Aug 21, 2016

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These Father-Daughter Christian Purity Ball Photos Are Really Creepy

by Tiffany Willis

As a Christian mother, I’ll admit that I’m a bit baffled by the ritualistic ceremony called “The Purity Ball.” Why are young girls having a ritual to get their fathers involved with celebrating their virginity and proclaiming himself her “boyfriend” of sorts until she marries? I don’t like it, OK? It’s just….weird. And unnecessary.

From the book Purity by David Magnusson:

“A Purity Ball is a formal event where girls or young women and their fathers participate in a ceremony. The daughters dress up in ball gowns and the evening usually consists of dinner, a keynote speech, ballroom dancing, and a vow by fathers and daughters. The girls make a pledge to remain pure and live pure lives before God, to stay sexually abstinent until marriage. Their fathers sign a commitment undertaking to protect their daughter’s purity.

The father or mentor pledges to shield and protect his daughter; to live a pure life himself as a man, husband and father; and to be a man of integrity and responsibility, acting as a role model for his family.” (via iacknowledge)

The dad actually signs a contract like the one pictured below, with his daughter as the witness.

This isn’t just about sex. These girls are vowing to not hold hands, kiss, or even date any man other than their father until their wedding day. Come on. How realistic is this? Wouldn’t it be easier to just have them undergo female circumcision? Isn’t that the next step?

This is about one thing and one thing only: men controlling women and guaranteeing (they think) their oppression and their submission.

I think it’s creepy — yes, creepy — for a father to be so obsessed with his daughter’s virginity that he would write a book about it. My daughter would be appalled. And I’d have been appalled had I been subjected to it. These are just not topics I ever would have wanted to discuss with my dad.

Why isn’t there a ceremony like this for boys to entrust their virginity to their mothers? Now THAT creeps everyone out, doesn’t it? Anyone care to wager a guess as to why this little ceremony is non-existent?

Patheos writer Libby Anne states it wonderfully.

Why not teach girls other ways to be validated? Why not teach girls to value their skills and abilities and dreams, rather than to equate their worth with their bodies or beauty? Why not teach girls that they are internally valuable, and that what males around them think of them is completely irrelevant to that?

Instead, the father / daughter purity culture feeds the idea that girls are only valuable inasmuch as they are valued in the eyes of the men around them, be that their boyfriends or their fathers. It teaches girls that their value lies in their bodies and in their relationship to men. It tells girls that it is healthy to pin your source of validation to male affirmation, but that that affirmation should come from their fathers rather than from boyfriends.

While I was writing this article, my daughter was at her Monday night Bible study group with her friends. I called and asked her to put me on speaker phone. I asked them what they thought of the purity ball concept. Their reaction is the same as mine — it’s weird, unrealistic, and creepy. My daughter had a good point. She instantly rejected the idea because it would leave out a lot of the young girls who have already been deemed “impure” in the eyes of sexist men. This isn’t relevant, but my daughter is an 18-year-old virgin — by choice. She is in control of her sexuality. Not some random guy, not me, and certainly not her dad.

After I ended the call my 13-year-old son came into my office and offered his opinion:

“Everyone should have the right to do what they want with their bodies without everyone making them feel guilty and like they’re dirty or something. I’m not saying everyone should be out having sex all the time, but it’s not the business of everyone else, either. Misogynistic.”

So there you have it, folks.

-Liberal America

I’m Saying Goodbye to White Jesus

by John Pavlovitz

Growing-up I had an image of Jesus; I’m talking about a literal picture that graced our family room, my Catholic school hallways, and the homes of most of the Christians I knew.

With angular features, blue eyes, and flowing golden hair, this Jesus was attractive, dignified—and decidedly white.

And it was this depiction of Christ that quietly shaped my faith and my understanding of the world in ways I’m only now just beginning to understand and slowly learning to jettison. This is the subtle racism so many white Christians are born into and the one that runs silently in the background of our spiritual operating systems.

Often we’re completely unaware of it, but when the Jesus you see in your head looks like you it’s almost impossible not to view yourself and others with a distorted lens; one where you are more in the image of God than another, more possessing of dignity, more deserving of respect, more worthy of love.

While I would never have taken ownership of any overt bigotry as a young man, (and certainly would have violently rejected the label of racist), looking back I’ve been able to see how my whitewashed portrait of Jesus told me a false story about God and about people of color. It made me more fearful and less compassionate.

I’m beginning to realize the invisible barrier it has often been to me more clearly seeing and being moved by the inequality around me. Sure, I’d say that God so loved the world and could recite that Jesus died for all people, but subconsciously believing that I was what God looked like insulated me from the suffering outside my window when it proved too frightening or inconvenient.

And the saddest thing is how many people there are like me, who should know better. In these days of such pain and division and grieving, the silence of so much of the white Christian Church here has been conspicuous and damning, especially from limelight-chasing Evangelical pastors and preachers who always seem burdened to comment on every real and manufactured tragedy. They’re normally never at a loss for words.

Now… nothing.

And the defiant refusal of so many white Christians I know to even utter the phrase “Black Lives Matter” or to recognize the disparity of experience across color lines or to name the violence against black men by police, even armed with crystal clear video evidence, tells me that they still unknowingly worship and serve a very White Jesus and still probably see God as ultimately in their image.

And this is rendering too much of the white American Church a quiet, complicit spectator right now, when it should be fully engaged on the front lines of the messy work of peace and justice. It should be confronting its own. It should be facing itself.

I’ve never believed in the flimsy narrative of our country as a “Christian nation”, but from its very inception power and privilege have been in the hands of religious people with a white Christ. These folks have written the story of faith and race in this country—and it isn’t pretty. It needs to be rewritten in realtime right now and this is the critical work to which we are called, and the work I want to be part of.

The more I seek to be a pastor to all people and the more I try to fully reflect the character of Jesus, the more I’m convinced that I have to reject and discard this image of a Caucasian Christ, not because I’m ashamed of my whiteness but because I don’t want to make an idol of it.

America is here in this place of violence and acrimony and disconnect, largely because white people of faith have failed to accurately recognize and fight for the God in their brothers and sisters of color, and it’s a flat-out sin worthy of our full repentance. We cannot be silent in these days or we will be proving our allegiance is not to God but to our own likeness and self-preservation.

I spent this past weekend in Atlanta, and as I walked a busy and diverse Midtown neighborhood with helicopters hovering overhead from BLM protests across town, I tried to notice each individual person as they passed by—to really see them. As I did I imagined that the particular pigment in their skin was the very color of Christ; looking intently to see the Divinity specifically revealed in them.

It made the ordinary ground all around me more holy and it gave me a reverence for people that I haven’t been aware of before. Yet with these revelations I grieved the billions of times I chose not to see this way, all the times I overlooked Jesus in my midst, all the ways I unknowingly saw or treated other people as less-than because of the color of their skin.

Church, until we can clearly picture the God reflected in all of humanity equally, we will continue to purposefully or unintentionally devalue those who look or talk or believe differently than we do. We will continue to tolerate or nurture the very racism that still so afflicts our nation.

I am determined to living the rest of my life as a Christian humbled by the presence of Christ in those around me. As a white Christian who wants to be part of a more redemptive season in America’s history, I’m saying goodbye to White Jesus so that I can fully find him in the eyes of all my neighbors.

His black life matters.

-John Pavlovitz

Winning Is A Habit (Vince Lombardi)

An Anecdote About One Of The World’s Most Interesting Characters

Author Unknown

When Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi was a law student at the University College in London, one of his British professors surnamed Peters intensely disliked the Indian student and always displayed animosity and prejudice towards Gandhi.

Also, because Gandhi never lowered his head when addressing the professor as the Brit expected, there were frequent arguments and confrontations between them.

One day, while Mr. Peters was having lunch at the University dining hall, Gandhi came along with his tray of food and sat next to the professor.

The professor then said: "Mr. Gandhi, you may not understand, but a bird and a pig do not sit together to eat."
Gandhi looked at the professor as a parent would a rude child and calmly replied: "Do not worry, Professor, I'll fly away." And Ghandi went and sat in another table.

Mr. Peters, red with rage, decided to take revenge on Gandhi on the next test. But Gandhi answered all the test questions not only perfectly but also brilliantly.

Mr. Peters, unhappy and frustrated, then asked the following question: "Mr. Gandhi, if you were walking down the street and found a package and within was a bag of wisdom and another bag with a lot of money, which one would you take?"

Without hesitation, Gandhi responded, "The one with the money, of course."

Mr. Peters, smiling sarcastically said: "I, in your place, would have taken the bag of wisdom."

Gandhi shrugged indifferently and responded: "Each one takes what he doesn't have."

By this time, Mr. Peters was fit to be tied. So great was his anger that he wrote on Gandhi's examination paper the word "idiot" and handed it to Gandhi.

Gandhi took the test sheet and sat down at his desk, trying very hard to remain calm while he contemplated his next move.

A few minutes later, Gandhi got up from his seat, went to the professor, and told him in a dignified polite tone with a hint of sarcasm: "Mr. Peters, you autographed my test sheet but you did not give me the grade." -Contributed by Ralph

Bill Nye Visited A Noah’s Ark

Bill Nye the Science Guy doesn’t believe that a gargantuan wooden boat filled with pairs of wild animals once floated across a flood that covered the entire earth. So last week, he went to visit the people who do – and the boat they built to prove it.

Nye was the first high-profile visitor to Ark Encounter, the Noah’s Ark museum that opened Thursday in Williamstown, Ky. The $100 million project was built by Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry that believes the Bible’s story of Noah is a literal fact. For $40, visitors can step into a 510-foot-long ship filled with exhibits on Noah (the ministry says he lived to be 950 years old), his animals (about 7,000 on board) and the year-long flood (which ended with a rainbow).

This replica Noah’s Ark is known to some as Ken’s Ark; the man behind it is Ken Ham, the Christian fundamentalist who operates the Creation Museum just outside of Cincinnati. Ham believes the earth is just a few thousand years old. His museum and ark are meant to convince others to believe the same. That mission was not achieved when Nye, clad in his usual bow tie and accompanied by a crew working on a documentary about him, made his trip to the ark.

“I wanted to see how successful this thing is, or could be, and I wanted to see how children are reacting to it,” Nye said Sunday.

His takeaway? The kids are being “brainwashed.”

“This could be just a charming piece of Americana, just something — I recently used an app called Roadtrippers that takes you to odd or unusual places…but this is much more serious than that,” Nye said. “This guy promotes so very strongly that climate change is not a serious problem, that humans are not causing it, that some deity will see to it that everything is ok.”

Ham wrote on Facebook about the visit: “Bill challenged me about the content of many of our exhibits, and I challenged him about what he claimed and what he believed. It was a clash of world views.”

Nye has been a respected authority on science since the early ’90s, when his children’s television show “Bill Nye The Science Guy” became a cultural fixture. It ended in 1998, but Nye remained in the public eye to promote science education, and more recently, the existence of climate change. He has described his religious views as agnostic.

“At one point I asked Bill: what would happen to you when you die?” Ham wrote. “He said when you die ‘you’re done.'”

Ken Ham inside his ark. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg)

Nye and Ham have clashed before – and it might have been that very clash that made it possible for the Ark Encounter to be built. In 2014, Nye agreed to participate in a public debate with Ham at the Creation Museum. He later said he thought the event wouldn’t receive much more attention than his typical visits to college campuses. But in the age of live-streaming, there was something about a beloved figure like Nye going head-to-head with a perspective so loathed by scientists. Ticket sold out in minutes and millions of people tuned in to watch.

“I held strongly to the view that it was an opportunity to expose the well-intending Ken Ham and the support he receives from his followers as being bad for Kentucky, bad for science education, bad for the U.S., and thereby bad for humankind,” Nye wrote about the experience.

At the time, Ham had already hatched his plan to build a Noah’s Ark replica. But it seemed doomed. He was trying to raise the money through bonds, and reports indicated he was far from his goal. Like a crowdfunding website, if the remaining bonds weren’t bought up by the deadline, the funds would be lost.

Bloomberg and the Louisville Courier-Journal reported that deadline was Feb. 6, 2014. The Nye-Ham debate took place Feb. 4.

Even if Ham didn’t “win” the debate, his face and viewpoint were in the news. A few weeks later, Answers in Genesis announced they had pulled together the funds to build the Ark Encounter.

The ministry has repeatedly denied that the debate was a staged money-grab. Co-founder Mark Looy assured Nye that the bonds were spoken for before the debate. In a press release, Ham stated the debate “prompted some people who had registered for the bonds to make sure they followed through with submitting the necessary and sometimes complicated paperwork.”

“God in His providence supplied our needs,” Ham wrote.

Nye said he would feel responsible for the Ark’s funding, were it not for a lawsuit filed by Answers in Genesis against Kentucky’s former governor and tourism secretary, who denied Answers in Genesis a tourism tax break from the state worth up to $18 million because of its religious affiliation. In January, a federal judge ruled in the ministry’s favor. He also upheld its right to only hire people who adhere to certain religious beliefs.

“The [new] governor, the tourism cabinet he appointed and this federal judge are all like minded,” Nye said. “They believe in this project. They would come up with something to make it go through.”

“In contrast,” he continued, “Ask any Kentucky voter or taxpayer if he or she thinks this would have happened if it had been a mosque or an Islamic facility.”

As he toured the ark, Nye spoke to groups of children to tell them that the age of the earth “has nothing to do with religion.” He took selfies with many of them, and couldn’t help noticing how unfinished the museum looked to him. (“I guess they’re using the same cranes Noah used. The same brand,” he cracked.) He said he hopes that the project goes bankrupt and closes before it is completed.

Meanwhile, Ham took to Facebook to assure his followers that he had the chance to share the Gospel with the celebrity scientist. –WP

5 Signs That Our Emotions No Longer Control Us

by Phillip J. Watt

We’ve all suffered emotionally throughout our lives. Similarly, we’ve all experienced trauma, regardless to what degree it personally manifested. When we’re born, we’re forced through environmental conditioning, which will always have both its positives and negatives. Our greatest influences are generally our parents, followed by our peers. This ‘programming’ is also deeply embedded in the societal and cultural paradigms of our time.

Yet, once we become an adult, each and every one of us has the ability to alleviate our own suffering by redesigning our mind into a more functional and healthy state of existence.

When we enter into our early teens, we begin to question who we are and the world around us with greater veracity. If our energy, or inner fire, strongly conflicts with how we’ve been ‘taught’, then we rebel heavily. In contrast, if we’ve been given respectful discipline and realistic information from our parents, as well as a really good opportunity to independently explore and create how we think and behave, then we’re less likely to engage the world in contempt. That’s because we’re much freer than others who have been forced into their box.

And that’s the reality for most young teens, even in this age of information. Unfortunately, many parents haven’t been taught some of the knowledge and skills required for healing and growing their own energy, so it goes without saying that if they can’t look after themselves properly, then we can’t expect them to look after their children properly. Truth be told, we can only work with what we’ve got.

That doesn’t mean, however, that parents and society in general haven’t taught children some really good beliefs and values in life. They’re the positives. Yet, the negative aspects that we harbour as we grow into adulthood, such as poor emotional regulation, are our own responsibility to rewire neurologically and redesign conceptually. Simply, it’s up to us to question and understand everything that we’ve become so we can determine what’s worth keeping and what’s worth shedding.

After all, once we’re an adult, we choose who we want to be.

5 Signs That Our Emotions No Longer Control Us

What follows are five lessons which show that we’ve freed ourselves of being primarily controlled by our emotions. These characteristics are recommended as they can potentially facilitate an ongoing sense of inner peace being experienced in our lives, which of course should be one of the primary priorities of all of us.

    1. We understand the difference between our emotions and our feelings

Everybody has the same emotions, yet we all have different feelings. These two human states are distinct not only because they are processed in different areas of the brain, but because emotions are primarily physical, whilst feelings are mostly mental constructs.

Our feelings are a mixture of our emotions, beliefs, philosophies, thoughts and memories. All these aspects come together to not just influence the emotions that we have, but also determine how we ‘feel’ about what is going on in our world. Therefore, understanding the difference between our emotions and feelings is critical to contextualising our emotions into the bigger pictures of our lives.

    2. Instead of holding onto challenging emotions, we let them go

Emotions like fear and anger can be harmful if we carry them around with us. They are certainly helpful in specific situations to ensure our survival, however, those circumstances are few and far between. Why is it then that our normal waking experience is usually one that can be chosen to be enjoyed, but ongoing ‘feelings’ of stress, rage and other suffering continues to plague the daily lives of so many? One reason is that they haven’t learned to let shit go.

We need to manage emotions like fear and anger so they no longer control our feelings and behaviours. It’s a process though. First, we should embrace them as a part of our human experience. Then, we should understand them, as well as contextualise them into our beliefs and philosophies to utilise for our learning and growth. After we have taken the positive out of challenging emotional experiences, that’s when we can let them go, especially so we don’t encourage negative consequences to manifest.

    3. Instead of reacting to our experience, we respond to it

Giving ourselves that little space to process what we’re going through allows us the time to ‘consciously’ incorporate our emotions into our philosophies on life. We have challenging experiences that bring up potent emotions all the time, yet responding instead of reacting to those experiences is self-empowering because then we’re more likely to treat ourselves with healthy and positive energy instead of getting sucked into unhealthy states of stress and pain.

For example, when somebody does something to us that is rude, do we instantly react with anger or do we allow that emotion to drift into our belief system so that we respond in a compassionate and self-caring way? After all, if they’re behaving rudely, we know they’re already suffering, so do we really want to react in a way that will also cause us to suffer too? Not if we don’t want our emotions to control us, we won’t.

    4. We are overcoming our depression and anxiety

Professional and self-administered psychotherapy, in conjunction with good health, is what cures depression and anxiety, not pharmaceutical drugs. The success rate of these drugs facilitating a recovery, by providing a more balanced chemical production in the body, is evidently low; however, in some cases it does assist a person to undertake the psychotherapy they need to overcome their mental illness. Nevertheless, it’s rearranging the subconscious and conscious mind over a good commitment of time, though practices such as meditation, which truly deals with these problems effectively.

These two ‘diagnoses’ are not primarily emotional states, they’re ‘feelings’. In general, sadness is the base emotion to depression and fear is the base emotion to anxiety, so it’s these emotions that we need to functionally process so that they no longer drive our primary feelings about life. Our thoughts and beliefs play an integral role in these harmful mental states, so that’s what we need to change to release the grip of those core emotions and permanently overcome depression and anxiety.

Note: This is not intended to replace medical advice, if you have significant mental health challenges please engage with professional and community supports.

      5. We treat all people with love, respect and compassion

It takes an emotionally empowered person to respond to poorly behaved people with love, respect and compassion. That’s not saying that we should take shit off other people either; we can still be direct and assertive, as well as being kind at the same time. If we don’t let our emotions control us, then a loving, respectful and compassionate state of the mind and heart flows through our engagement and communication with people, no matter how dysfunctional their actions.

That’s because we don’t let emotions like fear and anger control our response, such as reacting to rage with rage, to stress with stress, or to indecency to indecency. As previously stated, our feelings about life, which include our thoughts, beliefs, philosophies and memories, need to be empowered so that we don’t allow our emotions to take full control of us when we’re faced with difficult people or challenging experiences. –Wake Up World

Senior Citizen Humor

Author Unknown

One morning, an Army general walked into the post headquarters unaware that he had not only forgotten to zip up his fly but he also had no underwear. A sergeant who noticed it, in order to not public embarrass the man, very cleverly said: "Sir, when I passed your house this morning, I noticed that you forgot to close your garage door."

After zipping up, the old general asked, "Really? By the way, Sergeant, did you see my Jaguar parked in the garage?"

The sergeant replied, "No, Sir. All I saw was your old Fiat with two flat tires!"

-Contributed by Ralph

Carrie Underwood & Michael W. Smith - "All Is Well"

Dominionism Is The New Religious Freedom

by Frederick Clarkson

Historians may someday see the 2016 election season as the turning point in how our society understands the Dominionist movement that is seeking to recast society in its own image.  The herald of this new understanding is—ironically, as I will discuss below—a Washington Post commentary by historian John Fea, titled:  “Ted Cruz’s campaign is fueled by a dominionist vision for America.”  The Post’s publication of Fea’s piece follows years of both scholarly and journalistic tip-toeing around this elephant on the table of American public life – a dynamic modern theocratic religious and political movement that prior conventional wisdom notwithstanding is not fringe.

Fea, who chairs the History Department at the evangelical Messiah College in Pennsylvania, matter of factly discusses the influence of “seven mountains dominionism” on Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) – who may be the most openly theocratic candidate ever to be a serious contender for a major party presidential nomination.  Perhaps just as remarkably, the Dominionism advocated by the likes of the Cruz family is wrapped in a claim that religious freedom is under assault in the U.S.

As I reported in the recent report, When Exemption is the Rule: The Religious Freedom Strategy of the Christian Right:

    “I believe that 2016 is going to be a religious-liberty election,” Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) declared before a raucous crowd of some 7,000 Southern Baptists in October 2015.  “As these threats grow darker and darker and darker, they are waking people up here in Texas and all across this country.”

Unsurprisingly, Cruz features this claim at many of his presidential campaign rallies. This is the new normal.

But of course, Cruz’s notion of religious freedom is all about creating religious exemptions to the legal requirements to recognize the civic equality of LGBTQ people, and the rights of people seeking their sexual and reproductive health care, as well as the rights of people – including many Christians – whose religious views are different than those of the Cruzes and their ilk.

The term “Dominionism” was first popularized in the 1990s by researchers, including Chip Berlet, scholar Sara Diamond, and myself, who needed a term to describe the political aspirations of Christian Rightists who believed that they have a biblical mandate to control all earthly institutions –including government – until the second coming of Jesus. But the idea of conservative Christians gaining political power sufficient to take dominion over society predated our use of the term by decades.

The two main schools of Dominionist thought include Christian Reconstructionism, founded by the late R.J. Rushdoony, which advances the idea not only of the need for Christians (of the right sort) to dominate society, but institute and apply Old Testament “Biblical Law.”

The other, closely related form of Dominionism is advocated by the Pentecostal  New Apostolic Reformation, which exuberantly advocates for Christians to “reclaim the seven mountains of culture”: government, religion, media, family, business, education, and arts and entertainment.

The religious vision and political aspirations of Ted Cruz and his father Rafael are widely known in conservative Christian religious and political circles and are being discussed in his home state of Texas.  So much so, that reporter Jonathan Tilove of the Austin American Statesman wrote last summer about how Raphael Cruz was compelled to insist, “We are not talking about theocracy.”  But Fea reports that the Cruzes are close to Christian Nationalist author, historical revisionist and longtime Texas Republican leader David Barton, who declares that the United States was founded as a Christian Nation but has fallen away from this foundation and must be restored to avoid punishment from God.

Fea writes:

    “Anyone who has watched Cruz on the stump knows that he often references the important role that his father, traveling evangelist Rafael Cruz, has played in his life. During a 2012 sermon at New Beginnings Church in Bedford, Texas, Rafael Cruz described his son’s political campaign as a direct fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

    The elder Cruz told the congregation that God would anoint Christian “kings” to preside over an “end-time transfer of wealth” from the wicked to the righteous. After this sermon, Larry Huch, the pastor of New Beginnings, claimed Cruz’s recent election to the U.S. Senate was a sign that he was one of these kings.

    According to his father and Huch, Ted Cruz is anointed by God to help Christians in their effort to “go to the marketplace and occupy the land … and take dominion” over it. This “end-time transfer of wealth” will relieve Christians of all financial woes, allowing true believers to ascend to a position of political and cultural power in which they can build a Christian civilization. When this Christian nation is in place (or back in place), Jesus will return.

    Rafael Cruz and Larry Huch preach a brand of evangelical theology called Seven Mountains Dominionism. They believe Christians must take dominion over seven aspects of culture: family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business and government. The name of the movement comes from Isaiah 2:2: “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains.”

Fea also notes that Barton, who runs the Keep the Promise Super PAC that supports Cruz’s campaign, shares this vision:

“Barton’s Christian nationalism is a product of this theological approach to culture. Back in 2011, Barton said that if Christians were going to successfully “take the culture” they would need to control these seven areas. “If you can have those seven areas,” Barton told his listeners to his radio show, “you can shape and control whatever takes place in nations, continents and even the world.”

This is remarkable, in part, because a few years ago, journalists and scholars who wrote about Dominionism found themselves facing a smear campaign by, among others, writers at the same paper in which Fea’s commentary appears. Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson and then-religion writer Lisa Miller were part of this national effort to discredit the idea that Dominionism was a real thing or that even if it was, that it was of much significance. This despite the fact that then-Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) had made his de facto presidential campaign announcement at a massive prayer rally organized by leaders of the movement for Seven Mountains Dominionism, and that then presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachman’s (R-MN) mentor at law school was John Eidsmoe, a prominent Christian Reconstructionist theorist, (who now works at the Foundation for Moral Law, founded by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.)   Perry’s campaign later imploded, (for reasons other than the Dominionism controversy) and Bachman’s campaign never gained traction, but the episode certainly prefigured current events.

Now, some four years later, former Gov. Perry has endorsed Ted Cruz for president. Cruz has won the Iowa caucuses, and The Washington Post has published a major article about the Seven Mountains Dominionism of Sen. Cruz and his father.  A great transformation in American politics and religion, once pooh poohed by established interests (which also denounced those of us who recognized and wrote about its importance) is now accepted as uncontroverted fact.  And the attack dogs of the various political establishments are not yet snarling. –Political Research

A Tree Of Life

“She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.” (Proverbs 3:18)
The tree of life in the Garden of Eden was a literal tree, whose marvelous fruit apparently had the medicinal ability to retard the aging process indefinitely, even for men and women under God’s curse (Genesis 3:22-24). This amazing tree will be planted again along the streets and rivers of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:2-3).

The writer of Proverbs used this tree and its health-giving qualities as a symbol of four attributes of a God-centered, spiritual life which can bring blessing to all those touched by it. First of all, true wisdom is like a tree of life, imparting true happiness to all those partaking of it, then guarding it.

Next, “the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). A life exhibiting genuine righteousness, like one manifesting genuine wisdom, yields wholesome spiritual fruit to those in real contact with it.

The third figure is given in Proverbs 13:12. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” There is nothing more rejuvenating to the spirit than for a dream suddenly to come true after long-continued hope has almost gone. An abiding, confident, always-continuing life of hope is a tree of life.

Finally, “a wholesome tongue is a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:4). “Wholesome” here means “healing.” One can become a veritable tree of life by using his God-given privilege of speech not to complain or criticize; not in vulgarity or foolishness, but to help, encourage, instruct, and comfort.

May God help each of us to be a spiritual tree of life by attaining and demonstrating true wisdom, by living in genuine righteousness, by always maintaining an attitude of confident hope, and by speaking only words of edification that “minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). HMM

Jul 24, 2016

Franklin Graham Declares Christians Need To Start Dying To Fight Transgender Equality

by Andrew Bradford

Granted, we all know that Franklin Graham is a right-wing nutjob lugnut who will pretty much say anything in an effort to get attention and so he can make his endless appeals for money from gullible souls who think his perverted version of Christianity is what God wants them to believe. But this time, the guy has completely jumped the shark.

Graham is now calling for Christians to die for the cause of fighting transgender equality in America. Yes, you read that right: This lunatic says people should be willing to lay down their lives for a cause that is doomed to fail.

On Facebook, Graham posted a long message which says in part:

“What would you take a bullet for? What are the principles and beliefs that you would not compromise under any circumstances? Even if it meant putting your life on the line?

“King Nebuchadnezzar who reigned over Babylon issued a decree that everyone worship the golden image he had made. Three men who knew the one true and living God, refused to worship the king’s idol—their names were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The king told them, ‘But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.'”

But this jerkweed was just getting warmed up, and he also wrote:

“I want to call on every Christian and every pastor to stand firm like these patriarchs of old and not bow to the secular, increasingly godless culture in which we live—even when (not if) we’re criticized, mocked, and labeled intolerant. The God of the Old Testament that delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from their fiery execution is the same God today—and He is still more than able to save. Will you stand against ungodliness? What are you willing to take a bullet for?”

What are you willing to die for? This is Graham’s question. Sounds oddly like what terrorists are asked before they are sent on a suicide mission. And yet Graham condemns such practices as barbaric. He condemns that, but then wants his brainwashed followers to follow his words to their graves.

I’m not sure there’s a hell hot enough for a scumbag like Franklin Graham. –Liberal America

Pat Robertson: “Orlando Shooting Is God’s Punishment For SCOTUS’ Same-Sex Marriage Ruling”

by Lea Vat Kens

Authorities in Florida said at a news conference Sunday morning that “as many as 20 people died” in a shooting at an Orlando nightclub. The gunman was killed. Orlando Police Chief John Mina said at least 42 people have been transported to area hospitals. Mina said officers were called to Pulse Orlando, a popular gay nightclub, at around 2 a.m. after reports of a shooting. He said officers engaged in a gun battle outside the club before the suspect went back into the building where more shots were fired. He said the gunman then took several hostages.

Pat Robertson, conservative televangelist who is no stranger to anti-gay remarks, was among the first to comment on the incident. Spotted at the scene of the event, Robertson made several interviews to reporters who were covering the story. Among other things, The 700 Club host told reporters he flew in via private jet from his home in Virginia immediately after hearing about what he referred to as “a justified terrorist attack.”

Several eyewitnesses claim Robertson was wearing slippers and a bathrobe while being interviewed, as well as that “he was difficult to recognize without makeup.” One eyewitness even stated, “If it wasn’t for the name on his golden bathrobe, I would have thought I was seeing a mummy giving out statements.”

“I don’t even need to tell you what all of this means,” Robertson said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “This is how God is punishing us for the shameful SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage, a catastrophic piece of legislature that I have so vigorously attempted to shoot down. I kept repeating it during every single episode of The 700 Club, but nobody wanted to believe poor, old Pat. Everybody thought me for a fool. Well, I hope this is a step in the right direction. I hope people will finally start to see the light after this,” a very distressed Robertson is credited as saying.

The televangelist added that “at least no or very few normal people were killed.” He also said, “When something like this happens, and I believe this was the first of many attacks, you start to realize how much real Americans care about their country and its future. Because, if you ask me, I totally get the guy who did this. I’m not defending him or anything, but I understand what drove him to such an act. This establishment was a lair of fornication and blasphemy, and if I’m honest, I think it’s a good thing it all happened here.”

“The fact that I’m here at the scene and that none of the Supreme Court Justices bothered to show up is proof enough of how little they care about what happens to the citizens of this country,” Robertson argued. “And that is why God will punish them for legitimizing sodomy, and reward me and others like me for condemning it. It has already started, tonight is proof enough of that. What other evidence do we need? God is angry and we are suffering the consequences. Well, some of us, at least.”

“Not only do I oppose the disease of homosexualism, I also eat healthy, drink protein shakes and workout every day, despite of my age. I can lift 1,000 pounds, for crying out lout. And above all else – I love women. And that is why God saw fit to allow me to have my own TV show, my own private jet, my own little empire. Because I believe in Him and because I live by His code. And to those who choose the dark path, God will continue to send once-normal people who have had enough, like he has done tonight. But it is not too late yet. Repent and change your evil ways, and He will forgive you,” Robertson urged yet again.

“Call it whatever you want, but what this man did tonight is justified, by all accounts and criteria upheld by normal people. And you can pretend that’s not the case, but, then you’ll be lying to yourself. And that’s a bad thing in the long run. Don’t end up like these homosexuals tonight. Change and you will survive,” he concluded. –Politicalo