Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Studies in Islam: the Blood of Christians

As the year 2013 ends, and the world is preoccupied with comedies and crises great and small, we should focus for just a moment on the continuing atrocities of "the religion of peace," Mohammedanism.  These barbarities can be performed on a grand stage, such as the recent Chechen terrorist bombings in Russia, or on a more personal and intimate scale.  In the following video, Hatune Dogan, a Syrian Orthodox nun living in Turkey, describes in detail some of the horrific and heartbreaking activities of the followers of Muhammad.  This is far different from the "blood libel" often spread against Jews by the Roman Catholic Church; this is a celebrated humanitarian describing acts that are very recent, and very real.  Sister Dogan is the founder of Helfende Hände für die Armen ("Helping Hands for the Poor"), an international relief agency, and in 2010 was awarded the Medal of the Order of Merit by the Federal Republic of Germany.  She is anything but a sensationalist or a rabble-rouser: she is a decent and charitable woman, who, in this video, simply tells the truth about Islam and some of its slaves and victims.  Warning: the video is very graphic and unpleasant, and, if you have tears, you should prepare to shed them now.

video

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dick and Jane Meet the TSA

Many years ago, before the advent and popularization of the phonetic method of reading instruction, American children were taught to read using the "whole word" technique.  From the 1920s to the 1970s, elementary schoolteachers used very simple "primers," or basic instructional books, using a limited vocabulary, repetition, and lots of pictures.  The most widely utilized series of such books were the "Dick and Jane" books, written by William S. Gray and Zema Sharp.  Generations of elementary school students learned to read by studying these books, starting with the classic Fun with Dick and Jane, to the point where the children in the books became iconic figures of American childhood.


In the 1970s, American educationalists decided that the "whole word" approach was inadequate and outdated, and phonics became the order of the day.  Nevertheless, Dick and Jane remained embedded in the national psyche, and are still fondly remembered as beloved, if not particularly effective, symbols of childhood.

The popularity of the "Dick and Jane" books is, of course, a remnant of an earlier and more innocent time, before the United States and its educational system degenerated into bureaucracy and eventual savagery.  Dick and Jane are associated with World War II, the widely-reviled decade of the 1950s, and the era before vampire dolls and "ultra-violent" video games became avatars of American childhood.  And, of course, Dick and Jane never lived to see the rise of the American police state, which can be observed in full flower in the continuing antics of the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), which has become the bane of travelers in the once-free United States.

When the TSA was first becoming a fixture in American airports, as part of George W. Bush's mythical "war on terror," it was primarily the source of grumbling and cursing by frequent business travelers and other citizens who resented the constant interference and harassment by its genuinely stupid and insensitive employees.  As time went on, and the TSA flourished and bloomed during the Bush and Obama administrations, things got worse.  The TSA never reported the capture of any actual terrorists, but it certainly had its hands full (quite literally) with the invasion of the privacy of innocent travelers - - - including children, pregnant women, and the aged and infirm.  But it was the groping and intimidation of children that caught the public imagination most of all.  No one likes having their kids manhandled or threatened by strangers, but such treatment was now a government-mandated necessity of travel, from Miami to Seattle:

video

Such incidents are legion, and, in examining the phenomenon, the problem is not finding examples, but choosing just a few representative cases:

video

It seems that the grandchildren of Dick and Jane are having no fun at all, at least when attempting to use the public airways, train stations, or, now, even select bus stations.  The image of the TSA was not enhanced by a significant number of its employees being arrested and indicted on child pornography charges.* No one is claiming that the TSA is a nest of pedophiles, but its hiring practices seem to leave a lot to be desired.

So, how has the federal government responded?  Why, in the way that police states always respond: by producing propaganda to desensitize and lull the citizenry - - - in this case, children - - - into complacency and obedience.  Here is a recent advertisement, produced for use on the Internet and in public schoolrooms, presenting the thuggish, merciless TSA agents as friendly, happy little animals.  We've come a long way from the days of "fun with Dick and Jane:"

video

Friday, December 27, 2013

December 25

And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.
 - - - Job 1:5 

What the patriarch did early in the morning, after the family festivities, it will be well for the believer to do for himself ere he rests tonight. Amid the cheerfulness of household gatherings it is easy to slide into sinful levities, and to forget our avowed character as Christians. It ought not to be so, but so it is, that our days of feasting are very seldom days of sanctified enjoyment, but too frequently degenerate into unhallowed mirth. There is a way of joy as pure and sanctifying as though one bathed in the rivers of Eden: holy gratitude should be quite as purifying an element as grief. Alas! for our poor hearts, that facts prove that the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting. Come, believer, in what have you sinned today? Have you been forgetful of your high calling? Have you been even as others in idle words and loose speeches? Then confess the sin, and fly to the sacrifice. The sacrifice sanctifies. The precious blood of the Lamb slain removes the guilt, and purges away the defilement of our sins of ignorance and carelessness. This is the best ending of a Christmas-day - - - to wash anew in the cleansing fountain. Believer, come to this sacrifice continually; if it be so good to-night, it is good every night. To live at the altar is the privilege of the royal priesthood; to them sin, great as it is, is nevertheless no cause for despair, since they draw near yet again to the sin-atoning victim, and their conscience is purged from dead works.

Gladly I close this festive day, Grasping the altar's hallow'd horn; My slips and faults are washed away, The Lamb has all my trespass borne.  


 - - - Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Morning and Evening

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Keep Christ in Christmas?

Once again, the "holiday" season is in full swing; and, once again, certain of my fellow Christians are beating their breasts about "the war on Christmas."  Nonsense, say I: if there really is a war on Christmas, Christians shouldn't be fighting on either side.  We should ignore it.  In fact, we should ignore Christmas itself, for the most part.

At least, I should.  I have no right to lay down rules for my fellow believers:  One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind (Romans 14:5). If my brothers and sisters in Christ want to participate in this ghastly heathen ritual, they have that right.  But count me out, please.

Because, really, what does "Christmas" have to do with my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ? Christians are commanded, in the Bible, to remember His crucifixion and resurrection: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. We're given the wonderful details of His nativity, of course, as part of His scriptural "biography," in Luke 2 and elsewhere. But we're never, ever commanded to commemorate this glorious event, and the early Christians didn't.  It's wonderful and personally meaningful to remember Jesus' birth; that's why I did a little post on "Christmas in July."  But what does that have to do with the annual orgy of obligation and debt and hysteria that rolls around every December 25th?  Where is the "sweet little Jesus Boy," much less the crucified Saviour, in the following?
video

I'm not just grousing, however, about "the commercialization of Christmas."  That's old news.  I'm talking about the Christmas "holiday" itself.  It's not a Christian observance, and has never been a Christian observance, except in the hearts of many sincere believers.  But those believers, for all their devotion to Christ, are a bit ignorant of history.

The Incarnation of Christ at Bethlehem was, of course, the most earth-shattering event in history.   The words of the traditional hymns, such as "Joy to the World," are true, and wonderful to contemplate.  But they're not the center of the Christian faith.  According to the Bible, the Resurrection is the center of the faith: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable (1 Corinthians 15:14-19).

Any historian knows that "Christmas" is a purely human invention, created by the Roman Catholic Church to co-opt the genuine orgy that was the Roman Saturnalia.  The Saturnalia was the Roman Empire's celebration of the winter solstice, called the Natalis Solis Invicti, "the birthday of the unconquered sun," and it fell on Dec. 25th. It was a time of drunkenness, sexual debauchery, and ... of course ... the exchanging of gifts.  It was so popular that the Catholic Church simply had to appropriate it, and "Christianize" it, as they have historically done, and are doing today, with pagan rituals around the world.  But it was a hideous, anarchic horror. Think of Mardi Gras, writ large.

Saturnalia
 
It wasn't even celebrated as a "Christian holiday" until the late 4th century AD.  And when it was, it was merely a power grab, a play for acceptance and popularity by the Roman Church.  Those facts may not be palatable or pleasant, but they are facts, and facts are stubborn things.  And we won't even mention Santa Claus!


This is not to say, of course, that the Roman Catholic Church is entirely responsible for the pagan monstrosity that "Christmas" has become.  Even during the Reformation, Martin Luther probably swigged his egg nog, or his beer, as he admired his "Christmas tree."  All Christians love Jesus, and many think that remembering His birth is a good idea - - - which it is.  But what does it have to do with the winter solstice, or the heathen orgies of ancient Rome?

For that matter, it's not even Jesus' birthday.  He was probably born in September; this can be determined by a number of factors.  For one thing, the shepherds who keep watch over their flocks don't stay in the fields at night in December: it gets cold, even in the Middle East.

 
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Christians are committing some egregious sin by celebrating December 25th.  I'm not a Jehovah's Witness: I don't believe that the observation of birthdays and holidays is inherently wicked.  I certainly don't believe in depriving children of the fleeting joy that Christmas affords them.  If families can get together and enjoy one another's fellowship, and entertain the children, without forced, artificial familiarity and the incurring of horrendous debt, I'm all for it.  But I'd be all for it in March or July or September, too.  It has nothing to do with December 25th, and it most assuredly has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.
 
Why, I don't even dislike Christmas trees, although Jeremiah 10:2-5 makes for interesting reading at this time of year.  If you like having lighted trees in your home, more power to you.  I'm fond of pretty lights myself.  But why not have them year round?  Why claim that they have anything to do with Christianity?


So, it's a bit hard for me to get very agitated about what certain commentators, like those on Fox News, call "the war on Christmas." In fact, when I hear such stories in the media, I wonder: are they really upset about Jesus being obscured, or are they afraid that secularists like the ACLU will somehow interfere with the economic explosion that Christmas provides?

If people who don't really know Jesus Christ, who have never received Him as their Saviour and Lord according to John 1:12, want to engage in this yearly frenzy of debt and false jollity, then by all means let them do it.  Happy Holidays, everybody!  Do your thing!


Just leave my Saviour out of it, okay?  He deserves better than that.  He's more important than that.  And, by the way, He's not a cute baby in a manger any more: He's the Lord of the Universe, Who grew up and was tortured to death for your sins and mine on the cross.  But that's not the Jesus we think of in December, is it?  We think of the baby.  And who doesn't love a baby?  A baby doesn't present any threat.  A baby doesn't demand a changed life, or even a bent knee.  But that bloody Man of Sorrows on the cross is a different image!

It gives me no great joy, but on this matter, I must break ranks with so many of my fellow believers, as much as I love them.  My brethren say, "Jesus is the reason for the season!"  That's true in their hearts, God bless them, but not in the real-world sense.  And, of course, they say, "Keep Christ in Christmas!"

 
I say it's time to give the holiday back to the pagans.  It was theirs to begin with, and it's still theirs.  I say we should take Christ out of Christmas, and worship and adore Him year-round.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Mandela: Death of a Terrorist

Osama Bin Laden, Yasir Arafat, and Carlos "the Jackal," have now been joined in the afterlife by another of the greatest terrorists of the 20th and 21st centuries.  I refer, of course, to Nelson Mandela.

The former President of South Africa and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Mandela is hailed almost universally as a hero of nearly godlike proportions.  Everyone from Clint Eastwood (who made a movie about him) to Barack Obama (who loves anyone who's sufficiently anti-American) to the authors of America's schoolbooks refer to Mandela as one of the great liberators and heroes of modern times.  To say otherwise is regarded as something close to blasphemy.


In point of fact, Mandela and his former wife Winnie were two of the most bloodthirsty, racist murderers who ever defiled the continent of Africa.  The truth about Mandela is available, on the Web and in the libraries of the world, but the truth is not "politically correct," so it is obscured and erased whenever possible.

Below is a video about the man, from a somewhat offbeat Christian YouTube channel.  Regardless of the source, the facts presented are true.  Nelson Mandela is indeed a martyr: a martyr to Communism, terrorism, and, yes, racism.  He joins such African leaders as Robert Mugabe and Idi Amin in infamy, and the world is a cleaner place without him.


As the tributes roll in from every quarter, one would do well to remember the words of Jesus Christ:  Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets (Luke 6:26). And, that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:15).

We take no pleasure in Mandela's death, because the world doesn't need another Communist martyr; but we will reserve our tears for the Christians, such as Saeed Abedini and Asia Bibi, who, while being tortured to death by Muslims, will never achieve Mandela's shameful popularity.

video

Additional reading:

"How to Be a Good Communist" by Nelson Mandela 
For Mandela Reverence, But Criticism Too (NY Times) 
Nelson Mandela: Just Another Thug 
Mandela Criticism: Yahoo Answers 
ADL criticizes Mandela's anti-Americanism 
Few Dare to Criticize Ailing Mandela

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Saeed in Danger; Trump Speaks Out

 (NOTE/UPDATE: Please notice the date of this post: it was written nearly two years before Mr. Trump began his run for the presidency of the United States.  Regardless of what one might think of him, this story was obviously not motivated by political ambition, but by a genuine concern.)

There's some good news, and some very bad news, in the ongoing story of Saeed Abedini, the American pastor being held captive in Iran.  First, the bad news: after having been moved from his earlier prison to the deadly Rajai Shahr facility, where the most violent murderers, rapists, and other criminals are simply left to die, Saeed is now in worse health than ever before, and has been repeatedly threatened and robbed at knifepoint by other inmates.  According to the American Center for Law and Justice

“Pastor Saeed is facing constant threats to his very life in the new prison. There have been several nights where he has awoken to men standing over him with knives,” the group said. His “cell” is only separated by a curtain from the rest of the violent prisoner ward he is forced to share, ACLJ said, allowing dangerous prisoners, including murderers and rapists, unfettered access to him 24 hours a day.
“He has also been robbed at knifepoint several times, stripping him of what few necessities he has been permitted to purchase for personal hygiene,” the group said.
Tiffany Barrans, international legal director for the advocacy organization, said it is “increasingly difficult to hear about the deplorable conditions in which the Iranian regime continues to hold Pastor Saeed.” “The human body can only endure so much,” she said.
Barrans said sanitation is limited, leaving Abedini prone to further infections. She added that threats of violence are a daily occurrence. “He lives in filth where he has been denied proper medical attention and nutrition. Pastor Saeed has also suffered psychologically,” Barrans said.
She said that because of neglect, the medical problems “that concerned us so much during his detainment in Evin prison have returned."“Pastor Saeed is facing constant threats to his very life in the new prison. There have been several nights where he has awoken to men standing over him with knives,” the group said.
His “cell” is only separated by a curtain from the rest of the violent prisoner ward he is forced to share, ACLJ said, allowing dangerous prisoners, including murderers and rapists, unfettered access to him 24 hours a day.
“He has also been robbed at knifepoint several times, stripping him of what few necessities he has been permitted to purchase for personal hygiene,” the group said.
Tiffany Barrans, international legal director for the advocacy organization, said it is “increasingly difficult to hear about the deplorable conditions in which the Iranian regime continues to hold Pastor Saeed.”
“The human body can only endure so much,” she said.
Barrans said sanitation is limited, leaving Abedini prone to further infections. She added that threats of violence are a daily occurrence.
“He lives in filth where he has been denied proper medical attention and nutrition. Pastor Saeed has also suffered psychologically,” Barrans said.
She said that because of neglect, the medical problems “that concerned us so much during his detainment in Evin prison have returned.”

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/12/u-s-pastor-jailed-in-iran-gets-knife-threats/#wFDf3iejD2HBbgp4.99
 "Pastor Saeed is facing constant threats to his very life in the new prison. There have been several nights where he has awoken to men standing over him with knives,” the group said.

His “cell” is only separated by a curtain from the rest of the violent prisoner ward he is forced to share, ACLJ said, allowing dangerous prisoners, including murderers and rapists, unfettered access to him 24 hours a day.

“He has also been robbed at knifepoint several times, stripping him of what few necessities he has been permitted to purchase for personal hygiene,” the group said.

Tiffany Barrans, international legal director for the advocacy organization, said it is “increasingly difficult to hear about the deplorable conditions in which the Iranian regime continues to hold Pastor Saeed.”

“The human body can only endure so much,” she said.

Barrans said sanitation is limited, leaving Abedini prone to further infections. She added that threats of violence are a daily occurrence.

“He lives in filth where he has been denied proper medical attention and nutrition. Pastor Saeed has also suffered psychologically,” Barrans said.



All of this despite the recent deal between the Obama administration and Iran giving the Muslim regime more latitude in their uranium enrichment program, $8 billion in sanctions relief, and actually returning Iranian nuclear scientist Mojtaba Atarodi, who was arrested in California in 2011 for trying to help Iran's nuclear program by circumventing western sanctions. A Times of Israel report revealed that he was released in April as part of "back channel talks."

It is obvious that President Obama is more interested in assisting Iran's nuclear program than in protecting American citizens unjustly imprisoned abroad.

The good news, although it's cold comfort, is that a new voice has been raised on behalf of Saeed: that of Donald Trump.  According to Christian Post:

American businessman Donald Trump criticized President Barack Obama's failure to negotiate with Iran for the release of imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini. The pastor's wife, Naghmeh, expressed her gratitude toward Trump.

"I am very happy to hear that he is doing this, because this is the first example of anyone outside of the legal and political areas speaking out. I hope that more people like him will speak out," Naghmeh Abedini told WND.com.

"I would very much like to meet him and thank him for what he has done in bringing awareness to this issue," she added. "Every voice counts and especially voices like Mr. Trump's. I'm just thankful he's using his voice to speak out against this injustice."

Trump has recently been tweeting about the controversial deal the U.S. struck with Iran, which provides over $7 billion in relief from international sanctions for the Islamic Republic in return for temporary freezing its nuclear program. The businessman denounced Obama for not making Abedini's release part of the deal.

"Mr. President, tell Iran to immediately free the Christian pastor, as a sign of good faith, & if they refuse break off talks - - - big sanctions," Trump posted on his official Twitter account on Wednesday.

"How does Obama rationalize giving Iran $8B in sanction relief when a Christian pastor is being tortured in an Iranian prison?" the billionaire asked in another post.


Donald Trump professes to be a Christian, but one need not be a believer in order to be outraged by Barack Obama's cold-blooded complicity in the literal martyrdom of Saeed Abedini.  As America's President seeks to strengthen Saeed's barbaric captors, Christians worldwide will continue to hold our brother up in prayer.

Sources:  
Christian Post N.A. 
CNN
Fox News 
World Net Daily
astor Saeed is facing constant threats to his very life in the new prison. There have been several nights where he has awoken to men standing over him with knives,” the group said.
His “cell” is only separated by a curtain from the rest of the violent prisoner ward he is forced to share, ACLJ said, allowing dangerous prisoners, including murderers and rapists, unfettered access to him 24 hours a day.
“He has also been robbed at knifepoint several times, stripping him of what few necessities he has been permitted to purchase for personal hygiene,” the group said.
Tiffany Barrans, international legal director for the advocacy organization, said it is “increasingly difficult to hear about the deplorable conditions in which the Iranian regime continues to hold Pastor Saeed.”
“The human body can only endure so much,” she said.
Barrans said sanitation is limited, leaving Abedini prone to further infections. She added that threats of violence are a daily occurrence.
“He lives in filth where he has been denied proper medical attention and nutrition. Pastor Saeed has also suffered psychologically,” Barrans said.

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/12/u-s-pastor-jailed-in-iran-gets-knife-threats/#wFDf3iejD2HBbgp4.99
“Pastor Saeed is facing constant threats to his very life in the new prison. There have been several nights where he has awoken to men standing over him with knives,” the group said.
His “cell” is only separated by a curtain from the rest of the violent prisoner ward he is forced to share, ACLJ said, allowing dangerous prisoners, including murderers and rapists, unfettered access to him 24 hours a day.
“He has also been robbed at knifepoint several times, stripping him of what few necessities he has been permitted to purchase for personal hygiene,” the group said.
Tiffany Barrans, international legal director for the advocacy organization, said it is “increasingly difficult to hear about the deplorable conditions in which the Iranian regime continues to hold Pastor Saeed.”
“The human body can only endure so much,” she said.
Barrans said sanitation is limited, leaving Abedini prone to further infections. She added that threats of violence are a daily occurrence.
“He lives in filth where he has been denied proper medical attention and nutrition. Pastor Saeed has also suffered psychologically,” Barrans said.
She said that because of neglect, the medical problems “that concerned us so much during his detainment in Evin prison have returned.”

Sunday, December 1, 2013

"A Song for Simeon"

One of my favorite characters in the New Testament has always been Simeon, the faithful old man who had been given, at some point in the distant past, the promise that he would not die until he had seen God's Saviour, the Messiah of Israel.  (The story is found in Luke 2:25-35; Simeon's female counterpart, Anna, is found in verses 36-38.  I would suggest reading the brief Biblical account before reading the poem.) In 1928, the greatest poet of the twentieth century, T. S. Eliot, re-told the story, from Simeon's perspective, in one of his finest poems.  Naturally, as a man grows older, this poem becomes more and more meaningful to him. As the madness of the "holiday" season proceeds, these very thoughtful words might provide a brief respite.


Lord, the Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and
The winter sun creeps by the snow hills;
The stubborn season has made stand.
My life is light, waiting for the death wind,
Like a feather on the back of my hand.
Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land.

Grant us thy peace.
I have walked many years in this city,
Kept faith and fast, provided for the poor,
Have given and taken honour and ease.
There went never any rejected from my door.
Who shall remember my house, where shall live my children’s children
When the time of sorrow is come?
They will take to the goat’s path, and the fox’s home,
Fleeing from foreign faces and the foreign swords.

Before the time of cords and scourges and lamentation
Grant us thy peace.
Before the stations of the mountain of desolation,
Before the certain hour of maternal sorrow,
Now at this birth season of decease,
Let the Infant, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word,
Grant Israel’s consolation
To one who has eighty years and no to-morrow.

According to thy word.
They shall praise Thee and suffer in every generation
With glory and derision,
Light upon light, mounting the saints’ stair.
Not for me the martyrdom, the ecstasy of thought and prayer,
Not for me the ultimate vision.
Grant me thy peace.
(And a sword shall pierce thy heart,
Thine also).
I am tired with my own life and the lives of those after me,
I am dying in my own death and the deaths of those after me.
Let thy servant depart,
Having seen thy salvation.

- - - T. S. Eliot, 1928



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

News of the Day, 11.26.13

In our never-ending quest to keep our reader apprised of the most significant items in the current news, we here offer our latest installment of "News of the Day."  These are the stories without which no citizen can consider himself or herself truly well-informed.  Draw nigh, and consider the world in which we live.

1. After so many trials and travails, the metropolitan New York City area is once again being invaded by evil-intentioned outlanders.  In this latest case, the offenders are flocks of wild turkeys, which have been terrorizing the citizenry from Staten Island to lower Manhattan.  (Similar invasions have occurred in Brookline, Massachusetts and Glendale, Wisconsin, where these dreadful feathered pests harassed and traumatized a group of schoolchildren.)  Naturally, the brave people of New York are not taking this threat lightly, and are resorting the extreme remedies.  According to the Associated Press:

"'We don't want to kill them. We just want them to leave us alone,' says Barbara Laing, who watched as at least 50 turkeys converged outside her house around sundown one recent evening with a chorus of honks — their own and those of drivers futilely trying to shoo them out of traffic.The turkeys milled on the grass, flew up like cartoon ghosts into a large maple tree, and settled in for the night. It's a sight that charms onlookers and sometimes residents, when the turkeys aren't fouling yards with droppings, devouring gardens, waking up residents with raucous pre-dawn mating sessions, and utterly disregarding dogs and other supposed deterrents.'They really are a beautiful bird ... but they ruined our property,"' says Laing's sister and next-door neighbor, Mary Jane Froese."


2.  In a related story, Minneapolis Dr. Happy Thanksgiving Reynolds, a family practice physician, is preparing to celebrate her birthday.  She was born on the American Thanksgiving Day 43 years ago, she explains, and "I was the child of hippies."  We believe it.

3.  After 31 years of service on the police force in Starkville, Mississippi, and three years of retirement, the long-suffering John Outlaw has been appointed Acting Police Chief after the ouster of former Chief David Lindley.  Lindley's shortcomings have not been divulged in the public prints, but Chief Outlaw is hoping for a brief and peaceful administration.

4. That latest official painting of the Danish royal family, which took artist Thomas Kluge four years to produce, has been roundly denounced as "creepy" by critics and public alike, many of whom claim that it resembles a poster for a horror movie.  Regardless, the painting will hang in the Amalienborg Museum, along with Kluge's other paintings.  Judge for yourself:


5.  In Holly Township, Michigan, the wily and elusive Dolly Llama has been captured without injury.  Ms. Kathy Kuzma, who named the creature after noticing it lurking around her property for six months, enlisted the aid of Lisa Davenport, who owns several llamas in a nearby township but was unacquainted with Dolly, to adopt and care for the wandering beast.

No relation

6. In Montana, the popular Ambrose Trail on Mount Helena is open again after being rerouted to bypass a fence put up by a landowner.

7. Ms. Asma Khan, 22, a three year employee of the Meadowood Mall in Reno, Nevada, has started an online petition protesting the new policy of Meadowood (and other malls) to open on Thanksgiving Day, instead of waiting for the dreaded "Black Friday" crush of shoppers that begins at midnight on Nov. 29. Holiday shoppers have to think of others who work that day,” said Ms. Khan. “If I were to lose my job, it wouldn’t affect me. I can just find another,” said the criminal justice major at the University of Nevada, Reno. “But I’m giving a voice to those who can’t speak out for fear of getting fired.” Ms. Khan's petition can be found here.

8.  One of the latest trends sweeping the ranks of high school and college girls is the so-called "Cotton Ball Diet." This dubious attempt to obtain a thin, waif-like figure involves soaking cotton balls in orange juice (or some other kind of lo-cal sweetener) and eating them, in lieu of a meal.  Theoretically, this keeps the calories at bay; in practice, doctors warn that it can cause severe problems, from malnutrition to unmentionable digestive disorders.  Without passing judgment on these young women, one might comment that they need look no further than between their ears to find all the cotton they need.
.

10.  In Rome, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, alias Pope Francis, has continued in the tradition of his sub-Christian predecessors by publicly exhibiting, for the first time in history, what are purported to be a few of the bones of the Apostle Peter, claimed by the Roman Catholic Church to have been "the first Pope."  Despite the fact that there is not a hint in the Bible that Peter ever even visited Rome, this preposterous myth has persisted through the ages, despite the fact that one of the Roman Pontiff's titles is "Bishop of Rome."  The handful of small bones were found in a shoebox in 1939, and were declared to be those of Peter by Pope Paul VI in 1968. Thus, Pope Francis is now re-introducing the practice of the veneration of "relics," just as earlier this year he offered "indulgences" to young Catholics who followed his Twitter account.  Scientists, including some within the Jesuit order, have scoffed at the idea that these bones belonged to the Apostle, but Rome has never let facts or truth stand in the way of dazzling the suckers.  The antics of the Roman Catholic heirarchy (not the pew-sitters) would shame a Muslim, if a Muslim could be shamed.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Will you go away?

"Will ye also go away?" --John 6:67 

Many have forsaken Christ, and have walked no more with Him; but what reason have YOU to make a change? Has there been any reason for it in the past? Has not Jesus proved Himself all-sufficient? He appeals to you this morning--"Have I been a wilderness unto you?" When your soul has simply trusted Jesus, have you ever been confounded? Have you not up till now found your Lord to be a compassionate and generous friend to you, and has not simple faith in Him given you all the peace your spirit could desire? Can you so much as dream of a better friend than He has been to you? Then change not the old and tried for new and false. As for the present, can that compel you to leave Christ? When we are hard beset with this world, or with the severer trials within the Church, we find it a most blessed thing to pillow our head upon the bosom of our Saviour. This is the joy we have to-day that we are saved in Him; and if this joy be satisfying, wherefore should we think of changing? Who barters gold for dross? We will not forswear the sun till we find a better light, nor leave our Lord until a brighter lover shall appear; and, since this can never be, we will hold Him with a grasp immortal, and bind His name as a seal upon our arm. As for the future, can you suggest anything which can arise that shall render it necessary for you to mutiny, or desert the old flag to serve under another captain? We think not. If life be long--He changes not. If we are poor, what better than to have Christ who can make us rich? When we are sick, what more do we want than Jesus to make our bed in our sickness? When we die, is it not written that "neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" We say with Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go?"  


- - - Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Morning and Evening

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thea Stilton Destroys Israel

Who, you may ask, is Thea Stilton?  Why, she is merely one of the most beloved mice on God's green earth, at least if you're between the ages of six and twelve.  The younger sister of Geronimo Stilton, a hard-working mouse journalist, Thea and her brother (and numerous associates) are the featured characters in a series of children's books, originally published in Milan, Italy by Edizioni Piemme, which have become a worldwide sensation - - - again, if you're within a certain age range. In addition to the score of books in the series, the adventures of the Stilton mice have been featured in "graphic novels" (a fancy name for expensive comic books), and have even spawned a televised cartoon series in Belgium and the Netherlands.  And now she's destroyed, or more precisely erased, the nation of Israel.


One of the conceits of the books is that they were actually written by the mice, when in fact they were authored by Elisabetta Dami, pictured below, who is certainly as prolific as a mouse, at least in her writing. But that's no problem: children's authors have often employed pseudonyms, from Uncle Remus to Dr. Seuss.  What's more problematic is that, in one of her latest children's books, she has included a map of the Middle East which expands Jordan and erases Israel.  Naughty, naughty, Signorina Dami: one shouldn't use children's literature as a way of promoting one's own political fantasies.  



The offending book, which was published in 2012, tells the story of some "investigative journalists" (the starring mice in the series), on an adventure in Egypt.  Appropriately, the book included a child-friendly map of Egypt and its neighboring countries; inappropriately, it did not include Israel, which of course borders Egypt. This was either an honest mistake which should have been caught by an editor or proofreader (although it's hard to imagine any literate Italian adult being unaware of the existence of Israel), or it was deliberate. The former explanation is most unlikely. Personally, I smell a rat.



As noted, the books have become a worldwide success.  Since the world does, despite Signorina Dami's wishes, include a nation called Israel, the "mistake" was immediately noticed by parents in that nation.  According to the Times of Israel:

"Adina Golombek, a Jerusalem resident who emigrated to Israel from Canada last year, said she was shocked to discover Israel’s absence while reading the book with her 7-year-old son.

“'I wanted to show my son where we lived in the Middle East, but it didn’t say Israel on the map; instead it said Jordan,' Golombek told The Times of Israel. 'I showed him the problem and drew in the border of where Israel is today.'”

The blatant use of a children's book to "erase" Israel (long a commonplace in Arab and Muslim textbooks) was widely noticed when the book was reprinted in English by Scholastic, Inc., the world's largest publisher of children's and Young Adult literature: a company which attained colossal importance in the publishing world when it obtained the rights to the Harry Potter series, and has gone on to dazzle the Young Adult market with such titles as The Hunger Games.  From such a respected company, Thea Stilton's latest shenanigans became somewhat less than amusing.

To its great credit, Scholastic, Inc. has acknowledged the slip-up, and has stopped selling the book until the map is corrected in a subsequent edition.  Granted, someone at Scholastic was asleep at the switch; but these things happen, and company spokesmen have clearly stated that no geographical mischaracterization was intended.

A tempest in a teapot?  Perhaps, if one considers the political socialization of children to be of no importance.  Experts such as Bruno Bettelheim, author of The Uses of Enchantment, have always thought otherwise.  As for Elisabetta Dami, she can now add "propagandist" to "children's author" on her biography.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Urgent Update: Saeed Abedini

In a totally unexpected development, American pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been unjustly incarcerated, beaten, and tortured in Iran for over a year, has now been moved to an even more brutal prison, where his life will be in more jeopardy than ever before.  (Pastor Saeed's story can be found here and here; the latter link features a video of various celebrities calling for his release.) Of Iranian heritage himself, Abedini is a citizen of the United States, and was imprisoned, by an Iranian "revolutionary council," for the "crimes" of operating children's homes, and sharing the Christian Gospel. Worldwide protests have had no affect on his captors, and President Obama and John Kerry have actually removed his name from the State Department's list of political prisoners who must be freed.  Apparently, this administration places little value on the life of an American citizen abroad, if that citizen is an outspoken Christian.

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This past week, Pastor Saeed, in bad health and having been separated from his wife and two young children since his arrest, was moved from Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, where he was surrounded by "political prisoners" such as himself, to the far worse Rajai Shahr Prison, most of whose inmates are hard-core rapists and murderers.  He is reportedly being held in a 10' by 10' cell, in a prison where, in the words of one authority, "prisoners simply disappear forever."  The fact that an American citizen is being so unjustly used should make any American's blood boil, even if that American is an atheist; the fact that Saeed is our faithful brother in Christ should drive every Christian to his or her knees.

A petition to President Obama, and a petition to the new President of Iran, respectfully asking for Saeed's release, can be found at this site. Please take a moment to sign it; the site asks for your e-mail address, but will not "spam" you unless you ask for regular bulletins.  An appeal is also made for funds, with which to continue the fight for Saeed's freedom, but making a contribution is not necessary.

By the grace of God, however, another imprisoned Christian, Mostafa Bordbar, who had been arrested during a Christmas celebration and sentenced to ten years in Evin Prison, has been released, following an opportunity to plead his case before an appellate court, after serving eleven months.  This is a cause of rejoicing and thanksgiving, and we glorify God on Brother Mostafa's behalf.  It may be that Iran's new President, Hassan Rouhani, is taking a less aggressive policy toward Christians than his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; it's too early to tell.  But we thank God for this act of mercy, even as we continue to pray and petition on behalf of Pastor Saeed.



SOURCES: Mohaba NewsNew York Daily NewsAmerican Center for Law and Justice

UPDATE: According to The Washington Post,  President Obama "mentioned" Pastor Saeed in his first telephone conversation with Iran's new President, although the conversation dealt with other matters.  The State Department has also called for his release, but his name has not been restored to the "most critical" list yet.  A bipartisan bill on Saeed's behalf has been introduced by Senators Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT),and 23 Senators have referred to his plight as a "death sentence" if swift action is not taken. (11.08.13)

Monday, November 4, 2013

How far can I go?

How far can I go .... before I've gone too far?

If you're a Christian, or even if you're someone who believes in God, but has never actually known Him, this question can haunt you.  When you think about your spiritual standing, and especially your eternal destiny, a lot of questions come to mind: either because you know yourself so well, or because the Enemy of your soul, Satan, is suggesting them to you.  Maybe both.  Questions of doubt, questions of uncertainty, questions of paralyzing fear.  

Because anyone who has enough common sense to draw a breath of air is aware that he or she is a sinner.  Maybe you don't use that word, but instead think of your "mistakes" and "shortcomings:" but few of us think we're perfect.  (If you don't know how God sees you, I suggest you look up and read the tab marked Hey, dummy! It gives the Biblical view of human nature in no uncertain terms.)  Many people delude themselves into thinking that they're "good enough" to get into Heaven, which is an absurd conceit; but at certain times, even they have questions.

For a non-Christian, who has never received Jesus Christ by an act of the will, according to John 1:12, and been born again, according to Jesus' words in John 3:3-7, the question is often: "How far can I go, with actions and thoughts that I know to be wrong, before I'm hopelessly damned?  How far can I go before God cuts me off completely?"

(The Biblical answer, of course, is that if you haven't received Christ, you're damned already, regardless of how far you go, or don't go.  Most people are familiar with John 3:16, but as He continued to refer to Himself, Jesus said: He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil [John 3:18-19]. If you haven't received Christ, it's not a question of "going too far;" in fact, you haven't gone far enough, and received Him as your Saviour.)

There are all kinds of worries.  "I've been unfaithful to her so many times, and hurt my family so badly ... if I do it again, will I be beyond redemption?"  "I've done so many terrible things, and never gotten caught ... but God saw.  Am I lost forever?"  "If I commit suicide, will I end up in Hell?"  Where's the cut-off point?  To put it very crudely, but very honestly, the question boils down to: "How much sin and wrongdoing can I get away with?"


Christians ask themselves the same questions, albeit in a different form.  When a woman or man receives Christ, he or she is saved; they've obtained eternal salvation, a place in Heaven with their Creator, by the sheer grace of God.  But far too many Christians misunderstand the Bible, and think that they can, through some terrible sin, lose that salvation, and be damned after all.  (It doesn't help that this totally unscriptural notion is taught by the largest "Christian" organization on earth, based in Rome, or that too many Protestants preach it.) For such people, whether they're teenagers "making out" at a party, or crooked businessmen, or "church women" gossiping and ruining the reputation of others, the question is, "How far can I go without losing my salvation?"  Again, the matter is really, "How much sin can I get away with?"

But these questions aren't always asked out of a selfish desire to go on drinking or lying or stealing, or whatever one's "pet sin" might be.  Very often, the question is asked in fear and trembling.  Because, as noted earlier, we have an innate sense that we don't deserve Heaven, and we know that the logical and just result of our sins (Christian or non-Christian) would be Hell.  God is righteous and holy, and will not allow sin into His Heaven.

So, we look at the people in scripture.  The Bible is unique, among all the "holy books" of this world, in presenting its characters honestly - - - even the heroes and heroines.  And we see something interesting in the Bible's pages.  Can an adulterer go to Heaven?  (David did.)  Can a whore go to Heaven?  (Rahab did, as well as several others in the Bible.)  Can a cold-blooded, premeditated murderer go to Heaven?  (Moses did, Exodus 2:11, 12.) Can a man who has spent his time persecuting and killing Christians go to Heaven? (The Apostle Paul did.)  This is not to say that their actions were right, of course; but it demonstrates that, as an old preacher said, "There's hope for the vilest."  That includes you; that includes me.

But what about Christians?  Can the genuine followers of Christ betray their Saviour, and still be saved? (Peter was: He walked with Jesus for three years, and then denied Him.)  Can a Christian flatly disobey God, and still be saved? (Again, Paul did: he refused to obey God's instructions to go in a certain direction, and although he lost his freedom and was executed, he went to Heaven.) The examples are found throughout the New Testament.


Because, if you're a Christian, your salvation is not yours: it's God's, and He's in control of it.  (After committing adultery and murder, David prayed, Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, Psalm 51:12.  Not "my salvation;" "thy salvation.") And how were we saved in the first place? For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9) If our "good works" can't save us, how could our sins cause us to lose our salvation?

They can't: not if we've truly received Christ, and been born again.  Make no mistake, however: the sins of a Christian or a non-Christian will not go without consequences.  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7).  A Christian who sins can lose his family, or his health, or even his freedom, in prison; he or she may even lose their earthly life.  But they can't lose their salvation ... because salvation is of grace, and grace alone: God's unmerited favor, given to all those who receive His Son.

If you're not a Christian, you can receive Christ today, simply by confessing your sins and asking Him to save you for Jesus' sake.  (I said it was simple; I didn't say it was easy.  It won't solve all your problems; in fact, you'll have new ones!  But your eternal destiny won't be one of them.) If you are a Christian, but wonder if you've gone too far, or lost your salvation, you need to be reminded: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:35-39).

"How far can I go before I lose a chance of being saved?"

"How far can I go before I lose my salvation?"

One step farther than the grace of God!