Thursday, July 20, 2017

10 years ago: The death of Tammy Faye Bakker

So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof. Proverbs 1:19

On July 20, 2007, Tammy Faye Messner, formerly Tammy Faye Bakker, died at the age of 65. Mrs. Messner, born Tamara LaValley, was the daughter of Pentecostal preachers, and was married to Jim Bakker from 1961-1992. The two founded the PTL Club (Praise the Lord) television program in 1974, and spent years preaching a false gospel of financial prosperity, using donations from viewers to finance their opulent lifestyle. The "ministry," which included the Heritage USA theme park, collapsed in sex and financial scandals in 1987, and Mr. Bakker went to prison for fraud. The couple divorced, and Mrs. Bakker married building contractor and family friend Roe Messner in 1993.

Mrs. Messner spent her final years promoting alternative medicine and becoming a sodomite icon, appearing in sodomy pride parades. She died after an 11-year battle with cancer, which I suspected may have been caused or exacerbated by chemicals from the outrageously large amounts of makeup she always covered herself with.

See my posts 25 years ago: The PTL scandal breaks, while Oral Roberts demands $8 million--or else! (March 17, 2012) and 25 years ago: PTL gives Jim Bakker the left foot of disfellowship (May 14, 2012).

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

40 years ago: British sodomite newspaper is convicted of blasphemous libel

Be not deceived; God is not mocked; Galatians 6:7a

It's hard to believe that this happened in the United Kingdom as recently as 1977, but this can be filed under "Scenes I'd like to see--again." As reported by BBC News, July 11, 1977:

The Gay News and its editor Denis Lemon have been found guilty of blasphemous libel in the first case of its kind for more than 50 years.

The case was brought as a private prosecution by the secretary of the National Viewers and Listeners Association, Mary Whitehouse.

She objected to a poem and illustration published in the fortnightly paper last year about a homosexual centurion's love for Christ at the Crucifixion.

After the jury gave their 10-2 guilty verdict at the Old Bailey Mrs Whitehouse said: "I'm rejoicing because I saw the possibility of Our Lord being vilified. Now it's been shown that it won't be".

The poem, The Love that Dares to Speak its Name, by Professor James Kirkup, 54, was distributed to the jury and reporters. However, the judge, Mr Alan King-Hamilton, ordered that it could not be published.

Prosecuting Counsel John Smyth told the court: "it may be said that this is a love poem - it is not, it is a poem about buggery."

The defence argued that far from being "vile" and "perverted" the poem glorified Christ by illustrating that all of mankind could love him.

During the six-day trial columnist and TV personality Bernard Levin and novelist Margaret Drabble testified that the Gay News was a responsible paper that did not encourage illegal sexual practices.

Blasphemous libel is akin to the ecclesiastical charge of heresy - once punishable by death - and in the UK is an offence under common law and the 1697 Blasphemy Act.

The last time a case was brought in the UK was in 1921 when a Mr Gott was sentenced to nine months in prison for publishing a pamphlet that suggested that Christ looked like a clown as he entered Jerusalem.

Represented by playwright and novelist John Mortimer, QC, Mr Lemon, 32, sat silently in the dock as the verdict was given.
The aftermath, as reported by BBC News:

The next day Denis Lemon was given a nine-month suspended jail sentence and a £500 fine. The Gay News was fined £1,000 but with court costs the paper had to pay £10,000.
The paper and its editor appealed against the decision in spring 1978, but the Law Lords upheld the convictions.

A couple of days after the original trial two socialist newspapers published the offending poem as a protest against censorship.

The Gay News was launched by Denis Lemon and a team of five others in 1972 with very little funding or journalistic experience. By 1977 it had a circulation of 20,000.

Mr Lemon fell ill with an Aids-related illness and sold the paper in 1982 - it closed down in 1983.

He died in July 1994.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 25, 2017

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

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

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

Friday, June 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examples of astrology and psychic fraud:

Unrealistic promises to solve personal and financial problems.

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

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

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Aga Khan donates Islamic garden to the University of Alberta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three men have been killed in the past week alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

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

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

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

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

"I didn't foresee it happening."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pope Francis appoints an abortionist to the Pontifical Academy of Life

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Astronomers create the largest map yet of the Universe

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
Psalms 8:3-4

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Psalms 19:1

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:11

As reported by the Chinese news agency Xinhua, May 29, 2017:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

Euphemisms abound in current discussion of drinking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How the study was carried out

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

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

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

Key findings

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

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

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

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

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

Why early drinking is risky

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to interpret the results

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 10, 2017

50 years ago: The Six-Day War

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 9, 2017

300 years ago: The death of Madame Guyon

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

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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

125 years ago--The death of Bahá’u’lláh

I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
Deuteronomy 18:18-20

For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. Mark 13:22

Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
John 10:7-8

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

On May 29, 1892, Bahá’u’lláh, born Mírzá Ḥusayn-`Alí Núrí, died at the age of 74. Bahá’u’lláh, a Persian, founded the Bahá'í Faith in 1863.

According to the Bahá’í Faith website:

Throughout history, God has sent to humanity a series of divine Educators—known as Manifestations of God—whose teachings have provided the basis for the advancement of civilization. These Manifestations have included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Bahá’u’lláh, the latest of these Messengers, explained that the religions of the world come from the same Source and are in essence successive chapters of one religion from God.

Bahá’ís believe the crucial need facing humanity is to find a unifying vision of the future of society and of the nature and purpose of life. Such a vision unfolds in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh.

I have some disagreements with the above statements. I very much disagree that such figures as Krishna, Zoroaster, Buddha, Muhammad, and Bahá’u’lláh are messengers of God. A major problem with the Bahá’í Faith is its erroneous view of progressive revelation. According to the Bahá’í Faith, I'm supposed to believe, for instance, that Muhammad and Jesus are both Manifestations of God, with Muhammad, of course, appearing six centuries later. However, the God of the Bahá’í Faith contradicts himself in his progressive revelation; the Qur'an, alleged to be the revelation from God through Muhammad, flatly denies that Jesus was crucified, and denies that God has a son. The Bible, of course, affirms that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He was crucified for our sins to satisfy His Father's conditions for the payment of the penalty of sin. The Bible and the Qur'an can't both be true on this.

The biblical view of progressive revelation is that God has progressively revealed Himself, but later revelation has built on previous revelation without contradicting previous revelation. The New Testament builds on the Old Testament, but doesn't contradict it, recording, for instance, numerous Old Testament messianic prophecies (such as the passage from Deuteronomy 18 mentioned above) that were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Understanding God's Truth: How Progressive Revelation Can Help You Understand the Bible by John Cunningham was published by a small publisher in Alberta in 1981 and may be difficult to find, but this blogger found the book very helpful.

I also take issue with the indication in the passage above that Bahá’u’lláh is a Manifestation in the line of the others mentioned. First and most important, Jesus Christ stands alone, and I take great offense at him being placed on a level of equality with the other "Manifestations of God." Second, it seems that in the Bahá’í Faith talks out of both sides of its mouth; some "Manifestations" are more equal than others, with Bahá’u’lláh above the others:

Bahá’u’lláh—the “Glory of God”—is the Promised One foretold by the Báb and all of the Divine Messengers of the past. Bahá’u’lláh delivered a new Revelation from God to humanity. Thousands of verses, letters and books flowed from His pen. In His Writings, He outlined a framework for the development of a global civilization which takes into account both the spiritual and material dimensions of human life. For this, He endured 40 years of imprisonment, torture and exile.

I have no desire to delve into other Bahá’í Faith errors; the ones I've mentioned are enough to show that Bahá’u’lláh was not a true "Manifestation of God," and that the God of the Bahá’í Faith is a false god.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signs Sermon Protection Act into law

And now for something completely different--a measure to protect religious freedom. As reported by Mark Collette of the Houston Chronicle, May 21, 2017:

The state's top two elected officials took to the pulpit Sunday, preaching the righteousness of conservative gender norms – and hitting on several other red meat Republican issues – before the governor signed a copy of a new law protecting sermons at a Woodlands church.

Senate Bill 24, listed among Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's top priorities, bars the government from forcing religious leaders to turn over copies of sermons during a civil lawsuit or administrative proceeding. It also bars the state from compelling a religious leader's testimony.

To mark the occasion at Grace Community Church in the Woodlands, Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott joined pastor Steve Riggle and three of the four others whose sermons were subpoenaed in 2014 by the city of Houston, igniting a political fire storm for then-mayor Annise Parker.

Riggle and the so-called "Houston Five" were fighting a proposed nondiscrimination ordinance, mostly over objections to the rights it would have extended to gay and transgender people. Parker and the city sought the sermons amid a legal battle over a petition drive led by the pastors.

The move sparked outrage nationwide from people who saw it as intimidation of the church and infringement on religious liberties. Parker said the city only wanted evidence related to any instructions the pastors may have given on how to conduct the petition drive. But she acknowledged the subpoena was overly broad and withdrew the request for sermons.

The officials' trip to the Woodlands was a celebratory tour of sorts, returning not only to where the issue originated but to deeply conservative territory where 72 percent of Montgomery County voters chose President Donald Trump in November, and where religion and politics easily mix.

"You are fighters for freedom," Abbott told the congregation, which is an offshoot of Grace's megachurch campus in Houston.
Patrick preached that the world needs the strength of America and Texas, and said deep divisions in the country aren't between political parties, but between Christians and non-Christians.

"The Sermon Protection Act came about because of an issue, an issue that's not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue," he said. "It's the right issue, and that's to keep men out of ladies' rooms."

The equal rights ordinance would have banned 15 categories of discrimination, including based on gender identity, but made no mention of public bathrooms. It was already illegal to assault someone in a restroom, but conservatives rallied votes against the measure by playing on fears of attacks. A campaign ad famously depicted a little girl at the hands of a male attacker in a bathroom stall.

"We never thought we'd need (the sermon law), but this is a crazy day," Riggle said. "We never thought we'd have to define men and women either, but here we are. We thought the name on the restroom doors actually meant something."

The bill passed easily, but wasn't without opposition. Some legal experts contended that its protections are too broad, and could hamper discovery in cases of church sexual abuse, forced marriage and corporal punishment.

Others found Sunday's ceremony inherently disturbing for its mix of politics and faith. To be sure, the church service sounded at times like a campaign stop, with plenty of glad handing.

A group of about 10 people held up signs by the church entrance off the North Freeway, protesting a breach of church and state separation.

"Our forefathers escaped tyrants that were heads of churches in Europe," said B.P. Herrington, who held up a poster that said "religion is a private matter."

Patrick and Abbott "should realize they are not defenders of faith as the queen of England is," he said. "They are servants of the people."

Herrington, a music professor and an Episcopalian, said the officials treat the churches as de facto political action committees.

But Riggle noted that American churches have long participated in politics. And the Trump administration has sought to make that easier. Earlier this month, the president signed an executive order aimed at removing enforcement of the longstanding ban on churches and other tax exempt organizations supporting political candidates.

Abbott noted the unusual nature of the ceremony, saying it might be the first time in Texas history a law was signed in a church.

In fact, according to the Senate Journal, the official signing happened in Austin on Friday, when the law became effective immediately.

The politicking in the Woodlands came as the Legislature was holding marathon sessions aimed at, among other things, passing a state budget before the legislative session ends May 29. Lawmakers were also considering debate on another priority of Patrick's – regulating the use of restrooms and locker rooms by transgender students.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sologamy--yet another indication that we're in the last days

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
II Timothy 3:1-5

Several of the characteristics mentioned in the passage above--and the word "men" includes both men and women--can be found in the article below. It comes as no surprise to this blogger that the sisters and stepsisters of the main subject of this article remain unmarried. Nor does it come as any surprise that the ceremony took place at a Unitarian church. The Unitarian Church never seems to pass up an opportunity for buffoonery. The reader will also notice that the vows were "adapted from their Biblical origins"--i.e., wrested out of their proper context (see II Peter 3:15-16).

So far, the practice of sologamy seems to be restricted to women, but it will come as no surprise to this blogger to read of metrosexuals and members of Generation Selfie following suit. Any normal man who reading this article will likely react to a sologamist by quoting Horace Stoneham out of context: "Who wants that?" As reported by Charlotte Lytton of the London Daily Telegraph, May 19, 2017 (links in original):

When 38-year-old Sophie Tanner celebrated her second wedding anniversary on Tuesday, there were none of the usual trappings – no flowers or romantic meal for two, no card sealed with a kiss.

It’s not that her other half is remiss, but that on May 16, 2015, when the PR consultant took her vows on the steps of Brighton’s Unitarian Church, the person she swore to cherish for eternity was, well, herself.

“I literally had the idea when I was lying in bed recovering from flu and a bad relationship,” she remembers. “Everyone celebrates getting together with someone and getting married, but there’s no milestone in society that celebrates escaping something awful or returning to your own happiness and contentment.”

Initially, Tanner's idea was to write a book in which a woman married herself, but after two years researching sologamy – people who commit to themselves – for her novel, Happily, she was sold.

“By the end of that journey I was such an advocate for it as a concept that I thought I’d better do it myself,” she says. “It felt like an obvious step, and all of my friends and family had become really into it, so by the time I said I wanted my own wedding, they were on board.”

The nuptials were both holy and wholly unique; the vows Tanner wrote were all adapted from their Biblical origins, she wore a $105 vintage white dress and her father Malcolm, a 69-year-old painter and decorator, gave her away – to herself. Afterwards, the 50-strong wedding party danced through the streets of Brighton and down to the beach to the sounds of Kendrick Lamar’s I Love Myself playing from a boom box.

It’s tempting to dismiss this as the height of Generation Selfie’s narcissism, particularly as the ceremony is not legally recognized (Tanner’s letter of enquiry on the matter, to Brighton and Hove register office, while researching her book met with the response that marriage was “exclusive” to two people). But for Tanner, the weight of the occasion – a celebration of being single, and thoroughly enjoying it – still holds.

“Initially, I thought of the wedding as a light-hearted thing, and held it during the Brighton Fringe so passers-by could be a part of it,” she explains. “But I got really nervous the day before. It felt like a really important thing to be doing, especially as it was one of the first sologamous marriages many people had seen. A few people told me it was the best wedding they’d ever been to. The atmosphere was amazing and it felt really powerful.”

Though solo ceremonies such as Tanner’s are unlikely to unseat the traditional union for two, they do seem to be on the rise; part of a much bigger social trend for women rejecting the traditional timeline of their mothers and grandmothers, and forging an independent path, worlds away from the 'spinster' stereotype.

“I think it’s hard not to adopt whatever society’s messages are… and I certainly think that one of the messages is, ‘You are not enough if you are not with someone else’,” says Erika Anderson of her decision to self marry. The 37-year-old, who lives in New York, wed her university sweetheart in her twenties, but the pair split aged 30 after growing apart. Committing to herself, she says, was “an act of defiance”.

The notion of marrying oneself entered popular consciousness in a 2003 episode of Sex and the City, the US television series, in which Carrie Bradshaw, its protagonist, announced she was fed up with forking out to celebrate friends’ life choices, but never her own.

In 2010, one of the lead characters on TV musical comedy Glee enjoyed a solitary wedding ceremony. Now, with some 42 per cent of British marriages ending in divorce (unmarried women having outnumbered their married counterparts for the past decade), marrying yourself is, perhaps, the only safe bet.

Its proponents say that it is a modern rite of passage. “A wedding is just a marker in life,” explains Alexandra Gill, a Canadian food critic who married herself in 2006 and renewed her vows on her 10th wedding anniversary last year.

“Our mothers and grandmothers didn’t have the choice to remain single… Self-marriage is an opportunity to celebrate our personal independence, self-reliance and freedom from the chains of convention.”

Unsurprisingly, a number of businesses have spotted opportunities. Gill launched Marry Yourself Vancouver, a wedding planning service, last year. In Japan, where one in seven women are unmarried, Cerca Travel offers a two-day package that provides a dress fitting, make-up and hair styling, and a photo shoot, for upwards of $4,400.

Are these companies helping to de-stigmatize lone declarations of love or, as one website posited in response to Erika’s big day, “just looking to make bucks [off] a few sad feminists”?

“This is not a substitute for a partner, on the contrary it is (about being) a stronger member of society (and) more grounded as a person,” says California-based jeweller Jeffrey Levin, who created the self-marriage kit service, I Married Me, despite being conventionally married to his wife, Bonnie.

The pair have sold “hundreds” of packages, which can include white gold wedding rings, vows and ceremony instructions for around £200 [$352 Canadian], in a bid to “allow individuals to be have a physical, tangible way of self-reinforcement and positivity”.

Of course, not everyone looks at the trend quite so positively.

When news of Tanner's wedding hit the headlines, many on social media were quick to call her a narcissist; acquaintances, too, haven’t held back.

“A couple of guys have become a bit incensed,” she says. She has continued to date since her wedding ceremony, but has no plans to marry anyone (else). “One told me I couldn’t have my cake and eat it by marrying myself and then going on to have other relationships, and a man I was having a holiday fling with flipped out,” she says.

“I was surprised by the anger – it’s not harming anyone. Most of the guys I’ve been out with have been really supportive. It’s been a good filter to see their reactions when I tell them, as if they suddenly become wary, they’re not the one for me anyway.”

Tanner has one sister and four step-sisters, ranging in age from 22 to 38. She is, thus far, the only one out of the six of them to have been a bride.

“We’re all familiar with the fact that 2.4 children don’t always work out,” she says. “I think Mum might quite like me to find a nice man and be happy, but she knows from experience that things don’t always end up like that.”

If marrying oneself doesn’t preclude having a relationships with anyone else, however, and confers no legal benefits, what is the point?

“You can be more lonely in a relationship that’s not functioning than just being on your own, and a lot of people don’t realise that,” Tanner explains. “I hope seeing how empowering committing to yourself is, can liberate people and teach them that seeking solitude is a good thing. You can waste your life waiting for the one, when you are the one yourself.”

Perhaps sologamy is the inevitable next step for millennials, who have already traded the traditional grown-up signifiers of home ownership and settling down for travelling the world, itinerant careers and moving from one rented flat to the next. In these very modern marriages, as with so much else, the only constant seems to be themselves.

Monday, May 15, 2017

10 years ago: The death of Jerry Falwell

On May 15, 2007, Rev. Jerry Falwell, one of America's best-known televangelists and "Religious Right" activists, died of cardiac arrest at the age of 73. Rev. Fatwhale Falwell was pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia from 1956-2006; founded what is now Liberty University in 1967; and founded the political lobby group Moral Majority in 1979. He was one of America's most prominent televangelists, and was known for his conservative theological, social, and political views.

Rev. Falwell did some good things (e.g., he backed up his pro-life views by founding a chain of homes for unwed mothers) and was unafraid of controversy, but was often guilty of poor judgement and unwise and unbiblical fellowship. See my posts:

Libertine University (May 9, 2009)

25 years ago: Jerry Falwell announces the formation of the Liberty Federation (January 3, 2011)

25 years ago: Jerry Falwell resigns as PTL chairman (October 9, 2012)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

100 years ago: The first apparition of Our Lady of Fátima

On May 13, 1917, three shepherd children--Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto--reported the first apparition of Our Lady of Fátima (the Virgin Mary) in Fátima, Portugal. Mary Dalke at her Living4HisGlory's Blog has two excellent and lengthy posts on the subject, which I recommend:



The only thing I have to add is that it was on May 13, 1981--the 64th anniversary of the first apparition--that Pope John Paul II was in St. Peter's Square in Rome when he was shot by would-be assassin Mehmet Ali Agca. The pope had just bent over to look at a small picture of the Virgin Mary that a little girl was wearing, and if he hadn't bent over at that instant, the first bullet would have struck him in the head. During his convalescence, Pope John Paul experienced a vision of Mary, who told him that she had spared his life in order to fulfill a special mission in bringing peace. On May 13, 1982, one year after his shooting, Pope John Paul made a pilgrimage to Fátima, where he prayed before a statue of Our Lady, and consecrated the world to Mary (not Christ), as she had requested. Five years later, Pope John Paul II declared a Marian year, which ran from June 7, 1987-August 15, 1988.

June 13, 2017 update: Another post from Living4His Glory's Blog:


Thursday, May 11, 2017

10 years ago: The death of racist cult leader Yahweh Ben Yahweh

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, Matthew 24:24a (also Mark 13:22a)

...I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Revelation 2:9b

On May 7, 2007, Yahweh ben Yahweh died of prostate cancer at the age of 71. Mr. Yahweh, born Hulon Mitchell, Jr., was the son of Hulon Mitchell, Sr., who pastored a church in Enid, Oklahoma that was affiliated with the Pentecostal denomination Church of God in Christ. Mr. Mitchell, Jr. founded the Black Hebrew Israelite cult Nation of Yahweh in Florida in 1979, claiming that he was the Son of God and the living Messiah. He was in prison from 1990-2001 after being convicted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) of conspiracy in more than a dozen murders. Mr. Yahweh was paroled after serving 11 years of an 18-year sentence; restrictions imposed on his activities as conditions of his parole were lifted a few months before his death from prostate cancer.

The Nation of Yahweh is a race-based organization that subscribes to a form of replacement theology, teaching that people of African descent are the true Israelites rather than Jews. The Nation of Yahweh can be regarded as a Negro counterpart to white race-based Christian Identity groups; it still exists despite the death of its "Messiah," and has reportedly repudiated its racism. Readers can go to the Nation of Yahweh's website and come to their own conclusions.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Floozies for Christ: Porn star Kamilla Warneck

For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: Leviticus 11:44a
As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion. Proverbs 11:22

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
Do not offer the parts of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
Romans 6:12-13 (NIV)

Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body...
...Flee fornication.
I Corinthians 6:13b, 18a

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not once be named among you, as becometh saints; Ephesians 5:3

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;
that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,
I Thessalonians 4:3-4 (NIV)

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; I Timothy 2:9

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; I Peter 2:11

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: I Peter 4:17a

60 years ago, American gangster Mickey Cohen professed to have come to faith in Jesus Christ after meeting Billy Graham, but saw no need to change his occupation, saying, "Christian football players, Christian cowboys, Christian politicians; why not a Christian gangster?" In the late 1970s, pornography merchant Larry Flynt briefly claimed to be "born again," supposedly being "converted" by Ruth Carter Stapleton, sister of U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Mr. Flynt exhibited no changes in his life, continued to publish Hustler magazine, and eventually, like the dog returning to his vomit in Proverbs 26:11, became an outspoken anti-Christian activist (and Mrs. Stapleton promoted "inner healing" and died a New Ager in 1983 at the age of 54, thinking she could visualize her cancer disappearing).

Submitted for your disapproval, yet another example of what is seen too often today in the professing church of Jesus Christ, where there's no connection between a profession of faith and holy living. As reported by Janet Tappin Coelho in the London Sun, April 27, 2017 (updated April 28, 2017):

A PORN star has outraged churchgoers by declaring she is an Evangelical Christian who believes there’s nothing wrong with her work in the eyes of God.

Kamilla Warneck is one of the hottest adult movie stars in Brazil and has appeared in hundreds of erotic movies.
Now the 25-year-old, who grew up in a deeply religious household, has caused controversy with her claims in an interview on X-rated TV show Pornolandia.

The hardcore actress declares she has an “Evangelical faith” and says she doesn’t believe it clashes with her career because she is a “good person at heart.”

Host Nicole Puzzi, who has interviewed dozens of sex industry stars, appeared surprised as she asked: “But how do you relate that to your work because people believe a porno actress cannot be Evangelical and cannot be religious.”

The curvaceous brunette insists: “People are very judgemental. They try to make you conform in a way they think an Evangelical should be because society says so.

“But I don’t agree with this. I think God sees inside our hearts. He judges the good and the bad things you do, and I do good things for people.

“I’m a good person at heart and that’s what matters.”

The clip went viral with some on social media condemning her to “burn in hell” while others said she has the right to do what she wants.

The late-night online magazine show included a risqué striptease by the sultry Rio model in which she wields a collection of dangerous weapons including a gun and knife while dancing suggestively as she undresses for the camera.

It’s a performance and a lifestyle her intensely religious family would disapprove of if they knew.

She said: “My family don’t have a clue about what I do for a living. I haven’t told them but to be honest I really don’t care if they find out.”

In fact, the blue movie actress has already upset her church-going family by divorcing her husband of three years and setting up home with a woman.

She reveals: "My family was really shocked when they found out. It took them a while to accept because their Evangelical beliefs and prejudice against gay relationships made it hard for them to come to terms with my decision.

“They think it’s just a phase I'm going through. That may well be the case, but one day I might shock them even more because I’m prepared to live with anyone so long as they make me happy, and that could include finding love with a transsexual.”

Kamilla left home at 15 to live on her own because of family issues. She doesn't disclose the reasons for doing so.

She said: “As a child, I wanted to grow up to be a ballerina. But I discovered I loved having sex when I was a teen and especially when people were watching.

“One New Year’s Eve I was making out in a tent with a guy I’d just met, and people outside could see what was going on by the shadows cast from a light behind the tent.

“It made me really excited and horny to know they were watching what we were doing.”

The sexy star, who Nicole said looked too young to be "behaving badly" because of the braces her teeth and her "fresh face beauty", got a job as a stripper and pole dancer when she turned 18.

Kamilla said: “I never thought about working in the adult movie industry until a friend invited me to do a raunchy sex show with her.

“Three months later I was invited to take part in an X-rated film and as I was curious about what it involved, I decided to accept the offer.

“I love my work and I want people to appreciate and respect what I do. It’s job where I make good money and I am successful.

“I still have a normal life outside and when I get the chance I go to church with a Bible in my hand."
I don't know whether or not Miss Warneck is actually a Christian--only God knows that--but I'm entitled to say that I don't believe she's a Christian, because the publicly available evidence doesn't support her claim to be a Christian. If she is, when did she come to Christ? She's been attracted to an ungodly lifestyle from a young age, according to her own statements.

As for Miss Warneck being "a good person," Romans 3:10-12 refutes the idea that any of us are good. I think it was James Q. Wilson who found in his criminological studies that most criminals believe themselves to be good people, even while they're in the process of committing crimes. Miss Warneck complains about people being judgmental and trying to make her conform to how an Evangelical should behave "because society says so," but that's not true--the criticism of her not living up to her professed Christian beliefs isn't because she's violating the norms of society, but because she's willfully violating the commands of God as clearly stated in the Bible (see the passages at the top of this post). Her comment is interesting in that she's acknowledging that even "society" disapproves of her behaviour; indeed, most non-Christians have higher moral standards than Kamilla Warneck.

Miss Warneck may go to church with a Bible in her hand, but she doesn't give any evidence of reading or heeding it, or acknowledging its authority over her life. Any true Christian church should, in accord with the instructions given in I Corinthians 5, bar her from fellowship as long as she continues to flout God's commands. Although I Corinthians 5 refers to the immoral brother, I think the same standard applies to women who claim to be Christians but who are living immoral lives.

The best comment on people such as Miss Warneck is an anecdote--which may or may not be true--about the famous 19th century American evangelist D.L. Moody. Mr. Moody, so the story goes, was walking back to his hotel after one of his rallies when a drunk in the gutter recognized him and said, "Oh, Mr. Moody, I'm one of your converts." Mr. Moody replied, "You must be; it's obvious you aren't Christ's."

See my previous posts Floozies for Christ: Bristol Palin (May 20, 2010) and Floozies for Christ: Carrie Prejean (May 22, 2010).

Friday, April 28, 2017

Suicidal virtue-signalling liberal Jews shelter Syrian Muslim invaders refugees

"Virtue signalling" is the term used to describe people who are intent to show off their "virtue"--especially to those who don't like them, and may even want to destroy them--because it makes them feel good about themselves. The behaviour can be found among those who may be described as liberal, and especially among those who may be described by the recently-popular term "cuckservative." A cuckservative is someone who claims to conservative, but considers it more important to be seen as not racist and/or not sexist by people who don't like him anyway, than to stand for any conservative principles. Submitted for your approval, the following example of liberal virtue signalling, as reported by Yaniv Pohoryles of Ynet News, February 10, 2017:

A London synagogue will devote part of its structure to the construction of living quarters for Syrian refugees, according to a BBC Arabic report.

The report, which has been circulated on Arabic social media pages, is part of a continuing initiative by synagogue members to provide aid to refugees from Syria. Currently—following fundraising efforts—synagogue members have begun construction on the section of the synagogue that will house the refugees.

According to the report, one family has already moved into the synagogue and community members are providing aid to other refugees by raising funds and financing temporary residences in London.

Operations at the synagogue are expected to continue as usual, including prayers.

The South London Liberal Synagogue had already launched a crowdfunding campaign, which tried to raise £50,000 for the cause.

Chair of the Synagogue Council, Alice Alphandary, told the Guardian that, "For me, this is a very personal subject. My father was a refugee in the 50s and now this is an opportunity to help the refugees of today."

The project itself is called "Araham's Tent," named after the story according to which Abraham's tent had four openings as an invitation to all. Alphandary added that "in Judaism, hosting is nearly a religious duty."
And this example, as reported by Andrew Friedman of Tazpit Press Service, April 13, 2017:

On the eve of the holiday of Passover, as Jews worldwide come together to remember the story of the exodus of the ancient Hebrews out of slavery, an Israeli rabbi and ethics scholar says the holiday demands attention to aspects beyond just remembrance of the Exodus, particularly this year with the plight of refugees around the world and the human crisis in Syria.

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, chairman of the Ethics Committee for the Tzohar rabbinical organization and one of Israel’s leading experts on issues of ethics and Jewish law, has called upon Jews in Israel and around the world to use the Passover Seder as an occasion to inspire greater global awareness of the ongoing plight of a people just north of Israel’s border.

“When we read of the biblical commandment to remember the exodus from Egypt, the commandment requires that we personally feel as if we were personally liberated,” Cherlow said. “Seder night is a commemoration of our existence as a nation as we recognize how we left Egypt and came to the land of Israel. This recognition requires us to appreciate many lessons, one of which is that we too must empathize with the plight of other refugees.

“The horrific events of recent days and weeks, as we have witnessed atrocities against innocents, must call all people of conscience to respond. The Seder provides us that opportunity. At its core, the Seder is a night of faith in God as the ultimate force, who dictates the path of history and the fate of our people. That also has an impact on our perspective of other nations.”

Cherlow added that although virtually all competing sides in Syria’s civil war are also hostile towards Israel, the Jewish holiday of freedom demands compassion for the innocent victims of the fighting.

“On Seder night, we identify not with those who are committing evil but rather feel solidarity with those innocents literally caught in the crossfire,” Cherlow said.

The full text of the prayer (translated from the Hebrew by Elli Sacks) is as follows:

Master of the universe, who makes peace on high.

Though we are not accustomed to creating new formal prayers, we can no longer stand aside to look at the slaughter taking place in Your world and fail to pray. We know that both sides in this war are guilty of wanton bloodshed, and we are unable to keep silent when so many who are beyond the circle of conflict have fallen victim.

Oh Lord, we beseech You in prayer to arouse in the killers their basic humanity and evoke mercy in their hearts. Lead them to recognize that we are all created in Your image and that there are limits even to human cruelty. May You bring to pass what is written in Your Torah: “He who sheds the blood of man, by man his blood shall be shed, for in God’s image was man created.”

Grant us the wisdom to know how to act in this hour of distress, when the dark face of humanity’s evil inclination is once again fully exposed and we are unsure how to stand against it. Enable us to act with all our energies to prevent bloodshed in Your world, above all in the Holy Land and its environs, as it is written in Your Torah: “You shall not pollute the land where you are for blood pollutes the land; and the land will not expiate the bloodshed upon it, but with the blood of he that shed it.”

May God who makes peace on high, make peace upon us and upon all Israel, and let us say amen.
Columnist Dennis Prager is a Jewish American who fails to see the wisdom of Jews offering sanctuary to their enemies. As he states in his column of March 7, 2017:

Last week, the Jerusalem Post and other news agencies reported that in a Paris suburb, two Jewish brothers wearing kippot (Jewish skullcaps) were attacked while driving their car by Middle Easterners driving another car.

According to a case report: "While the vehicle was in motion, the driver and a passenger shouted anti-Semitic slogans at the brothers that included 'Dirty Jews, You're going to die!' ... The vehicle forced the brothers to stop their car, and they were surrounded by several men ... The men came out of a hookah cafe on to the side street ... The alleged attackers surrounded the brothers, then kicked and punched them repeatedly while threatening that they would be murdered if they moved. One of the alleged attackers then sawed off the finger of one of the brothers."

Attacks on Jews in France and elsewhere in Europe by Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, or MENA, are so common that for the first time since World War II, Jews in France fear wearing a kippah or a Star of David in public. So many French Jews are leaving France that two years ago, then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls gave an impassioned speech pleading with French Jews to stay in France.

It has gotten so bad for Jews in Europe that The Atlantic, a liberal magazine, recently featured an article titled "Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?"

In Sweden, attacks on Jews in Malmo, the country's third largest city, are so common that Jews are leaving the city and the country.

Last year, the Jerusalem Post published an article about a Jewish couple that had lived in Sweden since the middle of World War II. Dan and Karla (not their real names) are Danish Jews who were smuggled into Sweden as children. Their gratitude for Sweden has been immense.

But they have now left their homeland, the country that saved their lives, to live in Spain. They lived in Malmo. In Dan's words, the immense saturation of Jew hatred in the city was caused by "the adverse effects of accepting half-a-million immigrants from the Middle East, who plainly weren't interesting in adopting Sweden's values and Swedish culture. ... The politicians, the media, the intellectuals ... they all played their parts in pandering to this dangerous ideology and, sadly, it's changing the fabric of Swedish society irreversibly."

The Post continued, saying, "Karla, who'd sat passively, occasionally nodding in agreement at Dan's analysis, then interrupted, saying, 'If you disagree with the establishment, you're immediately called a racist or fascist.'" (Sound familiar?)

The British newspaper The Telegraph recently reported: "Jewish people in Malmo have long complained of growing harassment in the city, where 43 per cent of the population have a non-Swedish background, with Iraqis, Lebanese and stateless Palestinians some of the largest groups. The Jewish community centre in the city is heavily fortified, with security doors and bollards on the outside pavement to prevent car bombs."

An article in the left-wing HuffingtonPost reached a now-familiar conclusion, saying: "Migrants streaming into Europe from the Middle East are bringing with them virulent anti-Semitism which is erupting from Scandinavia to France to Germany. ... While all of the incoming refugees and migrants, fleeing Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other Muslim lands, may not hold anti-Jewish views, an extremely large number do — simply as a result to being raised in places where anti-Jewish vitriol is poured out in TV, newspapers, schools and mosques. ... 'There is no future for Jews in Europe' said the chief Rabbi of Brussels."

Yet, despite all this Muslim-immigrant Jew hatred, more than a thousand rabbis have signed a petition to bring large numbers of MENA Muslims into America, and virtually all Jewish organizations outside of orthodoxy and the Zionist Organization of America have condemned President Trump's administration for enacting even a temporary travel ban (one due entirely to security concerns) on immigrants and refugees from seven (of the world's more than 50) Muslim-majority countries.

How is one to explain the widespread American Jewish support for bringing in a massive number of people, many of whom will bring in anti-Jew, anti-Israel and anti-West values?

First, they are staggeringly naive believing, for example, that marching at airports with signs that read "We love Muslims" will change those Muslims who hate Jews into Muslims who love Jews.

Second, never underestimate the power of feeling good about yourself that exists on the left (the self-esteem movement originated on the left). And it feels very good for these Jews to say: "Look, world. You abandoned us in the 1930s, but we're better than you."

And third, when American Jews abandoned traditional liberal and traditional Jewish values for leftist values, they became less Jewish, less American and more foolish.

Just ask the Jews of Europe.
In addition to the reasons provided by Mr. Prager for the suicidal behaviour of his fellow Jews, I can think of another: Jewish anti-Christianism. Jews in Western countries have traditionally been regarded as outsiders and have often been persecuted, leading them to resent the majority culture, and to sympathize with those they regarded as oppressed minorities. Until fairly recently, the dominant religion of Western nations was some form of professing Christianity (and to Jews, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and various forms of Protestantism are often seen as equally representing "Christianity"). Jewish organizations in Western nations resented the majority "Christian" culture, and wanted to weaken the Christian influence in their nations. Accordingly, they were prominent in supporting policies providing for increased immigration of non-Christian, non-Western populations into Western countries--not because such immigration would be good for these countries, but it would be good for the Jews.

The Christian influence in Western nations has waned to the point of virtual extinction--in no small part due to the increasing apostasy of professing Christian churches--but Jewish organizations have continued to pursue their anti-Christian agenda, apparently oblivious to the fact that the latest wave of invaders migrants is composed of large numbers of Muslims who really don't like Jews, and are intent on turning their new places of residences into Muslim countries. As a result, it's hard for me to sympathize with Jews in Europe and elsewhere who complain about persecution and anti-Semitism when they've brought it on themselves to a large extent by supporting Muslim immigration. The increase in anti-Semitism in these countries, if not directly proportional, has certainly increased along with the increase in the number of Muslims allowed into these countries.

Mr. Prager, who describes himself as an ethical monotheist, has said in the past that he's one Jew who greatly fears a post-Christian America. Other American Jews in the media who express support for the rights of Christians include Michael Medved and his rabbi, Daniel Lapin. Nat Hentoff, despite being a professing atheist, has occasionally used his column to bring attention to the persecution of Christians. In Canada, my friend Ezra Levant, through his media site The Rebel, has done tremendous work in supporting the legal rights of Christians in Canada, for which I'm grateful. Rebel reporter Faith Goldy continues to expose what the Muslim invaders refugees are actually doing in Canadian schools--which the mainstream media refuse to report, because it doesn't fit their agenda.

Unfortunately, the people I've just mentioned see to be in the minority, while Jewish organizations continue to support policies that aren't good for Jews, Christians, or anybody else who loves freedom. Let us pray they see the error of their ways.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Jerusalem to fly record number of flags for Jerusalem Day

The world's refusal to recognize Jerusalem's status as the capital of Israel isn't deterring the city from flaunting its true status, as reported by Orly Harari of Ayutz Sheva, April 11, 2017:

The Jerusalem Municipality will hang over 10,000 flags in the city in preparation for Jerusalem Day celebrations.

This number is three times the amount of flags hung in previous years, the municipality reported.

"It may even be a Guinness record," the spokesman said.

The flags will include Israeli flags, Jerusalem municipal flags, and "50" flags. They will be hung on every street in the city, to add to the holiday atmosphere and reinforce the connection of both residents and tourists to Israel's capital.

In addition to the other flags, huge flags will be hung at the entrances to Jerusalem, on the bridges, on the Old City's walls, at Safra Square, near government offices, and behind the city's major national and tourist sites.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said, "Jerusalem is the heart of the State of Israel and the Jewish nation. This year, the fiftieth since it was reunited, the city will be filled with national flags. These flags will strengthen the connection of everyone who sees them to Jerusalem, and will strengthen our obligation to ensure Jerusalem's and Israel's future.

"I wish everyone a happy Jerusalem Day."

This year, Jerusalem Day begins the evening of May 23 and continues to May 24.