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

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