Huckabee, a Southern Baptist pastor, hopes to reach more than just evangelicals this time around – Christian News – Jerusalem Post

“Washington is more dysfunctional than ever and has become so beholden to the donor class who fills the campaign coffers” Huckabee said during his campaign announcement on Tuesday.

Source: Huckabee, a Southern Baptist pastor, hopes to reach more than just evangelicals this time around – Christian News – Jerusalem Post


Atlanta First UMC

Charles Z Gardner shared a link.
If you are looking for some inspiration this Holy Week, take 5 minutes and watch/listen to Ted and Ariel‘s anthem from this past Sunday. It is amazing!
“Because He Lives” – Palm Sunday 4/13/14 Offertory
The offertory from our April 14, 2014 Palm Sunday worship service. “Because He Lives,” arr. Merivil/Jenifer. Performed by Ted Jenifer, Baritone, and Ariel Me…

Vatican Chief Justice: Obama’s Policies ‘Have Become Progressively More Hostile Toward Christian Civilization’


March 24, 2014 11:14 AM

 Cardinal Leo Raymond Burke walks on St Peter's square after a cardinals' meeting on the eve of the start of a conclave on March 11, 2013 at the Vatican. (credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

Cardinal Leo Raymond Burke walks on St Peter’s square after a cardinals’ meeting on the eve of the start of a conclave on March 11, 2013 at the Vatican. (credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

VATICAN CITY (CBS St. Louis) — The Vatican’s chief justice feels that President Barack Obama’s policies have been hostile toward Christians.

In an interview with Polonia Christiana magazine –and transcribed by Life Site News — Cardinal Raymond Burke said that Obama “promotes anti-life and anti-family policies.”

“It is true that the policies of the president of the United States have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization. He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies,” Burke told the magazine.

The former archbishop of St. Louis stated that Obama is trying to “restrict” religion.

“Now he wants to restrict the exercise of the freedom of religion to freedom of worship, that is, he holds that one is free to act according to his conscience within the confines of his place of worship but that, once the person leaves the place of worship, the government can constrain him to act against his rightly-formed conscience, even in the most serious of moral questions,” Burke said.

Burke took a swipe against Obama’s Affordable Care Act over the law’s birth control mandate, saying “such policies would have been unimaginable in the United States even 40 years ago.”

“In a democracy, such a lack of awareness is deadly,” Burke told the magazine. “It leads to the loss of the freedom which a democratic government exists to protect. It is my hope that more and more of my fellow citizens, as they realize what is happening, will insist on electing leaders who respect the truth of the moral law as it is respected in the founding principles of our nation.”

Burke also believes there is hope that abortion will be overturned in the U.S.

“There is hope that the evil anti-life laws of the United States can be overthrown and that the anti-life movement which urges yet more of such legislation can be resisted,” Burke said. “The pro-life movement in the United States has been working since 1973 to reverse the unjust decision of the Supreme Court which struck down state laws prohibiting procured abortion. It is true that the Supreme Court decision stands, but it is also true that the pro-life movement has grown ever stronger in the United States, that is, that more and more citizens, especially young citizens, have been awakened to the truth about the grave evil of procured abortion.”

Pope Francis removed Burke from the Congregation for Bishops last December.

Obama will be meeting Pope Francis for the first time at the Vatican on Thursday.


Can you love someone with words alone? From Walt Disney to God’s touch in the sacraments

Filed in Arts by  on February 26, 2014 • 2 Comments

frozen from http://lin1130.deviantart.com/art/Meet-elsa-frozen-385081338

I have just seen two great films in twenty four hours: Her, a dystopian sci-fi vision of a very near future, and Disney’s Frozen, which goes into my top three films of the year. Very different films but both with an interest in the nature and quality of love.

One of the questions that Her asks is whether we can really love another in a disembodied way. Are words on their own ever enough? Can the chat room, the text, the love poem or letter ever be a substitute for being in the physical presence of another and loving them as bodily creatures? If love is to be real, truthful and not reduced to a virtual reality, does it not have to be expressed in a sensual, physical form?

Frozen provides its own answer using a familiar fairytale motif: the icy heart of the princess can only be healed by a kiss from someone who really loves her. The truest love must be expressed in a physical way if we are to be restored to fullness of life. This may appear an unsophisticated, romantic answer but it is also a compelling one that has captured the human imagination from the earliest times. It’s also one that is corroborated by human experience.

Last week, I met with a husband to discuss the funeral of his late wife. He had cared for her throughout her long illness. He didn’t do it by text or phone call, he did it by buying an inflatable mattress so that he could lie by her bedside during the final weeks of her time in hospital.

He told me:

Before I met Ann, I was a cynical, grumpy old man who didn’t believe I could be loved. She saved me from this. She loved me and I loved her

Their vocation of love as husband and wife realised itself in the bodiliness of their relationship.

These films reminded me that Catholicism is a fleshy religion. This fleshiness provides an essential aid to our experience of God’s love. The Incarnation, the second person of the Trinity taking human flesh out of love for us, is the primary expression of this.

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life (1 John 1:1)

The ancient rumours of God’s love became physically real in Jesus Christ.

But it’s not just in theological terms that this is evident. The way Catholics worship is physical: we kneel, sit, bow, genuflect, prostrate, cross ourselves and so on. The necessary desire to love God is embedded in our bodies. Catholics are not spiritual dualists. When we pray and worship this desire of our hearts surfaces and becomes a physical reality.

All this is most clearly expressed in the sacramental, symbolic realm that God has gifted us. Words have a hugely significant role in God’s communication of his love for us. But these only become effective and God’s presence known when they become physically real. Water, oil, bread, wine, the laying on of hands, the exchanging of sacred vows that cannot be done by Skype, are the physical mediums by which God’s love becomes transparent.

Without the sacraments, God’s love would exist but it would remain remote to us – an intimation, a flirtation, something at the periphery of our vision. With the sacraments, divine love is revealed to us in a way that is intimate, mysterious and personal. God becomes a real presence rather than an abstract logarithim of love.

At the age of fifty, the American writer, Andre Dubus, was left paralysed following a car accident. He spent the remainder of his life in a wheelchair. His writing aches with the loss of his physical mobility and, at the same time, becomes more sensitive to the sensual world. In his beautiful essay, Bodily Powers, he described how in the daily reception of the Eucharist he regained his “physical contact with God”:

This morning, after struggling with two doors to get into the church, I settled in my chair and watched the priest lifting the unleavened bread and saying, “This is my body”; lifting the chalice of wine, saying, “This is my blood of the new covenant”…and peace of mind came to me and, yes, happiness too, for I was no longer a broken body, alone in my chair. I was me, all of me, in wholeness of spirit. The old man assisting the priest handed me the host, and I placed it in my mouth and was in harmony with the old man, the priest, the walking communicants passing me and my chair to receive the Eucharist; one with all people in pain and joy and passion, one with the physical universe, with Christ, with the timeless dimension of the spirit, which has no past or future but only now; one with God.


On blaming us or them: a multi-cultural perspective

Window on Israel

Monday Feb 24, 2014

On blaming us or them: a multi-cultural perspective


Israelis have been seeking accommodation for decades, depending on when you start counting, first with Arabs and later with Palestinians.

It is common, and perhaps justified, for Israelis and our friends to blame the Arabs for intransigence as well as violence.
That is a cultural perspective, one that sees Israelis with a prior claim, earned by purchase, settlement, military success and development, enhanced by attitudes and behaviors that value human life and oppose bloodshed as a means of settling disputes.
Those are not, alas, the Muslim ways or perspectives.
Attributing nasty motives and practices to Muslims does not accord with the fashion of the politically correct. From a naive perspective, mandatory among western politicians, we’re all the same.
But we aren’t all the same. Culture matters. In the larger picture, it ranks high among what determines how we think, how we perceive history, and how we act.
There is a cultural fault line a few meters from my home.
We’re different. We don’t have to insist on being better.
A multi-cultural perspective recognizes the differences, without necessarily demanding that one cave in to the other.
Blame is irrelevant, except as part of a political campaign to justify oneself.
Both sides practice the blame game.
It may be inherent in the human condition, but it helps to know what we are doing.
Along with the narratives associated with each side, there is no shortage of controversy about what happened, who did what, with what justification. History is a slippery craft, dependent on perspective, and more properly assigned to the fuzzy Faculty of Humanities rather than to the more exact Social Sciences.
I can have Palestinian friends, with whom share to a considerable extent a common understanding as well as friendship, and still recognize that most Palestinians are different from most of us.
Over the course of decades, and almost one decade since the last wave of Palestinian violence petered out, Israeli and Palestinians of the West Bank have reached an imperfect accommodation, with the help of Americans and Jordanians who have trained Palestinian security personnel, only some of whom have gone bad. That may be the best we can do given the cultural differences, and the contrasting narratives widely accepted by each population.
There are fewer security barriers, more interaction and commerce with the West Bank if not with the more violent and rejectionist people of Gaza.
Too many Americans, including some who in or close to the White House, haven’t learned the realities, and may be doing more harm that good.
Kerry and his team have prompted the extremists of each side to express their reservations, perhaps out of fear that their leaders are close to concessions. Those reservations, and even louder noises from each camp, make it unlikely that Israeli or Palestinian leaders can agree to whatever it is that Kerry has in mind.
The leaders themselves may not want to make the concessions demanded, and may be relying on associates to express their rejections, while they prefer to avoid having to affront Kerry in any explicit fashion.
Some Jews and even more Palestinians have turned to violence, with the people of Gaza saying that the armed struggle is the only way for them.
Whatever the source or the nature of each party’s politics, the process may get in the way of further accommodation, and cause reversals from the status quo.
Another wave of Palestinian violence will produce Israeli responses aimed at the uprising and perhaps more extensive, along with a re-imposition of roadblocks, inspections, and other nastiness.
It is not appropriate for an Israeli to put on rose colored glasses. Israel faces unknown numbers of Palestinian and other Islamic movements for whom the destruction of Israel is high priority and a cause for their excitement. There are also an unknown number of individuals–not part of organized movements– set on revenge for Israel’s violation of their personal norms or the injury, death, or incarceration of family members.
The prominence of the blame game in the case of Israel and Palestine derives much of its energy from centuries of religious rivalry focused on Jerusalem and its hinterland. The intensity has increased with modern Jewish immigration, the Balfour Declaration, and the establishment of Israel.
Jewish Diasporas and Muslim religious and political leaders have been prominent sources of the rhetoric, as well as finance and other assistance directed at development or warfare.
Since the latter part of the 19th century, the norms of democracy have developed to free western Jews from the incentive to convert in order to attain their professional aspirations. Well-to-do Jews aid the Jews of Israel, and advance the Israeli cause in their national politics.
Arabs have used their oil, the masses of troops they employed from 1948 through 1973, and their votes in international forums.
Christians have wavered from being interested outsiders to active promoters of their own favored solutions. Currently they are competing with one another with pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian narratives.
The basic reason for Israelis to defend themselves may take some energy from the millennia of rhetoric, but is essentially much simpler.
Israel’s existence is reason enough, including what has been developed, and the sanctity of Israeli lives..People in need of more can add what they will by way of God’s promise, or what they think happened in the past, including the assessment of blame..
None of that is as important than what exists, which is as worth defending as what exists in any other western democracy.


A round-up of religious news from around the world

Faith in brief

Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe has criticised the design of a Russian Orthodox church on the banks of the Seine
Francois Mori
  • Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe has criticised the design of a Russian Orthodox church on the banks of the Seine Francois Mori
Bess Twiston Davies

A round-up of religious news from around the world

Mayor of Paris criticises design for new church

The Mayor of Paris has criticised the design for a Russian Orthodox church planned on the banks of the River Seine as an example of “hodge-podge architecture” unworthy of display near the Eiffel Tower. Bertand Delanoe has asked Unesco, which granted World Heritage Site status to the banks of the Seine, to intervene. The plans for a white church with five gold domes topped by a wavy glass roof were approved by the French and Russian Governments in 2010. M. Delanoe was not consulted.

Islamist parties of Algeria unite for election

The three main Islamist parties of Algeria are to run as an alliance in the country’s elections this May. The al-Nhada and al-Islah parties are to join the Movement of Society for Peace, the largest Islamist party in Algeria. Abou Djara Soltani, speaking for the Movement for Society and Peace, invited like-minded parties to join the alliance saying it would “give the best possible chance for the Arab Spring to happen in Algeria as well”.

Religious belief ‘gently squeezed in public life

A new report says that religious belief is being “gently squeezed” from public life in Britain, but adds that Christians do not face persecution. Clearing the Ground was launched in Westminster on Monday. Produced by a cross-party group of Christian MPs, the report highlights “a narrowing of the space for the articulation, expression and demonstration of Christian belief” caused by legal and cultural changes over the past decade.

Oxford alumnus protests against Christian Concern

An Oxford graduate has returned his degree in protest at his college agreeing to host a conference run by a Christian group which does not favour gay rights. Michael Amherst, who read English at Exeter College, acted in protest against a conference organised by the Wilberforce Academy – which is run in association with Christian Concern, reports Pink News. Christian Concern founder, Andrea Minichiello Williams, said: “Homosexuals are displaying an extraordinary intolerance for us and freedom of thought. We are motivated by love and compassion for all people. Everyone seems to forget Oxford University was founded by Christians.”

Christians questioned on climate change

The Christian Census on Climate Change has launched its latest survey. Believers are invited to answer 12 questions, such as “What percentage of climate change do you think may be due to human activities?” and “What percentage of the world’s population could survive on a 5 degree Celsius average temperature rise? The deadline for completing the poll, which can be found at www.CConCC.wikispaces.com, is the end of March. The results will be released on April 21 in York Minister.