Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rifqa post at W4

See here.

Comments are being directed here.

The new W4 post contains an address where we can try to send Rifqa a Christmas card. My defeatist self wonders if they will be delivered, but I have sent a card. It's definitely worth a try.

See also a discussion here by Jamal Jivanjee of the way in which he was given the runaround when he tried to visit Rifqa. He has some e-mail addresses for Rifqa's lawyers and suggestions for writing to them, asking them to remove part of the excuse for the runaround. She should at least be able to see some Christian friends while waiting to learn her fate. It's just incredible the way they are blatantly isolating this girl. It really looks like an attempt to break her.

We can only keep praying, but I've posted these updates to give a few practical suggestions as well

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Advent Sunday

Tomorrow is Advent Sunday. We're starting another church year. It's a wild thought. (I love Trinity season, but it gets a bit long. This year it wasn't even the longest, because Easter wasn't particularly early. Still, six months out of the year of Trinity. I suppose I should be grateful that it isn't just called "ordinary time," as I hear is now the case in the Roman Catholic Church.)

Last year, I find, looking through the archives, I wrote a really good, long, detailed post on Advent and on the ways in which Protestant Christians can and should celebrate it. Have a look at it if you're interested.

Let me add here that if you are going to celebrate Advent, you strongly consider using the real collects for Advent. Here is a page that has them all. For three out of four of them, I cannot even imagine any Baptist or other Protestant having the slightest theological scruples about anything in them, and for the fourth, the only scruples would arise from a particular interpretation of Calvinism rather than from Protestantism per se. But if you're gonna do it, do it traditional as much as possible. I once saw a bunch of "Advent prayers" that were totally modern and had nothing to do with the traditional weeks of Advent. Here, briefly, are the emphases of the collects/Sundays:

First Sunday--General Advent Sunday--emphasis on Jesus' first and second comings and on preparing for His second coming.

Second Sunday--Bible Sunday--emphasis on thankfulness for Holy Scripture and the way we should read and digest it to prepare for Jesus' coming.

Third Sunday--Gaudete Sunday--emphasis on joy, collect emphasizes prayer for ministers that they may prepare the hearts of the people for Jesus' second coming.

Fourth Sunday--Request for God's power to help us run the race that is set before us.

If you light candles, there should be three purple, one pink, and one white. One purple candle the first Sunday, two the second, two purple and the pink the third (Gaudete), and all the candles but the white one the fourth Sunday. The white candle, the Christ candle, is a symbol of Jesus, the light of the world, and is lit on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day.

And here, just because I love it so much, is the collect for Advent Sunday:
Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Recycling is great (Happy Thanksgiving)

Ha! Bet you never thought you'd see me say that.

I mean recycling posts.

I've looked at last year's Thanksgiving post and decided I cannot better either the post or the photo. The prayer is the general thanksgiving for morning prayer from the Book of Common Prayer.

A happy Thanksgiving to my dear readers.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

There's no place...

I left New Orleans for home yesterday in the rain. To be fair, the weather had been sunny until then. But yesterday morning the view from the twenty-ninth floor of the hotel was gray. Through the window drops I could see below the giant, unreal-looking palm trees marching down Canal Street, already wrapped in Christmas lights, and the narrow, straight streets of the French Quarter laid out like a map to the edge of the Mississippi, a bend of the Mississippi so huge I had at first mistaken it for the ocean.

The taxi to the airport smelled like a memory of cigarettes, and there was a Niagara pouring through a leak in the overhang at the unloading dock outside the Delta Airlines doors. I paid the taxi driver, gathered my bags, took one last look at the dirty, dark, day, and plunged into the airport for a full day's imprisonment.

All that day, the outdoors could only be seen--through tiny windows, through huge plate-glass windows. Sunny in Detroit, but a picture only, untouchable, unsmellable. The food courts in the airports smelled appetizing but too warm and overwhelming, yet not quite able to overcome the distinctive smell of airports--some sort of disinfectant common to all airports in the country. The last leg of the journey, the little flight from Detroit to my town, seemed airless. There had been a definite, disturbing smell of exhaust fumes at the beginning, which no one else could sense. Even when that dissipated, the air itself was exhausted, oxygen-poor, hardly worth the trouble of breathing. One could hardly believe that fifty souls could live and move and have their being with only that air in that narrow metal tube.

Then we banked, and looking past the girl by the window, I caught a glimpse of home. Fields like chess squares, surrounded by maple woods, mostly now leafless, looking like brown fur from that height, here and there spiked by a last, leaping flame of autumn color. The plane landed, and we waited an eternal, gasping, last few minutes before the door opened. By the grace of God, there was no jetway this time, just stairs down from the door. I stepped out, and the sky opened overhead in an infinite vault, robin's-egg blue, paling to almost white at the edges. The sunset air was clean and chill. I could have stood for ten minutes on the tarmac, just breathing, but the children were waiting at home.

This morning, I pulled the drapes back from the big, southern window in the dining room. Frost rimed everything--all the grass and the last few leaves. Just across the street, to the southeast, the cold, blazing sun topped the neighbors' fifty-foot blue spruce, looking like some improbable, out-of-scale Christmas tree star.

This afternoon I raked the leaves.

It's good to be back.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rifqa Bary being denied visitors

And, Atlas has learned, her laptop has been confiscated. The court clerk appears to have been instructed to lie to inquirers and tell them "no information" exists on the next date of her dependency hearing. (The Nov. 16 public hearing was canceled.) As lawyer John Jay points out in the linked entry at Atlas, court cases don't just float in limbo like that. There is always a paper trail and a court date scheduled for a continuing case. The public is being kept in the dark, probably illegally, so that Rifqa's supporters cannot show up to show support for her at any hearings and cannot keep sunshine on the process.

I have somewhat limited computer access right now but hope to get this up at W4 soon, perhaps this evening, as well as a link to an interview I had on various other subjects on the James Allen Show last Saturday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Good info. on Christians under the PA

The next time some anti-Israel acquaintance starts whining at you about the wrongs suffered--somehow--by Christians as a result of the Israeli "occupation of the West Bank," I suggest you give him this link.

I'm certainly going to be tempted to do so. Though I must admit to the feeling of weariness at the thought of trying to get people to see reason. If there are Arab Christians who are really anti-Israel, not just pretending out of fear (and I'm afraid there are), they are apparently ignoring some facts. Dhimmitude will do that to you. But apparently the people whispering the truth to American pastors in their own homes don't have that problem with reality. The article tells how Christians in the West Bank are much worse off ever since the Palestinian Authority has had some autonomous rule there than they were when the Israelis kept more of a hand on things. Yet plenty of Christian liberals (and what I call "paleo-leftists") want us to give the "Palestinians" a whole state with even more land and complete sovereignty. And they tell us to do so in the name of our Christian brethren who are, they claim, being deprived of "their land" by the fact that Israel still has some degree of oversight in the West Bank. Sounds like a plan to me.

But let's not let facts get in the way of ideology.

HT Israel Matzav

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thank you, God, for everything

When I was a little girl, my parents frequently reminded me to thank God that I live in America. They rightly pointed out all the blessings we enjoy as Americans that are not enjoyed by other people in many other countries. My mother was especially emphatic, and rightly so, about the poor treatment of women in many non-Western countries and about my blessings in being a woman in America.

To my mind, that is a pretty decisive point in favor of international adoptions from such countries. That is, assuming that the parents adopting the child are good and loving. I'm even willing to throw in the assumption that the adopting parents are serious Christians and hence that the child will not trade the ills of his country of birth for all the moral evils of a secular and perhaps decadent upbringing in the West. But on those assumptions, I believe that children internationally adopted should be at least as thankful as those of us born here for the opportunity to be Americans.

This is all apropos of a blog debate here on the subject of adoption. I'm astonished at how far my interlocutor, a blogger named Laura Wood, is willing to go. She even implies that we Americans are doing something wrong if we adopt intelligent orphans from some non-Western country, thus taking those bright children out of "their" country and "altering cultural dynamics" in the country of origin. She goes so far as to imply that when such children grow up they will have a legitimate complaint of "callousness" against their American parents for having harmed the "cultural harmony" of the country in which they were born by not leaving them in an orphanage there and by giving them a loving, two-parent home in America instead. I find it astonishing that anyone would make such an argument.

Just makes me all the more grateful to be an American.

And by the way, let's not forget to pray for Rifqa Bary, that she too will have the opportunity to be an American and to have, as an adult, the religious freedom for which our country stands. Pamela Geller's rally for her was duly held today in Ohio, but because today's public dependency hearing was canceled, we still have no idea what will happen to her or even what is happening to her. It appears that she is still in foster care at the moment, but as I reported here, a blackout has been placed on her case by the court, leaving open the possibility that she could be returned to her parents without public knowledge.

Friday, November 13, 2009


How depressing, but true. And yet there's something so satisfying and even rather darkly amusing about having someone else say it.

If a group called Muslim Jihad Warriors to Destroy the West set off a nuclear bomb and destroyed a city, Bob Schieffer would interview Lindsey Graham and Graham would say in his stupid sentimental voice, "Muslims have served in our armed forces, and some have died. These are good people," and Schieffer would add that of course Christians have done all kinds of terrible things, and they would both agree that it's crazy to blame Muslims for this, that such thoughts have no place in America.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rifqa Bary update--secret court proceedings taking place

Rifqa Bary's hearing on the 16th (this is the hearing on her parents' claim that she is an incorrigible child) has been postponed to December 22nd. However, there is no guarantee that the date will not be changed again or a final decision made on returning her to her parents at some undisclosed time. Pamela Geller has learned somehow that hearings of some kind have already been taking place on Rifqa's case in Ohio with the public unable to know anything about them. Pamela has evidently been unable to learn what has happened at these hearings or whether Rifqa could now be secretly returned to her parents without the public's knowledge. Could she perhaps even be whisked away by her parents to Sri Lanka without our knowing? It does not seem so far-fetched, given the secrecy thus far. So not only is Rifqa herself unable to communicate what is going on, the public seems unable to find out either and shed a light on proceedings. This is very bad.

Pamela's rally on Rifqa's behalf on November 16 will take place as planned.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wow, that's some admission

In this article we find quotations from a liberal journalist, John Cassidy, admitting that Obamacare won't work economically as promised but that the real goal is to "make America a more equitable country." (Why did I have to use Google to find the article by Cassidy? Why didn't the WSJ do that for me and provide a link? Anyway, here's the whole piece by Cassidy.) Cassidy says that "expanding health-care coverage now and worrying later about its long-term consequences is an eminently defensible strategy" and also that some "subterfuge" may be necessary for the desirable end of establishing an entitlement program that will be hard to dislodge later.

This reminds me of the old story about Russia. A Russian peasant picks up a bottle and rubs it, and out pops a genie. The genie offers him a wish, at which point the peasant goes into a long complaint about how unfair it is that his neighbor Ivan has a goat while the peasant with the genie bottle has no goat. "Oh, I see," says the genie. "Then your wish is that I would give you a goat, too?" "No!" says the peasant. "That's not it at all. I want Ivan's goat to die!"


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Compassion and homosexual activism

Many of us have friends who have homosexual inclinations, or we have had such friends at some time in the past. Part of the success of the agenda of homosexual activists lies in making use of this fact after blocking off the possibility of real compassion consistent with traditional and Christian ethics. Those who have homosexual friends are made to feel that they are betraying those friends and are not showing love and compassion for them if they say that homosexual behavior is a sin or if they take such behavior or feelings into account in any way in public interactions (aka "discrimination").

Real, Christian compassion for people with same-sex attraction involves the assertion that such attraction is objectively disordered, which leads one to see the attraction as a tragedy and a burden in the first instance. Indulging and acting on it, on the traditional understanding, is a sin, but it is, of course, a sin that can be both resisted and, when committed, forgiven. All these theological and moral ideas lie at the heart of Christian compassion for people with homosexual feelings.

But the concept of compassion for people with same-sex attraction has been co-opted, even within the Christian world, by those who believe, even when they don't argue, that the only way to be compassionate is, in fact, not to be compassionate. Here's what I mean: If you don't think that same-sex attraction is objectively disordered, there is no point in feeling sorry for a person who suffers from it. In fact, you don't think of him as "suffering" from it at all. And if he is unhappy, you certainly aren't permitted to view his same-sex attraction as being in itself a cause of even part of his unhappiness. Hence the only way a liberal can feel sorry for a person with same-sex attraction is to assume that he is a victim--in other words, to heap blame upon traditional sexual morality and to drum up dislike and anger toward those who accept that morality. And that really isn't compassion. It's treacly liberal victimology and sentimentalism, but it isn't compassion.

It behooves me at this point not to beat around the bush. (Everyone knows how prone I am to beat around the bush.) As hinted at above, if you believe and say openly that same-sex desires are objectively disordered, you will be likely to support the legitimacy of discrimination on that basis in various cases. You will probably support the legitimacy of discrimination even on the basis of the desires without the actions in a number of easily-identified situations, particularly those where the sexes are segregated intentionally, and also those where one wants to be able to rely on one's employees to uphold a certain moral standard. In the latter case, one might justifiably reason that a person with strong same-sex desires is particularly likely to act on those desires and thus compromise the particular moral atmosphere of one's organization. This would be all the more likely if the person thought that his desires were definitely normal and just happened not to be acting on them at the moment. And, of course, if one believes that homosexual acts are sinful, one might very well not want references to such acts to be brought into one's business, and there would be many situations in which one would discriminate on the basis of active homosexual behavior in business relations.

But we've been taught that it is downright mean, even wicked, to refuse someone a job, and still more to refuse him (and his "partner") an apartment, on the basis of such a consideration, and being mean, of course, is the opposite of being compassionate.

I'm afraid there is nothing for it but for Christians to get their thoughts clear on this matter and to stop promoting the liberal lies that pass for compassion. Doing so is helping no one, least of all homosexuals themselves.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A loss for the good guys on the ordinance

I promised that I would update my readers on our local politics. Being a pessimist, I was not terribly surprised that the homosexual and transgender special rights ordinance passed in my town, though that had not stopped me from working steadily against it. This story is particularly timely in this connection. I just saw it yesterday and plan to blog more about it soon. The skies are darkening, and as Scott W. says, you can try remaining silent, like Thomas More, but it may not work forever.

A small victory against the bullies on the other side yesterday is owing to Pastor __________ of a local Christian Reformed Church. (This does not identify him, as it is nearly impossible to throw a rock in my town without hitting a Christian Reformed Church.) His church is a polling place, and yesterday the homosexual activists planted a "Vote Yes" sign right next to the church driveway. This despite the fact that most of the church members were definitely "Vote No" people, though the church had no signs up. The activists had carefully measured, and the sign was outside the 100 foot zone from the door of the church, but that of course doesn't change the fact that outside that zone was private property, and by sticking the sign in the ground on church property, they were making it look like the church endorsed the ordinance. I became aware of the situation and phoned Pastor __________. (He is not my pastor, and I'd never spoken with him, but I know quite a number of the people in his church as local friends and neighbors.) I had to leave a message, and I came away saying, discouraged, "They're gonna tell him he has to allow them to have the sign on his property because it's a polling place, as long as it's outside the 100 foot zone, and that's going to be the end of it."

But I had reckoned without Pastor _________'s principle and persistence. I got the whole story later. Of course, the activists did try exactly that line. Indeed, when he told them, "This is private property," they said, "Not today. Today it's a polling place." Why that should require the permission of partisan electioneering on the property remains a mystery to this hour! The ACLU was firmly on the side of the activist bullies, and every time the pastor came back (sometimes from conversations with the City Attorney, who was apparently just trying to interpret and apply the law correctly) and told them they had to take out the sign, the head activist would say, "That's not what my lawyer says." The lawyers went back and forth and eventually called the state election officials in Lansing. The upshot was that the activists were required to take the sign out of the ground so that it was not associated with the church but were permitted to carry it as an expression of their own views.

I still don't fully understand why they had to be allowed to do this in the church parking lot and couldn't at least be required to move to the public sidewalk, but they had attempted to brazen the matter out and associate the church willy-nilly with their own position by planting a sign on church property, and they did not win that little battle. Pastor ________ also now knows the scoop if something like this comes up again. He spent several hours of his day making phone calls, dealing with unpleasant people, and not giving in to the bluffing tactics of the activists coached by the ACLU, and I apologize to him for having assumed he would give up.

I drove past the church after dark last evening but before the polls were closed. In the parking lot was one person holding up a Vote Yes sign. And next to the driveway was an elderly man holding up a Vote No sign. Bless him. I should have stopped and said something encouraging to him. Wish I had.

For us there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Blessed All Saints

Having forgotten to change the clocks last night, I found myself with an extra hour this morning--riches! I used part of it for practicing "For All the Saints" for our church service. I'm the organist--sort of. For some reason, I have never adjusted to my "new" glasses (during the past year) and have to play without them, so piano and organ playing are a challenge and require a little extra practice. It's a wonderful, wonderful song.

I looked around for a good Youtube video of it to embed and shall post that below. One of the Youtubes for "For All the Saints" had the song over a pretty long video clip from some movie or other of Christians being fed to lions. I only got as far as the point where the lions and leopards were pacing around in their cages and then opted out of the rest of the clip. The Christians had little kids with them whom I didn't want to see get eaten. But though I didn't find anything that was the Platonic ideal of "For All the Saints," there was quite a good one, and I'll put that up.

Please see my past All Saints posts here and here, and feel free to comment on them either in their original threads or here.

For church this morning I will be playing "The Church's One Foundation" for the prelude. I love the words to that as well. Here are two of my favorite verses:

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
O happy ones and holy,
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them the meek and lowly
On high may dwell with thee.

There is, by the way, a long history of "The Church's One Foundation" having to do with a fight against heresy in the 19th century. Or at least, so I recall hearing. My husband and brother-in-law know a lot more about it than I do. Samuel J. Stone, who wrote the words, was an Anglican clergyman and was considered "high" for his time but was not evidently a really dyed-in-the-wool Newmanite, either. A via media guy with some high-ish leanings, I gather. Anyway, I pray that God will give us grace so to follow his good example, etc., as the Cranmerian remembrance of the dead says in the Prayer Book.

In one of those earlier posts, I said that I especially thought of Helen Berhane, a Christian singer in Eritrea who was imprisoned by the Communist government in a shipping container in Africa for her faith. (At the time that I wrote the post, I was unsure about the government of Eritrea but have since researched it--Communist.) That was with regard to the line "Thou in the darkness drear their one true light" in "For All the Saints." Naturally, this year, I am especially thinking of our sister in Christ Rifqa Bary, in a much gentler but also real imprisonment here in the United States. Though to her it must seem that she is cut off from the Body of Christ, yet it is not so, for we are all one Body united by the same Spirit under one Head who is the Lord Jesus Christ. In him we are one, and if that bond gives us communion even with those who have died in the Lord, how much more does it unite us to those who are still alive at this time, though separated from us by persecution? May the Lord Christ be Rifqa's light in the darkness and her Captain in the well-fought fight.

I post here again Cranmer's wonderful collect for the day as well as the Proper Preface with the Sanctus, and I am struck as always by the way that the Protestant Cranmer (and I mean that as a compliment) captures the concept of the communion of the Saints without in any way compromising his Protestantism. Truly, God blessed the Church by giving her Thomas Cranmer and especially Thomas Cranmer's liturgy.

The collect for All Saints:

O Almighty God, who has knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which thou has prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The proper preface, with the Sanctus:

Who, in the multitude of thy Saints, hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses, that we, rejoicing in their fellowship, may run with patience the race that is set before us, and, together with them, may receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name; evermore praising thee, and saying,

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of hosts, Heaven and earth are full of thy glory: Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High.