Saturday, November 03, 2007
FROM THE EMAILBOX
Spirit & Life®
"The words I spoke to you are spirit and life." (Jn 6:63)
Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 01, Number 91 | Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Halloween and Harry Potter
Many have asked me my opinion about Harry Potter. There is, among good Catholics, a general unease about the series, but the sense of disquiet is very, very difficult to define. I am at a bit of a disadvantage to comment on any particulars of the books since I have not read any of them or seen the movies, nor do I intend to - I have an aversion to adolescent fads and not enough time to spend on questionable materials when there is so much excellent fare for the soul out there. I do, however, feel it is important to offer some guidance on this issue from a third person point of view because some things can be observed about the books without having read them.
First and foremost, all adolescent obsessions have the capacity to steep the vulnerable souls of these kids in imagery and language that strikes deeper than the sermons they may (or may not) hear on Sunday. Some people give Harry an unqualified "wonderful" rating too quickly because J.K Rowling apparently is a very good writer, but the devotees of a sweeping force like this series tend to pass off the propaganda aspect of these books as harmless because they see it as "innocent" fantasy, and, in my opinion, this is dangerous. 4100 pages of word images about magic and the occult are not harmless, even if they fit the literary genre of "fantasy." Tolkein's Lord of the Rings Trilogy amounts to 1216 pages of beautiful imagery, but relatively few of the pages are about magic, let alone imbued with magic. Indeed, Tolkein's trilogy is a self-consciously mythical representation of reality in the light of the Christian faith, something Rowling can't claim. I find the "fantasy" comparisons of Tolkein and Harry Potter to be deeply flawed.
Fundamentally, Harry Potter indoctrinates young souls in the language and mechanics of the occult. The fact that the fake curses and hexes are not able to be reproduced because the "ingredients" are pure fantasy is beside the point. Curses are not pure fantasy. The fact that "curse" as such, and other elements of witchcraft, are presented in a glorified state throughout the Harry Potter series means that our kids' minds are being introduced to and imbued with occult imagery.
Is indoctrination too strong a term? How about socialization? Should it not concern parents that Rowling only now, ten years after the introduction of the character Dumbledore, admitted that she intended this character to be "gay"? For goodness sake, this character is a father figure and a mentor in the books, and he falls in love with his evil arch-enemy! Rowling has said that her books were a "prolonged argument for tolerance" (Time, 10/20/07). Okay, so no indoctrination going on there, right?
The second dilemma for every Christian parent should be the perennial Halloween fest of negative imagination that these books generate. If Harry Potter is innocent fun, its literary spawn certainly are not. One trip to the Harry Potter section of a Borders bookstore (way before Halloween) gave me pause. Surrounding the Harry Potter rack in the children's section of the store and in the front display were other titles that should raise the hair on the back of any parent's neck. I recount just a few titles here: Dark Possession, The Wheel of Darkness, The Care and Feeding of Spirites [sic], The Night of the Soul Stealer, The Thief Queen's Daughter, Blade of Fire, Secrets of Dripping Fang, My Father's Dragon, The Dark Hills Divide, Peter and the Shadow Thieves, Soul Eater, Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, Vampirates Tide of Terror, Nightmare Academy, Enter the Portal to Monster and Mayhem, Lyra's Oxford (authored by vicious anti-Catholic Phillip Pullman of "Golden Compass" and "His Dark Materials" fame)... and others.
337 million copies of occult imagery are being consumed by our youth in the Harry Potter series alone. The books may be good writing, but the writing is about something dark dressed up as something fun. That's a great way to get kids hooked on the occult.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International
Friday, November 02, 2007
DUTCH BISHOP REPLACED
LifeSite reports Catholic Bishop of Breda in the Netherlands has tendered a 401.2 resignation that has been accepted. He has been quoted on Dutch television encouraging Catholics to pray to Allah, and has promoted condom use to stop AIDS.
GHOSTS ARE NOT THE SOULS OF THOSE WHO HAVE DIED
According to Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, spokesman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), belief in ghosts and paranormal activities are not Catholic beliefs since the faith teaches that souls are kept intact in purgatory after death.
The Catholic doctrine teaches that purgatory is the spiritual place where the soul is purged of all sins and unsettled issues before it goes to heaven and reunites with God.
Quitorio reminded Catholics that ghost stories are focused on entities other than their dearly departed and it would be against their faith to confuse the souls of their loved ones with ghosts.
Ghost stories, which are usually about creatures who cannot cross over, are either products of psychological projections or products of evil, according to Quitorio.
Read the whole article...
SALVATION IS FROM THE JEWS
There is an interesting article by Roy H. Schoeman, a converted Jew, at Ignatius Insight. The article looks at Biblical prophecy related to the Antichrist and the end of the world, both in the Old Testament and the New, and compares it with some of the events that are currently taking place.
Schoeman has a website where he discusses conversion. He would be an interesting person to hear speak. Several of his talks are in the website.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
This is a website devoted to "young Jewish kinksters from across the USA and around the world." There is a long list in the website of "favorite groups and websites that combine Judaism and kink or sexuality". There is also a list of "Jewish Porn Links". How strange that they self-identify in this way.
CHRISTIAN SCIENTOLOGY HYBRID
Both Spirit Daily and New Oxford Review link a story on an inner city Christian pastor adopting Scientology methods and giving them a Christian veneer:
Florida (CNN) -- Some Christian congregations, particularly in lower income, urban areas, are turning to an unlikely source for help -- the Church of Scientology.
Scientologists do not worship God, much less Jesus Christ. The church has seen plenty of controversy and critics consider it a cult. So why are observant Christians embracing some of its teachings?
Two pastors who spoke recently with CNN explained that when it comes to religion, they still preach the core beliefs of Christianity. But when it comes to practicing what they preach in a modern world, borrowing from Scientology helps.
The Rev. Charles Kennedy, of the Glorious Church of God in Christ, a Pentecostal church in Tampa, Florida, and the Rev. James McLaughlin, of the Wayman Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, are among the theological hybrids.
They say they are not scared off by programs with ties to a church that critics say has aggressive recruiting, secretive ways and rigid theology. As men of God rooted in Christian values, they do not see Scientology as a threat to their faith, but rather as a tool to augment it.
Scientology was founded in the 1950s by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer. Followers are taught that they are immortal spiritual beings called thetans. Although the church says there is a supreme being, its practices do not include worshipping God.
"I'm looking for solutions, and the people that I help, they don't ask me who L. Ron Hubbard is," said McLaughlin, who works with addicts. "You know what they say? 'Thank God.' "
Critic Rick Ross, a court-certified Scientology expert, sees something more sinister at work. He warned that mainstream acceptance makes it easier for the Scientologists to achieve their ultimate goal -- new recruits.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
SPEAKING OF JEWISH MAGAZINES WRITTEN FOR JEWS...
This issue of the trendy magazine "HEEB" might leave you open-mouthed.
Here's what Wikipedia has to say about "HEEB".
And here it is...the issue singled out by Wikipedia. Might cause me to have second thoughts about Ariel Toaff's claims!
Reading Jewish printed matter written for Jews is giving me a whole new perspective on the Jewish faith!!
"JEWS IN THE AMERICAN PORN INDUSTRY"
The article, written by Nathan Abrams, ran in "Jewish Quarterly" Winter 2004. Its complete title is "Triple-exthnics: Nathan Abrams on Jews in the American porn industry", and the article is online here.
Abrams is a Lecturer in Modern American History at the University of Aberdeen. He cites E. Michael Jones' articles in "Culture Wars".
Here are some quotes from the Abrams article:
** Though Jews make up only two per cent of the American population, they have been prominent in pornography.Culture Wars (May 2003), 'the leading male performers through the 1980s came from secular Jewish upbringings and the females from Roman Catholic day schools'. The standard porn scenario became as a result a Jewish fantasy of schtupping the Catholic shiksa.
** America's most notorious pornographer was Reuben Sturman, the 'Walt Disney of Porn'. ...Sturman did not simply control the adult-entertainment industry; he WAS the industry. Eventually he was convicted of tax evasion and other crimes and died, disgraced, in prison in 1997. His son, David, continued running the family business.
** The contemporary incarnation of Sturman is 43-year-old Jewish Clevelander Stephen Hirsch, who has been described as 'the Donald Trump of porno'....Today Hirsch runs the Vivid Entertainment Group, which has been called the Microsoft of the porn world.
** Jews accounted for most of the leading male performers as well as a sizeable number of female stars in porn movies in the 1970s and '80s.
** Most of the performers and pornographers are Jewish culturally but not religiously. Many are entirely secular, Jews in name only. Sturman, however, identified as a Jew...
** There is surely an element of rebellion in Jewish X-rated involvement.
** According to one anonymous industry insider quoted by E. Michael Jones in the magazine
** Some porn stars viewed themselves as frontline fighters in the spiritual battle between Christian America and secular humanism. ...Jewish involvement in porn, by this argument, is the result of an atavistic hatred of Christian authority: they are trying to weaken the dominant culture in America by moral subversion.
** [quoting Al Goldstein, publisher of Screw] 'The only reason that Jews are in pornography is that we think that Christ sucks. Catholicism sucks'....Pornography thus becomes a way of defiling Christian culture...
** It is a case of the traditional revolutionary/radical drive of immigrant Jews in America being channeled into sexual rather than leftist politics. Just as Jews have been disproportionately represented in radical movements over the years, so they are also disproportionately represented in the porn industry. Jews in America have been sexual revolutionaries. A large amount of the material on sexual liberation was written by Jews. Those at the forefront of the movement which forced America to adopt a more liberal view of sex were Jewish. Jews were also at the vanguard of the sexual revolution of the 1960s.
** We might not like it, but the Jewish role in this field has been significant and it is about time it was written about seriously.
Not what you'd expect to find in a Jewish magazine, is it?
WASHINGTON, DC October 30, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The president of prestigious Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic university in the United States, has promised homosexual activists that the school will fully fund a center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and “questioning” (LGBTQ) students by next fall. The pro-homosexual nature of the center is rejection of what is considered serious Catholic moral teaching.
President John DeGioia told media, “How do we respond to legitimate requests for a more supportive environment? We can continue to do this in a somewhat informal manner … or we can move forward in a more organized way, through more formal and institutional structures and processes. In this case, it is time for the latter.”
On Wednesday October 24, DeGioia spoke to an audience of students and faculty expressing his “sadness” that Georgetown has too often been “hostile” toward the homosexual community. The campus newspaper, The Hoya, confirmed in an editorial that DeGioia “repeatedly committed himself” to each of the demands made by the campus homosexual activist group GU Pride.
Ok, the Church teaches that homosexuals may not be discriminated against. So keep the center, but make it conform to Catholic moral values by insisting that the only thing the center support is celibacy on the part of its members given that they are not married and thus should not be engaging in sexual relations, as the Church believes. Make it a REAL Catholic ministry to homosexuals.
MASS SAINTHOOD NOT POLITICALLY MOTIVATED
The biggest mass beatification ever has taken place in Rome, amid accusations that it is a political dig at the Spanish government. The 498 Spanish martyrs, mainly priests, monks and nuns, were killed at the start of the Spanish civil war by left-wing government militias after the clergy, generally, sided with General Franco.
The ceremony comes at the start of a week when the Spanish parliament is expected to pass legislation condemning the rule of Franco.
The Spanish Catholic church has attacked the proposed law and insists today's ceremony was not politically motivated.
Uh huh, and if you believe that, let me tell you about all of the priests who would never molest a child.
The event brings up an important question, what is the purpose of canonization? It does not constrain God's hand. He makes His decision about whether a person shall enter Heaven or forever be damned without influence of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Canonization is for mankind. Its purpose is to provide us with examples of a holy life or a commitment to God which is greater than the fear of death. We pray for the intercession of saints. We read their stories and try to emulate their goodness.
Now comes a mass canonization of 498 martyrs, not as individuals who are examples for us, but as a crowd of people who will remain nameless for all practical purposes. What has been canonized here is an idea. And the press caught on, which has prompted the Church to deny political motivation, in the face of its blatant opposite.
The Pope recently called upon all pharmacists to refuse to dispense drugs that will effect abortion and euthanasia.
The opposition's argument is spelled out in this San Jose Mercury News editorial:
...pharmacists throughout the world have a moral obligation to their patients and should ignore the pontiff's plea....
...what next? Will the pope demand that pharmacists be required to ask women seeking fertility drugs if they are married?...
The state of Washington in April joined California in passing a policy that prohibits pharmacists from failing to dispense prescription drugs for religious or moral reasons....
A handful of states, including Georgia and South Dakota, have joined the president in allowing pharmacists to follow their consciences at the workplace.
That should be viewed as unacceptable...
Pharmacists who cannot bring themselves to fill a perscription for moral or religious reasons should find a new profession.
In other words, it is more important that the person seeking immoral drugs have access to them instantly than it is for a pharmacist to follow his religious beliefs. Convenience trumps conscience and the pharmacist who will not dispense some drugs should simply be pushed out of the way like an annoying fly buzzing around and making a nuisance of itself, because we have been conditioned to have it our way here in America, and damn the consequences.
EAST MEETS MID-EAST
What do you get when you combine Eastern Philosophy and Judaism? New Thought Kabbalah. Cheryl R. Glover, combines business skills and deep spiritual values including Reiki, metaphysics, and Kabbalah, "bringing together ancient and new philosophies." She hopes to expand her New Age classes from New Jersey to Florida, Texas, and California. Her seminars and workshops include Kabbalah, channeling, ascended masters, angels, psycho-spiritual methods of raising consciousness, Buddhism, Shamanism, and meditation methods--everything the modern Gnostic could want. She will teach you how to create miracles using Esoteric Kabbalah, Kabbalah Meditation, Reiki Healing, Spirituality and Business, Channeling, and Angel Meditations. She has been a speaker at Unity Churches.
At least she is forthright about her intentions. This is a money-making proposition, even though she calls it a non-profit corporation. Best of both worlds, I guess. What was that phrase about serving Mammon...
There are some nuns in the Catholic Church who would probably tune in to her "Healing from the Soul", "Energy Work and Chakra Centers", and "Consciousness Raising" classes. Who knows, they might also like "Channeling Emissary" classes. I wonder if things appear in her "Ascended Masters Speak" class? Or is it just a voice that turns up?
Victor Glanckopf has tapped into this new spirituality as well with his Kabbalah Reiki. Look at all of the subjects he has mastered and will teach you! Want to try Rasputin's StarLight Workshop? It will only cost you $65 and offers to balance your emotions so you will be peaceful and happy. Combine it with Rasputin's StarLight Empowerment to get a "place...of great wealth & happiness". It always comes down to wealth, doesn't it? Well, we know the wealth Rasputin helped to usher into Russia, don't we? Maybe we should look at a different workshop.
How about becoming a Priest of Melchizadek so you can ride the Merkabah? The Merkabah is the throne of God. I would think an Orthodox Jew must get as angry about this abuse as we Catholics get about the Gnostic perversion of Jesus Christ. This class will cost you $275 and includes the Alpha & Omega Protection Attunement. Probably because the spirits being accessed are not the safe kind to mess with. I do believe we are talking about possession here.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
One of the biggest problems with cancer is that no matter what hurts...no matter how typical of your age or your activities the pain might be...it is always cancer recurring. The mind gets fixated there.
Another big problem is the side effects of the medication. I'm on Femara, an estrogen suppressant that is used to treat estrogen-loving cancer. I've just been in a side-effects website to try to determine whether the problems I'm having are cancer or drug related. It appears that I can blame the drug.
My arms go to sleep and produce the numbness and tingling that normal people get when they keep a body part in one position too long. Only it can go on for hours, and moving around doesn't help. It can start in the middle of the night and keep me awake for hours. Sometimes my arms also ache along with it. Sometimes it begins right after I get up in the morning like it did this morning.
What I'm finding is that trying to type with a numb and tingling hand can produce some rather unreadable results. This morning it was all I could do to get one post up.
The other side effect I'm dealing with is elevated blood pressure.
Reading through a message board of symptoms from these estrogen suppressing drugs is enough to make a patient consider taking a chance with the cancer!
"THE ROCK" CHURCH AND SYNCRETISM
You may remember my previous blog about Saint Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church in the Diocese of St. Louis, affectionately dubbed "The Rock." It is primarily a black church. They were featured on a YouTube video depicting liturgical dance.
Not long after that video appeared in Catholic websites the church was struck by lightning and incurred severe damage from fire. There was speculation at the time that the liturgical dance had sparked God's wrath, but perhaps God had more to be angry about.
If you saw this picture with no explanation, what would you think was taking place? My first thought was a Wiccan ceremony--the circle with an altar in the center--the candles. But no, this would appear to be an All Saints Day Catholic Mass taking place within a Cosmogram. There are more photos here. The explanation of the Cosmogram is give at the parish website.
A more detailed explanation of the Kongo Cosmogram is provided at the Levi Jordan Plantation website, provided there by Carol McDavid, who received her Master's Degree from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Houston, and is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cambridge, England:
God is imagined at the top, the dead at the bottom, and water in between. The four disks at the points of the cross stand for the four moments of the sun, and the circumference of the cross the certainty of reincarnation: the especially righteous Kongo person will never be destroyed but will come back in the name or body of progeny, or in the form of an everlasting pool, waterfall, stone or mountain.
That is certainly an interesting message for a Catholic priest to be conveying. This is taking place in Archbishop Burke's diocese. I wouldn't call it Catholic, let alone Orthodox Catholic. Would you?
When Christ returns, will He find any faith on the earth?
Monday, October 29, 2007
THE MOVERS AND SHAKERS - AUDREY KITAGAWA
** Co-facilitator of URI-UN, the United Religions Initiative UN Cooperation Circle
** Member of the World Wisdom Council of The Club of Budapest
** The Divine Mother of the Light of Awareness International Spiritual Family
TOLEDO PRIEST BACK IN THE NEWS
According to an article at the Toledo Blade website, the 6th District Court of Appeals said the statute of limitations does not bar the claims made by a Toledo woman who accuses Gerald Robinson of ritual sexual abuse and torture during satanic rites.
Robinson was convicted of the ritual murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl in May 2006
The woman has sued anonymously as "Survivor Doe". According to the reporter, David Yonke, "For the last five years, the church has been able to hide behind the statutes of limitations, which prevent the merits of the case from being heard...Now the actual facts of the case can be explored and exposed, which can make for a scary Halloween for the Catholic Church."
The North County Gazette also covers the decision of the Appellate Court. In this article the victim claims the priests involved in the satanic rituals "dressed in nuns’ habits, used women’s names and engaged in bizarre rituals, victimizing her." That statement brought to mind the recent activities of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who also dress as nuns and use women's names. However, in this case, the perpetrators are said to be Catholic priests.
The case hinges on repressed memory syndrome which has gotten a bad rap in recent years.
A reader sent in this tragic story of a woman who was persuaded by medical personnel that her father had sexually abused her. The details she recalled from her "repressed memories" turned out not to be true.
In any case, if this civil suit against Robinson goes forward, it will likely bring in the world press again, just as the murder trial did.
EMAIL FROM LEE PENN
A Liberal Episcopal Bishop’s Dream Gains Ground
United Religions Initiative Prospers in Global South;
Attracts Prominent Secular and Roman Catholic Donors
By Lee Penn
The Christian Challenge
While most of the Anglican Communion has been occupied with the global conflict over The Episcopal Church’s acceptance of homosexual practice, an innovation spawned by a liberal Episcopal bishop - one that calls the First Commandment into question – is attracting little controversy as it spreads worldwide.
The United Religions Initiative (URI), launched in San Francisco in 1995 by former California Bishop William Swing (who retired in 2006), has put down roots in the Global South and many other places around the world, doubling its membership in the last five years.
In its charter, the URI describes itself as “a growing global community dedicated to promoting enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, ending religiously motivated violence and creating cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings…The URI, in time, aspires to have the visibility and stature of the United Nations.”
The URI hopes to bring together on a regular basis representatives of the major and minor faith systems, including those of the New Age/pagan/occult genre, to help resolve conflicts in the world. However, some of its critics believe the interfaith initiative envisions or could lead to a one-world religion hostile to orthodox Christianity.
In his 1998 book The Coming United Religions, for example, Bishop Swing said that if the First Commandment – “Thou shalt have no other gods but me” – leads billions of adherents of “exclusive religions” (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) to “oppose the godly claims of other exclusive religions, what hope is there for peace among religions?” Swing concluded that “In order for a United Religions to come about and for religions to pursue peace among each other, there will have to be a godly cease-fire, a temporary truce where the absolute exclusive claims of each will be honored but an agreed-upon neutrality will be exercised in terms of proselytizing, condemning, murdering, or dominating. These will not be tolerated in the United Religions zone” – which, potentially, is the whole world. (Note that Swing links “proselytizing” with “condemning, murdering, or dominating.”)
In 2003, Swing said that religions claiming to be “the true religion” are using “master race thinking.”
Worldwide, the URI now has 361 chapters (which it calls Cooperation Circles) in 59 countries – double the number at the end of 2002 (though the URI provides no information on the number of participants in the Circles). Notably, however, 70 percent of URI Cooperation Circles are where one would least expect them: the largely conservative Global South – Asia, Africa, and Latin America – along with the Middle East and the non-English-speaking nations of the Pacific Rim. Donald Frew, a Wiccan elder and a former member of the URI Global Council, said in June 2007 that the Cooperation Circles worldwide are “going gangbusters” and are successfully funding themselves. The Circles are active in lobbying national and international agencies for policy changes, conducting interfaith ceremonies and dialogues, environmental activism, and projects to assist the poor. As a rule, their activities are consistent with the goals of American and West European “progressives.”
Fourteen of the 24 members of the URI Global Council, its board of directors elected in 2005, are from the Third World. Thus, the URI’s base has expanded well beyond Western liberals, who have been the usual backers of interfaith movements.
URI allies include the United Nations (in particular, UNESCO and the UN Environmental Program), Mikhail Gorbachev’s star-studded State of the World Forum, and the Earth Charter movement, led by Maurice Strong, a wealthy Canadian advocate of world government. As of May 2007, the URI is recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the UN’s Economic and Social Council, which gives the movement “consultative status” with the UN; in turn, the URI promotes the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.
The URI enjoys tacit support or active cooperation from most other interfaith organizations, including the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, the World Conference on Religion and Peace, the Temple of Understanding, and the North American Interfaith Network.
Anglican support for the URI is widespread; public opposition is rare among the clergy in communion with Canterbury.
Aside from Bishop Swing, a pro-gay liberal (who nonetheless claims to be a “conservative person”), 20 active and retired Anglican prelates have supported the URI. The most prominent of these are Frank Griswold, the former Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (TEC); Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno; Bishop C. Christopher Epting, the Presiding Bishop’s Deputy for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations; Celso Franco de Oliveira, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Michael Ingham, Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada; and Desmond Tutu, Nobel laureate and retired Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa. Most of the aforementioned bishops have publicly taken the liberal position in the current Anglican sexuality battle.
None of the active U.S. bishops who have been identified as URI supporters or donors voted against the confirmation of actively gay cleric Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire at the 2003 Episcopal General Convention. Bishop Griswold was Robinson’s chief consecrator in November 2003, and Bishop Ingham traveled from Canada to the U.S. to participate in that rite.
The Mar Thoma Church in India, which broke away from Oriental Orthodoxy in the 19th Century and is now in communion with Canterbury, has supported the URI from the beginning.
Several ultra-trendy TEC priests have donated to the URI in 2004 and later: James Parks Morton, the former dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City; Lauren Artress, who took the modern-day labyrinth fad worldwide from its beginnings at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco; and Donald Schell, the co-rector of St. Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco – a parish that is known for liturgical dance, “icons” of Charles Darwin, Rumi, and Malcolm X, and hosting a well-publicized union in April 2004 between retired Utah Episcopal Bishop Otis Charles and his male partner.
Only two Anglican bishops recognized by Canterbury have spoken publicly against the URI, and both are retired: Archbishop Harry Goodhew of Australia, and Bishop FitzSimons Alison of South Carolina. The current and former Archbishops of Canterbury have not spoken publicly about the movement since its founding in 1995, and TEC General Conventions from 1997 through 2006 have likewise refrained from either praising or criticizing the URI.
The Eastern Orthodox and Evangelical Protestant churches do not support the URI. The Presbyterian Church USA has donated to the URI, an indicator of support for the movement among some mainline Protestant churches in the U.S.
Roman Catholic support for the URI, previously concentrated among dissidents (such as theologian Hans Küng, retired auxiliary Bishop of Detroit Thomas Gumbleton, and liberal orders of nuns), is becoming mainstream. Since 2004, the URI has received donations from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired Archbishop of Washington DC.
During his tenure as Archbishop of San Francisco, William Levada had backed the URI – and within a few weeks of the election of Benedict XVI, the new Pope selected Levada to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the body that guards against heresy in the Church. Levada became the highest ranked American prelate in Catholic history, and is now a member of the College of Cardinals – with a vote in the next Papal Conclave. Levada invited a group of URI leaders to accompany him to Rome for his March 2006 installation, and the URI delegation said that they were the first interfaith delegation ever to attend a consistory of Cardinals.
Since 2004, the URI has gained some additional, prominent supporters.
Among them is the European Union (EU). In 2005, the European Commission (EC) had funded a meeting of URI-Europe in Brussels to discuss “overcoming irritations and prejudices between people of different cultures, religions and convictions in the EU enlargement process.” The EC thought so highly of the URI event that they have given the URI a “Golden Star Award,” honoring the ten best projects funded in 2005 by the Active European Citizenship program of the European Union. The prize will be awarded in a ceremony in early November in Brussels, by Jan Figel, the EU Commissioner for Education and Culture.
Other noteworthy donors in recent years show the appeal of URI to Muslim lobbyists, advocates of globalism, and mainstream American institutions alike: the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, United Muslims of America, the Turner Foundation, Dr. Steven C. Rockefeller (who assisted in drafting the Earth Charter), United Way of the Bay Area, the Bank of America, and World Vision.
The URI also has bipartisan appeal.
In a November 6, 2001 letter, President Bush praised Bishop Swing and the URI for receiving a Citizen Diplomacy Award from the International Diplomacy Council (IDC), a private group that works with high-level State Department officials to assist overseas dignitaries who visit the U.S. George Shultz, Secretary of State in the Reagan administration, is one of the advisers for the IDC. In 2002. The federally-funded United States Institute of Peace (USIP) also has supported the URI with a $30,000 training grant and with an article favorable to the interfaith venture in 2001 and 2002.
In his 2005 inauguration speech, President Bush said that the “edifice of character” in America “is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran and the varied faiths of our people.” In an October 4, 2007, interview with Al Arabiya, the President said, “I believe in an almighty God, and I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God.” This interfaith civil religion now being officially purveyed in America meshes with the URI worldview of religious unity.
On the other side of the aisle, former President Clinton invited Charles Gibbs, the executive director of the URI, to attend the September 2005 meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. Gibbs, who was among 1,000 invited “world leaders,” was asked to propose a project that would be funded and completed within a year. Gibbs proposed to expand the URI in India. His project succeeded; there were 31 URI Cooperation Circles there in September 2004, and there are 72 chapters in India now.
Before 2003, several Theosophical groups had donated to the URI: the Lucis Trust World Service Fund and the Rudolf Steiner Foundation. New Age groups and New Age authors have continued this support since then. They include Pathways to Peace, the Fetzer Institute, the authors of Spiritual Politics (a popularization of the Theosophical teachings of Alice Bailey), and two clergy from the Wittenberg Center for Alternative Resources, a New Age seminary.
For the most part, the URI toes the Western “politically correct” line on such issues as feminism, multiculturalism, global governance, the environment, and the like. There is one exception: homosexual activism. Unlike most churches in the West, the URI does not have a “gay caucus” akin to Integrity in The Episcopal Church or Dignity in the Roman Catholic Church. The homosexual issue has not appeared in URI documents or in reports of their global meetings since 1998. The URI’s Annual Report lists donors to the organization’s headquarters – and same-sex couples are very rarely seen on this roster of URI supporters. It may be that the URI’s silence on the gay issue is intended to garner backers from traditional religions, e.g. Muslims, who generally condemn homosexual practice.
Sources: United Religions Initiative, Annual Reports for 2004-2006, and other documents from http://www.uri.org/; False Dawn: The United Religions Initiative, Globalism, and the Quest for a One-World Religion, by Lee Penn (Sophia Perennis, 2005); President Bush, inaugural speech for 2005 and interview with Al-Arabiya TV in 2007.
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Sunday, October 28, 2007
In some countries there are group weddings, especially in Rev. Sun Yung Moon's church.
In the Masonic Lodge there are group degree ceremonies presented on stage in which a few select members take part and the rest watch from the comfort of their theater chairs, after which all present have been raised to the new degree.
Now in the Catholic Church there is group beatification in which nearly 500 dead Catholics are raised to their new status. Never let it be said that we can't learn from others!
Will the Mass Canonization Ceremony be next? Sigh.