24 August 2007

...And Now for Something Completely Different...

How come there aren't Burger Lords or Burger Vassals or Burger Serfs? Implementing such a strategic brand differentiation could better serve the needs of all burger-eaters. Of course, only real beef would be served at Burger King. In contrast, Burger Serf would serve rat tartar on black-market strawberry bagels.


"Meaninglessness Of Preseason Game Plunges Jeremy Shockey Into Existential Crisis."


Look at some of my pretty pictures:


In medieval times, doctors wore things over their faces called nosegays. They looked like beaks and were filled with cloves to ward off the stench of death. Good times!


More proof that the Ancient Greeks kicked ass and the Trojans suck it:

Residents of the ancient city of Troy left their waste on the floors of their homes or tossed it into the streets...


About 500BCE, the city of Athens, Greece, passed the first garbage dump law in the Western world, requiring that garbage be dumped at least one mile outside the city walls.

Garbage and Other Pollution, Cornelia Blair

Hektor made his wife sleep in TRASH! Otherwise, even I admit, he was a devoted and loving husband.

18 August 2007

LINK: "Romania's Orthodox Patriarch dies at 92"

Same source as below:

The head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Teoctist, died on Monday aged 92 due to heart complications after prostate surgery.

Teoctist invited Pope John Paul to Romania in 1999, the first time a Catholic Pope visited an Orthodox country in a trip aimed at narrowing the age-old split between the two Churches.

"Patriarch Teoctist died at 5:00 pm," Constantin Popa, manager of the Fundeni hospital in Bucharest told reporters.

"He had prostate surgery. Afterwards, he developed heart complications ... which eventually led to his heart failure. He did not respond to resuscitation."

Teoctist, who was born in 1915, had been the head of the Orthodox Church since 1986. Eighty-seven percent of Romanians belong to the Church.

One of his main projects was to build a "Cathedral of the Nation's Absolution", which like the vast Christ the Saviour cathedral in Moscow was to be seen as a symbol of rebirth after 50 years of communist repression. Land and financing problems have delayed its construction, however.

LINK: "Church asked to Preach 'Tax Evasion is a Sin'"

From Christian Today (link):

Thou shalt not steal...from the state.

That's the message Italy's prime minister wants Catholic priests to preach from their pulpits to help him stamp out rampant tax evasion robbing the state of sorely needed cash.

"A third of Italians heavily evade taxes," Romano Prodi lamented in an interview with Italy's prominent Catholic magazine, Famiglia Cristiana, widely quoted in Wednesday's newspapers.

"Why, when I go to Mass, is this issue almost never touched on in the homilies?"

Italy is struggling under the weight of Europe's largest debt pile in absolute terms. The government estimates the cost of tax evasion at 7 percent of gross domestic product, or about 100 billion euros ($137 billion) a year.

It says this is nearly double the rate of evasion in France, Germany and Britain and nearly four times that of Austria, the Netherlands and Ireland.

One Catholic leader said that while the Church strongly encouraged citizens to pay taxes, Italy's government also needed to prove to taxpayers that their money was being well spent if it wanted more cooperation.

"If at times the Church is cautious on the presentation of this issue, it is because the tax system does not always seem fair," Bruno Forte, archbishop of the central Italian diocese of Chieti-Vasto, told Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Prodi's campaign against tax evasion is one of the hallmarks of his unpopular government, and the government says it is part of the reason for a 6 percent hike in state revenues in the first half of 2007.

The premier, under pressure to cut taxes, suggested too many Italians still lie on their tax returns. He questioned out loud whether it was possible that only 300,000 taxpayers -- out of a total 40 million -- made more than 100,000 euros a year.

"To change this mindset, it's up to everyone, starting with the teachers, to do their part ... the Church included," Prodi said.

More Anglican Schism

First the roofs, and now this.

Metal Illegaly Gaffed from British Churchs

by Daniel Blake from Christian Today:

Hundreds of churches across Britain are facing a crime wave as it has been revealed thieves are stealing millions of pounds worth of metal from its rooftops to ship to other parts of the world to take advantage of huge demand.
Thousands of properties, which include other historic buildings as well as the churches, have fallen victim of organised gangs who collect from vulnerable sources to sell on to crooked metal merchants.

It is thought that these dealers then ship the stolen material overseas to countries such as China, Dubai and India where there is a struggle to satisfy booming manufacturing and building markets.

In a report by the Sunday Telegraph, the phenomenon was revealed by Ecclesiastical Insurance, a leading Christian insurance company that covers a majority of Church of England buildings throughout Britain.

The insurance firm told how lead thefts had trebled, and copper thefts had multiplied by 10 times over the past 2 years.

Ecclesiastical told the Sunday Telegraph that over the past 16 months the company had received a massive 750 claims, totalling £1.2 million-worth.

Chris Pitt, Ecclesiastical PR Manager reported: “These people have to be organised because of the amounts they are getting away with. These buildings will never be the same again once they've been stripped in this way.”

It has also emerged that the ruthless gangs are ripping lightning conductors from spires using towropes and vehicles. Going beyond this extreme, fearless thieves have also been known to steel church bells.

One Wolverhampton vicar, whose church earlier this year was targeted by thieves three times in two weeks, had desperately called on church neighbours to help protect the much loved building.

In the first attack at Holy Trinity Church in Heath Town, Wolverhampton, thieves stole lightning conductors. A week later they stole ladders belonging to building contractors and on 30 April it was discovered that thieves had returned to steel lead flashing.

The thefts took place as the church underwent a £200,000 renovation project which has seen repairs to stonework on the tower and spire, replacement guttering and repairs to the church clock.

The Vicar of Heath Town, the Rev David Vestergaard, said: "It is very discouraging for a congregation who have given generously and sacrificially to enable us to carry out this renovation. We are blessed with a very attractive building but it is expensive to maintain and most of our congregation are not well off.”

Pope and Jews Get Some Friction On

Vatican: Pope Meeting Doesn't Alter Policy on Jews:

The Vatican, trying to allay Jewish concern over Pope Benedict's meeting with a radical Polish priest accused of making anti-Semitic remarks, said 9 August its stance toward Jews had not changed.

The statement followed a meeting at the weekend between the Pope and Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, who publicly apologised last month after accusing a "Jewish lobby" of trying to extract millions from the Polish state.

Jewish rights groups condemned the meeting and called on the Pope to denounce Rydzyk and his Radio Maryja, which they accuse of spreading xenophobic, anti-Semitic statements.

The Vatican did not address those demands in its one-line statement, saying only that Rydzyk's widely reported kiss of the German-born Pontiff's hand had no broader implications.

The Vatican said: "In reference to requests for clarification related to (Father) Tadeusz Rydzyk's 'kiss' ... the matter does not imply any change in the Holy See's well-known position on relations between Catholics and Jews."

There was no immediate reaction from Jewish groups.

Poland had the biggest Jewish population in Europe until World War Two, but the murder of millions in the Holocaust under German occupation and an anti-Semitic campaign by post-war communist authorities left only a few thousand in the country.

Israel's ambassador to Warsaw called on Poland and the Catholic Church last month to take action against Rydzyk's Radio Maryja for spreading anti-Semitism, saying it had repeatedly insulted Jews and their culture.

The Pope's meeting with Rydzyk appeared to do the opposite by giving him added legitimacy, Jewish groups said.

"You have unfortunately lent him the priceless credibility of your office and integrity in the eyes of the world," Abraham Foxman, who leads the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League, said in a letter to the Pope.

The European Jewish Congress (EJC) said it was shocked by the meeting. It said the Pope had effectively given "his blessing (to) a man and an institution that have tarnished the image of the Polish church".

Some Jewish leaders criticised the Pope's recent decision to revive a Latin-language rite that includes a prayer for the conversion of the Jews. The Pope's number two suggested the controversial prayer could be dropped, a proposal welcomed by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

Pope Benedict visited the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz last year. He called himself "a son of Germany" and asked why God was silent when 1.5 million victims died there.

Next month, the Pontiff is due to visit a monument for Holocaust victims during a trip to Austria.

Catholics, Protestants Map Out Ethical Conversion Code

Ethan Cole, from Christian Today, has a piece
on "conversion codes":

Dozens of theologians from a wide range of Christian traditions recently gathered to map out a common religious conversion code that would affirm religious freedom while dissuading unethical means of conversion.

The joint Vatican-World Council of Churches (WCC) consultation convened some 30 Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Pentecostal and evangelical theologians and church representatives in Toulouse, France, this past week for the high-level meeting entitled “Towards An Ethical Approach to Conversion: Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World”.

It was the first time evangelicals and Pentecostals were represented at the consultation since the first meeting was held last year.

“‘Evangelical’ and ‘ecumenical’ Christians have never been as close in this regard as they are today,” said Thomas Schirrmacher of the World Evangelical Alliance, according to Ecumenical News International on Monday.

“It would be the first time ever that such a broad Christian backing is given to an agreement of this kind.”

Schirrmacher, who was a speaker at the August 8-12 consultation, is a German theologian who chairs the WEA’s International Institute for Religious Freedom. He represented himself as an evangelical individual rather than the WEA's representative during the consultation.

The German theologian noted, however, that it would be difficult to concretely specify “unethical means” of conversion given differences in historical, religious, cultural and political contexts of Christian traditions, according to ENI.

Schirrmacher emphasised that all Christian traditions need to self-reflect based on the code of conduct rather than just direct it against evangelicals and Pentecostals who are known for their strong focus on evangelism.

“Conversion is a controversial issue not only in interreligous relations, but in intra-Christian relations as well,” acknowledged the Rev Dr Hans Ucko, WCC programme executive for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation, in a statement.

Ucko gave as an example of religious tension that existing between the Roman Catholic Church and the Pentecostal movement in Latin America. He also noted that the Orthodox churches in other regions often feel “targeted” by Protestant missionary groups.

Fiorello Mascarenhas, a Jesuit from India and former chairperson of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office Council, affirmed that evangelisation needs to avoid “stooping to belittle or condemn other religion”.

Rather, evangelisation should promote “inter-religious dialogue and religious harmony, as well as wholehearted cooperation in human welfare projects”.

“The fact that Protestants, Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Pentecostals and Evangelicals were able to meet and discuss such a complex issue is in itself a success,” said WCC’s Ucko.

Despite progress on drawing up the code of conduct, the formidable challenge of enforcing the code remains, seeing that the WEA, WCC, Pentecostals and others have no authority to force their members to adhere to the code. There is also speculation that the Catholic Church will not make the code an official policy.

The study project jointly undertaken by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the WCC’s programme on inter-religious dialogue and cooperation - “An Interreligious Reflection on Conversion: From Controversy to a Shared Code of Conduct" - was launched in May 2006 in Lariano/Velletri, near Rome.

It aims to produce a code of conduct on religious conversion commonly agreed among Christians by 2010. The first meeting was attended by representatives of the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Yoruba faiths along with Christians.

LINK: "Defrocked Gay US Pastor Returns to Pulpit"

Lutheran Pastor returns triumphant:

The Atlanta pastor at the heart of the homosexual clergy debate in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the US has returned to the pulpit - and the Atlanta congregation is ecstatic.

A day after the nation's largest Lutheran denomination voted to encourage its bishops to practice "restraint" in disciplining gay ministers who are in “faithful” same-sex relationships, St John's Lutheran Church – Atlanta's oldest Lutheran church – celebrated Sunday the continuing pastorship of the Rev Bradley Schmeling.

Earlier this year, Schmeling, was ordered to be removed immediately from the clergy roster after announcing that he had found a lifelong gay companion.

The order by the Committee on Appeals overruled an earlier decision by a disciplinary committee which said Schmeling should be allowed to remain on the clergy roster until after ELCA's biennial churchwide assembly last week.

The committee also suggested that ELCA reinstate gay clergy who were removed or resigned because they were in a same-sex "lifelong partnership".

Despite the removal, Schmeling refused to leave St John's and said he planned to continue to follow his call in ministry there.

Furthermore, although the gay clergy debate was expected to come up in 2009, Schmeling was a major part of the push at this year's assembly to lift the ban on non-celibate homosexual clergy.


Regarding Saturday’s passed resolution, ELCA’s presiding bishop, the Rev Mark S Hanson, highlighted the words "prays, urges, and encourages" as "words of counsel" for synods and bishops considering what actions to take when confronted with non-celibate gay clergy.

"They are not words that change the standards of the Church … or the guidelines for discipline,” he said. “But they reflect the mind of this assembly as it seeks to give counsel to the leaders of this Church."

Still, conservatives say the vote contradicts Church policy and allows gay clergy to ignore the standards of the Church.

"Any time you start ignoring God's word on matters, you better watch out because you're in dangerous territory," said the Rev Mark Chavez, director of the conservative Word Alone Network, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Jaynan Clark Egland, president of Word Alone Network, called it a double standard for discipline.


The assembly decided to postpone a more concrete decision on gay clergy until 2009, when the Task Force on Studies of Sexuality is expected to propose a social statement on human sexuality based on responses from congregants across the denomination collected in a comprehensive study.

Still, Schmeling praised the latest decision by the assembly, calling it a "crack in the dam", according to The Associated Press.

Schmeling will continue to pastor St John's although he will stay off the clergy roster. Since he plans to remain with St John's, he said his removal from the clergy roster will have no effect unless he tries to move to another congregation.

Global Warming, &c.

Cal Thomas decries the fundamentalism of the Global Warming zealots (bracketed red comments mine):

In every child's life there comes a time when childhood fantasies are shattered and he or she is forced to accept reality - there is no Santa Claus or tooth fairy; parents don't always mean it when they promise to stay married until parted by death.

Grown-up scientists, theologians, historians, archaeologists and others who pursue facts and objective truths are rooted in reality and constantly adjusting their conclusions, theories and hypotheses when new information comes to light. Those who ignore facts and cling to outdated information, or outright falsehoods, can quickly embrace fanaticism.
 [Of course, this can go either way...]

So it is with "global warming," the secular religion of our day that even has a good number of adherents among people of faith. Having decided to focus less on the eternal and whether anyone dwells there, global warming fundamentalists are pushing planet worship on us in a manner that would make a jihadist proud.
 [The eternal, and whether or not anyone resides there is completely beside the point. Global warming, or even its possibility, is a time-sensitive issue. "Planet worship"? Please...just because I would rather not see the Earth a frying hellhole in a couple hundred years does not make me a treehugger!]

There are at least two characteristics all fundamentalists share. One is the exclusion and sometimes suppression of any and all information that challenges or contradicts the belief one wishes to impose on all. The other is the use of the state in pursuit of their objectives, overriding the majority's will.
 [Blind obedience to predetermined diktats of faith are always bad, and this is why climate study includes things like "studies" and "evidence"—wonderful tools lacking from the religious fundamentalist's toolbox.]


The Earth has warmed and cooled over many centuries. One can get a sense of who is telling the truth about global warming by the company the concept keeps. Most of the disciples of global warming are liberal Democrats who never have enough of our money and believe there are never enough regulations concerning the way we lead our lives. That ought to be enough to give everyone pause, along with emerging evidence that the global warming jihadists may be more full of hot air than the climate they claim is about to burn us up.
 [Perhaps, but it generally warms up after a long period of being really fucking cold. You can also get a sense of who is telling the truth by looking at these great things that we have called "facts."]

National Geographic gives us some quick facts on global warming.

Meanwhile, Rolling Stone—that unrecalcitrant panderer of liberal propaganda—tells us that the debate is over.

Bill Moyers has a great section of his website dedicated to religion and the environment.

What really boggles my mind is the sheer hostility with which right-wing Christians meet the very possibility of global warming. It seems that if people were behaving rationally (which they seldom do), they would look at the scientific evidence in front of them, and survey the information at hand. All the denials and shenanigans make me want to think that certain right-wing evangelicals want the world to "burn up" in the hope of the Messiah's return. This hope, of course, is sick and twisted. That being the case, they can't possibly admit their true motivations, so they go into denial mode. Not cool at all.

Link: "L. Ron Hubbard Booklet Promoted in Israel and Palestinian Territories"

Bart has an interesting overview of various articles on Scientology's apparent expansion into the Middle East.

12 August 2007

Prosperity Gospel Shenanigans

BeliefNet has an unbelievably naive and sycophantic interview with "Bishop" Bernard E. Jordan. It's the religious equivalent of Bill O'Reilly interviewing George W. Bush. Jordan is also claiming apostolic succession. What a buffoon! His "ministry" is nothing more than another incarnation of the old and tired prosperity gospel (e.g. Bakker, Hinn, et al).

Israeli Right Woos Japanese Christian Zionists

Israeli Right Woos Japanese Christian Zionists. Wow.

11 August 2007

More Porn-Meets-Christianity

In a similar vein with a previous post, the Detroit News has a piece on Ron Jeremy and Craig Gross, an anti-porn evangelical pastor, doing a debate tour together:

The unlikely couple are debating the impact of erotic films during a seven-day, seven-state tour billed as the Porn Pastor vs. the Porn King. The only Michigan appearance is 8 tonight at the Intersection arena in Grand Rapids.

It's the latest marketing salvo by Gross' group, XXXChurch.com, an Internet-based ministry that has taken old-school evangelicals and turned them on their well-coiffed heads.

Gross, 31, who still dresses like the skateboarder he was growing up in California, hosts church breakfasts dubbed Porn and Pancakes, distributes Bibles at adult film trade shows and drives around in his "porn mobile," a black SUV with the slogans, "XXXChurch.com/ The #1 Christian Porn Site/ A Porn Site for the Whole Family."

"We try to do stuff that's fun, clever, odd enough to get people to talk," he said. "If people talk about it, then we get our message across."

The irreverent Gross, who isn't afraid to make fun of himself, will seemingly go to any length to draw attention to his Internet site, which helps porn addicts.

He also isn't afraid of making enemies. The Web site receives hate mail from two groups that couldn't be more different -- the porn industry and the religious right.

"Your theology is way outta whack," one person wrote. "That is the most disgraceful blasphemy I have ever heard."


In one corner is Gross: a 31-year-old Sacramento, Calif., native with chiseled cheeks.

In the other is Jeremy: a 54-year-old from Queens, New York, who has slept with 4,000 women, and describes himself as short, chubby and hairy.

The debate opponents would be surprised to learn they have a lot in common.

They're relentless self-promoters who are well-educated and don't smoke or do drugs.

They're funny and disarmingly open about their motives with the debate, which is charging $10 admission: Gross wants to publicize his ministry while Jeremy wants to make a buck.

When Jeremy and Gross first toured together, two years ago at college campuses, Jeremy drew standing ovations and long lines of autograph seekers.

When it comes to fan favorite, celebrity trumps all.Gross will be hoping to use that celebrity, even one nurtured by porn, to help spread the word of God.

01 August 2007

Milingo's Wacky Adventures

Milingo expects blessing of both Moon and B16. Maybe the Moonie of Moonies will show up, but I'll bet dollars to donuts the Big B will be pretty peeved.

Abraham Would be Proud

Christians/Jews in Iraq.