Sunday, April 30, 2017

After hard-left turn, Britain’s Labour Party on course for historic defeat

 LONDON — In 2015, Britain’s Labour Party tacked to the left, repudiating the middle-way philosophy that had won it three elections under Tony Blair. Voters responded by handing the party its worst defeat in three decades.

Rather than scramble back toward the center, Labour lurched further left. The party elected as its leader Jeremy Corbyn, a white-bearded baby boomer from the back benches who, like Bernie Sanders in the United States, ignited an improbable movement among young activists with his attacks on the rigged capitalist system and unquestioned fidelity to socialist ideals.

Now, with less than six weeks to go before Britain votes once more, the Corbyn-led Labour Party is on course for an electoral beatdown so broad and deep it would make the drubbing the party took in 2015 look like a triumph.

The ruling Conservative Party has a double-digit lead over Labour in pre-election polls, and Prime Minister Theresa May stands to win a parliamentary majority that would have been the envy of Margaret Thatcher.

The grim outlook for Labour has prompted insiders to preemptively concede defeat; one former party leader has despaired that at 75, he’s unlikely to see another Labour prime minister in his lifetime. There’s even a chance that the party could fall apart altogether.

Read the rest here.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Queen to dress down for State Opening of Parliament

The Queen will undertake a dressed-down State Opening of Parliament for the first time in more than 40 years, as ceremonial plans suffer major disruption because of the general election.

The Queen will not wear her Imperial State Crown or robes for this year’s State Opening, with the annual service of the Order of the Garter also cancelled for the first time since 1984.

The changes to the Royal schedule, announced by Buckingham Palace today, will see the State Opening of Parliament take place on June 19, with the Order of the Garter service previously in the diary for the same day now cancelled.
 
Some observers were quick to note that the timing would allow the Queen to attend Royal Ascot, which runs from June 20th to 24th.

Sources said the 19th was the first suitable date after the election, with a quick turnaround of 11 days agreed to maintain continuity.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Portland rose parade canceled after ‘antifascists’ threaten GOP marchers

For 10 years, the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association has kicked off the city of Portland’s annual Rose Festival with a family-friendly parade meant to attract crowds to its diverse neighborhood.

Set to march in the parade’s 67th spot this year was the Multnomah County Republican Party, a fact that so outraged two self-described antifascist groups in the deep blue Oregon city that they pledged to protest and disrupt the April 29 event.

Then came an anonymous and ominous email, according to parade organizers, that instructed them to cancel the GOP group’s registration — or else.

“You have seen how much power we have downtown and that the police cannot stop us from shutting down roads so please consider your decision wisely,” the anonymous email said, referring to the violent riots that hit Portland after the 2016 presidential election, reported the Oregonian. “This is nonnegotiable.”

The email said that 200 people would “rush into the parade” and “drag and push” those marching with the Republican Party.

“We will not give one inch to groups who espouse hatred toward LGBT, immigrants, people of color or others,” it said.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

In case you haven't read a good old fashioned anti-Orthodox screed lately... (updated)

One of the biggest complaints against Pulpit & Pen we get consistently is that we somehow don’t “have all our facts,” or are “misrepresenting” someone or something. I received countless emails claiming that I “misrepresented” Greek Orthodoxy in my recent posts regarding Hank Hanegraaff and that I should do more research. Well, what better way to research than to go straight to the source in person? Saturday, April 15, known as Holy Saturday in the Orthodox tradition, I along with a couple of friends went to visit St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church in Charlotte, NC–the church that Hanegraaff was recently chrismated in. The service began at 11:30 pm, and was still going strong showing no signs of slowing down when we decided to leave at around 2:00 am. While we hoped to have the opportunity to confront Hanegraaff in person, being that we all had to get up early the next morning to worship the living God on Easter morning, we decided to call it a night early. However, there are quite a few things that we can take away from this experience in this church.
1.) I have sat through many Catholic masses. I was married in a Catholic church, and I can definitely say I’ve “been there done that.” But I’ve never sat through anything so long and tedious as the Greek Orthodox mass. Perhaps being a special Saturday night “resurrection service,” this wasn’t the norm, but it was excruciatingly long. 2 1/2 hours in and no sign of slowing down.
2.) The cliche, “bells and smells” is actually a true reality. The burning of incense and ringing of bells was a noxious combination. It reminded me of being in a college dorm smoking weed and blowing the smoke through toilet paper rolls stuffed with dryer sheets.
3.) The liturgy was vain and repetitious. Literally, the same ritualistic prayers and chanting were sung over and over. Every prayer included an invocation of Mary and the Saints.
4.) While there was actually quite a bit of Scripture reading, there was absolutely no teaching. In fact, the vast majority of Scripture reading was sung in the eerie Byzantine chant. You’d really have to pay attention and try to listen really hard to even understand what they were reading or reciting.

Read the rest here if you must.

It's been a really long time since I have read such ignorant tripe. I don't know what denomination this man affiliates with but if their idea of "Christian behavior" is going to another church for their Easter service for the purpose of trashing it and "confronting" one of its new members, you may color me unimpressed. 

Update: And now there is this "apology" from JD Hall.  Be sure to put down your coffee before reading this.

HT: Bill Tighe

Friday, April 21, 2017

Damian Thompson: Francis will retire- but only after appointing enough liberal cardinals

Allies of Pope Francis are saying that he’s planning to follow the example of Benedict XVI and retire. But he’ll only do so once he’s appointed enough liberal cardinals to make sure that the next conclave doesn’t elected a conservative who will interpret Catholic doctrine more strictly than he does.

This, at least, is what allies of the Pope have been telling colleagues – claiming that they’ve heard it from the pontiff himself. (Francis himself is a notorious chatterbox and so are some of the cardinals close to him.)

The Pope, now 80, apparently wants to hold three more consistories at which he will bestow the red hat on bishops who share his vision of reform (whatever that may be: the details are still sketchy, four years in).

Read the rest here.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Met. Seraphim of Piraeus calls on Turkish President to abandon false religion of Islam and convert to Christianity

The staunchly traditional and outspoken Greek hierarch Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus has written an open letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in which, among other things, he calls upon him to turn from the false religion of Islam and accept “Christ the Savior and Redeemer of the world,” even advising him who to take as his godfather, reports AgionOros.ru.

Beginning with an analysis of the crisis situation in the Middle East, the metropolitan writes that good relations between Turkey and Russia are “very important,” and stresses that they are what allows Turkish authorities to speak equally with the US and the European Union.

The prelate goes on to express his confidence that in the case of Turkey’s failed attempt to join the EU, the president has already for many years been preparing “Plan B”—the recreation of the bygone glory of the Ottoman Empire.

“Every state would like to have a political leader who respects and confesses the religion of the majority of its people,” Met. Seraphim stressed, calling Erdoğan the destroyer of Kemal Atatürk’s secularized Turkey, and the restorer of Islam in Turkey.

However, the choice of Islam as a consolidating factor is, in the Greek bishop’s view, of course a mistake.

The metropolitan then goes on to offer in his letter a number of historical and theological examples demonstrating the “fallacy of the Islamic religion,” arguing that “it is based on a number of illusions.”

As a conclusion to the many-paged religious and theological study, the hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Church calls upon the Turkish president to denounce his “demagogic false religion,” and “for the sake of true benefit to [him]self and [his] family and [his] people… to repent, reject [his] delusions, and believe in the God-Man Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world.” He advises him to undergo catechism and accept Orthodox Baptism, further advising him to “ask [his] current ally, the president of Russia Vladimir Putin to become [his] godfather, and the Patriarch of Constantinople himself to celebrate the Mystery.”

Source.

Christ is risen!

Wishing all a blessed feast!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

If the Titanic Sank Today




For the record...

Noted evangelical Hank Hanegraaf, aka "the Bible answers man," along with his wife and two of his twelve(!) children were received into the Church on Palm Sunday. Predictably the blogosphere has lit up with commentary on this event. And also predictably, much of that commentary has ranged from highly critical to scathing.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
-Mark 13:13

Many years!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Turkish President Erdoğan to read Muslim prayers in Agia Sophia on Great and Holy Friday

President Erdoğan of Turkey has announced that he will read Muslim prayers in Agia Sophia in Constantinople on April 14, Holy Friday, one of the holiest days of the year for the Christian faith—a move that has provoked the Greek and broader Orthodox world. 

Furthermore, he has claimed that Kemal Ataturk’s order to transform Agia Sophia from a mosque into a museum is a fake, reports AgionOros.ru

The Agia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom) church is one of the greatest and most important churches for Orthodox Christians, serving as the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople from the time of its construction in 537 by Emperor St. Justinian, until the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. Under the Ottomans it was converted into a mosque until 1931, being secularized and opened as a museum on February 1, 1935. The church is considered the apex of Byzantine architecture, and is home to many of the most famous mosaics in Christendom. 

Erdoğan is not the first to claim that the order to turn the building into a museum is a fake. Turkish historian and author Mustafa Armaga has also claimed that Ataturk’s signature under the act is a forgery, claiming the mosque became a museum due to “American machinations,” with American diplomats putting pressure on Turkish authorities. 

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will hold Muslim prayer on Friday, the eve of April 16, in Agia Sophia, together with all the government and leading officials,” stated a source within the Turkish government. The source also told Turkish media that the prayers “will be a performance against the Crusades,” and a symbolic act of transforming the museum back into a mosque...

Source

An unbelievable and obviously calculated provocation.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

100 Years Ago- The United States Declared War on the German Empire

One hundred years ago today, Congress voted to enter what was then the largest and bloodiest war in history. Four days earlier, President Woodrow Wilson had sought to unite a sharply divided populace with a stirring claim that the nation “is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured.” The war lasted only another year and a half, but in that time, an astounding 117,000 American soldiers were killed and 202,000 wounded.

Still, most Americans know little about why the United States fought in World War I, or why it mattered. The “Great War” that tore apart Europe and the Middle East and took the lives of over 17 million people worldwide lacks the high drama and moral gravity of the Civil War and World War II, in which the very survival of the nation seemed at stake.

World War I is less easy to explain. America intervened nearly three years after it began, and the “doughboys,” as our troops were called, engaged in serious combat for only a few months. More Americans in uniform died away from the battlefield — thousands from the Spanish flu — than with weapons in hand. After victory was achieved, Wilson’s audacious hope of making a peace that would advance democracy and national self-determination blew up in his face when the Senate refused to ratify the treaty he had signed at the Palace of Versailles.

But attention should be paid. America’s decision to join the Allies was a turning point in world history. It altered the fortunes of the war and the course of the 20th century — and not necessarily for the better. Its entry most likely foreclosed the possibility of a negotiated peace among belligerent powers that were exhausted from years mired in trench warfare.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

For the SSPX Bishop Williamson is like a bad cold that you just can't get rid of

A British Catholic priest who has been excommunicated twice by different popes is allegedly harbouring clergy accused of sexual abuse in his renegade religious order.

Richard Williamson, who was illicitly ordained as a bishop in 1988 by an ultra-conservative group, the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), and later convicted of Holocaust denial by a German court, is now head of the “SSPX Resistance”, based in Broadstairs, Kent.

Two Catholic SSPX priests who have been accused of sexual abuse have found a refuge in Williamson’s breakaway movement, according to an investigative documentary to be aired on Swedish television on Wednesday.

The Golden Jail, made by Ali Fegan, a Swedish journalist whose interview with Williamson about his Holocaust denial was broadcast in 2009, claims that the SSPX protected priests and failed to report claims of abuse to the police or civil authorities. Internal canonical trials of two men – one French, one English – were allegedly conducted with Vatican approval.

The English priest, referred to as Father S, left the SSPX before the conclusion of the trial to join the SSPX Resistance in 2014, going to live in Broadstairs. He declined to speak to the documentary team.

The French priest, Father P, was found guilty and banned from working with children. He joined the SSPX Resistance, and was filmed celebrating mass at a church in Bordeaux last November. He also refused to discuss allegations against him with the TV journalists.

Williamson’s movement, also known as Respice Stellam, describes itself as “a group of traditional Catholics who wish to practise their faith without compromise to liberalism or modernism”. It says reforms over recent decades have “contributed and are still contributing to the destruction of the church, to the ruin of the priesthood, to the abolition of the sacrifice of the mass and of the sacraments, to the disappearance of religious life.”

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Former Queen's Chaplain Gavin Ashenden quits 'liberal' Church of England

A former Queen's chaplain has quit as a Church of England priest after a long-running objection to what he saw as the liberalising trend of the CofE.

Canon Gavin Ashenden made the unusual move of resigning his orders on Friday, Christian Today can reveal, leaving more than 35 years of ordained ministry.
 
Gavin Ashenden used to present the BBC's weekly Faith and Ethics radio programme and was a member of general synod for 20 years.
 
An ardent conservative on both sexuality and women priests, Rev Ashenden confirmed to Christian Today he had signed the 'deed of relinquishment' under the Clerical Disabilities Act 1870. This starts a six-month interim period before he officially leaves the Church.

He declined to comment on the move until his six-month waiting time is up.

It comes after the long-standing critic of the Church left his post as Queen's chaplain in January following a row over a Quran reading in Glasgow Cathedral. The Shropshire-based priest criticised the decision by Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary's Cathedral, for inviting a reading from the Islamic holy book at the Epiphany service on January 6.

Read the rest here.

Monday, April 03, 2017

With the Queen about to turn 91 Britain quietly prepares for the inevitable

She is venerated around the world. She has outlasted 12 US presidents. She stands for stability and order. But her kingdom is in turmoil, and her subjects are in denial that her reign will ever end. That’s why the palace has a plan.

Read the rest here.

I think this is a generally good article that mostly (for a left leaning paper) deals with a sensitive topic reasonably well. But I do disagree with one point. The author characterizes The Queen's reign as a period of decline for Britain. I think that is inaccurate unless one is focused solely on the loss of the Empire. I don't view that as a negative. The Empire was hugely expensive and a great burden to the people of Britain. The modern day British Commonwealth is a vast improvement. Also the author completely ignores the dramatic improvement in the standard of living for most Brits over the last 65 years. When she took the throne the UK was still recovering from World War II and there were staggering gaps in income and standards of living. Rationing was still in effect for some items into the middle 50's. Housing for the lower classes was dreadful. And the country was effectively bankrupt. All of that has changed and the UK is the 2nd largest economy in Europe with one of the highest standards of living in the developed world. The Empire may be gone but Britain enjoys good relations with most of her former colonies and at least 15 still recognize The Queen as their head of state. So, I think the author got that part wrong. But otherwise it's a good read.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Hello Angry Losers



Don't you just hate people who won't say what they are thinking? Yeah, he's an atheist. But he is right far more often than not on other subjects.