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Most countries still look down on adultery, but Western countries are more relaxed about abortion, divorce, premarital sex and other behaviours

April 21st, 2014 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off

From Christian Today

Attitudes to extramarital affairs remain conservative around the world, according to research by Pew.
 
The Pew Global Attitudes Survey looked at the views of over 40,000 people in 40 countries and found that an overwhelming 78 per cent of people believe that extramarital affairs are morally unacceptable.
 
Only one in 10 said they were not a moral issue and even fewer (7 per cent) said they were morally acceptable.
 
Even in morally relaxed Britain, over two-thirds (76 per cent) said they were unacceptable.
 
In France by comparison, only 47 per cent said affairs were morally unacceptable, while a sizeable 40 per cent said they were not a moral issue and 12 per cent said they were acceptable.
 
Countries with strong religious affiliations were more conservative in their attitudes to affairs. These included Brazil (84 per cent), Egypt (93 per cent), Indonesia (93 per cent), Kenya (80 per cent), Malaysia (90 per cent), and Pakistan (92 per cent).
 
Read here
 
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How the Bible has shaped the West

March 24th, 2014 Jill Posted in Bible, Culture Comments Off

Lord SacksBy Michael Cook, MercatorNet

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks detects seven key ideas in Judaeo-Christian culture which explain why the West is unique.

One of the most interesting minds in Britain today is Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom. A philosopher and public intellectual as well as a scholar of Judaism, he was recently appointed Professor of Law, Ethics & the Bible at King’s College London.

His inaugural lecture dealt with the relevance of the Bible for law and ethics in society today. Speaking to a packed lecture theatre, Lord Sacks highlighted seven propositions drawn from Biblical ethics which help to understand why the West developed market economics, democratic politics, human rights and the free society.

'The historian Niall Ferguson quotes the verdict of a member of the Chinese Academy of the Social Sciences, tasked with finding an explanation for why the West overtook China in the sixteenth century and went on to industrial and scientific greatness. At first, he said, we thought it was because you had better guns than we had. Then we thought it was your political system. Next we thought it was your economic system. But for the past twenty years we have had no doubt: it was your religion.' 

The first three characteristics he identified were: human dignity; freedom and responsibility; and the sanctity of life – a central principle because human beings are in the image of God, therefore human life human life itself is sacred.

Citing American anthropologist Ruth Benedict, Lord Sacks said the fourth aspect was the concept of guilt as opposed to shame. Articulating the difference between a guilt culture and shame culture, he drew on Sir Bernard Williams’ observation that shame cultures are visual cultures; whereas a guilt culture is a hearing culture. Giving the example of the story of Adam and Eve, he said:

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The Zuber Report: Radical Feminism defeats itself in the European Parliament

March 17th, 2014 Jill Posted in Culture, Feminism, pro-life/abortion Comments Off

By J C von Krempach, JD, Turtle Bay & Beyond

The easiest victory is when your adversaries cannibalize each other. Such a thing happened in last week’s plenary session of the European Parliament, where the supporters of two different versions of a radical-feminist “initiative report” neutralized each other, which finally paved the way for the best of all possible outcomes: neither of the two texts was adopted.

I admit that the whole thing appeared rather late on our radar screens, so that I wasn’t able to report on this earlier. The scenaripo was similar to that of the defeated “Estrela-Report”. Once again, a radical draft for a (legally non-binding) has emanated from the Parliament’s ominous Committee on Women’s Rights (FEMM), which is something like a sheltered workshop for radical feminists in the EP. Given that the radical elements are more or less amongst themselves in that committee, they are able to draft the most extremist policy papers, which then are tabled and voted in the Parliament’s plenary.

This time, it was a report on equality between women and men in the European Union, drafted by Ines Cristina Zuber, a member of Portugal’s hard-core Communist Party.

Her draft is yet another glaring example of how nowadays communists and other radical politicians have appropriated the vocabulary of human rights to embellish their anti-human-rights agenda: the draft called inter alia for the recognition of “right to voluntary termination of pregnancy”, the legal recognition of same-sex “marriages”, the introduction of compulsory “gender education” at schools, and the complete elimination from all school textbooks of any suggestion that a women could find fulfilment in her role as a mother, or a care-giver.

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Be Wary of “Progress”

March 16th, 2014 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off

By Bill Muehlenberg, Culure Watch

Back in 1980 American sociologist Robert Nisbet wrote an important volume entitled History of the Idea of Progress. In it he examined how the notion of progress has had a long historical pedigree, with Christianity and other worldviews offering their own versions of it.
 
In an essay published a year before his book, he offered a summary of his thoughts. In it he said, “There is a dark side to the idea, manifest in the writings of those, on the one hand, who celebrated political power as the magic key to human salvation on earth and, on the other, who linked progress with some given race, usually ‘Nordic,’ ‘Teutonic,’ or ‘Anglo-Saxon’.”
 
He continued: “To summarize and to reiterate: the idea of progress as we have known it for two and a half millennia in the West is hydraheaded. It may mean, as it meant to the Greeks and Romans, no more than advance of the arts and sciences, with consequent boons to human welfare. It may mean a Christian march to a final perfect millennium on this earth and then eternal bliss in heaven. It may mean the constant increase in knowledge, in free institutions, and in creativity, as it did to the Founding Fathers and their kindred spirits in England and France. But it may also mean the relentless enhancement of the political state, the ever-more intrusive role of the state—and its military and police—into our individual lives, or the equally relentless ascent to domination of the world by a given race.”
 
It is the somewhat more recent understanding of the term that I wish to discuss here: the use of the notion of progress by the political left. Again, it is about those “who celebrated political power as the magic key to human salvation on earth” and “the relentless enhancement of the political state, the ever-more intrusive role of the state.”
 
Read here
 
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Guardian’s ‘Christian conservatism v Welfare Reform’ Claim is Bunkum

February 21st, 2014 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off

By Peter Glover, Breitbart

What The Guardian and its writers appear to understand about the Christian Church could be written on the back of a postage stamp – with space to spare.

Proof positive comes in the form of Andrew Brown's absurd piece entitled "Christian conservatism takes radical position against welfare cuts". In a clumsy attempt to ally 'Christian conservatism' – in other words, the non-liberal element of the Church – in the paper's campaign vilifying government welfare reforms, Brown alleges his triumphal chief point: "There is no connection at all between right-wing economic views and theological conservatism".

The only problem with that is that Brown's lightweight assessment has more holes in it than the road in Blackburn. By way of my credentials let me say that a couple of years ago, as a theological conservative, I wrote a book which set out to survey the landscape of Christian conservatism.

Among the top contenders for liberalism-at-large in the Anglican Church is the Anglican House of Bishops, a hotbed of woolly liberalism if ever there was one. Strike one against Brown's assertion. He even cites the "evangelical HTB movement" (that is, Holy Trinity Brompton groups of churches) as supporting his position.

But, as my book The Great Evangelical Disaster: Revisited makes abundantly clear, HTB is part of the cult-like charismatic church movement which believes the Bible per se is insufficient as the complete Word of God, and new revelation is still available to the Church. For the 'Christian conservative' that is simply liberalism by the backdoor.

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Is the ongoing rejection of our Christian heritage resulting in a fairer, better society?

February 19th, 2014 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off

By Will Jones, for God & Politics in the UK

Watching the life of Nelson Mandela brought to life on the big screen recently got me to thinking about where we, the inhabitants of what was once called Christendom, find ourselves in 2014.
 
It struck me that Mandela’s story is in many ways quintessentially modern. A powerful account of a struggle against racial oppression to establish equality and freedom for all, it resonates with much of what we think being modern is all about.
 
Mandela indeed was significantly more “modern” than many of those around him. Unlike them he did not contend for a crude turning of the tables, a replacement of white domination with black, but strove for a thoroughgoing democratic state. His vision was for the end of race-based rule, not its perpetuation, and its replacement with an order based on equality and freedom in which blacks are in government, not because of the colour of their skin, but because they have been elected by a majority of the people – an order in which they share power fairly with minorities, even with their former oppressors. It was this distinctly modern vision which motivated Mandela and which he exerted himself to see enshrined at the heart of his movement.
 
Cultural shifts
 
The fall of apartheid in South Africa rounded off a century marked by immense change in Western society. Politically, the century had opened with the British Empire at its apex and the colonial projects of European powers in full swing around the globe. Yet it had ended with colonialism discredited, its projects dismantled or abandoned, and America arisen as the preeminent world power, dwarfing the humbled, former imperial, European states.
 
This political transformation was matched, and in no small part brought on by massive cultural shifts in Western society. Perhaps the most far-reaching of these shifts – of which there were many – related to what people thought constituted the right way to organise society. As the century began, people in Western society still generally believed that there existed certain natural ways of arranging human life which were “as they should be”. These ways were thought to lie at the foundation of social order, ordained by nature or God to give human life its characteristic structure and form. Many ideas of this sort can be found at work at the time, but perhaps the three most significant, underlying many of the rest, were race, class and gender.
 
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Reclaiming the West – One Nation at a Time

February 13th, 2014 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off

By Bill Muehlenberg, Culture Watch

It is quite easy to say that the West is doomed. And for good reason – it may well indeed be the case, for all sorts of reasons. Rampant secularism, growing statism and welfarism, political correctness running amok, the increasing Islamisation of so much of the West – these are all major contributing factors in the decline of the West.

Speaking of the West’s rejection of Christianity and its acceptance of relativistic secularism, Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his important 1983 Templeton Address said that “Men Have Forgotten God”. There he bewailed the failure of the West to learn the lessons of his own homeland, Russia, and the horrible secularist revolution which took place there:

“I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

He continues: “The social theories that promised so much have demonstrated their bankruptcy, leaving us at a dead end. The free people of the West could reasonably have been expected to realize that they are beset by numerous freely nurtured falsehoods, and not to allow lies to be foisted upon them so easily. All attempts to find a way out of the plight of today’s world are fruitless unless we redirect our consciousness, in repentance, to the Creator of all: without this, no exit will be illumined, and we shall seek it in vain.

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The Biblical Worldview and Western Civilisation

February 5th, 2014 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off

Image of The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western SuccessBy Bill Muehlenberg

Without the Judeo-Christian worldview, the West as we know it would not exist. So many of the social goods of the West which we enjoy – and too often take for granted – such as democracy, freedoms of various kinds, the rule of law, and so on, are very much the result of the biblical worldview.
 
Even the fruits of scientific and technological progress which have made life so much easier in recent centuries can be traced directly back to the Christian worldview. Yet misotheists and Christophobes continue to denigrate biblical religion, foolishly claiming that no religion or anti-religion is instead the explanation for the rise of the West.
I have written often about how biblical revelation underpins and forms a solid foundation of the development of the West with all its benefits. Indeed, entire volumes have been written on this, and undoubtedly many more will be. Let me refer to just one.
 
American sociologist of religion Rodney Stark penned a very important volume back in 2005 entitled The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism and Western Success. In it he wrote, “A series of developments allowed reason to shape Western culture and institutions. The most important of these victories occurred within Christianity. While the other world religions emphasized mystery and intuition, Christianity alone embraced reasoning and logic as the primary guide to religious truth.”
 
Read here
 
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Casualties in the War on Poverty

February 3rd, 2014 Jill Posted in Children/Family, Culture, Marriage Comments Off

By John Stonestreet, Breakpoint

It’s been fifty years since President Johnson declared a “War on Poverty.” So who won? I’ll share my answer next, on BreakPoint.

Jesus broke the social stigmas of His time by snubbing those who loved riches and fraternizing with the poor and outcast. Because of this, Christians recognize a call to identify with and help those in poverty, and this is one of the great contributions Christianity has made to the world. But there’s much disagreement on how best to do that, especially during the last few generations in the United States.

Beginning in 1964, President Johnson and lawmakers set out to “eradicate poverty as we know it” through a series of government programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, Head Start, and Food Stamps, all of which date back to the Great Society.

But things didn’t go as expected. Not only did poverty remain with us, but as Dr. Jay Richards of the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics explained to me in our latest edition of “BreakPoint This Week,” LBJ’s “war” and subsequent laws passed in the same spirit have done much more to entrench poverty than eradicate it.

In his book, “Money, Greed, and God,” Dr. Richards explains that despite nearly twenty trillion dollars of federal funds directed at lifting Americans above the poverty line, a steady percentage have remained there. What was once a temporary problem for many has become systemic and multi-generational.

Poverty, Dr. Richards says, is more than a financial state of being.

The decline of marriage is a prime example. The rate of out-of-wedlock births and broken families, particularly in the inner-city, has skyrocketed since 1964. Some “War on Poverty” programs actually discourage couples from getting married and becoming financially independent.

Laws passed with good intentions created dependency and undermined the culture of marriage. And this type of poverty is more insidious than just a lack of money. It’s what some call “relational poverty,” and it destroys families, and undermines communities.

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Who’s ‘godless’ now? Russia says it’s U.S.

February 1st, 2014 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off

By Marc Bennetts, Washington Times

At the height of the Cold War, it was common for American conservatives to label the officially atheist Soviet Union a “godless nation.”
 
More than two decades on, history has come full circle, as the Kremlin and its allies in the Russian Orthodox Church hurl the same allegation at the West.

“Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a recent keynote speech. “Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.”

In his state of the nation address in mid-December, Mr. Putin also portrayed Russia as a staunch defender of “traditional values” against what he depicted as the morally bankrupt West. Social and religious conservatism, the former KGB officer insisted, is the only way to prevent the world from slipping into “chaotic darkness.”
 
As part of this defense of “Christian values,” Russia has adopted a law banning “homosexual propaganda” and another that makes it a criminal offense to “insult” the religious sensibilities of believers.
 
The law on religious sensibilities was adopted in the wake of a protest in Moscow’s largest cathedral by a female punk rock group against the Orthodox Church’s support of Mr. Putin. Kremlin-run television said the group’s “demonic” protest was funded by “some Americans.”
 
Mr. Putin’s views of the West were echoed this month by Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow, the leader of the Orthodox Church, who accused Western countries of engaging in the “spiritual disarmament” of their people.

Read here


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Robert Oscar Lopez: a voice crying in the wilderness of Western culture

January 10th, 2014 Jill Posted in Culture, Gay Activism Comments Off

By Barbara Gauthier

Robert Oscar Lopez has become one of the most outspoken critics of the progressive juggernaut to redefine marriage and family through social engineering. Raised by two lesbians, Lopez is one of the first wave of adult children growing up in non-traditional families. He knows first hand the unfortunate consequences that social experimentation has on children. Over the past few months he has penned several articles addressing the rights of children that are being ignored by adults seeking self-actualization and those in government concerned about maintaining a politically correct public image.

The first article focuses on the right of every child to have a mom and a dad –their own biological mom and dad. A child's best interest does not lie in having plentiful material resources but in something that cannot be manufactured. Lopez notes that "the richest and most successful same-sex couple still cannot provide a child something that the poorest and most struggling spouses can provide: a mom and a dad." Moreover, the means of creating such children are antithetical to the type of love children need. It is "disturbingly classist and elitist for gay men to think they can love their children unreservedly after treating their surrogate mother like an incubator, or for lesbians to think they can love their children unconditionally after treating their sperm-donor father like a tube of toothpaste." And yet, Judge Kennedy seems to assume that the children of same-sex couples have "desires and concerns that are identical to and uncritical of their parents’ decisions." In reality, their views have been brushed aside, in all probability because minor children have no legal rights apart from their parents and they are not in a position to publicly express their own feelings and needs.

In the second article Lopez explores why gay/lesbian couples are so intent on adopting children. He has taken a lot of flack for daring to contradict the prevailing attitude that gay marriage and heterosexual marriage are identical and interchangeable as far as children are concerned. He recognizes that gays and lesbians live with a lot of emotional pain and that there is a temptation to resort to lies and obfuscations to minimize any differences between gay and straight relationships. Children cannot be raised in an atmosphere of emotional pain and misrepresentation of the truth without suffering dire consequences. So what should someone do who is involved in a gay relationship but yet also desperately wants to mentor a child? Lopez has several suggestions: 1) accept that sometimes you can't always get what you want; 2) if you want a child of your own, learn to get comfortable with the opposite sex; 3) if the first two options aren't workable, then think about volunteering and be a force for good and love for kids who need it.

Article three reveals the dangers inherent in creating children artificially to fulfill the needs of gay/lesbian couples who want children. The consumer market for "designer children" bereft of thier natural parents is nothing more than a modern version of human trafficking. Lopez outlines the oncoming human rights crisis caused by the LGBT movement, which treats human beings as little more than animals: anonymous sperm donors, anonymous surrogate mothers and children made to order. He concludes that "we are staring into the dawn of a new slave trade," turning people into chattel once again, but this time in the name of justice.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Sex, Drugs, and Religious Liberty

January 8th, 2014 Jill Posted in Culture, Religious Liberty, Sexualisation Comments Off

by Carissa Mulder, Public Discourse

Same-sex marriage may pose a grave threat to religious liberty, but the cultural conditions and assumptions that make that threat possible are rooted in heterosexual behavior and the idea that everyone has a right to consequence-free sexual intimacy.

Last November marked the twentieth anniversary of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. At an event hosted by the Newseum and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, RFRA’s champions shared stories of how the statute came into being and the long odds it had to overcome. Though no one was resting on his or her laurels, there was a general sense of a job well-done.
 
And then Douglas Laycock, one of the primary architects of RFRA, began to speak. He warned that millions of Americans view religious liberty as their enemy because they resent religion’s interference in their sex lives. Even though RFRA is a “super statute,” it will offer religious believers little protection if the nation turns against religious liberty. Statutes can be repealed. Courts can empty them of their meaning.
 
Laycock’s warning may seem overwrought, but consider just a few news items. In New Mexico, multiple organs of state government have said that a Christian photographer violated the law by refusing to photograph a same-sex wedding. In Colorado, a Christian baker was sued because he refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, and in Washington State a florist was sued for the same reason. Christian nurses in New Jersey were required to assist with abortions or risk losing their jobs. And of course, there is the nationwide HHS contraception mandate.
 
How did we get here? People commonly point to the gay rights movement. It is true that the clash between sexual license and religious liberty is most often seen in the context of gay rights. But step back for a moment. In a 2012 survey of 120,000 American adults, Gallup found that only 3.4 percent identified as LGBT. How could such a small minority so dramatically change prevailing opinion?
 
Read here
 
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No such thing as a ‘good’ divorce when children involved, say divorcees

January 8th, 2014 Jill Posted in Children/Family, Culture, Divorce Comments Off

By John Bingham, Telegraph

There is no such thing as a “good” divorce in the opinion of most parents who have been through a split, polling by the counselling charity Relate has found.

Six out of 10 parents who had been through a family break-up said that they did not believe in the idea of a good separation.

More than half of them admitted that, despite their efforts to minimise the pain, the experience had had a negative effect on their children.

The findings follow a separate study by the parenting website Netmums which suggested that the effects of break-up on children are more severe than the adults realise.

The Relate survey also illustrates how protracted most separations can be. Only 40 per cent of those polled said they had completed the process within a year and one in 10 said it had taken more than five years.

Read here

Read also:  Children facing 'epidemic of loneliness' – surge in self-harm

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Sexual perversion is good for you’, claims BBC

December 30th, 2013 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off

By Dominic Statham, Creation.com

It seems that the BBC is no longer turning a blind eye to immorality—they are now actively encouraging it. In the May 2012 edition of the BBC’s Focus magazine, Luis Villazon tells us that “It’s good to be bad”.1 Supposedly, men who are disagreeable and aggressive earn significantly more money; rudeness enhances negotiating skills; and anger increases longevity. According to Rutgers University social psychologist Dr Corinne Moss-Racusin, “Men are rewarded for their ‘bad’ behaviour because this falls in line with strict expectations for masculinity”. Not only will cheating help you get ahead in life, Villazon says, but lying actually improves language skills. Moreover, he claims, children who start lying at an early age develop better problem solving skills and are more likely to grow up to be higher-achieving adults due to having better brains.

That the BBC can publish such statements beggars belief—but there’s worse to come. Thinking about casual sex, it’s alleged, improves analytical skills, and sadomasochism strengthens relationships. Indeed, we’re told, “Lust focuses your attention on the here and now, improving your ability to concentrate on details” and “The act of spanking [each other, not their children] brings couples together”. And, to cap it all, they contend that these new discoveries are supported by science.

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An Icon of our Time

December 28th, 2013 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off

Rev Paul Flowersby Melanie Phillips, Spectator

Yet again, one particular question has formed on lips up and down the land. How in heaven’s name could so many people have failed to spot such a spectacular abuse of a public position?

We heard it first in the Jimmy Savile scandal, when the posthumous discovery of half a century of predation left people incredulous that so many had known about but done nothing to stop his serial depravities. Now a similar question needs to be asked about the Revd Paul Flowers, the disgraced Methodist minister and former chairman of the Co-op Bank who was filmed apparently handing over £300 to buy a stash of cocaine and crystal meth and also boasted of using ketamine, cannabis and a club drug, GHB.

The real scandal, though, is not just that he was a staggeringly incompetent bank chief who knew next to nothing about banking and presided over a bank that somehow fell into a £1.5 billion black hole. It is not even his predilection for cocaine, crystal meth and the occasional ‘two-day, drug-fuelled gay orgy’ (to use his words). The scandal is that no one spotted that he was spectacularly unsuited to the jobs he was given — or if they did, they chose to do nothing about it. Yet again, a public figure with his ethics pinned to his sleeve somehow existed beyond proper scrutiny.

In the frame alongside the deeply un-fragrant Flowers are various institutions which now have questions to answer. The Co-op Bank, which elected him chairman. The Labour party, which banked his donations. Ed Miliband, who dined with him and appointed him to Labour’s financial and industrial advisory board. And the Methodist Church, which appointed him a ‘superintendent’ minister and designated him a trustee for its investment funds and property — even though he had next to no expertise in business.

Oh — and he has also been a member of the Advertising Standards Authority, vice-chairman of the National Association of Citizens’ Advice Bureaux and chairman of Manchester Camerata, the city’s chamber orchestra, not to mention chairman of the drug abuse charity Lifeline and the Terrence Higgins Trust. He is an icon of our time.

So how come none of these bodies ever spotted his spectacular unsuitability to be a member of the Great and the Good?

Read here


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Father Christmas granted a walk-on part in the Bible

December 21st, 2013 Jill Posted in Christmas, Culture Comments Off

by John Bingham, Telegraph

One in 10 people aged 25 to 34 in modern Britain think that Father Christmas is mentioned in the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus

For centuries Christians have been taught that wise men from the east brought gifts for the baby Jesus.
 
But, according to polling, one in 10 young adults in Britain now believe that Father Christmas also makes an appearance in the Biblical account of the nativity.
 
Significant numbers also think that Mary and Joseph might have brightened up the stable with a Christmas tree.
 
Over a third of the public think that the Bible records December 25 as the date of the Jesus’s birth.
 
And a quarter appear to have confused the lyrics of “Away in a Manger” with the gospels by believing that the Bible states that Jesus did not cry when he was born.
 
More than 2,000 people of all ages were polled on their knowledge of the Christmas story to test whether younger generations are becoming increasingly ignorant of religion.

The ComRes survey, conducted on behalf of the Christian Institute, involved giving people a list of elements and asking whether each was included in the Biblical accounts of Christ’s birth.

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How the liberal west has lost the plot

December 17th, 2013 Jill Posted in Culture, Morality Comments Off

By Melanie Phillips

Anyone seeking evidence of how the western mind is snapping shut and how insult is steadily replacing evidence and reason need only watch this instructive altercation on BBC TV’s Newsnight last night. Ostensibly a discussion about the efficacy or otherwise of drug courts, it fast descended into a row between actor and self-confessed former drug addict Matthew Perry and journalist Peter Hitchens over the nature of drug addiction itself.

Hitchens argued that addiction was not, as is almost universally assumed, a disease over which the sufferer has no control but a form of willed self-indulgence which drug users could end if they really wanted to do so enough. A controversial proposition, indeed, and surely one of which few have previously been made aware.

But Hitchens did not encounter scepticism and a reasoned counter-argument. Instead, an incredulous Perry scoffed at him as ‘Santa’ and frothed that his argument was crazy, ‘as ludicrous as saying Peter Pan was real’. All of this, however, merely served to highlight the fact that when asked for evidence to support his claim that addiction was an illness Perry could not do so, resorting instead to the lame response that ‘doctors say it is’, that he himself was proof of his own argument and that addiction was an ‘allergy of the body’ (eh?)

Even if they don’t agree with Hitchens, fair-minded people can surely recognise that he nevertheless won that bout hands down. Not that you’d think so from Twitter, where hundreds of people have been piling in against him ever since. What arguments do they use? None. What is their evidence? Nothing. All they do is express amazement at how bonkers/vile/extreme/stupid/ignorant Hitchens is, and their outrage that he is allowed onto TV at all. And they think they are being clever.

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Christmas cards, like social media, have become all about us

December 7th, 2013 Jill Posted in Christmas, Culture Comments Off

By Giles Fraser, Guardian

Christmas cards used to be about mangers, kings and shepherds. Then they became about robins. Then about reindeer. Now they are about us. "Religion has gone away," said the novelist AS Byatt "and all we are left with is ourselves, so we have to be interested in ourselves. And we can be psychoanalytically interested in ourselves or sociologically interested in ourselves or interested in why we wear these clothes rather than those, or we can put ourselves in reality houses on the television."
 
On one reading of this phenomenon – call it the secularisation thesis – the change of the look of our Christmas cards reflects a transference of interest from fantasy to reality. But reality, of course, is always a slippery idea. Take an extreme example: the celebrity family, the Kardashians' 2013 Christmas card. Costing a quarter of a million dollars to produce, this ghastly orgy of celebrity self-indulgence required an extensive stage set and the services of elite fashion photographer David Lachapelle. It features glorified images of curvy bodies posing next to huge gold dollar signs, set in some hideous pink and neon dystopia. Is this reality?
 
Read here
 
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Christians Swinging Into Hell

December 3rd, 2013 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off

by Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

It does not take much for my mind to engage in a bit of lateral thinking, and for me to see biblical applications everywhere. I could get a full time job just offering the busy pastor helpful and up-to-date sermon illustrations! Every day the connections easily come to me.
 
Let me give you an example from just today. This morning I was reading in Galatians, and I again noted a “sin list” which is found so often in the New Testament. Found in Galatians 5:19-21, it is a typical list of sinful behaviours which the believer should flee from:
 
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
 
[...]  Note here that Paul says those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Yet far too many duped believers today will tell you that it does not matter what you do or don’t do – it is all about relationship. To be worried about dos and don’ts we are told is legalism, and we should just focus on loving God.
 
[...]  So what is the connection here I was speaking about? Just moments after reading Galatians 5, I read about a so-called Christian Swingers website. Yes you heard me right. It is possible it is all just a joke (who could actually be this dumb or this deceived after all), yet it appears to be the real deal.
 
You can check it out yourself (but don’t you dare join up). It says this on its homepage: “Christian Swingers – New Dating Site For Faithful Couples
 
“For Christian Swingers things are not easy – often other religious people judge you, out of ignorance or envy, telling you that your lifestyle and love practices are wrong. But the Bible teaches us ‘Judge not lest ye be judged’ and there’s that verse about the first stone… but if you’re keen on keeping your privacy, well – yours, and don’t want your friends, coworkers, other PTA members or just about anyone else to know that you don’t have a problem with faith and enjoying free love with other couples, this site can help you! It’s designed to cater to the needs of those like you: devout Christian couples who still want to have an active love life and share it with another, in good faith!
 
Read here
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Nine in ten Britons rarely perform a simple act of kindness

December 3rd, 2013 Jill Posted in Culture Comments Off

by John Bingham, Telegraph

Nine in 10 Britons admit they regularly go through a day without performing a simple act of kindness to another person, a study has found.
 
Almost a quarter of the population admit that they cannot even remember the last time they went out of their way to show kindness to someone else.
 
Meanwhile a third of people say they have never considered performing an act of kindness for an older person – many of them because they say they cannot “relate” to other generations.

The finding emerge from polling commissioned by the charity Friends of the Elderly which is running a campaign to combat loneliness among older people at Christmas.
 
Around half of all over 75s in Britain live alone and a million elderly people suffer serious loneliness.

It is estimated that around 450,000 elderly people will spend the festive season alone. Friends of the Elderly is attempting to recruit thousands of people to sign a pledge to perform simple acts of kindness which they might not have considered before for older people.

Suggestions range from simply giving up a seat on a bus or train, offering to help someone with their shopping or telephoning an older person who may be lonely.

Read here

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