feature a brand new revolutionary "Urinal Gaming System", allowing fans to interact with the world's only truly hands-free urinal game controller, when the Lehigh Valley IronPigs open their 2013 season this April. The p-controlled video game systems will be featured within all men's restrooms at Coca-Cola Park and are exclusively presented by Lehigh Valley Health Network.

"These games are sure to make a huge splash," exclaimed IronPigs General Manager Kurt Landes. "Our fans are always looking for the next big thing and these 'X-Stream games' are another example of our commitment to providing an unparalleled entertainment experience in all aspects of Coca-Cola Park, including our restrooms."

When a user approaches the urinal, the video console flips into gaming mode, using patented technology that detects both his presence and stream. Algorithms then allow the user to engage with the screen by aiming in different directions to test their agility and knowledge. The games are 100% intuitive and custom-built to provide a unique user interface along with an easy and seamless experience. The Urinal Gaming System was created and developed by United Kingdom-based Captive Media. For more information on Captive Media, or to see a video of the p-controlled video games, visit www.captive-media.co.uk.

Upon completion (an average of over 55 seconds according to published research), users will receive their score and a code to enter. They can then view their position on the leader board or check the website to see how they stack up with the rest of that night's competition! High scores will be displayed in real-time across various videoboard displays within Coca-Cola Park.

"Baseball fans know all about RBI, ERA and OBP," said Angelo Baccala, MD, of Lehigh Valley Urology Specialty Care and chief of Lehigh Valley Health Network's division of urology. "But when it comes to their own PSA, many men don't have a clue. We see this game as a fun and unique opportunity to remind men about the importance of prostate health."

Understanding what prostate-specific antigen (PSA) means is just a first step, Baccala said. He hopes the game will motivate more men to talk with their physician and, if appropriate, get screened. "Baseball, above all, is about team, and so is prostate health. Men should work together with their physician to devise a game plan that makes sense for them."

10 years ago: Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is suspended for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from the courthouse

I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
Exodus 20:2-17

On August 22, 2003, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission filed a complaint with the Alabama Court of the Judiciary (COJ), effectively suspending Chief Justice Roy Moore for his refusal two days before to enforce an order from a federal judge to remove from the rotunda of the State Supreme Court building in Montgomery a rock inscribed with the Ten Commandments. The COJ ordered the rock removed, using the ridiculous argument that the display violated the separation of church and state.

American readers may decide for themselves whether the decision to order the removal of the Ten Commandments from the State Supreme Court building in Montgomery has had a beneficial effect for Alabama and the U.S.A. I think those who demand the removal of the Ten Commandments should be challenged to explain which of the commandments they find so offensive and why they find them so offensive. I suspect the commandment that most offends secularists and idolaters is the first one.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Never trust a talking teddy bear

If dogs could talk, it would take a lot of the fun out of owning one. Andy Rooney

As if there isn't enough surveillance already, now you can have a talking teddy bear that gets its information fed to him from the Internet. The potential for further invasion of privacy (it's not to hard to imagine government snooping agencies using the talking teddy to encourage children to provide information about their parents) is ominous--if they ever get it working right (see entire article cited below). As reported by Neil Tweedie in the London Daily Telegraph, August 1, 2013:

Supertoy is a teddy bear that is supposed to hold a conversation. Not a set of pre-programmed “pull the toggle on the back” statements Γ  la Action Man, but a real chat. About anything...

...Questions posed by the bear’s owner are turned firstly from voice into text, then transmitted to a server by a mobile phone attached to the bear and equipped with a special app. The internet is trawled for an answer and the reply sent back to the bear, which speaks his mind.
I particularly like the following comment from someone identified as EnorMouse (August 2, 2013):
Let's see - opinionated, spends its time surfing the net on mobile phone, lacking the ability to evaluate the information it finds but happy to regurgitate it - I think he has invented a teenager - well once he gets it to open a couple of social media accounts anyway :-)

I've interviewed real teddy bears, and they're unanimous in their dislike and distrust of Supertoy. What Mr. Rooney said about dogs is also true of teddy bears, which is why I don't believe the talking teddy will catch on. The "billy possum" didn't sell too well, either--and it didn't talk.

Monday, August 5, 2013

50 years ago: Jesuit priest advocates public relations techniques for churches

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer (HT: The Watchman's Bagpipes)

We've become so accustomed in recent years to seeing churches using the methods of the church growth movement and the ideas of people such as Peter Drucker to increase attendance and membership that it may come as a surprise to find out that such wasn't always the case. The following story from Associated Press appeared in The Edmonton Journal, July 20, 1963:

New York (AP)--Are public relations techniques suitable for church use?

A 385-page "yes" answer has been written by Rev. Thomas J.M. Burke, director of public relations for Jesuit missions, in a doctoral dissertation, said to be the first one on public relations for religious institutions.

"All religious groups can and should use organized public relations techniques to remove unnecessary conflict and misunderstanding among themselves and between religious groups and society at large," says Father Burke.

In his thesis, Father Burke outlines how all creeds can utilize the elements of planning and continued direction that are essential in a successful public relations campaign.

His view is this:

The basis of public relations is to persuade people. Religious groups aim at persuading people of an ethical truth they think is usable.

So, using techniques highly developed by professional public relations men can enable churches to promote religious and social values in society, communicate better with their own people and further co-operate among denominations.
Yes, all we need are public relations techniques; who needs old-fashioned methods such as relying on the Holy Spirit? While the apostle Paul tried to persuade men (II Corinthians 5:11), he did so while relying on God (II Corinthians 5:7), not on human methods of persuasion.

Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Mark 7:7

10 years ago: U.S. Episcopal Church approves first openly sodomite bishop

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
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;
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Romans 1:24-32

"He told me his name was Vicky Gene, and he caused a scene..."

On August 5, 2003, the Episcopal Church in the United States gave further evidence of its apostasy when the House of Bishops voted its approval of the church's first openly sodomite bishop, Vicky Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, two days after a similar vote by the House of Deputies (composed of clergy and laity). The approval by the House of Bishops came after two last-minute accusations about Mr. Robinson's conduct failed to survive an investigation. Mr. Robinson was married with a family, but he put the fulfillment of his homosexual lusts above his responsibilities to his wife and family, and the leaders of this so-called church didn't object.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Thai Buddhist monk faces sex and fraud charges

A luxurious lifestyle financed by his followers; claims of miraculous powers; allegations of sexual immorality--no, it's not an American charismaniac televangelist in the 1980s, but a Buddhist monk in Thailand in 2013, which shows that such characters can be found anywhere. As reported by Jocelyn Gecker of Associated Press, July 18, 2013:

BANGKOK - He's known as Thailand's jet-setting fugitive monk, and his story has riveted the country with daily headlines of lavish excess, promiscuity and alleged crimes ranging from statutory rape to manslaughter.

Until a month ago, 33-year old Wirapol Sukphol was relatively unknown in Thailand. Now he is at the centre of the biggest religious scandal the predominantly Buddhist country has seen in years.

Despite the vows he took to lead a life of celibacy and simplicity, Wirapol had a taste for luxury, police say. His excesses first came to light in June with a YouTube video that went viral. It showed the orange-robed monk in aviator sunglasses taking a private jet ride with a Louis Vuitton carry-on.

The video sparked criticism of his un-monkly behaviour and a stream of humorous headlines like, "Now boarding, Air Nirvana."

Since then, a long list of darker secrets has emerged — including his accumulated assets of an estimated 1 billion baht ($32 million). This week, authorities issued an arrest warrant for the disgraced monk after having him defrocked in absentia.

Wirapol was in France when the scandal surfaced after leading a meditation retreat at a monastery near Provence. He is believed to have then fled to the United States but his current whereabouts are unknown.

The arrest warrant implicates him on three charges including statutory rape, embezzlement and online fraud to seek donations. He is also under investigation for money laundering, drug trafficking and manslaughter for a hit-and-run accident. Authorities are struggling to figure out how he amassed so much money.

"Over the years there have been several cases of men who abused the robe, but never has a monk been implicated in so many crimes," said Pong-in Intarakhao, the case's chief investigator for the Department of Special Investigation, Thailand's equivalent of the FBI. "We have never seen a case this widespread, where a monk has caused so much damage to so many people and to Thai society."

Cases of monk misconduct in recent years have centred on alcohol use or cavorting with women or men, all forbidden activities. Last year, about 300 of Thailand's 61,416 full-time monks were reprimanded and in several cases disrobed for violating their vows, according to the Office of National Buddhism.

In Wirapol's case, investigators believe they have only scratched the surface.

Born in the poor northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani, he entered the monkhood as a teenager and gained local renown for claims of supernatural powers like the ability to fly, walk on water and talk to deities. He renamed himself, Luang Pu Nen Kham, taking on a self-bestowed title normally reserved for elder monks.

Gradually, he cultivated wealthy followers to help fund expensive projects in the name of Buddhism — building temples, hospitals and what was touted as the world's largest Emerald Buddha. The 11-meter (36-foot) high Buddha was built at his temple in the northeast, touted as solid jade but made of tinted concrete.

Thailand's Anti-Money Laundering Office has discovered 41 bank accounts linked to the ex-monk. Several of the accounts kept about 200 million baht ($6.4 million) in constant circulation, raising suspicion of money laundering.

Investigators also suspect that Wirapol killed a man in a hit-and-run accident while driving a Volvo late at night three years ago.

Critics say Wirapol is an extreme example of a wider crisis in Buddhism, which has become marginalized by a shortage of monks and an increasingly secular society. The meditative lifestyle of the monkhood offers little allure to young Buddhists raised on shopping malls, smartphones and the Internet.

But the case of Wirapol has also shown the benefits of social media, says Songkran Artchariyasarp, a lawyer and Buddhist activist.

"Buddhists all around the world can learn from this case," said Songkran, who heads a Facebook group that collects tips about wayward monks. Photos uploaded to his page helped launch the investigation into Wirapol.

"Let this be a case study that shows if a monk does something wrong, it's harder to get away with it — especially in the era of social media."

But it remains stunning how much Wirapol did get away with. During a shopping spree from 2009 to 2011, Wirapol bought 22 Mercedes worth 95 million baht ($3.1 million), according to the DSI. The fleet of luxury cars were among 70 vehicles he has purchased. Some he gave as gifts to senior monks, others he sold off as part of a suspected black market car business to launder his money, Pong-in said.

Luxury travel for the monk included helicopters and private jets for trips between the northeast and Bangkok.

"I always wondered what kind of monk has this much money," said one of his regular pilots, Piya Tregalnon. Each domestic roundtrip cost about 300,000 baht ($10,000) and the monk always paid in cash, he said in comments posted on Facebook.

"The most bizarre thing is what was in his bag," Piya said, referring to the typical monk's humble cloth shoulder sack. "It was filled with stacks of 100 dollar bills."

Like many people, Piya only went public with his suspicions after the scandal erupted. Dozens of pictures have been posted in online forums showing Wirapol's high-flying lifestyle — riding a camel at the pyramids in Egypt, sitting in a cockpit at the Cessna Aircraft factory in Kansas. According to the pilot and investigators, Wirapol was interested in buying his own private jet.

Even more incriminating were accusations of multiple sexual relationships with women — a cardinal sin for monks who are not allowed to touch women. Among them was a 14-year-old girl with whom he allegedly had a son, a decade ago. The mother filed a statutory rape case against him last week.

Police have yet to determine how many people he swindled, but the trail of disappointed followers is long.

One of them is a Bangkok housecleaner originally from Ubon Ratchathani who remembers first hearing him preach a year ago.

"His voice was beautiful, it was mesmerizing. He captivated all of us with his words," recalled Onsa Yubram, 42. When he ended his sermon and held out his saffron bag, hundreds of people rushed forward with donations. "His bag was so full of cash, they had to transfer the money into a big fertilizer sack. He told us, 'Don't worry, no need to rush. I'll stay here until the last of you gets to donate.'"

Onsa now feels betrayed but says her belief in Buddhism is too strong to let this scandal shatter her faith.

"As a Buddhist I can understand why this happened. Monks, in a way, are ordinary men who have greed and desire," she said. "Some are bad apples, but that doesn't mean every monk is bad."

Monday, July 22, 2013

Physicists are still trying to understand what God has already revealed

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:15-17 (NIV)

The passage of scripture above explains what scientists are still trying to figure out, as reported by Vivian Luk of The Canadian Press, July 19, 2013 (bold added by blogger):

VANCOUVER – Science is one step closer to solving one of the most profound mysteries in the cosmos due to what an international team of physicists say is an unprecedented observation about a fundamental particle in the universe.

Representatives from a team of 400 scientists from 11 countries, including Canada, revealed Friday that, for the first time, a muon neutrino was seen transformed into an electron neutrino — something never witnessed before.

The observation, announced at the European Physical Society Conference on High Energy Physics in Stockholm, allows for the possibility that neutrinos’ counterpart, anti-neutrinos, may not behave in the same way.

If that’s the case, it may help explain why the universe is made up of mostly matter and not antimatter — a phenomenon that scientists have been trying to unravel for years, said University of British Columbia physicist Hirohisa Tanaka.

Tanaka, who led a group responsible for analyzing data in the neutrino experiment known as T2K, said neutrinos come in three types and are intrinsically linked to matter. Their counterparts, anti-neutrinos, also come in the same three types, and are similarly linked to anti-matter.

When the universe was created, the Big Bang converted energy into matter and antimatter — two materials that destroy each other when they come into contact.

“In some sense, we’re asking why anything exists at all, if it wasn’t annihilated by equal quantities of matter and antimatter,” Tanaka said in an interview.

“There’s some kind of imbalance that occurred when the matter became dominant, and that is something that we can’t explain.”


Antimatter has been the fodder for many science fiction enthusiasts, used to power starships in Star Trek, and threatened to annihilate the Vatican in the popular 2000 novel Angels and Demons.

In the T2K experiment, scientists created muon neutrinos with a particle accelerator at a facility on the east coast of Japan and shot a beam of them through the ground. Three hundred kilometres at the other side of the country, the neutrinos were observed in a massive detector called the Super-Kamiokande.

The project began in 2010 and was interrupted in March 2011 when the earthquake severely damaged the accelerator. But Tanaka said through a “heroic effort,” the team managed to pull everything back together in six months.

Tanaka said scientists had always deduced muon neutrinos could transform into electron neutrinos, but this is the first time anyone has seen one disappear and the other appear.

Now scientists want to see if neutrinos’ counterparts will do the same thing, he said. If it turns out that anti-muon neutrinos do not transform into anti-electron neutrinos at the same pace, then that could point to an asymmetry between electron neutrinos and anti-electron neutrinos.

While that imbalance doesn’t necessarily solve the matter-antimatter conundrum, it’s a start, said Tanaka.

“There are a family of particles, and by studying one, you can sort of infer some of the properties of others in the family,” he said. “And it’s actually other members of the family that we believe are responsible for this imbalance in the universe.”

Tanaka said to see whether an imbalance exists between the way muon neutrinos and anti-muon neutrinos transform, an enormous cavern would need to be dug out of a mountain to fit in a much larger detector — a project that is currently in the proposal stage.

“By studying these elementary particles, we’re sort of looking at the universe near the time of the Big Bang,” he said.

“It gives us a glimpse into what might have happened, what particles where doing, and explaining how the universe started from the Big Bang to where we are now, with galaxies, and molecules and…people.”

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Archaeologists discover Jerusalem's earliest alphabetical written text

As reported by Xinhua, July 10, 2013:

JERUSALEM, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Working near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, archaeologists have unearthed the earliest alphabetical written text ever uncovered in the city.

Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University's Institute of Archeology, who led the team, told Xinhua on Wednesday that the inscription dated to the 10th century BC, and predates by 250 years the earliest known alphabetical written text found in Jerusalem.

The excavation was conducted in collaboration with Israel Antiquities Authority, Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the East Jerusalem Development Company. The findings are published in the current issue of Israel Exploration Journal, in a co-authored article by Mazar, Prof. Shmuel Ahituv of Ben-Gurion University, and Dr. David Ben-Shlomo of the Hebrew University.

The text was engraved on the rim of a large ceramic jar before it was fired, and only a fragment of it has been found, along with fragments of six other jars of the same type.

According to Ahituv, the inscription is engraved in an early Canaanite, an ancient group of Semitic languages spoken by the people of Canaan, a region stretching across modern-day Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Syria.

The jar was made before the Israelite rule and the prevalence of Hebrew script, the researchers said. Therefore, according to Ahituv, the text was likely to have been written by one of the non- Israeli residents of Jerusalem, perhaps Jebusites, who were part of the city population in the time of Kings David and Solomon.

Mazar said archeologist can read the letters engraved on the jar -- M, Q, P, H, N, possibly an L, and N, but the meaning of these letters will remain a mystery. "No one today can decipher Canaanite," said Mazar.

Egyptian sphinx discovered in Israel

As reported by the Jerusalem Post, July 10, 2013:

Archeologists in Israel have made an amazing and unexpected find - the toes and lower feet of an Egyptian Sphinx linked to a pharaoh known for his pyramid construction.

The feet, believed to be part of a larger statue, was uncovered at the archeological site at Tel Hazor, north of Tiberias, by a team from the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University, led by Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor and Dr. Sharon Zuckerman.

The Sphinx was discovered in the layer of Tel Hazor that was destroyed during the 13th century BCE, at the entrance to the city palace.

The fragment carries a hieroglyphic inscription mentioning the name of Mycerinus, who ruled Egypt more than 4,000 years ago, and was responsible for the construction of one of the great pyramids in Giza.

It is the only known Sphinx of this king discovered anywhere in the world — including Egypt - and the only piece of a royal Sphinx sculpture discovered in the entire Levant area (the eastern Mediterranean).

But the archaeologists believe that the sphinx was likely brought to Israel some four thousand years ago, rather than there being a relationship between Egypt and ancient Israel that led to its construction at the site of discovery.

The hieroglyphic inscription found between the toes includes the descriptor “Beloved by the divine manifestation… that gave him eternal life.” Ben-Tor and Dr. Zuckerman believe that this indicates the likelihood that the Sphinx originated in the ancient city of Heliopolis, not far from modern Cairo.
Go here for a more detailed article about this discovery.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pakistani Christian girl accused of blasphemy against Islam is now in Canada with her family

As reported by Terry Glavin of the Ottawa Citizen, July 1, 2013:

Until the Canada Day weekend, it was a closely-guarded secret in Ontario’s Pakistani Γ©migrΓ© community that Rimsha Masih, the Christian girl whose entrapment in Pakistan’s barbaric blasphemy laws captured headlines around the world last year, was living incognito with her family in Canada.

While much of Rimsha’s harrowing saga can now be told, her story is just one small drama in a much larger and necessarily untold story involving scores — sometimes hundreds — of people who are secreted into Canada every year.

In the case of 13-year-old Rimsha, it was only after she was recognized at a Mississauga shopping mall and a Toronto-based advocacy group confirmed the basic facts of the case last week that her parents consented, on Saturday, to allow Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to speak publicly about the story.

“There was no point in denying it by then. It was becoming a known fact in the community,” Kenney told me on Sunday. “This was being dealt with in extreme discretion. I don’t want to be too dramatic about this, but they’ve had targets painted on their backs for the better part of a year.”

While Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are an outrage against international human rights norms, Rimsha’s case was especially notorious. Initial reports described Rimsha as a child with Down’s Syndrome who stood accused of having burned a Koran, and the proceedings against her almost immediately revealed that she’d been framed by a fanatical Muslim cleric, a neighbour with a grudge against the family.

Blasphemy allegations targeting Pakistan’s tiny Christian community sometimes fail to produce convictions, but they rarely fail to provoke lynch-mob violence, pogroms and assassinations. The Masih family had “gone underground” last September, and even though a November high court ruling ordered a dismissal of the charges against Rimsha, whose disability involves a slight intellectual impairment, the death threats persisted.

After furtive contacts between Ottawa and the family’s protectors in Pakistan and a series of expedited deliberations at the Canadian High Commission in Islamabad, Rimsha, her parents and her three siblings arrived in Canada March 13. Rimsha’s parents are Misrak and Mariyam Masih, her sisters are Rubacca, 15 and Cloudia, 10, and her brother is Anosh, 8.

The family is receiving some assistance via the refugee assistance program, to help them through their first year in Canada. They are also being helped by the Pakistani-Canadian Christian community, Kenney said. The family is living somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area, “which is all we’re going to say...”

...Roughly 1,000 people have been swept up by Pakistan’s blasphemy laws since 1986, more than half of them during past five years. Kenney said he was already “acutely aware” of the mortal threats involved, not least because of the Pakistani Taliban’s March 2011 assassination of his friend Shabaz Bhatti, the crusading Pakistani MP who was an outspoken opponent of Islamabad’s blasphemy laws.

Bhatti’s brother Peter, president of the Toronto-based International Christian Voice, was instrumental in developing the lines of communication between Ottawa and the Masih family in Islamabad. Peter Bhatti has also taken a leading role in helping the family settle in the Toronto area...

...To come to the aid of a person accused of blasphemy in Pakistan is to take one’s life into one’s hands. In January, 2011, Punjab provincial governor Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by a member of his own security team for having taken up the cause of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death by hanging in 2010 for an act of blasphemy that she denies committing. Bibi’s case is under appeal.

Getting Rimsha Masih’s family spirited out in Pakistan was a slow and dangerous process.

“It took some time because of the danger for them to procure passports for her and her family,” Kenney said, “but as soon as that happened we ensured that our High Commission processed permits for them to come to Canada.”
While I rejoice that the Masih family is out of immediate harm's way, I suspect that it doesn't necessarily mean that they're safe even in Toronto. Given the multicultural monstrosity that Trudeaupia (still officially known as "Canada" has become), it's not outside the realm of possibility that the same mentality that persecuted the Masih family in Pakistan may be at work in Canada. Let us pray for the safety of these Christians in Canada and, of course, in their homelands.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ancient Roman road discovered in Jerusalem

As reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 25, 2013:

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A section of a 1,800-year-old ancient road from the Roman period running from Jerusalem to Jaffa was uncovered in northern Jerusalem.

The road was discovered during excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Israeli-Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina in advance of the installation of a drainage pipe.

The road made of large, flat stones and bound on both sides by curbstones is badly worn in some areas, indicating that it was used extensively and repaired several times.

Other segments of the road had been excavated previously by the Antiquities Authority, but nothing as well preserved as the section recently uncovered in Jerusalem, David Yeger, excavation director on behalf of the authority, said in a statement.

“The Romans attached great importance to the roads in the empire,” he said. “They invested large sums of money and utilized the most advanced technological aids of the period in order to crisscross the empire with roads.”

The Beit Hanina section was part of a Roman road that ran to the coast following the same path as the modern Route 443.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

50 years ago: Congress on Prophecy emphasizes the Lord's return

If there seems to be confusion or neglect of truth regarding the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in 2013, the same appears to have been the case in 1963:

The Congress on Prophecy held in the Moody Memorial Church from May 12 to 19, 1963, was convened by the American Board of Missions to the Jews to meet the great need of the hour. Because of new theological trends sweeping over our land, the blessed hope, that great bulwark of the believer, is becoming blurred. It is not at all strange that as a corollary of unscriptural teachings that there should also be a rethinking of the place of Israel in God's plan. Once more Satan attacks the earthly channel of God's blessing, the Jew. This was the challenge of the hour: to reaffirm with no uncertain sound the great truths concerning the second coming of our Lord. Emil D. Gruen, Foreword to Focus on Prophecy, Charles L. Feinberg, Editor, 1964, p.7).

Confusion is the hallmark of Christian theology today. This is true, moreover, not only in the realm of liberalism, but in the area of orthodoxy as well. As issues have become more blurred with the passing years, it has been imperative that the old truths of the premillennial eschatology be set forth with clarity and conviction. To this end the American Board of Missions to the Jews convened the Congress on Prophecy at the hostoric Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, Illinois from May 12 to 19, 1963. (Charles L. Feinberg, Preface to Focus on Prophecy, p. 9)

American Board of Missions to the Jews, founded by Rabbi Leopold Cohn in 1894, is now known as Chosen People Ministries.

The speakers at the congress included--among others--Dr. Feinberg, Dr. John Walvoord, and Daniel Fuchs. Topics included--among others--Israel in the Tribulation; The Future of Russia; Habakkuk in the Nuclear Age; The prophetic Foundation of the Church; Is the End of the Age at Hand?; The Relation of the Church to the Great Tribulation; and Prophecy and the Evangelization of the Jews. Representative messages were collected into a book titled Focus on Prophecy, edited by Dr. Feinberg and published by Fleming H. Revell Company in 1964. Although the messages delivered at the Congress on Prophecy are now 50 years old, they remain relevant, and the book was a blessing to this blogger. It's worth hunting for a copy of Focus on Prophecy; I recommend searching Advanced Book Exchange.