Wednesday, 28 June 2017

50 years ago: Jerusalem is declared to be unified under Israeli control

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it...
...In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem...
... In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
Zechariah 12:2-3, 6, 8-9

On June 28, 1967, Israel declared Jerusalem reunified under its sovereignty, three weeks after her capture of the Arab sector in the Six-Day War. See my post 50 years ago: The Six-Day War (June 10, 2017).

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Israeli government abandons its plan to open mixed-sex prayer area at Jerusalem's Western Wall

More evidence that the man-made religion of Judaism is not a monolith--especially in Israel--and that ultra-Orthodox Judaism wields considerable power in Israel; as reported by Aron Heller of Associated Press, June 25, 2017:

JERUSALEM — The Israeli government froze a long-overdue plan Sunday to open a mixed-gender prayer area at Jerusalem's Western Wall, a major policy reversal that infuriated the liberal streams of Judaism that represent most Jews in the United States.

Israel had approved the plan in January 2016 to officially recognize the special prayer area at the Western Wall — the holiest site where Jews can pray — a compromise reached after years of negotiations between liberal Israeli and American Jewish groups and the Israeli authorities. It was seen as a significant breakthrough in promoting religious pluralism in Israel, where the ultra-Orthodox authorities govern almost every facet of Jewish life.

But the program was never implemented as powerful ultra-Orthodox members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government raised objections to the decision after they had initially endorsed it. Under ultra-Orthodox management, the wall is currently separated between men's and women's prayer sections.

Netanyahu, trying to placate both his coalition partners and wealthy American Jewish donors, had promised the new $9 million plaza for mixed-gender prayer would be established.

On Sunday, he ordered top aides to formulate a new plan but said little more. In another controversial decision Sunday, his government promoted a bill to maintain the ultra-Orthodox monopoly over conversions.

It set off a cascade of criticism from liberal groups both in Israel and abroad.

"I'm outraged by this government decision. I think it shows cowardice. For two years we negotiated in good faith with the government," said Anat Hoffman, chair of the Women of the Wall group, which has pushed for egalitarian access to the wall. "And then today they decide that it is null and void, that they're not going to implement it, that equality is out the window."

Earlier in the day, her group held its weekly prayers at the site and was harassed by ultra-Orthodox worshippers.

American Jews, who have long lamented Israel should be as accepting of their religious practices as they are of their financial and political support, have been pushing for the new prayer area and had warned that if the deal did not go through it would lead to a dangerous rupture with North American Jewry.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the President of the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest stream of Judaism in the United States, said the decision could lead many to rethink their support for Israel.

"There is a limit to how many times you can be delegitimized and insulted," he said. "This is the core mission of the Jewish state — to be a home for all Jews ... it is unthinkable but the unthinkable just happened."

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, head of the New York-based Rabbinical Assembly, an association for Conservative movement rabbis, said the decision was not surprising given the clout of ultra-Orthodox parties yet shocking nonetheless for its divisive message. Still, she said it would not affect her devotion to Israel.

"The people of Israel still need our support and our love and the fact that an unbelievably, spectacularly shortsighted government cannot see its way to understand the critical importance of unity of world Jewry is something that is the fault of the politicians," she said.

"Israel is turning its back on the institutions through which we love Israel."

The liberal Jewish groups had accused Netanyahu of delaying implementation because of pressure from the two ultra-Orthodox parties that keep his narrow coalition afloat. They have already petitioned Israel's Supreme Court to implement the decision and still hold out hope it will overturn it.

Ultra-Orthodox rabbis strictly govern Jewish practices in Israel such as weddings, divorces and burials. The ultra-Orthodox religious establishment sees itself as responsible for maintaining traditions through centuries of persecution and assimilation, and it resists any inroads from liberals it often considers to be second-class Jews who ordain women and gays and are overly inclusive toward converts and interfaith marriages.

Arieh Deri, head of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, said he was pleased the government blocked a plan that would have harmed the "sanctity of the site."

"Preserving the status quo of the Western Wall reflects the will of most of the people," he said. "There is no room there for destructive factions whose only purpose is to desecrate the site."

The liberal streams have made strides in recent years, establishing synagogues, youth movements, schools and kindergartens, and Israel's secular majority has become more accepting. But they still have very little political backing, and authorities have generally tended to regard them as a somewhat alien offshoot imported from North America that does not mesh with how religion is typically practiced in Israel.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, one of the few dissenting votes, said freezing the plan "represented a severe blow to the unity of the Jewish people, to various Jewish communities and to the relations between Israel and the Jewish diaspora."

Yair Lapid, a leading opposition figure, accused Netanyahu of national irresponsibility and of forfeiting his role as leader of the Jewish people.

"Israel today became the only democracy in the world where there is no equal rights for Jews," he wrote on his Facebook page. "This is an insulting, irrational affront to the deep religious feelings of millions of Jews."

Sunday, 25 June 2017

300 years ago: The founding of the Premier Grand Lodge of England

On June 24, 1717, The Premier Grand Lodge of England, the first Masonic Grand Lodge in the world, was founded in London. In 1813 it united with the Ancient Grand Lodge of England to create the United Grand Lodge of England.

I don't feel like going into detail on the anti-Christian nature of Freemasonry, but there are a number of excellent critiques of Freemasonry from a Christian perspective. A couple that this blogger has found useful are The Facts on the Masonic Lodge (1989) and The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge: A Christian Perspective (1990) by John Ankerberg & John Weldon.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Some people are still foolish enough to fall for the frauds of psychics and astrologers

How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Proverbs 1:22

The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going. Proverbs 14:15

As reported by Edmonton Police Service, June 14, 2017:

The Edmonton Police Service has received numerous reports of fraudsters posing as astrologers and psychic readers.

It was reported that some persons were lead to believe they were cursed with black magic and/or witchcraft.

In a recent investigation, an Edmontonian was convinced into paying up to $ 100,000 in cash and gold to have black magic removed from their life and to have access more money.

“It is difficult to track these alleged fraudsters,” explains Det. Glen Haneman with Southeast Division. “Often, these individuals quickly disappear when they believe they could be caught.”

These fraudsters typically use fake names and target vulnerable people by promising resolution to their personal problem and leave business cards or pamphlets on parked vehicles.

Examples of astrology and psychic fraud:

Unrealistic promises to solve personal and financial problems.

Request for a small amount of money upfront for performing healing rituals.

Gain your confidence and present a plan requiring thousands of dollars as offerings (for prayers, chain of rituals etc.).

Claim to remove “black magic and/or witchcraft.”

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Aga Khan donates Islamic garden to the University of Alberta

As reported by the University of Alberta Botanic Garden, April 7, 2017 (links in original):

A spectacular new garden will bloom in 2018 at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden, located 15 minutes southwest of Edmonton.

The Aga Khan Garden, Alberta was made possible by a contribution in excess of $25 million by His Highness the Aga Khan, Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslim community. The gift arises from the long-standing relationship between the University of Alberta and the Aga Khan, highlighted by a Memorandum of Understanding first signed with the Aga Khan University in 2006 and an honorary doctorate given to His Highness in 2009.

Thomas Woltz, of award-winning Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, was asked by the Aga Khan to study other Mughal Islamic gardens while developing a design that also incorporates the plants and topography of Northern Alberta.

With secluded forest paths, wide, stepped terraces that change with the seasons, geometric water features that stream into wetlands and a spectacular orchard of local plants, the 4.8-hectare Aga Khan Garden will be an amazing experience for area residents and visitors alike. It will be situated around the existing Calla Pond at the heart of the University of Alberta Botanic Garden.

“The Aga Khan Garden will be a place to connect with nature, a place of inspiration and a place where cultural understanding will grow,” said David Turpin, president of the University of Alberta. “We are honoured and grateful that the Aga Khan, a champion of openness and understanding between cultures, selected the University of Alberta for this wonderful gift.”

Believing that parks can be tools for social and economic benefit, His Highness has restored and built magnificent parks and gardens around the globe as part of the broader development programs of the AKDN, including parks in Cairo, Kabul and Delhi. (Aga Khan University is also part of the AKDN.)

The Aga Khan Garden is the first garden in Western Canada, the second in North America, and the 11th in the world to be supported by His Highness.

“On the 150th anniversary of Canada, it is appropriate that we are creating together a Mughal-style garden which echoes the great contributions that Muslims have made to world heritage,” said His Highness the Aga Khan. “The Mughals built the Taj Mahal and Humayun's Tomb and the gardens around them, so the university's embrace of this project is an inherently pluralistic act. The creation of this garden therefore both deepens an existing partnership and illustrates the pluralistic nature of this country. Measures like this should be encouraged, both here and abroad.”

“Our diversity makes us stronger,” said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. “This garden will serve as a living reminder of the diverse heritage of our open and welcoming province, which is a big part of what makes Alberta such a great place to live. On behalf of the province, I express my deep gratitude for this generous gift.”

The addition of the new Aga Khan Garden is expected to increase the number of annual visitors to the University of Alberta Botanic Garden from 75,000 to 160,000. An interpretive program will help visitors understand the featured plants and the art and design of the garden. Information about Islamic traditions, music, sound and poetry will also be provided.

The Aga Khan Garden is considered a gift that will celebrate both the 150th anniversary of Canada and the Diamond Jubilee celebrations that mark 60 years since the Aga Khan became the 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims.

A new Memorandum of Understanding signed on April 7 between the University of Alberta and the Aga Khan University and its sister agencies in the AKDN serves as the foundation for academic, cultural and scientific exchanges in areas of interest and benefit to both institutions.

The University of Alberta Botanic Garden, part of the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, is an award-winning visitor attraction, a 97-hectare research site and home to year-round adult and children's education programming.

To see videos and design drawings of the new Aga Khan Garden, visit

Bald men in Mozambique may be targets of attacks for their body parts

This blogger still has hair on the sides and back of the head, but that may not be enough to serve as protection, and I'm not enthusiastic about putting it to the test. As Paul Harvey would say, "It is not one world." As reported by BBC News, June 7, 2017:

Bald men in Mozambique could be targets of ritual attacks, police have warned, after the recent killing of five men for their body parts.

Two suspects have been arrested in the central district of Milange, where the killings occurred.

"The belief is that the head of a bald man contains gold," said Afonso Dias, a police commander in Mozambique's central Zambezia province.

Albino people have also been killed in the region for ritual purposes.

Three men have been killed in the past week alone.

The BBC's Jose Tembe in the capital, Maputo, says police think the notion of a bald head containing gold is a ruse by witchdoctors to get clients to take a person's head to them.

"Their motive comes from superstition and culture - the local community thinks bald individuals are rich," Commander Dias is reported as having told a press conference in Maputo.

The suspects are two young Mozambicans aged around 20, the AFP news agency reports.

A regional security spokesman, Miguel Caetano, told AFP that one of the victims had his head cut off and his organs removed.

The organs were to be used in rituals to advance the wealth of clients in Tanzania and Malawi, Mr Caetano said, citing the suspects.

There has been a spate of killings of people with albinism in East Africa in recent years, with their body parts used to make charms and potions by witchdoctors.

Brain of Roman Catholic "Saint" John Bosco stolen from Italian basilica

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Revelation 21:8

Submitted for your approval, yet another piece of evidence that Roman Catholicism is a religion of superstition and idolatry. I don't know Italian, so I had to rely on Google Translate for this post; I apologize for any awkwardness in the translation. As reported (originally in Italian) by the Rome newspaper Il Messagero (The Messenger), June 3, 2017:

The urn containing the brain of St. John Bosco was stolen from the Basilica of Colle Don Bosco, in the province of Asti. It is learned from investigative sources. The relic was behind the main altar, at the bottom of the basilica built in the native places of the founder of the Salesian congregation.

The theft would go up last night. According to the information, the community would notice the theft at the closing time of the Church, each year targeting numerous pilgrims devoted to the Holy, whose congregation is present in nineteen countries around the world with 1,600 institutes. Carabinieri investigations, coordinated by Asti's prosecution, are taking place in the utmost research.
"Invite anyone who has taken away the relic to return it immediately, without any conditions." This is the appeal of Archbishop of Turin, Cesare Nosiglia, who denounces the "deep moral misery" inherent in what happened. The Archbishop also invites all priests of the diocese of Turin to "remember the Salesian community in the celebrations of tomorrow, Pentecost Solemnity."

A committing theft, perhaps to demand a ransom, the impulsive gesture of a devotee or a brawl. Asti's lawyer, who coordinates the carabinieri's investigation into the theft of Don Bosco's relic at the time, does not rule out any hypothesis, including that of Satanism. Investigations are the military of the provincial command of Asti: scientists have picked up every trace useful to identify the perpetrators of the crime scene. The basilica is always guarded by the Salesians. There are no cameras inside. Present instead on the outside. Examining recorded images could help the investigation, which is conducted in the strictest sense. According to a first reconstruction, it seems that theft authors did not make any mistakes, just to overcome the protections at a time of distraction. Behind the altar of the lower basilica, in fact, broken glass was not found.

Colle don Bosco is the hill that rises in the village of Becchi, hamlet Morialdo of the municipality of Castelnuovo, where San Giovanni Bosco was born on 16 August 1815. The basilica was consecrated in 1984. The relics of the saint are placed behind the altar of the lower church , To indicate the birthplace of the founder of the Salesians and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Dear Father, in Bergoglio, on the occasion of 200 years of his birth in 2015, Pope Francis paid homage to the basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin. "I am so grateful to the Salesians for what they did for my family, who was very attached to them," he said on that occasion. "My mom and daddy," added Francesco, "have been married to a Salesian missionary from Patagonia from Lodi, who has helped me greatly in my vocation." Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco, who died in Turin in 1888, was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Psychic injured in freak car crash "didn't foresee it happening"

And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: Luke 4:23a

Yet another one--those stupid enough to buy tickets for his shows might want to ask for a refund. As reported by Josiah Destin of the Phoenix Arizona Republic, June 7, 2017 (link in original):

A psychic medium from Litchfield Park is recovering after being hit by a car that struck a window in a Ontario, Canada, restaurant where he was eating May 30, 2017.
Blair Robertson recalls the moment a white Lexus crashed through the front window of a restaurant in Canada, launching the psychic medium into the air and pinning him against a wall.

"I didn't foresee it happening."

Litchfield Park resident Robertson, 51, jokes about the May 30 accident even as he is recovering from injuries.

He was having lunch with a mentor and fellow psychic when the car plowed through the window at Silks Country Kitchen in Virgil, Ontario. Robertson and his friend were seated at a table by the window.

"It basically sounded like a bomb going off," Robertson said. "It took place one second in time."

The crash was captured on a restaurant surveillance camera, which Robertson has posted on his Facebook page along with updates on how he is doing.

"I see my table flying up. My friend disappears behind the table. Next thing you know I'm flying in the air and then I land. ... The car grabbed my leg and pull me back down. It pinned my leg under the car in a very weird position,'' he recalled, in an interview with The Arizona Republic.

"My leg was in the shape of an 'L.' My left foot was on its side and I have no idea how it wasn't snapped off."

With an injured left rib, swollen leg, bruises throughout his body and whiplash in his neck, Robertson is amazed he is still alive.

"There must have been angels there," Robertson said.

Police said the 85-year-old woman who was driving the car was not impaired, the Toronto Sun reported.

The owner of the restaurant, Jenifer Phelan, told The Republic she was at the restaurant at the time and heard the crash.

"We've been here for 22 years and nothing has ever happened like this before," Phelan said. "They were very brave. I can't even imagine that happening. He (Robertson) was very happy with the emergency crews, and there were volunteer firefighters a couple shops away who came immediately."

Phelan said it took the shop about three hours to clear all the broken glass and board up the windows. Insurance will cover the cost of all the damage, she said, adding the restaurant is fully reopened.

Robertson, who presents live psychic shows, just finished a nine-show Ontario tour.

He has five shows scheduled in Arizona in July.
See also my previous post Noted astrologer and psychic fails to foresee his own murder (September 1, 2016)

Pope Francis appoints an abortionist to the Pontifical Academy of Life

I don't know Italian, so I had to rely on Google Translate for this post; I apologize for any awkwardness in the translation. As reported (originally in Italian) by Franca Giansoldati in the Rome newspaper Il Messagero (The Messenger), June 14, 2017:

Storm in the Vatican. In 1994 Pope Wojtyla with Motu Proprio Vitae Mysterium established a Pontifical Life Academy, open to scholars of any nationality and religious faith, to promote research aimed at strengthening the defense of life "in direct relation to Christian morality and the directives of the Church Magisterium ". At 23 years, something seems to have been jammed, at least judging the list of members appointed by Pope Francis, under the guidance of Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, president of the academy. Surprisingly among the illustrious names listed there is that of professor Nigel Biggar, an Anglican moralist theologian, a famous professor at Oxford University, who is an abortionist. Of him are known some moral studies related to a possible abortive line at 18 weeks of the fetus, certified brain activity and consciousness. Of course, for Catholic morality and for the Academy of Life, called to defend the very moment of conception, it was a tough blow. The name of Professor Nigel before arriving on the Pope's table for the honorary assignment was studied by Monsignor Paglia and sent to the Secretariat of State. Evidently even in that place something was omitted and so the name slipped through the control loops, contrary to other names of ultra liberal scholars, also proposed by Straw as members of the Academy of Life but rejected in the inner circle .

The Vatican embarrassment is now palpable. Also because in the Statute of the Academy, in Article 6, it is clear and clear that the new academics (doctors, biologists, theologians, jurists, philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists) are invited to sign the "Certification of the Servants of Life" . Which means that "the quality of Academic is lost in the case of a public and deliberate action or public statement contradicting these principles". In short, another mess for Pope Francis to break in record time, as he already mounts an underground protest from the conservative part of the Church that has long been concerned about the changes - they say - to doctrine and perpetually seeking pretexts to arise. Meanwhile, Professor Nigel Biggar, who ended up in social media dust and targeted by critical articles on his open-minded appraisal of voluntary interruption of pregnancy, replied Twitter saying that his liberal past on abortion is known, but the reason for the Which was named by the Academy of Life is his "opposition to assisted suicide".
One lesson from this is, as always, never trust a Jesuit.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Astronomers create the largest map yet of the Universe

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 the Chinese news agency Xinhua, May 29, 2017:

A slice through largest-ever three-dimensional map of the Universe. Earth is at the left, and distances to galaxies and quasars are labelled by the lookback time to the objects (lookback time means how long the light from an object has been traveling to reach us here on Earth). The locations of quasars (galaxies with supermassive black holes) are shown by the red dots, and nearer galaxies mapped by SDSS are also shown (yellow).

LOS ANGELES, May 28 -- Based entirely on the positions of quasars, an international collaboration of astronomers with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) have created the first map of the large-scale structure of the Universe. It could also help improve our understanding of dark energy.

"To unveil the mystery of the cosmic acceleration, the astronomers have been trying to map the Universe from now to the remote past. The Chinese astronomers, especially those from National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) working on observational and theoretical cosmology, have been playing key roles in the large international collaborations of the eBOSS galaxy survey," Xue Suijian, professor and deputy director of the National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC) under Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua on Sunday.

Quasars are the incredibly bright and distant points of light powered by supermassive black holes. As matter and energy fall into a quasar's black hole, they heat up to incredible temperatures and begin to glow.

It is this bright glow that is detected by a dedicated 2.5-meter telescope here on Earth. The telescope's observations gave the scientists the quasars'distances, which they used to create a three-dimensional map of where the quasars are.

"These quasars are so far away that their light left them when the Universe was between three and seven billion years old, long before the Earth even existed," said Gongbo Zhao from the National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences, the study's other co-leader.

To make their map, the international research team used the Sloan Foundation Telescope to observe an unprecedented number of quasars. During the first two years of the SDSS's Extended Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (eBOSS), astronomers measured accurate three-dimensional positions for more than 147,000 quasars, according to SDSS.

And to use the map to understand the expansion history of the Universe, the astronomers had to go a step further, using measurements of a phenomena known as baryon acoustic oscillations (BAOs), which are the present-day imprint of sound waves which travelled through the early Universe, when it was much hotter and denser than the Universe we see today.

But when the Universe was 380,000 years old, conditions changed suddenly and the sound waves became "frozen" in place. These frozen waves are left imprinted in the three-dimensional structure of the Universe we see today.

The results of the new study also confirm the standard model of cosmology that researchers have built over the last twenty years. In this standard model, the Universe follows the predictions of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity - but includes components whose effects we can measure, but whose causes we do not understand, according to the study.

There is still work to be done however, and the eBOSS experiment continues using the Sloan Telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, USA, in order to observe even more quasars and increase the size of any future maps.

"Besides eBOSS, the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), which is a larger galaxy survey mapping the Universe using remote astronomical objects up to 10 billion light years from us, will start observations in 2018, and Chinese astronomers will continue contributing great efforts," Xue said.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Euphemisms abound in current discussion of drinking

noun eu·phe·mism \ˈyü-fə-ˌmi-zəm\
: the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant; also : the expression so substituted

For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: Proverbs 23:21a

Now that scientists have discovered that drinking alcohol at an early age can lead to an early death, don't be surprised if they announce similar discoveries about the early practice of smoking, drug use, or other bad habits.

The following article abounds in euphemisms: "alcohol abuse disorder;" "alcohol use disorder;" "abuse sufferers;" "alcohol addiction." I'm surprised "alcohol dependency" and "alcohol-dependent" weren't included. The term "drunkenness" does get mentioned, which is far more honest. The Bible never uses such euphemisms, or even terms such as "alcoholism" or "alcoholic"--terms popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous in an effort to relabel a sin as a disease--but uses such terms as "drunkenness," and says that "drunkards" will not inherit the Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:10). I'm not going to mention the innumerate use of the word "DOUBLES" in the original headline.

As reported by Alexandra Thompson in the London Daily Mail, June 9, 2017 (bold in original):

Getting drunk before your 15th birthday nearly doubles your risk of an early death, new research reveals.

Those who get inebriated at a young age are 47 percent more likely to die prematurely, a study found.

Researchers believe early drinking may increase a person's risk of suffering a life-threatening alcohol abuse disorder in later life.

Lead author Dr Hui Hu from the University of Florida, said: 'Early onset of drinking and drunkenness are associated with alcohol use disorders and therefore may play a role in elevated alcohol use disorder-related mortality rates.'

Other experts add excessive alcohol-consumption at a young age can increase a person's 'risk-taking behavior' and lead to mental health issues.

How the study was carried out

Researchers from the University of Florida analyzed the drinking habits and death records of almost 15,000 adults, who were followed for three decades.

The researchers examined data from the early 1980s that asked the participants if they had ever been drunk and how old they were when it first occurred.

At the time of the interviews, most participants were aged between 18 and 44-years-old.

Key findings

Compared to study participants who said they never got drunk, those who did so at least once before they turned 15 were 47 percent more likely to die during the study period.

Getting drunk at 15 or older increased the risk of death during the study by 20 percent.

Some 61 percent of the study's participants said they had been drunk at some point, with around 13 percent of first-time cases occurring before they turned 15.

Of those who got drunk young, around 37 percent were suffering from an alcohol abuse disorder at the time of the interviews, compared to 11 percent of abuse sufferers who did not get intoxicated until they were older.

By the end of the study, 26 percent of those who got drunk young had died, compared to 23 percent of those who got drunk later and 19 percent who had never been inebriated.

Why early drinking is risky

Excessive drinking at a young age is thought to be linked to alcohol abuse in later life.

Dr Hu said: 'Early onset of drinking and drunkenness are associated with alcohol use disorders and therefore may play a role in elevated alcohol use disorder-related mortality rates.'

Yet alcohol addiction may not be the only factor contributing to young drinkers' early death risk.

Dr Hu said: 'We found that an estimated 21 percent of the total effects of early drunkenness were mediated through alcohol use disorders, suggesting that many other factors in addition to alcohol use disorders may play important roles.'

Dr Michael Criqui, a public health researcher at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in the study, said: 'We know that alcohol abuse leads to earlier mortality, but it is also possible that earlier abuse reflects other genetic or environmental characteristics that lead to earlier mortality.'

Early drunkenness may point to other factors such as risk-taking behavior, mental health issues or a lack of social or economic support that influences health and longevity, noted Dr. Gregory Marcus, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the study.

How to interpret the results

Dr Marcus said: 'No one should interpret these data to mean that their fate is sealed.

'On the contrary, these findings are useful exactly because they may help us identify those at risk so we can prevent these adverse outcomes.'

Yet Mr Joy Bohyun Jang of the institute for social research at the University of Michigan, who was not involved in the study, added that the study demonstrates an early mortality risk exists even among people without alcohol addiction, which all drinkers should be aware of.

He said: 'Those with alcohol use disorders may receive attention to their alcohol use behaviors by practitioners or they themselves may be cautious about their alcohol use.

'But what this study tells us is that those without alcohol use disorder may need the same level of attention if they experience drunkenness early in their life.'

Saturday, 10 June 2017

50 years ago: The Six-Day War

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it...
...In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem...
... In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
Zechariah 12:2-3, 6, 8-9

An important event in helping to set the stage for the fulfillment of biblical prophecies for the end times occurred 50 years ago this week. On June 10, 1967, fighting in the Six-Day War concluded when Israeli forces halted their advance into Syria.

The war ended in a tremendous victory for Israel over the forces of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Israel now controlled the West Bank, Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights. On June 7, Israel gained control of East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount from Jordan. The song ירושלים של זהב (Yerushalayim Shel Zahav) (Jerusalem of Gold), first performed for the Israeli Song Festival on May 15, 1967, became a theme song for the war:

The Temple itself will be rebuilt (see, for example, Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, Revelation 11:1-2), an event which was impossible before the Six-Day War, i.e., before Israel was in control of the Temple Mount. I haven't the time or inclination to go into detail on this, but the Six-Day War was another link in the chain of Bible prophecy, offering evidence that the God of the Bible is the one true God, and that the Bible is His word. For further reading, I suggest the books A Cup of Trembling (1995) by Dave Hunt, and Ready to Rebuild (1992) by Thomas Ice & Randall Price.

Friday, 9 June 2017

300 years ago: The death of Madame Guyon

On June 9, 1717, French mystic Jeanne Guyon died at the age of 69. Madame Guyon was a major early figure in what became known as Quietism, practitioners of which believe that it's possible to achieve union with God through direct spiritual experience, emptying or shutting down the conscious mind. Her views were expressed in books such as Le Moyen Court Et Autres Écrits Spirituels (The Short and Easy Method of Prayer) (1685). Mme. Guyon believed that God inhabited her to the extent that she was basically just an automaton. Like so many practitioners of contemplative spirituality, Mme. Guyon ended up in panentheism, with God being in all people and in all things. Mme. Guyon was regarded as a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church, and was imprisoned from 1695-1703. Go here to see the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) entry on Mme. Guyon.

Madame Guyon's mysticism led her into views that were heretical from a biblical perspective, not just from a Roman Catholic perspective. As with all proponents of mysticism and contemplative spirituality, her writings and methods should be avoided by Christians. Unfortunately, many continue to be seduced by contemplative spirituality. Proponents of the writings of Madame Guyon include Pastor Chuck Baldwin, who included her works on his list of recommended reading for 2009. Lighthouse Trails Research Project is an outstanding resource on contemplative spirituality from a biblical perspective. On the subject of Madame Guyon, I particularly recommend their post Concern Expressed Over Voice of the Martyrs Article on Mystic Madame Jeanne Guyon (November 11, 2010).