The shepherd and the sheepfold
1 day ago
“I haven’t read a book in my life. I haven’t got enough time. I prefer to listen to music, although I do love fashion magazines,” she told Spanish Chic magazine.Even more amazing than that is I assume people will actually buy a book 'written' by her.
"Here it is, look, my death sentence". Abdul Rahman, the Afghan who converted to Christendom for which he was imprisoned and risked the death penalty and who since yesterday has been in Italy in political asylum, showed with trembling hands the court order written in Dari that charged him with apostasy, ordered his detention in a Kabul prison and ordered that he be subject to the death penalty - all according to Islamic law....
But be warned anyone who calls him Abdul. I've converted, he says, and my Christian name is Joel. He tells of having converted eight years ago after having read the bible, a bible that had been given to him as a present by a Belgian friend: in it he found only words of love for everyone. He then thanks Pope Benedict XVI, the Italian government and all Italians. In my country, he says, they kill you if you're not Muslim. Whoever changes religion suffers the death penalty. He then tells of having a brother in Germany and that his family have rejected him. He says that he is afraid for his children who are now in Kabul with their mother. I'm a father he says and for this reason I'm anxious about my children.
CAN a queen be a king, too? Consider the case of Hatshepsut, an Egyptian ruler of the 15th century B.C. The eldest daughter of Thutmose I and his principal queen, she married her younger half-brother, Thutmose II. His untimely death left her regent for Thutmose III, his son by another wife. At some point, she decided to govern jointly with the boy and took on the title of king. Later, she assumed the supreme title of pharaoh and ruled Egypt in that powerfully masculine role until her death.
During her reign (about 1479-1458 B.C.), when Egypt was emerging as a world power, the country prospered, the arts flourished, and peace, more or less, prevailed. In these respects, her rule might be compared to that of Elizabeth I of England, though Elizabeth had to make do with the less impressive title of queen.
The judge ordered Mary Winkler, who has been charged with first-degree murder, to be held in custody until her next court appearance after her lawyers told the court she was not seeking a bond.
Speaking to the press outside the courthouse, her lawyers said there were a number of reasons why bond was not sought.
"Her condition is pretty fragile," defense attorney Leslie Ballin said. "We think it is in her best interest not have bond at this time."
Another member of the defense team, Steve Farese, said that while his client had been a part of every decision involved in the case, she was "having a difficulty staying on point."
They also said Mary Winkler wanted to try to protect her three young daughters from painful details that would emerge at such a hearing.
"We feel it does no one any good to hear bad things said about the mother of children. We don't feel that it does anyone any good to hear gruesome things about their late father," Farese said.
Tonight, we`ve got an all-star panel of clergy, lawyers, shrinks and profilers trying to make sense of it, as we take a closer look at the Church of Christ. It has been called a cult.Yes, it's been called a cult by your guest on your show last night.
It kind of is a borderline cult, unfortunately.
GRACE: To Pastor Tom Rukala, how are women positioned within the Church of Christ?
RUKALA: As far as I understand, they`re treated with dignity and honor. It`s the traditional Christian view that men lead the church and women are to play a secondary role, and I think that they`re treated with dignity, certainly, in the Church of Christ.
GRACE: A secondary role, but with dignity?
The Ruhkalas have not found other traditional Bible-believing churches in Finland with which to fellowship. Nor have they found camps, radio ministries, youth works, or Bible institutes they can recommend wholeheartedly to the Finns. Also, most of the Christian literature that is currently being published in Finnish promotes Lutheranism or the Charismatic Movement and is therefore unusable.
Public school students will be able to take state-funded courses devoted to the Old and New Testaments under a bill that received final legislative approval Monday, making Georgia the first state in the nation to legally sanction Bible classes....
If Gov. Sonny Perdue accepts the bill, the State Board of Education must adopt curricula for two high school electives — "History and Literature of the Old Testament Era" and "History and Literature of the New Testament Era" — no later than February.
Local school systems then could decide if they want to offer the classes, which would be optional for students in ninth through 12th grades.
Patrick McAllister, a junior at McIntosh High School in Peachtree City, liked the idea of having a class about what is often referred to as the world's best-selling book.
"We do have the opportunity to learn about it in church, but it is a work of literature," McAllister said. "We shouldn't exclude it [from school] just because it's religious."
The courses are supposed to be designed as an academic study of the Scripture's influence on law, history, government, literature, art, music and culture.
The Bible would be the "basic text" for the courses, but teachers could use other religious books, too.
An Afghan man who had faced the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity has been released from prison after the case was dropped, the justice minister said Tuesday. Italy's foreign minister will ask his government to grant 41-year-old Abdul Rahman asylum.
Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini, who was among the first to speak out on the man's behalf, will ask for the permission at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the Italian ministry said in a statement Tuesday.
The announcement came after the United Nations said Rahman has appealed for asylum outside Afghanistan and that the world body was working to find a country willing to take him.
Attorney Farese said media speculation that the case hinged on a "dangerous situation" at the Winkler home was misguided.
"It was taken out of context," he said. "It was only a theory that something was going on in the home that in and of itself was dangerous."
The woman's attorney, Steve Farese, also was circumspect about her motive following their first jailhouse conversation.
"I think the accumulations of the pressures of life in and of itself certainly would have some factor in the case," Farese told WAFF-TV in Huntsville, Ala.
More than 25,000 evangelical Christian youth landed Friday in San Francisco for a two-day rally at AT&T Park against "the virtue terrorism" of popular culture, and they were greeted by an official city condemnation and a clutch of protesters who said their event amounted to a "fascist mega-pep rally."
"Battle Cry for a Generation" is led by a 44-year-old Concord native, Ron Luce, who wants "God's instruction book" to guide young people away from the corrupting influence of popular culture.
Luce, whose Teen Mania organization is based in Texas, kicked off a three-city "reverse rebellion" tour Friday night intended to counter a popular culture that he says glamorizes violence and sex....
That's bad news to Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who told counterprotesters at City Hall on Friday that while such fundamentalists may be small in number, "they're loud, they're obnoxious, they're disgusting, and they should get out of San Francisco."
When the Government decided to outlaw people being discriminated against because of their religion or sexuality, it hoped the move would guarantee equal treatment for all of Britain's increasingly diverse population.
But nobody in Whitehall foresaw the backlash that would unfold when hundreds of committed Christians who run bed-and-breakfasts were deprived of their right to ban gays, unmarried couples and people of other faiths from staying under their roof.
Hundreds of B&B owners across the country have been writing to ministers complaining that the new rules will force them to 'betray God' and their consciences by allowing 'undesirables' to enjoy their hospitality.
'We've had a lot of correspondence from Christian B&B operators who don't want to be forced to accept Satanists, Muslims, gays and even unmarried couples as guests,' said a Home Office official. 'Protestants have been writing in saying they shouldn't have to admit Catholics because they have an issue with their religion, Catholics saying they didn't want Jews under their roof and objections from followers of other types of faith.'
The new protection for gays and lesbians is partly inspired by the case of Tom Forrest, the proprietor of the Cromasaig B&B in the Highlands, who, in 2004, refused to let two gay men share a bed in a double room. Forrest has condemned the new regulations as 'atrocious'.
'Homosexuals have human rights, but so do religious people...'
Mary Winkler's behavior was odd last Tuesday when she debuted as a substitute teacher in Selmer, Tenn. Normally quiet and introverted, she talked incessantly on her cell phone, pacing about. "Several teachers complained about it," says assistant principal Pam Killingsworth. Winkler, 32, also got annoyed with her daughter Patricia—whose third-grade class she taught that afternoon—for acting up. Something was clearly the matter. The next day, Winkler's husband, Matthew, 31—minister of the local Fourth Street Church of Christ—didn't show up at the Wednesday-evening service. When church elder Drew Eason and his son Will went to the parsonage, they found Matthew facedown in a back room, blood-soaked from a fatal gunshot wound.
Court officials said the mental health of the defendant, Abdul Rahman, 41, would be evaluated. Although prosecutors vowed to continue the case, a finding of mental illness by public health authorities could thwart their effort....
The court said two of Mr. Rahman's relatives, a daughter and a cousin, had told the court that Mr. Rahman had mental problems, according to Abdul Wakil Omari, a spokesman for the Supreme Court.
"Also, during his preliminary court hearing, he had said that he was hearing strange voices and that he was not feeling well spiritually," Mr. Omari said.
But the prosecutor, Abdul Wasei, said he doubted the claim. "I did not see any kind of mental problem in this case," he said. He said that Mr. Rahman, when asked about his mental health, insisted that it was fine.
"I am O.K., you can prosecute me, I can answer your questions," Mr. Wasei said Mr. Rahman told him.
If a hospital examination bears that out, Mr. Wasei said, he expects to have the case back before the court in a week.
But if Mr. Rahman is found to be mentally ill, Mr. Wasei conceded in an interview, "that's another thing and of course things will change."
Mr. Wasei dismissed as inaccurate press reports that Mr. Rahman was about to be released. "When his mental examination is finished, maybe he will be released," he said. "But I don't see any possibility of his being released before that."
An Afghan court on Sunday dismissed a case against a man who converted from Islam to Christianity because of a lack of evidence and he will be released soon, officials said.
The announcement came as U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai faced mounting foreign pressure to free Abdul Rahman, a move that risked angering Muslim clerics who have called for him to be killed.
An official closely involved with the case told The Associated Press that it had been returned to the prosecutors for more investigation, but that in the meantime, Rahman would be released.
"The court dismissed today the case against Abdul Rahman for a lack of information and a lot of legal gaps in the case," the official said Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
A small Easter display was removed from the City Hall lobby on Wednesday out of concern that it would offend non-Christians.
The display - a cloth Easter bunny, pastel-colored eggs and a sign with the words "Happy Easter'' - was put up by a City Council secretary. They were not purchased with city money.
Tyrone Terrill, the city's human rights director, asked that the decorations be removed. Terrill said no citizen had complained to him.
Council Member Dave Thune called it a shame.
"This has just gone too far,'' he said. "We can't celebrate spring with bunnies and fake grass?''
The council president, Kathy Lantry, said the removal wasn't about political correctness.
"As government, we have a different responsibility about advancing the cause of religion, which we are not going to do,'' she said.
It's not the first time a holiday symbol has been removed from City Hall. In 2001, red poinsettias were briefly banned from a holiday display because they were associated with Christmas.
Harrell notes there are some 800,000 churches in America that constitute one of the most influential social networks in the country. "A large portion of the charity dispensed in America is through churches," he said. "What shocks foreigners is how many churches there are in America."Okay, I admit it. I don't have a copy yet, but I'll get one soon. You should, too.
That omnipresent religiosity has affected politics and the economy from the nation's founding. "The nation has a pervasive religious underpinning," he said. "You can't understand our policies without the feed-in from religious ideas."
Harrell, who retired from Auburn last year, and his colleagues have been working on the book for nearly 15 years.
"A lot of textbooks acknowledge that the Puritans were religious, and give a distorted summary of the Scopes trial, and that's about it," Harrell said.
On a Sunday at their modest, gray ranch house in the Denver suburb of Englewood, Tim and Jeanine Pynes gather with four other Christians for an evening of fellowship, food and faith. Jeanine's spicy rigatoni precedes a yogurt-and-wafer confection by Ann Moore, none of the food violating the group's solemn commitment to Weight Watchers. The participants, who have pooled resources for baby sitting, discuss a planned missionary trip and sing along with a CD by the Christian crossover group Sixpence None the Richer. One of the lyrics, presumably written in Jesus' voice, runs, "I'm here, I'm closer than your breath/ I've conquered even death." That leads to earnest discussion of a friend's suicide, which flows into an exercise in which each participant brings something to the table--a personal issue, a faith question--and the group offers talk and prayer. Its members read from the New Testament's Epistle to the Hebrews, observe a mindful silence and share a hymn.
The meeting could be a sidebar gathering of almost any church in the country but for a ceramic vessel of red wine on the dinner table--offered in communion. Because the dinner, it turns out, is no mere Bible study, 12-step meeting or other pendant to Sunday service at a Denver megachurch. It is the service. There is no pastor, choir or sermon--just six believers and Jesus among them, closer than their breath. Or so thinks Jeanine, who two years ago abandoned a large congregation for the burgeoning movement known in evangelical circles as "house churching," "home churching" or "simple church." The week she left, she says, "I cried every day." But the home service flourished, grew to 40 people and then divided into five smaller groups. One participant at the Pyneses' house, a retired pastor named John White, also attends a conventional church, where he gives classes on how to found, or plant, the house variety. "Church," he says, "is not just about a meeting." Jeanine is a passionate convert: "I'd never go back to a traditional church. I love what we're doing."
More recent arrangements can seem more ad hoc. Tim and Susie Grade moved to Denver a year ago. They had attended cell groups subsidiary to Sunday services but were delighted to learn that their new neighbors Tim and Michelle Fox longed for a house church like the ones they had seen overseas. Now they and seven other twenty- and thirtysomethings mix a fairly formal weekly communion with a laid-back laying on of hands, semiconfessional "sharing" and a guitar sing-along. Says Tim: "We have some people who come from regular churches, and were a little disenfranchised. And people who joined because of friendships, and people who are kind of hurting, kind of searching. My age group and younger are seeking spiritual things that they have not found elsewhere."
Critics fret that small, pastorless groups can become doctrinally or even socially unmoored. Thom Rainer, a Southern Baptist who has written extensively on church growth, says, "I have no problem with where a church meets, [but] I do think that there are some house churches that, in their desire to move in different directions, have perhaps moved from biblical accountability." In extreme circumstances home churches dominated by magnetic but unorthodox leaders can shade over the line into cults.
Hammon, who's involved in a polygamous relationship, is a founding member of the Centennial Park Action Committee, a group that lobbies for decriminalization of the practice. She's among a new wave of polygamy activists emerging in the wake of the gay-marriage movement—just as a federal lawsuit challenging anti-polygamy laws makes its way through the courts and a new show about polygamy debuts on HBO. "Polygamy rights is the next civil-rights battle," says Mark Henkel, who, as founder of the Christian evangelical polygamy organization TruthBearer.org, is at the forefront of the movement. His argument: if Heather can have two mommies, she should also be able to have two mommies and a daddy. Henkel and Hammon have been joined by other activist groups like Principle Voices, a Utah-based group run by wives from polygamous marriages. Activists point to Canada, where, in January, a report commissioned by the Justice Department recommended decriminalizing polygamy.
There's a sound legal argument for making the controversial practice legal, says Brian Barnard, the lawyer for a Utah couple, identified in court documents only as G. Lee Cooke and D. Cooke, who filed suit after being denied a marriage license for an additional wife. Though the case was struck down by a federal court last year, it's now being considered by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Barnard plans to use the same argument—that Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 sodomy case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that individuals have "the full right to engage in private conduct without government intervention," should also apply to polygamous relationships.
Among Johnson's favorite targets for good-humored insults were actors, whom he dismissed as talentless buffoons:"I look on them as no better than creatures set upon tables and joint-stools to make faces and produce laughter, like dancing dogs."I would have loved to see Dr. Johnson covering the red carpet.
"But, Sir," someone objected, "you will allow that some players are better than others?"
"Yes, Sir," he said, "as some dogs dance better than others."
If you've read "The Da Vinci Code," you know author Dan Brown loved planting anagrams as clues in his best-selling thriller. But when he named a scholarly British character Sir Leigh Teabing, little did he know an anagram could bite back. "Leigh Teabing" is a play on the names of Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent, the two authors now suing Brown's British publisher, Random House U.K., for copyright infringement. Leigh and Baigent, along with Henry Lincoln (who did not join the lawsuit), are the authors of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail," a book of historical nonfiction first published in Britain in 1982. They claim Brown stole not only 15 core ideas from their book but took its "architecture"—how they connected the dots in their windy, speculative history of the Knights Templar, the Holy Grail and the Priory of Sion, a secret society that clung to the heretical idea that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and began a bloodline of European royalty.
This is an unusual copyright case: the issue is not garden-variety plagiarism but to what extent a fiction writer can use material from a protected nonfiction source.
Last week the judge adjourned to read both books.
McGregor Wright says that, “For every inconsistent teacher there are several of their students who are quite willing to drive the truck of heresy through the holes the master has left in the semiorthodox fence.”[ii] That’s the legacy of inconsistency: one generation’s innocent mistake becomes the next generation’s cherished assumption. The teacher who admits that God is sometimes illogical will have students who insist that God is frequently illogical. And the following generation will question whether God is ever logical.
It is far more difficult to spot the last generation’s error and weed it out than to drag truth down to the level of error we inherited.
Some mistakes seem trivial but lead to significant thought shifts. Paul teaches salvation by grace through faith apart from works. Then someone comes along and says salvation is by grace, but our works are a pre-condition for God’s grace. He might never imagine a gospel of works, but his students will soon rationalize the system and arrive at precisely that. What begins as a seemingly trivial mistake ends in an egregious error.
And that’s why we need hair-splitters. That’s why we need people who will suffer the shrugs and sighs to insist that Christians speak with precision when they deal with doctrinal truth. We need people who care about the jots and tittles, who aren’t afraid to delve into the minutiae of the faith, who are willing to keep a thousand seemingly-pointless distinctions in the proper logical sequence.
Dr Williams also warned that the worldwide Anglican Church faced a fundamental "rupture" on the issue of homosexuality.
He said he feared any split could take decades to heal.
Traditionalists have given the Church in the US until June to reverse its approach on ordaining gay clergy - or face expulsion from the Communion.
Some liberals back a looser, federal structure for the Anglican Communion.
Dr Williams said he feared any split would run too deep to make this possible.
"If there is a rupture, it's going to be a more visible rupture, it is not going to settle down quietly to being a federation," he said.
"And I suppose my anxiety about it is that if the communion is broken we may be left with even less than a federation."
...Our correspondent said the archbishop seemed to be aiming his remarks at the American Church.
The church has been given until its governing convention meets in June to reverse its liberal approach to the ordination of gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex relationships.
US pop diva Madonna wants to buy a house in the Israeli town of Rosh Pina, where the ancient Jewish Kabbalah tradition expects the Messiah to appear at the end of the world.
Yediot Aharonot said the owner of a 100-year-old, ramshackle five-bedroom villa overlooking the Sea of the Galilee had been recently contacted several times by representatives of the superstar with a view to selling his property.
According to the same source, Madonna wants to renovate the building into a centre of study of mystical Jewish texts pored over by Kabbalah followers.