The Black Church?

April 30, 2008 at 12:30 am (Christianity, Leftist idiocy)

The supposed and so-called “Reverend” Jeremiah Wright claims there is the Black Church and that white people simply don’t understand the Black Church.

There is no such a thing as the Black Church. There is no White Church. There is no Red Church. There is no Yellow Church. There is no Brown Church. There is no male Church. There is no female Church. There is no free Church. There is no slave Church. We are all one in Christ, and to suggest any of us Christians are separate from the others because of race or color is…well, I’ll skip the sermonizing and simply say such a man is not a very good Christian.

It is written: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ” (Galatians 3:26-28).

And: “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11).

Why do we still seek to be divided by race? Why do some continue to insist that, contrary to the unity demanded by Christ, we are divided, and that one does not understand the other? I’m a convert to Christianity, and this exhortation to unity is clear even to me. I do not understand how other Christians can be driven astray by preachers like serpents who poison their minds with ideas that because of their race, they are different. The black man and the white man should together sing praises of their Redeemer. To suggest the white Christians just don’t get the black man’s strange Gospel is quite astounding (not to mention something that takes a lot of chutzpah). There is only one Christ and only one Gospel.

I fear this is a source of evil, a tool of Satan. Heavenly Father, save us from men who preach the philosophy of men mingled with Scripture. Save us from such antichrists.

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Men in charge…of themselves

April 28, 2008 at 12:30 am (Words of wisdom)

In some cultures, women are considered to be creatures that inflame men’s passions which carries them (the men) to do inappropriate things. In order to prevent this, women are shrouded and secluded as not to tempt men. In other words, women are responsible for sexual transgressions while men are helpless to control themselves.

But Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, believes differently. He writes:

I have heard all my life that it is the young woman who has to assume the responsibility for controlling the limits of intimacy in courtship because a young man cannot. Seldom have I heard any point made about this subject that makes me more disappointed than that. What kind of man is he, what priesthood or power or strength or self-control does this man have, that lets him develop in society, grow to the age of a mature accountability, perhaps even pursue a university education and prepare to affect the future of colleagues and kingdoms and the course of the world, yet he does not have the mental capacity or the moral will to say, “I will not do that thing”?

(Jeffrey R. Holland. Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2001, p. 23.)

He also writes (emphasis added):

To say that a young woman in such a relationship has to bear her responsibility and that of the young man too is one of the most inappropriate suggestions I can imagine. In most instances if there is sexual transgression, I lay the burden squarely on the shoulders of the young man…and that’s where I believe God intended responsibility to be. In saying that, I do not excuse young women who exercise no restraint and have not the character or conviction to demand intimacy only in its rightful role. Unfortunately, I have had enough experience in Church callings to know that women as well as men can be predatory, a phenomenon more and more evident (and more and more tragic) in modern times. But I also refuse to accept the feigned innocence of some young man who wants to sin and calls it psychology.

(Ibid., pp. 23-24.)

It annoys me to no end when men blame women for sexual transgression. Men have the power and capacity to control their urges and acts, and should do so. Blaming women is unacceptable and, if anything, a sign of weakness (because they’re admitting they cannot control themselves) or deceptive sophistry.

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How to thank our military men and women

April 25, 2008 at 12:30 am (Military, The United States)

This may be old for The Hostages, but I saw two videos on YouTube that really touched me. Both moved me to tears, and they both had to do with thanking our men and women in uniform.

The first is an ad thanking our military in a way that, just thinking about it, moves me deeply.

Now, the first was an ad. Here’s a real, live example in Ireland, of all places.

In looking through YouTube, I realize this is a common response to our men and women in uniform in our airports.

If I were before you in person, I would not be able to talk. I would be choked up with tears. It really makes me feel so proud that we honor our men and women in uniform in such a stupendous way. It makes me so proud to be an American. Black and white, young and old, rich and poor: we all stand and applaud our living heroes.

Thank you.

By the way, do check out Rosetta’s “The U.S. Army Chorus and the Battle Hymn of the Republic”.

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April 23, 2008 at 12:30 am (Islamism, Leftist idiocy, News, The Media)

Headline on an editorial in Investor’s Business Daily for Tuesday, April 22, 2008:
“J.C., Superstar”.

It’s about Jimmy Carter.

The blurb after that says:

Mideast: Ex-President Jimmy Carter thinks Hamas is ready to accept Israel’s existence and to “live as a neighbor next door in peace.” Has there ever been a former U.S. leader so deluded about historical reality?

Read the editorial. It’s good. Also, it’s distressing how blind some people can be to reality.

Here is the website for Investor’s Business Daily.
Here is the website for editorials and cartoons and the like from IBD.

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April 21, 2008 at 12:25 am (Blogs, Personal)

At one point, I didn’t really understand when favorite blosophere figures would complain about having to do homework. How long would it take?

Oh, now I know. With work and homework, one has little free time. I should schedule in time for posts too now.

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The price of discipleship

April 18, 2008 at 12:30 am (Words of wisdom)

For most of us, however, what is required is not to die for the Church but to live for it. For many, living a Christlike life every day may be even more difficult than laying down one’s life….Many think that the price of discipleship is too costly and too burdensome. For some, it involves giving up too much. But the cross is not as heavy as it appears to be. Through obedience we acquire much greater strength to carry it.

(Emphasis in original.) By President James E. Faust (July 30, 1920 to August 10, 2007) in “Discipleship”, Ensign, November 2006, p. 22.

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Approaching Muslims about terrorism

April 16, 2008 at 11:09 am (Islam, Islamism, World War III)

Marianne commented:

the average muslim goes by what they are told…….TV…internet….they do not religiously study the quran….although they have some idea what it says…they just go about their daily lives…..

their TV is awful….lots of propaganda….

the internet is not always friendly towards them, so they develop animosity that way too.

people have to be honest..but they need to stay in balance…and not condemn everyone for what the terrorists are doing….their religion teaches this..but the average muslim does not care …he wants to be accepted…criticism will drive them toward the terrorists it is really complicated.

Reformatted, I’d like to emphasize one point made: “And not condemn everyone for what the terrorists are doing. Their religion teaches this, but the average Muslim does not care.”

It cannot be denied that extremism (and perhaps even terrorism) may be justified by the fundamental sources of Islam. But this does not mean we should confront every Muslim because of it. Most don’t care for such an interpretation; many oppose such interpretations (although based mainly on gut feeling rather than based on the fundamental sources); and very many are thoroughly embarrassed by the extremists. Many Muslims want to move ahead and forward in the modern world, and resent being dragged down by extremists and fundamentalists.

In this case, we have to be strategic about discussing Islam and extremism or terrorism with Muslims. It will not serve us to constantly harp on what is obviously true. We can win much of Muslims’ trust by assuring them that we will not blame terrorism on them personally.

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How LDS should act concerning discussions and debates about the Church

April 16, 2008 at 12:30 am (LDS)

This post is more for my fellow brothers and sisters in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but non-members may find it helpful to understand what Latter-day Saints think, experience, and about what they concern themselves.

Three events in the recent past have opened the world’s interest in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: the 2002 Winter Olympics, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, and the passing of President Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What we members have a challenge with is two issues: how to respond to inquisitive comments about the Church, and how to respond to criticism of the Church. Read the rest of this entry »

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Converting Muslims

April 14, 2008 at 12:30 am (Christianity, Islam, Religion, Religions)

As the confrontation between The West and the Muslim world continues, another battle is raging on.

In The West, Muslims are free to share the message of Islam with anyone who will listen. And they get converts too. Unfortunately, this is not reciprocal: Christians are forbidden in some Muslim states and strongly discouraged in others to teach or preach Christianity to Muslims. Many Christians abide by these rules (a novel idea) because they are in the minority and, for the most part, Christians believe in obeying and following the law even if it is inconvenient.

But Christians in The West are becoming more sophisticated in developing tools with which to share the Gospel with Muslims in The West. As Christians cannot preach to Muslims in their lands, they seek to share the Gospel with those Muslims in The West. Muslims cannot outlaw preaching by Christians to Muslims in The West.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been putting a lot of time, effort, and money in developing literature in the languages of the world with which to share the Gospel. One recent effort along these lines was the complete retranslation of the Book of Mormon into Urdu. This is significant because the vast majority of Urdu-speakers are Muslims. These are efforts that portend a massive effort to share the Gospel with such peoples.

There were stories going around that Pope Benedict XVI will pray at Ground Zero, New York, for the conversion of Muslims to Christianity. I noticed that people would comment online that while this is commendable, this is a bad move as it endangers Christians, particularly Christian leaders, in Muslim lands. Someone offends Muslims and nuns, priests, and Christians are killed by mobbing hordes of Muslims.

(While this may be controversial, I would like to say that any such Christian who dies like this or for such reasons is a martyr. Christianity is built on the foundation of martyrs.)

Pope John Paul II called for a new evangelization. This was taken by most Catholics to refer to bringing lapsed Catholics back into the Church and to bring non-Catholic Christians into the Catholic Church. But increasingly, especially under Pope Benedict XVI, this is turning into promotion of efforts to evangelize non-Christian peoples.

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Polygamy and the “Mormons”

April 13, 2008 at 12:30 am (LDS, News)

On Saturday April 5, 2008, the day the 178th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was to begin, federal authorities raided a polygamist compound in Eldorado, Texas, on grounds that its adult members were sexually abusing minors. (This is nothing new: most polygamist communities have been found committing statutory rape and other forms of sexual abuse of minors.) Whether in response to this incident or not, Elder Richard G. Scott gave a talk, “To Heal the Shattering Consequences of Abuse”, during the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference that strongly condemned sexual abuse.

But over the days, the Church has found itself in a defensive position. Allow me to clear issues. (I may write more posts about polygamy.) >

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April 7, 2008 at 12:30 am (Islam, The West, World War III)

In “Islam World’s Largest Religion”, Robert J. Jago of a dime a dozen blog writes:

If 80 percent of them were Ismailis then I’d say the world is now a much much better place – but if 80 percent were Wahhabi – well then I would legitimately worry about my fate.

He raises an interesting point: one which underscores the fact that various interpretations of Islam exist.

The Ismailis are non-violent and have been for a long time now. What is almost ironic is that the predecessors of the Nizari Ismailis were the dreaded Assassins of Alamut.

Live quietist Shiites (the Ismailis are, after all, Shiites), they await the arrival of a certain figure to deliver the world from its current state of sin and division. Until then, they blindly follow the teachings of their divinely-appointed hereditary leader (the Imam for the Nizari Ismailis, and the Da’i Mutlaq (Supreme Emissary or Supreme Missionary) for the Bohra Ismailis).

What is also interesting, if not a little sobering, is that whereas most Muslims don’t have anything against the Bohra Ismailis, many Muslims say they do not recognize the modernist Nizari Ismailis as Muslims. But Nizari Ismailism is the form of Islam that is most compatible with the modern world. Take that for what it’s worth.

An example of how modernist Nizari Ismailis are: the Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah (the imam before the current one) banned the hijab for Ismaili women.

It would be nice if Ismailism spread. It would go a long way in helping to ease the clash between Muslims and the West. Because the more fundamentalist Islam spreads, the more the West and modernist Muslims are threatened.

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Gratitude for people kind about the LDS Church

April 5, 2008 at 8:11 pm (LDS)

In October 2007, Elder Quentin L. Cook was ordained as apostle of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In his first talk as apostle (“Live By Faith and Not By Fear”, November 2007 Ensign, pp. 70-73), he gave an amazing talk. I say it was amazing because it was very powerful and, like all good talks, cuts through to sting and challenge us. (Nephi says in 1 Nephi 16:2, “And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.”)

At one point, the point that struck me the hardest, he said (“Live By Faith and Not By Fear”, November 2007 Ensign, p. 72, emphasis added):

Some mission presidents informed us that many wonderful members are in camouflage to their neighbors and co-workers. They do not let people know who they are and what they believe. We need much more member involvement in sharing the message of the Restoration.

Yes, he was talking about me. I hide my membership. There are two reasons why: one is that I did not want family and relatives to know that I am still a Latter-day Saint. The second reason is because I do not want to engage in the inevitable disparagement and opposing comments that will come when someone finds out I’m a Latter-day Saint.

So far, the latter has turned out to be somewhat true. I have told three classmates I am a Latter-day Saint. One, a Christian from India with Evangelical leanings, said that Latter-day Saints are not Christians. He had theological disagreements with Latter-day Saints. But the relationship between him and me improved as he realized that, like Latter-day Saints, I honor Jesus Christ and am positively disposed towards Christians. Another, a Catholic, made a few jokes about Salt Lake City but was respectful and did not make any comments, really, about the Church or its members. (Which is strange because of the three, he has the most exposure to Latter-day Saints: he worked for Bonneville Communications, which is owned by the Church, and his son lived in Salt Lake City.)

The third, a Wiccan woman, began to mock and disparage not only the Church’s beliefs but also its history and its members. She painted us all with a broad brush as intolerant misogynist stupid silly weirdos. She made some errors on what we believe and do. For some reason, she was adamant that Latter-day Saints hate and disparage and put down women. (She got much of her information from a book, and I am aware that book has been proven to be full of inaccuracies.)

(To be fair, she also began to rip the Catholic Church, also accusing it of hating women among other things.)

Sobek and I have commented over at Innocent Bystanders that while various IBers may have significant theological disagreements with us, and while strong theological debates may go on, everyone is very kind to us. They do not mock our faith nor do they attempt to bring or tear us down. They simply want to demonstrate how we are wrong, as they understand Christianity. I am always amused when Ace talks about us. He doesn’t agree with us, nor does he get our beliefs and practices always right. But he speaks up for us.

I find is amusing that a Wiccan would rip into us but the Catholic did not and the Indian had a tepid theological disagreement.

I am so much more grateful for people who are kind to and about us, even if they disagree with us.

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General Conference and Modern Technology

April 5, 2008 at 7:28 pm (LDS)

Today I have classes. It is the ninth of ten weeks, and so our second-to-last class for both classes. Our last classes will consist of final presentations. So this class was important.

I wanted to listen to General Conference this morning. I knew I would not be able to go to the meetinghouse, so I thought I would sneak out of class, attend the solemn assembly and sustaining portion of General Conference, and then go back to class. I brought my computer, and as the campus building has free wifi, I could connect online and watch a live feed of General Conference. What technology! With a computer and an internet connection, I can watch General Conference wherever I am!

Problem is that General Conference started at 11 am Central Daylight Time. My first class ends at 11:30. It would not be acceptable to leave as class would be ending. As it is, because a solemn assembly sustaining takes more time than the normal sustaining held during other General Conferences, I might be gone from 11 to 11:30. And it so happened that our class’s group met towards the end of the class. They would not like me disappearing for half an hour.

So, I skipped it. Sadly, but I had little choice.

When I came home, I fired up my computer and went to see what I could see. They had the entire morning session video archive already! One click, and now I’m watching the morning session of General Conference. In the privacy of my bedroom, I was able to stand and sustain my Church’s general authorities, including the new First Presidency —

Oh, benediction. *folds arms and bows head*

And now the morning session is over. I’m downloading the afternoon session as I type. (Yes! They have that up there already too!) I might watch the streaming video archive in the meanwhile.

I am so impressed. So very impressed. And I remember when the Church did not even have a website. Now, look at all this! It’s simply amazing!

And as one who tries not to keep any Church material at home, this is wonderful. I don’t need anything. Everything is online. Everything can be downloaded. Even all the hymns. Even talks, lesson manuals, and so much more. I am so impressed.

Edit: They have the audio in Urdu!

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General Conference I

April 5, 2008 at 7:16 pm (LDS)

This Saturday morning, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held its first general session of the 178th Annual General Conference. It was technically a solemn assembly. A solemn assembly is a special type of meeting which is devoted for a very important purpose. Today, that purpose was the sustaining of a new president of the Church.

Latter-day Saints accepted the announcement on February 4, 2008, the The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles ordained and set apart Thomas S. Monson, the senior-most apostle, as President of The Church of Jesus Christ. But today, April 5, 2008, was the first time the membership of the Church had an opportunity to sustain President Monson in his new calling.

(Technically, we believe that President Monson effectually became President of the Church right when President Gordon B. Hinckley passed away. The whole process of ordaining, setting apart, and sustained are all procedural and ways of recognizing what we believe God’s will is. This does not mitigate the fact that President officially became the President on February 3.)

Today we sustain:
THOMAS S. MONSON, President of the First Presidency
HENRY B. EYRING, First Counselor in the First Presidency
DIETER F. UCHTDORF, Second Counselor in the First Presidency
D. TODD CHRISTOFFERSON, apostle and newest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles now consists of:
Boyd K. Packer, President*
L. Tom Perry
Russell M. Nelson
Dallin H. Oaks
M. Russell Ballard
Joseph B. Wirthlin
Richard G. Scott
Robert D. Hales
Jeffrey R. Holland
David A. Bednar
Quentin L. Cook
D. Todd Christofferson

*President Boyd K. Packer became President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on February 3, 2008, when Thomas S. Monson, previous President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was ordained and set apart by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Packer was Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since 1995, acting on behalf of Thomas S. Monson, who was serving in the First Presidency with President Gordon B. Hinckley.

The list you see above is the only form in which the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are listed. This is because the members thereof are considered, listed, and ordered in order of seniority, seniority based on when the member was ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve. Seniority determines who becomes President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

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Authors and Islamism

April 4, 2008 at 12:30 am (Books, Islamism, Oriana Fallaci, World War III)

One of the bloggers I admire is dicentra. In an e-mail a long time ago, she told me something that made me think quite hard. She said she didn’t care too much for books like those written by Stephen Emerson, Dr. Daniel Pipes, and Robert Spencer: exposes of Islam. She said she is familiar with biased books that tear down religious movements out of malice and full of lies, and so she feels a little wary of such books.

She has a point.

See, I am thrilled to read what Emerson, Pipes, Spencer, et al., have to write about the seedy side of Islam. But, to be perfectly frank, this is only half the picture.

In order to complete the picture, we must read books by authors like Mark Steyn, Oriana Fallaci, and Bat Yeor. While Emerson, Pipes, Spencer ,et al., write about Islamism, Steyn, Fallaci, Yeor, et al., indicate why and how all of this matters. The former great authors detail the War of Civilizations from where our enemy is coming from, while the latter show us why we have such a crucial stake in this War.

I am totally enthralled with Fallaci for this. She knew these people. She tried to warn us. She retired, exhausted, but came back with a vengeance after 9/11.

If you have to choose only one set, read Steyn, Fallaci, Yeor, et al. They will give enough information on Islamism but, importantly, they put it all in context. If you want more detail, go to the others.

And if you have to choose one author, it should be Oriana Fallaci. Read a little about her: why she came out of retirement, whom she scolded and why, and where she gets her knowledge from. She’s amazing.

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Atheists, agnostics, and non-religious, oh my!

April 2, 2008 at 12:30 am (Religions, The Left, The Right)

Today, I want to talk about those people who do not belong to the traditional religious systems. Chief among these are atheists, agnostics, and non-religious. (For purposes of clarity: an atheist believes that God does not exist; and agnostic believes that it cannot be known if God exists or not; and a non-religious person doesn’t care either way.)

The Left has always been a bastion for atheists, agnostics, and non-religious people. Indeed, they usually become anti-religious. As a friend once coined them, they become “Evangelical atheists”, with as much zeal (and intolerance of other systems) as the proverbial Evangelical, and seeking with as much zeal to convert everyone to atheism. The intolerance and stupidity of which they accuse religious people, is quite amusing as they might as well be looking into a mirror. Read the rest of this entry »

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