Tuesday 30 April 2024

YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg drops "Christian" from its name

The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) was founded by a draper named George Williams, and was a product of the 19th century movement known as Muscular Christianity, which promoted patriotism, masculinity, duty, discipline, and athleticism. The reader of the following article will notice that while the YMCA-YWCA's distinctive Christian characteristics have faded away, those running and using the Y's are content to sponge off the cultural heritage of Christianity, while scorning the source, resulting in an acronym with no meaning. That's what you're left with when Jesus Christ is removed: a meaningless jumble. As always, the wokesters are incapable of building any such equivalent organizations of their own.

As reported by John Longhurst in the Winnipeg Free Press, February 29, 2024:

The Young Men’s and Young Women’s Christian Association of Winnipeg has changed its full legal name to YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg.

The reason for dropping references to Christianity and gender is to both reflect the reality of the organization and remove any barriers or concerns some might feel because of those words, said president and chief executive officer Cordella Friesen.

“We are open to all faiths,” Friesen said Thursday, noting while the organization was founded on Christian principles and values in the 19th century, it hasn’t been overtly Christian in Canada since the 1970s.

“That has not been our emphasis for a long time.”

However, she was often asked about the role Christianity played in the organization, including when hiring new staff or when signing partnership agreements.

This is especially true when entering into agreements with Indigenous groups, Friesen said, noting references to Christianity in the former full legal name could be triggering and concerning for some.

Changing it to the acronym YMCA-YWCA “just reflects the reality of who we have been for decades and who we are,” Friesen said, noting the organization serves a lot of people from the local Muslim community.

This includes wanting to make sure the YMCA-YWCA is seen as being open and welcoming to members of the LGBTTQ+ community, she added. The organization is providing a universal washroom and locker room at its downtown Winnipeg location, although it will still have gendered change rooms and bathrooms.

“Having separate rooms for men and women is important for some faith groups,” Friesen said.

The end goal of the name change is to send the message the YMCA-YWCA is “welcoming to all,” Friesen said. “The Y will always be a safe place that promotes and celebrates diversity.”

The name change is part of the organization’s recently released 2024-27 strategic plan, developed by YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg’s board of directors over the past year.

The YMCA was founded in 1844 in London, as a response to the terrible working conditions facing young men in cities at that time. The first YMCA in North America opened in Montreal in 1851; the Manitoba branch opened in 1879.

The YWCA was founded in 1858 in New York City.
Ms. Friesen provides more evidence that you can't be a satirist anymore, promoting the Y as a "safe place" while providing a universal washroom, thereby making it "safer" for alphabet perverts to indulge their perversions. And yes, "having separate [change] rooms for men and women" is not only important for some faith groups (read "Muslims," since the views of Christians obviously don't matter to her), but to anyone with any grasp of reality.

Sunday 31 March 2024

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) celebrates Transgender Day of Visibility

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

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come... ...Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. II Timothy 3:1,5

If you're not already aware that the United States (not to mention Canada and other Western nations) are increasingly under the judgement of God, the declaration by the administration of alleged U.S. President Joe Biden of March 31, 2024 as "Transgender Day of Visibility" should help to make it clear. The fact that this celebration of perversion is scheduled for Easter Sunday is not a coincidence. Blogger Vox Day addresses this:
Evangelist Justin Peters offers an excellent biblical perspective--much better than I can--on transgenderism:

For more than half a century, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been a hopelessly apostate denomination (see Carl McIntire's 1967 book The Death of a Church for evidence). For current evidence of the PCUSA's apostasy, look no further than the following. As stated by Shea Watts in the Presbyterian Outlook, March 24, 2024 :

In Luke 24, we join two companions traveling the dusty seven-mile road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. As they walk, they grieve the loss of Jesus. Sensing their pain, a stranger approaches and explains how Jesus’ death fulfills God’s promises in Scripture. Amazed, the traveling companions invite the man to dine with them. As the stranger blesses, breaks, and gives the bread, the travelers’ eyes open, and they see Jesus.

In Greek, we’re told here that the disciples recognize (ἐπιγινώσκω) Jesus; they “acknowledge” him. One way of interpreting the story suggests that the men only recognize Jesus when they welcome his presence at the table. In other words, it is not their piety but their hospitality that makes their seeing possible.

This year, Easter falls on the national Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV), allowing us to practice such eye-opening hospitality. We see Jesus whenever we welcome others to the table and acknowledge their presence among us. We see Jesus when we embrace our trans siblings.

According to the PC(USA) Advocacy Committee for LGBTQIA+ Equity, “TDOV is a day that our local churches can embrace and celebrate the diverse identities of transgender and non-binary individuals, affirming their intrinsic worth as creations of God.” This is necessary because transgender persons are the victims of violent legislation and hate crimes. The violence is such that the Human Rights Campaign even declared a National State of Emergency.

Judith Butler (they/them) demonstrates the rise of violence against trans people in Who’s Afraid of Gender? by exploring the anti-gender movement, an umbrella term referring to social movements opposing what they call “gender ideology,” “gender theory” or “genderism.” Examples of the anti-gender movement include efforts to stop talking about gender and sexuality in the classroom and promoting policies to limit trans rights.

Butler writes: “In taking aim at gender, some proponents of the anti-gender movement claim to be defending not just family values but values themselves, not just a way of life but life itself.” Trans people stand at the frontlines of the war on gendered bodies that do not fit the cis-gender, heterosexual standard, says Butler, and they are suffering from the spread of misinformation and rise of hostility. This is why TDOV is important. The fact that it coincides with Easter this year is a coincidence rich for theological reflection.

The paradox of Jesus’ resurrection invites us to look again, think again, and hopefully, live again. Therefore, Easter is an appropriate time to explore our theology of incarnation, embodiment and materiality. One way to understand Christ’s transfiguration is to see Jesus as “a template for other transfigured, transfiguring bodies,” including transgender persons. Cary Howie, a professor at Cornell who writes extensively on gender and sexuality, broaches this idea in his essay “On Transfiguration.” In this line of thinking, recognizing transgender persons allows us to better understand Christ’s resurrection because both Jesus and transgender persons are changed, trans-figured, metamorphosized.

Another way to understand the transfiguration is to think about the impact of being transformed. Howie writes: “To be transfigured is to implicate others in your transfiguration; it is to suggest that ‘luminous glory’ may erupt from, and within, any flesh whatsoever. This implication is part of what makes transfiguration terrifying: no one is untransfigurable, and no one is transfigured alone.” When we see others and acknowledge their transfiguring bodies, we, too, are transfigured and transformed. And the boundaries between “you” and “me” are dissolved until there is only “us."

We see this in the aftermath of Christ’s resurrection in Scripture. After Christ’s revelation to the travelers in Luke 24, he appears to the eleven disciples and friends, opening their minds to the Scripture (Luke 24:45). They become witnesses to Christ’s resurrection and God’s plan for humanity. In Acts, the second book of Luke’s Gospel, we see how they are then charged to tell the story of Jesus to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8) and how the Holy Spirit aids in this task (Acts 2). When we witness a transformation, we, too, are transformed.

This year with TDOV and Easter falling on the same day, we are asked: are we willing to be transfigured and transformed by acknowledging our trans siblings as images of God? Are we willing to acknowledge their wounds? When we do so, Jesus is revealed and the mystery of Easter bursts into our lives again.

To our trans siblings:

Forgive us

for the times we didn’t see you,

the times we failed to love you.

With your permission and God’s help,

we will love you more faithfully.

We see you, and our hearts burn.
As reported by Shani E. McIlwain of Presbyterian News Service, March 28, 2024 (links, photos in original):
Photo by Alexander Grey via Unsplash

In response to a recent General Assembly mandate, the Advocacy Committee for LGBTQIA+ Equity is at work assisting the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in providing full expression to the rich diversity of its membership as described in the Book of Order.

The committee is made up of teaching elders Ashley DeTar Birt, Daniel Hammer, and Omar Gonzalez; ruling elder Tim Haworth; and deacon Salina Brett.

Committee members say they’re proud to announce the commencement of the committee’s mission dedicated to amplifying the voices of LGBTQIA+ Presbyterians within the PC(USA). With its unwavering commitment to fostering inclusivity and equality, the committee aims to build upon the groundwork laid by pioneers like the Rev. David Sindt, whose courageous act 50 years ago marked a pivotal moment in LGBTQIA+ history.

In a bold demonstration of solidarity and visibility during the 1974 General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., Sindt stood on the Assembly floor holding a hand-written sign that read, “Is anyone else out there gay?”

Today Presbyterians can offer an emphatic “Yes! We are here.” This watershed moment reverberated through the decades, inspiring many individuals to embrace their identities and assert their presence within the Presbyterian community.
The Rev. Ashley DeTar Birt

When asked the question, “Why are you here?” DeTar Birt responded, “It’s about feeling so moved and passionate about something — the work, the people, the theology — that you cannot help but be around it.”

As the committee embarks on this transformative journey, committee members seek to honor Sindt’s legacy and those of a host of allies who have championed LGBTQIA+ rights over the years. Their tireless advocacy and unwavering dedication have paved the way for progress.

The committee also recognizes and honors the contributions of LGBTQIA+ people of color, both past and present. There’s no LGBTQIA+ liberation, after all, without people of color, especially trans people of color. Committee members say they honor the intersections of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and commit to amplifying the voices of LGBTQIA+ people of color, especially trans people of color, as much as possible.

The committee’s mandate encompasses a broad spectrum of initiatives, including advocacy for inclusive General Assembly overtures, heightened transgender visibility, and structural reforms to ensure equal access to benefits and opportunities for all members of the LGBTQIA+ community. By leveraging the collective power of all voices, the group hopes to create a more inclusive and equitable PC(USA) that embraces the diversity of its members. The committee invites all members of the PC(USA) to join in this historic endeavor to build a future where every individual is valued, respected, and celebrated for who they are.

The Transgender Day of Visibility is being observed on Sunday. The committee has issued this statement:

“Picture a life shrouded in secrecy, where your true essence remains concealed from the world. Your official documents do not reflect who you truly are. Every public appearance demands that you wear a mask, hiding behind a facade that doesn’t align with your inner truth. Imagine facing legal barriers that limit your access to essential health care, participation in sports, and even the use of public restrooms. Amid this oppressive environment, consider the profound significance of discovering a small community of allies who not only accept but celebrate your authentic self, allowing it to shine brilliantly amidst the darkness. This is the significance of the Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV).”

“TDOV is a day that our local churches can embrace and celebrate the diverse identities of transgender and non-binary individuals, affirming their intrinsic worth as creations of God. By providing a welcoming space for positive and genuine representation, a local church can help these individuals feel acknowledged and valued for who they truly are. Furthermore, TDOV serves as a valuable opportunity to dispel misconceptions and promote understanding of the transgender and non-binary experience. Using educational resources and social connections, a local church can foster empathy and solidarity within the broader LGBTQIA+ and PC(USA) communities, thereby creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for everyone.

“The Advocacy Committee for LGBTQIA+ Equity (ACQ+E) encourages both local churches and presbyteries to continuing our ongoing denominational efforts of diversity, inclusion, and Christian unity by recognizing March 31 as Transgender Day of Visibility.”

Paul puts it this way in his first letter to the church at Corinth: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (I Cor. 12:12, 26)

Haworth, who chairs the committee, sums it up like this: “It has taken us 50 years to come to this place where LGBTQIA+ folks are officially given a voice within our denomination. I recognize that milestone with sadness that it has taken so long and with gratitude for those who have tirelessly and successfully advocated for this recognition and validation of LGBTQIA+ Presbyterians.

“I’m a little awestruck by what they accomplished, and I look forward to working with my fellow committee members, our dedicated advocates and staff to make our church fully open and affirming for all.”
As reported by Beth Waltemath of Presbyterian News Service, March 28, 2024 (links, photos in original):
iStock photo

As the International Day of Transgender Visibility falls on Easter this year, Christians wrestle again with the ways that religion wounds those on the margins of society and in what ways the resurrection calls Christians into new ways of seeing, believing and loving.

In a new post for Presbyterians Today titled, “Healing the Wounds of Transphobia,” Dr. Wendy Farley, professor of spirituality at San Francisco Theological Seminary and author of six books published by Westminster John Knox Press, diagnoses our ailment, “in the religious and legal attacks on our trans siblings, we are experiencing a communal wounding — an indulgence in hatred and contempt whose multiple forms no one can evade.”
Dr. Wendy Farley

She appeals to the belief that we are one body and “what wounds one wounds all.” Christians called to the resurrecting power of love must do more than tolerate our human siblings with a trans identity, whom she calls, “tender bearers of the divine image … mutilated in spirit” by our past beliefs and actions.

When it comes to understanding the evolving nature of gender and the current movement of queer theology, Dr. David Jensen, a professor of Reformed Theology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, says that “we find surprising helpful resources when we dig deeply into our traditions.”

Such was the topic of his talk on March 21 titled “Queering Theology: Gender Trouble and Christian Faith.” The talk was presented as part of the spring series of faculty talks called “Cultivating Ideas,” hosted by the seminary online at noon Central Time on Thursdays.

In his presentation, Jensen covered texts that challenge gender dichotomies, including Genesis 1, Galatians 2, Gregory of Nyssa’s “On the Creation of Humanity” and early rabbinical commentary on the full representation of genders in each human within Genesis Creation accounts.

“Paul says some striking and sometimes rather conflicting things about gender,” said Jensen, who specifically referenced verses 28–29 in Galatians 3, but at the heart of what Paul is saying is this: “that all of our identities — cultural, religious, socioeconomic, whatever our identities are — they are relativized and renewed in the new life that we have in Jesus Christ.”
Dr. David Jensen

The focus on renewal in Christ applies to gender, according to Jensen, as much as it does to any other characteristic that a person might want to claim is fixed and untouchable. Jensen’s teaching and research explore the interconnections between Christian theology and daily living. Jensen, the author of over nine books, has tackled theologies of human sexuality, parenting, childhood and work. For Jensen, God’s grace transforms and is always transforming in all aspects of people’s lives. There is no part of humanity that God’s grace cannot touch and change, including gender. “Gender essentialism blocks God’s grace,” said Jensen.

Jensen looked to the early church theologian Gregory of Nyssa, who cemented the basics of Trinitarian theology and orthodox understandings of the “both/and” nature of Christ as divine and human.

“Gregory says that humanity’s original creation is genderless,” posited Jensen, and “to be human is beyond gender.” Male and female come later and are a concession to reproduction and, in a certain sense, to sin, according to Jensen’s interpretations of Gregory of Nyssa. “For him, the most key insight,” said Jensen, is that “we are to be genderless in the new life in Christ. That is our true nature and our true destiny.”

Jensen also drew on literary scholar Judith Butler’s seminal work, “Gender Trouble,” from 1990, and a more recent theological work, Susannah Cornwall’s “Constructive Theology and Gender Variance,” to further explore the dangers of gender essentialism and the more faithful approach to gender through queer theology and transgender activism. By putting these contemporary scholars in conversation with early Christian thinkers, Jensen argues that Christians go beyond tolerance of transgender people and consider how “trans people help us better live into our basic Christian beliefs about Christ, Creation and eschatology.”
Susannah Cornwall’s book on queer theology imagines the consummation of the Christian life as genderless.

Ending his talk with a discussion of 2 Corinthians 5:17, Jensen invited listeners to see how Christ, who holds his own human/divine nature together, also heals humanity’s competitive categories: “Everything that seemed to be in opposition to one another, whether one gender over another, one culture over another,” Jensen said, summarizing Cornwall, “all of that is healed, transformed, helped together and changed.” Everything old has passed away, and new things have come into being, as the verse in Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth imagines.

“Gender is for humanity, not humanity for gender,” Jensen said as he invited listeners to consider Cornwall’s eschatological claim that “we live in a between time, and in this between time, gender identity is slipping away.” The Christian life is an invitation to connect — parts of ourselves, with each other, with God. “Through gender nonconformity and transgender Christians,” according to Jensen’s summation of Cornwall, “we see an expansion of the ways in which we are called to connect with one another.”
Faculty members of Austin Theological Seminary are offering online talks this spring as part of the “Cultivating Ideas” faculty webinar series.

“At the end of the day, that is a deeply Christian thing — to connect, to be changed, to be transformed by grace — so that we might flourish together with one another, drawing life from the living God, the giver of all gifts,” Jensen concluded.

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s “Cultivating Ideas” series was created to offer “some of the most compelling, fresh ideas from Austin Seminary’s faculty,” according to the seminary’s website. Past lectures including Jensen’s are available in the archives on the seminary’s website.
Anyone with any serious comprehension of Christian doctrine can see that these "scholars" are twisting scripture, and that they and the people whose alleged gender they're celebrating are not Christians; even the liberals whom Carl McIntire was criticizing didn't go so far as to embrace this nonsense.

See also my previous posts:

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) narrowly rejects West Bank divestment (July 6, 2012)

60 years ago: Two liberal denominations combine to form the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (May 28, 2018)

Thursday 29 February 2024

This is what passes for "deeper life" at a Canadian Evangelical university

The following requires little comment; it's yet more evidence that anyone who thinks that "Evangelical" universities and colleges are Christian isn't paying attention. The 2023 edition of "Deeper Life Day" at Antichrist Ambrose University (yes, again) took place on October 1 (bold, links in original).
What Is The Purpose Of Deeper Life Day?

The aim of Deeper Life Day is to integrate Christian faith and learning in a way that will help our students flourish in every way. The events of this day embody our spiritual goals for all Ambrose students—formation, discernment, and transformation. We encourage faculty members to participate in DLD, incentivize students to join them on the day, and consider how the themes could be integrated into the courses they are teaching this Fall Term.

photo courtesy of ARIN SANG-URAI

Josh Larsen

Josh Larsen is the co-host of the radio show and podcast Filmspotting, author of Movies Are Prayers and Fear Not! A Christian Appreciation of Horror, as well as editor/producer for Think Christian, a website and podcast exploring faith and pop culture. He’s been writing and speaking about movies professionally since 1994.

Morning Plenary: 9:30 AM

Part 1: Christian (Pop) Cultural Engagement

For most North American Christians, engaging with popular culture is no longer an option. This is the air we breathe. How can we do so with grace, discernment, and appreciation?

Morning Plenary:

Part 2: Movies Are Prayers

Movies can be many things: escapist experiences, historical artifacts, business ventures, and artistic expressions. Considered alongside the Christian ideas of God's sovereignty and common grace, they can also function as prayerful expressions of lament, praise, joy, confession, and more.

Lunch: Noon - 1:00 PM

There are only 100 spots for this light-hearted lunch with our speaker. In addition to movie trivia and fun games we will be hosting a COSPLAY competition. Come dressed as your favorite Movie, TV or gaming character. A panel of judges will determine a winner for a chance to win a Cineplex movie night for two (with popcorn and pop). Other prizes will be available as well.

Room: Airhart (1085) I Limit: 100 people

Afternoon Breakout Sessions: 1:00 PM

Engaging The Mind Of Christ (Through Metallica, Van Gogh, And High Mountain Hydrology)

John Van Sloten

John is a Calgary-based pastor, writer, and columnist for the Calgary Herald. His books include, The Day Metallica Came to Church (2010), Every Job a Parable (2017), and God Speaks Science (2023).

This workshop will give you theological tools to help you practice Christ’s presence everywhere. If all things were made through Jesus, then all things (to some degree) reveal his wisdom. Knowing Christ through the bible we can know Christ through creation—through physical nature, human nature, and the cultural creations of human nature.

I Think I've Seen This Film Before: The Death And Resurrection Of Taylor Swift

Glendon Frank

Glendon is a recent alumnus of Ambrose University, having graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor's degree in English Literature. Since graduation he continues to study and write about pop culture on various platforms. Endlessly fascinated by the intersection of faith and art, he is particularly drawn to films and stories that explore the complexity and nuance of the human condition.

This session is a discussion of the meteoric stardom of Taylor Swift and her career, as well as digging into the themes of love, life, and lament in her lyricism, all through the lens of asking what it means to engage with popular art while considering the Imago Dei. In an age of AI and algorithms where the ethics of art and consumption are at the forefront of our imagination, what does Taylor Swift's unique success mean and how ought we consider it?

Pressing The Right Buttons: Aligning Your Values In-Game And IRL

Alyssa Michaud

Alyssa is a musicologist who works at the intersections of technology, culture, and music. Her research focuses on the dynamics between audiences and artists in today’s technologically mediated society, and she is currently at work on a SSHRC Insight Development Grant in which she is exploring fan responses to digital and holographic concerts. Outside of her work in music research, Michaud once placed third in a national Dance Dance Revolution tournament, has 100% achievements on Steam in FTL: Faster Than Light, and cleared the original Binding Coil of Bahamut before it was nerfed in Final Fantasy XIV.

In 2022, the gaming industry was estimated to be worth $170 billion in global revenues—valued higher than both the global film and music industries put together. In this interactive breakout session, we will critically examine our relationships to this powerful medium by examining the ways in which gaming can foster positive values and also assessing its pitfalls. Through discussions, activities, and lots of examples from the world of gaming, this session will equip you to make more informed decisions about your approach to video games, and unpack the ways in which our controllers can connect us to deeper insights about ourselves and the world around us.

Princess Mononoke And Peacemaking: Studio Ghibli's Prophetic Masterpiece

Julian Erb

Julian is the Director of Community Life at Ambrose and he loves learning people’s stories. He enjoys getting out to the mountains with his family, the Beatles, and yummy food. He also serves part time at Grace Anglican.

How does an anime fantasy epic set in feudal Japan connect to our polarized context and the way of Jesus? We will look into this timeless story and seek to "see with eyes unclouded by hate" and the subversive invitation of peace making.

Afternoon Breakout Sessions: 3:00 PM

On Earth As It Is In Barbieland: Gender Expression, Christianity, And Barbie

Nikayla Reize

Nikayla Reize is the lead pastor of a parish church in Calgary called Awaken. She also serves as a sessional instructor at Ambrose University teaching Old Testament and Biblical Theology. She teaches workshops and seminars at churches around Southern Alberta and especially enjoys teaching on gender, inclusion, and the Bible.

This is a session exploring themes of gender expression in the past (tradition) and in the future (the coming Kingdom of Heaven) with the help of Greta Gerwig's Barbie. Barbie invites us to question the way things have always been done and dream about how they could be in our shared future. We will look at concepts such as patriarchy, matriarchy, and kyriarchy within Western Christianities as we discuss what it means to have the power to communicate ideas and make decisions for others versus being the product of someone else's ideas for how things should be. Barbieland is an imaginary place where young girls can pretend the world could be shaped according to their own hopes and dreams for a life that doesn't fit in a box. Is the Barbie movie envisioning a world that is anti-men or presenting a prophetic lament for a world that is anti-women? No one wants to be an accessory for the fulfillment and success of another and no one wants to be kept in a box. Body sovereignty and embodiment are deeply Christian ideas. Come prepared to discuss the Barbie movie and how the intersections of gender and power depicted there relate to our faith as Christians.

When Songs Become Friends: The Music That Helped Us Through Difficulties, Helped Us Know Ourselves, And Led Us To Solidarity And Healing.

Justin Bills

Justin Bills is a pastor, student and podcast host. Justin grew up in a missionary household in Los Angeles California. Key to surviving a lonely homeschooled upbringing was finding solidarity in music. Bands such as Pedro The Lion, Sufjan Stevens, Radiohead and Mewithoutyou became friends to help through adolescence and adulthood. Justin lives in Calgary with his wife and 3 daughters and is a Student at Ambrose.

Faith And Social Media: Navigating The Digital World With Jesus

Bryce Ashlin-Mayo

Bryce is the Dean of Theology at Ambrose. When he is not working at Ambrose, you will find Bryce preaching in Churches, doing Seminars, writing books, or building retro video arcade consoles. Bryce has written several books on social media and digital ministry including, “Age of Kings: Pursuing God’s Heart in a Social Media World.”

What does the Bible teach about navigating a digital world? Let's explore this topic together and delve into the story of King David in the Bible. We'll discover some valuable and enduring lessons on how to live a faithful life in our modern, high-tech world.

Evening Public Lecture: 7:00 PM

In partnership with the Chair of Christian Thought

Location: Central Library Topic: Fear Not! A Christian Appreciation of Horror Movies

Why would anyone want to watch horror movies? Why would Christians, in particular, bother with the genre? Combining critical observation and theological reflection, critic Josh Larsen makes the case that monster movies, creature features, slashers, and other fright films artfully reflect our deep worries in a way that resonates with the Christian experience.

Sunday 4 February 2024

How many members of this Canadian Evangelical university's 2023-24 Student Council name the Bible as their favourite book?

For more evidence to cast doubt on the idea that one of Canada's leading Evangelical universities, Antichrist Ambrose University in Calgary, Alberta, is a Christian school, look at the biographies of the members of the 2023-24 Student Council, in which they mention their favourite books. One might think that the student leaders of an ostensibly Christian university would automatically choose the Bible as their favourite book, but only one did (and the fact that one did proves that they had the option of choosing the Bible). Ladies and gentlemen, the favourite books of your future "Evangelical" leaders (typos corrected by blogger):

Ambrose Student Body President: Nathan Snow
Nathan's favourite book is the Lord of the Rings: Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Ambrose Student Body VP Of External Affairs: Alexsana Butt
Alexsana's favourite book is Perelandra by C.S. Lewis.

Ambrose Student Body VP Of Internal Relations: Liam Hawkins
Liam's favourite book is the Bible (because it's the only book he reads).

Ambrose Student Body Director Of Community Life: Tessa Stockowski
Tessa's favourite book is It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover.

Ambrose Student Body Director Of Equity, Diversity, And Inclusion: Jasmine Joosse
Jasmine's favourite books are too many to list.

Ambrose Student Body Director Of Marketing: Diana Hruba
Diana's favourite book is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies probably

Ambrose Student Body Director Of Operations: Brett Meeberg
Brett's favourite book is Translating God by Shawn Bolz.

Ambrose Student Body Director Of Spiritual Life: Hayley Meijndert
Hayley's favourite books are Victorious Mindsets and The God Chasers.

Ambrose Student Body Director Of Wellness: Micaeliah Urquhart
Micaeliah's favourite books are The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and Les Misèrables by Victor Hugo.

Ambrose Student Body Executive Assistant: Randelle Spence
Randelle's favourite book is the Secret of the Garden.
I'm not familiar with all of these books or authors, but I have to wonder about anyone who would pick some of them as favourites. It Ends With Us is a romance novel that appears to have domestic abuse as a major theme, if the reader reviews are any indication. Who wants that?

The author of Translating God is associated with the New Apostolic Reforemation, and the book's foreword is by leading NAR heretic Bill Johnson. The fact that it's the favourite book of someone who "would like to enter into pastoral ministry" is cause for concern. Victorious Mindsets is by Steve Backlund, whose numerous books appeal to the same people who buy the books of NAR figures such as Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton.

I can't find any listing for Secret of the Garden; I suspect the proper title is the children's novel The Secret Garden (1911) by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Sunday 21 January 2024

100 years ago--the death of Lenin

Taking photos of Lenin's body isn't permitted. This rare shot shows the revolutionary leader in October 1991. (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

On January 21, 1924, Vladimir Lenin, aka Nikolai Lenin, né Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic since 1917 and Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Soviet Union since 1923, died in Gorki, Moscow Governate, at the age of 53, after a series of strokes. Mr. Lenin put the Communist philosophy of Karl Marx into action as the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution that seized power in November 1917, and plunged Russia and much of the world into decades of misery.

Mr. Lenin produced death and darkness, and his body remains in his tomb in Moscow. The Lord Jesus Christ, on the other hand, brings life and light (John 1:4-9, 8:12), and resurrected and left His tomb (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20), exactly as He predicted, and right on schedule (John 2:19-22). While many people have put their faith in the dead Mr. Lenin, I put my faith in the living Lord Jesus Christ, from whom we have eternal life (John 10:28).

Sunday 31 December 2023

Drag queen serves as "pastor" with the United Church of Christ in Connecticut

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Leviticus 18:22

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God. Deuteronomy 22:5

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

The United Church of Christ has got to be the most hopelessly apostate pseudo-Christian denomination in the United States. The following, including the reporter's nauseating use of preferred personal pronouns, speaks for itself. As reported by Pamela McLoughlin of the Hartford Courant, October 10, 2023 (bold, links, photos in original):
Drag queen minister Marge Erin Johnson, left, with Sandra Montes, dean of of chapel at Union Theological Seminary.

Being a drag queen isn’t a hobby for James Admans. It’s a religious calling.

Marge Erin Johnson, a drag queen who spends most of their life as James Admans, has started a “drag church” organization, Theology Queen, LLC.

Admans calls themselves a “queer minister,” preaches unapologetically and peppers business promotions with phrases such as, “Drag me to church,” and “the most extravagant way to worship God!”

Johnson’s feather rainbow jacket (a nod to Joseph’s coat of many colors ) screams Pride, their eye shadow and fake lashes say it’s OK to be who you are – and the rhinestones on their dress shine like their humor.

Johnson, 33, is a 2021 graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City who is very adept at citing scriptures and their history.

In the drag role Admans is hired at churches to take the pulpit on Sundays, in hopes to connect with the LGBTQI+ community, as well as the rest of the congregation. “It provides a nonjudgmental sacred space for people to express themselves proudly,” Admans website notes of his work.

“When you go to a service led by a drag queen it could be spiritually healing,” Admans said. “It’s a celebration of how wonderfully created we all are. You can show up as your authentic self. What God created you to be.”

While the Johnson persona identifies as a she, Admans, 33, a New Haven resident, identifies by the pronouns they, them, their.

Admans is a minister for United Church of Christ who fills in as their male self for ministers who are out for various reasons. Admans also is looking for a full-time job at a church as themselves.

Marge Erin Johnson is a side endeavor for which Admans charges a sliding scale fee of $200 to $500 an appearance, depending on many factors, including the church size and ability to pay, as the main mission is to educate and heal.

Johnson’s fans say they love all Marge brings to the table as a preacher, activist and drag queen.

The church supports the drag ministry.

The Rev. Noah Brewer-Wallin, assistant director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion for the Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ, said he’s “very excited” about Admans’ call to drag ministry.

“Because drag is so vilified in our culture right now, even people who want to support drag performers don’t always have a good understanding of what drag is. It can be difficult to parse how drag is both related to and distinct from sexual orientation and gender identity,” Brewer-Wallin said.

“I’m grateful that James offers themself as an educational resource as part of this ministry, giving church attendees the chance to ask questions and honestly explore,” Brewer-Wallin said.

Brewer-Wallin said drag belongs in church because it is “a form of creative expression in which people reflect back the creative nature of God.”

“Drag is often playful and irreverent. Playfulness and irreverence are an invitation to enjoy our God-given bodies that giggle and belly-laugh, and to see the sacred all around us even in the places where we have been taught God and the sacred don’t belong,” Brewer-Wallin said.

He said drag is also a justice issue because “they threaten the ability of all people to express themselves the way they want to…” including issues such as women wearing pants.

Marge Erin Johnson spoke recently at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Bridgeport, in Stratford.

UUCGB is a small lay-led church and also has guest ministers, so after member Emily Prokop met Marge at Pride in the Park in Norwalk this summer, Prokop arranged an appearance.

“I would have loved to have gone to a church where someone like Marge would feel welcome when I was growing up,” Prokop said. “Marge’s service felt like part religious studies discussion, part LGBTQI+ empowerment, part call for spiritually-ship and 100% fabulous and glamorous.”

During an open discussion portion of the service, people shared their experiences, insights and freely asked questions, Prokop said.

Marge answered “thoughtfully and gracefully,” Prokop said.

Prokop said the service brought a new awareness to the congregation about a story from the Bible, Joseph and the coat of many colors. Prokop said the choir got to sing Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors.”

Admans said: “I love the story of Joseph in Genesis. There is a queer theological interpretation that the coat of many colors is something akin to a princess dress. Scholars aren’t sure how to translate this accurately. It’s its been called a beautiful robe, an ornamental robe.”

Joseph is among several Biblical figures who can be identified as non-conforming, Admans said.

Admans also speaks about how homosexuality appeared specifically in the Bible in later translations, and how they see this perpetuating discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community.

“Prior to this, the passages that we now associate with homosexuality used different terminology and were interpreted in various ways, often focusing on behaviors like temple sex-work or non-consensual sexual acts,” Admans said.

“The introduction of the word homosexual into the Bible was a result of evolving language and societal context. This change had significant implications, as it fundamentally altered the interpretation of these passages and has been used to justify discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community,” Admans said, of their interpretation of the passages.

At the welcoming and affirming Unitarian Universalist church in Stratford, attendees were welcomed, as they always are when Marge is there, with a table of rainbow hats, beads, boas so they could join in the fun.

“So people can participate to make it fun, in a way that’s loving,” they said. “If were going to do it, let’s connect.”

Admans grew up in West Haven where they were a “churchy kid” and Admans thanks their mom and grandmother for taking them to church every Sunday.

Admans graduated from Amity High School in 2008 and later earned an anthropology degree from Southern Connecticut State University before getting the calling and enrolling in seminary. They hold a master’s of divinity degree.

The pandemic and Marge Erin Johnson

Admans got into drag during the pandemic when the days were long. Admans had thought for a while about trying it, but was “intimidated.”

“A lot of people found out about themselves in lockdown. I found drag,” Admans said.

Marge Erin Johnson emerged during Admans second year of divinity school and someone suggested the preaching.

“Someone else saw the potential. She saw how the spirit was at work during that ministry.”

It takes Admans about three hours to transform into Marge Erin Johnson.

Admans chose the name Marge Erin Johnson because it was something “funny yet, friendly.”

“I didn’t want anything too shocking,” Admans said, noting they liked the way Marge Erin sounds like “margarine.” They said they’ve always loved the name Marge.

“I love her. I think she’s fabulous,” Admans said of the Marge persona. “It’s something I feel called to share with other people.”

Sandra Montes, dean of of chapel at Union Theological Seminary was “super grateful,” that Admans was able to do several drag chapels while at the school.

“I am a drag lover and have always wanted to do some kind of drag eucharist or church service,” Montes said. “We all want to be seen. We all want to belong. We turn to religion and faith for comfort, for acceptance. Many of us have been told we’re not good enough, particularly by colonized Christianity that is, unfortunately, tied to white supremacy and white evangelical corruption.”

Montes said if she went to a church and saw Marge preaching or teaching she would say “wow,” in a positive way.

“There are so many churches that call themselves affirming and open to all and welcoming but they usually have a caveat,” Montes said. “So, seeing a minister in full-on gorgeous drag would absolute say to me: this is a place worth looking into.”

“Marge’s message is that there is space for everyone to belong, particularly in faith communities,” Admans said.

“Marge teaches that queerness and faith do not have to be at odds, but can coexist and even be beautifully interwoven to create a profound spiritual life. Marge’s message is one of inclusion and acceptance, promoting the understanding that all are welcome at the table of Jesus.”

Marge is next booked for Sunday, Oct. 29, at Fort Washington Collegiate Church in New York City.
Marge Erin Johnson is a drag queen minister who helps the LGBTQI plus community connect with religion, church. Contributed.
Drag queen minister Marge Erin Johnson outside the Unitarian Universalist Church in Stratford where she recently gave a talk. Contributed.

I had to chuckle when I looked at the website of Fort Washington Collegiate Church. According to a statement issued by the church on February 7, 2023:

We are open, affirming, and accepting to all–no matter where you are on life’s journey. We have been a valuable community resource for generations. We are committed to social justice and making a positive impact in the lives of the residents of Northern Manhattan. We are led by our mantra “Love on the Move.”

It’s true. FWCC is in financial distress and faces risk of closure...

The sooner these churches close, the better. If they don't close their doors, the Lord Himself will do it for them.

Saturday 30 December 2023

100 years ago--Couéism peaks in North America

It's actually approaching 101 years ago and I should have posted this much earlier, but I didn't want to let the year go by without noting that 2023 marked 100 years since Émile Coué, a French pharmacist and psychologist whose ideas had achieved popularity in Europe, became even more of a celebrity in America, with an advance publicity campaign preceding his arrival in New York City in January 1923 for a series of personal appearances. Dr. Coué and his wife founded La Société Lorraine de Psychologie appliquée (The Lorraine Society of Applied Psychology) in Nancy in 1913. His book La Maîtrise de soi-même par l'autosuggestion consciente (Self-Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion) was published in England in 1920, and was a best-seller when it was published in the United States in 1922.

Dr. Coué could lay claim to be the father of modern positive self-talk, which he called autosuggestion, recommending that people constantly repeat the following saying to themselves: "Tous les jours à tous points de vue je vais de mieux en mieux" ("Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better"). In addition to psychological improvement, advocates of Couéism claimed that repetition of the mantra could effect physical healing. Dr. Coué claimed that he didn't heal people, but that people healed themselves. His campaigns didn't always produce the desired results, as reported in the Edmonton Bulletin, April 11, 1922 (bold, capitals in original):

Patients Were Made Hysterical Throguh Treatment Being Given by Nerve Specialist at Hospital


TORONTO, April 10--What was intended as a triumphant finale to Dr. Coue's sensational auto-suggestion campaign in England resulted in a near tragedy in a neurological hospital for soldiers at Tooting just outside London, England, according to a special cable to the Mail and Empire today. The cable continues:

"Lady Beatty, who is responsible in a great measure for Coue's presence in England, introduced the famous expert to patients but was forced to flee from the lecture room when shell-shocked soldiers were plunged into hysteria. Writhing and shrieking, the soldiers flung themselves on the floor, the doctors and nurses being unable to pacify them.

"The tragic outcome followed Coue's treatment of one patient who declared himself cured of severe headaches. John Withers, a soldier suffering from bodily tremors, was the next patient. Suddenly while Coue was passing his hands over the soldier's body, Withers suddenly gave piercing shrieks, writhed and twisted himself like a contortionist and threw himself on the floor. The effect on the rest of the patients was instantaneous. Man after man groaned and shrieked, gripped with uncontrollable hysteria. A witness said: "The scene was indescribably hellish."

"Lady Beatty, standing near Withers, attempted to calm him, but her efforts were to no avail. Pandemonium became so great that she was forced to make a hasty retreat.

"Coue has left for France. The hospital authorities said Sunday night that all the patients had recovered from the temporary hysteria."
(I can't help but notice that the behaviour of the soldiers resulting from Dr. Coué's "treatment" was virtually identical to the behaviour of those who receive the allegedly healing touch of charismaniac frauds such as Rodney Howard-Browne, Benny Hinn, and the "holy laughter" crowd, which those "healers" blasphemously ascribe to the Holy Spirit).

Dr. Coué's visit to New York proved to be very popular. Those who lived too far away to see Dr. Coué were unable to avoid him, since his name and theories seemed to be everywhere in North America. The Edmonton Journal, for instance, published an exclusive series of articles by Dr. Coué. On February 18, 1923, the short film The Message of Emile Coué opened in theatres in the United States. According to The Film Daily, February 25, 1923:

A demonstration by Emile Coue, by means of titles and illustrations of his points, of the theory of auto-suggestion. Coue is shown lecturing before a group of people, and you get the impression that you yourself are listening. The well-known phrase "Day by Day" is stressed a great many times in the closing sequence and finally the audience is made to say it with M. Coue.
The film opened in Edmonton on March 12. According to the Edmonton Bulletin, March 10, 1923 (bold, capitals in original):



His Famous Theories to Be Explained by Pantomimic Gestures


Every day and every way--of course you know the rest. It's the slogan which has covered the continent of America at least. Now it has reached even to the screen, and Emile Coue himself will shortly be seen at the Empress theatre in a sereis of two reel films, on which he will explain his theories by pantomimic gesture...There are no doubt millions of persons who would never otherwise have the benefit of seeing and hearing the famous man who has received more publicity than many a famous screen star.

After Dr. Coue has explained his theories, the actual practice of the theories will be shown by actors in little scenes following each separate explanation by M. Coue himself.

The picture starts with the caption, "I am not a miracle man." Then Mr. Coue is photographed saying the words. This is the method employed through the picture. Extracts from his book on auto-suggestion are also given in written form on the screen, and then M. Coue is shown speaking and gesturing accordingly. He seems, it is said, to have a real gift of pantomime.

Manager Bert Blackmore, of the Empress theatre, knowing the intense interest taken in the Coue method and knowing that, after all, few persons know very little about it, is progressive enough to obtain these films for his theatre, so all will have an opportunity of getting M. Coue and his theories practically at first hand.
For those unaware of cinematic history, movies were silent in 1923, thus explaining the need for "pantomimic gestures." I don't know if the film still exists, but Internet Movie Database hasn't received the minimum number of five viewer responses required to provide a numerical rating.

Dave Hunt offered the following comments on Émile Coué:

Of all the false messiahs of recent times, none seems less likely than Emile Coué. Yet few people have played a more important part in the preparation of the world for the Antichrist than the almost comic "originator of the psychotherapeutic system called Couéism"...Couéism was the modern forerunner to self-help and other New Age groups and beliefs that are proliferating at an almost unbelievable rate across the United States in the 1980's and even infiltrating the church.

While working as an obscure pharmacist in Troyes, France, around the turn of the century, Emile Coué "observed his patients receiving from certain drugs beneficial effects that could not be ascribed to the medicines. That led him to believe that it was the power of 'imagination' that effected the cure." This discovery launched Coué into a study of hypnosis around 1901, with special interest in the apparent therapeutic effects of self-hypnosis. The modern applications of hypnosis have their roots in "Mesmerism." However, it was Coué who carried Mesmer's theory to its logical conclusion and thereby laid the foundation for the New Age...

...One of the earliest pioneers of the free clinic concept, Coué seemed to be genuine in his concern to help others. In 1910 he set up a free clinic iin Nancy, France to practice his now-perfected system...In 1920 he set up a clinic in New York...

...Preaching remarkable powers of "suggestion," the Messiah of the New Age had arrived befoe his time. In spite of the cure of so many serious ailments by the power of "suggestion" that Couéism effected throughout the Western world, Coué's "system" eventually fell into disrepute. Couéism failed because it was taken to be exaclty what its originator claimed: a "system." As Coué's followers forgot to believe what they were saying and chanted the magic words more and more mechanically, the cures became less and less, until no one believed anymore.

Had Coué only lived into the New Age, he would have seen himself fully vindicated in the adoption of hypnosis by the American Medical Association and its growing use by psychologists and psychiatrists. The old master would be pleased, too, to see in the 1980s a host of self-improvement techniques based upon the very same "power of suggestion" that he was convinced could cure anything: "positive thinking," "possibility thinking," self-hypnosis tapes by the thousands, numerous salesmanship and management success seminars used by both Christians and non-Christians, positive mental attitude (PMA) seminars, est (Erhard Seminars Training), Lifespring, Silva Mind Control, Alpha Level Training, biofeedback, guided imagery, creative visualization, Confluent Education, psychotherapies by the score, and an almost endless list of other New Age self-improvement techniques...

...Whereas Mesmer publicly declared that "he could help only people suffering from nervous disorders and no others," Coué demonstrated that the power of suggestion has no such limits. The New Age is a revival of Coué's adaptation and extension of Mesmer's limited theory: that human potential is unlimited, because the mind through suggestion can accomplish and create anything that it believes it can...
(Dave Hunt, Peace, Prosperity, and the Coming Holocaust, 1983, pp. 117-120)

By the end of 1923, there were signs that the popularity of Couéism had passed its peak, and his name seldom appeared in North American newspapers after that year until his death in Nancy on July 2, 1926 at the age of 69. Although Dr. Coué's fame was relatively short-lived, and his name is largely unknown today, his influence remains, with his spiritual descendants including Napoleon Hill, Maxwell Maltz, W. Clement Stone, Norman Vincent Peale, and Robert Schuller, some of whom masqueraded as Christians, and all of whom have been influential in the New Age Movement.

Friday 22 December 2023

An Anglican "church" in Winnipeg hosts an alphabet pervert "reimagination" of Handel's Messiah

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Leviticus 18:22

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

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. II Timothy 3:1-5

According to the Anglican Church of Canada's own report from 2019, the church will be dead by 2040. The death will be self-inflicted and well-deserved, evidence of which includes the following, as reported by John Longhurst in the Winnipeg Free Press, December 20, 2023 (updated December 21, 2023) (photos in original):

Messiah Queered — that’s the title of a reimagining of Handel’s classic oratorio performed through an LGBTTQ+ lens.

The oratorio, a staple at Christmas time for many people, will be performed by the Rainbow Harmony Project choir, together with soloists and a 16-piece orchestra made up of professional and amateur players at Holy Trinity Anglican Church Friday at 7:30 p.m.

The idea for the performance came up during a conversation between Nathan Poole, a local violin and piano teacher, and Sandra Bender, music director at Holy Trinity Church.

Bender, who is bisexual and the soprano soloist in the performance, thought it would be a great oratorio for LGBTTQ+ people.

“It’s the story of a transient who hung out with marginalized people, who offered love and self-sacrifice and who experienced rejection and betrayal — something LGBTTQ+ people understand in all too real a way,” she said.

Kathleen Murphy, a student and choir director for Rainbow Harmony Project and the mezzo-soprano in the performance, said doing the Messiah through an LGBTTQ+ lens is “a way to push back expectations.”

That includes who does the solos. In a traditional performance of Messiah, a bass sings the aria, “Why do the nations so furiously rage,” but Murphy is singing the part this time.

“It’s fun to sing such a powerful aria,” Murphy, who is non-binary and a soloist at Young United Church, said.

Bender, meanwhile, will sing The Trumpet Shall Sound, which is also usually a bass part, while tenor Kyle Briscoe will sing Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion, traditionally sung by a soprano.

“Nothing musically is altered, but we’re swapping gender roles, subverting them,” said Poole, who is gay and conducting the concert.

For Bender, The Messiah can be seen as “a trans anthem, with its lyrics about people “being changed at the sound of the last trumpet when we will be revealed in our best and truest form. I’m happy to be the one who conveys that message in the concert.”

While singing it, “We can be our full authentic selves, be unapologetic about our queerness,” she said.

The three noted the church at 256 Smith St., which is donating use of the sanctuary for the performance, is a welcoming, safe space for members of the LGBTTQ+ community. That’s important for those who might be cautious about going into a church because of the way they have been treated in the past.

Along with listening to the concert, audience members are invited to bring a score and sing along, said Poole.

“It’s not every day people get to sing with an orchestra,” he said, noting audience members are encouraged to dress in drag if they want.

Tickets for the concert, which is sponsored by the Manitoba Arts Council, can be purchased at the Rainbow Harmony Project site at wfp.to/j44 or with cash at the door. The cost is $25 per person, with all proceeds being donated to Sunshine House, a community drop-in and resource centre focusing on harm reduction and social inclusion.
Bass-baritone Stephen Haiko-Pena takes part in a dress rehearsal Wednesday of Messiah Queered at Holy Trinity Anglican Church. (Brook Jones/Winnipeg Free Press)
Kathleen Murphy, who is a student and choir manager for Rainbow Harmony Project, sings during a dress rehearsal for the upcoming production of Messiah Queered at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Winnipeg, Wednesday. (Brook Jones/Winnipeg Free Press)
Nathan Poole conducts the dress rehearsal of Messiah Queered. The production is a re-imagining of Handel's classic oratorio performed through a LGBTTQ+ lens. (Brook Jones/Winnipeg Free Press)

The reader will note that these agents of Satan can't write their own oratorio, but have to resort to mangling a traditional masterpiece. Some of the perverts of the past were at least capable of producing good music and art, but with present-day perverts, their whole lives seem to revolve around celebrating and promoting their abominations.

Here's an example of a proper performance of Handel's Messiah that you can wash your ears out with:

December 28, 2023 update: If you're wondering why Holy Trinity Anglican Church was hosting this abomination, the following may explain, as reported by Mr. Longhurst in the Winnipeg Free Press, December 27, 2023 (photo in original):
Andrew Rampton, rector at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, is leaving the congregation for another opportunity in Ontario early next year. (John Longhurst/Winnipeg Free Press)

It was a bittersweet Christmas Day for Andrew Rampton, rector at Holy Trinity Anglican Church.

On the one hand, he was looking forward to preaching on that special day in the downtown church’s calendar. But since it was his last sermon as rector at the historic 139-year-old church, it was a sad occasion.

Rampton, 41, and his husband, Adam Dobson, an architectural technologist, will head to Hamilton, where Dobson has new work opportunities, on Jan. 2. Rampton will be taking up a new job as rector at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church.

Rampton, who was born and raised in Morden, arrived at Holy Trinity in 2020 via a circuitous route.

Although he grew up in a family that notionally claimed to belong to the United Church of Canada, “We went to church very seldom,” he said, adding “I grew up largely neutral or negative when it came to religion.”

While religion wasn’t his thing, he realized in his early teens that he was gay.

Being a gay person in a small town was a challenge, but so was moving to Winnipeg to study at the University of Manitoba in the early 2000s.

“There wasn’t the same kind of LGBTTQ+ community back then like there is now,” he said. “There were gay clubs, but they were private. There was a sense of danger, an underground feeling about it. And most churches weren’t accepting of gay people.”

Going to church wasn’t on his mind until a music teacher told him about an opening in the choir at Holy Trinity Church. Rampton, who had been taking piano and singing lessons, took it — not because he was religious, but because it was a chance to sing and earn a small honorarium.

“It paid half my rent,” he said.

At first, nobody at the church made an issue of his sexuality, but when a new rector arrived things changed.

Rampton admits he was full of opinions about how the church was being run and not afraid to share them — something that didn’t endear him to the new rector. When the rector fired him, “there was no gentle correction or discussion,” he remembered.

“The speculation is it was less about my critique and more about me being gay” he said. “It was a proxy for the real issue.”

His involvement with church didn’t end, though. Almost immediately, St. Luke’s Anglican Church asked him to join them as a singer and organist. Later, he went to St. Paul’s Anglican and then to St. Michael’s and All Angels. where he served as organist and choir master. That is also where he joined the church and fell in love with liturgy.

“The way they did liturgy there really worked for me,” Rampton said. “It was a good place to be. It was a fertile soil for my spiritual soul to grow in.”

Feeling a call to ministry, he left for seminary in Ontario in 2014 where he developed a deep appreciation for the rituals, ceremonies and traditions of the church.

“I’m happy to wear miles of lace, swing incense and sing Gregorian chants” he said.

After graduation, he landed at Holy Trinity, not expecting it would be such a short stay.

One thing he’s loved about being at the church is its ministries, such as the Lunchroom, which serves 250 meals once a week to downtown residents.

“It’s one of the very few food programs downtown where unhoused or precariously housed people can get a meal right away,” he said.

He said he hopes the church, which has between 50 and 60 people in the pews on a Sunday morning, can stay viable and be an active presence downtown.

“The church needs to be here,” he said. “It needs a safe place where people can just be. There aren’t many other places where people can go for free, where nobody wants anything from you.”

As for being a gay priest, his sexuality has “never been an impediment,” to his ministry, Rampton said, but acknowledges not all are comfortable with him being in that role; he’s been called a false teacher and “living in sin.”

He has appreciated the support of Geoff Woodcroft, the Bishop of Rupert’s Land, who has permitted individual Anglican churches to decide for themselves how welcoming and affirming of LGBTTQ+ people they will be.

“Some have never met a gay priest,” he said, of the message his role sends to LGBTTQ+ people who have been hurt by Christianity. Some tell him “If the church accepts you, then I must be OK in God’s eyes, too.”

Rampton’s departure makes Woodcroft sad. But he is grateful for his service.

“His contributions have been outstanding,” Woodcroft said. “He has a rich theology of how to be a priest in the world today.”

He praised Rampton’s work on behalf of downtown residents.

“He knows many of them on a first-name basis,” he said, adding his work as a liturgist has resulted in “solid and alive worship.”

“He is intelligent and gifted, and we are going to miss him,” he said.
I don't know if there are any normal male clergymen left in the Anglican Church of Canada, but there won't be any clergy of any kind in that "church" anymore, the way it's going.

Thursday 30 November 2023

"Perfect solar system" discovered 100 light years away

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? Psalms 8:3-4

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Psalms 19:1

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:11

As reported by Pallab Ghosh of BBC News, November 29, 2023 (link in original):

Researchers have located "the perfect solar system", forged without the violent collisions that made our own a hotchpotch of different-sized planets.

The system, 100 light years away, has six planets, all about the same size. They've barely changed since its formation up to 12 billion years ago.

These undisturbed conditions make it ideal for learning how these worlds formed and whether they host life.

The research has been published in the scientific journal, Nature.

The creation of our own solar system was a violent process. As planets were forming some crashed into each other, disturbing orbits and leaving us with giants like Jupiter and Saturn alongside relatively small worlds like our own.

In the system HD110067, as astronomers have rather drily named it, things couldn't be more different.

Not only are the planets similarly sized; in a far cry from the unrelated timing of the orbits of the planets in our own solar system, these rotate in synch.

In the time it takes for the innermost planet to go around the star three times, the next planet along gets around twice, and so on out to the fourth planet in the system. From there things change to a 4:3 pattern of relative orbit speeds for the last two planets.

This intricate planetary choreography is so precise that that the researchers have created a cyclical musical piece, akin to a Philip Glass-style composition, with notes and rhythms corresponding to each planet and their orbital periods...

Dr Rafael Luque, of the University of Chicago, who led the research described HD110067 as "the perfect solar system".

"It is ideal for studying how planets are created, because this solar system didn't have the chaotic beginnings ours did and has been undisturbed since its formation."

Dr Marina Lafarga-Magro, of Warwick University, said that the system was "beautiful and unique".

"It is really exciting, just seeing something that no-one has seen before," she told BBC News.

ver the past thirty years, astronomers have discovered thousands of star systems. But none of them are so well suited to study how planets formed. The planets' near identical size and the system's undisturbed nature are gold dust for astronomers because they make it much easier to compare and contrast them. That will help build up a picture of how they first formed and how they evolved.

The system also has a bright star which will make it easier to look for life signs in the planets' atmospheres.

All six of the new planets are what astronomers call "sub-Neptunes", which are larger than the Earth and smaller than the planet Neptune (which is four times wider than the Earth). The six newly discovered planets are between two and three times the size of Earth.

Interest in the new findings has been supercharged since the discovery in September that a sub-Neptune planet, called K2-18b, in another star system, has an atmosphere with hints of a gas that on Earth is produced by living organisms. Astronomers call this a biosignature.

Although our own solar system does not contain any sub-Neptunes, they are thought to be the most common type of planet in the galaxy. Yet astronomers know surprisingly little about these worlds.

They do not know whether they are mostly made of rock, gas or water, or critically, whether they provide conditions for life.

Finding out these details is "one of the hottest topics in the field" according to Dr Luque, adding that the discovery of HD110067 gives his team the perfect opportunity to answer that question relatively quickly.

"It could be a matter of less than ten years," he told BBC News.

"We know the planets, we know where they are, we just need slightly more time, but it will happen."

If the team's next round of observations indicates that sub-Neptunes can also support life, it greatly increases the number of possible habitable planets and therefore increases the chances of detecting signs of life on another world sooner rather than later.

The race is now on to detect biosignatures on one of the six new sub-Neptunes, or dozens of others detected by rival groups. With a battery of new telescopes with enhanced capabilities and others about to come online, many astronomers believe that we may not have too long to wait for that moment.

The planets were detected using NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and ESA's CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite (Cheops).

Tuesday 31 October 2023

100 years ago--a prediction and alleged evidence for human evolution

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, that your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Genesis 3:4-5

The belief that humanity has improved over time and will continue to do so was popular in the 1920s, and persists into the 2020s, despite evidence to the contrary. However, there was some skepticism toward one such theory of human advancement, as reported by Canadian Press and published in The Calgary Daily Herald, September 15, 1923 (bold, capitals in original):



More Brains, Quicker in Intuition than the Mortals of Today




European Savants Inclined to Disbelieve Original Theory


(By Canadian Press)

LONDON, Sept. 15 - Humanity is threatened with the evolution of a new type of superman, according to the discovery of Captain A.G. Pape, and Edinburgh anthropologist, who read a paper yesterday in Liverpool at the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

He declared that after five years' study of various types of children of American and Australian descent, he was satisfied that a new race was arising. He included among characteristic marks on which he based his theory a distinct increase in cranial development and a definite dome over the frontal region of the skull; hair fine in texture; skin smoothly grained; eyes especially luminous and intelligent and eyebrows rather prominent.

The type face, Captain Pape added, will be somewhat triangular with a narrow chin.

Not Brains Alone

The new type will not be all brains and no body, but will be quick in intuition. The new race, in Captain Pape's view, would show a disposition for a diet without meat and coarse foods and would not have a large appetite along any line.

The forerunners of the new race showed an inclination to be playful and mischievous. The type needed sympathetic understanding.

The discussion which followed the reading of Captain Pape's paper indicated that the arguments advanced in support of the captain's theory were not convincing. The audience showed incredulity. One member declared that the race outlined by the captain appeared to be tubercular degenerates.
As reported in the Montreal Gazette, September 15, 1923 (bold, capitals in original):



'Rhodesian Man' and 'Nebraska Tooth' Recent Discoveries




Features Regarded as Purely Human Found in Baby Apes--Not in Adults


Special Cable to the New York Times and Montreal Gazette

Liverpool, Sept. 14 - Interest in the chemical and physical sections was a notable feature of the meeting of the British Association today. The theatre of the university has proved too small for the large attendance at the lectures, and there is every indication that this year's meeting will be one of the most successful in the history of the association.

Five more presidential addresses were delivered today, and among others of great interest was that by Professor Elliot Smith, delivered before the whole association in Philharmonic Hall. Taking as his subject the study of man, Professor Smith said that the recent discovery of the remains of "the Rhodesian man" and of "the Nebraska tooth" had added two hitherto unknown types of the human family, and had also extended the domain of fossil man to two more continents. It was now possible to construct the family tree of man and his nearest allies and to draw certain inferences as to the nature of the evolutionary changes that had occurred in the humabn family since it first came into existence.

One of the most peculiar results of such studies was the fact that some of the traits regarded as distinctive of the higher races of men were found in the new-born members of the lower races, and were subsequently lost by them. Certain features usually regarded as distinctive of man were found in new-born gorillas and chimpanzees, but not in adults. The truth was that the apes were more specialized than man. In adaptation to their particular mode of life they have lost many primitive characteristics which he had retained, but at the expense of losing plasticity and adaptability, which the most valuable parts of the human make up. It was only by realizing this feature of human psychology, he said, the history of man could be understood.

After giving a summary of the mode of evolution of the human brain, as based fundamentally on the development of the power of vision, the lecturer argued that comparative anatomy should be linked with psychology, and both with the history of culture. Only on such a basis could the true science of man be built up.
Rhodesian Man (Homo rhodesiensis) was a species name devised by the English palaeontologist Sir Arthur Smith Woodward (who fell for the Piltdown Man hoax) to classify Kabwe 1, a cranium (that's all, folks, just a cranium) discovered in a mine in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in 1921. As is so often the case with man's alleged ancestors, much of the science surrounding Rhodesian Man consists of guessing, and Homo rhodesiensis is now widely regarded as synonymous with Heidelberg Man (Homo heidelbergensis).

As for Nebraska Man, whose status as an ancestor of modern man was based on the discovery of a single tooth, his disappearance from the list of man's ancestors was announced in February 1928 when the tooth turned out to be from an extinct peccary. See my post 90 years ago: Nebraska Man suddenly disappears from the list of modern man's alleged ancestors (February 18, 2018).