Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Top Ten Myths About the Brain

When it comes to this complex, mysterious, fascinating organ, what do—and don’t—we know?

By Laura Helmuth
Smithsonian.com, May 20, 2011

Source: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Top-Ten-Myths-About-the-Brain.html#ixzz1O031KNEe
Repeated in pop culture for a century, the notion that humans only use 10 percent of our brains is false. Scans have shown that much of the brain is engaged even during simple tasks.

1. We use only 10 percent of our brains.
This one sounds so compelling—a precise number, repeated in pop culture for a century, implying that we have huge reserves of untapped mental powers. But the supposedly unused 90 percent of the brain is not some vestigial appendix. Brains are expensive—it takes a lot of energy to build brains during fetal and childhood development and maintain them in adults. Evolutionarily, it would make no sense to carry around surplus brain tissue. Experiments using PET or fMRI scans show that much of the brain is engaged even during simple tasks, and injury to even a small bit of brain can have profound consequences for language, sensory perception, movement or emotion.

True, we have some brain reserves. Autopsy studies show that many people have physical signs of Alzheimer’s disease (such as amyloid plaques among neurons) in their brains even though they were not impaired. Apparently we can lose some brain tissue and still function pretty well. And people score higher on IQ tests if they’re highly motivated, suggesting that we don’t always exercise our minds at 100 percent capacity.

2. “Flashbulb memories” are precise, detailed and persistent.
We all have memories that feel as vivid and accurate as a snapshot, usually of some shocking, dramatic event—the assassination of President Kennedy, the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, the attacks of September 11, 2001. People remember exactly where they were, what they were doing, who they were with, what they saw or heard. But several clever experiments have tested people’s memory immediately after a tragedy and again several months or years later. The test subjects tend to be confident that their memories are accurate and say the flashbulb memories are more vivid than other memories. Vivid they may be, but the memories decay over time just as other memories do. People forget important details and add incorrect ones, with no awareness that they’re recreating a muddled scene in their minds rather than calling up a perfect, photographic reproduction.

3. It’s all downhill after 40 (or 50 or 60 or 70).
It’s true, some cognitive skills do decline as you get older. Children are better at learning new languages than adults—and never play a game of concentration against a 10-year-old unless you’re prepared to be humiliated. Young adults are faster than older adults to judge whether two objects are the same or different; they can more easily memorize a list of random words, and they are faster to count backward by sevens.

But plenty of mental skills improve with age. Vocabulary, for instance—older people know more words and understand subtle linguistic distinctions. Given a biographical sketch of a stranger, they’re better judges of character. They score higher on tests of social wisdom, such as how to settle a conflict. And people get better and better over time at regulating their own emotions and finding meaning in their lives.

4. We have five senses.
Sure, sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch are the big ones. But we have many other ways of sensing the world and our place in it. Proprioception is a sense of how our bodies are positioned. Nociception is a sense of pain. We also have a sense of balance—the inner ear is to this sense as the eye is to vision—as well as a sense of body temperature, acceleration and the passage of time.

Compared with other species, though, humans are missing out. Bats and dolphins use sonar to find prey; some birds and insects see ultraviolet light; snakes detect the heat of warmblooded prey; rats, cats, seals and other whiskered creatures use their “vibrissae” to judge spatial relations or detect movements; sharks sense electrical fields in the water; birds, turtles and even bacteria orient to the earth’s magnetic field lines.

By the way, have you seen the taste map of the tongue, the diagram showing that different regions are sensitive to salty, sweet, sour or bitter flavors? Also a myth.

5. Brains are like computers.
We speak of the brain’s processing speed, its storage capacity, its parallel circuits, inputs and outputs. The metaphor fails at pretty much every level: the brain doesn’t have a set memory capacity that is waiting to be filled up; it doesn’t perform computations in the way a computer does; and even basic visual perception isn’t a passive receiving of inputs because we actively interpret, anticipate and pay attention to different elements of the visual world.

There’s a long history of likening the brain to whatever technology is the most advanced, impressive and vaguely mysterious. Descartes compared the brain to a hydraulic machine. Freud likened emotions to pressure building up in a steam engine. The brain later resembled a telephone switchboard and then an electrical circuit before evolving into a computer; lately it’s turning into a Web browser or the Internet. These metaphors linger in clichés: emotions put the brain “under pressure” and some behaviors are thought to be “hard-wired.” Speaking of which...

6. The brain is hard-wired.
This is one of the most enduring legacies of the old “brains are electrical circuits” metaphor. There’s some truth to it, as with many metaphors: the brain is organized in a standard way, with certain bits specialized to take on certain tasks, and those bits are connected along predictable neural pathways (sort of like wires) and communicate in part by releasing ions (pulses of electricity).

But one of the biggest discoveries in neuroscience in the past few decades is that the brain is remarkably plastic. In blind people, parts of the brain that normally process sight are instead devoted to hearing. Someone practicing a new skill, like learning to play the violin, “rewires” parts of the brain that are responsible for fine motor control. People with brain injuries can recruit other parts of the brain to compensate for the lost tissue.

7. A conk on the head can cause amnesia.
Next to babies switched at birth, this is a favorite trope of soap operas: Someone is in a tragic accident and wakes up in the hospital unable to recognize loved ones or remember his or her own name or history. (The only cure for this form of amnesia, of course, is another conk on the head.)

In the real world, there are two main forms of amnesia: anterograde (the inability to form new memories) and retrograde (the inability to recall past events). Science’s most famous amnesia patient, H.M., was unable to remember anything that happened after a 1953 surgery that removed most of his hippocampus. He remembered earlier events, however, and was able to learn new skills and vocabulary, showing that encoding “episodic” memories of new experiences relies on different brain regions than other types of learning and memory do. Retrograde amnesia can be caused by Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury (ask an NFL player), thiamine deficiency or other insults. But a brain injury doesn’t selectively impair autobiographical memory—much less bring it back.

8. We know what will make us happy.
In some cases we haven’t a clue. We routinely overestimate how happy something will make us, whether it’s a birthday, free pizza, a new car, a victory for our favorite sports team or political candidate, winning the lottery or raising children. Money does make people happier, but only to a point—poor people are less happy than the middle class, but the middle class are just as happy as the rich. We overestimate the pleasures of solitude and leisure and underestimate how much happiness we get from social relationships.

On the flip side, the things we dread don’t make us as unhappy as expected. Monday mornings aren’t as unpleasant as people predict. Seemingly unendurable tragedies—paralysis, the death of a loved one—cause grief and despair, but the unhappiness doesn’t last as long as people think it will. People are remarkably resilient.

9. We see the world as it is.
We are not passive recipients of external information that enters our brain through our sensory organs. Instead, we actively search for patterns (like a Dalmatian dog that suddenly appears in a field of black and white dots), turn ambiguous scenes into ones that fit our expectations (it’s a vase; it’s a face) and completely miss details we aren’t expecting. In one famous psychology experiment, about half of all viewers told to count the number of times a group of people pass a basketball do not notice that a guy in a gorilla suit is hulking around among the ball-throwers.

We have a limited ability to pay attention (which is why talking on a cellphone while driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving), and plenty of biases about what we expect or want to see. Our perception of the world isn’t just “bottom-up”—built of objective observations layered together in a logical way. It’s “top-down,” driven by expectations and interpretations.

10. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus.
Some of the sloppiest, shoddiest, most biased, least reproducible, worst designed and most overinterpreted research in the history of science purports to provide biological explanations for differences between men and women. Eminent neuroscientists once claimed that head size, spinal ganglia or brain stem structures were responsible for women’s inability to think creatively, vote logically or practice medicine. Today the theories are a bit more sophisticated: men supposedly have more specialized brain hemispheres, women more elaborate emotion circuits. Though there are some differences (minor and uncorrelated with any particular ability) between male and female brains, the main problem with looking for correlations with behavior is that sex differences in cognition are massively exaggerated.

Women are thought to outperform men on tests of empathy. They do—unless test subjects are told that men are particularly good at the test, in which case men perform as well as or better than women. The same pattern holds in reverse for tests of spatial reasoning. Whenever stereotypes are brought to mind, even by something as simple as asking test subjects to check a box next to their gender, sex differences are exaggerated. Women college students told that a test is something women usually do poorly on, do poorly. Women college students told that a test is something college students usually do well on, do well. Across countries—and across time—the more prevalent the belief is that men are better than women in math, the greater the difference in girls’ and boys’ math scores. And that’s not because girls in Iceland have more specialized brain hemispheres than do girls in Italy.

Certain sex differences are enormously important to us when we’re looking for a mate, but when it comes to most of what our brains do most of the time—perceive the world, direct attention, learn new skills, encode memories, communicate (no, women don’t speak more than men do), judge other people’s emotions (no, men aren’t inept at this)—men and women have almost entirely overlapping and fully Earth-bound abilities.

How the Internet is making us stupid

Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows, asks if the Internet is changing the way we think.

Is the Internet changing the way we think? Photo: ALAMY

By Nicholas Carr

11:00PM BST 27 Aug 2010

Although the world wide web has been around for just 20 years, it is hard to imagine life without it. It has given us instant access to vast amounts of information, and we’re able to stay in touch with friends and colleagues more or less continuously.

But our dependence on the internet has a dark side. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the net, with its constant distractions and interruptions, is turning us into scattered and superficial thinkers.

I’ve been studying this research for the past three years, in the course of writing my new book The Shallows: How the Internet Is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember. But my interest in the subject is not just academic. It’s personal. I was inspired to write the book after I realised that I was losing my own capacity for concentration and contemplation. Even when I was away from my computer, my mind seemed hungry for constant stimulation, for quick hits of information. I felt perpetually distracted.

Could my loss of focus be a result of all the time I’ve spent online? In search of an answer to that question, I began to dig into the many psychological, behavioural, and neurological studies that examine how the tools we use to think with — our information technologies — shape our habits of mind.

The picture that emerges is troubling, at least to anyone who values the subtlety, rather than just the speed, of human thought. People who read text studded with links, the studies show, comprehend less than those who read words printed on pages. People who watch busy multimedia presentations remember less than those who take in information in a more sedate and focused manner. People who are continually distracted by emails, updates and other messages understand less than those who are able to concentrate. And people who juggle many tasks are often less creative and less productive than those who do one thing at a time.


20 Questions To Ask Anyone Foolish Enough To Believe The Economic Crisis Is Over

If you listen to Ben Bernanke, Barack Obama and the mainstream media long enough, and if you didn't know any better, you might be tempted to think that the economic crisis is long gone and that we are in the midst of a burgeoning economic recovery. Unfortunately, the truth is that the economic crisis is far from over. In 2010, more homes were repossessed than ever before, more Americans were on food stamps than ever before and a smaller percentage of American men had jobs than ever before. The reality is that the United States is an economic basket case and all of these natural disasters certainly are not helping things. The Federal Reserve has been printing gigantic piles of money and the U.S. government has been borrowing and spending cash at a dizzying pace in an all-out effort to stabilize things. They have succeeded for the moment, but our long-term economic problems are worse then ever. We are still in the middle of a full-blown economic crisis and things are about to get even worse.

If you know someone that is foolish enough to believe that the economic crisis is over and that our economic problems are behind us, just ask that person the following questions....

#1 During the 23 months of the "Obama recovery", an average of about 23,000 jobs a month have been created. It takes somewhere in the neighborhood of 150,000 jobs a month just to keep up with population growth. So shouldn't we hold off a bit before we declare the economic crisis to be over?

#2 During the "recession", somewhere between 6.3 million and 7.5 million jobs were lost. During the "Obama recovery", approximately 535,000 jobs have been added. When will the rest of the jobs finally come back?

#3 Of the 535,000 jobs that have been created during the "Obama recovery", only about 35,000 of them are permanent full-time jobs. Today, "low income jobs" account for 41 percent of all jobs in the United States. If our economy is recovering, then why can't it produce large numbers of good jobs that will enable people to provide for their families?

#4 Agricultural commodities have been absolutely soaring this decade. The combined price of cotton, wheat, gasoline and hogs is now more than 3 times higher than it was back in 2002. So how in the world can the Federal Reserve claim that inflation has been at minimal levels all this time?

#5 Back in 2008, banks had a total of 27 billion dollars in excess reserves at the Fed. Today, banks have a total of approximately 1.5 trillion dollars in excess reserves at the Fed. So what is going to happen when all of this money eventually hits the economy?....

#6 If the U.S. economy is recovering, then why are shipments by U.S. factories still substantially below 2008 levels?

#7 Why are imports of goods from overseas growing much more rapidly than shipments of goods from U.S. factories?

#8 According to Zillow, the average price of a home in the U.S. is about 8 percent lower than it was a year ago and that it continues to fall about 1 percent a month. During the first quarter of 2011, home values declined at the fastest rate since late 2008. So can we really talk about a "recovery" when the real estate crisis continues to get worse?

#9 According to a shocking new survey, 54 percent of Americans believe that a housing recovery is "unlikely" until at least 2014. So how is the housing industry supposed to improve if so many people are convinced that it will not?

#10 The latest GDP numbers out of Japan are a complete and total disaster. During the first quarter GDP declined by a stunning 3.7 percent. Of course I have been saying for months that the Japanese economy is collapsing, but most mainstream economists were absolutely stunned by the latest figures. So will the rest of the world be able to avoid slipping into a recession as well?

#11 Next week, Republicans in the House of Representatives are going to allow a vote on raising the debt ceiling. Everyone knows that this is an opportunity for Republican lawmakers to "look tough" to their constituents (the vast majority of which do not want the debt ceiling raised). Everyone also knows that eventually the Republicans are almost certainly going to cave on the debt ceiling after minimal concessions by the Democrats. The truth is that neither "establishment Republicans" nor "establishment Democrats" are actually serious about significantly cutting government debt. So why do we need all of this political theater?

#12 Why are so many of our once great manufacturing cities being transformed into hellholes? In the city of Detroit today, there are over 33,000 abandoned houses, 70 schools are being permanently closed down, the mayor wants to bulldoze one-fourth of the city and you can literally buy a house for one dollar in the worst areas.

#13 According to one new survey, about half of all Baby Boomers fear that when they retire they are going to end up living in poverty. So who is going to take care of them all when the money runs out?

#14 According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of about 5 million Americans were being hired every single month during 2006. Today, an average of about 3.5 million Americans are being hired every single month. So why are our politicians talking about "economic recovery" instead of "the collapse of the economy" when hiring remains about 50 percent below normal?

#15 Since August, 2 million more Americans have left the labor force. But the entire period from August to today was supposed to have been a time of economic growth and recovery. So why are so many Americans giving up on looking for a job?

#16 According to Gallup, 41 percent of Americans believed that the economy was "getting better" at this time last year. Today, that number is at just 27 percent. Are Americans losing faith in the U.S. economy?

#17 According to the U.S. Census, the number of children living in poverty has gone up by about 2 million in just the past 2 years, and one out of every four American children is currently on food stamps. During this same time period, Barack Obama and Ben Bernanke have told us over and over that the U.S. economy has been getting better. So what is the truth?

#18 America has become absolutely addicted to government money. 59 percent of all Americans now receive money from the federal government in one form or another. U.S. households are now receiving more income from the U.S. government than they are paying to the government in taxes. Americans hate having their taxes raised and they hate having their government benefits cut. So is there any hope that this will ever be turned around before disaster strikes?

#19 The combined debt of the major GSEs (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Sallie Mae) has increased from 3.2 trillion in 2008 to 6.4 trillion in 2011. How in the world is the U.S. government going to be able to afford to guarantee all of that debt on top of everything else?

#20 If the U.S. national debt (more than 14 trillion dollars) was reduced to a stack of 5 dollar bills, it would reach three quarters of the way to the moon. The U.S. government borrows about 168 million dollars every single hour. If Bill Gates gave every penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days. So how in the world can our politicians tell us that everything is going to be okay?

Enabling a Future American Dictator

These are truly troubling days for liberty in the United States.

Last week the 60 day deadline for the president to gain congressional approval for our military engagement in Libya under the War Powers Resolution came and went. The media scarcely noticed. The bombings continued. We had a hearing on Capitol Hill on the subject, but the administration refuses to bother with the legality of its new war. It is unclear if Mr. Obama will ever obtain congressional consent, and astonishingly it is being argued that he doesn't need it.

Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution begs to differ. It clearly states that the power to declare war rests within the legislative branch - the branch closest to the people. The founders were a war-weary people, and the requirement that it would take an act of Congress to go to war was intentional. They believed war was not to be entered into lightly, so they resisted granting such decision making authority to one person. They objected to absolute warmaking power granted to Kings. It would be incredibly naïve to think a dictator could not or would not wrest power in this country.

Our Presidents can now, on their own: order assassinations, including American citizens; operate secret military tribunals; engage in torture; enforce indefinite imprisonment without due process; order searches and seizures without proper warrants, gutting the 4th Amendment; ignore the 60 day rule for reporting to the Congress the nature of any military operations as required by the War Power Resolution; continue the Patriot Act abuses without oversight; wage war at will; and treat all Americans as suspected terrorists at airports with TSA groping and nude x-rays.

Americans who are not alarmed by all of this are either not paying close attention, or are too trusting of current government officials to be concerned. Those in power right now might be trustworthy, upstanding people. But what of the leaders of the future? They will inherit all the additional powers we cede to the current position holders. Can we trust that they will not take advantage? Today's best intentions create loopholes and opportunities for tomorrow's tyrants.

Perhaps the most troubling power grab of late is the mission creep associated with the 9/11 attacks and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Initiated as targeted strikes against the perpetrators of 9/11, a decade later we are still at war. With whom? Last week Congress passed a Defense Authorization bill with some very disturbing language that explicitly extends the president's war powers to just about anybody. Section 1034 of that bill states that we are at war with the Taliban, al Qaeda, and associated forces. Who are the associated forces? It also includes anyone who has supported hostilities in aid of an organization that substantially supports these associated forces. This authorization is not limited by geography, and it has no sunset provision. It doesn't matter if these associated forces are American citizens. Your constitutional rights no longer apply when the United States is "at war" with you. Would it be so hard for someone in the government to target a political enemy and connect them to al Qaeda, however tenuously, and have them declared an associated force?

My colleague Congressman Justin Amash spearheaded an effort to have this troubling language removed, but unfortunately it failed by a vote of 234 to 187. It is unfortunate indeed, that so many in Congress accept unlimited warmaking authority in the hands of the executive branch.


L.A. Times Explains Obama’s ‘Intellectual Stammer’

By Don Irvine | May 31, 2011

til now the mainstream media have been at a loss to explain why their hero, President Obama, speaks so lucidly when using a teleprompter but frequently stumbles when his electronic aid isn’t available.

But thanks to Los Angeles Times columnist Meghan Dunn we now have the answer. Obama’s brain is moving faster than his mouth creating what she calls an “intellectual stammer,” which is different from a stutter:

But consider this: It’s not that Obama can’t speak clearly. It’s that he employs the intellectual stammer. Not to be confused with a stutter, which the president decidedly does not have, the intellectual stammer signals a brain that is moving so fast that the mouth can’t keep up. The stammer is commonly found among university professors, characters in Woody Allen movies and public thinkers of the sort that might appear on C-SPAN but not CNN.

Dunn then goes on to compare Obama’s stammer to that of the late William F. Buckley, who was one of the 20th century’s greatest conservative thinkers:

That’s kind of ironic, given that the godfather of the intellectual stammer is arguably none other than the paterfamilias of the conservative movement, William F. Buckley Jr. With his slouch, his glazed-eyed stare and a speaking style that suggested the entire Oxford English Dictionary was flipping through his mind while he searched for a word like “dithyramb,” he makes Obama’s extemporaneous speech seem canned — not to mention pedestrian — by comparison.

There is little doubt that Buckley was an intellectual. The tougher case is to call Obama one.

Buckley acquired a great deal of knowledge in his life and was able to recall much of it at any given moment, whereas Obama tends to lean towards the more trivial due to his lack of knowledge and experience. In addition, he is burdened with having to choose his words carefully to continue the ruse that he is a centrist, and pro-business, when his background, past associations and radical appointments as President indicate quite the contrary.

Dunn has it wrong though. Obama doesn’t have an “intellectual stammer” but instead suffers from what I refer to as “intellectual deficit disorder,” where sans his beloved teleprompter his mind is searching for words that just aren’t there.

This is just the latest example of the Obama-loving mainstream media’s concerted efforts to explain away the President’s shortcomings. Unfortunately it won’t be the last, as the 2012 election draws closer.


Roman Catholic Church Past and Present David Cloud - part 1

Uploaded by FLIPWORLDUPSIDEDOWN on Sep 8, 2010

Belief that a ‘loving God’ won’t send people to hell draws support, disagreement

Several Oklahoma religious leaders discuss their thoughts about Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.”

Published: May 28, 2011

Several Oklahoma Christian clergy said they agree with a popular Michigan preacher’s idea to spread the word that God is a loving God, while at least one believes his controversial concepts may not be as far-fetched as some claim.

Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” promotes the idea that a loving God would not punish people by sending them to the eternal hell described in Scripture.

Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church, which has about 10,000 members, in Grand Rapids, Mich., has been criticized by theologians and Christian leaders across the nation because of this idea expressed in the book released March 15. At the heart of the matter is Bell’s assertion that God’s love is so big that the invitation to His grace may extend into the next life so that all can be saved. In other words, the popular evangelical pastor is saying people who reject Christ in life may have an opportunity to receive salvation after death, escaping the punishment of eternal hell that is described in the Bible.

“A staggering number of people have been taught that a few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better. It’s been clearly communicated to many that this belief is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness and joy that our world desperately needs to hear,” Bell wrote.

Mixed reaction

Bell’s message has stirred controversy as news of the ideas in the book spread throughout the country in recent months. For example, some LifeWay Christian Bookstores, affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, decided not to carry “Love Wins.”

Still, Bell’s book found support.

Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., said the book by Bell, a Fuller graduate, was well within the bounds of orthodox or established Christianity and passionate about Jesus.

Mouw told USA Today that the real fight is between “generous orthodoxy and stingy orthodoxy.

“There are stingy people who just want to consign many others to hell and only a few to heaven and take delight in the idea. But Rob Bell allows for a lot of mystery in how Jesus reaches people.”

In Oklahoma, the Rev. Bill Pruett, pastor of St. James Catholic Church, did not say he supports Bell’s message, but he said it does seem to fit within Catholicism’s concept of purgatory. He said purgatory is a process of being purged and cleansed to be prepared for heaven.

“It’s not a place in the physical sense. It’s an experience, an experience of death, basically,” Pruett said.

Pruett said he believes that people go to purgatory when they die to be purged and cleansed “for the God of love.”

Hell, Pruett said, is a place for people who reject all grace — “the question is has it ever happened before? Only God knows.”

Pruett said some people may not see Christ’s grace for what it is until they have experienced purgatory.

“Until you are at that point of death, you don’t see it clearly,” he said. “We all walk by faith and not by sight.”

He said people should not live a moral life to avoid hell. If they do so, they have missed the point of the Lord’s message.

“Jesus came to reveal the Good News, not the ‘terrifying news.’”

People ‘waking up’

Another supporter of the concepts featured in Bell’s book may be familiar to many Oklahomans.
Carlton Pearson was once a popular Tulsa evangelist and pastor of the Tulsa megachurch Higher Dimensions. He also was a protege of the late televangelist and native Oklahoman Oral Roberts.

Pearson shared his agreement with Bell in a recent CNN interview about “Love Wins.”

“People are waking up,” Pearson said. “You’d have thought the guy read some of my books based on some of the comments he’s making.”

Indeed, Pearson also has preached the message that most people will receive salvation because of Christ’s death on the cross and regardless of their faith in Him. His proclamation of that message, which he called the “Gospel of Inclusion” beginning about 2002, drew condemnation from numerous evangelical quarters, including Roberts, who publicly severed ties with the younger preacher.

Also, Higher Dimensions, once 5,000-members strong, began to lose members, and the church building went into foreclosure. Pearson decided to share space with another Tulsa church to hold services for his remaining congregation. Pearson eventually left Tulsa to serve as interim pastor of a New Thought church in Chicago, but he has since left that church and now has a Web-based teaching ministry in Chicago.

Is it ‘universalism’?

Mark Hitchcock, pastor of Faith Bible Church in Edmond, said he has begun preaching a Wednesday night sermon series on the topic of hell because many people have been discussing Bell’s book.
He said he is among the clergy who believe that Bell’s idea about hell is universalism, because it promotes the central idea that all people will receive salvation regardless of their faith in Christ. Hitchcock said universalism is counter to Christianity’s core message that people are saved only through faith in Jesus Christ. Bell’s assertion that people who rejected Christ in life will escape the punishment of hell is counter to biblical teaching, Hitchcock said.

“The Bible does teach that there is a literal place called hell and there will be people there,” Hitchcock said. “Jesus taught more than anyone that there is a hell.”

Hitchcock said Bell is attempting to adapt Scripture to fit what he wants it to say.

Views of God’s love

Hitchcock said Bell’s book is an example of the “ear-tickling” mentioned in 2 Timothy 4, which says that some people will not endure sound doctrine, turning their ears away from truth to myths.
The Rev. Wade Burleson, senior pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, said he agrees with Bell’s central premise about the loving nature of God.

“I admire his intentions to present a good and gracious and loving God,” Burleson said.

But Burleson said he thinks Bell gives false hope to people because they will think they can go to heaven whether or nor they believe in Christ.

Ideas not new

Alan Bandy, the Rowena R. Strickland assistant professor of New Testament at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, said Bell’s ideas are not new. Bandy also said Bell’s premise is universalism.
He said his concern is that Bell talks about truth being “like a trampoline.”

“It’s not fixed and absolute. It’s flexible. But this is trying to adapt the Bible to our current time to make it more palatable. With a view that truth is stretchy, you can basically say, ‘Well, that’s not what it means.’”

Source: http://newsok.com/belief-that-a-loving-god-wont-send-people-to-hell-draws-support-disagreement/article/3571874#ixzz1NxD7hKYi

Adventists grow as other churches decline

Mar 16, 2011 by G. Jeffrey MacDonald

(RNS) Rest on the Sabbath. Heed Old Testament dietary codes. And be ready for Jesus to return at any moment.

If these practices sound quaint or antiquated, think again. They're hallmarks of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the fastest-growing Christian denomination in North America.

Newly released data show Seventh-day Adventism growing by 2.5 percent in North America, a rapid clip for this part of the world, where Southern Baptists and mainline denominations, as well as other church groups are declining. Adventists are even growing 75 percent faster than Mormons (1.4 percent), who prioritize numeric growth.

For observers outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the growth rate in North America is perplexing.

"You've got a denomination that is basically going back to basics ... saying, `What did God mean by all these rules and regulations and how can we fit in to be what God wants us to be?'," said Daniel Shaw, an expert on Christian missionary outreach at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. "That's just totally contrary to anything that's happening in American culture. So I'm saying, `Whoa! That's very interesting.' And I can't answer it."

Seventh-day Adventists are asking a different question: Why isn't the church growing much faster on these shores, which is home to just 1.1 million of the world's 16 million Adventists? Despite its North American roots, the church is growing more than twice as fast overseas.

"We don't feel that we're growing very much, and that is a source of concern, especially for North America," said Ron Clouzet, director of the North American Division Evangelism Institute at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich. Hispanic Adventists are "the one group that is growing very well," he added. "If we didn't have that group, we would look even more dismal."

With Saturday worship services and vegetarian lifestyles, Seventh-day Adventism owns a distinctive niche outside the Christian mainstream. But being different is turning out to be more of an asset than a liability.

Since the mid-19th century when the movement sprang up in New Hampshire, Seventh-day Adventism has had an urgent mission to bring the gospel -- with a distinctive emphasis on Christ's imminent second coming -- to the ends of the earth. Adventists find the essence of their mission in Revelation 14:12, where the end of the age "calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus."

The church's traditional, global focus is now bearing fruit in new ways. Newly arrived immigrants in the United States often come from parts of Latin America or Africa where Seventh-day Adventism has long-established churches, schools and hospitals.

Those who migrate from Brazil to Massachusetts, or from Mexico to Texas, are apt to find familiarity in a local Adventist church led by a pastor who knows their culture and speaks their native language, said Edwin Hernandez, a research fellow at the Center for the Study of Latino Religion at the University of Notre Dame.

Immigrants aren't the only ones embracing Seventh-day Adventism. Many in the general public have noticed Adventists tend to be superstars of good health and longevity; research shows they tend to live 10 years longer than the average American. With strong track records for success in health and education, Adventists find they get a hearing among skeptics who share those priorities.

Publicized research on Adventists' health "has helped bring some objective evaluation of Adventism... particularly all up and down the West Coast," said G. Alexander Bryant, executive secretary for the denomination's North American division. "So we talk to people about our lifestyle."

Some newcomers to Adventism also appreciate the church's clarity about what's expected of Christ's followers. Diana Syth of Kent, Wash. attended many types of Protestant churches for years. But she said she "never got the information I needed to know about what it meant to be a Christian" until she and her husband learned of Seventh-day Adventism from a sibling six years ago.

"My (adult) son has seen a change in us," Syth said. "He sees a new calmness in us. There's hope where there wasn't hope before."

Adventists are also reaping the rewards of their extra efforts in evangelism. Responding to a national initiative, more than 80 percent of the 6,000 Adventist churches in North America staged weeks-long outreach events in hotels and other settings in 2009.

Bryant said in an ordinary year, one-third to one-half of Adventist congregations put on such events, and North American church growth rates would hover around 1.7 percent -- still high enough to top the rates of other large denominations in North America.

Creativity seems to be paying dividends, too. The church has seen some of its strongest gains come in non-religious regions such as the Pacific Northwest. In Washington, for instance, the denomination has established "Christian cafes," where people can relax and ask questions without feeling the pressures of church.

"You're not necessarily inviting them to church," Bryant said. "You're just sitting around, talking with people, building relationships -- and slowly talking to them about Christ."


Vatican Maintains Stance on Condoms at HIV/AIDS Summit

Uploaded by PBSNewsHour on May 30, 2011

Read the transcript: http://bit.ly/lVRuQT

At a weekend HIV/AIDS conference at the Vatican, the Catholic Church stood firm on its stance against the use of condoms to protect against the transmission of HIV. Ray Suarez and the NewsHour's Global Health Unit report from Rome.

Merkel's flight to India delayed by Iran

(AP) – 1 hour ago

BERLIN (AP) — Officials say German Chancellor Angela Merkel's flight to India was delayed for about two hours when Iran's government refused the plane permission to fly over the country.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Iran's decision forced Merkel's plane to circle over Turkey for about two hours Tuesday en route to her official visit to New Delhi. He called it a violation of normal diplomatic privilege that Merkel had never experienced before.

In remarks confirmed by his office, Seibert said through his Twitter account that the chancellor arrived in New Delhi about two hours late because of Iran's decision.

The government press office said "neither the chancellor nor the pilots" had experienced such a problem before.

The flight marked Merkel's first official trip aboard her newly revamped government Airbus A340 Konrad Adenauer, Germany's equivalent to America's Air Force One

Footage shows 'armed Westerners' on ground in Libya

Video footage showing Westerners, possibly British, in Libya has increased speculation that forces are on the ground near the rebel-held city of Misurata.

The footage was shot near the rebel-held city of Misurata Photo: Al Jazeera

9:16AM BST 31 May 2011

The clip broadcast on al-Jazeera features a number of armed men, some wearing sunglasses and keffiyahs, or traditional Arab headscarves, who moved off when they realised they were being watched.

The group of six westerners are shown talking to rebels: five of them were armed and wearing sand-coloured clothes in addition to peaked caps, and cotton Arab scarves.

The sixth, apparently the most senior of the group, was carrying no visible weapon and wore a pink, short-sleeve shirt. He may be an intelligence officer.

The footage emerged after Britain and France said they will deploy attack helicopters over Libya to better pick out pro-Gaddafi forces, further deepening their involvement in the crisis.

Helicopters are more vulnerable to attack from the ground than high-flying warplanes.

Col Muammar Gaddafi denies attacking civilians, saying his forces were obliged to act to contain armed criminal gangs and al Qaeda militants.

He says the NATO intervention is an act of colonial aggression aimed at grabbing Libya's plentiful oil reserves.

Meanwhile Jacob Zuma, the South African president, said Gaddafi is ready to accept an African Union initiative for a cease-fire that would stop all hostilities, including Nato airstrikes in support of rebel forces.

"He is ready to implement the road map", Mr Zuma said.

Mr Zuma said Gaddafi insists that "all Libyans be given a chance to talk among themselves" to determine the country's future. He did not say Gaddafi is ready to step down, which is the central demand of the rebels.

In April, Mr Zuma led a delegation of the African Union to Tripoli with an AU proposal for a truce. Gaddafi said he would accept the truce but quickly ignored it and resumed his attacks, while the rebels rejected the cease-fire out of hand because it did not include Gaddafi's exit from power. Since then many cease-fire efforts have failed for similar reasons.

In Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital, Fathi Baja, the rebel foreign minister, rejected the African Union plan. "We refuse completely, we don't consider it a political initiative, it is only some stuff that Gadhafi wants to announce to stay in power," he said.

He said he believes Mr Zuma is in Tripoli to negotiate an exit strategy for Gaddafi, though Zuma's office denies that. Baja also said the rebels would launch an offensive against Gaddafi soon.


Monday, May 30, 2011

New Fad: Bicycles for city transportation

Today I heard a program on NPR that discussed the concept of sharing bikes in Washington D.C., and other major cities in the U.S. and Europe. I quickly remember the pictures I once gazed upon of huge crowds riding bicycles in China. How can an old concept be an innovation in the home of the Industrial Revolution? Are we now to learn from the once proletariat, now expansively wealthy communist China?
What a 'Cultural Revolution'?
Ride to work? Pedal power causes perspiration...

Funny, how things change? Everything old is new... Low tech for me, High-tech for them.

Bikeshare Program Rides High In D.C.
by Jacob Fenston

May 30, 2011

Listen to the Story
Morning Edition
[4 min 6 sec]
May 30, 2011

Bicycle-sharing schemes are a fixture in European cities like Copenhagen, but now they are taking root on American soil. In Washington, D.C., over the past eight months, the nation's largest bike-share system has become so popular, it may become a victim of its own success.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Laid Foundation for the Tallest Church in China

As part of celebration activity series of Suzhou Industrial Park's 17th Anniversary, the ground-breaking ceremony of SIP Catholic Church cum the Bishop's House of Suzhou Church Archdiocese was held on May 28.

The location of the church

With 1-hectare planned land area and 4,880-square-meter construction area located in the northern area of Loufeng Town, the south-western shores of Yangcheng Lake, the project is expected to be put into use around Christmas, 2012. After the completion of the project, the church tower with a spire in the height of 80 meters will be the tallest church building in current China, and by then, SIP will have put in place all the four religious cultures, namely, Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism and Christianity.

May 30, 2011


The axe is laid unto the root of the trees

7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

9And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

10And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Matthew 8:7-10.
*(Correction) Matthew 3:8-10.

Conspiracy Cards

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sotomayor Gets Nearly $1.2M for Memoir

By AP Friday, May 27, 2011

Source: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2074493,00.html#ixzz1NgWyJrL0

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor appears on the second day of her Senate confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on July 14, 2009

Karen Bleier / AFP / Getty

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2074493,00.html#ixzz1NgWedDdv

(WASHINGTON) — Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor says she received nearly $1.2 million to write a memoir of her rise from a South Bronx housing project to the nation's highest court.

Sotomayor reported the payment for the as-yet untitled book from Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group in an annual report of personal finances, released Friday for the justice and her eight colleagues. Knopf revealed last July that Sotomayor had agreed to write the memoir, but the size of the advance had not been public.
(See: Sonia Sotomayor: Bronx (and Baseball) Role Model)

The book will come out simultaneously in English and in Spanish, but no release date has been set. Sotomayor is the court's first Hispanic justice. Her parents moved from Puerto Rico to New York after World War II.

Justice Clarence Thomas also received more than $1 million in advance of the publication of his book, "My Grandfather's Son," in 2007.

Thomas reported that his wife, Virginia, received salary and benefits from two conservative advocacy groups she created, Liberty Central and Liberty Consulting. The amounts were not disclosed; they are not required.

Two justices reported receiving royalties for books they published in recent years. Justice Stephen Breyer traveled the country to promote his new book "Making Our Democracy Work." He received nearly $60,000 in royalties.

Justice Antonin Scalia took in $38,000 for "Making Your Case," the book about legal advocacy that he co-wrote with Bryan Garner.

Breyer also reported selling his shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., valued at $15,000 to $50,000. The stock sale allowed Breyer to take part in the court's consideration of Wal-Mart's effort to end a massive sex discrimination lawsuit. The court is expected to decide that case by the end of June.


Capacity assessments of Caritas Denmark and ADRA Denmark


Danida has with its revised “Strategy for Danish Support to Civil Society in Developing Countries” (2008) formally established the possibility of establishing broader thematic or geographic programs with civil society organizations with sufficient capacity and experience. A programmatic approach can create stronger partnerships, greater continuity and flexibility than the traditional project approach as well as simpler administrative procedures. Presently a handful of Danish organizations have shown interest and sufficient experience to move into a programmatic approach. Among these Danish organizations are Caritas Denmark and Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Denmark.

Caritas Denmark is a Danish NGO with links to the Catholic Church and forms part of a global network of 156 national Caritas organizations. Caritas was established in 1947 and at present the development assistance is focused at 4 countries (Bolivia, Niger, Northeast India, and Uganda).

ADRA Denmark is an independent organization for humanitarian aid and development cooperation established by the Seventh day Adventist Church in Denmark. ADRA Denmark takes part in an international ADRA network with a total of about 120 member organizations. The development work of ADRA is focused on 8 countries in Africa.

These two organizations have a long history of international relief and development assistance and are at present under consideration by Danida for country program support in Uganda. As part of the preparations NORDECO has been contracted to undertake independent capacity assessments of Caritas Denmark and ADRA Denmark in addition to carry out appraisals of the proposed country programs in Uganda.

The capacity assessments will examine the extent to which Caritas and ADRA have the professional and administrative capacity to carry out its Danish supported development activities within the program approach and considering the full existing and planned portfolio of the organizations. The appraisals will assess the relevance and strategy of the proposed Uganda programs in light of the development situation in Uganda and the relevant districts, including considerations of activities by other stakeholders and best practices in Uganda and internationally.

The NORDECO assignment takes place in the period January-March 2009.


Man Of Sin

Man Of Sin

Called to Expose Man of Sin.

--In the very time in which we live the Lord has called His people and has given them a message to bear. He has called them to expose the wickedness of the man of sin who has made the Sunday law a distinctive power, who has thought to change times and laws, and to oppress the people of God who stand firmly to honor Him by keeping the only true Sabbath, the Sabbath of creation, as holy unto the Lord.

A Distinct People With a Testing Message.

--The Lord has been pleased to give His people the third angel's message as a testing message to bear to the world. John beholds a people distinct and separate from the world, who refuse to worship the beast or his image, who bear God's sign, keeping holy His Sabbath--the seventh-day to be kept holy as a memorial of the living God, the Creator of heaven and earth. Of them the apostle writes, "Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." 1900. Ev 233

Brought to you - Thanks to:

The Jesuit Agenda for the Seventh-day Adventist Church

Uploaded by mynewname777 on Dec 26, 2010

John Osborne interviews Bob Trefz about the Jesuit Agenda for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Exposes many Jesuit plots.

My Take: Welcoming the GOP-Catholic exchange on the budget

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

May 25th, 2011

10:05 AMET

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

A couple weeks ago, some Catholic leaders called out House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan and House Speaker John Boehner for neglecting Catholic social teachings in their proposed 2012 budget.

Boehner avoided the issue in his recent commencement address at Catholic University, but Rep. Ryan tackled it head on in an April 29 letter to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Dolan responded in a letter dated May 18, and Ryan responded in turn. All three letters are now available on the House Committee on the Budget website.

I think of Ryan as a follower of the philosopher/novelist Ayn Rand more than a follower of Jesus, so I was surprised to see him offer such a thoughtful response, addressing such traditional topics in Catholic moral theology as “the well-being of the family, subsidiarity [more on that later], the preferential option for the poor, and the dignity of the human person.”

Throughout the four-page letter, he addresses topics—including hunger and homelessness—rarely addressed today by Republican politicians. In fact, he sounds at times like a throwback to President George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism."

Ryan begins by sounding the alarm. Our economic situation is dire, he argues, largely because of unsustainable deficits and debt. And this dire situation by no means affect only the rich.

“Ultimately the weakest will be hit three times over,” Ryan writes, “by rising costs, by drastic cuts to programs they rely on, and by the collapse of individual support for charities that help the hungry, the homeless, the sick, refugees and others in need.”

I must say I find some of Ryan’s writing disingenuous, most notably his claim that his budget “reforms welfare for those who need it,” including the poor and the sick, while it “ends welfare for those who don’t—entrenched corporations, the wealthiest Americans.”

I also don’t buy that his budget is “aimed at strengthening economic security for seniors, workers, families, and the poor.” Ryan and other Republicans have repeatedly insisted that the aim of their budget is reducing the deficit and jump-starting the economy by coming to the aid of “job creators” who “encourage expansion, growth, and hiring.”

Still, I have to commend Ryan for taking his Catholic critics (and his Catholicism) seriously enough to respond with some care.

Ryan argues that his proposed changes to Medicare are “consistent with the preferential option for the poor” long articulated by Catholic theologians and rooted in the Gospel of Luke (“Blessed are the poor”).

He claims that his budget is “rooted in the dignity of the human person” because it gets citizens off the dole, and he finds support for this view in Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Centesimus Annus.

Ryan’s cleverest twist is an effort to justify his interpretation of federalism via the church’s “principle of subsidiarity,” which says it is wrong “to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do.” I am going to have to leave that one to the theologians to parse, but I have never thought of Roman Catholic governance as particularly attuned either to localism or to states' rights.

Archbishop Dolan’s response to Ryan's letter is, unfortunately, conciliatory to the point of fawning. In essence, he lauds Ryan for articulating his budget in terms of the church's social teachings. But he never really challenges Ryan’s highly unorthodox interpretations of those teachings, and at times he seems to endorse them.

After quoting from the Centesimus Annus encyclical, where John Paul II writes “the defenseless and the poor have a claim to special consideration,” Dolan basically takes at face value Ryan’s assurance that his budget "would be attentive to such considerations.”

And when it comes to subsidiarity and federalism, he meekly reminds Ryan that solidarity, too, is a Catholic value—taking care to act “with a view to the common good.”

Dolan writes that “a singularly significant part of our duty as pastors is to insist that the cries of the poor are heard,” and now some Catholic groups are taking Dolan to task for shirking that duty by being too conciliatory toward Ryan and his budget.

Yesterday Catholics United called on the Archbishop “to defend the poor, not tax breaks for the wealthy,” saying his letter to Ryan “shocks the conscience of all Catholics and people of faith who care about the poor and vulnerable.”

A similar but less strident challenge from Catholic Democrats is calling on Dolan to clarify his response, noting that his letter “is being interpreted by some as an endorsement of Ryan’s budget.”

I know that defenders of a strict separation of church and state will wonder why Ryan engaging in this public exchange with a Catholic bishop over what might seem to be a purely secular matter. But I welcome it.

All too often, politicians on both the left and the right cloak their public policy positions in vague claims that they are based in the Bible or Christian theology. Ryan's letter is not vague. He thinks his budget is in keeping with Catholic social teachings, and he has now told us why.

The next step in what Ryan is rightly calling a "constructive dialogue" is for American Catholics to weigh in. What do they think of Ryan's efforts to claim the imprimatur of Catholicism for the GOP budget? I am eager to hear.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

Jesuit Superior General meets nuncio during British visit

Fr Adolfo Nicolás meets Archbishop Antonio Mennini, Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, during his visit last week

By Staff Reporter on Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Fr Adolfo Nicolás,the 30th Superior General of the Society of Jesus, right, is pictured during his visit to the Britain last week, with Archbishop Antonio Mennini, Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, centre, and Fr Michael Holman, the outgoing Provincial of the British Jesuits, left (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Gallery of Pics @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/catholicism/5614360508/

Armed robbers attack Jesuit community at Ivory Coast theology school

Apr 20, 2011


By Catholic News Service

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (CNS) -- Armed robbers attacked the faculty of a Jesuit-run theology school in the Ivorian capital, injuring one person and ransacking the private rooms of individual priests.

Jesuit Father Michael Lewis, president of the Superiors of Africa and Madagascar for the Jesuits, said in an email to Catholic News Service that the robbers stormed the Institute of Theology of the Company of Jesus April 17 as the priests were preparing for dinner.

Deacon Herve-Noel Kanziama was beaten and physically abused during the incident, Father Lewis reported.

Students were not at the school at the time, having been sent out of the country about two months ago as fighting intensified between army forces and militia supporting President-elect Alassane Ouattara and security personnel and mercenaries loyal to outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo. Ouattara was declared the winner of elections in November, but Gbagbo refused to leave office.

French and U.N. forces on the ground in Abidjan arrested Gbagbo April 11 after an assault on his residence in Abidjan.

The robbers entered school grounds by jumping over a security wall and quickly disarmed the guards on duty, Father Lewis wrote. The Jesuits at the school reported that the robbers stole everything of value, including computers, cellphones, a television and personal possessions.

Two Jesuits, including Father Victor Adangba, rector, were forced to hand over a small amount of cash kept in a safe while the bandits held the other priests on the ground at gunpoint, Father Lewis said.

Shots were fired at times during the ordeal, but no injuries were reported from the arms fire, he said.

Father Lewis indicated the attack was not unexpected because political unrest continues around the country.

"They (Jesuits) are obviously very traumatized and are looking for ways to protect themselves and others around them," he said. "The situation in the Ivory Coast is still very fluid and unstable and there is considerable lawlessness in many parts of the country."
Armed robbers attack Jesuit community at Ivory Coast theology school

Source: http://www.iobserve.org/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=827&cntnt01returnid=61


'Story' as it appeared on http://www.sjweb.info/news/index.cfm?Tab=1&PubLang=1 , a jesuit media organ.

Military attack Jesuit Community Abidjan

(18-Apr-2011) On Sunday evening April 17th, 2011 the Jesuit Formation Centre of Abidjan (Ivory Coast) has been attacked by 15 to 20 well armed military. The five formators who were present have been treathened at guns points, verbally abused, insulted and being screamed. Some have been beaten. Pc’s, portable phones, personal belongings and documents and the money of the safe have been taken away. According to the attackers the church had supported Gbagbo, burned mosques and killed their brothers and they were accused to hide weapons.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel honors 2002 Wrigley Field Usher of the Year


Ram_Emanuel,_Louise_Coughlin,_Rev_Daniel_Coughlin.jpg ‎ (575 × 534 pixels, file size: 221 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg)


English: Rep. Rahm Emanuel honors 2002 Wrigley Field Usher of the Year, Louise Coughlin, 89, along with her son, Rev. Daniel P. Coughlin, Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives. Emanuel presented Coughlin with an official copy of a statement he entered into the Congressional Record marking her achievement

Please Note: Rahm Emanuel's name is mispelled in the image title.

13 August 2003


United States office of Rep. Rahm Emanuel


Friday, May 27, 2011

Jesuit priest sworn in as new House chaplain

By Debbie Siegelbaum - 05/25/11 03:18 PM ET

Jesuit priest Rev. Patrick J. Conroy on Wednesday was sworn in as the new House chaplain, two weeks after his work for a religious order that settled sexual abuse claims was called into question.

Conroy was sworn in by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who along with fellow Catholic and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nominated Conroy.

“Father Pat Conroy comes with a healthy respect for what we do,” said Pelosi during the swearing in. “It is a beautiful honor steeped in history — deeply personal, free of politics — and we wish him every success in that job.”

The comments represent a change of tone for Pelosi, who earlier this month co-nominated Conroy only to later claim Boehner failed to thoroughly examine the background of the priest.

Referring to it as “new information,” Pelosi questioned the Jesuit priest’s work for a Roman Catholic religious order that recently agreed to pay $166 million to hundreds of victims of sexual abuse.

Boehner's office subsequently dismissed Pelosi's concerns, and her office later said there was no evidence of any connection between Conroy and the allegations of abuse. After further inquiry, she said she saw “no obstacle” in preventing the chaplain’s nomination from moving forward.

It is not the first time the choice of House chaplain has been marked by controversy.

In 2000, then-Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and then-Democratic leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) established a bipartisan search committee to find a new chaplain. Hastert later angered lawmakers — and was accused of having an anti-Catholic bias — when he chose the Rev. Charles Parker Wright, a Presbyterian, over a Roman Catholic priest who had reportedly received the most bipartisan support from the committee.
 Wright subsequently withdrew his nomination and Hastert nominated Father Daniel P. Coughlin.

In a statement read before the House prior to Conroy’s swearing in, departing Coughlin expressed his appreciation for the position.

“During the past 11 years, it has been my distinct honor to serve as chaplain of the House of Representatives,” he wrote. “It has been a true blessing for me to come to know you, members of Congress, through the years . . . It is now time for me to retire.”

New House chaplain Conroy entered the Society of Jesus in 1973 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1983. He previously served as a chaplain at D.C.'s Georgetown University for 10 years, ending in 2003.

In addition to opening House proceedings with prayer, Conroy will provide pastoral counseling, coordinate the scheduling of guest chaplains and arrange memorial services for staff.

(BTW: The U.S. Senate's chaplain, Barry Black is an Adventist.)

U.S.A.: Jesuit chaplain of US House of Representatives

24-May-2011) Jesuit Father Patrick J. Conroy, a chaplain and theology teacher at Jesuit High School in Portland, has been nominated to be the next chaplain to the U.S. House of Representatives. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio announced the decision May 6 and said it was made in consultation with Nancy Pelosi of California, House Democratic leader. The priest will be the 60th House chaplain, the first Jesuit priest and the second Catholic priest in this role. "One does not aspire to become the chaplain to a chamber of Congress," said Father Conroy and added: "This opportunity to serve is an extraordinary gift, and I hope to be worthy of the trust the Speaker of the House and the Minority Leader are extending to me. I am also humbled by the confidence my Jesuit superiors are demonstrating in making me available to answer this call to serve the people's House."

Source: http://www.sjweb.info/news/index.cfm?Tab=1&PubLang=1


Speaker John Boehner / Father Patrick Conroy

Speaker Boehner names Jesuit priest as next House chaplain

Washington D.C., May 9,2011 / 03:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- House Speaker John Boehner has proposed Father Patrick Conroy, S.J. to be the next chaplain for the U.S. House of Representatives.

If formally elected, Fr. Conroy would become the second Catholic priest to hold the position.

Ordained in 1983, Conroy has served as a parish priest in his native Washington state and served the people of the Colville Indian Reservation and the Spokane Indian Reservation, USA Today reports. He was chaplain at Georgetown University from 1990 to 1994 and from 1997 to 2003. Between those periods, he served as chaplain at Seattle University.

At present he teaches at Jesuit High school in Portland, Ore.

Boehner said he consulted with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi over the appointment.

Pelosi said Conroy will provide “guidance and comfort” while ministering to the needs of the Capitol Hill community in “an interfaith way.”

Catholic priest Fr. Daniel Coughlin, the previous House chaplain, retired last month to widespread praise.

The House chaplain position dates back to 1789, when the Continental Congress began a tradition of having the day’s proceedings open with a prayer.

The chaplain’s present duties include leading the daily prayer, providing counseling and pastoral services, coordinating the scheduling of guest chaplains and helping to arrange memorial services for House members and staff.

Source: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/speaker-boehner-names-jesuit-priest-as-next-house-chaplain/

G-8: Nations, banks to give $40B for Arab Spring

AP – French President Nicolas Sarkozy, right, and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, center, welcome US President

By JAMEY KEATEN and GREG KELLER, Associated Press – Fri May 27, 8:13 am ET

DEAUVILLE, France – Rich countries and international lenders are aiming to provide $40 billion in funding for Arab nations trying to establish free democracies, officials said at a Group of Eight summit Friday.

The officials didn't provide a breakdown of where the money would come from or when, or what it would be for.

But the overall message from President Barack Obama and the other G-8 leaders meeting in this Normandy resort appeared to be warning autocratic regimes in the Arab world that they will be shut out of rich-country aid and investment, while new democracies are encouraged to open their economies.

Tunisia's finance minister said French President Nicolas Sarkozy floated the $40 billion figure at talks Friday, in which the prime ministers of Tunisia and Egypt joined the G-8 leaders and appealed for help after uprisings earlier this year that overthrew longtime autocrats but also scared away tourists and investors.

A French official says $40 billion is the overall goal, but that breakdowns by country and timetables are still under discussion. The official was not authorized to be publicly named according to his office policy.

A group statement from the G-8 leaders said that $20 billion from international development banks could go to Egypt and Tunisia over the next three years.

Beyond the institutional funding, the French official said the aim was for another $20 billion from bilateral support from G8 members as well as from rich Persian Gulf states and others.

"We are really very satisfied by the very strong, very clear, very precise declarations that have come from all the G-8 nations and financial institutions — bilateral agencies and development banks," Tunisian Finance Minister Jaloul Ayed told reporters in Deauville. He said foreign ministers and finance ministers from the countries involved were expected to meet between now and early July to flesh out details of the aid package.

Tunisia's government said it was asking the G-8 for $25 billion over the next five years, and Egypt says it will need between $10 to $12 billion for the fiscal year that begins in July to cover its mounting expenses.

"This isn't the end, additional funding will likely come from other sources after the G-8, and I think they'll be satisfied with at least the ball starting to roll," Jenilee Guebert of the G-8 Research Group at the Munk School of Global Affairs in Toronto.

U.S. and European officials had said that they would not announce an aid figure at this summit, thinking it was too early to do so.

"They said their main problem was the economy. They need some support," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters Friday after meeting the Egyptian and Tunisian leaders. "I think they are ready. Let's do everything to support the Arab Spring. I think they can succeed."

Uncertainty lingers, however, about the fragile governments in Egypt and Tunisia as they prepare for elections later this year — and debate over how to handle Libya's war.

The G-8 leaders are also worried that fighting in Libya and violence against protesters in Syria could derail the pro-democracy movement that has swept around the Arab world since Tunisian protesters rose up against an autocratic regime and forced out their longtime president.

In their final statement, the G-8 leaders said Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi "must go" and are pressing Syria's regime to "stop using force and intimidation" against its people.

The G8 leaders say Gadhafi and his government have failed to fulfill their responsibility to protect Libya's people "and have lost all legitimacy. He has no future in a free, democratic Libya."

The main product of the G-8 summit was a partnership program aimed at supporting the countries' fragile political leadership and fighting corruption and stabilizing the economies.

The G-8 leaders laid out a plan for refocusing the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development — created to help eastern European economies after the collapse of communism — to help Arab democracies.

The EBRD was set up 20 years ago, when the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union convinced European leaders of the urgency to provide support to a region emerging from decades of political and economic dictatorship. The idea was to set up a "transition bank" to help lead the way on banking systems reform, price liberalization, privatization and establishing legal property rights in a region just shaking off the effects of almost 50 years of planned economies.

The G-8 leaders also met with African leaders Friday, calling for concerted efforts to settle conflicts on the continent.


Julie Pace and Sylvie Corbet in Deauville contributed to this report

Shadow Government



The Teachings of Jack Sequeira

Within the last few months, Jack Sequeira published a doctrinal book through Pacific Press.
Entltled, Beyond Belief, this 192-page book details a sizable range of Sequeira’s teachings. In addition to that book, earlier sermon tapes of his are available.
Since Sequeira is becoming an important theological speaker, on behalf of leadership, it is important that we know what he teaches. In the present study we will survey nine of them:
He ridicules Ellen White's writings, and says we should not use them.
He rejects essential parts of our historic Sanctuary Message.
He teaches errors which Ballenger taught.
He refuses to use the Spirit of Prophecy in his sermons, papers, books, or replies to critics.
He labels those areas, in which he disagrees with the Spirit of Prophecy writings, as ''non-essential'' and “non-fundamental.”
He declares that Christ's atonement was totally finished on the cross, and our salvation was assured and fully completed at that time.
He teaches that we now have unconditional salvation which, received by us just once, guarantees our being taken to heaven.
He says that cooperation with God in working out our salvation is “Galatian legalism.”
He insists that the Final Crisis will be fought over acceptance of the finished atonement, instead of over obedience to the law of God.
There is a very real danger in attending meetings or reading books by one of our people who refuses to use the Spirit of Prophecy or accept its counsels.
To do so is to lay oneself open to hypnotic influences.
Beware of men who come to you with complicated theological reasoning and strange, new words and concepts. But especially so when they refuse to be corrected by the Spirit of Prophecy. Having voluntarily laid down the Spirit of Prophecy in order to hear them out, their deep, complex reasoning can weary the mind, and lead to an attitude of mental surrender to the man’s views. This is dangerous. The mind becomes locked into error.

Church Leaders Say "We're Sorry"

German and Austrian churches apologize for Holocaust actions

BY MARK A. KELLNER, assistant director for news and information of the General Conference Communication Department

oting the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War II, Seventh-day Adventist church leaders in Germany and Austria have released a declaration saying they "deeply regret" any participation in or support of Nazi activities during the war. The church bodies "honestly confess" a failure "in following our Lord" by not protecting Jews, and others, from that era's genocide, widely known as the Holocaust. Millions of people perished from war atrocities, including more than 6 million Jews who were exterminated in Nazi persecutions during the 12-year period of 1933 to 1945.

The declaration was initially published in the May 2005 issue of AdventEcho, a monthly German-language church magazine, and also will appear in other German publications, said Günther Machel, president of the South German Union Conference and one of three signatories to the statement.

A copy of the statement has been provided to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Israel, added Rolf Pöhler, a former North German church area president who is now that region's theological advisor and was involved with the drafting of the declaration.

"We deeply regret that the character of National Socialist dictatorship had not been realized in time and distinctly enough, and the ungodly nature of [Nazi] ideology had not clearly been identified," the statement, as translated from German, reads. The church says it also regrets "that in some of our publications . . . there were found articles glorifying Adolf Hitler and agreeing with the ideology of anti-Semitism in a way that is unbelievable from today's [perspective]."

Church leaders also expressed regret that "our peoples became associated with racial fanaticism destroying the lives and freedom of 6 million Jews and representatives of minorities in all of Europe" and "that many Seventh-day Adventists did not share the need and suffering of their Jewish fellow-citizens."

A paramount regret, the statement indicated, was that German and Austrian Adventist congregations "excluded, separated and left [church members who were] . . . of Jewish origin to themselves so that they were delivered to imprisonment, exile or death."

Under various racial decrees, some Adventist congregations expelled members of Jewish heritage. One, Max-Israel Munk, was placed in two concentration camps by the Nazis and survived and returned to his church after the war. He said he did not wish to act toward his congregation in the way in which he had been treated, according to Daniel Heinz, a church archivist at Friedensau Adventist University who has studied Adventist activities during the National Socialist era.

Along with Machel, the other leaders who signed the statement were Klaus-Juergen van Treeck, North German Union Conference president, and Herbert Brugger, president of the Adventist Church in Austria. Pöhler and Johannes Hartlapp, church historian at Friedensau, drafted the statement on which the declaration is based. All three church geographic areas voted to approve the text, Pöhler said.

In the statement, the three assert that the "obedience we owe to the state authorities does not lead to giving up biblical convictions and values." They said that while only God can judge the actions of prior generations, "in our day, however, we want to take a decided stand for right and justice-towards all people."

Brugger, in a telephone interview, said, "Our church members really appreciated the publishing of this document." No indication of a reaction from Austria's Jewish community has been received, but Brugger said the Adventist Church is not as well known in Austria as some other movements are.

Asked how a church that considers keeping the Sabbath as one of its core beliefs could forsake Jewish Sabbath-keepers during a time of persecution, Brugger suggested that it was political, not theological, considerations that may have led to the strategy.

During World War I a portion of the German Adventist church had split off, opposing any military service. This led the National Socialists in 1936 to ban the so-called "Reform Movement" during their time in power. Brugger said concern over a Nazi closure of the main Adventist churches may have weighed on leaders in that era.

"I think during these times the official leaders of our church were afraid of losing the control over the church and losing the church because the political authorities had already . . . [confused] our church with the Reform movement," he explained. "I think our leaders were afraid to lose the official recognition of our church, so therefore maybe they were not [as faithful] to our beliefs as would have been necessary."

The main Seventh-day Adventist church in Germany was also briefly banned under the Nazis, notes Pöhler. A quick reversal by the regime led to relief among Adventists but also to a level of cooperation with the government that was unhealthy.

"We not only kept silent, but we also published things we never should have published. We published anti-Semitic ideas that, from our perspective, weren't really needed," Pöhler said in a telephone interview.

"We had to realize that one wrong statement, one wrong move by a person meant he could end up in a concentration camp," Pöhler said of that era. "[That was the] reason why we excluded and disfellowshipped Jewish-born Adventists from our midst: If a local church had not done this, [the Nazis] would have closed the church, taken the elder to prison, and it would have meant the whole church would be forbidden."

While some European Adventists took courageous stands to protect Jews, others went along in part because of concern for their families and churches. It would be difficult enough for an individual to reach out to a Jewish person, Pöhler explained, but to risk the lives of those in a congregation was an added burden. Such caution was even reflected in the nomenclature used by German Adventists, he said.

Daniel Heinz, director of church archives at the Adventist university in Friedensau, Germany, said his research into the stories of Adventists who helped Jews during the war led to his discovery of those who acted less honorably.
Resistance to Nazi policies, as well as the compassionate yet brave response of many Christians, among them Seventh-day Adventists, to protect lives of those under Nazi persecution, have been documented throughout Europe, including Poland, Hungary, Holland, and Denmark.

"I found some very impressive stories of Adventists who helped Jews in the Third Reich, risking their lives, and I found the opposite," Heinz said. Among other church members, one Latvian Adventist family took in a Jewish man, hid him during the war, and survived. The refugee became an Adventist believer and church pastor after the war ended.
According to Machel, "Sixty years after World War II is late-but we saw it as the last chance for a declaration."

Young adult church members reacted positively to the statement's expressions of concern and contrition.

"To humbly reveal our sins and failures is the most important thing God wants us to do," said Sara Gehler, 25. "And even though 60 years have already passed, I think it was necessary for us as [the Seventh-day Adventist] Church to take a stand on the Second World War." She added, "It is our duty as Christians to protect and help those who are weak, helpless, and in need."

Said John Graz, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director for the Adventist world headquarters, "For those who believe in God's love for every member of the human family, against any kind of discrimination based on race, religion, or gender, this declaration written by a generation which had no responsibility in the Holocaust and the war, but endorse the responsibility of their parents, will stand as a positive landmark and great encouragement."