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New York Jews Blast De Blasio Over AIPAC Speech


The Third Way

A group of prominent Jewish leaders in New York have sent a letter to the city’s new mayor, Bill De Blasio sharply criticizing him for the fawning and kowtowing speech he secretly made to AIPAC. It’s short and to the point–AIPAC doesn’t speak for these Jews and, I’ll add, AIPAC doesn’t speak for most Jews or Israelis. It’s high time these people, who are not only causing immense harm to Palestinians but are also determined to lead Israelis over a cliff and US Jews to the end of the era of our history most free of anti-Semitism were confronted in no uncertain terms. They have money and hate, and nothing else. They represent no one but themselves.

Here is the letter:

View original post 302 more words

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem


English: "(...) Entry of Pilgrims into Be...

English: “(…) Entry of Pilgrims into Bethlehem at Christmas time. It was taken in 1890.” (text from same source) Note: At the source of this picture, several pictures portray Christmas in Bethlehem in 1898 (not 1890). This picture seems to be the only exception. It could be that the indicated date is actually a typo… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Autograph manuscript of first stanza ...

English: Autograph manuscript of first stanza of O Little Town of Bethlehem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On December 21st, our family will be gathering with others in worship for the seventh annual joint simulcast Christmas service with the people of Bethlehem at the Washington National Cathedral.

Prayers, readings, and hymns alternate between Washington, D.C., and Palestine via the Internet, bringing together people of different lands, languages, and ethnic backgrounds in celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace.

In this age of turmoil and religious strife, it may be a surprise to some to know that Christians have religious freedom in Palestine and that Christmas and other Holy Days are celebrated vigorously!

The carol, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”, was inspired by a pilgrim’s first visit to Bethlehem many years ago. This year it will acquire new meaning for me as we join in song with the “Living Stones”, as the descendents of the first followers of Jesus call themselves today. Let me encourage you to visit and attend church services in Palestine when you make your pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Inspiration awaits.

Learn more about the writer of “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”, Philip Brooks and his journey, below.

http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/Notes_On_Carols/o_little_town_of_bethlehem.htm

http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/HTML/christmas_classics_videos.htm#Chap_02

Some Things to Consider: Sam Harris, the New Atheists, and anti-Muslim animus


Freedom From Religion Foundation

Freedom From Religion Foundation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Of course one can legitimately criticize Islam without being bigoted or racist. That’s self-evident, and nobody is contesting it. And of course there are some Muslim individuals who do heinous things in the name of their religion – just like there are extremists in all religions who do awful and violent things in the name of that religion, yet receive far less attention than the bad acts of Muslims (in the following article are recent examples). Yes, “honor killings” and the suppression of women by some Muslims are heinous, just as the collaboration of US and Ugandan Christians to enact laws to execute homosexuals is heinous, and just as the religious-driven, violent occupation of Palestine, attacks on gays, and suppression of women by some Israeli Jews in the name of Judaism is heinous”.

via Sam Harris, the New Atheists, and anti-Muslim animus | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

What do you think?

Don’t Mess With Egyptian Women!


Don’t Mess With Egyptian Women!.

Did Jesus Suffer for This?


I’ve been wondering what God thinks about this whole Chick-Fil-A deal.  Only he knows the intent of Mr. Cathy’s heart. Was he asked a leading question that elicited his response? I don’t know. But, it sure gave Christians something to stand up for…something to fight for…but in gaining this ground, have they lost a more important bridge?

Sometimes I read a blog that addresses a subject I’ve been thinking about, and this one by my blogging friend, Anita Mathias in Oxford, UK is just such a one. Read on.

Christus als Schmerzensmann (Duerer)

Christus als Schmerzensmann (Duerer) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dreaming Beneath The Spires: Christians, Quit Being so Oppositional!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Christians, Quit Being so Oppositional!

Image Credit

So, on the 1st of August, on Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day hundreds of thousands of Americans bought sandwiches from the popular fast food chain. Chick-Fil-A made $30 million on that day, to be donated to anti-gay groups.

Dan Cathy and his chain were being appreciated because they were “guilty as charged” of donating a cumulative $5 million dollars of corporate money to anti-gay groups, including the Family Research Council, called a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre.
And in my mind’s eye, I watch Jesus watch these snaking queues of Christians identify with him by buying these sandwiches, and I believe he is very sad.
Why do I believe this?
Because it makes me and so many other Christians cry. And Jesus when he sees us care—enough to give good gifts to our children, to look for a lost coin, or sheep or son–uses the same phrase, how much more would his father care.
5 million dollars for the project of changing people’s sexuality, a project with limited and dubious success, and to oppose  gay marriage and gay rights!!
Oh, how has the overwhelmingly positive message of Jesus—love one another; trust God; don’t worry, the Father cares; there is true life only in God; forgive aught against any—got reduced to being against gay marriage, against abortion, against gun control, against immigration, against Barack Obama, against the democrats?  Oh my fingers hurt just typing all this!
* * *
Five million dollars is both pocket change to God which he can give those who ask with a single good idea–and a significant sum of money.
It could sponsor 11,904 children for a year, providing them with food, education and clothing through World Vision at $35 a month. It can provide clean water to 250,000 people who might otherwise die young from preventable water-borne diseases, or spend many hours a day hauling water, exposing themselves to violence and sexual assault in the process. Nine year old Rachel Beckwith raised $1.2 million, providing clean water for 60,000 people in Ethiopa.
Because of early and unassisted childbirth, two million people suffer from fistulas.  “Women and girls with fistulas become pariahs. Their husbands divorce them, and they are moved to a hut at the edge of the village. They lie there in pools of their waste, feeling deeply ashamed, trying to avoid food and water because of the shame of incontinence, and eventually they die of an infection or simple starvation,” according to The New York Times.   Dr Steve Arrowsmith and volunteer doctors who work with the Fistula Foundation could heal 11,111 women for 5 million dollars
And if you believe, as I do, that man does not live by bread alone, but also by every word from the mouth of God, 5 millions dollars will pay for the translation of the entire Bible into 6.15 languages through Wycliffe Bible Translators’ The Seed Company (at $26 for a verse, painstakingly checked through a rigorous six step process). We’ve supported a small part of the Seed Company’s translations, and it’s very satisfying.
* * *
Which of these activities do you think is closer to the heart of Jesus?
Will funding anti-gay organizations make a gay person straight? Sexual desire stems from our unconscious limbic system and the autonomic nervous system. Attempting to change these is fraught with failure. Exodus International, (supported by Chik-fil-A) which attempts reparative, conversion therapy on gays, recently admitted that 99.9% of conversion therapy participants do not experience any change to their sexuality
And if they did? Is that what Jesus primarily came for? Called us to? To make gay people straight?
Or is his mandate that we follow him?
And, perhaps, in the process of following Christ some gay people might marry a heterosexual partner. And some might remain gay, but still love Christ.
 Lonnie Frisbee who was instrumental in the founding and flourishing of the Calvary Chapel Movement, and instrumental in the founding of the Vineyard when the spirit fell on hundreds of young people as he prayed, Come Holy Spirit was gay, despite his struggles, and died of AIDS.
The remarkable and saintly William Stringfellow was gay, and memorably wrote Can a Homosexual be a Christian? One might as well ask, can an ecclesiastical bureaucrat be a Christian? Can a rich man be a Christian?    Can anybody be a Christian? Can a human being be a Christian? All such questions are theologically absurd.
To be a Christian does not have anything essentially to do with conduct or station or repute. To be a Christian does not have anything to do with the common pietisms of ritual, dogma or morals in and of themselves. To be a Christian has, rather, to do with that peculiar state of being bestowed upon men by God….
Can a homosexual be a Christian? Yes: if his sexuality is not an idol.
                                           * * *
And when did following Jesus become synonymous with defending “traditional marriage?” Or disapproving of gays?
What did Jesus say for–or against gays? Nothing!!
His message was love. His message was Himself. Come to me. Eat me. Drink me. Abide in me.
And what happens when we do so? That’s his business. He will take each of us through different paths.
And so there will be rich Christians and poor Christians.
Republican Christians and Democratic Christians.
Christians who cheered on George Bush as he bombed Afghanistan and Iraq, and people like our family who were so distressed by it that we immediately started applying for jobs in other countries.
Gay Christians perhaps, and straight Christians.
Christ is too wonderful a treasure, too rich a feast to limit himself or be limited to straight people.
Christianity is a relationship, not a cultural statement.  God will call Christians to be salt and light and sweetness in every area of society, among the rich and among the poor; among the highly educated intelligentsia, and those who follow the crowd;  among conservatives and among liberals; among the gay and among the straight.
                                               * * *
So what stand would Jesus take on gay marriage, and gay ordination, these schismatic issues?  We don’t know, but we can surmise from the four loving detailed biographies we have of him.
Above all things, he hated hypocrisy. He hated self-righteousness and holier-than-thouness. He opposed the unthinking group mind. When the Pharisees of his day all clung together, clucking their tongues, Jesus was on the outside with the least and the last.
And these were the people he sided with, reached out to, spent his time with: Zacchaeus, who was notoriously dishonest. A woman caught in adultery. A woman who had led a sinful life. A woman who had been serially married and now lived “in sin”. A hot-tempered, violent Peter. A friend of prostitutes and sinners, he was called.
And if he met a gay man or woman? He would have preached the gospel to him, as he would to anyone else. He would have loved them, overwhelmingly. And they might in response have adopted traditional marriage. Or perhaps, might not have. That is between them, Jesus, and his Spirit.
Being is a Christians is not about making gay people straight or picketing abortion clinics or defending the intent of the American Founding Fathers or American values.
It is about a relationship with a person. A relationship which turned the world upside down in the first century (Acts 17:6) and will, infallibly turn our world upside down if we let it have its way with us. 
You might also like:
Sunrise in our Garden, behind our Willow Tree
The Parable of Those who Reject Multiple Chances. Blog …
Curses: Medieval Idea or Scriptural Reality?
How many plagues does it take?

Why Not Require a Photo ID to Vote?


ALEC CROW - 21st Century Disenfranchisement

ALEC CROW – 21st Century Disenfranchisement (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

It seems such a simple thing to most of us with money, a College ID, a Driver’s License, or a Passport.  When I first heard about this I honestly thought it was a “no-brainer”.  “Of course people should present their ID’s to vote, how else will they prove who they are?”

As I thought about it, though, I realized how out of touch I was with many people in America. There are people without health insurance, driver’s licenses, or any type of identification.

Here’s a list of states and how much it costs to obtain an ID in each of them:
 http://dmvanswers.com/questions/419/How-much-do-state-ID-cards-cost

I checked the internet to see if it’s possible to get a free ID in order to vote. It is. However: few poor people have access to the internet.  Here’s what I found when I pulled up the website from the

State of Wisconsin as an example:

“Due to the need to provide a birth certificate and/or other documents to receive a DOT-issued ID, individuals should start the process of obtaining a statutory identification well in advance of an election at which they wish to vote.  You may also consult our pamphlet on how to get a free state ID card.”

Below is an example of how this works out for one elderly lady in PA.

http://news.yahoo.com/legal-challenge-pennsylvania-voter-id-law-begins-court-194640777.html

Effectively, this results in marginalizing a large segment of our society; the elderly, the poor, the disabled, many of whom will have no access to their birth certificate, little opportunity or time to access a computer, no child care  or transportation to get to a DMV, or no money to buy an ID.

But what about fraud? Won’t we have illegal aliens voting, and people voting more than once?

I refer you to this excellent article from Pro Publica:

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Voter ID Laws

A local resident casts her vote at a polling station in Sandy Springs, Ga., on March 6, 2012. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

by Suevon Lee
ProPublica, July 23, 2012, 4:51 p.m.

July 24: This post has been updated and corrected.

Voter IDs laws have become a political flashpoint in what’s gearing up to be another close election year. Supporters say the laws — which 30 states have now enacted in some form — are needed to combat voter fraud, while critics see them as a tactic to disenfranchise voters.

We’ve taken a step back to look at the facts behind the laws and break down the issues at the heart of the debate.

So what are these laws?

They are measures intended to ensure that a registered voter is who he says he is and not an impersonator trying to cast a ballot in someone else’s name. The laws, most of which have been passed in the last several years, require that registered voters show ID before they’re allowed to vote. Exactly what they need to show varies. Some states require a government-issued photo, while in others a current utility bill or bank statement is sufficient.

As a registered voter, I thought I always had to supply some form of ID during an election.

Not quite. Per federal law, first-time voters who registered by mail must present a photo ID or copy of a current bill or bank statement. Some states generally advise voters bring some form of photo ID. But prior to the 2006 election, no state ever required a voter to produce a government-issued photo ID as a condition to voting. Indiana in 2006 became the first state to enact a strict photo ID law, a law that was upheld two years later by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Why are these voter ID laws so strongly opposed?

Voting law advocates contend these laws disproportionately affect elderly, minority and low-income groups that tend to vote Democratic. Obtaining photo ID can be costly and burdensome, with even free state ID requiring documents like a birth certificate that can cost up to $25 in some places. According to a study from NYU’s Brennan Center, 11 percent of voting-age citizens lack necessary photo ID while many people in rural areas have trouble accessing ID offices. During closing arguments in a recent case over Texas’s voter ID law, a lawyer for the state brushed aside these obstacles as the “reality to life of choosing to live in that part of Texas.”

Attorney General Eric Holder and others have compared the laws to a poll tax, in which Southern states during the Jim Crow era imposed voting fees, which discouraged the working class and poor, many of whom were minorities, from voting.

Given the sometimes costly steps required to obtain needed documents today, legal scholars argue that photo ID laws create a new “financial barrier to the ballot box.”

Just how well-founded are fears of voter fraud?

There have been only a small number of fraud cases resulting in a conviction. A New York Times analysis from 2007 identified 120 cases filed by the Justice Department over five years. These cases, many of which stemmed from mistakenly filled registration forms or misunderstanding over voter eligibility, resulted in 86 convictions.

There are “very few documented cases,” said UC-Irvine professor and election law specialist Rick Hasen. “When you do see election fraud, it invariably involves election officials taking steps to change election results or it involves absentee ballots which voter ID laws can’t prevent,” he said.

One of the most vocal supporters of strict voter ID laws, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, told the Houston Chronicle earlier this month that his office has prosecuted about 50 cases of voter fraud in recent years. “I know for a fact that voter fraud is real, that it must be stopped, and that voter id is one way to prevent cheating at the ballot box and ensure integrity in the electoral system,” he told the paper. Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to ProPublica’s request for comment.

How many voters might be turned away or dissuaded by the laws, and could they really affect the election?

It’s not clear.

According to the Brennan Center, about 11 percent of U.S. citizens, or roughly 21 million citizens, don’t have government-issued photo ID. This figure doesn’t represent all voters likely to vote, just those eligible to vote.

State figures also can be hard to nail down. In Pennsylvania, nearly 760,000 registered voters, or 9.2 percent of the state’s 8.2 million voter base, don’t own state-issued ID cards, according to an analysis of state records by the Philadelphia Inquirer. State officials, on the other hand, place this number at between 80,000 and 90,000.

In Indiana and Georgia, states with the earliest versions of photo ID laws, about 1,300 provisional votes were discarded in the 2008 general election, later analysis has revealed.

As for the potential effect on the election, one analysis by Nate Silver at the New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog estimates they could decrease voter turnout anywhere between 0.8 and 2.4 percent. It doesn’t sound like a very wide margin, but it all depends on the electoral landscape.

“We don’t know exactly how much these news laws will affect turnout or skew turnout in favor of Republicans,” said Hasen, author of the recently released The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown. “But there’s no question that in a very close election, they could be enough to make a difference in the outcome.”

When did voter ID laws get passed — and which states have the strictest ones?

The first such law was passed as early as 2003, but momentum has picked up in recent years. In 2011 alone, legislators in 34 states introduced bills requiring voters show photo ID — 14 of those states already had existing voter ID laws but lawmakers sought to toughen statutes, mainly to require proof of photo identification.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has a helpful breakdown of states’ voter ID laws and how they vary.

(National Conference of State Legislatures)

Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Kansas and Pennsylvania have the toughest versions. These states won’t allow voters to cast a regular ballot without first showing valid photo ID. Other states with photo ID laws offer some more flexibility by providing voters with several alternatives.

What happens if a voter can’t show valid photo ID in these states?

These voters are entitled to a provisional ballot. To ensure their votes count, however, they must produce the mandatory ID within a certain time frame and affirm in person or writing they are the same individual who filled out a temporary ballot on Election Day. The time limits vary: They range anywhere from up to three days after the election (Georgia) to noon the Monday after the election (Indiana).

Are there any exceptions to the photo ID requirement?

Yes. Indigency or religious objections to being photographed. But these exceptions don’t automatically grant a voter the ability to cast a regular ballot: In Pennsylvania and Indiana, voters will be given a provisional ballot and must sign an affidavit for their exemption within the given time frame. For a more specific breakdown of all exceptions, see this state-by-state summary.

Why is the Justice Department getting involved in some cases?

Because of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires that states with a history of discrimination receive preclearance before making changes to voting laws. Texas and South Carolina passed strict photo ID laws in 2011 but were refused preclearance by the DOJ, which argued that these laws could suppress turnout among minority voters.

Texas went to court recently seeking judicial preclearance from a federal district court; a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is expected to issue a decision by the end of the summer. South Carolina heads to oral arguments in the same court in September.

Are there any other legal challenges to such laws currently in the works?

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit to prevent the Pennsylvania voter ID law, signed into law by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in March, from taking effect. The lawsuit claims that elderly, disabled, low-income people and the homeless, plus married women who have changed their names, transgender individuals, and students who have photo IDs that don’t list an expiration date, will find it difficult to obtain proper ID before the November election.

In the latest development, the DOJ has now launched an investigation into Pennsylvania’s photo ID law. As first reported by Talking Points Memo, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division sent the state’s chief election official a letter Monday afternoon requesting 16 separate items, including the state’s complete voter registration list, any documents supporting the governor’s prior assurance that “99 percent” of the state’s eligible voters already have acceptable photo ID, any papers to prove the state is prepared to provide registered voters with ID cards free of charge upon oath or affirmation, and any studies that inform state officials of the “demographic characteristics” of residents who lack valid voter ID.

The DOJ letter states it needs these documents within 30 days to evaluate the state’s compliance with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which forbids voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.

Have any states attempted to enact strict voter ID laws but so far been unsuccessful?

Yes. In Wisconsin, two judges have blocked enforcement of the state’s photo ID law. An appeal in one case won’t be heard until after the November election. Meantime, Democratic governors in Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire and North Carolina have vetoed strict photo ID bills passed by their Republican-led legislatures last year.

Are there other voter ID laws in effect that ask for but don’t necessarily require photo ID?

Yes. In these so-called “non-strict photo ID states” — Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Idaho, South Dakota and Hawaii — individuals are requested to show photo ID but can still vote if they don’t have one. Instead, they may be asked to sign affidavits affirming their identity or provide a signature that will be compared with those in registration records.

Why has there been such a recent surge in voter ID legislation around the country?

This report by NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice cites primarily big Republican gains in the 2010 midterms which turned voter ID laws into a “major legislative priority.” Aside from Rhode Island, all voter ID legislation has been introduced by Republican-majority legislatures.

Republican figures have championed such laws. For instance, Mike Turzai, majority leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, recently praised the state’s legislative accomplishments at a Republican State Committee meeting last month. “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done,” he said.

A spokesman for Turzai, Steve Miskin, told ProPublica that Turzai was “mischaracterized” by the press. “For the first time in many years, you’re going to have a relatively level playing field in the presidential elections” as the result of these new laws,” Miskin said. “With all things equal, a Republican presidential nominee in Pennsylvania has a chance.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story said Texas went to federal court to challenge the DOJ’s denial of preclearance. In fact, Texas filed a lawsuit seeking preclearance from the federal district court two months before the DOJ announced its decision. Also, some states require a government-issued photo that does not have to come from the federal government as first detailed.

http://www.propublica.org/article/everything-youve-ever-wanted-to-know-about-voter-id-laws

________________________________________________________________________________

Who will this law affect? Check this link: National Poverty Center | University of Michigan.

Are these the people who would vote for the Republicans who are proposing this law or the Democrats who are proposing Universal Health Care to cover them?

Sadly, this appears to me to be an attempt to manipulate a law to prevent hundreds of thousands from fulfilling one of their lawfully granted American rights.

Or, maybe the GOP remains simply ignorant and unaware of the needs of the disenfranchised, as I was. That sounds about right.

They still have time to catch up…but this ID Law needs to be defeated.

American Holocaust of Native American Indians


Painting For Supremacy by Charles Marion Russell

Painting For Supremacy by Charles Marion Russell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“But we meant well.” I began to squirm as I watched the following short film by Joanelle Romerro and felt those words coming to mind.

An 1899 chromolithograph of U.S. cavalry pursu...

An 1899 chromolithograph of U.S. cavalry pursuing American Indians, artist unknown (Photo credit: Wikipedia),

How do I, as a follower of Christ, respond, when I discover such atrocities done in the pursuit of my country’s Christian purposes?

One thought I’m having is that it is always better to know what is true and live a life of response rather than reaction to it.

How shall we respond?

I can hear some of my race saying it is in the past and “they” should let it go. But, that isn’t ours to say, just as it isn’t the debtors place to forgive the debt, or the abusers place to forgive the abused.

Shall we live in shame, seek justice for war crimes, reparations?

To live in awareness that I am a part of this flawed race brings humility to my soul and motivates me to speak out about injustice and reach out in the small measure of compassion that Jesus has given me.

Native American

Native American (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fact that people in other cultures commit similar murderous behavior when they dominate the Sudanese, Palestinians, Afghans, Syrians, Saudi women, Ugandans and on and on speaks to more than American or Western dominance, but a deeply flawed sense of moral responsibility common to the human race.

I am ashamed to say that in the Western and Israeli context I seem to be hearing it called “Democracy.”

This video takes half an hour and is well worth your time.  Something in me wants to ask that as you watch it, you don’t just judge our country, but also examine your own. I hope its record is flawless.

American Holocaust of Native American Indians (FULL Documentary) – YouTube.