Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Abortion in the U.S.

The U.S. abortion rate has been dropping since 1990, but abortion remains one of the most common surgical procedures for women. A quarter of all pregnancies end in abortion. A third of all American women will have had an abortion by the age of 45, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. Who has abortions By age: Under 15: 1% 15-19: 19% 20-24: 33% 25-29: 23% 30-34: 13% 35-39: 8% 40-44: 3% -- Abortions by gestational age (Weeks of gestation at time of abortion) BTRBTRBTRBTRBTRBTR
Less than 9 59.1%
9-10 19.0%
11-12 10.0%
13-15 6.2%
16-20 4.3%
21-plus 1.4%
The normal gestation period is about 40 weeks Sources: LATimes, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Guttmacher Institute,

Saturday, November 26, 2005

ETs, U.F.O.s and "The Bush Administration"

Is this for real or people have nothing left against the Bush administration other than the UFOs? A former Canadian Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister under Pierre Trudeau has joined forces with three Non-governmental organizations to ask the Parliament of Canada to hold public hearings on Exopolitics -- relations with “ETs.” ...Paul Hellyer warned,"The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."... [Read the rest]

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanks Giving

Can we read this document in public, in present day USA?; especially in public schools? Mmmmm.....
[New York, 3 October 1789]
By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation. Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor--and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness." Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be--That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us. and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions--to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best. Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789. (signed) G. Washington

Friday, November 11, 2005

International Religious Freedom Report 2005

Flecktones Returning With 'Hidden Land'

November 04, 2005, 10:50 AM ET Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones will return Jan. 31 with "The Hiddden Land," the quartet's first Columbia studio album since 2003's "Little Worlds." The Flecktones spent 2005 on hiatus while group leader Bela Fleck pursued a variety of other projects. For "Hidden Land," the group gathered at Fleck's home studio in Nashville and quickly began working on ideas. For the song "P'lod," Fleck says, "[Percussionist] Future Man shared the song with us, and said that it had com e from a dream, where [saxophonist] Jeff [Coffin] had taught it to him. He's still pretty convinced that Jeff wrote it, but we can't quite figure out how that's possible." Other tracks include the Flecktones' take on J.S. Bach's "Bach Fugue," "Who's Got Three," "Labyrinth," "Kaleiloscope" and "Chennai." Fleck is in the midst of a trio tour with bassist Stanley Clarke and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty but is planning to regroup with the Flecktones for North American touring next year. (PermaLink) Free Live Recordings: Live @ Brady Theater, Tulsa, OK (3/30/2006 [Thursday])

Thursday, November 10, 2005

St. Agustine

"The sum of all our goods, and our perfect good, is God. We must not fall short of this, nor seek anything beyond it; the first is dangerous, the other impossible." Morals of the Catholic Church, VIII, 13

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Re-Fusing Form and Content

Let me know what you guys think of this...? This article is from Relevant Magazine. The CD link that I've posted is "Into The Cauldron" by Mike Marshall & Chris Thile. Its an amazing album. Re-Fusing Form and Content By: Brett McCracken I was in the audience this past summer in Oxford, England, when Pastor Rick Warren (Purpose-Driven new statesman of evangelicalism) made a comment in a plenary address that has stuck with me: “There is no such thing as ‘Christian’ music,” he pronounced in his seasoned style of rhetorical provocation. “There are only Christian lyrics.” Wow. Let that sink in. The statement, though a popular one for Warren (it appears verbatim in The Purpose Driven Life), was by no means the focal point of his largely feel-good address that day, but for many in attendance who believe in the real, communicative presence of art, Warren’s comments bordered on offensive. The pastor overlooks a rich history of Christian art in which... (cont.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fear-of-the-Lord

Eugene H. Peterson Excerpt from “Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places (read this too... An Interview with Eugene H. Peterson) ...we need a common and comprehensive term for referring to the way we live the spiritual life – not just what we do and say but the way we act, the way we speak. How do we go about living appropriately in this world that has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ? This is a question that needs to be delayed for as long as possible. Most of the Christian life (and spiritual theology is responsible for maintaining vigilance in this regard) involves paying to who God is and what he does; but not only the who and the what but the how, the means God employs to accomplish his ends. If we get too interested too soon in what we do and are, we go off the rails badly. Still, we are part of it and need a term to designate the human side of spirituality, something that names the way we make our way through this complex minefield of a world in which we live out the Christian life. But it needs to be a term that does not make us the center of the subject. ( the words most in use among us tend to put the emphasis on what we initiate and carry out: spiritual discipline, piety, devotional practice, quite time, and on,) It also needs to be a term that doesn’t contribute to the dichotomizing of spirituality into God’s part and the human part. This question – “what is our part in this?” – requires considerable care in the answering. We realize how critical it is to get the right term for this when we look around and become aware of the sheer quantity of silliness, sordidness, meanness, and dullness that piles up under the roofs of enterprises given over to directing and motivation people to serve God, as our “leaders” tell us what to do and say to be distinctively God’s people. Given the frequency with which men and women make hash out of the words and works of God, it might seem best to do nothing, Just get our of the way and let God do it all. There have been teachers who have formulated just such an answer and been serious about it: the less we do for God, the better; it leaves more room for God to do something for us, which is the point of it all anyway. But most of us do not find that adequate counsel. Most of us have a sense that somehow or other we need to get in on what God is doing; we want to be involved, we want to do something. But what, without getting in the way, without gumming up the works? The biblical word of choice for the term we need is “fear-of-the-Lord.” It is the stock biblical phrase for the way of life that is lived responsively and appropriately before who God is, who he is as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. None of the available synonyms in the English language – awe, reverence, worshipful respect – seems quite adequate. They miss the punch delivered by “fear-of-Lord.” When Rudof Otto, one of our great scholars in these matters, analyzed this core religious/spiritual attitude and response, he resorted to Latin phrases (numen and mysterirum tremendu), finding that nothing in his German language worked either. The primary way in which we cultivate fear-of-the-Lord is in prayer and worship – personal prayer and corporate worship. We deliberately interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves and attend to God, place ourselves intentionally in sacred space, in sacred time, in the holy presence – and wait. We become silent and still in order to listen and respond to what is Other than us. Once we get the hang of this we find that this can occur any place and any time. But prayer and worship provide the base. “Fear-of-the-Lord” is the best term we have to point to this way of life we cultivate as Christians. The Christian life consists mostly of what God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is and does. But we also are part of it. Not the largest part, but still part. A world has been opened up to us by revelation in which we find ourselves walking on holy ground and living in scared time. The moment we realize this, we feel shy, cautious. We slow down, we look around, ears and eyes alert. Like lost children happening on a clearing in the woods and finding elves and fairies singing and dancing in a circle around a prancing two-foot-high unicorn, we stop in awed silence to accommodate to this wonderful but unguessed-at revelation. But for us it isn’t a unicorn and elves; it is Sinai and Tabor and Golgotha. The moment we find ourselves unexpectedly in the presence of the sacred, our first response is to stop in silence. We do nothing. We say nothing. We fear to trespass inadvertently; we are afraid of saying some-thing inappropriate. Plunged into mystery we become still, we fall silent, all our senses alert. This is the fear-of-the-Lord. Or we don’t. Uneasy with the unknown, again like children, we run around crazily, yelling and screaming, trying to put our stamp of familiarity on it. We attempt to get rid of the mystery by making our presence large and noisy. When children do this in church we call it misbehaving. But misbehavior in these matters does not consist in what we say or do as such; it is that what we say or do is incongruent with the sacred time and place. Until we know what is going on, anything we say or do is apt to be wrong, or at least inappropriate. We all have experiences of finding ourselves in the sacred presence or on holy ground from time to time, however briefly. The most common of such experiences is being in the presence of a newborn child. Most of us are speechless and still. We don’t know what to do or say. We are over taken by the mystery of God-given life. Something deep within us responds to the sacredness of life, of sheer existence; our response becomes worship, adoration, prayer, awe -- fear-of-the-Lord. But there is also something about the scared that makes us uneasy. We don’t like being in the dark, not knowing what to do. And so we attempt to domesticate the mystery, explain it, probe it, name and use it. “Blasphemy” is the term we use for these verbal transgressions of the sacred, these violations of the holy: taking God’s name in vain, dishonoring sacred time and place, reducing God to gossip and chatter. Uncomfortable with the mystery, we try to banish it with clich├ęs. Every culture has stories and taboos to train and discipline its people in protection and honoring the sacred mystery. Human being are not gods; the moment we forget this, we violate the boundaries of our humanity and something is violated in reality itself. The universe suffers damage. So we set out to cultivate the fear-of-the-Lord, “the quintessential rubric, which expresses in a nutshell the basic grammar that holds the covenant community together,” as Bruce Waltke puts it. Despi9te its prominence in the Bible, the term does not find wide use among North American Christians. “Fear” apparently gets us off on the wrong foot. Grammarians help us regain our biblical stride by calling our attention to the fact that fear-of-the-Lord is a “bound pharase” (syntagm). The four words in English (two in Hebrew) are bound together, making a single word. Its function as a single word cannot be understood by taking it apart and then adding up the meaning of the parts. Fear-of-the-Lord is not a combination of fear + of + the + Lord. Fear-of-the-Lord is a word all its own. So we don’t look up “fear” in the dictionary, then “God,” and then proceed to combine the two meanings; “fear,” a feeling of apprehension, plus “God,” a divine being worthy of worship, is not fear-of-the-Lord. Pursuing that analytical route gets us way off the track. But when we let the biblical contexts provide the conditions for understanding the word we find that it means something more like a way of life in which human feelings and behavior are fused with God’s being and revelation. There are upward of 138 occurrences of the term in a wide range of Old Testament books but most prominently in Proverbs, Psalms, Isaiah, Chronicles, and Deuteronomy. God is active in the term; the human is active in the term. “Fear-of-the-Lord” designates a way of living that cannot be dissected into two parts, any more than a bay can be dissected into what comes from sperm and what comes from egg. “Fear-of-the-Lord” is a new word in our vocabularies; it marks the way of life appropriate to our creation and salvation and blessing by God. A common and distressingly frequent way of answering the question, “So now, what do we do?” but one that avoids prayerful involvement with God in the presence of God, is to come up with a Code of Conduct. The Ten Commandments is the usual place to start, supplemented by Proverbs, brought to a focus by Jesus’ summing up (Love God/Lover your neighbor), salted by the Golden Rule, and then capped off by the Beatitudes. That might seem to be the simplest way to go about it, but religious communities that take this route have rarely, if ever, been able to let it go at that. They commonly find that the particular context in which they live requires special handling: rules are added, regulations enforced, and it isn’t long before the Code of Conduct grows into a formidable jungle of Talmudic regulation. The other and opposite way of doing the Code of Conduct thing is to make it as simple as possible; get it down to the bare bones of bumper sticker spirituality: “Follow your bliss…. Smell the roses…. Do no harm….” My favorite is the fragment of a poem sometimes attributed to W.H.Auden: I Love to sin; God loves to forgive; The world is admirably arranged. But the fundamental inadequacy of codes of conduct for giving direction in how to live the spiritual life is that they put us in charge (or, which is just as bad, put someone else in charge of us); God is moved off the field of action to the judge’s stand where he grades our performance. The moment that we take charge, “knowing good and evil,” we are in trouble and almost immediately start getting other people in trouble too. No. However useful codes of conduct are in the overall scheme of things, they are not the place to begin answering the question, “Now, what do we do?” The fact that fear-of-the-Lord cannot be precisely defined is one of its glories – we are dealing with something that we cannot pin down, we inhabit mystery, we can’t be cocksure about anything, we cultivate an attentive and reverent expectation before every person, event, rock, and tree. Presumption recedes, attentiveness increases, expectancy heightens. “Fear-of-the-Lord,” as we notice the way our biblical writers use it,, turns out to be a term that is plain without being reductive, clear without being over-simplified, and accurate without dissolving the mystery inherent in all dealing with God and his world. It also has the considerable advantage of evading the precise definition or “control” that we could use to locate ourselves along a spectrum of piety of goodness that would feed our instincts for coziness with God. So what do we do, given our launch into this life of following Jesus? “Fear the LORD, you his saints” (Ps 34:9 RSV). Fear-of-the-Lord is not studying about God but living in reverence before God. We don’t so much lack knowledge, we lack reverence. Fear-of-the-Lord is not a technique for acquiring spiritual know-how but a willed not-knowing. It is not so much know-how we lack; we lack a simple being-there. Fear-of-the-Lord, nurtured in worship and prayer, silence and quite, love and sacrifice, turns everything we do into a life of “breathing God.”

Friday, November 04, 2005

The power of now

Call forth what's yours with no double-mindedness | by Andree Seu Eckhart Tolle wrote a book called The Power of Now, which you may read with some profit, as we oft do the writings of unbelievers when their insights are in the direction of reality. But outsiders to the kingdom, at their best, still see "men like trees walking," not as they are. What is "the power of now" for the child of God? I have hinted in past weeks of a glorious upset in my life. It concerns, in a nutshell, a clearer apprehension of the truth that God "has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:3). To my joy, I have accidentally (as accidents go in this Personal universe) stumbled upon confirmation of my new fanaticism in Francis Schaeffer, such that you will have to dismiss him to dismiss me. He writes in True Spirituality: "When a man does learn the meaning of the work of Christ in the present life, a new door is open to him. And this new door then seems to be so wonderful that often it gives the Christian, as he begins to act upon the knowledge of faith, the sense of something that is as new as was his conversion. And it has been true for many of us that at a certain point, after we have been Christians for a long time, suddenly through the teaching of the Bible—directly or through someone teaching us [joyful fanatics]—we have seen the meaning of the work of Christ and the blood of Jesus Christ for our present life, and a new door opens for us." Let me be plain: I have come to the conclusion that no one ever lived the Christian life "in general," or by faith in the abstract. No one ever laid hold of the benefits in Christ except by believing Him in this present moment. This is strenuous and conscious and constant believing. The kingdom of God comes and "the violent take it by force" (Matthew 11:12). They sue for grace. They say, like Jacob, "I won't let you go until you bless me." They ransack God's Word for promises. They believe them like a 5-year-old and not like a sophisticate. They prefer the plain meaning to the obscurantist theology of unbelief. They call forth what's theirs in Christ without double-mindedness. Francis Schaeffer puts it well: Strenuous believers say "the reality of the resurrection is not something to push off into a strange dimension. It is meaningful in our normal dimension." They redefine normal: "The fruits are normal; not to have them is not to have the Christian life which should be considered usual." They get specific: They insist that God "increase" their love (1 Thessalonians 3:12). They expect Him to do "far more abundantly than all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20). They refuse to see as hyperbole, "All things are possible for one who believes" (Mark 9:23). They settle for no less than being "filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19). In short, strenuous believers think this filling must be more than the ho-hum experience they've known so far. They look at the size of their problems and then look at the size of Resurrection power and decide there's no contest. Scripture tells them to desire the best gifts, so they get to working on it right away. They won't water down the promise that "whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do, and greater works" (John 14:12). They believe in spirits, and spirit warfare, and the weaponry for it. I've whined so much about a poor memory, depression, and insomnia that a friend suggested I take a bottle of "white out" and delete Philippians 4:13 since I wasn't using it anyway. Francis Schaeffer agreed with him: "Faith is simply believing God. . . . It is ceasing to call God a liar. . . . There are oceans of grace which wait. Orchard upon orchard waits, vineyard upon vineyard of fruit waits. There is only one reason why they do not flow out through the Christian's life, and that is that the instrumentality of faith is not being used." I am hitching my wagon to the radical practitioners of now, to those who take the adventure that Aslan hands them, scary but exciting, "the impossible situation in which everything is staked solely on the word of Jesus" (The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer). Copyright © 2005 WORLD MagazineOctober 29, 2005, Vol. 20, No. 42 PermaLink

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Girl Who Shot Saddam

The concept of innocent till proven guilty is hard to grasp for many people around the world. Watch the video source

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Jesus Heals a Lame Man

John 5:1-15 (New Living Translation)

Jesus Heals a Lame Man

1Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. 2Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda,[a] with five covered porches. 3Crowds of sick people--blind, lame, or paralyzed--lay on the porches.[b] 5One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him and knew how long he had been ill, he asked him, "Would you like to get well?"

7"I can't, sir," the sick man said, "for I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I am trying to get there, someone else always gets in ahead of me."

8Jesus told him, "Stand up, pick up your sleeping mat, and walk!"

9Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up the mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath day. 10So the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, "You can't work on the Sabbath! It's illegal to carry that sleeping mat!"

11He replied, "The man who healed me said to me, `Pick up your sleeping mat and walk.' "

12"Who said such a thing as that?" they demanded.

13The man didn't know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. 14But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, "Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you." 15Then the man went to find the Jewish leaders and told them it was Jesus who had healed him.

Read the rest...