I remember once when I was in a Coptic Church in Egypt, that part of the church was built to look like Noah's Ark. The idea is that the Church of Jesus Christ provides salvation. The way the Ark did. Come into the Body of Christ to live. The Noah's Ark movie looks like it is going to be good-but I read the Graphic Novel-it is good but it is based on the Book of Enoch as well as Genesis-and it doesn't follow either text 100%-but I think the writer/director is making this movie out of sincerity-not irreverence.
Noah’s Ark Movie
I read the comic upon which the movie is based. This is a neat graphic novel (basically a glorified comic book) about Noah. The upcoming movie is based upon this comic book. The author has taken a lot from the Aramaic Book of Enoch as well as from the Book of Genesis. (The Epistle of Jude in the New Testament quotes from Aramaic Enoch.) In it, he has the "Watchers" basically angels who fell in an effort to "civilize" mankind, redeem themselves. In the Book of Enoch, they are condemned to eternal damnation. I need to look and see if Aronofsky made this up-or if it comes from Jewish Midrash. This also has an environmentalist message. I think the story of Noah lends itself to such an interpretation. Now, I do believe in conserving wildlife and our natural resources. The problem with the story, is that Noah wrongly thinks that God only spares he and his family in order to take care of the animals through the flood. Noah struggles with the idea that man must die out-so that the earth can return to a paradisical state. At the end of the story-Noah realizes mankind should be saved. In this version, Ham turns against Noah because Noah basically wants mankind to die out. So, its good-but it doesn't follow the Bible nor the Book of Enoch faithfully. It isn't all inaccurate though. I thought it was good-but it isn't strictly biblical. I think Aronofsky is sincere in this story-I don't think he is trying to blaspheme. The movie may be different from the comic-the film was screened to various audiences-and I think the studio pressured Aronofsky to follow the Biblical account a little closer. I imagine that there will be a theatrical release and then a directors cut on DVD. I did like it-but I do have reservations.
Free Resources: http://www.damaris.org/noah
Vatican Chief Justice: Obama’s Policies ‘Progressively More Hostile Toward Christian Civilization’
By Michael Chapman - See more at: http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/vatican-chief-justice-obama-s-policies-progressively-more-hostile#sthash.DgeTlOfo.dpuf
(CNSNews.com) -- President Barack Obama's policies “have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization,” Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the highest court at the Vatican, said in a recent interview. Cardinal Burke added that Obama wants to restrict religious freedom and force the individuals, outside of his or her place of worship, “to act against his rightly-formed conscience, even in the most serious of moral questions.” In an interview first published in Polish in Polonia Christiana magazine and republished exclusively in English at LifeSite News, Cardinal Burke, the former archbishop of St. Louis, was asked about President Obama’s policies towards Christian civilization and if there are any “Catholic reactions against this policy? If yes, what are they, [or] if not, why?”
Cardinal Burke, who heads the Apostolic Signatura, the highest court at the Vatican, said: “It is true that the policies of the president of the United States of America have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization. He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies.” “Now he [Obama] wants to restrict the exercise of the freedom of religion to freedom of worship; that is, he holds that one is free to act according to his conscience within the confines of his place of worship but that, once the person leaves the place of worship, the government can constrain him to act against his rightly-formed conscience, even in the most serious of moral questions,” said Cardinal Burke. He continued, “Such policies would have been unimaginable in the United States even 40 years ago. It is true that many faithful Catholics, with strong and clear leadership from their Bishops and priests, are reacting against the ever-growing religious persecution in the U.S.” “Sadly, one has the impression that a large part of the population is not fully aware of what is taking place,” said the cardinal. “In a democracy, such a lack of awareness is deadly. It leads to the loss of the freedom, which a democratic government exists to protect. It is my hope that more and more of my fellow citizens, as they realize what is happening, will insist on electing leaders who respect the truth of the moral law as it is respected in the founding principles of our nation.” As CNSNews.com has reported, the Catholic bishops of the United States have stated that the Obamacare mandate requiring individuals (and businesses) to carry health insurance that offers contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs without co-payments is an “unjust and illegal mandate.” They have also declared the mandate a “violation of personal civil rights,” and that it should be “rescinded.”
Christians in captivity -- the agony of waiting
By Lela Gilbert, Published March 24, 2014, FoxNews.com
Patience is in short supply these days. Despite our instant communication capabilities, just about everyone is waiting for something. The phone doesn’t ring. The cable guy never shows up. A check is always “in the mail.” Last week I found my own patience stretched into a thin membrane by a pile of complaints – thankfully small ones. But mostly I was struck by the inevitable silence of waiting. When we’re hoping for answers, no news is far from good news. When we’re hoping for answers, no news is far from good news. And in fact, it was bad news that distracted me from my own woes as a headline scrolled down my iPhone. “Asia Bibi appeal hearing postponed.” Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian, and her name is familiar to those of us who follow international human rights. Her story is almost unbelievable – and all too true: “In June 2009, Asia was involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries, after the other women became angry at her for drinking the same water as them. She was subsequently accused of insulting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, a charge she denies, and was arrested and imprisoned. In November 2010, a Sheikhupura judge sentenced her to death. If executed, Asia would be the first woman in Pakistan to be lawfully killed for blasphemy.”
Many have spoken out on Asia Bibi’s behalf, including Pope Benedict. Two prominent Pakistanis, Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Christian minorities, and Salmaan Taseer, Governor of Punjab, were assassinated in 2011 for opposing Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws on her behalf.
Nonetheless, since 2009, this falsely accused woman has been on death row in a filthy prison cell, wondering if and when her death sentence will enforced. She longs for husband and five children. Day and night, in squalid surroundings, she fights off her fears, endures physical illness and prays. Unsure if she will live or die, Asia Bibi waits. Another story emerged last week from Iran, about US-citizen and former Muslim Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is serving an eight-year sentence because he “undermined the Iranian government by creating a network of Christian house churches and ... attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam." Despite urgent requests for medical care – his body is internally wounded from abominable prison conditions including beatings and torture – he was denied treatment. Eventually, presumably under pressure from several international organizations’ outcry, Abedini was taken to a medical center, unshackled and even permitted a brief visit from a family member. What happened after that? Once the encouraging proceedings passed, Abedini was still in pain, still bleeding from internal injuries. He remains hospitalized but untreated. Like Asia Bibi, he is the focus of much international prayer and non-governmental activism. Even the EU has spoken up, as has President Obama. But Abedini is entirely unsure about the future. Will he see his wife and two small children again? Will he live or die? He has been behind bars since September 26, 2012.
The family watches and keeps faith. Concerned people post and tweet and pray. And day in, day out, Saeed Abedini waits. Other captives are waiting, along with their loved ones, in Egypt. According to my friend and colleague, Coptic scholar Samuel Tadros, the big stories of church burnings and murdered Christians have diminished somewhat under Cairo’s new military regime. But less publicized evils remain. Most notably, kidnappings are rampant. On March 20, MidEast Christians News reported that two young women, 17 and 18, were abducted in separate incidents just days before. Coptic World observed, “Coptic children or adults abducted at gunpoint and held (and sometimes killed or forced to convert to Islam) by “unknown persons” in exchange for money—are on the rise in Egypt…” Muslim kidnappings of Christians are also taking place in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and beyond. Captives are often raped, beaten, forcibly married, starved and eventually, if financial terms aren’t met, murdered. Meanwhile, the victims’ loved ones worry, weep and console each other. Of course, like all believers they pray, recalling the ancient promise: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Is 40:31). So hoping against hope, they wait. Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world and abuses have surged exponentially in recent years. At the same time, the United States government, once a global champion of religious freedom, offers dwindling intervention. Reliance solely on the nations of the world to act, diplomatically or politically – with rare and notable exceptions – will likely result in the longest wait of all. And waiting is agonizing.
Lela Gilbert is author of "Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner" and co-author, with Nina Shea and Paul Marshall, of "Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians." She is an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute and lives in Jerusalem. For more, visit her website: www.lelagilbert.com. Follow her on Twitter@lelagilbert.
What is so Great about Saint Paul?
Christianity was, from its inception, multi-cultural and multi-lingual. Many people, including professing Christians, have a problem with the Apostle Paul. Some view him as the “real” founder of Christianity. Some Christians claim to be followers of Jesus, but not Paul. If we look in the New Testament, we see that almost half of it is by Paul or about him. Although Paul has his detractors, Christianity wouldn’t exist as it is without Paul. Paul made important positive contributions. It was Paul who made Christianity a global movement rather than a sect of Judaism. It is likely Paul’s cultural background that enabled him to accomplish certain things that the Twelve Apostles couldn’t. Eleven of the Twelve Apostles were Galileans. Judas Iscariot was most likely the only Apostle who hailed from Judea. The Jews of the Holy Land were mainly Aramaic speakers. Greek was spoken by some. The culture of Galilee and Judea was predominately Jewish. Paul was at least bi-lingual, speaking Aramaic and Greek. (He most likely also spoke Hebrew and perhaps Latin as well.) Paul was from Tarsus, an important Greek city. Paul was equally comfortable in his Aramaic Jewish culture and his Greek Hellenistic culture. This made Paul uniquely equipped to take the Gospel to the non-Jewish world, perhaps in a way the Twelve Apostles were not. (It is possible that before his Damascus Road experience, Paul was already involved in Jewish missions to Gentiles.)
Lamin Sanneh is the author of Whose Religion is Christianity: The Gospel beyond the West. This is an excellent book that every Christian should read. The first reason is that this book tells the story of the “Next Christendom,” the future of the Church, which is centered in the non-Western world. (The non-“white” majority “Next Christendom” is a phrase coined by Phillip Jenkins.) Sanneh calls this the phenomenon of World Christianity. (He doesn’t like to use the term “global” due to its association with “globalism” and a Euro-centric form of Christianity.) It is mentioned in the book how missionaries labored for one hundred years in Africa, and saw very little results, and yet now Christianity is spreading rapidly throughout Africa. This shouldn’t be seen as all that surprising. After all, it also took Christianity over a hundred years to prevail over all Europe.
Sanneh believes that a breakthrough in missions was through the use of the local languages and using the local words for “God.” He also believes that since Christianity never really had an official language, it was able to transcend culture. The Gospels represented a translation of the Gospel into another language, from Christ’s Aramaic into Greek. Interestingly, in his focus on the importance of translation, Sanneh doesn’t even mention the original Aramaic language of Jesus. The ancient Aramaic texts we do have, are translations of Jesus’ words from Greek back into Aramaic. To Sanneh translation is an important aspect of Christianity.
Paul not only was able to translate the Gospel message into Greek, his unique perspective to distinguish Jewish cultural practices that were not part of the Gospel. Of course, Paul encountered controversy, but he also embraced it, seeing that it was necessary for progress. (There are traditions from the early Church of the Apostles going into gentile lands. Some important traditions include Mark in Egypt, Thaddeus in Mesopotamia, and Thomas in Egypt. If these traditions are true, they show that Christianity was from its very beginning multi-cultural and multi-lingual.)
Obama protects Saudi Arabia from embarrassment by keeping Textbook report secret
Sharona Schwarz the Blaze, March 26
As President Barack Obama sets out for his visit to Saudi Arabia this week, a new report suggests the State Department has intentionally been withholding a comprehensive study on Saudi textbooks, because the books include offensive material that dehumanizes Christians and Jews that if made public would embarrass the kingdom. “The State Department appears to be withholding a government-commissioned textbooks study on the subject,” said the report by the DC-based research organization the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, “Textbook Diplomacy: Why the State Department Shelved a Study on Incitement in Saudi Education Materials.” “Passages [in textbooks] continue to dehumanize Jews and Christians, promote the murder of perceived deviants such as homosexuals, and sanction violence against Muslims who do not follow the Wahhabi brand of Islam that is sponsored by the Saudi state,” the government-commissioned study found, according to the think tank report. David Andrew Weinberg, who authored the Foundation for Defense of Democracies report, wrote that in 2011 the State Department paid the non-profit organization the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD) $500,000 to conduct the study of Saudi government-published textbooks that are used widely not only in the kingdom, but are also sent free of charge to Muslim schools around the world, including in the U.S.
Lawmakers urge Obama to press Saudi king on human, religious rights during visit
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pressing President Obama to raise the issue of human and religious rights during his face-to-face meeting Friday with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. The latest appeal came from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who wrote Obama a letter expressing concern over Saudi Arabia’s “systematic, ongoing and egregious” infringements against what he called basic religious freedoms. Rubio also urged the president to push for the release of religious prisoners and to “end persecution of individuals charged with apostasy, blasphemy and sorcery.” In May 2013, Saudi religious police announced they had arrested more than 200 people during the prior year on charges of sorcery, Rubio said. “High school textbooks in Saudi Arabia contain highly inflammatory passages that dehumanize or call for violence against non-Wahhabi religious groups such as Christians, Jews, Hindus, Shi’ites and Sufis,” the senator added.
England Adopts Sharia Law (See article by John Bingham
Top lawyers have written guidelines for British solicitors on drafting 'sharia-compliant' wills which can deny women an equal share of their inheritance and entirely exclude non-believers, it was revealed today. The Law Society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, has written a guide on Sharia succession rules that will be used in British courts. It will mean that children born outside of marriage and adopted children could also be denied their fair share. The guide states: 'No distinction is made between children of different marriages, but illegitimate and adopted children are not Sharia heirs.
See Sam Webb, UK Daily Mail
Islamic World in Disarray
In Turkey, the people are revolting against the Hard-Line Fundamentalist Government. At the same time Saudi Arabia, on of the worlds most extremist governments, illegalized the Muslim Brotherhood and recalled all of its fighters in Syria. I thought that this was very odd, since the Muslim Brotherhood and Wahibi Islam are so similar-they make natural allies-but this report explains it.
In the past month, Saudi Arabia criminalized membership in the Muslim Brotherhood and classified it as a terrorist organization on par with Al Qaeda.
Its Interior Ministry issued a new law imposing harsh penalties on Saudis who join the fighting in Syria for fear that they might return as hardened militants. And to punish neighboring Qatar for its support of the Brotherhood, King Abdullah led the coordinated withdrawal from Qatar of his own ambassador and the envoys from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.
See New York Times-“Obama Seeks to Calm Saudi’s as Paths split” March 27, 2014
Saudi leaders are already vexed at Mr. Obama for failing to throw America’s military might behind their proxy war with Tehran in Syria, where the Saudis are sending money and weapons to back the Sunni-dominated rebels. And the Saudis were flabbergasted last year when Mr. Obama reversed course at the last minute, calling off missile strikes against the Assad government for its use of chemical weapons.
The Saudis have sometimes financed jihadists abroad when it served their interests, in Afghanistan during the 1980s, for example, and in Syria now. But the Saudi royal family, which draws its legitimacy from an ultraconservative Salafi branch of Islam, has long feared the Muslim Brotherhood because of its rival blend of religion and politics and its effectiveness at political organizing. Saudi officials often quote Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, the former long-serving interior minister: “All our problems come from the Muslim Brotherhood,” he once declared, arguing that the group “has destroyed the Arab world.”
But the country’s open support for the military ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood has risks as well. The takeover and crackdown have elicited stirrings of dissent from Saudi clerics sympathetic to the Brotherhood. And around the region, Saudi Arabia is “losing friends left and right,” said Frederic Wehrey, a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
At the same time, Nasrallah, of Hezballah-is in Syria fighting the rebels at the behest of the Syrian govement. That leaves Lebanon bereft of his leadership for now-which is a good thing.
Israel is losing its grip on evangelical Christians : Younger generation open to Palestinian side of conflict. By The Forward and Nathan Guttman | Mar. 11, 2014 (See Haaretz Online)
Support for Israel is weakening among evangelical Christians, prompting a new struggle for the hearts and minds of younger members of America’s largest pro-Israel demographic group. While hard numbers are not available, evangelical leaders on both sides of the divide on Israel agree that members of the millennial generation do not share their parents’ passion for the Jewish state; many are seeking some form of evenhandedness when approaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “What is happening is that the hard line of Christian Zionists was not successfully passed forward to the next generation, because it was based on theological themes that are now being questioned by younger evangelicals,” said David Gushee, professor of Christian ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University in Atlanta. The grip of Christian Zionists over young evangelicals has been loosening for several years, according to observers within the community. But in recent weeks, the leading evangelical pro-Israel organization, Christians United for Israel, has set off alarm bells in articles and interviews decrying the inroads made by pro-Palestinian activists into the evangelical community. CUFI’s leaders are calling for a new strategy to block them. “The only way of solving a problem is when people know about it,” said CUFI’s executive director, David Brog, who has been leading the effort to win back millennial evangelicals. “This is the best way to rally our troops.” Brog penned a lengthy article, published in the spring edition of Middle East Quarterly, in which he detailed what he views as a growing phenomenon and the reasons behind it. Titled “The End of Evangelical Support for Israel?” the article laments that “questioning Christian support for the Jewish state is fast becoming a key way for millennials to demonstrate Christian compassion and bona fides.” Brog argues that younger evangelicals are now “in play” and their support for Israel can no longer be taken for granted. This conclusion is based primarily on gut feelings and anecdotal data. In June 2011, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey among evangelical leaders convened in Cape Town, South Africa, for the third Lausanne Congress of World Evangelization. The findings indicated lower support for Israel than previously believed. A majority of American evangelical leaders (49%) expressed neutrality when asked if they sympathize more with Israelis or with Palestinians. Thirty percent expressed support for Israelis, 13% for the Palestinians.
The survey polled only leaders who participated in this international conference and did not offer insight into the views of rank-and-file evangelicals. But it highlighted the fact that only a minority within the evangelical leadership today hold strong pro-Israel views when it comes to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and attendant conflict with the Palestinians.
Still, Christian Zionism is by far the largest organized voice on Middle East issues among evangelicals. CUFI, led by the Rev. John Hagee, founder of Cornerstone Church, in San Antonio, has 1.6 million registered supporters and a staff of 25 full-time employees. With an operating budget of more than $7 million, CUFI organizes dozens of pro-Israel events throughout the country and an annual Washington conference that brings together evangelical activists and politicians.
CUFI’s leaders are now trying to mobilize funders and supporters to confront the shift among younger members of their community. The challenge they face is made up of individuals, campus activists and professors, small organizations and even documentary films that depict Israel as encroaching on Christian freedom of faith in the Holy Land.
On university campuses, pro-Palestinian Christians have seen some success in the face of CUFI’s more established 120-chapter campus operation. Activists in Illinois’s Wheaton College, a leading Christian school, protested a planned CUFI event on campus in 2009; in Tulsa, Okla., Oral Roberts University has appointed a harsh critic of Israel to its board of trustees, and at Bethel University, in Minnesota, President Jay Barnes visited Israel and the Palestinian territories on a trip that changed participants’ views on the conflict. Barnes’s wife, Barbara Barnes, published a poem after the trip, in which she wrote: “Apartheid has become a way of life. I believe God mourns.”
American evangelicals sympathetic to the Palestinians are also bringing co-religionists to Israel and the West Bank for tours and conferences. This week, Bethlehem Bible College and the Bethlehem-based Holy Land Trust are hosting their third “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference. Speakers at the gathering, which presents a Palestinian perspective on Israel’s occupation of the West Bank for Christians, include Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, the Gaza physician who worked closely with both Arabs and Israeli Jews until his three daughters were killed in their home by Israeli tank fire during the 2008 Gaza military campaign; William Wilson, the president of Oral Roberts University; and Gary Burge, a theology professor at Wheaton College and author of the book, “Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians.”
The conference’s 12-point “manifesto” strongly condemns “all forms of violence” and warns against the “stereotyping of all faith forms that betray God’s commandment to love our neighbors and enemies.” It also rejects “any exclusive claim to the land of the Bible in the name of God” and states that “racial ethnicity alone does not guarantee the benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant.”
For some on Christian college campuses, the appeal of pro-Palestinian views may be part of a general trend among young evangelicals to question the conservative ways of their parents’ generation. Some students are pursuing a theological understanding of their religion that is more progressive on social issues. Polls conducted in recent years indicate that young white evangelicals are less conservative on issues of same-sex marriage, abortion and contraception. They are also less aligned with the Republican Party. This same trend of political diversification may be taking place on international issues.
CUFI’s concern, as voiced by Brog in his article, is about the younger generation of evangelical leaders; unlike such figures as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, they are not vocal about the issue of Israel. He describes the new generation of evangelical opinion makers as a “largely well-coiffed and fashionably dressed bunch dedicated to marketing Christianity to a skeptical generation by making it cool, compassionate, and less overtly political.”
One of the organizations gaining the most attention on this issue is the Telos Group, a Washington-based not-for-profit set up five years ago that describes itself as “pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, pro-American, and pro-peace.” In an interview on Glenn Beck’s “TheBlaze TV,” Brog singled out Telos, saying: “This is not your parents’ anti-Israel group. These guys are savvy, these guys are smart.”
Telos, which focuses a significant part of its work on faith communities, has to date taken 43 groups on tours of Israel and the Palestinian territories. President and co-founder Gregory Khalil said the group intentionally engages with a variety of Israelis and Palestinians on their trips. “I actually think David Brog could learn a lot about Israel if he would join one of our trips,” Khalil said, arguing that Brog mischaracterized the work of Telos.
But while the budding debate in the evangelical world over Israel is real, its proportions may be overstated. “We’re a tiny organization,” Khalil said of his group, which has only two staff members. Other publications and groups cited by CUFI as pro-Palestinian are also much smaller than CUFI’s own pro-Israel operation.
CUFI is not waiting for them to grow larger. In January, at a Jewish fundraising event, the group presented its plan to take two groups a year of young evangelical opinion leaders to Israel. “We need to use the same tool to fight back,” CUFI declared in its pitch for Jewish donor support. The group is also launching speaking tours on campuses, and intends to invest in videos and social media activity that will monitor Christian influencers and “confront them when they cross the line.”
The glaring precedent that pro-Israel evangelicals cite to justify their approach is the path taken by the mainline Protestant churches. In the past, many were sympathetic to Israel, or at worst neutral. But some have since become a stronghold of pro-Palestinian views in the American Christian world. A few groups, such as the Presbyterians, have been leading the way in calls for divestment and boycott against Israel.
But Gushee argued that evangelicals are unlikely to take this path. The mainline Protestant churches today may be aggressively anti-Israel, he said, but the shift among evangelicals “is not from pro-Israel to anti-Israel, but from pro-Israel to a more balanced approach.”
For more stories, go to www.forward.com. Sign up for the Forward’s daily newsletter at http://forward.com/newsletter/signup/
Horrible! Bodies of Aborted Babies are incinerated in England to provide heat for buildings!
Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals: The remains of more than 15,000 babies were incinerated as 'clinical waste' by hospitals in Britain with some used in 'waste to energy' plants
Women in Combat
So, the Marines are going to make their combat teams 25% female as a social experiment to see what would happen if you mix men and women in combat. Instead of playing games with our service-members lives-why don't we do the social experiment on real games-to see what would happen. The government should mandate that all NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball teams, be 25% female-and see how well they perform on the field. This way, no one will die-and you will get an idea of what it would be like to have women in combat-when the stakes are much higher. an addendum: The 25% female team has to go against at 100% male team. I wonder who would win.