discarded lies: thursday, march 22, 2018 3:49 pm zst
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guest author: Sean Gleeson
Jews are not perfidious
Yesterday, in a thread here on bloggie, Franco quoted the "IMPROPERIA", the lovely Greco-Latin verses sung in Catholic churches every Good Friday. Here is a taste of it, translated:

I gave thee a royal sceptre, and thou hast given My head a crown of thorns.
I have exalted thee with great power, and though hast hanged Me on the gibbet of the Cross.

I have heard this chant many times and always thought it extremely touching, the Lord's agonized rebuke of sinful mankind from the cross. It had never occurred to me to think of it as an anti-semitic sentiment, or a rebuke of Jews in particular, but rather an accusation against man in general (and me in particular), because He suffered for the sins of all (and would have suffered for mine alone). It doesn't even make sense if I try to read it as a reproach to Jews alone, since Jews didn't do most of the stuff He's rebuking us for. He was scourged, pierced, crowned, and crucified by pagans, not Jews.

Today, I looked around the Internet, and I found that some Christians do indeed think the Improperia refer only to Jews. Those guys are wrong. I apologize on their behalf.

From the name Improperia, a reader with only a rough knowledge of Latin might think it is somehow the "Improper" chant, and come away very confused. But even though the word looks like "improper," it doesn't mean improper; it just means slow, as in "The Slow Chants." The prayer was so named because it is chanted slowly and somberly.

But even Latin scholars are confused, and usually get that wrong. If you look up Improperia in almost any source, the translation is given as "reproaches." But it never meant reproaches; it only acquired that meaning in the 19th Century, because of this chant (and likely because of confusion with improprius, meaning incorrect).

The whole reason the Church uses a dead language for her rituals is that the meaning of every word is supposed to be timeless and precise. But as improperia proves, it doesn't always pan out that way. A dead language that is used, for any purpose, ceases to be entirely dead.

I mentioned all that to pave the way for another explanation: even though perfidus looks like the English word "perfidious," it doesn't mean perfidious. It doesn't even really mean "faithless" (that would be infidus). The truth is, there is no single English word that captures the ancient Latin sense of perfidus, which is something like "having a different faith."

Every Good Friday, just before the Improperia in fact, Catholics pray nine prayers, collectively called the Oratio Fidelium. Prayers 1 through 6 ask for continued blessings and guidance for Catholics. The last three prayers ask God for the conversion of the whole world to Catholicism. One prayer for Christians, to reunite the Church. One prayer for the faithless, to receive the gift of faith. And one prayer for everyone that's not in the other two groups. That would be Jews.

In Latin, the prefix per- can signify "different," or by extension, "wrong." This meaning is seen in such words as pervertere (to overturn), perjurare (to swear falsely), and permutatus (substituted).

Perfidus was chosen to describe the Jews, to distinguish them from the infidus heathens (The Pro Conversione Infidelium is the next prayer). Jews are manifestly not infidels or idolaters; they are believers in the true God, keepers of His holy word, and faithful to His commands. The only thing they lack is recognition of Jesus Christ. They are not faithless, just "differently faithful," as we might say today, or perfidus, as they decided to put it in ancient times. I swear, it was meant to be a compliment!

The line about "removing the veils from their hearts" is also to show they are blameless compared to heathens. The prayer for the infidels asks to "remove the iniquities from their hearts." Jews don't have iniquity, just a curtain that keeps them from seeing the light of Christ. It's not an evil thing, just an obstacle.

But over time, the meaning of perfidus was corrupted. Not just in English, but even in Latin, the word took on the meaning we know as "perfidious" today: treasonous, treacherous, lying. (Infidus suffered the same fate. Consider, an infidel just lacks faith, but infidelity means betrayal!) Maybe it was an erroneous usage, as with improperia. Maybe it was an ineluctable evolution, and any word meaning faithless will eventually come to mean shiftless. (Heck, even "faithless" has sinister overtones.) But that's not how it started, and the Church never meant to brand the Jews as traitors with this prayer.

Besides which, calling Jews traitors for rejecting Christ would make no sense, since you cannot betray someone without first pledging loyalty to him. Jesus was indeed betrayed, by His own disciples; not by "the Jews." I hope it is clear that no imputation of what we now call "perfidy" was in any way denoted by perfidus when this prayer was written.

Realizing the needless hurt being caused by the misunderstanding of perfidus, the Church updated all English translations of the word to "unbelieving" in 1955. And in 1960 the word was entirely removed from the Latin prayer, too, so it no longer said perfidus anywhere at all. This was all done before the Second Vatican Council.

There was a brief mention of the event in the August 15, 1960 issue of Time magazine.

Maybe some people are offended by the very idea of someone praying for their conversion. I'm not, but I've met some who take umbrage at this. I reckon millions of people are praying for my conversion to their religion all the time. If they sincerely believe their religion has some efficacy, then they have the best of intentions. And meanwhile, they're leaving me alone.

Maybe some people are offended that people of other religions believe that their own beliefs are wrong. I see that as more of a tautology; if you have friends who don't share your religion, you just have to accept that those friends think at least some of your beliefs are untrue. I can't mollify such people, except to suggest that they consider maybe not being offended.

But to anyone offended by the particular language in this particular prayer, I can say that I fully understand your offense, even though it was never intended, and that the Church and I are doing everything we can to correct this misunderstanding. I hope that this explanation has helped serve this purpose.
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It's about time for a revolution
A dozen Orthodox priests have signed a declaration asking the church to excise anti-Semitic passages from its liturgy. I'm glad that this is finally acknowledged and talked about in the Orthodox church, but I doubt any changes will come forth; the Orthodox pride themselves on being the "true holders of the faith".
The dozen Orthodox priests who signed the declaration - some in open defiance of directives from church leadership - represent five different Orthodox churches, including the Russian, Greek, Ukrainian, Georgian and Ecumenical Orthodox Churches.

"We came to the firm belief that it is high time for the Orthodox Church to correct its attitude toward Jews and Judaism," the declaration states.

Unlike the Catholic and Protestant churches, the Orthodox Church has never removed anti-Semitic passages from its liturgy, which still refers to Jews as Christ killers, said Dr. Dmitry Radyehsvky, director of the Jerusalem Summit, a conservative Israeli think tank that co-sponsored the visit.

He said the anti-Semitic passages were most conspicuous during Easter services, and included statements such as "the Jewish tribe which condemned you to crucifixion, repay them, Oh Lord," which is repeated half a dozen times, and "Christ has risen but the Jewish seed has perished," as well as references to Jews as "God-killers."

"Orthodox Christianity lives up to its name: it's extremely conservative - even more than Catholicism," Radyehsvky said.

"For them to even pose the question about the need to throw out Judophobic passages from the liturgy, which were there for 1,500 years, is a revolution," he said.
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ev and zorkie
Ω γλυκύ μου έαρ
To our Christian friends who are observing Good Friday today, we hope you enjoy this Byzantine hymn that is sung in all of Greece this evening, when the Epitafios, the symbol of Christ’s funeral bier, is decorated with flowers and taken out in processions in every town and village with everyone joining Mary, Christ's mother, in her mourning: "Oh, my sweet spring, my sweetest child, where has your beauty gone?"

Happy Easter and Χριστός Ανέστη!
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Pat, God's insider
Apparently God feels pretty lonely and needs an American televangelist to chat with, so God spoke to Pat Robertson once again and told him that a terrorist attack on the United States would result in "mass killing" late in 2007. Pat said that "the Lord didn't say nuclear" but Pat believes it will be "something like that." Hmm... I wonder if Pat has been hanging out with some other "prophet" around here...
In what has become an annual tradition of prognostications, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said Tuesday God has told him that a terrorist attack on the United States would result in "mass killing" late in 2007.

"I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear," he said during his news-and-talk television show "The 700 Club" on the Christian Broadcasting Network. "The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that."

Robertson said God told him during a recent prayer retreat that major cities and possibly millions of people will be affected by the attack, which should take place sometime after September.

Robertson said God also told him that the U.S. only feigns friendship with Israel and that U.S. policies are pushing Israel toward "national suicide."
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guest author: Mauro
The price of his idea
An old man in a cell, clutching a Bible and recounting, one by one, all the mistakes in his life. A struggling man, worn down by the realisation of a life of mistaken belief and error. A thoughtful man in a journey of self discovery blessed by a hand in hand walk with his Jesus, my Jesus, your Jesus, a Jesus that touches the most un-expected of people.

I wish this man well in his quest and endeavour, in his time of deep sorrow and inner crusade. This is his true Jihad.

“October 18 (Compass Direct News) – A Muslim sheikh jailed in Egypt for 18 months has declared from his prison cell that he is under arrest for “insulting Islam” by becoming a Christian.
Egypt’s secret police transferred Bahaa el-Din Ahmed Hussein el-Akkad, 57, to the Wadi el-Natroun Prison last month. He was told he would remain there indefinitely unless he agreed to work as a government informer against other converts to Christianity.
According to the prisoner’s Cairo attorney, Athanasius William, his client remains incarcerated in this desert prison “only because he has chosen a different belief, to be a Christian.”
El-Akkad was imprisoned without charges for more than a year after officials of the State Security Investigation (SSI) arrested him in Cairo on April 6, 2005.
Although subjected to repeated interrogations, the former Muslim was never told the specific accusations against him. But several of his cellmates spread rumors that he was converting and baptizing people into Christianity, sparking verbal abuse and at least one severe beating from a fellow prisoner.”

Read all in the link…

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In limbo no more
I didn't know centuries-old church doctrine could change so easily: Pope tries to win hearts and minds by saving souls of unbaptised babies.
Christians hold that Heaven is a state of union with God, while Hell is separation from God. They have long wrestled, however, not only with the fate of unbaptised children, but also with the conundrum of what happened to those who lived a “good life” but died before the time of Jesus.

The answer since the 13th century has been limbo. What remains in an uncertain state, though, is the status of all the pre-Christian and unbaptised adult souls held by some still to be in this halfway house between Heaven and Hell.

The Pope is expected to abolish only “limbus infantium”, where the souls of unbaptised infants go. The precise status of “limbus patrum”, where the good people went who lived before Christ remains . . . well, in limbo.
What did Christians believe before the 13th century? And why did they change?
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guest author: mauretto
Conversation with God
Did you come across them 3 books “Conversation with God”? I did years ago and after half of the first book, I left it there for severe lack of Jesus.
I mean I agreed with everything else, that idea of God explained itself and I admitted it was how I actually figure it all out, but that, just that I couldn’t get around to, so, I dropped it.

What I got out of the books is the title though, I always thought, “Yes, conversation with God sounds good for any piece.”
So here is mine because the day I die, Lord, I’ll have questions too. Get the answers ready, All Will Be Revealed.

(I mean, let’s so not really, really rush into this, I don’t need the answers for another good 40 odd years, so no hurry, just take a note sort of thing, eh.) 

For starters what was this forgiveness thing?
You know I forgive but am seldom forgiven. Actually, punishment is usually swift and incisive when it comes to this particular Prodigal Son. There have been times I got away with murder but so many other times Lord, I think you’ve been a little heavy handed, you know?
I could bring You a few examples of people I thought didn’t deserve the happiness that they had because of what they did.
I hear You say “Envy”.
No it’s not and You know me. It’s that, in my mind, I just don’t get what I perceive as just, even a portion of the times I deem appropriate. (On the long run, it hurts) So, I prefer to call it Justice my Lord. You know, just to say.

And Faith…
Now that was a great idea eh? “God’s ways are mysterious”… Are You British, Lord? Mysterious is the understatement of the year. The common thing about people with True Faith is poverty, bad luck, tons of shortfalls in life and usually an unhappy ending and I know that You say that is Noble but… pain is so not, Lord. I just wonder what have I done in the before-life to get a life like this. Yes, I accept my life is jolly good comparing to approx 4 billion other lives and in perspective I am well placed but I am not talking just about me that’s it. There’s a lot of poor disgraziati out there too.
You know there’s no chance of me losing my faith but you do test it anyway, eh.

And while we’re at it, when are you going to send Jesus back?
If there ever was a time, this is it. Another few years and we’re all going to nuke this planet, ciao ciao paradiso terrestre. Billions starve, millions swim in obscene riches, millions kill each other for the flimsiest reasons. A lot of them; in your name as well.
Looking back, I don’t think there ever was a time where The Messiah was needed back more than now (or pretty soon).

But anyway, I thought I was going to give you a rant, you know; one of mine but I just can’t gear in Lord. The more I try, the more arguments die in my mind before I can develop them into constructed thoughts.
It’s like the part that knows best in me is saying, quit while you’re ahead.
So I will. Just let me add, for my friends here, the way I’ll probably turn up when my time comes (like I said, above, it’s just conversational, no hurry whatsoever)

SP Saint Peter
M me
AG Arcangelo Gabriele

SP “What are you doing here”
M ”Come see God”
SP “You don’t see God here, this is Paradise.”
M “I know but I thought I’d pop around and say hi while I was around, wanted to ask you if you could, you know, do me a favour…”
SP “Go away”
M “Eh, dai, don’t be like that. I mean, there’s a friend of mine, he’s probably just behind me, tell me what you want from earth, you know….”
SP “Are you trying to bribe me?”
M “Far from me, perish the thought! I just thought I’d come say hi, how are you an’all that. You know, networking, I’m new”
SP “You wish. You’re waited at the gate of Purgatory where your Judgement will be held”
M “You don’t do them in Paradise anymore?”
SP “We never did, nice try. Go to that cloud, second row, third down, angels try their new wings there, get a lift. And if I were you I’d hurry. He hasn’t been on the best of moods in the last couple of hundred years.”
M “Second row, third down, angels…..hey! hey! Gabriel! Gab! Oh! Here mate! Gabrieleeeeeeeee!”
AG (Arcangelo Gabriele) “Oh, look who’s here, I heard you were coming up”
M “You heard I was coming up?”
AG “Ye, you’re quite popular with the grey angels”
M “The grey angels?”
AG “You know, angels not whiter than white…..you’ll learn. Lissen, I can take you to the gate of Purgatory no probs but two things.”
M “Tell me”
AG “Well, first, I can’t just drop you in front of the gate; I need to leave you behind a cloud.”
M “Why?”
AG “Don’t worry….is just that He hasn’t been in a particular good mood with me since the Arabian thing”
M “Ah, I get it. Ok. What’s the second thing?”
AG “Did I hear you say that your friend’s coming up soon?”
M “Yes, he should be. I mean, I am not wishing him bad but it was there really….”
AG “Ok, any chance of a spliff?”
M “You joking?? You mean a joint?”
AG “Ye, you know, a draw, a spliff, a bit of green”
M “Wow. Gabriel…it’s true what they say about you then eh!” Warrior angel an’all that….”
AG “Have some respect, I have done this for a few thousand years you know? I’m still sort of blending in the role, getting to grips with the job-description. Messenger Arc-angel is not as easy as barista or accountant you know”

Gate of Purgatory.
Huge sign on top of gate “You and Me now” is not looking promising.
Sky-high, ultra huge gate opens, more sky behind it, I enter, pitch black, I leave my body, thousands of images whizzes all around.
Gradually they slow down and I start making up what they are. They are images of me and my sins together with images of me and my good deeds. I am suspended and body-less while these images rotates around me.
Sins I even forgot.
Good deeds I did without realising.
But I am not feeling what I felt when I did what I did. I am feeling what the people affected felt, when I did what I did, when I did it.

This surely would be Divine Justice.

(Please don’t go lit candles now, I am still well alive, I’ve just got a lot of fantasy ok?)
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The 'Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism'
The Vatican's envoy in the Holy Land and bishops from three other churches have launched a rare joint attack on the Christian Zionist movement, accusing it of promoting "racial exclusivity and perpetual war."
Whereas the other churches in the area are all about love and peace, don't you know. Holy Land churches attack Christian Zionism.
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Women must be silent
The minister of a Baptist church in New York fired a Sunday school teacher who had taught there for 54 years because she was a woman.
The First Baptist Church dismissed Mary Lambert on Aug. 9 with a letter explaining that the church had adopted an interpretation that prohibits women from teaching men. She had taught there for 54 years.

The letter quoted the first epistle to Timothy: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."

The Rev. Timothy LaBouf, who also serves on the Watertown City Council, issued a statement saying his stance against women teaching men in Sunday school would not affect his decisions as a city leader in Watertown, where all five members of the council are men but the city manager who runs the city's day-to-day operations is a woman.
Uh-huh, sure it won't.
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Let's keep Jesus and drop the other stuff
I wonder what our Christian friends think about this: Religion off the agenda in 'church of laughter'
For those who are curious about Christianity but disillusioned by the institutional Church, there is a novel solution - drop the religion.

The Rev Ian Gregory, a cleric well known to readers of The Daily Telegraph for launching the Campaign for Courtesy in an attempt to improve manners, has embarked on a new project which he calls "Christianity without religion".

Out goes the "archaic mumbo-jumbo" of church services and the "silly arguments about things that don't and shouldn't matter"; in come chats about anything that makes you feel good and the world's first dedicated "laughter room" because "laughter is as important as prayer".
I've always felt a little guilty for laughing easily - and quite often inappropriately - but a Jewish friend told me laughter is a blessing. And she's right, laughter is a blessing, it's one of the best things in life. So maybe Reverend Gregory is onto something.
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Praying for Hezbollah
Just a few things I've noticed in the Greek news in one of the largest private tv channels: Israel's bombing of Lebanon is a "murderous bombing"; Hezbollah's bombing of Israel is just plain "bombing". The refugees in Lebanon, "millions of them" have no place to go, nothing to eat, and no water or medicine. The news correspondent, reporting from refugee camps and shelters, breathlessly described how "twenty-five, thirty people have to share a bottle of water! Babies, their innocent eyes crying out at us at this injustice, have nothing to eat! These people are on the brink of starvation!" He put the blame for their plight on Israel's "murderous bombs". There is no mention of any Israeli refugees.

The report ended with a newsclip of a priest in a Greek Orthodox church in Beirut asking his congregation to support "the resistance" and Sheikh Nasrallah.

The news in the official state channel are presented in a more balanced and professional way but it's hopeless, the damage is done.
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A 'post-Catholic' country
Will Ireland be Christian in 2030? According to this article, prosperity, secularization, and the church's sex scandals have have led to a decline in the number of practicing Christians. But if those factors play such a significant role then America would be seeing a decline as well, since America is also a prosperous, secular country, and the church has had its share of sex scandals here too. I believe the difference is that America doesn't have an official church and religion is not tied to our identity as a nation.
As recently as the 1970s, 90 percent of the Irish identified themselves as Catholic and almost the same number went to mass at least once a week; now the figure for mass attendance is closer to 25 percent, according to church officials in Dublin.
How Catholicism fell from grace in Ireland
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America and the Coptic Pope
Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church has split in two, the conservative and traditional Coptic Orthodox in Egypt and the more progressive and moderate Holy Orthodox Synod of the United States which was founded by Egyptian immigrants. And whose fault is it that the church split? Why, it's America's fault of course. Isn't it always?
Commenting on the foundation of the Holy Orthodox Synod of Egypt and the Mediterranean by Maximus Johanna I, the spokesman of the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, Salib Mata Sawiris, told journalists that there was the possibility that such a "split" was backed by the US in its efforts to decrease Pope Shenouda's III popularity.
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The Apocalypse People
Why would anyone hurry to bring about the end of the world is beyond me, but 'End times' religious groups want apocalypse sooner than later, and they're relying on high tech -- and red heifers -- to hasten its arrival.
According to various polls, an estimated 40% of Americans believe that a sequence of events presaging the end times is already underway. Among the believers are pastors of some of the largest evangelical churches in America, who converged at Faith Central Bible Church in Inglewood in February to finalize plans to start 5 million new churches worldwide in 10 years.

"Jesus Christ commissioned his disciples to go to the ends of the Earth and tell everyone how they could achieve eternal life," said James Davis, president of the Global Pastors Network's "Billion Souls Initiative," one of an estimated 2,000 initiatives worldwide designed to boost the Christian population.

"As we advance around the world," Davis said, "we'll be shortening the time needed to fulfill that Great Commission. Then, the Bible says, the end will come."
Let's say this is not nonsense and the apocalypse will happen as described in the Bible. If this is God's plan, does he really need our help to speed it up?
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Good for the Presbyterians
The Presbyterian Church USA has voted to replace the Israel divestment resolution approved in 2004 with a resolution for peaceful investment in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. I'm very glad to hear this. Two years after Presbyterian vote, church steps back from divestment
Indeed, the issue has rocked the Presbyterian Church. Many church members felt not only misled about the 2004 resolution — which they thought had been vetted with the Jewish community — but misrepresented by a leadership they felt didn’t call enough attention to the issue before that vote, when it was tacked on to another resolution.

That jeopardized the Presbyterian ethic of fairness and deliberation. Making matters worse, other actions by church leadership — such as meetings with the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah — further alienated rank-and-file members.

For many Presbyterians, the 2004 resolution compromised the impartiality required by the church’s aspiration to be a peacemaker. Others say the punitive nature of divestment is simply bad policy.
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An omission of responsibility
James Carroll has an excellent editorial about Pope Benedict's speech at Auschwitz: The roots of the Holocaust. I've been having misgivings about Benedict since learning that he had been a member of the Hitler Youth. I know it was compulsory for all the young Germans to join at that time but there were Germans who resisted and didn't join the Nazis. Part of me felt bad for holding the Pope responsible for something that perhaps wasn't his decision at the time, but he does carry the stigma of Nazism and there isn't any other German who joined the Nazi movement, watched Jews being rounded up to the death camps, and went on to become pope. When I finally read the whole content of his Auschwitz speech, I was very disappointed at him, to say the least.
The question about the Holocaust has a special edge because Benedict is German, and it first surfaced during his visit to Cologne last August. In addressing an audience of Jews in that city's synagogue, the pope roundly condemned the Nazi genocide campaign. But then he defined the lethal Nazi anti-Semitism that spawned the genocide as having been ``born of neo-paganism." He made no mention of anti-Semitism's other parent, the long tradition of Christian contempt for Jews and the Jewish religion, which both fed the hatred of the perpetrators and justified the inaction of the bystanders. Little was made of the pope's omission of reference to such Christian responsibility, as if to give him time to make his position clearer.
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Where was God?
Pope asks where God was in Auschwitz horror. I always wondered that too. I was hoping the Pope would have an answer.
Benedict said it was almost impossible, particularly for a German Pope, to speak at "the place of the Shoah."

"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there can only be a dread silence, a silence which is a heartfelt cry to God -- Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?"

"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How could he permit this endless slaughter, this triumph of evil?"
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Kneeling and other mortal sins
A ban on kneeling during Catholic mass seems ridiculous to me. Maybe there's something I'm missing here but I seriously doubt that God would consider kneeling during liturgy a mortal sin equivalent to murder.
Kneeling "is clearly rebellion, grave disobedience and mortal sin," Father Martin Tran, pastor at St. Mary's by the Sea, told his flock in a recent church bulletin. The Diocese of Orange backs Tran's anti-kneeling edict.

Though told by the pastor and the archdiocese to stand during certain parts of the liturgy, a third of the congregation still gets on its knees every Sunday.

"Kneeling is an act of adoration," said Judith M. Clark, 68, one of at least 55 parishioners who have received letters from church leaders urging them to get off their knees or quit St. Mary's and the Diocese of Orange. "You almost automatically kneel because you're so used to it. Now the priest says we should stand, but we all just ignore him."

The debate is being played out in at least a dozen parishes nationwide.
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Jes s Day
With all I hear about separation of church and state I was under the impression that anything to do with religion was left off the school grounds. But there's the Seekers clubs, a network of Christian student groups in the New York City public schools and there are also Jewish and Muslim groups and clubs who meet on school grounds. The Seekers hold a yearly event called "Jesus Day" and whether they can hold the event on campus is an arbitrary decision made by the school's administration and/or the state's education board. It also differs from year to year and from school to school: in some public schools Christian students can hold "Jesus Day" and in others they can't.
School administrators must also wrestle with difficult questions about where the right to religious expression ends and the separation of church and state begins. Some school officials have discouraged their Seekers clubs over the years from having Jesus Day, while others have imposed strict limitations on advertising for the event, including prohibiting groups from using the name "Jesus" in any literature.
What would happen if the Muslim student groups wanted to hold "Mohammed Day" and spread the word about Islam?
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Crackdown on polygamy
I had written about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before, I was surprised to find out that a cult involved in abusing minors had been allowed to operate undisturbed for so long. Warren Jeffs, the group's spiritual leader and "prophet", has now been placed on the FBI's 'Ten Most Wanted Fugitives' list, and he's wanted on charges of sexual assault on underage girls.
When the FLDS under Mr. Jeffs (and his father before him) grew to some 10,000 followers in several southwestern communities with estimated assets of $110 million; when it became clear that government officials, school authorities, and police in those communities had become intertwined with the sect; when ex-members increasingly reported child and sexual abuse charges (mainly involving underage girls forced to marry older men); and when the sect began to use secluded compounds, state and federal authorities started to crack down more vigorously.
Specifically, Jeffs is charged in Utah and Arizona with sexual assault of underage girls and with arranging "spiritual" marriages for girls and older men. At weekend press conferences in Salt Lake City and Phoenix, FBI and state officials said Jeffs "is considered armed and dangerous and may be traveling with armed bodyguards." In the past, he has talked in apocalyptic terms about a violent end to the world, according to former members.

"The thing that makes it so hard to track a guy like this down is that he probably has a lot of cash, and like Osama bin Laden [who also is on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted list], he has people who totally buy into his position as a religious icon, and would guard him quite loyally," says Levin.
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Armenia, Armenia! Greece, Greece!
Has there ever been an Orthodox Easter in Jerusalem when priests and worshippers didn't beat each other up? 'Holy Fire' Ceremony Held in Jerusalem. I'm still curious about how they pull off the miracle of the Holy Light.
Tempers flared as thousands of worshippers waited to pass through security barricades into Jerusalem's Old City. Some priests and pilgrims shoved and punched police. Inside the church, people scuffled with each other and with officers as they waited for the ceremony to begin.

The Greek and Armenian Orthodox patriarchs in the Holy Land descended into the church's underground tomb to bring out the flame. Worshippers clutching bundles of unlit tapers and torches waited in the darkened church for the church leaders to emerge.

When they reappeared with lighted torches, church bells pealed. Worshippers cheered, shrieked "Christ, Christ," and ululated. The flames were passed around to the thousands of faithful and light and smoke filled the cavernous church within seconds.

The ritual dates back at least 1,200 years. The precise details of the flame's source are a closely guarded secret, but some believe it appears spontaneously from Christ's burial area as a message from Jesus on the eve of the Orthodox Easter that he has not forgotten his followers.

"My connection to Jesus is stronger, my connection to Jerusalem is stronger now," said Jeanette Gennetian, 66, of Watertown, Mass, a member of the Armenian Apostolic church.

Religious observations historically have touched off clashes over protocol among the different Orthodox denominations. Groups of people Saturday shouted, "Armenia, Armenia" in Armenian, and "Greece, Greece" in English.

On Friday, screaming Coptic priests threw punches over where and how long different sects would stand during the Good Friday service.
no comments yetUniraj BA 3rd Year Result left a comment at 2:06 pm 04/07
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Too busy killing each other to kill Christians at the moment
As terrorists try to spread Islam by force in Iraq, Christians attending church at Easter is itself a test of faith if not a miracle. Thousands of Christian Iraqis have fled the country and the few that remain are subject to intimitidation, violence and murder. In recent weeks there's been a respite in violence against Christians, let's at least hope they can hold Easter celebrations without anyone getting killed.
no comments yetUniraj BA 3rd Year Result left a comment at 2:06 pm 04/07
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Pope Benedict acknowledges Armenia's suffering, in signal to Turkey
This is the kind of muscular, confident, assertive Christian presence that I hoped Pope Benedict would bring to the Catholic church. I hope Turkey tries to put him on trial for violating its tin-pot laws against acknowledging the Turks ever harmed a hair on an Armenian's head.
Pope Benedict XVI recalled the "terrible persecution" Armenians suffered under Turkish rule 90 years ago during an audience Monday with an Armenian Catholic patriarch.

Speaking to Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni about the Armenian people over the centuries, the pope singled out the "sufferings which they underwent in the name of the Christian faith in the years of the terrible persecution that went down in history with the sadly meaningful name 'metz yeghern,' the great evil."

Armenians accuse Turks of a genocide of up to 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923. Turks claim the number of deaths is inflated and say the victims were killed in civil unrest.

The country is now facing pressure to fully acknowledge the event as it seeks membership in the European Union.

Benedict did not use the term "genocide" in his official remarks. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, called the deaths genocide but did not declare any party responsible.
no comments yetUniraj BA 3rd Year Result left a comment at 2:06 pm 04/07
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Misquoting Jesus
I'm interested in hearing people's thoughts and opinions on this article, The Book of Bart, the story of a fundamentalist Christian and New Testament expert who, in the process of studying the foundation of his faith, ended up losing his faith all together.
The Bible simply wasn't error-free. The mistakes grew exponentially as he traced translations through the centuries. There are some 5,700 ancient Greek manuscripts that are the basis of the modern versions of the New Testament, and scholars have uncovered more than 200,000 differences in those texts.

"Put it this way: There are more variances among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament," Ehrman summarizes.

Most of these are inconsequential errors in grammar or metaphor. But others are profound. The last 12 verses of the Gospel of Mark appear to have been added to the text years later -- and these are the only verses in that book that show Christ reappearing after his death.

Another critical passage is in 1 John, which explicitly sets out the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). It is a cornerstone of Christian theology, and this is the only place where it is spelled out in the entire Bible -- but it appears to have been added to the text centuries later, by an unknown scribe.

For a man who believed the Bible was the inspired Word of God, Ehrman sought the true originals to shore up his faith. The problem: There are no original manuscripts of the Gospels, of any of the New Testament.
no comments yetUniraj BA 3rd Year Result left a comment at 2:06 pm 04/07
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Falwell relents, admits Jews into heaven [Update: no, he doesn't]
Longstanding mainstream Christian opinion is that the only path to heaven is accepting Jesus Christ, plus other gotchas, depending on denomination-such as doing good works and marrying lots of women(Mormons), baptism and not dancing (Baptists), annoying people (Jehovah's Witnesses), avoiding any technology newer than the 16th century (Amish), etc. However, a plucky crew of evangelicals have been putting forth the novel notion that Jews have their own Covenant with the Lord, that the Lord doesn't break his covenants, and that therefore, all good Jews will go to heaven. So have Catholics, ever since Vatican II. Nostra Aetate took the Church back, centuries later, to Paul's insistence that the covenant with the Jews was still valid.

The cynicism of my headline for this story aside, I do believe that Falwell's change of heart is sincere, and that it's a good sign for Christian relations with the Jews, at the behest of a fellow televangelist who lobbied and persuaded him of the "dual-covenant" doctrine. I think it's worthy of respect.

UPDATE: He denies it.
no comments yetUniraj BA 3rd Year Result left a comment at 2:06 pm 04/07
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