Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ottawa university boots cystic fibrosis from charity drive

Ottawa university boots cystic fibrosis from charity drive:
"OTTAWA -- The Carleton University Students' Association has voted to drop a cystic fibrosis charity as the beneficiary of its annual Shinearama fundraiser, supporting a motion that argued the disease is not 'inclusive' enough.

Cystic fibrosis 'has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men' said the motion read Monday night to student councillors, who voted almost unanimously in favour of it. ..."
There are some very useful links on the right sidebar of this article which demonstrate that the assumptions in the student council motion are false.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

City wants her cent - The Sun Chronicle Online - News

City wants her cent - The Sun Chronicle Online - News:
"ATTLEBORO - A 74-year-old blind woman has been told a lien will be put on her South Attleboro home if she doesn't come up with a penny she owes on an outstanding utility bill. ...

The city sent Wilbur a letter dated Nov. 10 stating that if the 1 cent balance is not paid by Dec. 10, the city will assess a lien of up to $48 on Wilbur's next property tax bill. ..."
Only in Massachusetts...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Survey: Megachurches more intimate, believers less gullible

Survey: Megachurches more intimate, believers less gullible:
" ... “We all know that megachurches have all sorts of flaws. They’re big; they have a wonderful Sunday service because they can afford a symphony orchestra. But they’re kind of cold, they have … like, theater audiences,” said Baylor sociology professor Rodney Stark, the study’s lead researcher, noting common perceptions of megachurches. “All wrong.”

The survey found that members of such churches tended to have more friends within their congregations, hold more conservative Christian beliefs, share their faith with friends and strangers more often, and be involved in volunteer work more frequently than their counterparts in churches with less than 100 in average attendance. ..."
These conclusions, which seem counter-intuitive, make a little more sense if one notes that the things that draw people in to church -- doctrine, friendliness, sharing faith, volunteerism -- are likely to continue to characterize the congregation as it grows.

The Baylor University website has a more extended article on this study entitled Baylor Survey Finds New Perspectives On U.S. Religious Landscape.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day 2008

This short piece was written early this morning, but with the feature of delayed posting, it appears at the time of the official observance of Veteran's Day.

At 11:00am on November 11, 1918 the guns stopped firing in France as the armistice between the Allied forces and Germany took effect. This day was originally celebrated in the US as Armistice Day, but has been since designated as Veteran's Day. This day has also been historically known as Remembrance Day.

We remember with gratitude all those who served in our country's military. These men and women have kept secure what previous generations worked so hard to provide us. Their job has not always been appreciated, but the fact that we have the freedom to choose our President every four years without violence, stands as mute testimony to the job that our veterans have done over the last two hundred and thirty two years (counting from 1776).

If you have the opportunity today, thank a veteran.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Chocolates mark 500 years of Calvin in a taste of “paradise”

Chocolates mark 500 years of Calvin in a taste of “paradise”:
"(ENI) Swiss chocolatier Blaise Poyet believes he has captured the essence of the Protestant reformer Jean Calvin in special chocolate pralines he created to mark the 500th anniversary of the religious figure who made his mark on European history.

'It's not easy to represent theological ideas by using the taste buds,' acknowledges Poyet, a master chocolatier from Maison Poyet in Vevey, 50 miles from Geneva, where the French-born reformer lived and worked. 'But the key thing for Calvin is the glory of God, his excellence, his perfection. So we chose a chocolate that we chocolatiers find exceptional, rare, and flawless.'

The chocolates were unveiled in Geneva on November 2 after a ceremony to launch a year called 'calvin09' to mark the 500th anniversary in 2009 of Calvin's birth, along with other products and events intended to capture the life and spirit of Calvin."
OK. This is a bit much. Surely a better way to honor this historical personage could be found.

John Calvin is considered to the the "father" of Presbyterianism and the principles he proposed in his Institutes of the Christian Religion are still studied today. It isn't what I would call a "page turner", but for looking up particular topics it is great.

Maybe a better way to honor Calvin might be to learn more about him and what he taught. My opinions certainly mellowed once I stopped relying on "conventional wisdom" and actually started looking into what he actually said and did.

And if you feel the need to honor John Calvin with chocolate, at least choose plain dark chocolate -- it's cheaper and serves as an antioxidant.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Billy Graham Turns 90 | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

Billy Graham Turns 90 | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction:
"Billy Graham may be celebrating his 90th birthday today, but he's not done learning yet. The world-famous evangelist will use the Internet for the first time this week when he sends an e-mail reply to a supporter.

'We're helping him write it, but he's going to push the button,' said Graham's son Franklin, who has received more than 100,000 letters through the Internet to give to his father for his birthday. 'He was asking me the other day, 'How does it work?' And I said, 'I don't know, but I know it does.' '

Graham preached in person in more than 185 countries to over 215 million people during his more than 70 years of ministry. He prayed with every American President from Harry Truman to George W. Bush. ..."
Billy Graham's birthday was the November 7,so this is a little late. The full article has a lot of interesting information about his career and how he has interacted with many of the most powerful people in the world. Hopefully this giant in the evangelical world has a few more years left to serve on earth.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

All Saints Day 2008

One of my favorite hymns for this season (and all seasons) is the rousing For All the Saints. In the Presbyterian tradition, six verses have been employed -- 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, and 11 of the ones shown below -- not even The Presbyterian Hymnal (1990) could not bring itself to totally "correct" its martial metaphors, instead tucking the offending verses out of the way. I have expressed the opinion before, and I do so again: Tinkering with hymns rarely improves the product, and this is no exception. Verses 9 and 10 are particularly meaningful, and do much to enhance the story being told. I have not seen verses 3, 4, or 5 in any hymnal.

William Walsham How wrote the words in 1864 and Ralph Vaughan Williams published the most familiar hymn tune in The English Hymnal (1906).
For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!
We remember those who have gone before.