Monday, September 29, 2008

Wall Street Bailout Fails to Pass US House of Representative

WASHINGTON — The House on Monday defeated a $700 billion emergency rescue package, ignoring urgent pleas from President Bush and bipartisan congressional leaders to quickly bail out the staggering financial industry.

Stocks plummeted on Wall Street even before the 228-205 vote to reject the bill was announced on the House floor.

And the shock waves can be felt the world over......

In the US, the Dow Jones fell nearly 300 points in morning trade to 10,869 as the market took fright at several bank nationalisations in Europe and the US despite the approval of the "son of Tarp" — the Troubled Asset Relief Programme —bailout.

Central banks around the world unveiled a plan to pump massive amounts of cash into the global banking system in a concerted effort to boost market confidence and inject liquidity into the global markets.

European stocks tumbled the most in eight months, sending the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index to the lowest level since January 2005, after bank bailouts accelerated and the $700 billion plan to rescue American financial institutions failed to unlock money markets.

Anglo Irish Bank Corp. Plc, Dexia SA and Deutsche Postbank AG plunged more than 20 percent after the governments of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were forced to rescue Fortis and the U.K. seized Bradford & Bingley Plc. Hypo Real Estate Holding AG slid 74 percent as the German government and a group of private banks provided a 35 billion-euro ($50 billion) guarantee for the commercial-property lender.

Europe's Stoxx 600 fell 5.5 percent to 251.43, the steepest decline since Jan. 21. The gauge is down 31 percent this year as banks worldwide racked up more than $590 billion in credit losses and writedowns, pushing the global economy toward a recession.

``There's more pain to come,'' said Andy Lynch, who manages about $3 billion at Schroder Investment Management Ltd. in London. ``People knew the bailout was going to happen. Now it's back to the same-old, same-old of capital writedowns and weekend bailouts. Earnings estimates for next year still are too high.''

A Moral Schizophenic Voting Obama

Dear Revd Johnson,

The Lord found and saved me on April 30, 1988. That was the day I got born-again. He redeemed me from my sins that day and made a new creation according to 2 Corinthians 5:17. For the past 20 years I've strived to "live, move, and have my being, in Him." (Acts 17:28). Of course I've failed Him several times along the way, but each time I fail He's lifted me up and re-established me on the path of righteousness.

In my Christian journey I've found guidance, solace, comfort, and direction, in the Word of God, as contained in the Bible. I study, the scriptures, to show myself approved of God, a workman that needed not be ashamed, rightly dividing the world of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). The Word of God has given me answers to the meaning, and essence, of life. My life compass is guided by the Holy Scriptures. I've come to understand my responsibilities to God, myself, my family, my country, and the world at large, by studying His Word. I submit myself daily to God's authority on all issues, moral and spiritual.

God's Word is very clear, as written in Romans 1:16-32, on women lusting after other women, and men burning in lust toward other men. Just as He's clear about those who break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. God also makes it clear that we should, not despise the poor (James 2:6), remember the poor (2:10), and, make contribution to the poor (Roman 15:26). One of my favorite scriptures is 1 John 3:14-17, "if we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don't have eternal life within them. We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God's love be in that person?"

I've come to understand the importance of living by the "Full Gospel" of Jesus Christ. Every decision we make, as Believers in Christ, should be based on the full gospel; the totality of God's morality. Morality doesn't just stop at sexuality. It is much more than that. God's morality is also about poverty, sickness, disease, and even the environment. Each of which is equally important to the Almighty God.

To me as a child of God, I think voting for Senator John McCain and the Republican party is an evidence of a more severe moral schizophrenia and in direct opposition to God's truth as He has revealed it in the Scriptures. What John McCain stands for is completely against the morality that the Almighty God stands for.

When those who claim to have been called by God to be shepherds over His flock neglect their primary responsibilities there's bound to be confusion and chaos. The message of salvation cannot be effectively preached in such circumstances.

According to Acts 6:1-4 "And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word."

Your responsibility, in my opinion, as a Minister of the Gospel, is clear, as written in 1Timothey 2:1-4. "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

The arm of flesh always fails. A la G.W. Bush.

Best Regards,


The above letter was written based upon the following article on

33 Pastors Flout Tax Law With Political Sermons

By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 29, 2008; A02

CROWN POINT, Ind., Sept. 28 -- Defying a federal law that prohibits U.S. clergy from endorsing political candidates from the pulpit, an evangelical Christian minister told his congregation Sunday that voting for Sen Barack Obama would be evidence of "severe moral schizophrenia."

The Rev. Ron Johnson Jr. told worshipers that the Democratic presidential nominee's positions on abortion and gay partnerships exist "in direct opposition to God's truth as He has revealed it in the Scriptures." Johnson showed slides contrasting the candidates' views but stopped short of endorsing Obama's Republican opponent, Sen John McCain.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Liberals and Tolerance

By Lee Strang
Harvard Law Record
Posted on 04/24/2003

One of the defining characteristics of modern, mainstream liberalism is its emphasis on “tolerance.” One could accurately say that liberals are zealous for tolerance. This zeal manifests itself in intolerance of those persons or groups suspected by the liberal establishment of not adequately showing tolerance. Liberals righteously denounce those whom they perceive as insufficiently tolerant. One major target of liberal ire is orthodox Christians. Orthodox Christians are those who adhere to the traditional tenets of Christianity. 

When they dare to profess beliefs out of step with the liberals’ ideal of tolerance they are immediately branded as the modern equivalent of heretics: “bigoted,” “narrow-minded,” “offensive” and “hate-filled.” These Christian heretics are compared to Nazis or the Klan. While liberals are busy proclaiming the value of tolerance and open-mindedness regarding things such as political belief, sexual behavior and religious belief, they simultaneously attack any professions by orthodox Christians on these subjects.

This phenomena has occurred here at Harvard and throughout the nation. The liberal establishment in many colleges and universities across the nation decided that Christian student groups that require leaders to profess a belief in Jesus Christ as God are discriminatory. The list of schools trying to expel groups such as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is growing: Tufts University, University of North Carolina and most prominently in the news, Rutgers University. An associate dean here at Harvard recently joined in by stating that the Harvard Radcliffe Christian Fellowship was discriminatory because it asks its leaders to declare their belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The editors of the Harvard Crimson bemoaned the University’s eventual decision not to punish the Christian Fellowship for its heresy. The editors thought that Harvard “should have forced HRCF to change its constitution or lose College recognition.” Yes, even in the pages of The RECORD we can read liberals exercising their double standard. One recently stated, regarding The RECORD’s choice to print a Christian columnist: “I’m all for freedom of expression and opposing viewpoints, but . . . .” 

The common thread in all this is the refusal by orthodox Christians to buckle to the zeitgeist, and the liberal double standard regarding tolerance. These Christians refuse to be cowed by the name-calling. On the contrary, as InterVarsity’s student president stated regarding InterVarsity’s stand against Rutgers, “We felt it . . . would be a bold witness for Jesus.” This refusal to be silenced makes the orthodox Christians a grave threat to the liberal establishment. 

Liberals tout the value of tolerance but do not practice it. This leads one to recognize that what liberals want is not really a true tolerance but a new orthodoxy, one in which individual autonomy is given full sway to allow the individual to pursue an Epicurean lifestyle. This means giving full license to base passions, especially sexual desires. It also means that restrictions on abortion, divorce, pornography and other things that could hinder the individual's pursuit of pleasure are bad. 

Christians who oppose the new orthodoxy by proclaiming the truth threaten to undermine it. They stand up for the unborn, they explain that divorce undermines the family and that pornography degrades both women and men. Orthodox Christianity stands as a constant reminder to the new liberal orthodoxy of an alternative path. This path explains that true freedom is not found in the absolute license to the desires of one’s will. Instead, it is in the conformance of one’s self to reason and one’s end. It is by becoming virtuous and enabling our reason instead of our passions to guide our actions that one becomes free. The new liberal orthodoxy seeks freedom in the prison of one’s desires. Orthodox Christianity finds freedom in the release of reason through virtue. 

True tolerance resides in a recognition of the multiplicity of human goods and the corresponding diversity of paths to those goods. For instance, leisure, knowledge, life and religion are all goods that we can pursue in countless equally valid ways. Human beings become more fully human as they rationally pursue these goods. True tolerance also recognizes, however, that the disordered pursuit of one good to the exclusion of others, or the outright denial of the value of one of the goods, is harmful to human beings and prevents us from becoming happy. False tolerance, by contrast, denies that humans are harmed when an individual irrationally pursues the human goods, and it attacks those who believe so. That is why, for example, the liberal orthodoxy so vehemently protects the abortion license and attacks those who seek its repeal. 

Liberals advocate tolerance but employ a double standard when it comes to people such as orthodox Christians. Orthodox Christians advocate true freedom and tolerance, and their persecution by liberals betrays that what liberals really seek is unlimited license.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Homosexuals In a Lagos Church

By Hakeem Jamiu
Daily Independence

Finally, they made their debut in Nigeria. Not that homosexuality - sexual attraction to somebody of the same sex - is alien to Nigeria ; those who engage in it have been operating clandestinely. However, all these changed last week when homosexuals from all over West Africa gathered for a convention inside a church in Yakoyo area of Ojodu in a Lagos suburb. Not a few people were shocked about the boldness of the sexual perverts in announcing their arrival. Many people were curious to find out how the convention of men /women inside a church would look like. They were more eager to see how they would preach the gospel and how they would rationalize homosexuality and still be in agreement with the Bible. Attendance was strictly by invitation and security was tight but news hounds who managed to gain entrance into the church had a lot to report. The theme of their convention and preaching is "Would Jesus have discriminated?" For the avoidance of doubt, the Bible in Genesis 19:24 says "Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven." The Bible explains further that the cities were destroyed because of homosexuality. The Quran condemns it and the Nigerian constitution also forbids it. But the London- based convener of the homosexual convention who dressed like a woman was in a relaxed mood inside the church. He/She was also convinced that they have not broken any law by man or by God. Majority of those who participated were men who dressed like women, walked like women and giggled like women with their earrings, weaved hairs and make up. To prove to those in doubt that they have come to stay, the organisation under which they operate - The Rainbow Coalition - has been registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria.

The issue of homosexuality is so contentious to the extent that it has created a lot of disagreement between the Anglican Church in Britain and its counterpart in Nigeria . The Anglican Church of England had recognized homosexuality and this has pitched it against the Anglican Church of Nigeria which frowns at homosexuality as anti-Biblical. The scenario is unfolding in America where an Episcopalian church has ordained an active homosexual Gene Robinson a Bishop. Many observers are of the view that the conveners of the Lagos homosexuals' convention must have derived their boldness from happenings in London and America where homosexuality is fast gaining ground and legal recognition. In fact it is common these days for cities in America, Europe and Australia to celebrate same sex marriages. The argument of homosexuals against societal rejection is that they are not treated fairly by heterosexuals who are people sexually attracted to the opposite sex and who are considered as people of normal sex orientation. The homosexuals at the convention argued, among other things, that they have the right to choose their own sexual preferences and orientation as this is better than many heterosexuals who had been involved in relationships with the opposite sex but came out bruised and bitter. The convener argued further that''the two-day event tagged 'A Special Vigil Night of Gospel Praise' is a straightforward church programme which should not be misconstrued by anyone to be an unusual gathering as we are out to enlighten Nigerians that God sees your inside and welcomes you as you are and will not throw you away as people often do."

As a matter of common sense, if God thought those men could interchange for women and vice versa, He would not have created women in the first place. Also the two holy books would not have condemned homosexuality. The Quran not only forbids homosexuality but also forbids a Moslem man from marrying certain categories of women like one's mother, daughter, sister, blood sisters, and one's mother-in-law etc. I am also sure it is a taboo in the traditional setting for a man to sleep with another man so where did they get the basis for this awkward union? This leads us to another question: What is the attraction in a man dating and mating with another man or a woman dating and mating with another woman as is the case with lesbians? How do they enjoy sex? How do they feel? What do they feel? How do they relate like' husband and wife'? Is this a normal union? Talking about normality and abnormality, it has been discovered that such absurdities as homosexuality always found a safe berth in the realm of normality because they would always argue that what is normal to one individual may be abnormal to another as in the case of different strokes for different folks.

But there is a minimum generally acceptable standard for a normal behaviour and anything outside this is considered a deviant behaviour, so says Sigmund Freud founder of psychoanalysis and this is one of the guidelines that restore the sanity of society. If not for this line of distinction, those who engage in deviant behaviors like the homosexuals engage in sexual perversion would have labeled the rest of us as abnormal beings. I once engaged somebody in an argument over what constitutes an abnormal behaviour and he told me there is nothing like an abnormal behaviour especially in sexual matters. He cited an example of a friend of his whose only method of enjoying sexual satisfaction is to watch women laps while they pee! This guy would hide in a corner and peep at any woman answering the call of nature and he would ejaculate, what a man! He gave example of a girlfriend of his who would not enjoy sex except he beats her up first! He also gave examples of men who have sex with their daughters, kids, mothers, and mothers-in-law, fellow men and even animals and he said since they derive pleasure in doing so, their actions are perfectly normal! I was shocked and I came to the conclusion that God created so many human beings with different chemical and biological make up and this explains why there are various behavioral patterns in people. This is why a man could wake up and feels like killing his neighbors for no just cause other than the fact that he simply enjoys killing people! If not for the line of demarcation between normality and abnormality and the injunctions of the religions which forbids certain practices, the rest of us would have been wondering if we are the ones who are abnormal! Though the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 eliminated homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses and, in 1980, dropped it from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the fact still remains that homosexuality is a deviant behaviour.

We are yet to be convinced by the Anglican Church of England and America, which gave tacit approvals to homosexuality, the Biblical basis for their evil endorsement. Homosexuals are found in many professions, including the legal profession, and one wonders if they would see issues as the rest of the society. If they are Judges, would they not be biased and their judgment perverted as their minds? If they are teachers what would they teach the kids? If they are counselors what would they counsel others? If this evil union is allowed to fester in Nigeria, we may be inviting another form of dangerous cultism on campuses. Are animals not better than these people? Animals are not known to be homosexuals and I stand to be corrected. Homosexuality is simply sexual perversion which should be condemned and discouraged in our society by all rational minds. It is freedom, liberty and frustration carried too far! Other sexual perversions are lesbianism, transvestitism (somebody who dresses and behaves like the opposite sex) and bi-sexuality. Bi -sexuality is when somebody is practicing both heterosexuality and homosexuality.

It is sad that law enforcement agents looked the other way while this absurdity was going on despite the publicity that heralded the convention and despite the fact that what they were doing is against the laws of Nigeria. If this is allowed to fester, with the current myriads of problems of hunger and frustration, in no time, our unemployed male graduates would get 'married' to rich men who could provide for them and the number of unmarried women and men/women would swell and our society would become so mad, confused, perverted and absurd. May God help us!

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Base Instincts and God's Love

Seven years ago, I sat down on a curb near my home, sobbing, and asked God to help me.

I had just had surgery for throat cancer. I still had a trache in my throat. I had been told that if I didn't stop smoking and drinking immediately, I'd die. I desperately didn't want to die. I adored my wife and children.

But I knew I couldn't stop. I'd started smoking when I was twelve and drinking when I was 14. I was now 57 years old.

I cried and begged God to help me . . . and He did. I hadn't prayed since I was a boy. I had made fun of God and those who loved God in my writings. And now, through my sobs, I heard myself asking God to help me . . . and from the moment I asked, He did.

I didn't at first understand why He did. I didn't deserve His help, I thought. I was unworthy. I ignore Him for forty years and then suddenly I ask Him to help me and He does? It took me some time to understand that God helped me because He loves me. Because even though we don't deserve God's love, God loves us - all of us.

Not only did He give me the strength to be able to defeat my addictions, He saved my life. My throat surgeon, Dr. Marshall Strome, told me seven years after the surgery that I am "cured." Not that I am in remission, but that I am cured. That my throat tissue has regenerated so remarkably that even a doctor examining my throat wouldn't be able to tell that there was ever cancer there. Dr. Strome, who had removed about eighty percent of my larynx, called this "a miracle."

I call it that, too. Why did God save the life of a man who had trashed, lampooned, and marginalized Him most of his life? Why did He take the time and the trouble to save me? It certainly wasn't because I had written Basic Instinct and Showgirls, right? Was it because my wife and I had four little boys we were trying to raise? Possibly.

Or was it God's divinely impish sense of humor? "Who, you? You're praying? After
everything you've done to break my commandments and after every nasty, unfunny thing you've written about Me and those who follow Me - now you're sobbing? Praying? Asking Me to help you? Hah! Okay, fine, I'll help you. But if I do, know this: My help will obliterate the old, infamous you. You'll wind up turning your life inside-out. You'll wind up stopping all of your excesses. You know what will happen to you? You'll wind up telling the world what I did for you. You'll wind up carrying my cross in church. Yes, I make all things new - and you will be new, too."

Well, I thought I heard God saying all those things to me . . . and then all of the things God said would happen . . . did. My life has turned inside-out. I have stopped my excesses and replaced them with prayer and long walks. I am carrying the cross as often as they'll let me at Holy Angels Church in Bainbridge Township, Ohio. And I have written a book as a thank-you to God. Not just for saving my life, but for saving me.

I am witness to and the beneficiary of God's love for all of us. Am I am witness, too, to the fact that His love is so strong that it was even able to open my rusty old closed heart.

I will thank Him forever because He gave me new life and a heart which is truly able to love for the first time in my life. His love is mine.

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Joe Eszterhas is the author of a new memoir called "Crossbearer." He has written the screenplays for sixteen films, totaling over $1 billion in box office revenue. His blockbusters include Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge, Flashdance and Showgirls. A former senior editor at Rolling Stone, he is the author of five previous books - the second, "Charlie Simpson's Apocalypse," was nominated for the National Book Award.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Literalism and the Last Days

By Ben Witherington III
Beliefnet Columnist

I was riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway in 1968 with my friend Doug, when my dad's '55 Chevy blew a clutch, and we had to coast off the road into a Gulf station. The mechanic at the station was clueless about what to do. So Doug and I found it necessary to hitchhike back from the mountains of North Carolina to our hometown in the center of the state.
The people who picked us up were an elderly couple in an old Plymouth. As we got going and the conversation picked up, we discovered that the couple were both Christians; indeed, very conservative ones. My friend Doug mentioned the recent Apollo missions orbiting Earth, and it was at that juncture that the driver, the husband, said, "The world is not round."

This dumbfounded Doug. "Why do you think the world isn't round?" he asked. The answer the old man shot back was simple. He said, "Because it says in the last book of the Bible, 'The angels will stand on the four corners of the earth,' and if the world has four corners, it can't be round, can it?"

What was wrong with the old man's answer? It wasn't his faith in the Bible that was the problem, but his assumption that a piece of apocalyptic literature like Revelation was intended to teach us about the shape of the world. In other words, the man had made a fundamental mistake about the genre of that last piece of biblical literature.

The term "genre" means literary type or kind. It involves a sort of compact between an author and an audience in which it is understood that a certain kind of information will be conveyed and not other kinds of information. For example, it would be a genre mistake if one went to a dictionary to look up directions for how to travel from North Carolina to Mississippi. Or again, it would be a genre mistake if one went to a phone book to find the definition of a word. Different types of literature intend to convey different kinds of information. This is why it is so important that we treat the gospels as gospels, the epistles as letters, Acts as ancient history, and Revelation as apocalyptic literature. Each type of literature operates under different conventions.

Let us consider the most difficult of these literary types-- apocalyptic literature. Apocalyptic literature is one part prophecy and one part wisdom literature, a hybrid that began to appear on the scene during the period of Israel's exile in Babylon and thereafter (confer Ezekiel, Zechariah, Daniel). This literature involves the use of vivid images and hyperbolic descriptions to convey messages about the interaction of the human and the divine in human history. It is a highly metaphorical kind of speech, involving visions, oracular prophecy, elements of letters, and a variety of other things.

In a sense, apocalyptic literature is coded language that requires a decoder to understand it. It is indeed referring to real persons and events in human history, but it is doing so using metaphorical rather than literal descriptions. The author does not really believe there is a literal beast with several heads and multiple horns roaming the Mediterranean crescent. But he does believe the Roman Empire, with its hostility toward Christians, is like such a beast. Thus, when the author speaks of the angels standing on the four corners of the earth, he is speaking metaphorically to refer to the fact that God's messengers will be coming from all points of the compass.

When I was a child, one of the things I used to enjoy doing was picking up the doormat outside the front door of our house to see what was under it--usually, little bugs and spiders and other crawling things. In a sense, apocalyptic literature seeks to peel back the tapestry of history and show the underlying spiritual forces, both good and evil, at work in space and time.

Apocalyptic literature is also meant to comfort a persecuted minority religious group; while everything seems to be going wrong, God is nevertheless still in his heaven and in control, and all things will ultimately turn out well for those who love God and are called unto his purposes.

In sum, apocalyptic literature is visionary in character and deals with either the other world (that is, heaven and hell) or the future or, often, as in the case of Revelation, both. But the conceptual framework within which it treats such topics is metaphorical, using images to describe a transcendent reality. One would not know any of this unless a person had studied Revelation in the context of other early examples of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature.

At the end of the day, the problem with the elderly couple's worldview is not that they took the Bible seriously. It is that they tried to interpret figurative literature literally, and so violated the genre conventions or rules of interpretation that the inspired author took for granted when he wrote the work. Revelation does not intend to teach geography, but it certainly does intend to say important things about history, theology, and theological cosmology.

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