Sunday, 29 November 2015

Opposing idolatry in India can get you killed

Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.
Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.
But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities.
Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.
But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.
Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.
He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.
When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.
Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.
They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.
Jeremiah 10:2-15

Here's an example from India of secular multiculturalism's difficulty in handling militant religious opposition--Trudeaupians and other residents of Western "democracies," please note--as reported by Katy Daigle of Associated Press, August 31 2015:

NEW DELHI — Following a knock at his front door, an Indian scholar greeted two unidentified visitors and was shot in the head and the chest, becoming the third critic of religious superstition to be killed in the country in three years.

The attack on Malleshappa M. Kalburgi sent a chill through Indian civil society, stoking worries about religious extremism and intolerance and prompting an outpouring of condemnation as the 77-year-old author and academic was cremated Monday in his hometown of Dharwad, in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

“This incident should not have happened. It is highly condemnable,” Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters.

Authorities are searching for two men who according to Kalburgi’s daughter arrived on a motorcycle at their home Sunday, knocked on the door and fired two shots that killed her father, Inspector S.S. Hiremath said. He declined to give further details about the attack.

Police are investigating whether Kalburgi’s murder is connected to death threats he received last year from angry right-wing Hindu groups after he criticized idol worship and superstitious beliefs by Hindus. He was provided police security after the threats but it was removed about two weeks ago at the scholar’s request, police said.

The attack was widely condemned.

“Everyone has the right to express his opinion,” actor and director Girish Karnad said. “If this grows in Karnataka, we are in trouble.”

Columnist Nitin Pai, who founded a think-tank in the southern city of Bangalore, said on Twitter that he was “Shocked at the murder of M.M. Kalburgi. Disgusted that his killers have apologists among us.”

India has long held secularism to be a keystone of its constitution — and a necessity for keeping the peace among its cacophony of cultures defined by caste, clan, tribe or religion, including Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism.

Earlier this year, unknown attackers gunned down another anti-superstition crusader, Indian writer and communist politician Govind Pansare, as he and his wife were taking a walk in western Maharashtra state.

In another daytime attack in 2013, two assailants gunned down Narendra Dabholkar, a 68-year-old doctor-turned-activist, while he was out for a walk in the Maharashtra city of Pune, near Mumbai.

Police have arrested two suspects in Dabholkar’s murder. He had received years of death threats and demands that he stop giving lectures in villages across Maharashtra state promoting rationalist thought and discouraging superstitions, religious extremism, black magic and animal or human sacrifice.

Maharashtra’s government later passed long-stalled legislation that Dabholkar had worked on banning religious exploitation and fraudulent medical workers.

Activists have said the legislation does not go far enough since it only allows complaints from victims and their families, not from third parties, which they say limits the law’s effectiveness because most victims are invested in superstitious beliefs and are not likely to complain.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Just the title of this atheist's book is enough to reveal him as a fool

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

Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge. Proverbs 14:7

The story is told of a man preaching on Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park in London, England, who in his sermon said that anyone who didn't believe in God was a fool. A man in the crowd of listeners shouted out, "I'm an atheist. If you can't prove that I'm a fool, I'll publish it in the papers and we'll run you out of town!"

"You really don't believe in God?"

"You bet I don't! I've been fighting against God all my life!"

"Tell me," replied the preacher, "if a man who spends his life fighting against someone who doesn't exist isn't a fool, then who is?"
A commonly-repeated anecdote, cited in Cosmos, Creator and Human Destiny by Dave Hunt (2010).

Proof of the truth of the above anecdote is provided by the title of a book scheduled for release on December 1, 2015: Fighting God: An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World. The author is David Silverman, president of American Atheists. According to Goodreads:

Fighting God is a firebrand manifesto from one of the most recognizable faces of atheism. In his book, Silverman-a walking, talking atheist billboard known for his appearances on Fox News-discusses the effectiveness, ethics and impact of the in-your-face-atheist who refuses to be silent.

Silverman argues that religion is more than just wrong: it is malevolent and does not deserve our respect. It is our duty to be outspoken and do what we can to bring religion down. Examining the mentality, methods and issues facing the firebrand atheist, Silverman presents an overwhelming argument for firebrand atheism and reveals:

- All religion is cafeteria religion and almost all agnostics are atheists.
- American society grants religion a privileged status, despite the intentions of the Founding Fathers.
- Christian politicians have adversely (and un-Constitutionally) affected our society with regard to science, health, women's rights, and gay rights.
- The notion of "atheist Jews" is a lie forced on us by religion.
- It is not "Islamophobia" to observe dangerous teachings and disproportionate violence in Islam.
- Atheists are slowly but surely winning the battle.

Fighting God is a provocative, unapologetic book that takes religion to task and will give inspiration to non-believers and serve as the ultimate answer to apologists.
Following the advice of Proberbs 14:7, I won't bother reading the book--I suspect it will consist of the same tired old arguments that we've heard so often before--but I credit Mr. Silverman with noticing the "dangerous teachings and disproportionate violence in Islam," in contrast to many professing atheists who lump all religions together.

As for the idea that "atheists are slowly but surely winning the battle," that's true if you're looking at rulings from courts and "human rights" tribunals, but it's not true when it comes to winning hearts and minds and converts. As Vox Day, author of
The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, And Hitchens (2008), has pointed out in his blog (click the label "atheism" for various posts), the New Atheists' moment has come and gone.

While American Atheists--founded and led for many years by the late Madalyn Murray O'Hair--is the first such organization that comes to mind, it seems that it doesn't speak for all atheists in the United States, according to Howard Thompson in the old but still relevant article WHO SPEAKS FOR ATHEISM? The Problem of American Atheists, Inc. Mrs. Murray's son Bill, the subject of the court case Murray vs. Curlett, one of the cases which resulted in the 1963 ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States banning mandatory prayer in schools, became a Christian in 1979, and is now chairman of Religious Freedom Coalition. I heard Mr. Murray in a radio interview in 1988, and he said that American Atheists had never had more than 2,500 active members at any time. Despite Mr. Silverman's confidence, I doubt that AA has many members today; in a quick search on their website, I couldn't find anywhere where they mentioned how many members they have.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Female "pastor" among seven charged in beating death of teenager at New York charismaniac church

As reported by Reuters, November 24, 2015:

ALBANY, N.Y. - Seven people who prosecutors say were involved in the beating death of a teenager during a counseling session at an upstate New York church were indicted on second-degree murder charges on Tuesday by a grand jury.

Lucas Leonard, 19, was beaten to death in October over 10 hours during a counseling session at the Word of Life Church in Chadwicks, New York, about 50 miles (80 km) east of Syracuse, prosecutors said.

His brother, Christopher, 17, received blunt force injuries when he was repeatedly struck during the same session, which was initiated because Lucas Leonard wanted to leave the congregation, prosecutors said.

The grand jury's indictment charged the brothers' father, Bruce Leonard, 65, with 13 criminal counts including second-degree murder, kidnapping and gang assault.

Charges of second-degree murder, kidnapping and gang assault were also brought against church pastor Tiffanie Irwin, 29; Traci Irwin, David Morey, 26, Linda Morey, 54, and Joseph Irwin, 26, who were all congregants at the church; and Sarah Ferguson, 33, the half-sister of Lucas and Christopher, the court document showed.

At least some of the Irwins are related to each other.

Tiffanie Irwin and Traci Irwin originally were not charged in the incident, while the other five were initially charged with first-degree manslaughter in Lucas Leonard's death.

An eighth person, church deacon Daniel Irwin, 24, was indicted on charges of second-degree manslaughter, kidnapping and gang assault.

The brothers' mother, Deborah Leonard, 59, was not named in the grand jury indictment but will appear in Oneida County Court on Dec. 2 to face separate charges of first-degree assault against Lucas and second-degree assault in Christopher's beating, according to her lawyer Devin Garramone.

Deborah Leonard was initially charged with manslaughter, but Garramone said that charge was dropped.

Attorneys for the other people charged in the case could not be reached for comment.

Christopher Leonard, during a preliminary hearing last month, testified that he and his brother were beaten with an electric extension cord fashioned into a whip.

He said Tiffanie Irwin organized the counseling session.

Christopher said he attempted to resuscitate his brother before the boys were loaded into two separate vans. Lucas was transported to St. Luke's hospital in Utica, New York, where he was pronounced dead, prosecutors said.

Most of those indicted in the case remain in jail on bail of tens of thousands of dollars each, while David and Linda Morey have been released on bail of $50,000 each, according to jail records.
Unfortunately, this is the sort of incident that's all too familiar to those who have been keeping up on things over the years. The perceptive reader will notice that the "church" is now led by a woman, contrary to the clear instructions of Scripture.

For further reading, see:

Parents Accused of Killing Son at Upstate New York Church October 13, 2015

Glimpses Inside Secretive Sect After Killing at Upstate New York Church October 14, 2015

Plan to Defect Cited in Fatal Beating at New York Church October 15, 2015

Brother Who Survived Beating at New York Church Is to Testify Against Relative October 19, 2015

Word of Life Church’s Path From Bible Group to Lethal Sect October 22, 2015

Friday, 13 November 2015

Charismaniac cult church builds replica of Temple of Solomon in Brazil

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Matthew 21:12-13

The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) is a charismaniac, prosperity gospel-proclaiming church based in Sao Paulo that has been accused of being a cult and a criminal organization. It hardly need to be said that reader shouldn't accept the Wikipedia entry as accurate or authoritative, but the references cited at the bottom are useful.

For information about the UCKG from the organization itself, check out their various sites:

United States

United Kingdom

South Africa

(in Portuguese)

The UCKG has built a replica of the Temple of Solomon in Sao Paulo that serves not only as a place of worship, but as the UCKG's headquarters. The building officially opened on July 31, 2014. As reported by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz in Breaking Israel News, October 18, 2015:

In Sao Paulo, Brazil, there is a remarkable sight: a full-size replica of Solomon’s Temple. Actually, the Templo de Salomão built by the Universal Church Kingdom of God is much larger – it is four times the size of the original, but precise in every other detail. It is impressive, giving a taste of the glory of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The structure is a magnet for attention, though, admittedly, not all of it is positive.

Bishop Edir Macedo of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) was inspired to begin this massive undertaking after he visited Israel, where he decided to bring a piece of the Holy Land to his congregation in Brazil. It took four years and a daunting $300 million, but he was finally successful in his vision of building a replica of Solomon’s Temple.

Architect and project designer Rogério Silva de Araújo explained that the measurements were taken directly from the Bible. “A cubit was the distance between the elbow and the fingertips—which corresponded to 18 inches or 52.4 centimeters,” he explained. “Based on this piece of information, it was possible to calculate that the house king Solomon built for the Lord was approximately 31.44 meters long, 10.48 meters wide and 15.72 meters high. Also in Haggai 2:9, it says, ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater.’ ”

The UCKG Temple is indeed larger, measuring 126 meters long, 104 meters wide and 55 meters high – the height of an 18 story building. The floor and the walls are covered in $8 million worth of Jerusalem stone brought from Israel and, as in the original Temple, the main doors are made of wood and lined with copper.

Stepping inside the main sanctuary, which has seating for 10,000 worshippers, is said to be a powerful experience, but the most impressive part of the temple is its large central altar. It features an exact replica of the Ark of the Covenant covered in gold leaf. Behind the Ark is the temple’s baptistery, creating a dramatic visual effect.

Miguel Peres, a representative of the church, explained to Breaking Israel News why the project was begun. “We wanted to help people turn to Israel, support its existence and give them an opportunity to touch Jerusalem stones, which for them is a big deal,” he said. “Many Brazilians will never get a chance to go to Jerusalem, so why not bring a piece of Jerusalem to Brazil?”

“We also wanted to rescue the value of the original faith which has been lost along the years. At the courtyard of the Temple we built a replica of the Mishkan (The Tabernacle), ” he continued “Men were taught through the Mishkan how to approach God Almighty through faith and not religion.”

The project has attracted much attention, but the Temple was not built as a tourist attraction. Success is measured in different terms and Peres seems to feel it has measured up to all expectations.

“More than twenty thousand people flock to the Temple every day in its daily services and the things that are happening here are unbelievable,” he told Breaking Israel News. “More than 5 million people have visited the Temple since its opening.”

Though it is clear that it is not a place of Jewish worship, Peres feels it has also helped the Jewish people. “Thanks to our efforts, many people worldwide are now aware that there was a Temple that once stood in Jerusalem and that it needs to be rebuilt,” he said. “We are helping by spreading the story of the Temple. The Temple must be rebuilt in Jerusalem; this is a prophecy and a fact.”

Rabbi Chaim Richman, the International Director of the Temple Institute, which is dedicated to the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, feels differently. He came out strongly against the Templo de Salomão even before it was built.

“This is taking the promise of redemption for all mankind and using it for something altogether different,” he argued. “This is a total bastardization of the sanctity of the Holy Temple.”

He claimed it was expropriating another religion’s symbol or holy site, comparing it to replacing the famous statue of “The Redeemer” in Rio De Janeiro with a Muslim minaret. “Jews have always suffered from this,” he declared, noting that the holiest site in Judaism, the Temple Mount, has been expropriated by the Muslims, with ongoing dire consequences. In strong terms, he refers to the Temple of Solomon in Brazil as a “theological obscenity” and a “stain on the honor of the God of Israel”.

Peres, however, defended the construction of the church. “More than a Jewish symbol, it is a Biblical symbol. The Bible is the Light to all people on Earth,” Peres explained. “At no point did we try to steal the symbol of the Jewish people, but we brought to life a symbol of Faith that once moved a nation to seek God sincerely and wholeheartedly.”
This "Temple," of course, is a counterfeit. There will be a real Third Temple built; it will be in Jerusalem, and Jews will gather there to worship, not in Sao Paulo, as suggested by this anti-Zionist site. The Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement has been preparing for many years to rebuild the Temple. Another organization, the Temple Institute, has been busy for many years making vessels and garments for worship when the Temple is rebuilt. Tommy Ice and Randall Price's book Ready to Rebuild (1992) and the companion video with Jimmy DeYoung aren't current, but are still relevant for those interested in a sound Christian perspective on this topic.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

1,500-year-old church mosaic discovered in Israel

As reported by Jonathan Benedek of Breaking Israel News, October 1, 2015:

Approximately two years ago, an extremely unique 1,500 year old mosaic that comprised part of the floor of an abandoned church during the Byzantine era, was discovered in archaeological excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority, together with the help of local schoolchildren and employees from the Qiryat Gat Industrial Park.

“There are very few mosaics with such architectural depictions on mosaic floors,” said Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist, Dr. Rina Avner to Tazpit News Agency. “This is the first such example of depictions of main churches in various cities on the Nile.”

The mosaic depicted a number of churches and other buildings in the form of an ancient map. A Greek inscription on the mosaic indicates that the mosaic is a small map of the Egyptian settlement of Chortaso, which according to Christian tradition is the burial location of the Biblical prophet Habakkuk.

The mosaic will be on display for the public beginning October 1 in the Kiryat Gat Industrial Park throughout the Sukkot holiday festival.

“What was discovered in Qiryat Gat is an earlier mosaic than ones discovered in Trans-Jordan with depictions of buildings that were probably basilica Churches, and inscriptions that identify them with cities along the Nile,” added Dr. Avner.
The discovery of the mosaic in Qiryat Gat apparently demonstrates that there was aesthetic influence from Israel to communities in Trans-Jordan. “The mosaic sits well with the family of the seventh century Trans-Jordanian mosaics,” Dr. Avner told Tazpit.

“But this mosaic (in Qiryat Gat) is dated earlier to the first quarter of the sixth century, (earlier than the ones in TransJordan) which indicates that there was probably an artistic influence in this pattern coming from Israel and crossing the Jordan River to later churches there.”

Dr. Avner suggested to Tazpit that there may have been some kind of relationship between the church’s congregation and the Christian communities in Egypt. “There was some kind of relationship, but I don’t know whether it’s identification, or whether it’s simply holding common beliefs or traditions,” Avner said. “I don’t know if there will ever be a clear answer.”

Sa’ar Ganor, another archaeologist from the Israel Antiquities Authority who was working with Dr. Avner on the excavation, made a statement regarding the unique usage of a number of different colors in the mosaic. “The artist utilized tesserae of seventeen different colors in preparing the mosaic,” said Ganor. “The investment in the raw materials and their quality are the best ever discovered in Israel.”

Avner told Tazpit that she was not only amazed “at the number of colors, but the application of the colors in various technological methods that give the illusion of light and day in such a persuasive way.”

Avner also referred to the impressive attribution of shade and color to the many tinier details in the mosaic. “You see the usage of very tiny stones of various colors, as well as the usage of light and shades in the different shapes of the stones,” commented Avner. “The expressions of the different animals on the mosaic was also impressive.”

Dr. Avner also had time to reflect on the excavation process of the mosaic. “I think what’s unique about this project is that it was not only initiated by archaeologist Sa’ar Ganor but also the whole community of Qiryat Gat as the mosaic was excavated with the help of the workers from Intel and other hi-tech firms in Qiryat Gat,” said Avner.

“It was also special working with the third generation in the field,” added Avner. “It was a social project, rather than simply being a clear-cut scientific endeavor.”

New archaeological discoveries are still being reported under the Western Wall in Jerusalem

As reported by Noam Matas in Breaking Israel News, November 11, 2015 (bold in original):

The Kotel (Western Wall) is arguably the most important archaeological site in Israel. As the focal point of Israeli archaeology, there are new discoveries found periodically. However, the latest finds have been particularly exciting to archaeologists and tourists alike.

The Channel from the City of David to the Temple Mount

The most important archeological discovery in the Old City of Jerusalem is the ancient Second Temple Period water system, linking the City of David to the Western Wall. It is amazing to consider that this tunnel would have existed at the time of the second temple. This was the main water drainage tunnel that flowed through the Shiloah Pool and outside the city. Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron are the archaeologists leading this massive effort of unearthing these ancient structures and discovering the meaning and importance to the people of Israel during the Second Temple period.

Among the discoveries, Mr. Reich and Mr. Shukron uncovered many coins- including a shekel coin from the city of Tyre- and a miniature golden bell usually owned by people of importance, as described in Exodus 29:31, “They made pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet material and twisted linen on the hem of the robe. They also made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates all around on the hem of the robe.” Another treasure found in the tunnels was a seal with the Aramaic words “Daka Le’Ya”, meaning “Pure for God”, possibly used to approve the purity of a sacrifice at the Second Temple.

The 14th Century Grand Hall

Another significant find has recently been uncovered under the Kotel. Archaeological excavations have revealed a 14th century grand hall in the tunnels under the Muslim Quarter. The Western Wall Heritage Foundation has transformed the hall into an educational center focusing on the genealogy of the Jewish nation and the connection to Jerusalem. The Israel Antiquities Authority worked closely alongside the excavation to oversee the project, which was funded entirely by Zvi Hirsch Bogolyubov, a Jewish billionaire from Ukraine.

Ancient Bronze Coins

For hundreds of years it was widely accepted that King Herod the Great was responsible for the construction of Jerusalem’s Western Wall. However, due to recent discoveries this notion is now being refuted. While excavations were carried out underneath the Western Wall’s foundation stones, ancient bronze coins were found. Archaeologists were thrown for a loop when they examined the coins and found the stamp of Valerius Gratus, a Roman governor who served 20 years after Herod’s death. This places construction of the wall around 17 A.D. and indicated that Herod was not responsible for its completion. This finding substantiates the writings of venerated Roman historian, Josephus Flavius, who stated that construction of the wall was completed by Herod’s great-grandson, King Agrippa II.

With so many years of important history behind it, it is not surprising that new discoveries are being made under the Kotel even to this day. As the excavations continue, there is no doubt new significant findings are yet to be uncovered.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

10 years ago: The death of Peter Drucker

On November 11, 2005, Austrian-born American management guru Peter Drucker died, eight days before his 96th birthday. Mr. Drucker, known as the "father of modern management," was known for the concept of "management by objectives," popularized in his book The Practice of Management (1954). Mr. Drucker promoted the idea of society as a three-legged stool, with the legs being the state, the private sector, and the non-profit sector--of which the most important is the state. Mr. Drucker, although not a Christian, has had a tremendous influence upon evangelical Christianity in the late 20th-early 21st century; Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California, has publicly acknowledged his debt to Peter Drucker. Much of modern evangelicalism today is based not on the Bible, but on Peter Drucker's theory of Total Quality Management.

For an example of a church that has implemented Peter Drucker's principles, see my post:

The Rock Church in San Diego (Carrie Prejean's church): First Church of Christ, Druckerist

There are excellent articles regarding Peter Drucker'e influence on evangelicalism. For example, go to Kjos Ministries and search "Drucker." Roger Oakland's book Faith Undone (2009) also contains useful information on Mr. Drucker.

I particularly recommend the following:

Peter Drucker: Early Futurist

Peter Drucker & Confucianism

Peter Drucker's Influence

Bob Buford's tributes to Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker's Mega-Church Legacy

Peter Drucker's Existential Purpose

Peter Drucker's Theology of Works

PSEUDO-MISSION: Rick Warren's 3-legged Church

Global Health Leadership & Management

Dumping Mr. Edsel

What is Your LifeTime Value?

The Tyranny of 3-Legged Branding


Bob Buford, Peter Drucker, and the Emerging Church

The Three Legged Stool Plan

Seeker Friendly to Contemplative Spirituality

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

40 years ago: United Nations passes resolution equating Zionism with racism

In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: Genesis 15:18

For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land...
...And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36:24, 28

On November 10, 1975, the United Nations General Assembly voted 72-35 with 32 abstentions in favour of Resolution 3379, to "determine that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination." Go here to see the full text of the resolution and how each nation voted.

Resolution 3379 was repealed on December 16, 1991 by Resolution 46/86, which was passed by a vote of 111-25 with 13 abstentions.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

100 years ago: The death of Edith Cavell

On October 12, 1915, Edith Cavell, 49, a British nurse and devout Anglican, was shot by a German firing squad in Belgium. She worked in Belgium, which fell under German military occupation in November 1914, in the early months of World War I. She treated both Allied and German soldiers, but sheltered British and French soldiers and helped them and young Belgian men to escape to neutral Netherlands.

On August 3, 1915, Miss Cavell was arrested and charged with harbouring Allied soldiers. She admitted doing so, and was sentenced to death for treason under the German Military Code. Her last words reportedly included, "Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone," and "...tell my loved ones later on that my soul, as I believe, is safe, and that I am glad to die for my country."

It's obvious from the circumstances surrounding Edith Cavell's arrest and execution that she didn't subscribe to the namby-pamby, pansy-wansy extremist view of Romans 13:1-7 that so characterizes 21st century North American evangelicalism--especially the idea that the mere fact that certain people are in positions of authority means that God put them there, and Christians are automatically required to obey them. Miss Cavell refused to obey the German military authorities in Belgium; this was a "government" of an illegally occupying army and not a legitimate government, and she owed them no obedience. For the Germans to charge and convict her of treason was absurd, since she was a British subject who owed no loyalty whatever to Germany, and especially to a military "government" that had no right to be there.

Edith Cavell's name is still known today, in no small part because of a prominent mountain named in her honour in Jasper National Park. This blogger spent several summers in a cabin at Lake Edith many years ago, and used to look at that mountain every day, or at least on those rare days when it wasn't covered by clouds.

The God whom Edith Cavell worshipped has lost none of His power, nor has His word, which should be an encouragement to us. It was the strength provided by almighty God that enabled Edith Cavell to act as she did and to graciously accept the consequences. The compromising spirit of 21st century evangelicalism doesn't produce Christian heroism like that.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Muslims haven't always been hostile toward Jews in Jerusalem

And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: Genesis 12:3a

Expressions of hostility and acts of discrimination by Muslims against Jews in Jerusalem aren't as traditional as it may appear to those of us in the 21st century. From the column Then and Now in Jerusalem by Geoffrey Clarfield and Salim Mansur in the Toronto newspaper National Post, October 27, 2015:

...The Palestinian leadership has incited publicly their people to “spill blood.” Mahmoud Abbas, the president of Palestinian Authority, declared on television, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah.” Such chilling incitement to kill reaches back to the years immediately after the First World War, when the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, appointed by the British, made a career out of calling for jihad against the Jews culminating in his embrace of Hitler.

When Abbas calls to “spill blood,” or Jamal Zahalka, an Israeli Arab member of the Knesset, declares, “I will personally expel every Jew who comes to the Temple Mount in a provocative manner,” they are following the odious footsteps of Haj Amin Al-Husseini. Their anti-Jew hatred not surprisingly is encouraged by King Abdullah II, the West’s favourite royal pretender whose family the British imported from Hejaz in Arabia and enthroned as unelected rulers over the largely Palestinian people and country of Jordan, illegally carved out of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine in the early 1920s. Abdullah shamelessly announced recently that only Muslims should be allowed on the grounds of the Temple Mount.

There is, however, another history of Muslim rulers over Jerusalem. It is contrary to Al-Husseini’s jihad against the Jews that became embedded in the politics espoused by Palestinians over the past century. Though this history has been deliberately obscured by advocates of political Islam or Islamism in recent years, it is all the more necessary today to hold Palestinians accountable for shredding their own Muslim tradition that holds the promise of religious coexistence and mutual respect among Christians, Jews and Muslims.

When the first Arab armies conquered Palestine, or the land of Israel, in 637, Jews stood witness. Muslim and non-Muslim sources recount the surrender of Jerusalem by the Byzantine Patriarch Sophronious to Umar, the second of the righteous Caliph of Muslims and a close companion of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam. There were Jews in the company of Umar when he visited the Temple Mount and ordered the removal of filth accumulated on the site.

Jews were granted permission by Umar to live in Jerusalem and pray on the Temple Mount. They were allowed to build a synagogue there. Even after the completion of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque by the Umayyad caliphs based in Damascus, the 10th century Jewish writer Solomon ben Jeroham (a Karaite) recorded that Jews prayed on the Temple Mount.

Umar’s conduct on taking control of Jerusalem from the Byzantines set the righteous precedent for Muslims to follow. When Muslim rulers behaved differently their conduct spoke ill of them, as happened with the Fatimid ruler Caliph Hakim in Cairo. Hakim turned malevolent against Christian and Jews, and destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem in 1009 (for which Jews were falsely blamed and victimized by a recurrent wave of anti-Semitism in Europe).

There were the Crusades, and Jews were massacred in Jerusalem by the Crusaders. But Christian rulers of the Crusader Kingdom during the 12th century became mindful of the local traditions and Jews were allowed to pray on the Temple Mount. After Saladin reconquered Jerusalem in 1187, he restored Jewish rights following Umar’s precedent.

When Ottoman Turks took control of Jerusalem in the 16th century they imposed a ban on Jews worshipping on the Temple Mount. However, they strictly enforced the right of Jews to pray at the Western Wall of the Temple, what is now known as the “Wailing Wall.” Access to the Temple Mount for non-Muslims (including Jews) was relaxed at the request of the British at the end of the Crimean war in 1856. Some six decades later General Allenby, at the head of the British army, triumphantly entered Jerusalem in November 1917, and Britain’s rule over Palestine under the League of Nation’s Mandate inaugurated a new era for Jews in their ancestral homeland after nearly 2,000 years.

For Muslims, Jerusalem is the third holiest city after Mecca and Medina. But for Jews, Jerusalem is the first and only holy city, since it was made the capital of ancient Israel by King David. Yet contrary to public opinion (in and outside of the Muslim world) Muslim authorities have generally tolerated Jews praying on the Temple Mount. The theological and historical evidence over time support this simple fact. The Muslim connection to Jerusalem rests upon the reference made in the Quran of the Prophet’s night journey “from the Sacred Mosque to the distant Mosque whose precincts We have blessed, that We may show him some of Our Signs” (17:11). Muhammad’s miraculous heavenly journey from King David’s city, referred in Arabic simply as al Quds (the Holiness), confirmed his lineage in the fraternity of prophets reaching back through Moses and Abraham to Adam.

Muhammad had prayed at first by turning his face in the direction (qiblah) of Jerusalem. After his flight to Medina from Mecca he received guidance, as the Quran states, to “turn towards the Holy Mosque” (2:144) in prayer. Since then Muslims have followed their prophet. From an Islamic point of view, it might be said, the revelation instructing the Prophet to pray in the direction of Mecca was a sign for him and his followers not to contest Jews with unlawful claims or deny their rights in Jerusalem.

Until 1967 no scholar in or outside of the Muslim world doubted that underneath the Temple Mount could be found the site and remains of the Jewish Temple of Solomon, Ezra and Nehemiah, and of Herod the Great within whose Temple Jesus of Nazareth prayed and preached. Even Haj Amin al-Husseini published in 1925 a brochure, titled “Brief Guide to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, Jerusalem” (the Arabic expression for the Temple Mount), in which is stated, “The site is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute...”

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

"Urine trouble": accusation of peeing in public leads to more serious charges

...and be sure your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:23b

As reported by Mary Ellen MacIntyre of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, October 26, 2015:

If there’s a lesson to learn, it’s this: peeing in public never ends well.

Three Quebec men now face numerous fraud-related charges all because one of them decided urinating in public was a wise choice.

Early Saturday morning, Halifax Regional Police received a call about an indecent act performed at the intersection of Robie Street and Quinpool Road. The caller said the man jumped back into the vehicle and was travelling outbound on Quinpool Road.

Officers found the vehicle at a Needs Convenience Store on Herring Cove Road.

All three men were subsequently arrested — two for breach of court orders and a third for obstructing a police officer. They were arrested and vehicle was seized.

Things get even more complicated when officers searched a Lier Ridge home the trio had rented two weeks before and found materials used to produce fraudulent credit cards.

The following charges have been laid against Kevin Clairsant-Letourneau, 20, of Montreal; Marvin Pierre Coriolan, 22, of Terrebonne and Karim Agba, 23, of Montreal: fraud over $5,000, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, possession of two stolen credit cards, instrument for use in forging a credit card and possession of property obtained by crime.

In addition, Clairsant-Letourneau faces a charge of obstructing a police officer and Coriolan is charged with three counts of breach of probation. Agba faces four counts of breach of probation.

They spent the rest of the weekend in jail and are scheduled to appear in Halifax provincial court today to answer to the charges.