Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Testing time!

At Jim's Sunday evening Bible study, we were given a selection of questions from the 2010 Pew Rearch Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life poll in 2010 to test our knowledge, with the questions relevant to Christianity only given (we were not given questions unrelated with our study) to the class. We were astonished of the Bible Knowledge questions how many did not answer the questions correctly.

As Our Word does discuss faith issues, we'll see how many of you can answer these questions -- NO USE OF ANY SEARCH ENGINE TO FIND THE ANSWERS. And no, this is NOT an open book test! I missed one, and that I shall not mention.

Please be careful and phrase #10, #11, and #12 in the form of a question!

  1. What is the first book of the Bible? 
  2. What are the names of the first four books of the New Testament ("the Four Gospels")? 
  3. Where, according to the Bible, was Jesus born? 
  4. Of these four, one is NOT in the Ten Commandments. Identify the one NOT in the Ten Commandments: a) Do unto others as done unto you; b) Do not commit adultery; c) No stealing; d) Keep the Sabbath 
  5. Which figure is associated with remaining obedient to God despite suffering? 
  6. Which figure is associated with leading the exodus from Egypt? 
  7. Which figure is associated with willingness to sacrifice his son for God?
  8. What is Catholic teaching about bread and wine in Communion? They are the body and blood of Christ They are symbols 
  9. Which Group traditionally teaches salvation is through faith alone? Protestants Catholics Both Neither 
  10. Of Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Mormonism, it was the faith of Mother Teresa. 
  11. Of Luther, Aquinas, and Wesley, his writings and actions inspired the Protestant Reformation. 
  12. Of Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, and William Franklin (Billy) Graham Jnr, he was an evangelist in the First Great Awakening.

Have fun guys!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mourning 40 years of muder, legalised by courts, and the loss of the Sanctity of Human Life

Ive marched 16 times and have been part of our state’s Citizens for Life dinner or other related events, whether it’s dinner with Suzanne Schindler or lunch with Jennifer O’Neill. Watching Michael Clancy’s photograph of a baby with spina bifida being operated in utero before his birth was enough this year to witness what we saw. 

But sadly, I was appalled at what I saw during our March for Life again. A group of Protestants protested the 40th annual march in our state because the march was led by the Knights of Columbus. This is not an issue between faiths, it is an issue of the sanctity of human life, and we just passed the said Sunday in churches, no longer observed nationally following Dear Leader’s decision to purge the pro-life day while celebrating sexual deviancy “pride” month. Why would people complain about Catholics and Protestants marching for the protection of the life of a child? At our annual banquet, only two denominations were represented – Catholics and Baptists.

Forty years is too much. When we now have a Governor in New York who is an odds-on favourite to become President in 2016 pushing for baby murder all the way into birth and beyond, even ordering Catholic hospitals to close, we are seeing the humanist agenda against life, motivated by a President who has forced faith-based firms to pay for baby murder or face heavy fines (see Hobby Lobby), and over 50 million dead in these baby murder mills, I think of this ill-informed generation that trusts MTV has created a mess reversing gains of the life movement as a generation of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” will listen to what their “dear leaders” will advance.

We've lost millions of children in these gruesome attacks each day, bigger assault weapons than what Dear Leader claims, yet there is no call from him to ban these “assault weapons” that penetrate the skulls of real children. When the National Abortion Rights Action League is glorified and coverage for killing babies is now required under new mandates passed under the “Affordable” Care Act, where does that lead us?

An entire generation of work has now been wiped out by one ferocious dictator. And we mourn for those who have been slaughtered in the 40 years since. I fear now that with the Obama courts everything we've accomplished will be reversed, and the right to kill children and adults that you don't like will become law by judicial fiat.

And it's not just those in the womb. The result is without the sanctity of human life, anyone that a person does not like can be slaughtered at the will of someone who has ulterior motives. Witness Michael Schiavo's fight to kill his wife, the Oregon “death with dignity” law, and the Belgian twins' euthanasia because the deaf were now blind. Are we in a dangerous era of eugenics again?

Kyrie Eleison

I have Mozart's “Dies Irae” from his Requiem in my head in memory of those who have died in the womb in these forty years.
 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pierced by a Lance


"I am shocked — shocked — to find gambling going on in here."

- Captain Louis Renault, as played by Claude Raines in Casablanca

I suppose there are still people out there who were shocked to see the reports that Lance Armstrong admitted his drug use to National Conscience Oprah Winfrey last night, in an interview to be broadcast Thursday.  I suppose we'll have to wait until then to see what he actually said, and how he explained it away, but that hasn't stopped people from commenting on it in the meantime.  And one school of thought we're hearing is a variation on the "Robin Hood" theme, i.e. that Armstrong did so much good in his lifetime outside of the cycling game, he raised funds (mostly from big corporations that could afford it) and awareness for cancer, he was an inspirational leader, Livestrong, yada, yada, yada.

That's an interesting proposition, that the good Armstrong's done outweighs his personal failings, one that I thought was worth an experiment.  Let's try the following statements on for size, and see what your reaction is to each of them:

  • "I know he's cheating on me, but he provides for me and my children, so I can't really deny that."

  • "I may have lied to the American people about a break-in, but I was going to win reelection anyway, and Watergate doesn't really diminish the end of the Vietnam War, my trip to China, and the other things I've accomplished, right?"

  • "Perhaps the stem cells did come from aborted babies, but they saved my life, so I'm not complaining that someone had to die so I could live."
  • "So what if I did steal that money from the insurance company?  They can afford it, and anyway, I gave all the money to feed starving children.  What's the difference?"

    Chances are that most of you were offended by at least one, if not all, of these statements.  Perhaps they struck close to home for some of you.  At any rate, I doubt that anyone out there would have agreed with all four of them.

    Presumably there are those who feel themselves taken in by the manufactured aura that surrounded Armstrong.  And, human nature being what it is, we're loathe to blame ourselves, to suggest that we should have known better.  We don't want to think, even in private, that we might have been stupid enough to fall for this con artist's story, hook, line and sinker.  That's understandable, and so to cover ourselves we might want to provide cover for Armstrong.  We tell others (because we're really telling ourselves) that although he might have been wrong, he did so much that was good that we can somehow excuse, at least in part, the bad things.

    And in so doing we're really suggesting that these good works and charitable endeavors somehow excuse at least some of his sins, that he likely wouldn't have been able to accomplish all these things without the fame that came from winning seven Tour de France titles. That, in essence, the end justify the means.

    Now, it's a generally accepted part of Christian theology that good ends never justify bad means (while at the same time it's acknowledged that God can always bring forth good even from the worst actions).  But since Lance Armstrong is a secular humanist, a non-believer, that doesn't enter into the equation.  Having said that, would we suggest that bombing a city in Afghanistan and killing 100,000 innocent people (assuming one could verify such a thing) would have been justified had we been able to guarantee Osama Bin Laden would have died in the wreckage?  After all, the end justifies the means.

    The libel lawsuits he filed against journalists.  The threats and intimidation he leveled against colleagues.  The brazen lying to the world press and public.  Are we to assume that all of this was justified simply because he was able to do something "good"?  Is that what we're supposed to tell David Walsh, whose employer (The Sunday Times) paid £600,000 to settle a libel case brought by Armstrong after Walsh exposed some of his tactics?  Or Emma O'Reilly, former masseuse for Armstrong's team, who said Armstrong "tried to make my life a living hell" after she told what she knew about drug use within the team? People's reputations were damaged; the trust of their colleagues was threatened; their lives, indeed, were made "hell" - all because Lance Armstrong acted against them for making accusations that, he knew all along, were true. But then we shouldn't worry about that if the end justify the means.

    You and I were bilked out of some of our money, since the U.S. Postal Service sponsored Armstrong's team and paid something in the neighborhood of $31 million as part of an agreement that stipulated "no performance-enhancing drugs."  Granted, the government being the government, that money probably would have been wasted somewhere else anyway, but it still peeves me anyway, and I'm not likely to feel more sanguine about it if you tell me that the end justifies the means.

    People heard about Lance Armstrong's foundation through his fame; they were moved by the story of a cancer survivor who overcame the odds to become a would champion.  And they gave money to that foundation assuming it to be honest because they believed in the man who started it, and while there's no evidence that anything unethical has ever gone on there, it was the trustworthiness of Lance Armstrong that the organization banked on.  Even the most na├»ve among us might see the potential for an ethical conflict here, given the fiction that was Armstrong's reputation.  But in this cynical world, where we've seen so many trustworthy institutions come under scrutiny (and often fall short), should we give Armstrong a free pass because, after all, the end justifies the means?

    Once upon a time there was something called "character."  It's a hard thing to define, I suppose, but there was a day when it was considered very important.  It often went hand-in-hand with something known as "principle" and people's actions were often analyzed based on how they measured up in relation to these two qualities.

    We're also told not to judge someone's heart, for only God can read what is held in secret.  For us to take the measure of a man, we have to look at his public statements and actions - tangible things that we can see and appreciate, even if we don't always understand them. 

    And by that standard we know that Lance Armstrong was a cheat, a liar, and a fraud.  We know that he hurt, or tried to hurt, other people in order to protect this fraudulent life.  I wouldn't presume to call him an "evil" man - that's reading his heart, remember - but I will say that he did evil things.  And the end, no matter how noble or good we want to think it is, can never be justified by that.

    As for Armstrong himself: how, then, to wrap up his sordid tale?  I can't think of anything better than the words of Oliver Cromwell as he dismissed the Rump Parliament in 1653.

    "You have sat here too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go."  

    Monday, January 14, 2013

    A few notes

    Life. The March for Life is coming either this week or next week, depending on your state chapter of the National Right to Life organisation. Don't forget about it! Our state dinner tickets are set and I'm set to march for the sixteenth time!

    Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. It's no longer a day celebrated by the White House with this totalitarian in chief who wants as many babies (and adults) dead as possible to advance his agenda. But how many churches will be observing it the next two weeks?

    Totalitarianism? Just noted Bill O'Reilly commented on the President's clear move towards a dictatorship of "Dear Leader." I've seen too many moves where he has aimed towards that tactic, whether it is energy, fuel economy, the financial crisis, and now guns.

    Emergent! While the controversy over Louie Giglio at the Coronation of Dear Leader was massive because he would violate the New World Order's rule on hate speech (anything opposed to sexual deviants is hate speech to the NWO), people never discussed the questionable theology of Passion and the related movement. How can any of us, Protestant or Catholic, sit in the middle of these Life Enhancement Centres, drowned out by 100 dB rock music, with such questionable garbage dominating the service?

    Bottom of the Barrel? A complaint I heard on social media last night was how a "celebrity diving" show, taken from European concepts, was brought to the United States as filler before the biggest show of the second half of the television regular season. These are Olympic sports we rarely hear but every four years, but isn't it time that these sports are shown more often on network television, even if it is in stranger situations such as celebrities trying it? They called it scraping to the bottom of ideas for television, but if you're the United States Olympic Committee and the National Governing Bodies of the sports in question, how much positive exposure is it to see celebrities trying it? Imaging a celebrity Modern Pentathlon, Biathlon (shooting and cross-country skiing), or even team handball (a sport in its professional level that that Al-Jazeera has carried on its airwaves) and water polo?

    Don't Be Fooled. Time Warner Cable dropped Ovation, which angered many in the arts field, but it was not mentioned in the way Current was dropped after Al-Jazeera's purchase. Remember they added Al-Jazeera's BeIn, a channel we mentioned in the summer that carries the BBVA League and Serie A among notable football leagues, and is rapidly growing because of it. While they lost to Comcast the rights to the biggest of the leagues, they still carry the serious leagues with names such as Barca and Real.

    Prayer Request. My grandmother had a urinary tract infection three weeks ago, and released from the hospital Tuesday, she is still recovering (and 92). Keep her in your prayers as she continues to recover from the nastiness of the antibiotics she was taken and the other things that happened to her.

    Thursday, January 3, 2013

    Our Word 2012 in review

    Life Imitates Art.Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne missed his team's stop during the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour because he was on jury duty. Considering he drives for the #5 team, and a 2008 #5 team shirt was worn by a Gentleman of the Jury in a past Greenville Light Opera Works production of Trial by Jury, life does imitate art!

    Tosca, Tosca. In thinking of our February column on Lego Tosca, I thought of my anger at the Ray Tanner Home Run 12km when organisers mishandled my entry, and I contemplated suicide, naturally jumping off a castle, near the start line. Obviously I must have read too much on Giacomo Puccini's opera! Gymnasts and ballet dancers who are sopranos should be the only ones playing Tosca since the suicide leap is a must.

    Rossini – Meow! If we talked Rossini on his birthday, we had to do it. But it was likely de Pearsall who did it built around Rossini's Otello.


    Fundraisers and Fines. Look at how Cee-Lo Green, deserving of a $100,000 fine and a 25-point penalty, went off scot-free from his use of improper language at a fund-raiser for Dear Leader this year – and the Low Information Voter ran off and put Dear Leader back in office.

    Well, look who caused it to explode? "Pouring here in Michigan. Track needs a jet dryer. They used to have one, but somebody blew it up!"

    The Left's New Tactics. “If (turning a National Day of Prayer breakfast into an Occupy Wall Street rally by your speech) does not show how the Left would rather promote Occupiers, Class Warfare, and all sorts of "social gospel" that does not include the Bible at a National Day of Prayer event, this should be a warning that the Left will hijack any event to advance their evil, anti-Christian agenda.”

    And yet Obama is pushing for this to be federal law. We saw the consequences at Penn State. “Sexual deviancy special rights activists care about normalising pedophilia and other wicked sexual deviant behaviour at the expense of children.” We saw his endorsement of false "marriage" lead to a winning streak by the sexual deviants, and now they are replacing Freedom of Religion with forced acceptance of their lifestyle of sin.

    Prerecorded Music at an Orchestra Event? “Now who are the divos? The group that demanded singing to prerecorded music? It's as bad as the church singers who sing almost exclusively to the can, claiming it sounds better than the real thing. Don't tell me that. If I'm paying for Mary Lee, Jennifer, Mori, or other musicians to play in a concert, I want to hear them. I don't want to hear a recording! Real musicians are not Powerade bottles.”

    Do People Understand the Fiscal Cliff​? The sad thing about this current financial issue is that the House passed its budget nine months ago, but the Senate refused, hoping, as they have successfully stalled, Dear Leader to win a second term based on the “praise the government as the deity” mentality. Add to that an Olympics in the UK where they ran propaganda on the virtue of socialism, and teaching of socialism everywhere, and it's only natural that they supported Dear Leader. If I have five dollars, do I spend twenty?
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