Monday, March 24, 2003

Greetings! I'm taking a few days off. I'll be in FL... See you soon. Take care and enjoy Jesus!

Friday, March 21, 2003

Written Word
John 5:30-47: 30"I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgement is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

31"If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32There is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that his testimony to me is true. 33You sent messengers to John, and he testified to the truth. 34Not that I accept such human testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36But I have a testimony greater than John's. The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. 37And the Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf. You have never heard his voice or seen his form, 38and you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe him whom he has sent.

39"You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. 40Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. 41I do not accept glory from human beings. 42But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. 43I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? 45Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?"

Catechism: Question 82. Does your forgiveness of those who have harmed you depend on their repentance? No. I am to forgive as I have been forgiven. The gospel is the astonishing good news that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Just as God's forgiveness of me is unconditional, and so precedes my confession of sin and repentance, so my forgiveness of those who have harmed me does not depend on their confessing and repenting of their sin. However, when I forgive the person who has done me harm, giving up any resentment or desire to retaliate, I do not condone the harm that was done or excuse the evil of the sin.
· Col. 3:13 "Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive."
· Mark 11:25 "Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses."
· Col. 2:13 "When you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses."
· Matt. 18:21-22 "Then Peter came and said to him, 'Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.'"
· Heb. 12:14 "Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

dudgeon (DUHJ-uhn) noun A feeling of anger, resentment, indignation, etc.

gallimaufry (gal-uh-MAW-free) noun: hodgepodge

Quotation of the day:
'After some reasonably finite period of time, they will be gone.' - Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, concluding his first news briefing on the war against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime.

Brother! O’le Brother!
Scrutiny Continues on a Burial Box Linked to Jesus' Kin
Israelis Studying Ancient Ossuary

JERUSALEM, MARCH 20, 2003 ( The box purported to have once held the bones of "James, brother of Jesus" is now facing scrutiny by Israeli officials.

The Israeli Antiquities Authority has set up two commissions of archaeologists, geologists and language specialists to study the box, which bears the Aramaic inscription, ''James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus," the Associated Press reported.

Israeli and French scholars believe the box dates between A.D. 50 and 70. Jews used burial boxes, or ossuaries, up until about 70.

Depending on the translation of the New Testament, St. James (the Less) appears as part of Jesus' "brethren" or his "brother," and according to tradition he was the first bishop of Jerusalem. reports that Israeli Oded Golan bought the box from an antiques dealer in the 1970s and didn't realize the significance of the box until recently, when it was examined by Andre Lemaire of the Sorbonne.

Lemaire, a paleographer or expert in ancient writing, recognized the potential connection to the family of Christ. Lemaire published the finding in the November issue of the Biblical Archaeological Review magazine.

According to Biblical Archaeological Review's Web site, "Laboratory tests performed by the Geological Survey of Israel confirm that the box's limestone comes from the Jerusalem area. The patina -- a thin sheen or covering that forms on stone and other materials over time -- has the cauliflower-type shape known to develop in a cave environment; more importantly, it shows no trace of modern elements."

Paleographer Rochelle Altman stated in her "Final Report on the James Ossuary" at that while the first part of the inscription ("James son of Joseph") dates to the first century, the second part ("brother of Jesus") shows signs of being written by a different hand at a later date, which she estimated to be the third or fourth century.

Early Christians recorded their belief that James was Jesus' stepbrother in the "Protoevangelium of James," which was written in A.D. 120 -- within 60 years of James' death. According to the Protoevangelium, Joseph was an elderly widower at the time he was betrothed to Mary. He already had a family and thus was willing to become the guardian of a virgin consecrated to God.

The stepbrother hypothesis was the most common explanation of the brethren of the Lord until St. Jerome popularized the cousin hypothesis just before the year 400. Aramaic has no word for "cousin," so the word "brother" was used in its place.

Some more Old Stuff Found!
A police sting recovered North Carolina's missing US Bill of Rights document after almost 140 years, Gov. Mike Easley (D) announced Wednesday. A Philadelphia group alerted authorities after being offered the historic item for $5 million. The 13 founding colonies and newly formed federal government each got a copy at the bill's signing in 1789. North Carolina's was stolen by Union troops in the Civil War.

Humor & Insight
The New York Times: This Tiny Bird Knows an Impostor When It Hatches

For millenniums, bird species around the world have been put upon by cuckoos, duped into tending the eggs these sly birds slip into their nests and raising the chicks as their own. In response, some birds have evolved the ability to recognize cuckoo eggs, able to give even those that are quite convincing mimics of the host's eggs a good swift kick out of the nest.

But scientists have long been puzzled by the fact that no birds seemed able to ferret out the cuckoo chick once it had hatched, always treating it as if it were their own, even when the cuckoo babies were the most obvious pretenders - great awkward things, differently colored and shaped from everyone else in the nest, sometimes six times the size of their tiny adoptive parents, towering over them while begging for food.

Now, in the current issue of the journal Nature, researchers report finding that at least one bird, a dazzling creature aptly named the superb fairy-wren, has evolved the ability to recognize the cuckoo chick for what it is.

These tiny colorful birds, upon returning to a nest in which the cuckoo chick is waiting all alone (after pitching all the rightful chicks out the nest hole), simply abandon the invader, leaving it to its death.

"This has been a major enigma," said Dr. Stephen Rothstein, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara who was not involved with the study. "This paper is a real advance. It's by far the strongest and clearest evidence that birds can discriminate against cuckoo nestlings."

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Written Word
Romans 2:12-24: 12All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God's sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. 15They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them 16on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.
17But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relation to God 18and know his will and determine what is best because you are instructed in the law, 19and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth, 21you, then, that teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22You that forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You that abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You that boast in the law, do you dishonour God by breaking the law? 24For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."

Question 81. Does forgiveness mean that God condones sin? No. God does not cease to be God. Although God is merciful, God does not condone what God forgives. In the death and resurrection of Christ, God judges what God abhors -- everything hostile to love -- by abolishing it at the very roots. In this judgment the unexpected occurs: good is brought out of evil, hope out of hopelessness, and life out of death. God spares sinners, and turns them from enemies into friends. The uncompromising judgment of God is revealed in the suffering love of the cross.
· Hab. 1:13 "Your eyes are too pure to behold evil, and you cannot look on wrongdoing; why do you look on the treacherous, and are silent when the wicked swallow those more righteous than they?"
· Is. 59:15 "The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice."
· Heb. 9:22 "Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins."
· Rom. 5:8-10 "But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life."
· 1 Chron. 16:33 "Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth."

ameliorate (uh-MEEL-yuh-rayt) verb 1: to make better or more tolerable 2: to grow better

emprise (em-PRYZ) noun 1. A chivalrous or adventurous enterprise 2. Chivalrous daring or skill.

Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do. -- Bertrand Russell

The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time. - Friedrich Nietzsche

A bore is a man who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company. - Gian Vincenzo Gravina

Movie Option:
To End All Wars is a film about redemption in the midst of suffering, and forgiveness in the face of great brutality. Based on the book written by late chaplain of Princeton University, Ernest Gordon, To End All Wars tells the true story of four allied prisoners of war and their struggle to find the grace to forgive in the most unlikely of places. It is World War II, and Ernest Gordon is one of several prisoners of war who are being held by enemy soldiers in Thailand. Forced by their captors to build a railroad through the Burmese jungle, these men are subjected to great brutality, poor working conditions, and malnutrition. As they suffer daily, waiting without hope for deliverance, the film's narrator faces questions that will change his life: What is the proper response to injustice? Who is my neighbor? The film is unrelenting and honest in the brutality it portrays-and the result is a portrait of forgiveness that is all the more surprising and meaningful. The film includes glimpses of grace in the midst of the suffering. As the prisoners struggle to find hope in the face of persecution, Ernest and his allied prisoners of war start a school of the liberal arts. They rediscover dignity in literature, music, and the arts, and ultimately are saved from hopelessness through their care for each other. In their studies they begin to face the reality that hatred makes us all capable of brutality and none of us is far removed from the enemy. This naturally overflows in their actions as they alternate between the desire for justice and the command to show mercy to the enemy. Some of them want to kill their captors and flee; however, the example of one soldier who lays down his life daily for his brothers, and even for the one who betrays him, demonstrates the transforming power that can result from forgiveness. This portrait of forgiveness culminates in the final scene when the real Ernest Gordon and one of his former captors, Noguchi, reunite. Years after the war, they embrace in a deeply moving image of reconciliation.

To End All Wars is being funded and launched independently-and so it needs the benefit of a word of mouth campaign. So far it has won recognition in film festivals and praise in critical reviews nationwide. The cast, including CiarĂ¡n McMenamin, Kiefer Sutherland, and Robert Carlyle, deliver sensitive performances, each adding emotional pull to the telling of this true story. With a beautiful soundtrack and creative cinematography, the film not only takes you into the midst of the prison camp, but sensitively portrays the situation in such a way that these alternatively brutal and miraculous scenes provide unforgettable resonances with the viewer. Directed and produced independently by David L. Cunningham and Jack Hafer, To End All Wars is currently showing in Phoenix, and will be opening successively around the country, beginning with a number of new openings at the end of March. Check the website for the latest and upcoming release locations and to find out more about the film:

Bulletin: 'War Looms in Mordor'
CNN meets Lord of the Rings

As war with Mordor looms on the edge of the horizon, peace protestors gathered today before the Black Gate in a demonstration against the actions of Gandalf the Wizard and the Fellowship of the Willing.

“We’re here because we believe that war is wrong,” said Eldohil, president of Elves for Peace. Pointing to the Dagorlad before him, he said, “This very place is a testimony to the uselessness and destruction of war.”

Protestors carried signs that said “Peace for Middle-Earth” and “Who would Iluvatar kill?” Elsewhere Gondorians paraded through the streets of Minas Tirith in opposition to the Lord Denethor’s support of the Fellowship of the Willing.

All this is in light of Chief Secretary Frodo Baggins’ speech before the White Council last week, in which he outlined the case against Mordor.

Secretary Baggins presented never before revealed evidence regarding the Dark Lord Sauron’s aggressive military buildup. He presented diagrams of the refortifications of Barad-Dur, the chief stronghold of the Dark Lord, and of new fortifications within the Ash Mountains and the Mountains of Shadow.

Baggins also argued strongly that Sauron has been aiding and abetting Easterlings and Haradians. But perhaps most surprising was his revelation of the One Ring, evidence that the Fellowship of the Willing sees as incontrovertible proof of Sauron’s desire to dominate Middle-Earth.

This revelation seemed to excite the nine black-robed delegates of Mordor, who promptly began to scream and chase Secretary Baggins around the chamber until they were subdued.

Despite the strong case made by Secretary Baggins, Rivendell and Lothlorien, longtime allies of the Fellowship of the Willing, still expressed their unwillingness to go to war against Mordor.

“We believe that this conflict can still be resolved peacefully,” said Haldir, White Council delegate from Lothlorien. “We believe it is important that Gandalf the Wizard have the full support of Middle-Earth before entering into any armed conflict with Sauron.”

The delegation from Rivendell offered no comments, only saying that the Lord Elrond was in the middle of talks with Gandalf.

In response to the statements of its allies, the Fellowship of the Willing stressed the danger of delay and the need for strong action against Mordor.

“Sauron has had 3,000 years to disarm, time enough to comply with the demands of the White Council,” said Gandalf the Wizard. “Sauron is not disarming; he is deceiving.”

Meanwhile, the Fellowship of the Willing continues to buildup its military presence around Mordor. Commander Elessar, in charge of the Fellowship’s armed forces, has said that the Fellowship will be ready for war if the word comes.

“Our soldiers are prepared to complete their mission,” he said in a recent press conference at the White Tower, the Fellowship’s military command center. Also providing military support in the event of war are the Fellowship’s allies Rohan and Gondor.

Anti-war activists say that they are planning to continue their protests.

“Gandalf the Wizard is nothing but a bully who wants to control all Middle-Earth, even if that means destroying innocent orcs. We want to make that known, and we will not stop protesting until we are heard,” said Firnor Greenleaf, 2,634, of Mirkwood.

The White Council is expected to vote on a new resolution regarding Mordor next week. Diplomats from the Fellowship will spend the weekend meeting with representatives from Rivendell and Lothlorien in order to convince them to support the resolution. -- Chris Yokel

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Written Word
John 5:1-18: 1After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. 3In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralysed. 5One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be made well?" 7The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me." 8Jesus said to him, "Stand up, take your mat and walk." 9At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
Now that day was a sabbath. 10So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, "It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat." 11But he answered them, "The man who made me well said to me, 'Take up your mat and walk.'" 12They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Take it up and walk'?" 13Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. 14Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, "See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you." 15The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath. 17But Jesus answered them, "My Father is still working, and I also am working." 18For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.

Question 80. What do you mean when you speak of "the forgiveness of sins?
That because of Jesus Christ, God no longer holds my sins against me. Christ alone is my righteousness and my life; Christ is my only hope. Grace alone, not my merits, is the basis on which God has forgiven me in him. Faith alone, not my works, is the means by which I receive Christ into my heart, and with him the forgiveness that makes me whole. Christ alone, grace alone, and faith alone bring the forgiveness I receive through the gospel.
· 1 Cor. 1:30 "Christ Jesusbecame for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption."
· 1 Tim. 1:1 "Paul, an apostleby the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope."
· Rom. 11:6 "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace."
· Eph. 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God."
· Rom. 5:15 "But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man's trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many."
· Rom. 4:16 "For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham."
· Rom. 3:28 "For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law."

soporific (sah-puh-RIH-fik) adjective 1 a : causing or tending to cause sleep b : tending to dull awareness or alertness 2 : of, relating to, or marked by sleepiness or lethargy

quietus (kwy-EE-tuhs) noun 1. A final stroke that settles something. 2. Discharge from life; death. 3. A release from a duty or debt.

Here, have a slice of bread: And this just in from the political correctness front: Hot cross buns are not to be served at schools across Britain this Easter season, per order of local authorities. Why? Because, although the practice is a tradition with ancient roots, the buns are a small symbol of Christianity that might make pupils of other faiths or their parents uncomfortable. Said a Church of England spokesman, sadly: "It's difficult to understand how anything [associated with] the celebration of Easter can create so much offense."

What soft drink was invented in 1886 (the same year as Coca-Cola)?
A. Dr Pepper
B. Royal Crown Cola
C. 7-Up
D. Nehi

Ans: A

Babies cry, but don't shed tears until they're about two months of age.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Good News!

Written Word
Romans 1:16-25: 16For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "The one who is righteous will live by faith."
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21for though they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.

Question 79. Who may receive the Lord's Supper?
All baptized Christians who rejoice in so great a gift, who confess their sins, and who draw near with faith intending to lead a new life, may receive the Lord's Supper. This includes baptized children who have expressed a desire to participate, and who have been instructed in the meaning of the sacrament in a way they can understand.
· Luke 13:29 "Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God."
· 1 Cor. 11:28 "Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup."
· Phil. 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice."

legerity (luh-JAIR-uh-tee) noun: alert facile quickness of mind or body

douceur (doo-SUHR) noun: A tip or bribe.

"In this century, when evil men plot chemical, biological and nuclear terror, a policy of appeasement could bring destruction of a kind never before seen on this earth. Terrorists and terrorist states do not reveal these threats with fair notice in formal declarations. And responding to such enemies only after they have struck first is not self defense. It is suicide. The security of the world requires disarming Saddam Hussein now." PRESIDENT BUSH

Building Your Brain - Literally: Ever wish you could improve your memory? Neuroscience may soon be ready to help. A team of scientists led by Theodore Berger of the University of Southern California is about to begin testing an artificial hippocampus, the world's first brain prosthesis. The device, a silicon chip implant, aims to perform the primary function of a healthy hippocampus, the part of the brain that encodes experiences for storage as long-term memories. After spending nearly 10 years building their chip, Berger and his team will soon test it on tissues from rats' brains. If all goes well, they'll move on to live animal tests. Ultimately, they hope the device will help humans whose brains have been damaged through accident or disease. Perhaps someday a similar device might even help you remember where you left your car keys. -- Hard-wire your brain at

Thieves need a Bible lesson! Pastor Stig Laegdene knows the Ten Commandments, including No. 8: "Thou shalt not steal." Car thieves in his neighborhood, however, seemed to have skipped it.
Laegdene, a Lutheran pastor who preaches to small-time criminals and others on the streets of Tromsoe, 1,100 miles north of the capital, Oslo, had his car stolen twice last week. "I know hundreds of criminals, but I don't know if it was 'my criminals' who stole my car this time," Laegdene told The Associated Press Sunday.
Since he started preaching in Tromsoe, his 1986 Saab 900 has been stolen seven times. It's typically returned - or someone tells him where to pick it up - the next day after word gets out about its owner."When they find it was my car, I get it back," he said, usually in the same condition.
The last time it was stolen, March 12, his car was returned to him with nearly everything in it, including his robe. Missing was a bottle of wine and a sheaf of his sermons. "I hope they read them," he said of the thieves. "They were pretty good." -- Web Smarts

Monday, March 17, 2003

sinuous \SIN-yuh-wus\ adjective

a : of a serpentine or wavy form: winding
b : marked by strong lithe (supple, effortless grace) movements

instauration (in-sto-RAY-shuhn) noun

1. Renewal; renovation; restoration.
2. An act of founding or establishing something.

We need you to be there!

If you're Filipino and a Roman Catholic - and at least 80 percent of the nation's people are - what may you no longer do? Answer: make confession via cell phone. Or fax. Or e-mail. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has decreed that only the traditional way of repenting to a priest - in person - protects one's confidentiality. Filipinos are among the world's most avid users of text messaging.

Is Bush Too Christian? Or Not Enough?
Scrutiny over Religion's Role in U.S. Foreign Policy

WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 15, 2003 ( The United States is governed by a dangerous religious fanatic. That's how many opinion writers, domestic and foreign, are describing President George W. Bush.

For Georgie Anne Geyer, writing in the Chicago Tribune on March 7, the president's intention to invade Iraq "is based primarily on religious obsession and visions of personal grandiosity."

"The president of the United States of America," she alleged, "sees himself as part of God's divine plan."

Newsweek dedicated its March 10 cover to Bush's religiosity. And in a separate opinion article, Martin E. Marty acknowledged that "few doubt that Bush is sincere in his faith," but fretted about the president's "evident conviction that he's doing God's will."

Likewise, Jackson Lears, in a March 11 opinion article for the New York Times, worried that Bush's certitude about his carrying out "divine purpose" can promote dangerous simplifications and "slide into self-righteousness." As Lears sees it at the White House, "faith in Providence frees one from having to consider the role of chance in armed conflict, the least predictable of human affairs. Between divine will and American know-how, we have everything under control."

In the London Times on March 1, Stephen Plant wrote: "Bush's supporters have inherited the idea of manifest destiny. For them war on Iraq is not about oil, it is America's next date with salvation."

These and similar criticisms have not gone unanswered, even by Bush foes. In the New York Post on Feb. 18, E.J. Dionne noted that he doesn't have problems in criticizing the president. But he added: "Can we please stop pretending that Bush's regular invocations of the Almighty make him some sort of strange religious fanatic? In this, he is much more typically presidential than he's painted, especially by our friends abroad."

In a Business Week Online commentary, Stan Crock admitted he was not always in agreement over the president's use of religious language, but disagreed that religious fanaticism is behind White House strategy. One of the administration's leading strategists on Iraq, he observed, is Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a Jew. And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not "speaking in tongues as he talks to General Tommy Franks about war plans."

Fred Barnes, in the March 17 issue of the Weekly Standard, explained that while Bush readily invokes God, he avoids mention of Jesus Christ, and calls for tolerance of all faiths. "His comments have been confined to four specific areas: comforting people in grief, citing faith's ability to improve lives, commenting on the mysterious ways of providence, and mentioning God's concern for humanity."

Road map of statecraft

Yet, some commentaries contend that Bush is setting a dangerous precedent by allowing his faith to influence foreign policy. But even if Christian principles are behind his decisions, this would be nothing new for the country.

Religion and foreign policy, in fact, have long been entwined in the United States, notes Leo P. Ribuffo in a collection of essays, "The Influence of Faith: Religious Groups and U.S. Foreign Policy," edited by Elliott Abrams and published in 2001. Ribuffo, a history professor at George Washington University, explained that foreign policy debates throughout the 19th century included religious themes such as a desire to spread Christianity and fears over undue Catholic influence.

In 1898, President William McKinley told Congress that intervention in Cuba would fulfill American aspirations as a "Christian, peace-loving people," quoted Ribuffo. During World War I a pair of prominent Presbyterians -- President Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan -- were "convinced that the United States had a special mission in the world," the essay noted.

Religion continued to play a part in foreign policy debates during World War II and beyond. Yet Ribuffo believes that religion had more of an indirect, and not a determining, role in foreign policy.

In another essay, Harvard professor Samuel Huntington affirms that "politics and religion cannot be disentangled." He notes the high correlation between Christianity and democracy. In many Christian and non-Christian countries, he observes, religion is central to a nation's identity, in both positive and negative forms.

Conventional wisdom in past decades has argued that U.S. foreign policy should avoid entanglement with religion, observed Mark Amstutz, political science professor at Wheaton College. But religion and religious institutions still play a vital role in people's lives. Churches and faith-based organizations also play a role, albeit indirect, in foreign policy, concludes Amstutz. Through offering ethical perspectives and moral values, churches and religious organizations can help formulate a foreign policy "road map," he notes.

A previous collection of essays, published in 1994, agreed that basing U.S. foreign policy on purely material and secular grounds, while ignoring the importance that religion plays in many countries, is a big mistake. In "Religion, the Missing Dimension of Statecraft," experts such as Edward Luttwak and Barry Rubin called for greater focus on the role of religious factors by those responsible for determining foreign policy.

To say that President Bush is motivated in part by his Christian faith does not mean that he is pursuing a policy dictated by the churches. The president worships in the Methodist Church. But, in the opinion of Bishop Melvin Talbert, the United Methodists' top ecumenical official, expressed in a Newsweek online interview March 7, "it's clear to us that he is not following the teachings of his own church or the teachings of churches that believe in a 'just war' theory."

Nor does Bush's religious belief mean that Christians will necessarily agree on political strategy. Former President Jimmy Carter, well known for his invocation of Christian principles when in power, expressed his strong disagreement with the U.S. policy regarding Iraq, in a New York Times article March 9.

Paradoxically, Bush's policy on Iraq is being strongly criticized for ignoring moral principles, while at the same time secular commentators attack him for being a religious fanatic.

Outside observers can only speculate as to how much weight religion plays in the president's decisions. What is clear is that he finds in his faith a source of personal and moral comfort and strength, along with a series of principles that help guide his actions. Other considerations -- political, economic, military, etc. -- also play a role in decisions, of course.

To argue that a politician should decide policy in a religious and moral vacuum is to ignore long-standing American traditions of its presidents and political leaders who have frequently used religious language.

Moreover, seeking to deny the legitimacy of a Christian's political involvement because of his convictions about the common good is a form of "intolerant secularism," observed the doctrinal note on religion and politicians, recently published by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Marginalizing Christianity "would threaten the very spiritual and cultural foundations of civilization," it said.

In his address Jan. 13 to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, John Paul II observed: "In effect, the indispensable professional competence of political leaders can find no legitimation unless it is connected to strong moral convictions." Many Christian leaders -- who think U.S. policy toward Iraq needs more religious input, not less -- might agree on that point.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

What a Riot!

Pilgrims from all over the world had filled the Temple Mount, coming to celebrate the Jewish feast of Passover. They were told that there was a man, Jesus of Nazareth, who was blaspheming God by claiming that he was the Christ, the Son of God, & by saying that not only had he come down from heaven, but that he was also going back into heaven. They were told that he said he was the light of the world & the way, the truth & the life, the living bread & the living water. They were told that he claimed to have the power to forgive sins, a power that only God has. In fact, they heard that he claimed to be God: I and my Father are One!

This Jesus irritated the Jews. He refused to keep the traditions of the elders & freely associating with sinners & publicans. He was very popular, but the Jewish authorities arrested him & tried him. Then they brought him before the governor of Rome, Pontius Pilate, to be tried, & it was there that this riot began.

Pilate wanted to let Jesus go. In Matt 27:15-16 we read, "Now it was the governor’s custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas." And in vv 20-23 we read, "The chief priests & the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas & to have Jesus executed. ‘Which of the two do you want me to release to you?’ asked the governor. ‘Barabbas,’ they answered. ‘What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?’ Pilate asked. They all answered, ’Crucify him!’ ‘Why? What crime has he committed?’ asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, ‘Crucify him!’"

This riot was instrumental in leading to the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ. After he died on the cross, he was buried & the authorities secured his tomb with a seal. But on the third day this Jesus rose from the dead, as he had promised, & by his death & resurrection, he defeated death, hell, Satan, sin, demons, & all evil. He lives today and grants salvation to all who believe and call upon his name.

Jesus Christ is Savior & Lord and of the increase of his government there shall be no end. The spread & victory of the gospel is inevitable. How will you respond to the gospel invitation today? Revival or riot?

Friday, March 14, 2003

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). What is worship? Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of that most ancient Mystery, that Majesty which philosophers call the First Cause, but which we call Our Father Which Are in Heaven. -- A.W. Tozer

"All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them." (Galileo Galilei)

The Word of the Day: cap-a-pie \kap-uh-PEE\ adverb: from head to foot

A buggy problem! City councilors in Boston are resolving not to let the bedbugs bite. After a concerned citizen brought a bowl full of bedbugs to a Boston City Council meeting to prove a point about the critters' rising numbers, councilors promised to wage a citywide battle against the bloodsucking parasites.

"People might say, 'It's not my problem,' but they could be hopping into your bed next," said Councilor Jerry McDermott.

In two weeks, the city council plans to meet to find out whether bedbugs are increasing in the city, and discuss how to prevent and eliminate them.

Bedbugs - cimex lectularius - live in clothing, books, and furniture.

The person who brought bedbugs to the council meeting called them a "growing problem" for the city's renters and others who buy used furniture, said McDermott, who proposed the bedbug hearing. "Of course we'll have an expeditious hearing," said Councilor John Tobin. "As long as you don't keep bugging us about it."

Refugees from West Africa's civil wars - in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ivory Coast - converge on Guinea's teeming camps. Many dream of home; F.A. has none. CAROLINE MOOREHEAD hears his story.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

"In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell

“Every law is an evil, for every law is an infraction of liberty.”
Jeremy Bentham --Principles of Morals and Legislation

Prayer for our Country
Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly ask you that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with upright industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion us into one united people. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in your Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may show into view your praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in you to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pet pal preferences: The truth about cats and dogs…
Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of US households - or 64.2 million - include pets, according to the latest survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. That's up more than 10 million from a decade ago. What's more, the industry trade group estimates that pet owners will spend $31 billion this year to care for - or just to pamper - the furry, feathered, or scaly critters. As to favored creature companions, fish had the highest overall tally since most tanks hold a community. The US's most popular pets (in millions), according to the APPMA:
1. Freshwater fish 185 million
2. Cats 77.7
3. Dogs 65.0
4. Birds 17.3
5. Small animals (guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, etc.) 16.8
6. Reptiles 8.8
7. Saltwater fish 7.0
- PR Newswire

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

BBC News: Reality TV, featuring God... online
A dozen Biblical characters, and animals two-by-two

Reality TV has been damned as mindless cultural fluff, but an internet-based
contest aims to raise the philosophical bar, throwing 12 strangers together
on the Ark with God Almighty at the helm.

While those in the Big Brother house had just a few chickens to keep alive
and coax into laying eggs, the Divine Dozen selected for a new internet
reality contest will have to care for two of every animal under the sun.

The Ark - setting virtual sail on Easter Sunday - is billed as 40 days and
40 nights of games, challenges, topical discussions and arguments about
mucking out the gorillas: "Theology meets showbiz meets cowpats - and there
are no lifeboats"

A shipmate will be voted off by visitors to the site every fourth day and at
voyage's end, one passenger will step onto dry land to pick up a "handsome"
cash prize - £666.

For those who assume that mixing religion and pop culture is an idea doomed
to failure, the project's creators have already successfully re-invented The
Simpsons' often mocked Ned Flanders as a positive role model for Christians.

Not content with that, the satirical religious webzine Ship of Fools has
also just launched (in a "baptism of fur") the Rowan Bear - a cuddly teddy
homage to the hirsute Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

March 16th is the Second Sunday in Lent. I'm not sure if such information reflects very deeply the soul in realtion to one's faith. It may help or hender the process and growth of true faith. this is only a test. Try Psalm 42 this week!