Archive for June, 2010
This is a pretty clever idea and it’s called Tea Party Jesus.
The Web site’s creator takes pictures of Christ and adds word balloons containing quotes from prominent right-wing pundits and politicians. (Think Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, etc.)
Some of the quotes are pretty heartless, pitiless and crude, and it’s a revelation to see see them spring from the mouth of a smiling, sheep-holding Messiah.
I found out about this on the Web site of the National Council of Churches. It’s a hymn inspired by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Among the lines:
Consuming more than what we should,
We harm the waters you call good.
May we protect the sea and shore
By using less, conserving more
To read the entire piece, click here.
If America’s future looks like Dearborn, Michigan, get ready for less freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion. And for heavens sake, don’t try to take any pictures or shoot any video in a public place.
For more, click here.
In the United States, free speech — even highly offensive free speech — is protected.
As a result, Communists can burn flags in Dallas. Nazis can march through predominantly Jewish Skokie, Illinois. Pornographers can portray TV evangelists as incestuous, Campari-swilling outhouse dwellers.
And Michiganders can talk about the world’s best-selling book on a public street. I think.
To me, the thing that is most interesting about this video is the portion where the videographer is detained and his camera is seized. In a free, Western, democratic nation, this should not happen.
The Atlantic Magazine had this to say about Mike Huckabee.
People are sometimes caught off guard by Huckabee’s intellectual competence because of his rural Arkansas habits (he and his wife lived in a trailer while the governor’s mansion was being renovated) and his outspoken evangelical views.
The writer, Nicole Allan, developed her “intellectual competence” — such as it is — at rural Yale.
The Christian Right is attacking Barack Obama yet again, this time for referring to “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion.” (One of my favorite magazines,Christianity Today, has the latest.)
According to CT:
“Freedom of worship” has recently replaced the phrase “freedom of religion” in public pronouncements from the Obama administration. Experts are concerned that the new rhetoric may signal a policy change.
Except, of course, that “freedom of worship” is not new rhetoric. Presidents have been speaking about “freedom of worship” and “freedom to worship” for ages.
Here’s a snippet from FDR’s 1941 state of the union speech:
“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want–which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear–which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world.
That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.”
“Freedom…to worship.” That’s FDR’s language — from 1941.
Bill Clinton used similar language while addressing the Iowa state legislature in 1995:
The First Amendment, with its freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of worship, is the essence of what it means to be an American.
George W. Bush used the term “freedom of worship” numerous times — and no one suggested it was part of a nefarious plot to undermine religious liberty.
So did Ronald Reagan. Speaking at the United Nations on Jan. 30, 1988, he condemned the Evil Empire.
“Religious intolerance, particularly in the Soviet Union, continues to deprive millions of the freedom to worship as they choose.”
And here’s the Gipper, speaking at the Vatican after meeting with Pope John Paul II:
Perhaps it’s not too much to hope that true change will come to all countries that now deny or hinder the freedom to worship God. And perhaps we’ll see that change comes through the reemergence of faith, through the irresistible power of a religious renewal. For despite all the attempts to extinguish it, the people’s faith burns with a passionate heat; once allowed to breathe free, that faith will burn so brightly it will light the world.
And the Great Communicator, again, at the 1988 Republican Convention:
I know I’ve said this before, but I believe that God put this land between the two great oceans to be found by special people from every corner of the world who had that extra love for freedom that prompted them to leave their homeland and come to this land to make it a brilliant light beam of freedom to the world. It’s our gift to have visions, and I want to share that of a young boy who wrote to me shortly after I took office. In his letter he said, “I love America because you can join Cub Scouts if you want to. You have a right to worship as you please. If you have the ability, you can try to be anything you want to be. And I also like America because we have about 200 flavors of ice cream.” Well, truth through the eyes of a child: freedom of association, freedom of worship, freedom of hope and opportunity, and the pursuit of happiness — in this case, choosing among 200 flavors of ice cream — that’s America, everyone with his or her vision of the American promise.
[A side note: I was present for this speech in 1988, the fourth and last time that I heard Ronald Reagan speak. I was 21 years old at the time and I'll never forget it...]
I could come up with scores of other examples and you can too, if you spend a little time on the Google.
A stop at the President’s Web site, www.whitehouse.gov, indicates that the term “freedom of religion” is still commonly used at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Obama uses is here and overseas, speaking about “freedom of religion” when he spoke to a Muslim audience in Cairo in 2009.
There’s even a copy of the presidential proclamation declaring Jan. 15, 2010 to be Religious Freedom Day. In the proclamation, Barack Obama writes:
“Long before our Nation’s independence, weary settlers sought refuge on our shores to escape religious persecution on other continents. Recognizing their strife and toil, it was the genius of America’s forefathers to protect our freedom of religion, including the freedom to practice none at all. Many faiths are now practiced in our Nation’s houses of worship, and that diversity is built upon a rich tradition of religious tolerance. …Our Nation’s enduring commitment to the universal human right of religious freedom extends beyond our borders as we advocate for all who are denied the ability to choose and live their faith. My Administration will continue to oppose growing trends in many parts of the world to restrict religious expression.”
It’s clear that a not-insignificant number of evangelical Christians fear and even hate Barack Obama. A sizable number of them even believe he may be the anti-Christ. But that shouldn’t blind us to the historical record — and to Google.
And the Internet record suggests Obama’s rhetoric on freedom of religion, freedom or worship and freedom to worship is similar to past U.S. presidents from FDR to GWB.
A new poll finds that 41 percent of Americans believe Jesus Christ probably or definitely will return to earth by the year 2050. Another 46 percent say he probably or definitely won’t return by then. Thirteen percent said they don’t know either way.
For more on the poll, which was done in conjunction with Smithsonian Magazine, click here.
Christian missionaries were arrested this weekend after they attempted to share their faith with Muslims. Four missionaries to be precise. Witnessing to Muslims, you’ll recall, is a violation of sharia law.
Q. Which country did the arrests occurred in?
7.) United Arab Emirates
8.) United States (more…)
Here’s how the Executive Council summed up its meeting with Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion:
The 45-minute session on Friday with invited guest Canon Kenneth Kearon was carefully prepared for by the Standing Committee on World Mission, who wrote the thoughtful and substantive questions that made clear our commitment to being an inclusive church while also deeply committed to classic Anglicanism and deepening our relationship with our sisters and brothers across the Communion.
Canon Kearon began by describing the beginning of the current tensions as the increasing “problem of growth and diversity in the Anglican Communion.” This statement was significant to a body that has long seen diversity in the Body of Christ as an opportunity and has sought to base its actions on the baptismal promise that we will seek and serve Christ in all people and respect the dignity of every human being.
The questions sought clarification on the presenting issues, including the Archbishop of Canterbury’s removal of appointees from The Episcopal Church to ecumenical bodies and Canon Kearon’s statement that The Episcopal Church does not “share the faith and order of the vast majority of the Anglican Communion.” He also responded to concerns about incursions by other provinces of the Communion. He acknowledged that the Archbishop of Canterbury considers certain activities of the Province of the Southern Cone to constitute an incursion, but is awaiting clarification about the extent of these activities from the primate of that province. However, such ongoing breaches of the moratorium on incursions do not rise to the same level of departure from the faith and order of the Communion as does the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Christians.
The Council very much appreciated the chance to meet with Canon Kearon, who agreed to respond in writing to additional questions from members of the Council.
Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, met with members of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church today (June 18, 2010) and it wasn’t, apparently, a pleasant encounter.
Members of the Episcopal Church leadership are angry that they’ve been disciplined for ordaining an openly-lesbian bishop. Kearon told them that they should have known there’d be sanctions if they split with the rest of the Anglican Communion — again — on the issue of homosexuality, Episcopal News Servicereports.
Kearon also defended the Communion’s decision to remove Episcopal Church officials from various ecumenical dialogues, saying:
“There is a logic which says if you do not share the faith and order of the wider communion then you shouldn’t represent that communion to the wider church.”
It sounds like it was a tense meeting. Kearon asked that the meeting be private conversation. The executive council rejected his request. Kearson launched into his opening statement. The presiding bishop cut him off, telling him his time was up.
Executive council member Leelanda Lee tweeted the meeting, letting people know when Kearon had paused and stammered.
The way they treated Kearon, you’d have thought he was the chief executive officer of British Petroleum.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has encouraged Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to skip an upcoming meeting of Anglican Communion primates, Geo. Conger writes in today’s Church of England Newspaper.
The Episcopal Church faces sanctions from the broader Anglican Communion after it consecrated an openly-lesbian priest as a bishop in Los Angeles. Jefferts Schori says her denomination is following the leading of the Holy Spirit by affirming gays and lesbians.
HOT SPRINGS — A United Methodist bishop from the Democratic Republic of the Congo shared the Gospel at Arkansas’ Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church this week, and thanked the state’s Methodists for providing clean drinking water and mosquito netting to his country’s people.
Bishop Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo said lives have been saved because of the generosity of Arkansas Methodists, who have paid for 26 wells to be dug in the northern part of the Republic. Arkansas Methodists also collected more than $200,000 to buy 20,000 nets to protect sleeping Congolese from mosquito-borne malaria.
In an interview, Ntambo praised his fellow Methodists for responding to his people’s needs.
“Our suffering — they respond to it. They feel it,” he said Monday. “When we cry, they hear. When we ask, they give.”
For more from the liberal side, click here.
Days after the Archbishop of Canterbury kicked Episcopalians off of various Anglican Communion committees, the Virginia Supreme Court has sided with the Episcopal Church in its lawsuit against Virginia parishes that broke away and aligned with the Church of Nigeria. Both the Church of Nigeria and the Episcopal Church are members of the Anglican Communion. And under Virginia law, when a national or international religious society divides, Virginia congregations can decide, by majority vote, which of the factions they prefer to follow.
In this instance, however, the court ruled:
“The evidence in the record does not establish that there has been a “division” in the Anglican Communion.
The court did find that there had been a division within the diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church, but decided that the breakaway Virginia parishes had failed to affiliate with a breakaway “branch” of the diocese or Episcopal Church.
This ruling raises a lot of questions. Would the parishes have won if they had simply banded together and called themselves “Nine Parishes of Virginia Which Has Broken Away from the Virginia Diocese. Division and Branch, etc., Inc.”? Who knows.
UPDATE: Helen Thomas announced her retirement, “effective immediately,” this morning.
I’d never heard of RabbiLive.com until he posted this video interview with White House press corps dean Helen Thomas.
On hand for a Jewish heritage celebration at 1600 Pennysylvania Avenue, Thomas told a rabbi that the Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go home to Poland and Germany and elsewhere.
“Home”, the rabbi notes, is where six million Jews died in concentration camps. Israel is where the Prophet Isaiah proclaimed:
1For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
2And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.
3Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.
4Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
5For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
6I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence,
7And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
8The LORD hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine enemies; and the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast laboured:
9But they that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the LORD; and they that have brought it together shall drink it in the courts of my holiness.
10Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.
11Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
12And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken. [Isaiah 62]
Question of the day, how many more
dayshours do you think it will be before Hearst announces that its sending Ms. Thomas into retirement?
Answer: 1 hour. I posted this at 10:03 a.m CST. At 11:03 a.m., the following paragraph moved on the wires:
HELEN THOMAS ANNNOUNCES RETIREMENT
c.2010 Hearst Newspapers
WASHINGTON — Helen Thomas announced Monday that she is retiring, effective immediately.
Her decision came after her controversial comments about Israel and the Palestinians were captured on videotape and widely disseminated on the Internet.
Thomas later issued a statement: “I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that pace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.”
Thomas will mark her 90th birthday on Aug. 4.