Tuesday, 31 December 2019

U.S. Virgin Islands Rastafarians have "fruitful and progressive" meeting with government officials

Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries... Revelation 9:21a

As reported by the St. Thomas Source, October 17, 2019:

The members of the V.I. Rastafari Sacramental Cannabis Council Inc. (VIRSCC) thanks Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach and their staff for meeting with it on Oct. 7 at the PFA building on St. Thomas.

On Oct. 7, 1928, H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I was crowned Negus/King Tafari and later ascended to the Regal Throne of the Solomonic Dynasty as the 225th ascendant to the Throne of King David, King Solomon and Queen Makeda of Ethiopia; therefore, this was the 91st anniversary of Negus/King Tafari. This meeting was not only a historical one but also a very progressive and fruitful one.

Participants discussed issues pertaining to Rastafari human rights; the Rastafari Council made these proposals:

1) That the Rastafari community be given an apology for the injustices and persecution we have faced throughout the many decades here in the V.I.

2) That a law be passed to protect Rastafari indigenous cultural/traditional practices, pursuant to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

3) That Rastafari (VIRSCC) be granted two medical dispensary licenses, one on St. Croix and the other dispensary on St. Thomas.

4) Virgin Islanders who are incarcerated for marijuana/cannabis charges on the local level will be pardoned and the cases expunged.

5) The VIRSCC requested that Ras Bobby (Claude Olivacee), who is one the advisors to the VIRSCC Inc. and who also is a well-known herbalist here in the V.I. and throughout the Caribbean, be selected to represent the VIRSCC on the Cannabis Advisory Board.

The V.I. Rastafari Sacramental Cannabis Council Inc. will continue to work closely with Bryan, Roach and the senators of the 33rd Legislature of the V.I. as it moves forward in the Cannabis Economic Revolution here in the V.I., where it matters most, because “A We Deh Ya”!!!

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – words of H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I
This blogger doesn't regard the refusal to recognize the legitimacy of "sacramental cannabis" as "injustice."

Palestinian leaders claim Jesus as a Palestinian martyr, Christmas as a Palestinian holiday

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

The examples cited in the following article provide ample evidence of why there's no point in trying to have rational discussions with Palestinians. As reported by Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch, December 29, 2019 (bold, links in original):

Fatah leader: Jesus was "first Palestinian," and "first Islamic Martyr"

PA Prime Minister: “Christmas is a national holiday for the Palestinian people”

Abbas: "For all of us Palestinians, this holiday [Christmas] is ours"

Fatah: "Christmas is a Palestinian holiday"

There were repeated new claims this week, by senior Palestinian leaders and the official press, that Jesus was a "Palestinian" and the "first Palestinian." A senior Palestinian leader this week also referred to Jesus as the “first Shahid,” or Islamic Martyr, which many believing Christians find very offensive. According to the Islamic tradition, which the Palestinian Authority has repeated many times to its people, among the rewards that the Islamic Martyr receives in Islam’s paradise are 72 dark-eyed virgins. Whereas claiming that Jesus who was a Judean (Jew) was a Palestinian is nonsensical for believing Christians, saying he is now in Islamic Paradise with 72 virgins is seen by many as defamation.

Tawfiq Tirawi, senior Palestinian leader and Fatah Central Committee member posted on his personal Facebook page:

“This is blessed Christmas, The birthday of our lord Jesus the Messiah, the first Palestinian and the first Shahid (Islamic Martyr)."

[Tawfiq Tirawi Facebook page, Dec. 24, 2019]

Others claiming Jesus include Laila Ghannam, District Governor of Ramallah:

"The entire Palestinian people celebrates Christmas because we are proud of Jesus being Palestinian."

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 24, 2019]

Muwaffaq Matar, Fatah Revolutionary Council member and regular columnist for the official PA daily, wrote:

"If someone could win the Nobel Peace Prize every year forever, it is Palestinian Jesus son of Mary who was born in Bethlehem… Palestinian Jesus son of Mary was a victim…"

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 26, 2019]

It should be noted that the expression by Tirawi “our lord Jesus” is not an indication of Palestinian acceptance of the principles of Christianity. According to Islamic tradition, as explained in the following quote by the top PA religious figure, PA Mufti Muhammad Hussein, Jesus is said to have been a Muslim who preached Islam:

PA Mufti Muhammad Hussein: "We’re talking about an ongoing chain [of prophets of the Islam], from Adam to Muhammad. It’s an ongoing chain, representing the call for monotheism, and the mission of Islam… The prophets were all of the same religion [Islam]… Jesus was born in this land. He lived in this land. It is known that he was born in Bethlehem… He also lived in Nazareth, moved to Jerusalem. So he was a Palestinian par excellence… We respect Jesus, we believe in him [as a Muslim prophet], just as we believe in the prophet Muhammad."

Finally, the PA, seeing themselves as part of Jesus' nation, is now saying that in addition to it being a religious holiday for Christians, Christmas is also a national holiday for Palestinians.

PA leader Mahmoud Abbas himself said Christmas is a Palestinian national holiday:

"Christmas is a national-religious holiday and not just a religious one. For all of us Palestinians, this holiday is ours. Therefore we all celebrate it. The Palestinian leadership is going to church to be present for [Christmas] Mass… It is our obligation to do this, because it – as I told you – is a religious holiday for our [Christian] people, and you are our people, and it is [also] a national holiday for us all."

[Official PA TV News, Dec. 28, 2019]

Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah in a headline on its official Facebook page likewise declared:

"Christmas is a Palestinian holiday… There is a special significance to the Christmas celebrations in Palestine, since it has clearly become a national holiday in which all of our people participate, starting from [PA] President of Palestine [Mahmoud Abbas] and down to the last of the children."

[Official Fatah Facebook page, Dec. 20, 2019]

As documented many times by Palestinian Media Watch, the Palestinian Authority rewrites history, both ancient and recent, according to its political and internal needs. As a people without a history who are attempting to create a national identity, teaching Palestinians that Jesus, one of the most important and admired historical figures, was a Palestinian, is their attempt to trick primarily their own people into believing that they have not only an ancient history but a glorious national identity.

2,000-year-old Hasmonean Messianic coin found in Shiloh during Hanukkah

(photo by Michael Luddeni)

I don't know if it's a Hanukkah miracle, but it's definitely not a Festivus miracle; as reported by David Sidman of Breaking Israel News, December 31, 2019 (link in original):

A Chanukah miracle? During an archaeological sifting project over the holiday of Chanukah, archaeologists discovered a 2,000 year-old-coin from the Hasmonean dynasty. The find’s timing couldn’t be more appropriate as the holiday of Chanukah commemorates that very period in Jewish history when Judah led a Maccabean revolt against the Greco-Syrian rule.

“We discovered 20 coins last week and a half were Hasmonean coins,” archaeologist Scott Stripling told Breaking Israel News. One of those coins was of Alexander Jannnaeus – the second Hasmonean ruler. The coin had a star on it in what Stripling describes as a “messianic symbol” that relates to the prophecy of Jacob’s star in Numbers:

What I see for them is not yet, What I behold will not be soon: A star rises from Yaakov, A scepter comes forth from Yisrael; It smashes the brow of Moab, The foundation of all children of Shet. (Numbers 24:17)

During his sifting project in Shiloh, an ancient city in the Samarian region of Israel, Stripling explains that he’s discovering approximately 5-7 coins each day using a more advanced technology that catches coins and other small finds that most other archaeologists miss. He does this using a process called ‘wet sifting’ which ” increases chances of finding coins and other small finds. Without it, archaeologists have thrown out about 50% of the small finds” he added.

According to Stripling, the coin dates back to the late 2nd Temple period. Alexander Jannaeus ruled from 103 to 76 BCE. And although Stripling admits that he discovers Alexander Jannaeus coins “virtually every day” discovering the coin on Chanukah, which celebrates those very Hasmoneans is extra significant.

“We found 154 coins. They are an important indicator of life and antiquity. They were used for generations long after the Maccabees” he explains. Even during Roman rule, these coins were still being used and circulated as a means of what Stripling hypothesizes to be a sort of passive resistance to Roman rule.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Campus Crusade for Christ Canada P2C follows its American counterpart into the social gospel

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Acts 20:29-30

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
II Corinthians 6:14-18

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Galatians 1:6-9

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

"Most people are devoted to causes which are neither significant nor lasting."
--Howard Hendricks, from the promotional film for the Campus Crusade for Christ conference KC '83.

Sites such as the blog Enemies Within the Church and the YouTube channel Conversations That Matter have done excellent work in recent months in reporting on the rapidly-increasing liberalism of the U.S. campus ministry Cru, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ. Submitted for your approval, the following items from those sites and others:

Jeff Maples
Campus Crusade Social Justice Agenda Exposed in New Video (September 27, 2019)

The Social Justice Movement Takes Over CRU19 (September 27, 2019)

Conversations That Matter (Jon Harris)
The Month in Review: CRU, Josh Harris, SBC Seminaries, and Approaching Your Pastor

Trevor Loudon
The Social Justice Movement Takes Over CRU19 (September 27, 2019)

Conversations That Matter (Jon Harris)
CRU Goes Down the Woke Hole (September 27, 2019)

Breaking: Cru Leaders Soft-Peddling Homosexuality, Pushing Marxism (October 3, 2019)

Conversations That Matter (Jon Harris)
A Deeper Dive into Cru's Decline (October 3, 2019)

Internal Documents Prove Cru Leaders Officially Promoting Social Gospel (October 8, 2019)

Conversations That Matter (Jon Harris)
King David a Rapist? & Confirmed: Cru Endorses Social Gospel (October 8, 2019)

Cru’s “Social Justice Bible Studies” (October 15, 2019)

Whistleblower Speaks Out on Cru’s Leftward Drift (October 29, 2019)

Conversations That Matter (Jon Harris)
Former Cru Intern Shares Story about Ministry's Leftward Drift (October 28, 2019)

Giving Tuesday, Cru Staff Speaks Out, & Matthew Hall on CRT (December 3, 2019)
Conversations That Matter (Jon Harris)

It comes as a disappointment, but no surprise to this blogger, that Power to Change, (P2C for short), the Canadian offspring of Cru, is following its parent organization into social gospel apostasy. I've been warning about this since the Canadian organization announced its "new paradigm" in May 2006. I was involved with Campus Crusade for Christ as a student in the 1980s; I eventually developed misgivings about some of their methods and characteristics, but I have fond memories of my involvement with the movement and of the people I was associated with, and at least Campus Crusade was reasonably clear on what the gospel is.

In those days, there were separate Christmas Conferences in eastern and western Canada, with the exception of 1983, when there was one big North American conference in Kansas City known as "K.C. '83." I went to several Christmas Conferences in western Canada, as well as K.C. '83. The keynote speakers at all the conferences I attended were distinguished Bible teachers such as Ralph Alexander, J.I. Packer, and Howard Hendricks, and their talks generally consisted of examining characters from the Bible, and looking at characteristics that we should emulate (or avoid). The group sessions were on topics such as sharing your faith and having a successful discipleship group, i.e., topics associated with the gospel and the Great Commission.

Some years ago, P2C dropped the word "Christmas" from its conferences, and began calling them "Winter Conferences." Now, they don't even do that anymore, and just have one national annual conference. The one for 2019, known as "P2C Plus," is taking place in Toronto from December 28-31, with the apparent theme "first." A quick glance at the list of speakers and topics shows more emphasis on the social gospel and less on the true gospel and the Great Commission:

Our workshops encourage students to take a deep dive into a broad range of focused topics that intersect faith and culture like: leadership and mentorship, spiritual growth and disciplines, prayer, discernment, discipleship, evangelism in local and global contexts, personal growth, relationships, mental health, gender identity, addictions, trauma, shame, suffering, grief and loss, healing, health, humanization, racism, world religions, financial stewardship, hospitality, vocation, technology and design, creativity, apologetics, and the church.

The "lesser" speakers (I don't mean that as a derogatory term) seem mostly okay, but some (not all) of the keynote speakers rang some alarm bells with me, such as the following examples.

Alison Buchan, MSW, RSW, CSAT

Alison is a recognized skilled clinical social worker, in the strengths-based approach in the treatment of mental health issues, addictions & trauma. She has been in practice for over 15 years and has assisted adults and adolescents experiencing a wide range of emotional, relational and behavioural difficulties...

...She has completed training at Toronto Institute of Relational Psychotherapy (TIRP), Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute and The Ferentz Institute. Additionally she has enhanced training in trauma treatment in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing), cognitive behavioural therapy, Internal Family Systems therapy; and specialized training from the International Centre of Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and has received certification in smoking cessation from the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health.

In terms of her clinical orientation, she uses a insight-oriented cognitive-behavioural psychodynamic, solution-focused psychotherapy. Integrating mindfulness-based approaches in all her work.

"Mindfulness" comes from Buddhism. I see no Christian content of any kind in Ms. Buchan's resume.

John Van Sloten

About me

I am a pastor, teacher and writer who lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. All I want in life is to know God more (and to read everything he’s written). For the past 20 years I’ve been exploring a worldview that seeks to discern God's voice in all things: the Bible, the arts, sport, science, film, music, literature, history, mathematics, nature and human nature. My first book, The Day Metallica Came to Church: Seeing the Everywhere God in Everything (Square Inch, 2010), listened for God's whispers in pop culture. My second book, Every Job a Parable; What Walmart Greeters, Nurses and Astronauts tell us about God (Navpress/Tyndale (US) and Hodder and Stoughton (UK), 2017), listens for God's words at work. I have been awarded two John Templeton Foundation sub-grants to explore the intersection of faith and science in the context of preaching, and am currently writing my third book on how science can help us know God more.

There are things that Mr. Van Sloten says that I agree with. However, it concerns me when I read that he's received grants from the John Templeton foundation (at least Mr. Van Sloten is honest enough to say where he's obtaining his funding--there are those in evangelical circles who aren't as forthcoming). Mr. Van Sloten's grants are for something called The Steam Project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation and Fuller Theological Seminary:

The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality. We support research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and infinity to creativity, forgiveness, love, and free will. We encourage civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights.

STEAM is also supported by Fuller Theological Seminary, the host organization also committed to the integration of Christian faith and science.

Jon Corbin

According to his website:

Jon Corbin is a Canadian hip-hop artist, spoken word poet, speaker, band leader, writer and DJ based in Milton, ON. Since 2001, first under the name The Runaway, Jon has blessed stages big and small with lyrical themes of faith, love, family, social justice, and personal growth.

Corbin is a veteran artist who has quietly carved a niche in Canada’s hip-hop community, collaborating with multiple Polaris Music Prize nominee Shad, Juno Award winner Caroline Brooks of The Good Lovelies, and many other revered emcees on both sides of the border.

As a speaker, Corbin speaks passionately on topics of identity, race and racism, mental health and community connections. As a musician, Jon provides a dynamic show that stays true to the basic tenets of hip-hop: peace, love, unity, and having fun!

I don't know if Mr. Corbin is a Christian or not, but I certainly don't see any Christian content on his site.

Katharine Hayhoe

Katharine Hayhoe, the wife of pastor Andrew Farley, is a climate scientist, who on her site, goes on and on about her qualifications until the MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over) syndrome sets in. She's presumably at the conference to promote action on climate change as a priority for Christians. As I said in a recent post, if you're on the same side of an issue as Justin Trudeau and George Soros, I suggest you rethink your position; and Christians should beware of those who are on the same side as Justin Trudeau and George Soros.

Alyssa Esperaz

This young woman particularly inspires a negative reaction from me. According to her website:

I am Chinese-Filipino-Canadian and live in Toronto, Canada.

I am studying International Development at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Critical Development Studies.

Another alarm bell went off for me when I saw the name of the place where Miss Esperaz is studying. The word "critical" used in an academic context is usually a synonym for Marxist, and a quick glance at their website confirms my suspicions (look at the course content).

She has a blog; I read just two entries--this one and this one--and that was enough to give me an idea of what she's about. Miss Esperaz tells so many falsehoods that it's only the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that's restraining me from using foul language to describe this lying little [insert pejorative term here]. It would take too much time to go into a detailed account of Miss Esperanza's false propaganda, but one in particular sticks out at me, when she says that all kinds of people fought for Canada in two world wars. She's right in saying that Canadian Indians fought for the country, but it's absolutely not true to say that all kinds of people did, because the country wasn't composed of all kinds of people. The men who fought for Canada in World Wars I and II were overwhelmingly white Europeans, mainly of British ancestry, because that's what Canada was. They were fighting to preserve the country they had then, not to produce the non-nation that passes for Canada now. The "greatest generation" made the horrible mistake, a quarter-century after World War II, of handing the country over to Pierre Trudeau, who refused to fight in the war. He's the one who turned Canada into a multicultural monstrosity, which should really be renamed "Trudeaupia" to reflect its post-1968 reality.

Blogger Vox Day's third law of social justice warriors is: They always project. This especially manifests itself in accusing others of what the SJWs themselves are guilty. SJWs love to hurl nasty names at people, so I'm pulling the Jerry Seinfeld trick of heckling the heckler. I accuse Miss Esperaz of not only being a liar, but a racist. She refers to her "Asian-Canadian identity" and supports racist immigration and refugee policies which favour those of her and other non-white groups, with the intention of making Canada less white, more like the lands of her ancestors, and less like the country that those who fought in the world wars were fighting to preserve (see above comment regarding Justin Trudeau and George Soros). I'm not going to mention that one of the countries of her ancestors--let's call it "China"--has never been known for being openly welcome to foreigners. From the SJW point of view, it's okay for Miss Esperaz and those of her ilk to support anti-white policies; but if I support policies designed to preserve the country I was born into, I'm a "racist," without Christian compassion. As a Canadian whose roots in this country go back more than 240 years, I can't tell you how much I appreciate Miss Esperaz, a "first generation Canadian," presuming to give lessons in history and tolerance to real Canadians. If this is what Campus Crusade for Christ Canada Power to Change has become, I want no part of it.

It should be kept in mind that Campus Crusade for Christ P2C conferences have traditionally been used to recruit people to go on summer projects, which in turn, are used to recruit prospective staff members; which is to say, these conferences are where the future leaders of the movement receive training in addition to that which they receive in their regular campus activities. If Campus Crusade for Christ Canada P2C continues in this direction, they'll end up as liberal--and irrelevant--as the thoroughly apostate Student Christian Movement of Canada, which is associated with mainline liberal "Christianity," is irrelevant to God's purposes, and is now ignored. If you're moving in the same direction, you'll end up in the same place.

See also my posts:

Campus Crusaders, Sodomites, and Potheads Together (January 13, 2009)

Campus Crusaders and Atheists Together (March 1, 2009)

Campus Crusade's Power to Change's mission is to boldly go where the United Church of Canada has gone before (May 8, 2010)

More social gospel, works-based righteousness from Campus Crusade for Christ Power to Change: shaming people into supporting humanitarian aid (September 24, 2010)

Campus Crusade for Christ Power to Change Canada uses its 2019 Canadian summer project to promote contemplative spirituality (December 31, 2018)

Campus Crusade for Christ Cru19 staff conference promotes enneagram, contemplative spirituality, secular psychology, native spirituality, and social gospel (August 16, 2019)

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Former chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II converts to Roman Catholicism

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
Galatians 1:6-7

Yet another one, as reported by Nick Hallett of the Catholic Herald, December 17, 2019:

An outspoken former chaplain to the Queen is to convert to Catholicism on the Fourth Sunday of Advent this year.

Gavin Ashenden resigned his chaplaincy in 2017 after criticising a service at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow which included a reading from the Koran denying Christ’s divinity. He left the Church of England that same year to become a bishop in the Christian Episcopal Church, a breakaway group of traditionalist Anglicans.

Writing in a forthcoming edition of the Catholic Herald, Ashenden said the Church of England had capitulated “to the increasingly intense and non-negotiable demands of a secular culture.”

“I watched as Anglicanism suffered a collapse of inner integrity as it swallowed wholesale secular society’s descent into a post-Christian culture,” he added.

The former chaplain said he was helped in his conversion by taking up the Rosary and by looking into Eucharistic miracles. “The fact that [the miracles] were unknown amongst those who celebrated the Anglican version of the Eucharist, carries obvious implications,” he wrote.

After failing to find a way to unite orthodox Anglicans into one ecclesial grouping, Ashenden also came to appreciate the Magisterium of the Catholic Church: “I came to realise (too long after both Newman and Chesterton had already explained why) that only the Catholic Church, with the weight of the Magisterium, had the ecclesial integrity, theological maturity and spiritual potency to defend the Faith, renew society and save souls in the fullness of faith.”

Ashenden will be received into the Church by Bishop Mark Davies at Shrewsbury Cathedral. Bishop Davies told the Church Militant website it was “very humbling to be able to receive a bishop of the Anglican tradition into Full Communion in the year of the canonization of Saint John Henry Newman.”

“It has been a special joy to accompany Gavin Ashenden in the final steps of a long journey to be at home in the Catholic Church,” Bishop Davies added.

“I am conscious of the witness which Ashenden has given in the public square to the historic faith and values on which our society has been built. I pray that this witness will continue to be an encouragement to many.”

The Diocese of Shrewsbury said that Ashenden’s Anglican orders will be suspended upon his reception into the Church and he will become a lay Catholic theologian.
See also my posts:

Five Church of England bishops decide to join the Roman Catholic Church (December 6, 2010)

Calgary parish votes to leave the Anglican Church of Canada and join the Roman Catholic Church (December 6, 2010)

More Canadian Anglicans break away to join the Roman Catholic Church (May 16, 2012)

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

60 years ago: The biblically inaccurate movie Solomon and Sheba is released

And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions.
And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.
And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.
And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built,
And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her.
And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom.
Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.
Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.
Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.
And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.
And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones.
And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the Lord, and for the king's house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.
And king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.
I Kings 10:1-13

Biblically inaccurate movies ostensibly based on the Bible are not a recent phenomenon. Solomon and Sheba, directed by King Vidor, and starring Yul Brynner, Gina Lollobrigida, and George Sanders, received its premiere screening in London on October 27, 1959, and was released in several countries before opening in North American theatres on December 25, 1959. It was a box office hit at the time, but is largely forgotten today. The film contains more inaccuracies than this blogger can enumerate, but the reader can find some mentioned here.

I saw Solomon and Sheba on television some years ago and found it somewhat entertaining, but I definitely recommend reading the book instead. The movie was given a chapter in the book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (And How They Got That Way) (1978) by Harry Medved with Randy Dreyfuss (the book was actually written mainly by Mr. Medved's older brother Michael, who was trying to establish himself as a serious writer in Hollywood, and didn't want to be credited as the author). According to Mr. Medved (pp. 217-218):

Vidor commented that the film was based on "a very simple story, really, about the first kings of the Bible...I applied an artistic, not a technical yardstick; we had no technical experts on this!...used a brand-new idea in the last battle, how the Jews defeated the Egyptians. It was pure movies." And pure silliness. Screenwriter Arthur Hornblow added that the intention was to maintain a reverence for the story as it appeared in the Bible...But to spread the blame around, Hornblow admitted that the biblical story was supplemented by quite a bit of outside material, particularly Arabic and Abyssinian myths. These legends hold that Menelik I, the first King of the Ethiopians and ancestor of Haile Selassie, was born of the union of Solomon and Sheba. Obviously the producers were hoping for a triumphant run in Addis Ababa. At the same time they wanted to protect their revenues in Biloxi, Mississippi, and so studio officials reassured the public about miscegenation. They declared that careful research proved that the Queen of Sheba was not black. This comes as no surprise to most scholars, but the fact that she was Italian has thrown many historians for a loop...

...Granville Heathway...receives prominent billing in the film as "Orgy-Sequence Adviser." Mr. Heathway, according to a studio official, "is an egghead Englishman who has studied every book and treatise on the subject of orgies." If he says that they did the bunnyhop as part of Sheban fertility rites, then it must be so.

The orgy in Solomon and Sheba was filmed at an estimated cost of $100,000, and was choreographed by Jaroslav Berger, ballet chief of Switzerland's Bern State Theater. Miss Lollobrigida rehearsed for a month to prepare for the dance, with among other things, a hula hoop...

Submitted for your approval, the trailer for Solomon and Sheba, which emphasizes the extrabiblical aspects of the movie; to see it in its wide-screen glory, right-click on the video and copy the address:

Good riddance to Richard Alpert, aka Baba Ram Dass

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: Hebrews 9:27

Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, Revelation 9:21a

On December 22, 2019, New Age guru Baba Ram Dass, born Richard Alpert, died at the age of 88 after years of declining health. Dr. Alpert was born into a Jewish family and was bar mitzvahed, but considered himself an atheist in his younger years.

He earned a doctorate in psychology and became an assistant professor of clinical psychology at Harvard University in 1958. Dr. Alpert soon became associated with fellow Harvard psychology professor Dr. Timothy Leary, and the two began experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs, which Dr. Alpert regarded as his first "whiff of God." Drs. Leary and Alpert were both dismissed from Harvard University in 1963, and set up a commune with other advocates of mind-altering drugs. The word rendered "sorceries" in Revelation 9:21 is from the Greek pharmakeia--from which we get the English word "pharmacy"--referring to the use of drugs, "generally accompanied by incantations and appeals to occult powers...".

Dr. Alpert went to India in 1967, and was indoctrinated into Hinduism, becoming a devotee of Neem Karoli Baba, aka Maharaj-ji, who gave him the name "Ram Dass." Dr. Alpert's conversion to Hinduism was a predictable development; the supernatural experiences people reported while using hallucinogenic drugs were similar, if not identical, to those reported by Hindu gurus, thus indicating a common source for the experiences.

Baba Ram Dass went on to found educational and service foundations, such as the Hanuman Foundation and the Seva Foundation. He denounced Dr. Leary in 1974, but the two reconciled in 1983. Ram Dass co-founded the Living/Dying Project in 1986, based in Marin County, California (surprise!), in which people were instructed in "conscious dying." Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the pioneering scholar of near-death studies and authoress of On Death and Dying (1969), was one of Ram Dass' students. It's worth noting here that Hinduism teaches reincarnation rather than resurrection, and believes the lie "Ye shall not surely die" (Genesis 3:4), while denying the biblical truth that death is an enemy (I Corinthians 15:26).

At the age of 60, Baba Ram Dass began exploring Judaism, and established a long-standing friendship with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi of the Jewish Renewal movement, who tried, without apparent success, to draw him back into the Jewish fold. In the 1990s, Baba Ram Dass began publicly discussing his bisexuality, thereby providing more evidence that deviant spirituality is often manifested in deviant sexuality.

Christians reported fleeing Gaza because of persecution

This is the predictable result of self-government in the Palestinian Authority; as reported by Elizabeth Blade of Sputnik News, December 16, 2019 (bold, links in original):

A 60-year-old Christian from Gaza is now living on the streets of Nazareth but says he prefers to stay there than to go back to Gaza, where he had lived his entire life.

Kamal Tarazi fled the Gaza Strip in 2007 after Hamas, an Islamic group considered a terrorist outfit in Israel, seized control of the enclave, ousting its previous government, officials from Fatah.

"The moment they took control, they started persecuting us, ruining our churches and forcing Christians to convert to Islam", the 60-year-old Christian recalls.

The Turning Point

It was then that Tarazi decided to organise demonstrations against the movement, uniting Christians and Muslims alike. The calls to act didn't move the masses, but they did anger Hamas.

"I was jailed several times. Do you know what a Hamas prison is? It is pure torture", he explains, adding that the Islamic group decided to keep him alive to avoid depicting themselves as persecutors of the local Christian population, something that could potentially anger the international community.
After two months in prison, Tarazi had had enough. Shortly before Christmas, he applied for a permit that would allow him to cross the border into Israel and then travel to Bethlehem - located in the West Bank - to attend a series of religious ceremonies.

Once the permit was given and the border was crossed, Tarazi vowed he would never go back, and he is not alone.

Gaza's Christian community has been steadily declining over the years. Before Hamas came to power in 2007, Christians made up some 3,500 people in the Strip. Now, however, there are no more than 1,300 and Tarazi says the actual number is even lower.

"I am sure there are no more than 500 Christians left in Gaza and it is just part of the general trend", he explains.

Over the years, many Gazans decided to flee the Strip, unable to cope with the difficult security and economic situation.

In 2018 alone, some 35,000 Gazans fled the Strip and Tarazi says the number of those who have left since 2007 surpassed 200,000 people.

"For Gaza, with its total population of 1.8 million, this number is significant", he continues.

The Comeback

Despite promises he would never go back fearing for his life, Tarazi decided to give it a try in 2014, shortly before Israel started its operation Protective Edge aimed at putting an end to the continuous rocket barrage emanating from the Strip and targeting Israel's southern communities.

"I missed my family and wanted to see how they were doing", he says. But when he came home, he found an empty place.

"My wife and daughter left the flat where we used to live and moved in with my parents-in-law. As for my house, Hamas turned it into a warehouse, where they kept rockets and various ammunition", he goes on, adding that he wanted to flee again but the Islamic group wouldn't let him do so, imprisoning him for several months.
That, however, didn't silence Tarazi and every time he was out of prison, he gathered crowds sending a clear message to Hamas: "Bidna Naesh" - Arabic for "we want to live".

Similar protests have been staged by other peace activists but just like in the case of Tarazi, they too were silenced.

Hamas's Days Numbered?

But Tarazi says the policy to silence those who oppose the Hamas regime cannot continue for too long. "Christians and Muslims live well together in Gaza but both are tired of this organisation that kills and damages everything around them. Their days are numbered", he warns, adding that the situation in Gaza is explosive.

In Gaza, where 75 percent of the population lives in poverty, the unemployment rate is 52 percent, and the average salary is less than $20 a day, some 68 percent of Palestinians describe their situation as either bad or very bad, according to a recent poll conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research.

Leaving for good

"My situation was so bad and I was so desperate to leave that at some stage I tore my clothes off in public and wanted to set myself ablaze", Tarazi recalls, adding that Hamas prevented him from doing so. To hush him they finally gave him a permit to leave Gaza, five years after his return.

"Initially I went to Bethlehem and from there to a church in Nazareth that gave me shelter for some time, until one day they asked me to pay for the accommodation they provided me with, which of course I couldn't afford, and that pushed me to the streets of Nazareth, where I currently live", he continues.
With winter approaching, no money in his pocket, and no Israeli job permit, Tarazi relies on the aid of charity organisations.

But help won't come as Israel lacks relevant bodies that could take care of Tarazi's needs.

"Israel has organisations that take care of African refugees and NGOs that help Palestinians with mainly legal advice but none of them will be able to provide him with housing, medication or even food", explained a representative of Gisha, a non-profit organisation that protects the freedom of movement of Palestinians.
Tarazi, mewanwhile, continues to stroll along the streets of Nazareth, hoping that ordinary citizens will show more empathy.

Sputnik reached out to a number of other NGOs and aid organisations but none was able to help. Hamas hasn't responded to a request for comment by the time of publication.

Church of Norway members increasingly support euthanasia

The Church of Norway, like the Anglican Church of Canada (see my recent post) embodies Vox Day's second law of social justice warriors: They always double down. And like the Anglican Church of Canada and other churches that have fallen into the abyss of apostasy, they would rather destroy their churches than to dial back their SJW agenda. The perceptive reader will notice the apostasy manifesting itself in unbiblical positions on a wide range of issues.

As reported by Sputnik News, November 6, 2019 (links in original):

In recent years, the Church of Norway has undergone a marked shift in hot-button issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion, in effect abandoning its century-long stance.

A member survey conducted by the Norwegian Church for the sake of a better rapport with its associates has yielded surprising results.

While highlighting a high degree of agreement on matters of climate and poverty, it also revealed that the church and its members are far apart on issues such as euthanasia (or “active death help”, which it's called in Scandinavia) that is supported by 46 percent of church members. The same survey revealed that 14 percent of members of the Norwegian Church “completely disagree” with its public statements.

“It was the most surprising find for me. I would think the bishops have a restrictive relationship to active death help. That is at least my position, although I see that this entails a lot of demanding trade-offs”, Helga Haugland Byfuglien, the chair of the diocesan meeting of the Norwegian Church said, as quoted by TV2.

While the news left her fellow priests puzzled, they are ready to stand by their convictions.

“We should not let ourselves be governed by the fact that church members disagree with us. As bishops, we have made a promise that we should preach the gospel and promote the church's faith and confession. That's where our loyalty lies”, Bjørgvin Bishop Halvor Nordhaug said.

Nordhaug described himself as a “very clear opponent of changing the legislation we have”, but said he is open to addressing the issue of euthanasia at a Church Meeting, as did Byfuglien.

Euthanasia was most recently discussed at a Church Meeting in 1998 and unanimously rejected.

The Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Norway is by far the largest Christian church in the country with over 3.7 million members (or about 70 percent of the population).

In recent years, however, it has been losing members at an alarming rate, a process typical for all Scandinavian countries. Over the past decade alone, membership in the Norwegian Church has fallen by ten percent, together with the rate of baptism and confirmation, with both edging toward 50 percent.

While it is no longer obligatory to be a member, all children who have at least one parent as a church member are automatically registered as members as well. An option to “unsubscribe” from the church online is present and widely used.

Over the last few decades, the Church of Norway has significantly revised its stance on a number of issues, including gay marriage and abortion. Having appointed its first openly gay priest in 2000, the Church of Norway allowed same-sex marriage in 2015.

Earlier this year, Norwegian bishops released a public statement actually apologising for the church's historic pro-life stance and claimed that abortion “promoted women's health, safety, and security”.

Declaration of Christian faith can hurt one's job prospects in Norway

Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; John 15:20ab

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. II Timothy 3:12

As reported by Sputnik News, November 13, 2019 (links in original):

The Christian faith is often seen as a handicap for job seekers, who sometimes go so far as to ask for articles mentioning their religious affiliation to be deleted. As one researcher put it, being an active Christian is almost as bad for you career as having a Pakistani-sounding name.

Christians are discriminated against almost as much as Muslims if they are open about their faith when applying for a job, a new Norwegian study has shown.

“It surprises us that Christian backgrounds turn out this negative in job applications”, Edvard Nergård Larsen, a research fellow at the Department of Sociology and Social Geography at the University of Oslo told the news outlet Vårt Land.

Together with colleagues, he has sent over 18,000 fictitious job applications to companies in Norway, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, and Spain. Nearly 3,000 of them were addressed to Norwegian employers.

In the CV, all “applicants” stated that they had worked for an unnamed youth organisation. While “Kristian” and “Silje” purportedly belonged to a Christian organisation, “Tariq” and “Yasmeen” were part of a Muslim one.

While the main finding in the Norwegian part of the survey is that applicants with typically Norwegian names are preferred over applicants with foreign names, religion also turned out to be an important factor. If open about their religion, the perfectly Norwegian-sounding Kristian and Silje were found to have a mere 20-percent change of being called for an interview, which is fully comparable with the 10-percent chance that the Muslim couple reportedly had.

“It is almost as bad to be active in a Christian organisation as to have a Pakistani-sounding name”, Larsen concluded.

Furthermore, of the five countries the surveys have been conducted in, Norway is the only one where Christians were found to be discriminated against.

“It is possible that Norwegian employers consider it inappropriate to mention religious activity in a job context more generally”, Larsen suggested.
Another possible explanation could be the employer's active prejudice against this group, he mused.

“Being active in a Christian organisation can give employers associations with conservative attitudes more generally”, he suggested.
Strangely enough, for ethnic minorities, it is the other way around, as Christian involvement has been found to have a positive effect for them.

“Being active in a Christian organisation dampens the discrimination they otherwise face”, Larsen pointed out.

Karl Jahr, the editor-in-chief of the Christian newspaper Korsets seier, admitted that he often receives inquiries from people to delete articles that mention their Christian faith, which is often seen as a handicap when looking for a job.

Norway is a predominantly Christian country, with about 70 percent of the population belonging to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway. The Catholic Church is the next largest Christian denomination at about 3 percent of the population.

Anti-Semitic Somalia suffers from Biblical plagues

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

It's worth keeping in mind that Muslims from countries such as Somalia--taking with them views such as those described below--are increasingly being exported to traditionally non-Muslim countries, which may just have something to do with the reported rise of anti-Semitism. As reported by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz in Breaking Israel News, December 23, 2019 (link in original):

Somalia has suffered non-stop disasters for more than two years. An almost exclusively Muslim country, Jew-hatred is the rule and not the exception. Somalian anti-Semitism was transplanted to the U.S. and some Islamic insiders are warning that it may soon become left-wing policy.

In 2017, a drought that was to last two years, began in Somalia, leaving more than 6 million people, or half the country’s population, facing food shortages with several water supplies becoming undrinkable due to the possibility of infection. Authorities reported that 50 people a day were dying of hunger.

Just as the plagues in Egypt were a series of natural disasters that left the land bereft of food, Somalia’s two-year drought was followed by an antithetical flood. In November, the worst flooding in modern history caused by more than three times the average rainfall for the winter months, displaced more than a quarter of a million people, destroying infrastructure. Authorities refused to say how many people were killed in the disaster. Crops growing in the wake of the drought were inundated and destroyed, raising the specter of famine yet again. As many as 6.3 million people were left without sufficient supplies of basic foodstuffs.

In addition to drought and famine, diseases, such as cholera and measles began to spread.

Locusts, the penultimate plague, finished up any shreds of food that remained in Egypt. In a similar manner, a plague of locusts, the worst in at least 25 years, descended on Somalia last week, destroying at least 175,000 acres of farmland.

“As the weather seems favorable for the locust breeding, there is a high probability that the locust will continue to breed until March-April 2020,” the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) regional coordinator David Phiri said.

As if that were not enough, the African nation was hit by an outbreak of Cholera in 2017 that is wreaking havoc unabated. The cumulative total number of suspected cholera cases since the beginning of this outbreak in December 2017 was 9042, including 46 associated deaths. Over 70% of the cases are children below five years of age. This outbreak contrasts the backdrop of a 60% drop in global cases of cholera.

As this series of natural disasters echoes the plagues that struck Egypt as a punishment for their treatment of Jews, it is worthwhile to take a look at Somalia’s treatment of the Chosen People. There is no known Jewish community in Somalia and almost 100% of the nation’s seven million inhabitants are Sunni Muslims. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born Dutch-American activist, is an advocate for reform in Islam, most especially regarding women’s issues. Perhaps less well-known is her criticism of the Muslim hatred of Jews present in her native land.

In her autobiography, Infidel, Ali writes about the pervasive anti-Semitism in Somalia and the Muslim world at large.

“[A]s a child growing up in a Muslim family, I constantly heard my mother, other relatives and neighbors wish for the death of Jews, who were considered our darkest enemy. Our religious tutors and the preachers in our mosques set aside extra time to pray for the destruction of Jews.”

“Only if all Jews were destroyed would peace come for the Muslims,” she wrote.

In her speeches, Ali describes how, as a teen, she was indoctrinated to believe that Jews were a sub-human enemy and that Israel occupies Muslim lands and must be destroyed.

“Islamist-driven anti-Semitism is the reigning anti-Semitism of the day,” she said in a speech in Montreal in May. She explained that Islamic anti-Semitism is distinct from the “classic” European variety, or today’s white supremacy movement.

“Little attention is paid (to it) and that is a pity because it is the most zealous, most potent Jew hatred,” she said. “It both condemns Jews wholesale and seeks to destroy the State of Israel.”

She warned that Islamic anti-Semitism was aligned with the social-justice left-wing narrative “woke” concept that’s prevalent on campuses today, which she termed, “The newest insanity … that everyone is oppressed except white men.”...

...Rabbi Yeshayahu Hollander, the Sanhedrin’s Foreign Minister, reacted to the string of natural Somalian catastrophes with a disclaimer.

“Can this be divine retribution, almighty providence?” Rabbi Hollander asked. “It is impossible to know what is in God’s mind but doesn’t it seem that these people who curse the Jews are being cursed? It is certainly a possibility. I certainly can’ know but I can only try to interpret it based on the Torah.”

A study of history shows that countries and nations who were anti-Semitic suffered greatly for it. More Germans were killed in World War Two than Jews. Today, they are much less anti-Semitic and they are fairly successful.”...
In the 1970s, the African countries of Niger, Ethiopia, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Mali, Kenya, Nigeria, Dahomey (now Benin), Senegal, and Chad were all struck by famine and drought after severing diplomatic relations with Israel.

Trudeaupia Canada votes--twice--in favour of United Nations resolution condemning Israel's "occupation" of East Jerusalem

Those who are concerned that Trudeaupia Canada's actions described in the articles below will bring a curse upon the country, are too late; we're already under a curse by being "governed" by the Manchurian Pothead and the most evil and corrupt government in the country's history.

As reported by Aaron Bandler of the Los Angeles publication Jewish Journal, November 20, 2019 (links in original):

Canada was among the 164 countries that voted in favor of a United Nations resolution on Nov. 19 condemning Israel for “occupying” Jerusalem, the National Post reports.

North Korea, Zimbabwe, Nicaragua and what the U.N. denotes as “the state of Palestine,” sponsored the resolution calling the right for Palestinian self-determination. The resolution refers to Israel as “the occupying power” and included East Jerusalem as part of the “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

It also condemned Israel for building a security barrier in 2004.

UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer tweeted that under the resolution’s text, “Occupied Palestinian Territory” would include “Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem & holiest sites of Judaism.” Additionally, the resolution “ignores hundreds of Palestinian rockets just fired at Israelis.”

Neuer noted in his tweets that Canada had voted against the resolution from 2014-2018; he suggested that the change in vote came from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s desire to have Canada voted into the U.N. Security Council.

“By voting for a resolution co-sponsored by North Korea & Zimbabwe, he has entered a Faustian bargain with dictatorships that does not bode well for a free & democratic society,” Neuer wrote.

In a later tweet, Neuer highlighted a Nov. 4 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) article reporting that the U.N. Security Council was going to scrutinize Canada’s history of votes on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The article states that Canada “regularly votes against or abstains on, the 16 recurrent resolutions on Palestinian issues which go before the General Assembly every year, including resolutions on Palestinian self-determination, sovereignty over natural resources and the illegality of Israeli settlements.”

StandWithUs CEO and Co-Founder Roz Rothstein similarly said in a tweet that Canada’s vote was “so disappointing!”

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland spokesman Adam Austen the National Post, “In keeping with Canada’s long-standing position, it is important at this time to reiterate our commitment to a two-state solution and the equal rights and self-determination of all peoples.” He also said that Canada is firmly against resolutions that they think are unfair to Israel.

UN Watch launched a petition on Nov. 20 calling on Canada to reverse its vote, noting that two more votes will occur on the resolution in December.

“The Trudeau-backed text slammed Israel for its security barrier that has saved countless lives after the bloodbath wrought by the PLO and Hamas suicide bombings during the Second Intifada,” the petition states, later adding that Trudeau should “tear up this Faustian bargain, and to stop trading Canada’s principles of fairness in exchange for the votes of dictatorships in Trudeau’s bid for a U.N. Security Council seat.”
As reported by Mr. Bandler in Jewish Journal, December 18, 2019 (link in original):

Canada voted to uphold its Nov. 20 preliminary vote in favor of a United Nations resolution that calls East Jerusalem Israeli “occupied” territory and condemns Israel’s West Bank security barrier that was built in 2004.

The resolution, which North Korea, Zimbabwe, Egypt, the Palestine Liberation Organization and Nicaragua all sponsored, called East Jerusalem – where various Jewish holy sites are – “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” It also says that the barrier “severely impedes the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.”

Canada’s initial vote on the resolution in the U.N. General Assembly (GA)’s Third Committee came under fire from myriad Canadian Jewish groups; U.N. Watch had launched a petition for Canada to change its stance for the December 18 vote in front of the entire GA. The vote remained the same and the resolution passed the GA with 167 in favor, five against and 11 abstentions.

Canada’s initial vote on the resolution in the U.N. General Assembly (GA)’s Third Committee came under fire from myriad Canadian Jewish groups; U.N. Watch had launched a petition for Canada to change its stance for the December 18 vote in front of the entire GA. The vote remained the same and the resolution passed the GA with 167 in favor, five against and 11 abstentions.

B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said in a statement that the vote “stains Canada’s reputation. Just last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assured the Jewish community that Canada would ‘always defend Israel’s right to live in security.’ Voting for this resolution is not in line with that commitment.”

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) similarly tweeted, “We remain angry and deeply disappointed that #Canada voted against #Israel – Canada’s democratic ally – again today at the #UNGA.”
See also my posts:

Did a pro-Israel stand cost Canada a seat on the United Nations Security Council? (October 14, 2010)

Conservative Party of Canada promises to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital--if they ever get back into power (March 1, 2018)

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

40 years ago: Liberal American clergymen visit hostages at U.S. embassy in Tehran

50 days after Muslim terrorists had invaded the U.S. embassy in Tehran and began holding the embassy's residents hostage, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini allowed three useful idiots American clergymen to visit the embassy for Christmas. The three were William Sloane Coffin of Riverside Church in New York City; William Howard of the National Council of Churches; and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, a Roman Catholic leader from Detroit. All three were known for their liberal views, including support for criminal civil disobedience, opposition to American defense pacifism, and pervert "gay" rights. The Ayatollah, recently named Time magazine's Man of the Year, made full use of the men's visit to suit his own purposes.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

600 years ago: The death of Antipope John XXIII

On December 22, 1419, Roman Catholic Antipope John XXIII died at the age of 49. John XXIII, born Baldassarre Cossa, obtained doctorates in civil and canon law, and entered the service of Pope Boniface IX during the Western Schism, when there were rival claimants to the papacy in Rome and Avignon. Dr. Cossa was one of seven cardinals who deserted Pope Gregory XII in 1408, and became the leader of the Council of Pisa, which was convened with followers of Antipope Benedict XIII. In an attempt to end the schism, the Council deposed both Gregory XII and Benedict XIII and elected Alexander V as antipope, resulting in three rival claimants to the papacy. Alexander V died soon thereafter, and Dr. Cossa became Antipope John XXIII on May 25, 1410, having been ordained a priest just the day before. John XXIII was recognized as pope by France, England, Bohemia, Portugal, parts of the Holy Roman Empire, and northern Italian city states including Florence and Venice.

The Council of Constance was convened in 1413 as another attempt to end the schism; Antipope John escaped down the Rhine River to Freiburg im Breisgau, but was returned to Constance, where he was tried for heresy, simony, schism, and immorality. According to British historian Edward Gibbon, "The more scandalous charges were suppressed; the vicar of Christ was accused only of piracy, rape, sodomy, murder and incest."

Antipope John XXIII was imprisoned in Germany after being convicted. He was freed in 1418 after a heavy ransom was paid by the Medici Bank, and died in Florence, where he had been made Cardinal Bishop of Frascati by Pope Martin V. When Angelo Roncalli acceded to the papacy in 1958, there was some confusion concerning the numbering, but he took the name John XXIII.

Remember, according to Roman Catholic doctrine, we're supposed to regard the Bishop of Avignon Pisa Rome as the Vicar of Christ, i.e., a substitute Christ on Earth:

882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, "is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful."402 "For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered." Catechism of the Catholic Church

Anglican Church of Canada will be dead by 2040, according to its own report

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

When Canadian journalist Ted Byfield was publishing the news magazine Alberta Report from the 1970s to the '90s, he often published articles about the apostasy of Canada's mainline churches, and wondered why, at their conferences, these churches spent a lot more time discussing social issues than their own aging and declining membership. Things haven't changed for the mainline churches since then, and the decline is now so much in evidence that the churches are now starting to acknowledge it. Submitted for your approval, the following example regarding the Anglican Church of Canada, as reported by Tali Folkins in the Anglican Journal, November 9, 2019:

The Anglican Church of Canada’s first reliably-collected set of statistics since 2001 show the church running out of members in little more than two decades if the church continues to decline at its current rate, the Council of General Synod (CoGS) heard Friday, Nov. 9.

“We’ve got simple projections from our data that suggest that there will be no members, attenders or givers in the Anglican Church of Canada by approximately 2040,” the Rev. Neil Elliot, a priest for the diocese of Kootenay seconded in 2016 by the national church to collect a new set of statistics, told CoGS. Elliot, who reported on 2017 data collected from all of the church’s dioceses, also told the group about ongoing efforts to expand and diversify data collection.

The current projection should be taken especially seriously by Canadian Anglicans, Elliot said, because it is suggested by five different sets of church data, all collected in different ways: older data from 1961 to 2001; Anglican Journal subscriber data from 1991 to 2015; and three sets of data from his own survey of the dioceses as of 2017: the number of people on parish rolls, average Sunday attendance and regular identifiable givers.

“For five different methodologies to give the same result is a very, very powerful statistical confirmation which we really, really have to take seriously and we can’t dismiss lightly,” said Elliot, who gave his presentation remotely with the use of videoconferencing technology.

Two other findings, he added, suggest different outcomes. Data collection on the pastoral offices of baptism, confirmation, marriage and funerals show an even faster rate of decline. However, a demographic study of a small number of parishes in the diocese of Kootenay, he said, suggested that—because of the age ranges that Anglicans fall into—the church could lose only 50% of its members by 2040.

In a response to a question on how other Canadian churches were faring, Elliot said data collected by the United Church of Canada also showed 2040 as a “zero-member date.” The Presbyterian Church in Canada, while declining, seems to be losing members somewhat more slowly, he said. For the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, he added, the projected zero-member date was around 2050.

Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary of General Synod, told CoGS that senior staff of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada had given him a similar impression about membership decline in that church.

“Though I can’t quote the numbers, the lines look quite similar,” he said.

Introducing Elliot’s presentation, Thompson said he believed the substantial reduction in church membership since 2001 shown by Elliot’s data should not come entirely as a surprise to Canadian Anglicans involved in the church at a local level. The church they have been able to offer to God has been declining in size since the 1960s, he said, but they should not despair. Instead, Thompson said, they should look at this numerical decline in the context of other changes for the better.

The London, Ont., church in which he started worshipping in 1968, Thompson said, “while not filled to the point of discomfort, was full.” On the other hand, he added, “in all of the years that I attended that church…in all of the years I had attended church before then, and in all of the years that I attended church until I was in my 20s, I never once heard a sermon that made reference to God’s justice.”

He continued, “I never once heard anybody tell me about the residential schools. I never heard anything about the responsibility of the people of God to respect the dignity of every human being. It’s not that people didn’t care about those things, but those things were not tip-of-the-tongue discourse in the life of the church in which I was formed. Things are quite different now.”

In his report and in response to questions from CoGS, Elliot said he hoped the church would expand its data collection to be better able to monitor how specific aspects of its life, some of which may hold particular potential—home churches, Fresh Expressions, Messy Church and Book of Common Prayer services, for example—are doing.

Meanwhile, a working group of bishops, to be headed by Mary Irwin-Gibson, bishop of the diocese of Montreal, has been formed, Thompson said, “to say what are the things we should be counting…that will help us understand that, while the church we offer to God is smaller than it has been in the past, that’s not the only thing that’s true of it.”

In table group discussions after Elliot’s presentation, members of CoGS were asked to ponder four questions: whether the data aligned with their own experience; what surprised or stood out for them in the report; what they believed God was telling the church through the data; and where the “Good News” was in it.

Some table spokespeople said the data matched the experience of those at their table; some reported that at least one member of their group came from a growing or stable parish. Some groups expressed doubt that the church would run out of members by 2040.

“We actually don’t think there’s ever going to be a ‘zero person,’” one table spokesperson said. “I think what we will be offering to God in 2040 will be a different church, and a much smaller church, but it will still be a church.”

Another reported of his group, “Between the range of us there were some who found it hard to understand how everybody that they knew would either be dying or becoming apostate at 55, for the church to run out of members.” But he himself, the spokesperson added, was amazed to learn the church hadn’t lost more than Elliot’s report stated.

Some groups spoke to hope that the report would spur the church to change.

“Our group talked about the great hope, and good news, in the idea of taking more risks,” one said. “We see good news in the fact that several of us were noticing that lots of newcomers to the congregation were new Canadians as well…. Now we’re in this time of change, we can start addressing these kinds of trends.” And the emptying of rural congregations might mean more opportunities for ecumenical shared ministries, the spokesperson said.

Some groups were curious about whether data could be collected in other areas—such as how church buildings are being used. At least one group spoke to hope that the collection of the data, and possibly more data in the future, would not only help the church identify areas of growth; it would also help parishes and dioceses in numerical decline know that they’re not alone.

Elliot said one tool he hoped would be very useful for gathering this sort of detailed information is ParishOS—a kind of “electronic vestry book” that he had already used to gather information from some parishes. The national church, his report stated, is providing ParishOS free of charge to dioceses that want to use it.

A version of Elliot’s report had been leaked earlier this fall. In October, a link to it appeared in the Anglican Samizdat independent blog, after which it began to spread through social media. On Monday, Broadview, the former United Church Observer, published a story on the report.

After Elliot’s presentation and the feedback from the table groups, Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, noted the interest the report had generated outside the church after it was leaked.

“I have to tell you, there’s lots of interest outside this room in this conversation,” she said. “We had hoped to simply present [the information] here, have a conversation before it went public. Unfortunately, some of our colleagues were not so good at keeping things quiet, and it leaked into some media. And in fact I’ve had at least two or three requests for interviews prior to coming here, and even while I’ve been here in the last two days.”

Nicholls said she hoped that instead of trying to figure out why the church was in numerical decline, or get drawn into a “vortex of negativity” about it, Canadian Anglicans would instead focus on the church’s calling.

“We’re called to do and be God’s people in a particular place, for the purpose of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, and the only question is, ‘How do we need to share it, so that it might be heard by those around us?’” she said.

“I think we’re being tested about perseverance, endurance, creativity in the coming years,” she said. “At the end of the day, when we stand before the great judgement seat and have to answer for how we lived our lives as Christians, I think the question that will be asked is, ‘Were you faithful with what you were given?’”

Nicholls also said she was hopeful to see “green shoots” of growth in various areas around the country—some in the church’s traditional ways of being and some in its new ways of expressing itself.

She said Elliot’s report was a “wake-up call” to the church, a mirror showing it unpleasant truths that could act as a spur to action. She noted the excitement she sensed in the church about the potential of detailed statistics-gathering to give it a deeper picture of itself, and said she looked forward to his work continuing together with the newly-formed bishops’ working group.

“It’s my hope that when we leave here, the message we take is not ‘Oh no, the church is dying,’ but ‘Oh, we’ve got a challenge’,” she said. “But we’ve also got a hopeful way of addressing that.”
As reported by Ms. Folkins in the Anglican Journal, July 16, 2009:

Vancouver--In 2018, the Anglican Church of Canada experienced a fall in revenues due to declining contributions from dioceses, poor market performance and a decrease in giving, General Synod heard Monday, July 15.

The national church’s audited financial statements for the year show that overall revenue was $11.1 million, down by $800,000—7%—from 2017, Fraser Lawton, bishop of the diocese of Athabasca and a member of the financial management committee, told General Synod.

The decline in revenue was due chiefly to a decrease in proportional gifts from the dioceses—the money they forward to the national church every year, which makes up 83% of the church’s revenue. In 2018, proportional gifts sank to $7,898,264 from $8,416,738 the previous year—a total decline of $519,000, the audited financial statement for 2018 shows.

It was the largest decrease in proportional gifts the national church had suffered in a single year since 1994, Lawton said.

“This was a cause for some discussion, and certainly catches our attention,” he said. “Seven dioceses decreased their contributions to General Synod, and the evidence is that dioceses are struggling to meet their proportional giving commitments.” Although there is a set rate at which dioceses are asked to give to the national church, their contributions are entirely voluntary; some give less than the rate stipulates because they’re not able to give the total amount every year.

“Contributions from dioceses are a key driver for revenues,” Hanna Goschy, treasurer and chief financial officer for the church, told the Journal in an interview after General Synod. “When diocesan revenue decreases, the contributions to General Synod decrease. Some dioceses are struggling to meet their commitments, [so] they decreased over the prior year. Resources for Mission also decreased by $180,000, and there was an investment loss of almost $300,000.”

Goschy said the investment loss was due to stock market losses in 2018 and that the market had recovered in 2019.

Expenses in 2018 were $11.8 million—$400,000 more than the prior year, Lawton said in his presentation, citing rounded figures from the statements. Goschy told the Journal that this increase was anticipated and budgeted for. “There was a planned deficit on core operations of $522,000. The actual deficit was $442,000, which meant we did better than budget on core operations.”

The deficiency of revenues over expenses for the year, Lawton said, was $735,322 before transfers from internally designated funds in reserve. “There are reserves set up for major initiatives that are large and don’t happen every year,” Goschy said. “Two examples are the meeting of General Synod and the meeting of Sacred Circle. They’re both triennial events.”

Efforts to develop a strategy related to revenue losses also emerged at General Synod.
Lawton noted that General Synod had passed, on July 14, a resolution directing the Council of General Synod (CoGS) to address questions about what kind of work the national church should focus on given the financial difficulties faced by the dioceses, which support it. Similarly, a second resolution passed on the same day asks CoGS to undertake a strategic planning process to consider its own mission and ministry...

...Editorial Note: This story was updated on August 2, 2019, to include an interview with Hanna Goschy, chief financial officer, who clarified that the deficit experienced by the church in 2018 was anticipated in the budgeting process.
As reported by Terry Mattingly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, November 30, 2019:

...Elliot noted that a 2006 report suggested the final Anglicans would exit Canadian pews in 2061. The church's membership had peaked -- as it did for many mainline Christian churches -- in the early 1960s, with 1,358,459 on parish rolls. That number fell to 641,845 in 2001, while Canada's population rose from 18 million to 31 million.

In the 2017 report, Anglican membership fell to 357,123 -- with an average Sunday attendance of 97,421.

Meanwhile, the number of Anglican clergy in Canada rose -- from 2,380 in 1961 to 3,491 in this new report. But other numbers were sobering. For example, the church confirmed 1,997 new members in 2017, while there were 9,074 burials or funeral rites.

"There is no sign of any stabilization in our numbers; if anything, the decline is increasing. Some had hoped that our decline had bottomed out, or that programs had been effective in reversing the trends. This is now demonstrably not the case," Elliot said. "International comparisons suggest that the decline in the Anglican Church of Canada is faster than in any other Anglican church," although 2018 numbers from the larger Episcopal Church in the United States showed "an even greater rate of decline in attendance than ours."...

...Trends in Canada are part of a larger global drama, with Christian churches booming in Africa, Asia and elsewhere in what researchers call the "Global South." At the same time, membership numbers have stalled, declined or collapsed in many mainline and Catholic flocks in Europe and North America.

It's certainly true that Canada has become more secular, creating a climate of "intolerant progressivism" that has troubled many physicians, nurses, lawyers and others, said the Rt. Rev. Ronald Ferris, a veteran Anglican Church of Canada bishop who now helps plant missions for the conservative Anglican Network in Canada.

"You can still grow churches in Canada, but it's an uphill challenge," he said. "We grieve to see so many people leaving the church, but we also know that many are still seeking a spiritual home. ... We know the changes in Canada are real. The question is whether the church has to change its teachings to fit into that. We see no signs that making those kinds of compromises leads to growth, or even survival."
The articles above provide abundant evidence of the truth of Vox Day's second law of social justice warriors: They always double down. The Anglican Church of Canada was informed in 2006 that it would be dead in 2061. One might think that such a dire prediction would prompt the church to examine itself and take appropriate steps to reverse the decline. Did they do that? Nooo! They doubled down on their "progressive" ecclesiastical practices and social agenda to the extent that the speed of decline has accelerated. If the Anglican Church of Canada had merely continued at a steady pace in keeping with the 2006 prediction, it would now be 42 years away from extinction; instead, in the last 13 years, the predicted expiry date has been moved up by 21 years. The SJWs who run the church would rather destroy it than abandon or dial back their agenda. Liberal Anglicans such as Archdeacon Thompson seem to be economic illiterates as well as apostates, and it doesn't seem to bother them--if it even occurs to them--that they won't be able to enact their politically correct social agenda if there isn't anyone around to pay for it.

In the case of the Anglican Network in Canada, they should obey the command of scripture: Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. II Corinthians 6:17

For further information, go to Mr. Mattingly's podcasts:

Canada's Anglicans are vanishing and RNS can't find any conservatives to debate the reasons why (November 21, 2019)

Why it matters that Canadian Anglicans are having a near-death experience (November 23, 2019)

See also my posts:

Baptists, Anglicans and Pentecostals team up to host Emergent speaker and writer Peter Rollins (February 26, 2009)

Calgary parish votes to leave the Anglican Church of Canada and join the Roman Catholic Church (December 6, 2010)

Anglican Church of Canada mulls open communion (March 9, 2011)

Dissident Anglican congregations lose their properties when the Supreme Court of Canada declines to hear their case (June 18, 2011)

Another dissident congregation leaves the Anglican Church of Canada (July 5, 2011)

More Canadian Anglicans break away to join the Roman Catholic Church (May 16, 2012)

50 years ago: Anglican Church of Canada adopts new Book of Common Prayer (August 22, 2012)

Aboriginal bishops in Anglican Church of Canada invoke "colonial occupation" in opposition to same-sex marriage (March 10, 2016)

Anglican Church of Canada votes in favour of sodomite and lesbian marriage--after changing the vote count (July 13, 2016)

40 years ago: Anglican Church of Canada ordains its first female priests (November 30, 2016)

50 years ago: Anglican Church of Canada abandons its opposition to abortion (December 18, 2017)

An Anglican Church of Canada priest who's an example of a pagan disguised as a Christian (February 28, 2018)

50 years ago: Canadian Anglican traditionalists oppose union with United Church of Canada (June 21, 2019)

Statement from Anglican Church of Canada Primate-elect shows the church to be beyond the possibility of satire (July 27, 2019)

Anglican Church of Canada General Synod votes overwhelmingly to remove prayer for the conversion of the Jews from the Book of Common Prayer (August 7, 2019)

Anglican Church of Canada will review its governance structure in order to remove those who stand in the way of the alphabet pervert agenda (August 22, 2019)

Anglican Church of Canada General Synod votes to endorse Chrislamic A Common Word Between Us and You (December 22, 2019)

Anglican Church of Canada General Synod endorses Chrislamic A Common Word Between Us and You

As reported by Joelle Kidd in the Anglican Journal, July 25, 2019:

General Synod voted July 15 to sign on to “A Common Word Between Us and You” and endorse it as a model for Christian-Muslim dialogue.

“A Common Word” is a letter written in 2007 at the initiative of 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and political figures, according to the Rev. Scott Sharman, animator for ecumenical and interfaith relations, who gave a presentation to General Synod before the motion.

More than 400 Muslim leaders from around the world have since signed on to the letter, which is addressed to Christian leaders and is “an invitation to Christians to dialogue.” The title comes from a line from the Qur’an, Sharman said: “O People of the Book, come to a common word between us and you.”

The letter extends “an invitation to look at two foundational principles present within both of our respective scriptures: the call to love God above all things, and the call that follows from that, to love our neighbours. Love of God and love of neighbour is the starting ground.”

The resolution presented to General Synod involved two steps: becoming, as a church, signatory to the letter, and endorsing it to “use as a model…a kind of Christian-Muslim dialogue starter kit,” Sharman said.

The letter presents “a new kind of relationship between Muslims and Christians than has been possible for so much of our history,” according to Sharman. “It does not look for agreement, but it seeks to find common ground that could make for peace.” Since 2008, the letter has received 70 responses and nearly 200 sign-on endorsements by churches and Christian leaders.

Sharman also gave an example of the kind of interfaith ministry the letter hopes to inspire.

A Common Word Alberta formed in 2012, after an invitation by friends in the Sunni, Shi’a and Ismaili communities, Sharman said. The group was a mix of Anglicans, Lutherans, Mennonites, Roman Catholics and others. “Now, six years later, under the banner of A Common Word Alberta, a group that counts literally thousands of people, Christians and Muslims, are taking part in several occasions throughout the year in discussions of their scriptures, getting to know one another, sharing meals, sharing what their faith means to them, visiting one another’s places of prayer,” Sharman reported.

Speaking to why he believed this particular initiative was a valuable model of interfaith dialogue, Sharman highlighted three reasons.

Firstly, “A Common Word” is “not lowest common denominator”—meaning it does not require either faith to water down its beliefs or minimize differences in order to get along—he said. “In my view, that is not an authentic Anglican view of inter-religious dialogue.”
Secondly, he said, it is an ecumenical initiative, and thirdly, it is a “holistic effort.”

“There are some inter-religious efforts that perhaps tend toward the academic and the intellectual realm. There are some that are mostly on the level of making friends, sharing meals, maybe not going into the nitty-gritty questions. Both of those are important and have their place, but it’s better if those can be integrated.”

Sharman’s presentation was followed by a short speech by Imam Mohammad Shujaath Ali, an imam from the Vancouver area who works in connection with the BC Muslim Association.

Ali spoke to the importance of Christian-Muslim dialogue, saying, “it is not a human initiative for us Muslims—it is a divine obligation,” with the directive to “come to a common word” coming straight from the Holy Qur’an.

While the letter focuses on the common teachings of love of God and love of neighbour, Ali said, “these two are not the only two commonalities that we have. They are among many that we share with each other, and therefore I personally feel that these commonalities that we have between you and I as human beings, as the followers of faith, are so strong, so powerful to unite us than the differences that we have to divide us.”

Ali also said that Christians and Muslims should “open the doors of our congregations and our centres and our churches and mosques” to welcome each other, and form groups both locally and nationally to work together, “addressing the common challenges that serve as a threat to both of the faiths in this age of secularism and liberalism.”

Bishop of the diocese of Edmonton Jane Alexander also spoke briefly before the motion, which was on the no-debate list, was passed near-unanimously; six members of General Synod voted “No” (2.9%) while nine abstained.

“As I thought about this resolution, I was reminded of the words of [former Archbishop of Canterbury] Rowan Williams, who said that the growing awareness is that peace throughout the world is deeply entwined with the ability of all people of faith everywhere to live together in peace, justice, mutual respect and love. A radical, non-violent engagement with the deepest needs of our world and our common humanity. This need, to support this motion and ‘A Common Word,’ is seen across all the provinces of the Anglican Communion,” Alexander said.
February 1, 2020 update: As reported by the Anglican Church of Canada General Synod Communications, January 28, 2020 (bold, links in original):

The Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) will hold an evening of Christian–Muslim friendship and learning on Tuesday January 28th, from 7-9 PM, at Huron University College, in London, Ont. This event will commemorate the official launch of www.acommonword.ca – an ACC—ELCIC joint online resource for Christian Muslim Dialogue.

Archbishop Linda Nicholls of the ACC and National Bishop Susan Johnson of the ELCIC will be in attendance, and will be participating in portions of the evening’s program. During this event, the Primate and National Bishop will formally express the commitment of the two churches to undertake in Christian–Muslim Dialogue, and will officially become signatories of the global Common Word initiative.

Dr. Ingrid Mattson, a renowned Muslim scholar, and one of the original 138 signatories of the A Common Word Between Us and You letter will be one of the speakers at the event, in addition to other Muslim and Christian leaders.

Seeking a Common Word welcomes Canadian Christians and Canadian Muslims who want to know one another more deeply, and who would like to grow in understanding of their respective faith traditions, to join in this evening of learning, friendship and community building.

Light refreshments will be served.


For media inquiries, please contact:
Alice Namu
Communications Coordinator, ACC
416-924-9199, ext. 269

Trina Gallop Blank
Director of Communications, ELCIC
For more on the "Christian" response to A Common Word Between Us and You, see the Lighthouse Trails Research Project posts:

Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Brian McLaren and other Contemplative/Emerging Leaders Invite Muslims to Love God, Neighbors Together (November 21, 2007)

Influential Evangelicals Withdraw from Christian-Muslim Statement (February 9, 2008)