Archive for March, 2010

The Sistine Chapel Virtual Tour

Monday, March 29th, 2010

This is a ‘must see’, absolutely beautiful and quite breathtaking.

The Vatican website has a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel which can be found on this link:

The Sistine Chapel Virtual Tour

This takes a little while to download, even with broadband, but believe me it’s well worth the wait.

Once the download of the webpage is complete, click your mouse anywhere on the chapel and hold down and drag to move the image. There are also a couple of little buttons on the bottom left for zooming in in and out.

The music is beautiful as well.

Technology does have its benefits eh.

Hat-tip CyberBrethren

So the Episcopal church shows yet again their disregard for Christians of other traditions and beliefs to their own liberal views. In this particular case a thriving, growing Anglican church was turfed out by the Episcopal church and then sold on to a Muslim group.

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

This is unbelievable. Is this a portend for the future of the Anglican Church here in the UK?

Cross-post by Rachel Hovenden

An Episcopal church is sold to Muslims after liberal theology dispute

I first heard it here (beware of the language).

So the Episcopal church shows yet again their disregard for Christians of other traditions and beliefs to their own liberal views. In this particular case a thriving, growing Anglican church was turfed out by the Episcopal church and then sold on to a Muslim group.

It came out last week that the Diocese of Central New York had sold the church to ”The Islamic Awareness Center”. Earlier last year the diocese served Rev Matt Kennedy, the Rector of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, New York, with a notice that he and his congregation must leave their church building and home at very short notice. This left the Kennedy’s and their four children homeless.

The reason seems to stem from the fact that Mr Kennedy felt he could no longer be associated with the increasingly liberal direction of The Episcopal Church. He and his congregation decided to vote to leave the diocese and to seek another bishop for church oversight.

But what began as friendly negotiations for their purchase of the property became a court battle. The diocese decided to sue the Good Shepherd, remove the congregation, buildings and funds and stop any Anglican church buying the building.

The church was padlocked and signs pointing the homeless to the church’s soup kitchen had gone. Before they lost the building, it had been the only soup kitchen operating on the south-side of Binghamton on Thursday nights. But the local Catholic church provided the Good Shepherd with an alternative building and rectory.

And now one year on the cross has been removed, the doors painted green and a new owner “The Islamic Awareness Center” have taken over the property.

So what’s the issue? The main issue here is that the Episcopal church have condemned a thriving church because they dissented from their agenda on liberal theology. The Anglican church has always been a diverse creature. A place where Christians of different traditions have been able to learn from each other and to learn to disagree. But now this is not allowed and “dissenters” from a liberal theology are turfed out.

But worse than that the very centre of Christianity, the worship of Jesus, is at stake. For the witness of the church cannot be aided when its buildings are sold to other faiths that deny Christ’s claims.

What does it say about the Episcopal church that they would prefer to sell their church to Muslims (offering a lower price) than to fellow Christians in the Anglican communion who were already using the building.

But will Rowan Williams act? I think it’s about time.

My US Anglican friend David @ Virtue Online has sent me more on this one:

One of the great lies told by Episcopal Church leaders is that lawsuits are necessary to protect parish properties for future generations of Episcopalians. Frequently, TEC has intervened in cases at the direction of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. If you tell a lie long enough and loud enough people will often believe it.

Sometimes, the evidence bubbles up to show that that is simply not true. The former Church of the Good Shepherd parish in Binghamton, NY in the Diocese of Central New York was sold off recently to a Muslim Awareness group for a mere $50,000. Its taxable assessment is $386,000 a fraction of the selling price. It is still a tax exempt property. The diocese had won the property back from a lawsuit brought by Fr. Matt Kennedy and parish leaders, but they lost in a summary judgment to the diocese. This house of worship has belonged to the Church of the Good Shepherd since 1879.

Fr. Kennedy and his flock then purchased what was St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church and renamed it Anglican (Binghamton) Church of the Good Shepherd for $500,000. Its assessed value is $914,600. He has also picked up a school and rectory. The parish is now under the Anglican Church of Kenya which is a constituent member of the Anglican Church in North America.

Mrs. Jefferts Schori is on record saying she would never allow a former Episcopal parish to be sold to an orthodox Anglican group. She would sooner sell it off to become a saloon. Apparently selling it to Muslims is also acceptable to her.

The new Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd is now in better buildings where they continue to proclaim in word and deed the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ. The church has also grown since it left TEC and the diocese, VOL was told.

The Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, NY is now an Islamic Awareness Center See link.

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo /q6POY9EaY4fTI9gb1x4tAA?feat=directlink

Shirley Chaplin a Christian nurse re-assigned to an office role after refusing to take off a necklace bearing a cross will take her case to an employment tribunal next week

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Oh no, just when you thought it safe to get back in to the water…shudder….

This was the eChurch statement on this particular case, back in September:

The eChurch Blog will not be promoting this current popular news item, as we believe that if a protruding necklace constitutes a heath and safety risk (in terms of infection control, and the risk of the necklace being grabbed by a patient etc) in the medical environment, then all medical workers (including Christians) should abide by the rules.

We at the eChurch Blog have extensive personal experience working within the medical profession, and can certainly accept that a protruding necklace could potentially cause a problem, with infection control and could constitute a potential risk in terms of manual handling.

If the health trust is simply asking for this necklace (and ALL protruding necklaces) to be concealed underneath the clothing, or removed, then we see no problem with Christians following this instruction for health and safety reasons.

I would now add to this statement the fact that wearing religious symbols is not a requirement of Scripture, nor is it a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith and therefore, should constitute no infringement of Christian religious freedoms, when requested to remove.

As long as these health and safety rules are enforced uniformly, then what’s the problem?

Independent:

A Christian nurse re-assigned to an office role after refusing to take off a necklace bearing a cross will take her case to an employment tribunal next week, a hospital said today.

Shirley Chaplin, 54, claims the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust Hospital was trying to prevent her from expressing religious beliefs.

In response to the controversy last September, the trust said the policy was nothing to do with the crucifix specifically, and instead motivated by health and safety concerns about patients grabbing necklaces.

Mrs Chaplin’s case for discrimination on religious grounds will begin in her home city of Exeter tomorrow.

The court must decide if her employer “subjected her to discrimination on grounds of her religion” after attempts to resolve the matter failed, the trust said today.

Previously employed on the infection and isolation ward caring for the elderly and vulnerable, she has been redeployed to a nursing administration role.

That is “with full pay protection, pending ongoing attempts to find an acceptable compromise”, the trust added.

Lynn Lane, the trust’s human resources director, said: “The trust has fully acknowledged that this has become an important issue for Mrs Chaplin, which is why we offered her a number of different options in the hope that a mutually acceptable solution could be agreed.

“We are very disappointed that this matter could not have been resolved before now. For the trust, this has always been about compliance with our agreed uniform policy and the safety of staff and patients. Our policy on necklaces accords with most other trusts’ dress codes and Department of Health guidelines.

“Sadly, it appears that Mrs Chaplin may have been deflected from agreeing a sensible and pragmatic resolution of this dispute by the involvement of other parties outside the trust.”

Continue Reading

Did you notice that last statement:

“Sadly, it appears that Mrs Chaplin may have been deflected from agreeing a sensible and pragmatic resolution of this dispute by the involvement of other parties outside the trust.”

So who are these “outside parties” stirring up trouble?

I wonder which Christian legal group is representing Mrs Chaplin?

I made this comment in a recent post analysing the “persecution of Christians” in the UK:

I’m going to be forthright, are Christians more persecuted today in the UK, or is it that Christians have developed a persecution complex over the last 10 years as a result of certain Christian organisations who thrive on such legal cases? (Editors note, these Christian organisations have not been named for fear of incurring the wrath of their fearsome litigation departments)

I’ll say no more for fear of legal reprisals :)

Palm Sunday – From Martin Luther’s House Postil, from a sermon on John 12:12-19

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

From our Lutheran CyberBrethren

From Martin Luther’s House Postil, from a sermon on John 12:12-19

“We should get really well acquainted with this Christ-King, and place all our  hope boldly in the life which is to come, where  we will be forever happy, free of all sin and infirmity. It’s for that reason that Christ came, and was crucified, died, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven to occupy his kingdom. That’s how he overcame sin, death, and the devil for us, and by his blood and Holy Spirit swept us clean of all filth, so that all who believe in him are righteous and blessed, and will someday pass through temporal death into his eternal, heavenly kingdom.

“That’s why all of us should truly welcome this Christ-King, recognizing him as our righteous helper, and by the power of the Word, Sacraments, and faith, enjoy him now and forever! A Christian, you see, has not been baptized, so that he may collect treasure and get rich here on earth – all of which he can do as well without the gospel and baptism; instead he was baptized so that through Christ he may attain eternal life. To reach that life is why we should faithfully use the gospel and our baptism. I am a baptized Christian so that I may inherit and attain Christ’s kingdom. And if I’m also blessed with possessions, I use these for my physical needs – certainly not to lift myself up into heaven!

“We should, therefore, mark all the difference between Christ’s kingdom and worldly powers, as he  himself clearly showed by his extraordinary entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, without a saddle, the animal a borrowed one at that! He sat 0n it without pretense, just as he was, barefoot, without boots and spurs. From the human point of view the whole incident looked ridiculous, and yet this beggar-King, riding on a donkey, was Israel’s King, promised by God and foretold by the prophets. That was evident also from the way his followers greeted him, “Hosanna!” Blessings on this King and upon his new kingdom! “Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” All of which made it crystal clear that he was in no way like worldly rulers who have amassed a lot of treasure and property for the purpose of displaying worldly pomp and circumstance for their public appearances. Christ was no such earthly king; on the contrary, he is an eternal King, with an everlasting kingdom where one needs neither gold or silver, and yet will never suffer any want or need in all eternity.

“The world has nothing but high disdain for this King and his kingdom with its eternal blessings; it is concerned only with temporal goods: power, honor, and riches on earth. We Christians, however, are to labor here and use the world’s goods for our bodily needs, all the while not forgetting the other life. After all, we must in the end depart and leave behind the goods of this earthly life; that should help us remember where we really want to be, namely with Christ, our eternal King. For if we accept him here, that is, believe in him and heed his gospel, he will also receive us over there, saying to us, “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

“This, then, is what our dear Lord Jesus Christ meant to show by his entrance into Jerusalem, so that we might truly understand him and his kingdom. On the left hand, as it were, we still live here in the kingdom of this world, but always on the right hand we reach forward and upward to his kingdom everlasting in the world to come. It was for that future life that we were baptized. May God grant us his grace so that we may joyously welcome and accept this King and remain with him forever. Amen!”

- House Postil

Thanks to Pastor Juhl, at Historic Lectionary for the quote.

LITURGICAL THEME FOR THE DAY: Palm Sunday is the day we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal and peaceful entrance into Jerusalem.

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

I’ve nicked this one from Anglican Mainstream – hope they don’t mind ;-)

PALM SUNDAY

LITURGICAL THEME FOR THE DAY:

Palm Sunday is the day we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal and peaceful entrance into Jerusalem. The entire entrance sequence by Jesus according to the gospels has many important aspects that involve the participation of Jesus, his disciples, and those witnessing the event. The significance of the story is underlined by the fact that it is found in all four Gospels.

Liturgically this festival has early roots in the Eastern Church. St. Cyril of Jerusalem writes about annual commemoration of this great event as recorded in the Scriptures, with the custom also being observed by the desert fathers of Egypt and Syria. The first evidence we find in the West is in the 7th Century through the Sacramentary of St. Gregory, that is, at the end of the sixth, or the beginning of the seventh, century. While it many places it was not possible to obtain palms or olive branches; they were supplied by branches from other trees. Nonetheless, the Liturgy of the Palms were still employed.

MEDITATION OF THE DAY:

Donkey’s despite their use as beasts of labor are rarely portrayed in a positive light. Even Milne’s Eyeore in Winnie the Pooh struggles with an image issue. Often these animals are seen as dumb, stubborn or stupid not to mention unattractive Poor Eyeore ponders his existence cogitating on the fact that his ears are too long and awkward and his feet too short. Is this any way for a King to travel?

God in his wisdom chooses the lowest fo animal for Jesus to enter the fullness of his role not unlike the donkey that Mary rode on seeking to deliver Jesus in Bethlehem . It is interesting to not how the Evangelist describes this situation with the donkey…”The Lord has need for him”. The insignificant donkey and its colt performed the assigned role in carrying Christ both for his birth and for his death in the crucifixion. Neither would have been possible without the role of the donkey and the colt. This small image serves as a reminder that God takes the least for the work of his Kingdom.

Little did the owners know that their act of submission and obedience to Jesus’ need would bring about such a glorious event — the Triumphal Entry that is described in the verses. So the question each of us needs to ask today is this: “What does the Lord need from me?” May our responses be the same as the unnamed owners of the donkey. How do you think he might be calling you and I in our simplicity to a Kingdom work of witness this Holy Week? Singing Hosanna is great but there is no singing of Hosanna without the servile humility of the donkey!

PRAYER OF THE DAY:

Almighty and ever living God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

ANCIENT WISDOM/PRESENT GRACE:

“It is better to be the child of God than king of the whole world”.  – St. Aloysius Gonzaga

HOLY WEEK DISCIPLINE :

Read Matthew 21:1 -11. What “garments” do I need to lay down before my God? Can you reflect on this avoiding any self -righteousness? We are called to be living testimonies, share with another the fruit of this discipline.

Six prominent bishops and Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, describe the “discrimination” against churchgoers as “unacceptable in a civilised society”.

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Six “prominent” Bishops have written a letter to the Sunday Telegraph today bleating on about how poorly treated Christians are in the UK.

The link to the letter is here.

This is an article in the Telegraph covering the six bishops letter.

Telegraph:

Senior bishops call for end to persecution of Christians in Britain. Christians in Britain are being persecuted and “treated with disrespect”, senior bishops have said.

Six prominent bishops and Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, describe the “discrimination” against churchgoers as “unacceptable in a civilised society”.

In a thinly-veiled attack on Labour, they claim that traditional beliefs on issues such as marriage are no longer being upheld and call on the major parties to address the issue in the run-up to the general election.

In a letter to The Sunday Telegraph, the bishops express their deep disquiet at the double standards of public sector employers, claiming that Christians are punished while followers of other faiths are treated far more sensitively.

Their intervention follows a series of cases in which Christians have been dismissed after seeking to express their faith. They highlight the plight of Shirley Chaplin, a nurse who was banned from working on hospital wards for wearing a cross around her neck. This week she will begin a legal battle against the decision.

Continue Reading

Notice the picture that accompanies this article of a po-faced Christian holding her necklace cross, as evidence of her appalling discrimination. See here for current information on the Shirley Chaplin “necklace” case.

Anyway, the Ugley Vicar has this about right, when he quotes the following Scriptures in response to this article:

Praise God, says apostle:

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:12-17, NIV)

The Scriptures are replete with warnings that the world hates Jesus and therefore will hate us also. We are exhorted to rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer with Him, and to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

And yet what do we hear, week after week? Leaders of the church moaning and groaning and bitching about how tough it is, and how folks treat us poorly. Pathetic and embarrassing.

The Bishop of Lichfield the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill has been going on about this during the week:

Diocese of Lichfield – Bishop of Lichfield defends place of Christianity in public life

I loved this recent article in the Times which sums it all up nicely for me:

eChurch – Persecute me I’m after the Brownie points – We Christians thrive as a minority. A bit of strict us-and-them keeps up the quality

Do check out my recent post on the “persecution” of Christians in the UK:

eChurch – A survey conducted on behalf of Theos by ComRes found that 32 per cent of people believed religious freedoms have been eroded over the past ten years.

Jonathan Bartley of Ekklesia has put together a thoroughly good piece on this:

Ekklesia – Bishops should put up or shut up over ‘persecution’

Here is another more interesting article in the Telegraph today:

Hundreds of heads and church leaders oppose sex lessons for seven-year-olds

In a letter to The Sunday Telegraph, 640 signatories, including Catholic bishops, parish priests, university professors, councillors and doctors, call for legislation to be dropped which will see children as young as seven taught about sex and relationships.

From September next year, primary school pupils will learn about puberty, sexual intercourse, marriage and the risk of abuse and domestic violence.

Continue Reading

I completely agree with contesting this, but not for the reasons cited in the first Telegraph article:

Christians are also increasingly concerned that the Government is ignoring their views on issues such as sex education and homosexuality when introducing new legislation.

A group of 640 head teachers, school governors and faith leaders have signed a separate letter to this newspaper warning that compulsory sex education in primary schools will erode moral standards and encourage sexual experimentation.

They call for the dropping of legislation that will see children as young as seven taught about sex and relationships.

In their letter, the bishops urge the Government to stop the persecution of Christians.

“We are deeply concerned at the apparent discrimination shown against Christians and we call on the Government to remedy this serious development.

“In a number of cases, Christian beliefs on marriage, conscience and worship are simply not being upheld.

The Children, Schools and Families Bill, which will introduce compulsory sex education for children from the age of seven, should be fought because government controlled institutions should not be teaching our children about sex and relationships, as this should be the preserve of the family.

The government wish to become the parent to our children in all respects, in order to “mind-mould” them to their own peculiar worldview and secure their future vote. Perhaps they deem most parents too dysfunctional to be able to teach their own children on sexuality, morality, ethics and relationships.

This particular sex education issue is not about sidelining Christian morality and views, this issue is about protecting parental responsibility and rights. The government, through education, has no right to intrude upon the time-honoured responsibilities and duties of parents.

Gustav Holst – The Planets – Mars, the Bringer of War

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Just because it suits my current mood:

Church Sign

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

BHA welcomes the erosion of support for UN Human Rights Council ‘Defamation of Religion’ Resolution tabled by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Completely agree with the BHA comments on the UN “Defamation of Religion” motion by the Organization of Islamic Conference. This is effectively an attempt on behalf of Islam to usher in a global “blasphemy” law, see here, here and here for some background reading.

Scary stuff.

The BHA has today welcomed news that support for a dangerous Human Rights Council resolution which claims that “defamation of religions is a serious affront to human dignity” is lower than in previous years. Although the non-binding resolution still passed, the majority voting for the resolution was significantly reduced compared with past votes on the issue.

The resolution, which was tabled by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference has been strongly criticised as an affront to freedom of speech as it seeks to engender respect for religious beliefs, rather than for individuals, and may be used to oppress religious minorities and non-religious individuals.

Continue Reading

There is more at the National Secular Society:

The BNP’s London campaign chief Cllr. Bob Bailey is facing a possible six month suspension as a councillor after launching a racist “tirade” against non-white Christians.

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Cross-post Nothing British about the BNP

Bob Bailey (centre)

Cllr. Bob Bailey’s Romford campaign has got off to disastrous start with the Barking group leader facing a possible six month suspension as a councillor after launching a racist “tirade” against non-white Christians.

Bailey is alleged to have taken an “antagonistic and offensive” tone when a black pastor applied for planning permission to convert Barking offices into a church.

A meeting in Barking town hall was in uproar when Mr Bailey said: “We don’t want any more Nigerian churches in the borough.” The public gallery was packed with members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.

He said he had visited the premises and told the planning committee meeting last July: “These people eat off the ground.” He added: “We don’t want the amount of black children.” A rival councillor called him a “racist pig”.

Barking and Dagenham council’s standards committee are meeting today to decide whether to suspend Bailey.

A preliminary report by the council’s monitoring officer found that Mr Bailey, a former Royal Marine, had brought the authority into disrepute, failed to treat others with respect and may have breached equality laws. Mr Bailey, who was said by a doctor last year to have a “possible personality disorder” when he claimed that he was banned from driving because of “conspiracy against the indigenous people”, is responsible for the BNP’s London campaign in the general election and borough elections.

The report concluded:

“Mr Bailey made a series of comments expressed in a derogatory tone. The comments were intended to, and did in fact, cause offence on racial grounds.”

The idea that the BNP are defending Christian values is a complete joke.

Maurice Cousins

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