Recently in Faith Category

Horrible death and destruction. I hope that the perps find themselves in the same spot as the 9/11 hijackers - from The Onion:

Hijackers Surprised To Find Selves In Hell
JAHANNEM, OUTER DARKNESS—The hijackers who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon expressed confusion and surprise Monday to find themselves in the lowest plane of Na'ar, Islam's Hell.

"I was promised I would spend eternity in Paradise, being fed honeyed cakes by 67 virgins in a tree-lined garden, if only I would fly the airplane into one of the Twin Towers," said Mohammed Atta, one of the hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11, between attempts to vomit up the wasps, hornets, and live coals infesting his stomach. "But instead, I am fed the boiling feces of traitors by malicious, laughing Ifrit. Is this to be my reward for destroying the enemies of my faith?"

The rest of Atta's words turned to raw-throated shrieks, as a tusked, asp-tongued demon burst his eyeballs and drank the fluid that ran down his face.

According to Hell sources, the 19 eternally damned terrorists have struggled to understand why they have been subjected to soul-withering, infernal torture ever since their Sept. 11 arrival.

"There was a tumultuous conflagration of burning steel and fuel at our gates, and from it stepped forth these hijackers, the blessed name of the Lord already turning to molten brass on their accursed lips," said Iblis The Thrice-Damned, the cacodemon charged with conscripting new arrivals into the ranks of the forgotten. "Indeed, I do not know what they were expecting, but they certainly didn't seem prepared to be skewered from eye socket to bunghole and then placed on a spit so that their flesh could be roasted by the searing gale of flatus which issues forth from the haunches of Asmoday."

As they say, this is just getting started. Fun too - read a bit about Islam (got to know what you are talking about) and this is the pantheon of their Hell and they are welcome to it in all of its effulgent glory.

Unreal - President Trump

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I am amazed that no other American President has done this - from the New York Post:

Trump becomes first sitting US president to visit Western Wall
President Trump visited the Western Wall on Monday, the first stop at the Jewish holy site by a sitting American commander-in-chief.

​The president was accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner​ – both observant Jews – ​but walked alone to the wall, where he paused for about a minute with his hand on the ancient stones.

After a moment,​ Trump, wearing a black skull cap, pulled a slip of paper from his jacket pocket and placed it in a niche in the ​limestone ​wall.

The Wailing Wall is such a central and sacred part of Jewish culture, I find it really strange that no other American President has visited it before.

I love it, this guy is unstoppable. Next up is The Vatican. Interesting that his first overseas trip is to the seats of the three Abramahamic Religions of this world and that he and his family are being straight-up class acts all the way. No groveling but tons of mutual respect for the people and the cultures. Hippies may hate but I think we got ourselves a good one here...

An interesting character - 100 years ago

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From Mental Floss:

The Murder of Rasputin: The 100th Anniversary of a Mystery That Won't Die
On the morning of December 29, 1916, Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin was startled by a phone call that turned out to be yet another death threat. His daughter, Maria, later remembered that it put him in a bad mood for the rest of the day. That night, at 11 p.m., he gave her a final reminder before she went to sleep: He was going to the Yusupov Palace that evening to meet an aristocrat. It was the last time she saw him alive.

Two days later, a search party found a body trapped beneath the ice of the frozen Malaya Nevka River. It was Rasputin: missing an eye, bearing three bullet wounds and countless cuts and bruises. The most infamous man in Russia was dead, assassinated at age 47.

A hundred years after his murder, the legend of Russia’s “Mad Monk” has only spread, inspiring films, books, operas, a disco song, and even his own beer, Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. Described by early biographers as “The Saint Who Sinned” and “The Holy Devil,” he remains a difficult man to define. He spent less than a decade in public life, was barely literate, and published only two works. Even within the Russian Orthodox Church, the debate continues: Was Rasputin a charlatan, a holy man, the czarina’s secret lover, Satan himself, or just a simple Siberian peasant?

Above all, one question refuses to rest: What exactly happened to Rasputin in the early hours of December 30, 1916?

Quite the story at Mental Floss - he certainly looks the part of a mad monk:

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Word to the wise - from the UK Telegraph:

Ignore the Archbishop of Canterbury's 'negative' Christmas message, Nigel Farage says
Nigel Farage has criticised the Archbishop of Canterbury after he said that the mood of uncertainty and division in Britain and around the world at the end of 2016 shows that “our values are in the wrong place”.

Mr Farage, the former Ukip leader, told people to “ignore all the negative messages” from the Most Rev Justin Welby, who used his Christmas Day Eucharist at Canterbury Cathedral to say that the events of the last year have ushered in “a different kind of world” which is more uncertain and “feels more awash with fear and division”.

In fact, just ignore anything that the Archbishop says. That post has been filled by ignorant politically-correct twits for the last twenty years. The previous one was just as bad - Rowan Williams.

Heh - Game On!

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Merry Christmas to everyone and to all a good night.

Quote of the year

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“We need to remember that tolerance is not a Christian virtue, and it is never an end in itself. In fact, tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of evil.”
— Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

Chaput is a major thinker and has quite a history. From Infogalactic (my replacement for Wikipedia which has been taken over by bureaucrats - a la Pournelle's Iron Law)

Charles J. Chaput
Charles Joseph Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. (pronounced "shuh-poo") (born September 26, 1944) is an American prelate of the Catholic Church. He is the ninth and current Archbishop of Philadelphia, installed on September 8, 2011. He previously served as Archbishop of Denver (1997–2011) and Bishop of Rapid City (1988–1997).

Chaput is a professed Capuchin and has a reputation for orthodoxy. A member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe, he is the second Native American to be consecrated a bishop in the United States and the first Native American archbishop. His Potawatomi name is “the wind that rustles the leaves of the tree” while his Sioux name is "good eagle".

I keep waiting for a major (and much needed) reformation of the Episcopal Church. They used to have a moral backbone and with overall declining church attendance (and revenues), they have opened the floodgates to anyone willing to sit through a homily, listen to some pretty music and drop a few shekels into the collection plate. Meanwhile, due to competition in the market (from most other denominations  specifically UCC, overall attendance is down everywhere and they are left with a smaller and smaller market share. I bet that if they went back to the original ball-buster 1940 prayer-book, hymnal and sermons, they would find themselves back in business big-time.

Barring that, it might be worth checking out the Catholics - the idea of an infallible Pope really sticks in my craw but the rest of their doctrine seems to be pretty level-headed. Not afraid to call a spade a spade...

Speaking of Hymns, this one from 1845 still gives me goosebumps:

Great call from the Pope

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For everything that he does to tick me off, he also comes up with great things - from Yahoo:

Pope tells kids to get off their backsides
Pope Francis urged "drowsy and dull kids" to swap their sofas and video games for walking boots on Saturday at an international Catholic youth festival in Poland.

He warned the popular piece of sitting-room furniture gave the illusion of safety from pain, fear or worries, allowing the sitter to kick back and lose themselves for hours in the latest television show or their smartphones.

"For many people it is easier and better to have drowsy and dull kids who confuse happiness with a sofa," he told an estimated one million people gathered at a vigil in a vast plain near Krakow.

"Dear young people, we didn't come into the world to 'vegetate'... We came for another reason: to leave a mark," he said.

"The times we live in do not call for young 'couch potatoes' but for young people with shoes, or better, boots laced."

A big amen to that!!! Out here, people tend to be very active. In the city, not so much - people live lives that are too sedentary. Obesity is a major issue. Just walking a few miles every day or two would go a long way to fix this.

Pope Francis advocates globalism and feels that the islamic terrorists are just a little bit misunderstood and we need to reach out to them more. One these issues I think that he is dead wrong. He also believes in Global Warming - there, he is just being fed bad data from his advisers - Garbage In, Garbage Out. That has been an issue since Galileo

Chick-fil-A does the right thing

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They are normally closed on Sunday - this Orlando store made an exception. From Orlando, FL station WFTV:

Orlando Chick-fil-A store supports blood donors with food on Sunday
Workers at a Chick-fil-A location in Orlando parted with tradition Sunday by preparing food for people waiting in line to donate blood in response to the weekend shooting that left 49 dead and 53 wounded in the Florida city, according to media reports.

A handful of workers passed out sandwiches and iced tea as thousands of donors answered the call to give blood in the wake of the shooting at Pulse, a popular gay nightclub. Officials have called the shooting a terrorist attack.

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A is famously closed on Sundays, a day founder Truett Cathy believed should be spent with family.

The outpouring from the Orlando Chick-fil-A workers also is notable because the chain has had a strained relationship with the gay community after CEO Dan Cathy made comments opposing gay marriage.

A post to the store’s Facebook page said, “A few of our awesome team decided to go to work on a Sunday and make some food for people waiting in line to donate blood. We love our city and love the people in our community.”

Christian charity at work.

I wish they had a branch in Bellingham - closest one is in Lynnwood, about 80 miles away.

He is risen

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I was looking to post something but Don Surber said it best:

He is risen.
I do not care if you are Christian, or Jewish, or Hindu, or Muslim, or Buddhist, or some other religion, but please, take today off from the Internet and politics. It is not worth your life.
Happy Easter.

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Matthew 21 if you are interested...

Got goosebumps - Hallelujah Chorus

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The story - from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir website:

A video produced by the Church in cooperation with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir features the Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in large virtual choir. Singers from all over the world submitted videos singing their vocal part of Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus. These were then compiled together with a performance of Choir and Orchestra to make an amazing virtual choir. These videos are part of the way we are lifting up our voices to say what “Hallelujah” means: Praise Ye, the Lord! at this Eastertime.

The new Pope is not as good as I thought.

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He is a man of the 1%, not a man of the masses. In Cuba, he is meeting with the elite, not the dissidents.

From MyWay/Associated Press:

Pope plans to duck dissidents in Cuba, spawning criticism
Pope Francis plans to meet with Cuba's president and its priests, its young and its sick, its churchgoers and its seminarians as he travels around the island starting Saturday. But not its dissidents.

The absence on Francis' agenda of any meeting with the political opposition has sparked bitter critiques from dissidents who say they feel let down by an institution they believe should help push for greater freedom in Cuba.

"He should exert more pressure," said Antonio Rodiles, head of the hardline group Estado de SATS. "In many cases political systems have come under international pressure that has resulted in change, and that's what needs to be happen with Cuba."

Such great hope and promise but he is just another Marxist/Communist - centralized power and knowing what is best for the 'proles' as they cannot deal with the "messy world" of capitalism without the help of their cultural elites.

Reminds me of the quote from Eric Hoffer a few days ago

Intellectuals cannot operate at room temperature.
Nothing so offends the doctrinaire intellectual as our ability to achieve the momentous in a matter-of-fact way, unblessed by words.
Nowhere at present is there such a measureless loathing of their country by educated people as in America. 

And this story about the dismay at Obama's choices for the Guest List - crocodile tears most likely. Makes a lot of sense when you look at the larger picture.

Start over from the beginning...

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From Andrew Malcom - hat tip Don Surber.

Pope Francis started out really well - I thought that he would be a breath of fresh air. Turns out he is worse than people thought - a lot worse.

From Nick Gass writing at Politico:

Pope Francis' approval rating nosedives among conservatives
Pope Francis is not as popular a pontiff as he used to be in the United States — especially among conservatives — according to a new Gallup survey out Wednesday.

A larger share of American Catholics say they don’t have a favorable view of their church’s spiritual leader. A little more than seven in 10 (71 percent) have a favorable image of Francis, a drop of 18 percentage points from last year.

The drop is even more marked among conservatives, 72 percent of which viewed him in a favorable light in 2014. This year, just 45 percent have a positive opinion of him.

Many conservatives and Republicans balked at Francis’ environmental encyclical delivered last month, which called climate change “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

“I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinal or my pope,” GOP presidential contender Jeb Bush told supporters at the time.

Liberals and moderates are also less satisfied with the pope than they were last year. Among liberals, Francis’ favorability rating dropped from 82 percent to 68 percent; among moderates, it dropped from 79 percent to 71 percent.

What gets me is his meddling in science and politics - he should know what happened to Galileo. He has just one job and needs to stick to it.

Global warming - a two-fer

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Finally, some adults in the room.

First - New York Times:

Obama’s Catastrophic Climate-Change Denial
The Obama administration’s decision to give Shell Oil the go-ahead to drill in the Arctic shows why we may never win the fight against climate change. Even in this most extreme circumstance, no one seems able to stand up to the power of the fossil fuel industry. No one ever says no.

Weepy Bill McKibben - the hypocrite. Hectoring people to use reusable bags but when he goes shopping?

Second - from The Radical Catholic:

Encyclicus Maculatus: Eco-Encyclical To Undergo Revision
According to Vaticanist Sandro Magister, Pope Francis has decided to postpone the publication of his long-awaited encyclical on the environment. The reason, according to Magister, is that the Pope realized that the document in its current state had no chance of receiving the approval of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith under the leadership of Cardinal Gerhard Müller. If it seems somewhat improper for a Cardinal to be telling a Pope what he can and can't write, don't fret, gentle reader: the text wasn't written by Pope Francis at all.

Much more at the site including this wonderful dig - the infighting at the Vatican must be vicious...
We don't know how Cardinal Müller reacted to these sharp words, or whether, as Giuseppe Nardi surmises, he spoke directly with Pope Francis regarding the encylical, but Magister relates that sources inside Santa Marta are reporting that the Pope will not be publishing Archbishop Fernández' already completed text, and has - for the time being - tabled the entire project. It's clear that he can't let it disappear entirely without a tremendous loss of face in the public arena; UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, apparently moonlighting as a Vatican spokesman, has announced that the encyclical is set to appear in June of this year. But who will be behind the next incarnation of the encyclicus maculatus is anybody's guess.

Heh...

From Mental Floss:

Why Do We Eat Chocolate Bunnies at Easter?
As far as holidays go, Easter is second only to Halloween in American candy sales—that’s a lot of chocolate bunnies.

Easter—the most spiritually significant holiday of the Christian calendar—has always been heavily associated with symbolic foods, from lambs to egg-rich celebratory breads. Rabbits, however, are not mentioned in the scriptures that recount Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. And chocolate, a New World food, was not even accessible to the masses until the mid-1800s. So how did chocolate bunnies come to dominate the Easter basket scene? It’s a thoroughly modern mash-up of commerce, confectionery, and immigration.

The observance of Easter includes some elements adapted from pagan traditions celebrating cycles of new life in the springtime, and one of those is the rabbit, an animal known for its crazy-high fertility. “Although adopted in a number of Christian cultures, the Easter bunny has never received any specific Christian interpretation,” says the Encyclopedia of Religion.

Ostara, the Germanic pre-Christian fertility goddess, apparently kept a hare as a sidekick. The word for “Easter” (Ostern, in German) is derived from her name, and her namesake festival was held around the month we now call April. Germans came to embrace the fictional character Oschter Haws (or osterhause), a rabbit who delivered eggs to children at Easter. Supposedly, the first recorded mention of osterhause was in the medical notes of a Heidelberg physician in 1684 (he discusses the drawbacks of overeating Easter eggs). 

Much more at the site - an interesting bit of history...

Speaking truth to power - Venezuela

An excellent development - Maduro will not dare to censor the Church.

From Investors Business Daily:

Venezuela's Bishops Have A Message For Pope Francis on Communism
In a refreshingly powerful and direct statement, Venezuela's bishops Monday blamed "Marxist socialism" and "communism" by name for the horrors and chaos gripping their country, according to a story in El Universal.

The bishops said the long lines of people trying to buy food and other basic necessities and the constant rise in prices are the result of the government's decision to "impose a political-economic system of socialist, Marxist or communist," which is "totalitarian and centralist" and "undermines the freedom and rights of individuals and associations."

The Venezuelan bishops specifically stated that the private sector was critical for the well being of the country. The document, read by Monsignor Diego Padron in Spanish, said the country needs "a new entrepreneurial spirit with audacity and creativity."

So not only did these bishops diagnose the cause of the misery correctly; they also warned that communism harms the poor most of all.

It will be interesting to see Francis' reply as he has his own views of the free market - read this article at the Vatican Insider. It seems pretty obvious that he has never run a business, cut a paycheck or administered a large organization. Let us hope that he listens to the people of Venezuela.

An RCOB moment with the Episcopal Church

Readers will know that I was brought up in a muscular church - a church that had a spiritual and moral backbone. Today's emasculated Episcopal church is a pale shadow of what it used to be. If a parishioner wants an easy-peasy go along to get along church-light, there are plenty of options for them (UCC to the white courtesy phone please).

This really pisses me off - from Yahoo/Associated Press:

Maryland diocese: bishop at wheel in fatal hit-and-run
An Episcopal bishop who was the driver in a hit-and-run crash that killed a bicyclist in Baltimore was charged four years ago with drunken driving and marijuana possession, court documents show.

Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook, who is the No. 2 leader for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, was driving a car that hit Tom Palermo, 41, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, diocese spokeswoman Sharon Tillman said.

Palermo died from head injuries, said Bruce Goldfarb, spokesman for the Maryland medical examiner's office.

Court records show that a sheriff's deputy stopped Cook on Sept. 10, 2010, in Caroline County on the Eastern Shore. The officer wrote in a report that Cook was driving on the shoulder at 29 mph in a 50 mph-zone with a shredded front tire. The deputy noted that a strong alcohol odor emanated from the vehicle and that Cook had vomit down the front of her shirt.

The officer wrote that Cook was so intoxicated that she couldn't finish a field sobriety test because she might fall and hurt herself.

According to the report, Cook registered .27 percent blood alcohol content. The legal limit in Maryland is .08 percent.

The officer found two small bags of marijuana in the vehicle, along with paraphernalia, and a bottle of wine and a bottle of liquor.

Oh Yeah - nothing says: "Eligible for leadership" like having vomit down your shirt and blowing a 0.27 BAC.

Please. People wrestle with personal daemons all the time - I have zero problems with that BUT... If you are in the throws of this, have the fscking grace to recuse yourself from any position of spiritual or moral leadership.

A bit more:

Cook pleaded guilty to drunken driving, and the prosecution of marijuana possession charges was dropped. A judge sentenced her to a fine and probation before judgment on the DUI charge, meaning her record could be cleared if she stayed out of trouble.

Tillman said Cook disclosed the earlier charges when she was vetted and ultimately elected as the diocese's first female bishop.

Yeah - they needed to counteract the number of real Episcopalians leaving the church (all about the benjamin$) and figured that a female Bishop was the ticket. Was this their best choice? What are the seminaries producing these days? Yes, we are all fallen and forgiven before the face of the Lord but show some fscking standards...

The RCOB? This:

In an email Sunday, Bishop Eugene Sutton told priests in the diocese that Cook left the scene of Saturday's accident, but returned about 20 minutes later "to take responsibility for her actions."

And this:

As other passers-by called 911, Lyon said he went looking for the car based on other witness descriptions. He found it about 100 yards away at a stop light, he said.

"The windshield was completely smashed in, with a hole on the passenger side, and from the damage of the car, there was no doubt in my mind that was the car," he said. "I asked the lady who was driving, 'Are you all right?' Then the light turned green, she said 'Yes,' and she left."

So this Bishop caused an accident, someone died, the Bishop fled the scene and returned 20 minutes later. Sounds like she wanted to get rid of some evidence.

RCOB - from the wonderful Kim DuToit: Red Curtain of Blood. ie: what passes in front of your vision when you read crap like this. I do wish he would start blogging again.

A vow of silence

You have entered monastic orders and taken a vow of silence before our Lord. How do you celebrate Christmas? These high-school students offer a sugestion:

 

 

From Gerard of course...

to all...

Lulu and I spent a quiet Easter Sunday morning and just had a nice breakfast (Whole grain pancakes and bacon). We will be working on repairing a tree that split and doing some pruning and yard work this afternoon. I have been volunteering for the annual Ski-to-Sea race, doing the announcing for one of the legs while a friend of mine ran the radios. I emailed him last night to coordinate for this years race and it turns out that he is going to be out of town for the event so it will be me running the radios. I kind of have a handle on what is needed and I do have a portable rig that will work just fine but it will be an out of frying pan into fire experience for me. We all have to start somewhere...

Doing a disservice to one's congregation

Rule number one as a minister should be to never conflate science with prophesy.

From the New York Daily News:

Popular televangelist claims four blood moons are sign of 'world-shaking event'
The heavens are putting on a celestial show next week - and one Christian pastor is convinced it's a sign from God.

Bestselling author and televangelist Pastor John Hagee claims the four blood moons that will soon appear in the skies over America are evidence of a future "world-shaking event."

The blood moons are part of a tetrad, a set of complete and consecutive lunar eclipses that will begin on April 15 and continue in roughly six-month intervals until October 2015.

According to NASA, seeing four complete lunar eclipses in a row is very rare. The skies were tetrad-free from 1600 to 1900. But in the 21st century, there will be many.
What's even stranger is that Americans have a front row seat.

"The most unique thing about the 2014-2015 tetrad is that all of them are visible for all or parts of the USA," NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak told CNN.

Hagee, founder of Texas' Cornerstone Church, thinks this is no coincidence. For him, it's a sign of the end times.

And a bit more:

He points to Acts 2:19-20, which reads, "And I will show wonders in Heaven above and signs in the Earth beneath, the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord."

First of all, this first eclipse will be more straw color than the darker blood moon. Our atmosphere is more clean than usual so the light hitting the moon will not be as dark.

Next, this is just a cosmic coincidence -- there is no "Hand of God" in play here -- you can follow the orbits of the bodies for 1,000 years leading up to this event and you can calculate the orbits of the bodies for the 1,000 years that follow. God is not flipping a switch somewhere up in Heaven. The Spirit does not work that way...

Finally, cherry-picking two verses out of Acts 2 to represent your case is not a good move. Reading the whole thing it is talking about the Pentecost -- the conversion of other cultures to Christianity by delivering major 'visions' to them. I can only think that Pastor Hagee is shilling for his church and using a natural occurrence to raise money. It is always about the money with these false prophets...

Words to hold in our hearts

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For so many different reasons...
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Big tip of the Stetson to Gerard

Our declining culture - Air Force

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From FOX News:
80 Christian Airmen say they've been subjected to threats, punishment
Evangelical Christian airmen at Lackland Air Force Base are facing severe threats and retribution for their religious beliefs and some personnel have been ordered to publicly express their position on gay marriage.

�There is an atmosphere of intimidation at Lackland Air Force Base,� said Steve Branson, the pastor of Village Parkway Baptist Church in San Antonio. �Gay commanders and officers are pushing their agenda on the airmen. There is a culture of fear in the military and it�s gone to a new level with the issue of homosexuality.�

Branson tells me at least 80 airmen attended a private meeting at the church where he heard them voice their concerns about religious hostilities at the Air Force base. It was a standing-room only crowd.

�The religious persecution is happening,� the pastor said. �It�s getting bigger every day. Gay and lesbian airmen can talk about their lifestyle, but the rest have to stay completely quiet about what they believe.�
I really wonder why Gay people are getting so much press these days. They only comprise about 3.5% of the entire US population. Very much the minority. I do not begrudge them equal rights under the law but why do they insist on so much publicity. Go about your lives like all the rest of us.

I am really liking Pope Francis -- from the Associated Press:

Pope blesses hundreds of Harley-Davidsons
Biker culture came to the Vatican on Sunday as Pope Francis blessed thousands of Harley-Davidsons and their riders celebrating the manufacturer's 110th anniversary with a loud parade and plenty of leather.

Thundering Harley engines nearly drowned out the Latin recitation of the "Our Father" prayer that accompanied Francis as he greeted the crowd before Mass. Standing in his open-top jeep, Francis drove up the main boulevard leading to St. Peter's Square, blessing the thousands of people in what was a giant Harley parking lot.

Once the service got under way, bikers in their trademark leather Harley vests sat in the square alongside nuns and tens of thousands of faithful Catholics taking part in an unrelated, two-day pro-life rally.

Francis addressed them both afterward, giving a blessing to the "numerous participants" of the Harley gathering.

Tens of thousands of Harley owners from around the world descended on Rome for the four-day anniversary of the American manufacturer.

And I love that the Popemobile is just an open-topped Jeep. Humility is a virtue.

800+ new Saints today

I am liking this new Pope. From My Way/Associated Press:
Pope Francis gives church hundreds of new saints
Pope Francis on Sunday gave the Catholic church new saints, including hundreds of 15th-century martyrs who were beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam, as he led his first canonization ceremony Sunday in a packed St. Peter's Square.

The "Martyrs of Otranto" were 813 Italians who were slain in the southern Italian city in 1480 for defying demands by Turkish invaders who overran the citadel to renounce Christianity.
And he did not overlook Latin America:
The first pontiff from South America also gave Colombia its first saint: a nun who toiled as a teacher and spiritual guide to indigenous people in the 20th century.

With Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos among the VIPS, the Argentine pope held out Laura of St. Catherine of Siena Montoya y Upegui as a potential source of inspiration to the country's peace process, attempted after decades-long conflict between rebels and government forces.

Francis prayed that "Colombia's beloved children continue to work for peace and just development of the country."

He also canonized another Latin American woman. Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, a Mexican who dedicated herself to nursing the sick, helped Catholics avoid persecution during a government crackdown of the faith in the 1920s.
Good. I love his stance on Islam. The Christian Church has certainly had its share of violence but we have reformed. The Islamic leaders need to call for this as well.
Great move on his part -- from the Associated Press:
Pope Francis reaches out to Jews
Like his predecessor, Pope Francis reached out to Rome's Jewish community at the very start of his pontificate, pledging to continue to strengthen the increasingly close ties between Catholics and Jews.

Just hours after he was elected the first Latin American pope in history, Francis sent a letter to Rome's chief Rabbi Riccardo di Segni, saying he hoped to "contribute to the progress that relations between Jews and Catholics" have seen since the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council.

In an interview Friday with The Associated Press, di Segni said the dialogue between Catholicism and Judaism was "complicated" but added that the new pope's background "gives me trust and hope" that relations will continue to improve.

Other Jewish leaders welcomed the election of a pontiff seen as an ally when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. Israeli President Shimon Peres said Francis would be a "welcome guest in the Holy Land" while Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, said the new pope "always had an open ear for our concerns."
Very cool - Israel needs all the help she can get these days what with Obama being openly hostile and giving military and financial aid to Israel's declared enemies.

A Papal two-fer

I am liking this guy -- from the Associated Press:

Pope Francis' humility: stops by hotel to pay bill
Pope Francis put his humility on display during his first day as pontiff Thursday, stopping by his hotel to pick up his luggage and pay the bill himself in a decidedly different style of papacy than his tradition-minded predecessor, who tended to stay ensconced in the frescoed halls of the Vatican.

The break from Benedict XVI's pontificate was evident even in Francis' wardrobe choices: He kept the simple pectoral cross of his days as bishop and eschewed the red cape that Benedict wore when he was presented to the world for the first time in 2005 - choosing instead the simple white cassock of the papacy.

The difference in style was a sign of Francis' belief that the Catholic Church needs to be at one with the people it serves and not imposing its message on a society that often doesn't want to hear it, Francis' authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin, said in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press.

"It seems to me for now what is certain is it's a great change of style, which for us isn't a small thing," Rubin said, recalling how the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio would celebrate Masses with ex-prostitutes in Buenos Aires.

"He believes the church has to go to the streets," he said, "to express this closeness of the church and this accompaniment with the people who suffer."

Francis began his first day as pope making an early morning visit in a simple Vatican car to a Roman basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary and prayed before an icon of the Madonna.

He had told a crowd of some 100,000 people packed in rain-soaked St. Peter's Square just after his election that he intended to pray to the Madonna "that she may watch over all of Rome."

Next up -- His Holiness is having an effect on the internet. From Arizona station KTAR:

The pope dominates Go Daddy
Not even the Internet stood unaffected by the announcement of the new pope.

According to GoDaddy.com Public Relations Specialist Kari Amarosso, 479 new domains were registered in relation to the pope within the first hour of the announcement of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis I.

Strangely enough, a domain under the name of PopeFrancis.com was already registered in April 2010.

Keywords that were to identify the new domains were pope, Francis, Bergoglio, and Habemus Papam.

Minor nit -- His Holiness is not Pope Francis I, he is Pope Francis. At some point down the road, if another Pope takes the name of Francis, that Pope will be Pope Francis II.

We have white smoke

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Meet Pope Francis -- From FOX News:
Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio named new pope
Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been elected by his peers as the new pope, becoming the first pontiff from the Americas.

He has chosen to be known as Pope Francis.

The 76-year-old has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests.

Francis, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, reportedly got the second-most votes from the 115 cardinals after Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 papal election, and he has long specialized in the kind of pastoral work that some say is an essential skill for the next pope.

In a lifetime of teaching and leading priests in Latin America, which has the largest share of the world's Catholics, Francis has shown a keen political sensibility as well as the kind of self-effacing humility that fellow cardinals value highly.

He is also known for modernizing an Argentine church that had been among the most conservative in Latin America.
This article is all I know of the man but he sounds to be good for the post. It will be interesting to see the next couple years.

Doctor Martin Luther King

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Celebrating his day today. Now, it is just a National Holiday for most people. Sad. He was an amazing thinker. A nice collection of seventeen of his quotes can be found here. Do not forget that he was old-school Republican and old-school Conservative back before all political parties got neutered and packaged in the deli case at your local quick-mart. The KKK, the people voting against desegregation, the people voting against black voting rights? Democrat. Look it up -- that is our history.

A higher power

Gerard knocks it out of the park:
Hallelujah Anyway
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. -- Job 38

So elsewhere I've been drawn into, for the X times infinity time, yet another discussion about God.

Is He this? Is She that? Is God's "morality" thin or fat? Does He wear a halo or a hat? Does He care if you crush a gnat? Can you see Him? Would you be Him? If He tells you to kill your kid would you do what Abraham did?

All the usual suspects have shown up with all their usual suspect notions. Some to sell you a Bible, some to sell you a potion, some to sell you a bottle of Atheist lotion. As we learn in the Holy Book of Dylan, "Everybody wants to get you down in the hole that they're in."

Me? I'm a believer because... well because I've really got Nothing Better to do. That's because measuring myself against even the smallest, most finite, and bounded idea of God I can conceive I'm about gnat size in relation to that. I wish others saw it that way, but among the smart monkeys most of us think of ourselves as some sort of gigantic intellect -- at least in comparison to, say, a clam. Interesting that the "intelligent" who are long on stupidity are always short on humility.

The point is that smart monkeys like us are, deep down, stupid and shallow in anything that even starts to compare us to the Creator. At best we've been granted a small, dim sense of the shadow of the afterimage of Creation and are forever limited to that. We cannot go beyond it. For us there is no outside looking in. We simply don't have the wetware.

For many this vague, haunting sense is such an insult to their monkey mind's ego that they cannot endure the humiliation. And so they deny what little light they have and turn, turn away. It's futile of course but so many now are so afflicted that they find, with each other, small and cold comfort in numbers.

It's a shame that in this brief Grace-granted glimpse of the Immense Light between a sleep and a sleep that so many shut their eyes to the unfolding Miracle of each Moment, and think, poor little monkeys, that since none of it is about them none of it needs to be seen as it is -- glorious, compassionate and indifferent. They actually think ... no "believe"... that the Creator should not be beyond their good and evil; that the moral life of Creation should reflect our dim and limited mind.

Given the Gift they use it to curse the Giver.

Poor little limited smart monkeys. All arms are too short to box with God.

Inch. Time. Foot. Gem.

"Not twice this day
Inch time foot gem.
This day will not come again.
Each minute is worth a priceless gem.
"
Swiped in full -- impossible to excerpt. I am not a scientist but I was raised by two of them and a lot came in through osmosis. For me, the bigger the Science, the bigger the God. This universe we are in defies explanation. It is a source of daily wonder and joy.

Enforcing the law

Not the way to do it -- from FOX News Radio:

Man Facing Jail For Hosting Home Bible Study
A Phoenix man has been sentenced to 60 days in jail after he refused to stop hosting Bible studies in the privacy of his home - in violation of the city's building code laws.

However, the Phoenix city prosecutor's office said the violations have nothing to do with religious freedom - and everything to do with public safety.

"It came down to zoning and proper permitting," said Vicki Hill, the chief assistant city prosecutor. "Any time you are holding a gathering of people continuously as he does - we have concerns about people being able to exit the facility properly in case there is a fire - and that's really all this comes down to."

According to court documents provided to Fox News Radio, Michael Salman was found guilty in the City of Phoenix Court of 67 code violations. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail along with three years probation and a $12,180 fine. He could be jailed as early as next week unless the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals grants an emergency injunction.

"They're cracking down on religious activities and religious use," Salman told Fox News Radio. "They're attacking what I as a Christian do in the privacy of my home."

"If I had people coming to my home on a regular basis for poker night or Monday Night Football, it would be permitted," he said. "But when someone says to us we are not allowed to gather because of religious purposes - that is when you have discrimination."

It will be interesting to see what the Ninth has to say -- they are very much for people's rights but they are also very liberal progressive and may be put of their feed because this is a religious freedom issue.

There are points to be made for both sides as he built a 2,000 sq. ft. garage and converted it to a meeting room with seating for 40 people and a pulpit. On the other hand, they own 4.5 acres of land so it's not like they are bothering the neighbors. I am siding with Salman.

An amazing story

From The Delight Makers:

Wild Elephants gather inexplicably, mourn death of "Elephant Whisperer"
Author and legendary conservationist Lawrence Anthony died March 2. His family tells of a solemn procession of Elephants that defies human explanation.

For 12 hours, two herds of wild South African elephants slowly made their way through the Zululand bush until they reached the house of late author Lawrence Anthony, the conservationist who saved their lives. The formerly violent, rogue elephants, destined to be shot a few years ago as pests, were rescued and rehabilitated by Anthony, who had grown up in the bush and was known as the Elephant Whisperer.

For two days the herds loitered at Anthony's rural compound on the vast Thula Thula game reserve in the South African KwaZulu -- to say good-bye to the man they loved. But how did they know he had died? Known for his unique ability to calm traumatized elephants, Anthony had become a legend. He is the author of three books, Babylon Ark, detailing his efforts to rescue the animals at Baghdad Zoo during the Iraqi war, the forthcoming The Last Rhinos, and his bestselling The Elephant Whisperer.

There are two elephant herds at Thula Thula. According to his son Dylan, both arrived at the Anthony family compound shortly after Anthony's death. "They had not visited the house for a year and a half and it must have taken them about 12 hours to make the journey," Dylan is quoted in various local news accounts. "The first herd arrived on Sunday and the second herd, a day later. They all hung around for about two days before making their way back into the bush." Elephants have long been known to mourn their dead. In India, baby elephants often are raised with a boy who will be their lifelong mahout. The pair develop legendary bonds -- and it is not uncommon for one to waste away without a will to live after the death of the other.

A line of elephants approaching the Anthony house, but these are wild elephants in the 21st century, not some Rudyard Kipling novel. The first herd to arrive at Thula Thula several years ago were violent. They hated humans. Anthony found himself fighting a desperate battle for their survival and their trust, which he detailed in The Elephant Whisperer:
It was 4:45 a.m. and I was standing in front of Nana, an enraged wild elephant, pleading with her in desperation. Both our lives depended on it. The only thing separating us was an 8,000-volt electric fence that she was preparing to flatten and make her escape. Nana, the matriarch of her herd, tensed her enormous frame and flared her ears. "Don't do it, Nana," I said, as calmly as I could. She stood there, motionless but tense. The rest of the herd froze. 'This is your home now,' I continued. "Please don't do it, girl." I felt her eyes boring into me.

"They'll kill you all if you break out. This is your home now. You have no need to run any more."
Suddenly, the absurdity of the situation struck me, Anthony writes. Here I was in pitch darkness, talking to a wild female elephant with a baby, the most dangerous possible combination, as if we were having a friendly chat. But I meant every word. You will all die if you go. Stay here. I will be here with you and it's a good place. She took another step forward. I could see her tense up again, preparing to snap the electric wire and be out, the rest of the herd smashing after her in a flash. I was in their path, and would only have seconds to scramble out of their way and climb the nearest tree. I wondered if I would be fast enough to avoid being trampled. Possibly not. Then something happened between Nana and me, some tiny spark of recognition, flaring for the briefest of moments. Then it was gone. Nana turned and melted into the bush. The rest of the herd followed. I couldn't explain what had happened between us, but it gave me the first glimmer of hope since the elephants had first thundered into my life.

Much more at the site -- an amazing story. Getting a copy of the book...

Blow that theory out of the water

From Psychology Today:

Religion and Reason
Your answer to the following riddle can predict whether you are a believer in religion or a disbeliever:
Q: If a baseball and bat cost $110, and the bat costs $100 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?

A: If you answered $10 you are inclined to believe in religion. If you answered $5 you are inclined to disbelieve.
Why? Because, according to new research reported in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science, the $10 answer indicates that you are an intuitive thinker, and the $5 answer indicates that you solve problems analytically, rather than following your gut instinct.

Psychologists William Gervais and Ara Norenzayan, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, predicted that people who were more analytic in thinking would tend not to believe in religion, whereas people who approach problems more intuitively would tend to be believers. Their study confirmed the hypothesis and the findings illuminate the mysterious cognitive process by which we reach decisions about our beliefs.

Bzzzzzzzt!!! Wrong. I got the answer right and I am also deeply religious (but not a Church-goer -- do not get me going on the current state of the Episcopal Church). Maybe if I was mooning over chakras or advocating "tolerance for everything" I might also suffer an impairment of cognitive function but keeping a moral backbone and worshiping God and Jesus is not a sign of a deficient brain. Some people's brains are not wired to do arithmetic quickly -- this has no bearing on their spirituality. A bit more:

Cognitive theory of decision making supports the hypothesis that there are two independent processes involved in decision making. The first process is based on gut instinct, and this process is shared by other animals. The second cognitive process is an evolutionarily recent development, exclusive to humans, which utilizes logical reasoning to make decisions. Their study of 179 Canadian undergraduate students showed that people who tend to solve problems more analytically also tended to be religious disbelievers.

That is a pitifully small sample size and limiting yourself to one age group and one population is piss-poor statistics. When you ask 1K people ages 12 through 80 through a large city then and only then will you get decent results. Oh yeah:

Q: If a baseball and bat cost $110, and the bat costs $100 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?

Total cost is $110 Bat is $100 more than Ball. If Ball is $5, Bat will be $5+$100 = $110 If Ball is $10, Bat will be $10+$100 = $120 Pop Psychology at its worst...

Pope Benedict on Marxism

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Pope Benedict is going to visit Cuba this week and had the following to say. From the UK Guardian:
Pope Benedict: communism no longer working in Cuba
Pope Benedict XVI, flying to Cuba for a historic visit, has said that Marxism was out of place in the contemporary world and urged Cubans to find "new models".

His remarks on Friday were at least as forthright as any made by his predecessor, John Paul II, on a groundbreaking trip to the country 14 years ago. Answering a question about his visit to Cuba, which has remained a communist bastion for more than 50 years, the pope said: "Today it is evident that Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality."

He told reporters accompanying him on the papal plane: "In this way we can no longer respond and build a society. New models must be found with patience and in a constructive way."

Benedict also said that his church wanted "to help in the spirit of dialogue to avoid trauma and to help bring about a just and fraternal society". But his comments are likely to cause irritation in Havana.
Good on him -- the Cubans in power deserve to be more than irritated. They have been responsible for turning a gorgeous vibrant culture into a third-world hell-hole. How many hundreds of thousands of people have starved to death under their regime. Their "free medical care" is a tragic joke. Godspeed Pope Benedict!

Good riddance

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Readers will know that I was raised in the old-school Episcopal Church and am very troubled at where the Church is today. They used to have a moral backbone and now, they have a mindless tropism for acceptance and tolerance. In fact, there are some things out there that should not be accepted or tolerated. It's OK to say NO at times. The head of the Episcopal Church is the Archbishop of Canterbury and this office is currently held by Rowan Williams, a soft-minded twit of epic proportions. (here, here, here, here, here, here and here) Anyway, we have great news from Charles C. W. Cooke writing at National Review:
The Turbulent Priest
Once described as the �Conservative party at prayer,� the Church of England has taken a decidedly leftward turn in the last century, prompting the Earl of Onslow�s immortal observation that �one hundred years ago, the Church was in favor of fox hunting and against buggery. Now it is in favor of buggery and against fox hunting.� In the vanguard of its continuing drift was Rowan Williams, a self-described �bearded lefty� and terminal casuist who has also happened to be the Archbishop of Canterbury for the last nine years, and thus effectively second only to Queen Elizabeth II in the spiritual hierarchy.

Among other things, Williams became infamous for a steadfast refusal to acknowledge the virtues of his own country � and his own church, for that matter. It is thus no loss to either Britain or the Anglican Church that Williams announced on Friday that he will be resigning his office, effective December 2012, and I must respectfully disagree with John O�Sullivan�s more flattering portrayal of Williams, and set the ball rolling on the �great many less flattering things� that O�Sullivan correctly predicted �will be said about him in the next few months.�

The nadir of the archbishop�s dubious work was a remarkable February 2008 interview with the BBC, during which he baldly suggested that the rule of law might not be such a good idea after all. This was neatly coupled with a call for the adoption of certain aspects of sharia law in Britain � an eventuality he claimed was �unavoidable.� �An approach to law which simply said, there�s one law for everybody,� said Williams, �I think that�s a bit of a danger.� This is the symbolic head of a church with 80 million worldwide adherents, publicly stating that the principle that the old-fashioned among us consider to be the bedrock of civilization is outmoded in the 21st century.
Emphasis mine. Thank God! The poor idiot should have stayed in academia although I feel sorry for his future students...

Once to every man and nation

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Long-time readers will know that the Episcopal Church has veered strongly from the roots I grew up with. It used to have a moral spine and it is now "tolerant" and "accepting" I was thinking about the hymnal used in my church and went online and ordered one -- got it in the mail today. Remembered one of my favorites:
Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, �twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and �tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv�ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

-- James R. Low�ell, 1845
Try singing that in an Episcopal Church today and watch the heads explode...

Quote of the day

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Great quote from C.S. Lewis:
"... we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected) he often feels that it would not be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come along - illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation - he is disappointed. These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us."
--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Hat tip to Maggie's Farm

Rapture ready

Given the personalities of the people promoting the coming rapture, I do not think that I would like to spend eternity cooped up with them...

There have to be a lot of engineers in the other place and if there is any temperature differential at all, someone will get a refrigeration system going (thank you Sadi Carnot!)

Read one idea on the web -- if I were in a place like Vegas and had a spare $10K to blow: Purchase a couple hundred blow-up sex dolls and a couple tanks of Helium. Put two and two together and at the suposed time of rapture, release them. The idea of people wandering around and seeing hundreds of pink naked bodies floating gently up to 'Heaven' would be wonderful...

Besides, Matthew has a few things to say-- Chapter 24, verses 36:42

36 But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

37 But as the days of Noe [were], so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

41 Two [women shall be] grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

Like I was going to say, this is all well and good bu(*&IUYGHI*TI76tbI^TiuybI*To87yno*^T76rNO CARRIER

Compare and contrast

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We kill Osama bin Laden. The reaction from two major spiritual leaders is classic. From the London Daily Mail:
I'm uneasy about Bin Laden killing, admits Archbishop while Dalai Lama says: Sometimes you have to strike back
The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday declared himself �very uncomfortable� about the killing of unarmed Osama Bin Laden.

But as Americans insisted they had every right to celebrate the death of the 9/11 terror chief, they found an unlikely ally in the Dalai Lama, who seemed to suggest Bin Laden had it coming.

Amid growing international unease at the manner of the Al Qaeda leader�s killing, the Archbishop said justice had not been seen to be done, adding that the White House�s ever-changing story had not helped matters.
A bit more from the Dali Lama:
The Dalai Lama was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying: �Forgiveness doesn�t mean forget what happened. If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures.�
The Rev. Williams is a twit. The Episcopal Church has fallen far from when I was a regular communicant.

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