Thursday, 30 June 2011

Halifax's first sodomite/lesbian church closes

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

As reported by Gwyneth Dunsford in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on June 26, 2011:

Halifax’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people are without spiritual anchor after their church of 20 years closed on Sunday.

Around 50 people gathered at Safe Harbour Metropolitan Community Church on Veith Street to hold one last worship service. The congregation of 27 decided to disband on April 17 after a vote at their annual general meeting.

"We reached a point in our history where we realized we couldn’t go on," says Jane MacConnell, the vice-moderator of the church. "The biggest (reason) being the financial side of things."

Realizing they could not pay their pastor at least $36,000 a year, Safe Harbour decided to close. Since 2008, average attendance at services increased by a third, while donations decreased.

Treasurer Bob Fougere says it’s unrealistic to expect a congregation of 27 people to financially support a church, and that personality conflicts also contributed to the church’s closure.

"When you get involved with church, there is always internal politics that goes on," says Fougere. "But those internal politics are even more sensitive, the smaller (the church) gets."

The church has struggled since 2008, when its pastor of 17 years died. Rev. Darlene Young was integral in Safe Harbour’s success and replacing her proved difficult. Rev. Bob Bond was Safe Harbour’s interim pastor from early 2009 until January 2010.

"I was there as their intentional interim pastor and my role was to help (Safe Harbour) to have a healthy approach in filling the pulpit," says Bond, from his home in Kalamazoo, Mich.

In a letter dated March 2011, Bond questioned Safe Harbour’s approach in hiring his replacement, Rev. Jennifer Paty.

Bond wrote: "I believe the selection of (Paty) was for the wrong reasons. I knew from my arrival at (Safe Harbour) that some influential people in the congregation had decided on (Paty) as the next pastor for the church. . . . Power struggles were conducted to make certain the right people were in power positions to make this happen."

Paty left Safe Harbour in late April and refused to comment on the church’s closure or the circumstance around her hiring.

Bond says the congregation was informed about the church’s potential closure over Facebook. This move caused "significant hurt and anxiety" to churchgoers, states Bond in his letter.

"My concern is that the rumour mill . . . was depriving people of feeling that they were a part of the church and the decision-making," said Bond.

Fougere says the Facebook posts about Safe Harbour’s closure were written by people who had "no idea" what was going on.

"There is no doubt that closing the church will hurt people’s feelings," says Fougere. "But there was no power struggle in the church. There were interpersonal relationships that were difficult, but there was no power struggle per se."...

...Safe Harbour was the first church in HRM to accept lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. The denomination of Metropolitan Community Church was founded in 1969 to offer Christian fellowship to gays and lesbians who were not accepted by other faith communities.

In Canada, Safe Harbour was the only Metropolitan Community Church congregation east of Toronto...

...Tim Doufar has been a member of Safe Harbour since 1993, yet sees the church’s dissolution as a step forward for gay people.

"Thankfully (Safe Harbour) is closing," says Doufar. "When Troy Perry founded the (denomination) . . . he was hoping there would be no need for the (Universalist Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches). Now (gays) are accepted in my home church, the Anglican church."

Doufar said it’s only a matter of time before all churches accept gay people.

That does indeed seem a natural progression: the increasing acceptance of sexual deviance within mainline (and, eventually, evangelical) churches will make special sodomite/lesbian churches unnecessary.

As blogger Vox Day notes:

Let's see if the usual signs of the church death spiral are there. Female pastor? Check. "Reverend Darlene Young" and "Reverend Jennifer Paty". Homophilic? Check. "Safe Harbour was the first church in HRM to accept lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people."...Eventually, even the most would-be tolerant Christians are going to notice that once a church starts throwing out the clear teachings of the Bible, it leaps into the death spiral that killed Safe Harbour and is now in the process of relegating the Anglican church to the dustbin of history.
Vox Popoli, Killing the Churches, June 26, 2011

HT: Vox Popoli

Manitoba atheist whines that regulations against prayer in school aren't being enforced

As usual, the lone atheist demands that everyone must conform to his desires; in the words of Vox Day, "most atheism is little more than a juvenile psychological disorder" ("Godlessness is more than a-theism," May 25, 2011). As reported by Nick Martin of the Winnipeg Free Press on June 24, 2011:

Children pray in public-school classrooms during school hours throughout Manitoba -- apparently in violation of provincial rules that the department of education says it will not enforce.

The Lord's Prayer is being read over the intercom by the principal or in classrooms by teachers.

Schools allow parent councils to organize petitions for religious exercises through the schools, and in a few cases, directly help organize them.

Parents receive yes-or-no ballots and are told they must fill in and sign forms if they do not want their children to pray in a supposedly secular school.

And there are even schools in which non-praying students are expected to stand quietly in their classrooms while their classmates recite the Lord's Prayer all around them.

Every one of these actions violates Manitoba's guidelines on religious exercises in secular public schools, says Dauphin lawyer and atheist Chris Tait.

But the province says its only recourse is to remind school divisions about guidelines -- after that, it's up to individuals to take their complaints to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission or the courts.

It was back in 1986 that Tait was suspended several times for refusing to stand during the reciting of the Lord's Prayer in his MacGregor Collegiate classroom. That led to a historic 1992 court case in which the Court of Queen's Bench struck down mandatory school prayer in Manitoba.

More than 20 Manitoba school divisions are violating the province's guidelines on religious exercises, said Tait. He filed Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act applications to school divisions and provided the results to the Free Press.

"I think it's very deliberate that they ignore (the guidelines)," Tait said. "They're on a project to push through a religious agenda. They're getting people to co-operate that aren't of the Christian faith."

Education Minister Nancy Allan declined a request to be interviewed. An aide to the minister bumped inquiries to David Yeo, director of the education administration services branch.

The province reminded school divisions of the guidelines in a meeting last fall, Yeo said.

"The issue whether prayer should exist in public schools is a controversial one. The Public Schools Act permits it," Yeo said. "Ultimately, school boards are legally autonomous entities."

When the province gets a complaint, it reminds the school division about the guidelines, but beyond that, it's up to individuals to pursue complaints with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission or with the courts, Yeo said.

"School boards have the responsibility to implement it appropriately. The recourse is to the commission," Yeo said. "At the end of the day, it's the finders of fact which can issue a remedy. That's the commission or the court."

Former residents of boarding schools launch lawsuit against Rosminian Order Roman Catholic priests

As reported by Randy Boswell of Postmedia News on June 23, 2011:

After decades of quiet suffering and bottled rage, a Canadian man from Montreal is leading a group of 22 former residents of Catholic boarding schools in Britain and Tanzania - including four fellow Canadians from Quebec, B.C. and Alberta - in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Rosminian Order priests alleged to have physically, sexually and emotionally abused the children in their charge during the 1950s.

Francis Lionnet, a 63-year-old communications consultant, is spearheading a compensation bid that has already prompted a BBC documentary on the case and led this week to a formal apology from Britain's top Rosminian official.

Another ex-pupil involved in the case is Bill Tierney, a Montreal Gazette columnist and former mayor of the West Island community of Ste. Anne de Bellevue.

"I apologize without reservation on behalf of the Rosminian brethren in the U.K. to all those who have suffered," Father David Myers said in a statement released Wednesday, the day after BBC's airing of the film Abused: Breaking the Silence, in which several of the alleged victims told their stories.

"Such abuse was a grievous breach of trust to them and to their families. We are appalled by what was done to them," Myers added. "I and all my brethren are deeply shocked at what has happened and acknowledge our inadequate response."

Lionnet was an eight-year-old boy in 1956 when he arrived at the Grace Dieu school in Leicestershire, England. He claims to have been beaten and abused during his time there and to have witnessed the abuse of several other pupils at the school, housed in a sprawling manor in the countryside.

Lionnet immigrated to Canada in 1996 and later worked as a senior communications officer at NSERC, the federal science and engineering research fund.

He told Postmedia News on Thursday that, like other former pupils at the school, he thought often about his experiences at Grace Dieu, but only began organizing the legal fight in 2009 after a discussion with a fellow graduate about their memories of a particular priest's violent actions.

In his own mind, Lionnet said, he had been "kicking the crap out of this priest for hours and hours every year all my life. You know? We all were."

But after leaving the school, "we were scattered around the globe," he said of his former classmates, explaining why it took decades to re-connect with other ex-pupils, including those from a Tanzanian school run by the Rosminians, and finally confront the Catholic order with a litany of abuse allegations.

"It just took two of us to take leadership of it," Lionnet said, describing how he subsequently approached Myers with the dossier of complaints.

Letters of apology from several priests, in which they acknowledged that serious abuses took place, were received by the former pupils, he said. But Lionnet was told by the order that he and the other complainants had no moral right to seek financial compensation.

That response, he said, stiffened the group's resolve to aggressively pursue legal action...

...Tierney, 65, said Friday from his cottage in Nova Scotia that he attended Grace Dieu in 1957-58 and recalls "frightening" sounds coming from "Room X" - the place next to his own sleeping quarters where boys were beaten by an "odious priest" at the school...

...This week's apology from the Rosminian Order was welcomed by the alleged victims as a step in the right direction, according to a response issued Wednesday by the group's lawyers, Nottingham, England-based Uppal Taylor Solicitors.

Another reason for Christian parents to withdraw their children from the public school system

As reported by Andrea Sands of the Edmonton Journal on June 13, 2011:

A Christian program that operates inside seven public schools is warning parents a new school-board policy to make schools more welcoming for sexual minorities "could have a significant, negative impact" on the faithbased program.

The Edmonton Logos Society sent "an alert to parents" early this month that says the proposed policy might force teachers and principals with the Christian alternative program to go against their beliefs.

All children should be free from bullying and everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, in keeping with Jesus's teachings, the notice says.

However, if the policy developed . (it) means that our Logos teachers and principals would no longer be able to express freely in their classrooms that the homosexual lifestyle is not in accord with their Christian beliefs, and that they would be required to 'affirm' homosexual lifestyle as acceptable to traditional Christian family values, then we cannot accept this," the two-page notice says in bold lettering.

The alert, sent out in a newsletter and on the Logos website, urges parents to read the draft policy, express their opinions to Edmonton public school officials and trustees, and pray trustees won't "put teachers and principals in a position where they would be prohibited from freely expressing their Christian beliefs in the classroom. After all, this is what our program is all about."

School trustees voted 8-1 in March to create a policy for schools dealing with discrimination based on sexual orientation. A draft policy was developed and is posted on the school board website.

A key Logos concern centres around the meaning of "affirm" in the draft policy. The document says sexual and gender minority students, staff and families as well as same-sex parented families have the right to "be included, affirmed and represented in an inclusive, positive and respectful manner by all school personnel" and "have their unique identities, families, cultures and communities valued and affirmed within all aspects of the school environment."

The school board invited public feedback to the draft policy through an online survey that closed on Thursday.

The Logos newsletter encouraged concerned parents to answer the survey.

However, Logos Society president Bruce Wilkinson said it was hard to notify parents about the policy because Edmonton Public Schools blocked the newsletter from being distributed as usual. The Logos Lantern normally goes out to students in their classrooms, Wilkinson said this weekend.

This time, Logos schools and the society were told public-school policy prohibits schools from distributing politically motivated communications.

So the Logos Society enlisted parents to hand out the newsletter on public sidewalks outside the schools. About 1,100 Logos students attend seven schools across the city alongside students in the regular program...

...School board chairman Dave Colburn estimated the board has heard from "no more than a couple of dozen Christian parents" worried about the policy.

"I would hope that, by and large, the Christian community would understand the importance of respecting the dignity, safety and well-being of all of our students," Colburn said Sunday.

"It seems to me the principles of safety, respect and acceptance of all people and understanding the value of every human being would be a fundamental part of Christianity, and I'd like to think people would consider those values when they respond to the creation of this policy."

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Magnetic bubbles have been discovered at the edge of the solar system

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

And once again, scientists have to change their theories. As reported by Michael Wall of on June 9, 2011:

The edge of the solar system is a turbulent place, filled with a roiling sea of huge magnetic bubbles, new research suggests.

The find, made with the help of observations from NASA's venerable Voyager probes, shakes up prevailing views of the solar system's outer reaches. And it shows that this region, once thought to be a relatively firm shield against interstellar particles such as galactic cosmic rays, is actually more of a porous membrane.

"We will have to change our view of how the sun interacts with particles, fields and gases from other stars," Arik Posner, a Voyager program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., told reporters today (June 9).

Not smooth, but bubbly

Our sun's sphere of influence, composed of solar plasma and solar magnetic fields, is called the heliosphere. This gigantic structure is about three times wider than the orbit of Pluto. At the edge of the heliosphere lies the heliosheath, a boundary region between the solar system and interstellar space.

For decades, scientists had thought that, in the heliosheath, the sun's magnetic field curves around in a smooth, consistent arc, forming a relatively uniform structure. [Solar System Explained From the Inside Out]

But that appears not to be the case.

The twin unmanned probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, both launched in 1977, are currently plying different parts of the heliosheath, more than 9 billion miles (14.5 billion kilometers) from Earth. And their observations are spurring a rethink of the region. [5 Facts About NASA's Voyager Spacecraft]

Specifically, the probes measured abrupt changes in the flow of particles, such as electrons, from one patch of space to another.

"What really struck us were the sudden differences between what Voyager 1 was seeing and what Voyager 2 was seeing," said study co-author James Drake of the University of Maryland. "We had to explain, well, why is that?"

The best explanation, according to subsequent computer models, is that the probes are flying through a frothy field of magnetic bubbles. These bubbles act as particle traps. So particle readings increase while the spacecraft are inside one, then drop when they exit.

These bubbles form as a result of the interaction between the sun's rotation and its magnetic field. As the sun spins, its magnetic field churns and twists out in the heliosheath. The folded field bunches up on itself, causing lines of magnetic force to crisscross and reconnect, forming the sea of bubbles.

Huge, sausage-shaped bubbles

The sausage-shaped bubbles are gigantic, measuring about 100 million miles (161 million km) across. And there are a lot of them...

...Voyager 1 is now about 11 billion miles (17.7 billion kilometers) from Earth, while Voyager 2 is about 9 billion miles (14.5 billion km) away. Voyager 1 is the most far-flung human-made object in the universe.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

30 years ago: Edmonton police raid a downtown sodomite hangout

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;
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: 24-28, 32

And you knew where you were then
Girls were girls and men were men;
Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again--

People used to be content,
Fifty dollars paid the rent,
Freaks were in a circus tent,
Those were the days.

--from Those Were the Days by Lee Adams and Charles Strouse (opening theme song from All in the Family)

I forgot to mention this item a few weeks ago: It was in the wee hours of Saturday, May 30, 1981 that police in Edmonton, Alberta raided the Pisces Health Spa, known to be a hangout for sodomites. Four men were charged with keeping a common bawdy house, and 56 others were charged as found-ins. This incident seems to have been the Edmonton equivalent of the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York, as far as galvanizing the sodomite/lesbian rights activists. At the time, however, one sodomite whined that homosexuals would be forced back into the closet; as a friend of mine commented, "I think that's a good place for them to go."

This past week marked the annual perversion pride parade, which has changed routes in recent years. That parade used to pass through my neighbourhood; I would stay inside as long as possible, but when I would go outside, I would see a few stragglers at the tail end of the parade, and the sights were stomach-turning. I don't think it's an exaggeration to call the event--and the movement behind it--demonic.

It seems hard to believe now, but in 1981 you could actually make jokes about the Pisces raid, and laugh at the defenses offered in court (and published in the newspapers) by some of the found-ins (my favourite was the man who said, "I'm a monosexual; I have sex with myself."). However, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was in the process of forcing his Charter of Rights and Freedoms (more accurately called the Charter of Wrongs and Licenses) into law as part of the constitution, and it came into effect on April 17, 1982. When this was going on from 1980-1982 I predicted that my freedom would diminish, and that the only people with any rights would be perverts, criminals, deadbeats, and malcontents. I know of a man in Calgary who fled Czechoslovakia when the Soviet tanks invaded that country in 1968, and he said in 2008 that there was more freedom in Czechoslovakia in 1968 than there is in Canada now.

30 years later, anyone who expresses any opposition to the sodomite/lesbian agenda risks being hauled before a "human rights" gestapo, and the local police chief and politicians salute this perverse and demonic lifestyle as if it's something to be celebrated instead of condemned. I don't know who said it, but I agree with it: all this promotion and celebration of homosexuality isn't a sign that God's judgement is coming on a society, but a sign that His judgement is already under way. The only good thing about it is that it's an indication that the Lord's return is getting ever nearer.

I enjoyed 1981, and that last full year of pre-Charter freedom seems even better in retrospect. I could call a pervert a pervert, and could ask a woman for a date or compliment her on her appearance (and they weren't covered with tattoos or body piercings then) without being accused of harassment. Those were the days!

May 30, 2021 update: Things have gotten worse in the last 10 years: not only do police now celebrate the annual perversion pride week, but now they raid those few churches whose pastors have the courage to defy government officials who are grossly exceeding their legitimate authority. The Covid-19 situation has shone a light on a problem that an older Canadian saint named Tom Linton identified in a conversation with me in 1996 or '97: we don't have courage in the pulpits. The number of Christian pastors who have publicly resisted the current tyranny can be counted on the fingers of both hands with several fingers left over. The overwhelming majority of pastors have proven themselves to be milquetoasts who knuckle under to Caesar at every opportunity.

Why rabbis in Israel are hated

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Isaiah 29:13

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

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
Matthew 23:1-8
Nothing seems to have changed in almost 2,000 years. According to Assaf Wohl in Ynet News on June 4, 2011:

Reports that the salary of city rabbis will be raised to up to NIS 29,000 (roughly $8,500) per month prompted thousands of angry reactions. Several rabbis were genuinely wondering about the source of what they characterized as the “hatred” towards them. After all, they serve the public faithfully.

Hence, I will attempt here to present the arguments against the Rabbinate as reflected by the responses to the recent pay raise.

Firstly, the Rabbinate has become the “military wing” of the haredi community. Through it, the haredim abuse the rest of the population. Through the Rabbinate they force Israel’s citizens to get married, divorce, convert and set their clocks the haredi way. And as we know, depriving human beings of freedom provokes fury. Hence, one needs great chutzpa to force people to behave in ways they don’t wish to adopt...

...Secondly, the Rabbinate is perceived as a corrupt body that produces nothing but jobs for its close associates. In fact, it is a sort of closed off elite that mostly takes care of the people it cares about; a body meant to feed only one sector – the haredim. The best proof of this is that the haredi rabbis and kashrut supervisors who took the Rabbinate hostage don’t even recognize the kosher certificates they issue. It’s only an income source for them.

The American model
The National-Religious Jews are kept out. Reform Jews are out, Conservative Jews are out, and anyone who doesn’t have the beard and hat required by the clique is out. And what about women? Don’t even mention that.

What kind of theocracy has been created within our democracy? Where else will you find a job that is paid by the public and is good for life, like the city rabbi position? And why do we need two chief rabbis, at an exorbitant cost?

Thirdly, there’s the issue of the economic situation and market conditions. After all, social workers, doctors and police officers are employed under disgraceful terms, yet their jobs are perceived as much more vital than the abstract, spiritual work done by the rabbis. What will happen if the rabbis strike tomorrow? The sun won’t shine? Now let’s try to imagine a day without doctors.

Meanwhile, the argument that we can say the same about humanities researchers is invalid for a simple reason: Their cost is a fraction of the cost of rabbis. Have you ever heard of a “neighborhood anthropologist” or a “chief Sephardic philosopher?”

The coercion, the costs, the hunger for power, and the translation of Judaism into money all prompt open hostility towards the Rabbinate and Judaism. The solution can apparently be found in the American model. It is precisely the separation of religion and State in the US that boosted the status of religion. Indeed, the caption “In God We Trust” can be found on every American bill. It appears that in America, the dollar trusts God. Around here, thanks to religious politicians, God puts His trust in the dollar.

Belief in reincarnation leads rabbinical court in Jerusalem to sentence a dog to death by stoning

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Isaiah 29:13

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

To quote Paul Harvey, "It is not one world." As reported by Akiva Novick of Ynet News on June 16, 2011:

A Jerusalem rabbinical court recently sentenced a wandering dog to death by stoning. The cruel sentence stemmed from the suspicion that the hound was the reincarnation of a famous secular lawyer, who insulted the court's judges 20 years ago.

Several weeks ago, according to the Behadrei Hadarim website, a large dog entered the Monetary Affairs Court near the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim. The dog scared the court's visitors and, to their surprise, refused to leave even after they attempted to drive him away.

One of the judges suddenly recalled that about 20 years ago, a famous secular lawyer who insulted the court was cursed by the panel of judges, who wished that his spirit would move on to the body of a dog (considered an impure animal by Halacha). The lawyer passed away several years ago.

Still offended, one of the judges sentenced the poor animal to death by stoning, recruiting the neighborhood's children to carry out the order. Luckily, the dog managed to escape.

The head of the court, Rabbi Avraham Dov Levin, denied that the judges had called for the dog's stoning. But one of the court's managers confirmed the report to Yedioth Ahronoth.

"It was ordered by the rabbis because of the grief he had caused the court," he said. "They didn't issue an official ruling, but ordered the children outside to throw stones at him in order to drive him away. They didn't think of it as cruelty to animals, but as an appropriate way to 'get back at' the spirit which entered the poor dog."

For Jews in Israel to believe in reincarnation may seem odd, but that seems to have been the case when the Lord Jesus Christ walked the land:

And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
John 9:2-3

Israeli rabbi says that Gentile sperm may carry traits of cruelty and barbarism

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Isaiah 29:13

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

As reported by Kobi Nahshoni of Ynet News, January 12, 2011:

Rabbi Dov Lior, a senior authority on Jewish law in the Religious Zionism movement, asserted recently that a Jewish woman should never get pregnant using sperm donated by a non-Jewish man – even if it is the last option available.

According to Lior, a baby born through such an insemination will have the "negative genetic traits that characterize non-Jews." Instead, he advised sterile couples to adopt.

Lior addressed the issue during a women's health conference held recently at the Puah Institute, a fertility clinic. His conservative stance negated a ruling widely accepted by rabbis, which states that sperm donated by a non-Jew is preferable to that of an anonymous Jew, who might pose a genealogical risk.

"Sefer HaChinuch (a book of Jewish law) states that the character traits of the father pass on to the son," he said in the lecture. "If the father in not Jewish, what character traits could he have? Traits of cruelty, of barbarism! These are not traits that characterize the people of Israel."

Lior added identified Jews as merciful, shy and charitable – qualities that he claimed could be inherited. "A person born to Jewish parents, even if they weren't raised on the Torah – there are things that are passed on (to him) in the blood, it's genetic," he explained. "If the father is a gentile, then the child is deprived of these things.

"I even read in books that sometimes the crime, the difficult traits, the bitterness – a child that comes from these traits, it's no surprise that he won't have the qualities that characterize the people of Israel," he added.

Lior condemned artificial insemination and sperm donation in general, saying that they lead to waste of sperm, unclear genealogy and other Jewish law offenses. He warned against undergoing intrauterine insemination at hospitals, where the workers may mix sperm samples for one reason or another - a major halachic violation.

On the subject of women who freeze their eggs to use at a later date, the rabbi asserted that instead they should concentrate their efforts on getting married younger.

"Our public has been influenced by a part of the Western culture in which every woman, instead of becoming a mother, needs to get a Masters Degree," he lamented. "The role of women – child rearing – is not less important than an academic degree." Lior noted that there is nothing wrong with attaining a profession, but it should not be a priority.

Israeli rabbi opposes the use of dead men's sperm to father children

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Isaiah 29:13

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

Dead man's sperm, it's no place to play,
Dead man's sperm, you'd best keep away,
Dead man's sperm, I hear Rabbi say:
"Don't have kids with dead man's sperm."

--sung to the tune of Dead Man's Curve (apologies to Jan and Dean)

As reported by Ynet News on June 16, 2011:

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, head of the Petah Tikva hesder yeshiva, says frozen sperm must not be used for insemination purposes if its owner is no longer alive.

According to the rabbi, the deceased should be commemorated in a variety of other ways, but not by generating offspring who will be born fatherless.

Cherlow, who is considered an expert on ethics and Halacha, in the medical field as well, and is a member of different committees dealing with these issues, was asked by a reader on the Petah Tikva hesder yeshiva's website: "One of my relatives died at a young age, without having children. We know he had his sperm frozen. What should be done so that his name is not erased?"

The rabbi replied, "It's a real pity, (but) I believe it won't be right to use this sperm. His name can be commemorated by naming other newborns after him, by studying Torah and by doing justice for the transcendence of his soul."

Cherlow stressed that this was his own stance and that "there is a possibility to think differently". He explained why using a dead person's sperm for insemination was "wrong" in his opinion.

"My fundamental halachic and ethical stance is that medical technologies are there to deal with defects found in nature but not to invent new realities. Thus, I see no room for using a person's sperm after his death."

Israeli rabbi opposes men working as lifeguards in swimming pools where women bathe

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Isaiah 29:13

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

It's not just mixed bathing that's dangerous, but mixed kayaking, as well. As reported by Ynet News on June 9, 2011:

The summer season is about to begin, along with some unique halachic issues: Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, head of the Petah Tikva hesder yeshiva, has ruled that a man must not work as a lifeguard in a swimming pool where women bathe or in a kayak rental facility where visitors arrive in their swimsuits.

A reader of the yeshiva website, seeking the rabbi's opinion, said he was considering working at a kayak facility in the Jordan River as an instructor who helps visitors get into the water and explains how to use the canoe.

He also wondered if he could work as a lifeguard in a swimming pool where women bathe. He said he had searched the Internet for answers, but could only find questions by women asking if they are allowed to bathe in a pool with a male lifeguard.

Rabbi Cherlow responded that by doing so, he would be crossing a red line. "Working with kayaks means being in a very immodest place all day long," he explained. "This isn't a matter of likelihood but a matter of certainty, and it's just like going to a mixed beach."

The rabbi added that the same applies to a lifeguard in a place where there are women.

Israeli group "Jews Against Conversion" opposes state conversion to Judaism of Gentile soldiers in Israel

As reported by Kobi Nahshoni of Ynet News on June 11, 2011:

A group challenging the legitimacy of State-controlled conversions circulated thousands of flyers in synagogues across Israel this week, urging non-Jewish soldiers not to convert and to demand that military clergymen be installed according to their various denominations.

The group – "Jews against Conversion" – stated that the State of Israel is virtually compelling hundreds of thousand of immigrants to convert to Judaism, thus infringing on their rights.

The group's flyer lauds the "Non-Jewish heroes who fiercely defend the Israeli nation," and asserts that they deserve all of the rights Israelis enjoy, including "all of their spiritual right with God."

The group goes on to state that those "pushing (non-Jews) towards conversion do not have their best interests at heart."

They further urge non-Jewish soldiers "to avoid subjecting yourselves to the 613 laws of Judaism… You do not have to bind yourself to this restricting way, which will infringe on all ways of your life, and is hard to uphold. You do not have to uphold it!"

"Jews against Conversion" believe that State conversions are not halachic-based but rather "a political invention… and a concoction that endangers the future existence of the Jewish people."

According to the group, the rabbis controlling the process are "fraudulent," and "any conversion presided over by such rabbis will no more turn you into Jews than it would turn a rabbit into a rooster."

The group further blames the "corrupted conversion system" for the "punishment of Gush Katif," saying it was this corruption that led to the Israeli pullout from Gaza.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco promises to give up some of his powers

As reported by Souhail Karam of Reuters on June 17, 2011:

RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco's King Mohammed promised a new democratic constitution on Friday that would devolve some of his powers to parliament and the government, adding Moroccans would be able to vote for the changes in a July 1 referendum.

The reformed constitution will shift some powers to government and hold officials more accountable, but the king will retain his grip on security, the army and religion, according to a draft seen by Reuters earlier in the day.

Addressing the nation in a TV address, Mohammed said he would vote for the new charter and urged Moroccans to do likewise...

...The final draft of the reformed constitution explicitly grants the government executive powers, although the king would keep exclusive control over military and religious fields and pick a prime minister from the party that wins the polls.

Ministers, ambassadors and provincial governors, who are interior ministry representatives, would be proposed by the prime minister although the king has to approve the choices.

"The constitution gives the head of government (prime minister) the power to propose and dismiss cabinet members, to steer and coordinate government action, and to supervise public service," Mohammed said in his speech, but he added that he was "the trustworthy guide and supreme arbiter."

"Appointments in the military remain an exclusive, sovereign prerogative of the King, Supreme Commander and Chief of Staff of the Royal Armed Forces," he said.

Further, the prime minister would be able to dissolve the lower house of parliament after consulting the king, house speaker and head of the constitutional court.

The new constitution would "enshrine citizenship-based monarchy and the citizen king," Mohammed said.

Najib Chawki, an activist from the February 20 Movement, said the constitutional reform draft "does not respond to the essence of our demands which is establishing a parliamentary monarchy. We are basically moving from a de facto absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy."

The movement has called for the creation in Morocco of a parliamentary monarchy, an end to the influence of the king's inner circle, the dismissal of the government, and for officials and businessmen it accuses of corruption to be put on trial...

...Under the proposed reforms, the king would still be able to dissolve parliament but only after consulting the chairman of a newly introduced Constitutional Court, of which half the members will be appointed by the king.

The reform will introduce a Supreme Security Council which will be chaired by the king as a platform for consultations on domestic and foreign security issues.

It will include among its members the prime minister, speakers of the bi-cameral parliament and senior army officers.

The reformed constitution also recognizes Tamazight as an official language alongside Arabic, a move which looks set to appease Amazigh activists within February 20 Movement. Amazigh are North Africa's original inhabitants before Arabs conquered it in the seventh century to spread Islam.

July 4, 2011 update: On July 1, 2011, 98% of voters (with 94% of polls reporting) in a national referendum approved King Mohammed VI's new constitution. Moroccan Interior Minister Taib Cherkaoui reported a turnout of 72.65% of eligible voters, with 30% of the voters under the age of 35.

Astronomers discover early black holes

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

Once again, the astronomers are surprised at what they discover because it didn't fit their theories.

As reported by Amina Khan in the Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2011:

Astronomers have discovered a hidden collection of supermassive, growing black holes dating back to the early universe — showing, for the first time, that black holes populated the cosmos far earlier than thought.

The findings, published online Wednesday in the journal Nature, could help scientists understand how these black holes are born, how big they grow and how galaxies develop with them.

"We know the nearest galaxies, like our own Milky Way, all have supermassive black holes in the center," said lead author Ezequiel Treister, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii. "And the question is, how did they form? How did they get there?"

Astrophysicists had theorized that black holes would be found at the center of galaxies very early in the universe. But when astronomers tried to detect them — by looking for X-ray radiation emitted by dust falling into a black hole — they came up empty.

X-rays, unlike visible or infrared light, can escape the powerful gravitational pull of a black hole.

And so Treister decided to look for high energy X-rays using NASA's space-based Chandra X-ray Observatory. Because earlier searches had failed, the team combined the signals coming from about 200 galaxies that had existed less than 1 billion years after the Big Bang.

The scientists were surprised to find that at least 30%, and possibly many more, of the galaxies contained black holes at their centers — showing that the strong association between black holes and galaxies dates to the very young universe. Astronomers hadn't been able to detect these black holes before because they were surrounded by clouds of gas and dust that obscured all but the most high-energy radiation from view.

"This paper takes that relationship [between black holes and galaxies] back to when the universe was only a billion years old — quite further back than we've been able to take it before," said Harvey Tananbaum, director of the Chandra X-ray Center at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass.

"This is completely new and unexpected — no one expected this connection to start so early in the universe," Treister said.

Scientists are still not sure how these ancient black holes were formed. One theory is that several smaller black holes eventually merged together. Another suggests that individual black holes sucked in huge amounts of gas and dust and grew to supermassive size.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

50 years ago: Pontius Pilate's name is found carved in stone near Caesarea

On June 18, 1961, Professor Antonio Flova, director of the antiquities department of northern Italy, announced that a University of Milan expedition had found the name of Pontius Pilate carved on a stone on the Mediterranean coast of Israel near Caesarea—the ancient capital of Roman Palestine—about 10 miles south of Haifa. Professor Flova reported that the name had been found three days earlier on a stone 31” X 23” in the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre. The stone had apparently been placed there when the building had been dedicated.

Mercury's origins may be different from those of other planets

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 Irene Klotz of Reuters on June 17, 2011:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. | Fri Jun 17, 2011 1:20am IST

(Reuters) - Mercury's origins may be very different from its sister planets, including Earth, based on early findings that show surprisingly rich deposits of sulfur on the ground, scientists said on Thursday.

Early findings from the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury is forcing scientists to rethink how the planet closest to the sun formed and what has happened to it over the past 4 billion years.

NASA's Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging spacecraft -- nicknamed Messenger -- is three months into a planned year-long mission. It has also uncovered evidence of a lopsided magnetic field and regular bursts of electrons jetting through the magnetosphere.

"It's almost a new planet because we've never had this kind of observatory before," said lead researcher Sean Solomon of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C.

Volcanoes appear to have played a rather large role in shaping Mercury, providing fresh material to fill its cratered face, but also possibly providing an unexpected supply of sulfur to the surface, a finding that suggests Mercury may have had different building blocks than Venus, Earth and Mars.

Scientists expected that Mercury, which is believed to have formed in the hottest, densest part of the original solar nebula, wouldn't have had the right temperatures to hang on to lighter-weight materials like sulfur.

My favourite part of the article follows:

"All of our simple ideas ... a hot planet, easily depleted of volatiles ... are not turning out to be the simple story we thought," Solomon added.

New images from Messenger reveal a massive plain of ancient lava flow, the largest of which spans 400 million square kilometers, about half the size of the continental United States.

Another surprise was the planet's lopsided magnetic field, which is stronger in the north than the south. Scientists can't yet account for the asymmetry, but one theory is that the planet's magnetic field is in the processing of flipping.

Mercury is the only terrestrial body besides Earth that has a magnetic field and one of the prime goals of the Messenger mission is to figure out how Mercury, which sports a massive iron core, was assembled. Scientists believe Mercury's core, like Earth's, is responsible for generating its magnetic field

Messenger also has been monitoring regular outbursts of electrons in Mercury's magnetosphere. Hints of the phenomenon were first detected by NASA's Mariner 10 probe, which flew past Mercury in 1974.

"We're seeing these seeing these very dynamic phenomena in the magnetosphere. It's very surprising and energetic," Solomon said.

I always find it amusing the extent to which scientists are surprised by new information, and have to then abandon or change their theories; but, of course, they're so sure that macroevolution is true.

Star gets eaten up by black hole

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 Margaret Munro of Postmedia News on June 16, 2011:

In late March, NASA's Swift satellite picked up a blast of gamma rays screaming past Earth.

Astronomers rushed to take a closer look, using powerful telescopes from Hawaii to the Canary Islands to check out the high-energy jet coming from a distant galaxy in the constellation Draco.

They initially speculated a collapsing star created the blast. Now they report that it appears a star the size of the sun was shredded by a massive black hole. Its "death rattle" was a high-energy flash or jet pointed straight at the Earth.

"This is a very strange one," says Nicholas Law, at the University of Toronto's Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, a member of the international team that describes the cosmic drama in two reports published Thursday by the journal Science.

NASA's Swift satellite is designed to pick up brief, intense flashes of gamma radiation. The blasts can come from any direction in the sky and typically last from a few milliseconds to minutes.

After detecting the burst March 28, Swift alerted ground dates and a bulletin went out to astronomers, who focused everything from the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii to the Hubble Space Telescope on the unusually bright and long-lasting emissions from a galaxy nearly 4 billion light years away...

..."This is truly different from any explosive event we have seen before," Joshua Bloom, of the University of California Berkeley, says in a release. Bloom is lead author of one of the Science reports.

It was one of the biggest and brightest bangs yet recorded, the scientists say, and the evidence indicates it came from a massive black hole at the centre of the distant galaxy. They say the high-energy X-rays and gamma rays persisted at an extremely bright level for weeks, with flares when chunks of the star fell into the black hole.

"This burst produced a tremendous amount of energy over a fairly long period of time, and the event is still going on more than 2 1/2 months later," says Bloom. "That's because as the black hole rips the star apart, the mass swirls around like water going down a drain, and this swirling process releases a lot of energy."

It's estimated that about 10 per cent of the star's mass turned into energy generating the beam or jet of X-rays and gamma rays. Earth just happened to be in its path. "We're looking down the barrel," says Bloom.

Dissident Anglican congregations lose their properties when the Supreme Court of Canada declines to hear their case

The reader should keep in mind that the properties in question, like the church as a whole, were built and maintained by conservative Christians and have been stolen by liberals.

As reported by Charles Lewis in the National Post, June 17, 2011:

The Supreme Court of Canada said Thursday it will not hear a last-ditch appeal from four dissident conservative Anglican churches in Vancouver that hoped to hold on to their buildings and land.

In November, the British Columbia Court of Appeal, the highest court in the province, ruled that the properties are owned by the Diocese of New Westminster, which is part of the Anglican Church of Canada. The four churches are valued at about $20-million. Their congregations have broken with the mainstream church over same-sex marriage and other issues.

"We've always said from the get-go that we might have to choose between our faith and our buildings, and we chose our faith," said Cheryl Chang, special counsel to the Anglican Network in Canada, the umbrella group for breakaway Anglican parishes. "Part of being Christian is to sacrifice. In the Third World people are tortured and killed for their faith. Here they take away your churches."

One of the four parishes includes St. John's Shaughnessy Church, one of the largest Anglican congregations in Canada. Ms. Chang said it will be very difficult for St. John's to find a suitable building large enough to hold the nearly 1,000 parishioners who worship there every Sunday.

There are several other parishes involved in legal fights with their parishes that this case could impact, Ms. Chang said...

...It is expected that almost all of the parishioners will follow their clergy to new locations.

On the surface, the main issue between the dissident parishes and the national church has been over the blessing of same-sex unions, a practice that first began in the Vancouver under Bishop [Michael] Ingham in 2002. The breakaway churches have always said that blessing gay relationships was antithetical to Christianity and that the Bishop Ingham, and by extension the Anglican Church of Canada, had broken from the faith.

The conservative churches have also argued that the Anglican Church of Canada has drifted from orthodox Christian teaching -away from preaching the uniqueness of Christ as the way to salvation, and toward a form of Christianity meant to appease popular culture.

Ms. Chang said Thursday's decision is especially troubling because it means that any religious denomination can change theological direction and the individual parishes have no choice but to go along or leave.

In November, the B.C. Court of Appeal wrote in its decision that the Anglican Church of Canada had a right to the properties but might be doing damage to its own cause.

"[The] Bishop and the Diocesan Synod of New Westminster have chosen to pursue the matter to the extent they have -despite the opposition of many of their parishioners," the judges wrote.

The Anglican Network in Canada, which formally separated in 2007, has roughly 50 parishes, a tiny minority compared with the 2,000 parishes of the national church. The network is aligned theologically with the church in Africa, where the majority of the
world's 70 million Anglicans now reside.

Episcopal San Joaquin Diocese blesses same-sex relationships

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;
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 1:26-28, 32

If you haven't read or heard enough about pro-sodomite churches, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin in California has jumped on the bandwagon. As reported by Sue Nowicki of the Modesto Bee on June 11, 2011:

Beginning Sunday, Episcopal priests in the San Joaquin Diocese can "perform blessings of same gender civil marriages, domestic partnerships and relationships which are lifelong committed relationships characterized by fidelity, monogamy" and "holy love."

The change doesn't mean Episcopal priests will begin marrying same-sex couples, Bishop Chester Talton said. Such marriages are forbidden by state law, although that is under review by the courts.

Instead, Talton said, "what is being authorized is a blessing of relationships, which we've chosen to call sacred unions."

That would include a blessing for same-sex couples who were married in a civil ceremony for the short time in 2008 when such marriages were legal in California, he said. It also would include homosexual or heterosexual couples who are not married, but live together in a committed relationship.

The impact, Talton said, will "acknowledge the sacredness of that relationship. I think it also says our church is one that is inclusive, that welcomes all, that will embrace all members of God's creation in God's church."

The Rev. Kathleen West, acting priest-in-charge at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Modesto, said Thursday no one there has asked for a blessing, but she is ready when they do.

"This … will be good for us and for seeking, gay people who are looking for a place where they can be accepted with no condemnation of their created way of having same-sex attraction," she said. "I think it will happen at St. Paul's..."

...But such blessings are one reason theologically conservative parishes and dioceses in the United States have left the national Episcopal Church and moved to alternative oversight groups within the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Bishop John-David Schofield, who is retiring this year, was the first in the country to lead an entire diocese away from Episcopal control in 2007, establishing the Anglican San Joaquin Diocese. Lawsuits filed by Episcopalians still are pending over the property for diocesan headquarters in Fresno and the 40 parishes that moved with Schofield.

First patients enroll in embryonic stem cell trials on blindness

As reported by Agence France-Presse on June 16, 2011:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The first clinical trials that examine the use of stem cells to treat two forms of blindness are ready to begin now that patients have been enrolled, a US company announced on Thursday.

A total of 24 patients have entered two separate trials at an eye institute in California, said representatives from the Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology.

ACT was cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration several months ago to begin clinical trials of human embryonic stem cells to treat a form of juvenile blindness known as Stargardt's disease and dry age-related macular degeneration.

Now that patients have been enrolled, the trials will begin "in the very near future," a company spokeswoman said.

The trials aim to check the safety of the treatment before moving on to see whether the therapy can help stop vision loss...

...Scientists say the cells offer great promise in treating Parkinson's disease, diabetes and a variety of other illnesses. Critics frequently oppose the research on religious grounds because it involves the destruction of human embryos.

Scientists say that embryonic stem cell research shows great promise, although it has yet to be shown to be effective in treating any human medical problems, as opposed to adult stem cell research, which involves no destruction of human life.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

30 years ago: Israel bombs Iraq's nuclear reactor

On June 7, 1981, Israeli planes bombed a French-made nuclear reactor near Baghdad. The Israeli government of Prime Minister Menachem Begin believed the reactor was being used to build bombs for the purpose of attacking Israel. The strike was the first air strike against a nuclear plant.

The Israeli raid was largely condemned at the time by "world opinion," but 10 years later, after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's forces had invaded and occupied Kuwait before being beaten back in the Gulf War, Israel's action in 1981 seemed very prudent indeed.

40 years ago: The death of Bruce Gardner

Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean-favoured and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good Morning!" and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich, yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine -- we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked and waited for the light,
And went without the meat and cursed the bread,
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet in his head.

--Edwin Arlington Robinson, 1897

Not a lot of names come to mind if one thinks of lefthanded Jewish baseball pitchers. There was Sandy Koufax, who ended up in the Hall of Fame; there was Ken Holtzman, who didn’t end up in the Hall of Fame, but who had a very good career; and there was Bruce Gardner, who ended up in the hall of “what might have been.”

Born October 30, 1938, Bruce Gardner was a star pitcher at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles who followed advice to turn down a reported offer of $50,000 to sign with the Chicago White Sox immediately after high school in favour of attending the University of Southern California. He played in the Western Canada Baseball League during the summers of 1958 (Edmonton) and 1959 (Regina), and set a record at USC by compiling a won-lost record of 50-5 for his career. The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Mr. Gardner for $12,000 in 1960 and assigned him to the Montreal Royals of the AAA International League for the last few weeks of the season. In 1961 Mr. Gardner was sent down to the Reno Silver Sox of the Class A California League, where he won 20 and lost just 4 for what may have been the best minor league team of the 1960s. He was drafted into the U.S. Army shortly after, and injured his pitching arm when he fell off a truck. His baseball career never recovered, and he struggled for several more years in the minor leagues.

Despite being talented and apparently successful in many areas (his musical friends included Herb Alpert and Phil Spector), Mr. Gardner remained haunted by not having signed with the White Sox after high school and losing out on his chance to pitch in the major leagues. He coached the Dorsey High junior varsity team to their league championship in 1971, and then, on the night of June 7, hopped the fence of his old playing field at USC and shot himself in the head near the pitcher's mound. His USC diploma was in his right hand, and his All-America plaque was nearby. Mr. Gardner left a note reading:

I saw life going downhill every day and it shaped my attitude toward everything and everybody. Everything and every feeling that I visualized with my earned and rightful start in baseball was the focal point of continuous failure. No pride of accomplishment, no money, no home, no sense of fulfillment, no attraction. A bitter past, blocking any accomplishment of a future except age. I brought it to a halt tonight at 32.

Dave Breese, who’s now with the Lord, once commented about those who envy those who are apparently more favoured than they, adding that so much in life is only apparent. The last years of Bruce Gardner are an example of that—a handsome, multi-talented man who, although he missed out on a major league pitching career, appeared to be successful in everything else he tried in life, and appeared to have so much yet to live for. Many, if not most people, have experienced great disappointments, but most are able to carry on. As far as I know, Mr. Gardner didn’t know Jesus Christ, and was unfortunately unable to overcome his greatest disappointment. The Lord doesn’t promise anyone exemption from tough times, but He does promise that He will be with believers in and through tough times. It’s tragic that Bruce Gardner lacked that saving faith; if he had put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, he might be with us yet.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Good riddance to mad scientist Jack Kevorkian

The mad scientist and murderer Jack Kevorkian, who earned the nickname "Dr. Death" for a ghoulish interest that developed into assisting 130 suicides by his own estimate, died in Royal Oak Michigan early on June 3, 2011 at the age of 83, as reported by Joe Swickard and Pat Anstett in the Detroit Free Press on June 3, 2011. The Detroit Free Press has also published a timeline of Mr. (why was he constantly called "Doctor" years after losing his medical license?) Kevorkian's misspent career. He should be buried face-down so he can see where he's going. While the Lord takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11), that doesn't mean we're not better off without such a man among us.

The long career of "Dr." Kevorkian helps to serve as a barometer of the decline of the influence of biblical standards on medicine and society in the United States (and other western nations, as well). When "Dr. Death" first acquired his nickname, he was rightly regarded as a mad scientist whose views were beyond the pale for the healing profession. Mr. Kevorkian's views never moderated, but the views of society declined to the point that by the 1990s, Mr. Kevorkian was seen as a man of compassion.

Jack Kevorkian was a man of artistic and musical talent, but his paintings were of the sort that would have been appropriate for Rod Serling's Night Gallery; as for his musical ability, Sherlock Holmes, in the movie Pursuit to Algiers, pointed out that the late Professor Moriarty "was a virtuoso on the contra-bassoon." Mr. Holmes' comment on Dr. Grimesby Roylott in The Adventure of the Speckled Band could serve as Jack Kevorkian's epitaph: "When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals. He has nerve and he has knowledge."

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches in Quebec join with Roman Catholic Church in "evangelism"

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Ephesians 5:11

I missed this item a few years ago when it appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of, the magazine of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada (bold added by blogger):

When Quebec City launched its 400th anniversary celebrations earlier this year, long forgotten historical facts about the impact of evangelical believers on the province’s extended history emerged and reinforced current evangelical efforts to spread the good news of Christ to the province. Many of the early settlers were evangelical Protestants—the Huguenots—and they brought their strong faith with them to the new world.

Rev. Claude Noel, senior pastor of the Alliance church in Sainte-Foy (Église ACM de Saint-Foy) says the Huguenot colonists came from all walks of life – the nobility, merchants and soldiers as well as peasants. Together they greatly influenced early Quebec history.

From 1540 to 1629, out of the eleven governors of New France, six were Huguenots. One of them, Pierre Du Gua de Monts, supervised the founding of Quebec. Samuel de Champlain’s wife, Hélène Boulé, was a devout Protestant who had a great influence on her husband and family. We must also mention the ‘filles du roy’ (daughters of the king), young ladies, many of whom were Protestant, sent from France to accelerate the colonisation by marrying the settlers and having children...

... Protestant presence and persecution grew as the influence of the Roman Church increased. "There was a war, not just between the English and the French, but amongst the French, between Catholics and Protestants," Rev. Noel said.

Powerful priests such as Francois de Laval (founder of Laval University) were soon involved in removing the Protestant influence (laws forbidding Protestants to gather). They suffered economic pressures, businesses were taken away and Catholic citizens were urged to boycott Protestant enterprises.

"They were kicked out of New France. English Protestants were allowed to stay—this was before Montcalm and Wolfe—but French Protestants were forced out," he explained. And this kind of persecution continued, he noted, well into the 1950’s under the provincial government leadership of Premier Maurice Duplessis.

Soon the pattern that French equals Roman Catholic and English equals Protestant reflected Quebec culture; it was a pattern that lasted until the 1960’s and the ‘Quiet Revolution.’ That pattern, he said, still permeates Quebec even in the post-modernist society. The Roman Catholic faith is still predominant albeit, for many, as a cultural and historical reality rather than a faith reality...

... Along with evangelistic efforts in recent years, evangelicals in Quebec, including the Alliance, developed specific outreach projects allied to the 400th anniversary celebrations...

... The Québécois society no longer recognizes any one specific religion as having the upper hand on truth and it does not allow religion to dictate social values. The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada believes that the Church can again become an influential movement in advancing God’s Kingdom in Quebec as it reflects the values of Christ holistically.

Already the Alliance churches in the St. Lawrence District have joined forces with numerous groups and denominations, including Roman Catholic, in evangelistic efforts across the province. "We want to reach out to them, to present Christ to them, to influence them towards God’s Kingdom," Rev. Noel said...

... Rev. Francis Pearson, District Superintendent for St. Lawrence District, notes that churches in the district are actively seeking fresh, creative ways to impact Quebec society and deploy God’s Kingdom. "God has placed a passion in the heart of our churches to reach their milieu and be and make a difference," Rev. Pearson said. So far over thirty visionary projects have been sown, whether through church planting (traditional or cutting edge), or compassion and social justice ministries.

He added, "We want to be a sent movement of churches – sent to the masses in need of the restoring grace that Jesus brings. We long to reflect Christ's values with compassion and authenticity in all spheres of life so that the church can gain back the right to be heard and have an influence."

For this year in particular, "Je me souviens" (I remember) is more than a phrase on a license plate. It is a remembrance of those pious Huguenots who built, at a great price, the foundation of this nation.

It strikes me as a rather odd way of honouring French Protestants by cooperating in "evangelism" with the church that persecuted them. When did the Roman Catholic Church ever repent of its persecution of the Huguenots or Protestants in Quebec? In "joining forces in evangelistic efforts," what gospel is being proclaimed? The "gospel" of the Roman Catholic Church is no more true now than it was 400 years ago.

I'm disturbed by the phrase "the Church can again become an influential movement in advancing God’s Kingdom in Quebec," especially if that includes the Roman Catholic Church. The influence of the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec up to the mid-20th century was an influence that left the province in backwardness, superstition, and corruption. As for "advancing God’s Kingdom in Quebec as it reflects the values of Christ holistically," that sounds suspiciously to me like dominionism, with the church "christianizing" society by occupying certain areas of influence.