Also sometimes referred to as secular, modern, or humanistic. This is an umbrella term for Protestant denominations, or churches within denominations, that view the Bible as the witness of God rather than the word of God, to be interpreted in its historical context through critical analysis. Examples include some churches within Anglican/Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and United Church of Christ. There are more than 2,000 Protestant denominations offering a wide range of beliefs from extremely liberal to mainline to ultra-conservative and those that include characteristics on both ends.
|•||Belief in Deity |
Trinity of the Father (God), the Son (Christ), and the Holy Spirit that comprises one God Almighty. Many believe God is incorporeal.
Beliefs vary from the literal to the symbolic belief in Jesus Christ as God's incarnation. Some believe we are all sons and daughters of God and that Christ was exemplary, but not God.
|•||Origin of Universe and Life |
The Bible's account is symbolic. God created and controls the processes that account for the universe and life (e.g. evolution), as continually revealed by modern science.
|•||After Death |
Goodness will somehow be rewarded and evil punished after death, but what is most important is how you show your faith and conduct your life on earth.
|•||Why Evil? |
Most do not believe that humanity inherited original sin from Adam and Eve or that Satan actually exists. Most believe that God is good and made people inherently good, but also with free will and imperfect nature, which leads some to immoral behavior.
Various beliefs: Some believe all will go to heaven, as God is loving and forgiving. Others believe salvation lies in doing good works and no harm to others, regardless of faith. Some believe baptism is important. Some believe the concept of salvation after death is symbolic or nonexistent.
|•||Undeserved Suffering |
Most Liberal Christians do not believe that Satan causes suffering. Some believe suffering is part of God's plan, will, or design, even if we don't immediately understand it. Some don't believe in any spiritual reasons for suffering, and most take a humanistic approach to helping those in need.
|•||Contemporary Issues |
Most churches teach that abortion is morally wrong, but many ultimately support a woman's right to choose, usually accompanied by policies to provide counseling on alternatives. Many are accepting of homosexuality and gay rights.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Brown said those who attack the religious right “essentially argue (that) the true American religion demands acceptance of, indeed submission to, a common political vision — their vision.”
In the 20th century, secular humanism crept into American and Western governments, promising openness and tolerance for diverse groups, religions and philosophies, she said.
“What we got was narrow positivism, moral relativism and the totalitarian reign of the radical multiculturalist,” Brown said. “It promised peace. What we got was a process of permanent revolution, tumult, strife and a ceaseless assault upon the foundations of faith, family and civil society. It promised if not the pursuit of truth, at least rationality and acknowledgment of objective reality. What we got was postmodernism.” The battle, in her view, is not political but theological: “Contrary to the prevailing secularist dogma ... a society cannot exist without a fighting faith. Where society has nothing to die for, it has nothing to live for and cannot long survive.”
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
God, but I hate fundamentalists hicks such as James Dobson who actually believe that the Bible is literally true.
Focus on Family Founder Snubs Thompson, Praises Gingrich
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson appeared to throw cold water on a possible presidential bid by former Sen. Fred Thompson while praising former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is also weighing a presidential run, in a phone interview Tuesday.
"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson said of Thompson. "[But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party's conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Thompson, took issue with Dobson's characterization of the former Tennessee senator. "Thompson is indeed a Christian," he said. "He was baptized into the Church of Christ."
In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson's claim. He said that, while Dobson didn't believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless "has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith."
"We use that word—Christian—to refer to people who are evangelical Christians," Schneeberger added. "Dr. Dobson wasn't expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy; he was trying to 'read the tea leaves' about such a possibility."
Thompson has said he is leaving the door open for a presidential run and has won plaudits from conservatives who are unenthusiastic about the Republican front-runners. A Gallup-USA Today poll, released Tuesday, showed Thompson in third place among Republican and Republican-leaning voters, behind former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain.
While making it clear he was not endorsing any Republican presidential candidate, Dobson, who is considered the most politically powerful evangelical figure in the country, also said that Gingrich was the "brightest guy out there" and "the most articulate politician on the scene today."
Gingrich recently appeared on Dobson's daily Focus on the Family radio program, carried by upward of 2,000 American radio stations, where he made headlines by discussing an extramarital affair he was having even as he pursued impeachment against President Bill Clinton for his handling of the investigation into the Monica Lewinsky affair.
Dobson's phone call to U.S. News senior editor Dan Gilgoff Tuesday was unsolicited. It marked Gilgoff's first discussion with Dobson in over two years, since the magazine's political writer began work on The Jesus Machine: How James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Evangelical America are Winning the Culture War, published this month by St. Martin's Press. Dobson had agreed to answer only written questions for the book.
Dobson's comments yesterday about the 2008 presidential race appear to be his first to a secular news organization in months.
Dobson recently sat down with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at Focus on the Family's Colorado Springs headquarters, marking his only meeting to date with a top-tier Republican presidential candidate. While Dobson would not comment directly on the Romney meeting, he stood by comments he made late last year that many evangelicals would find it difficult to support Romney because of his Mormonism.
"I still think that might be an impediment for him," Dobson said. "There are conservative Christians who will not vote for him because of his Mormon faith. I'm not saying that's the correct view or my view. But [presidential nominees] lose elections by 5 or 6 percent of the vote, so you don't have to lose much of the conservative Christian vote" to make a difference in the election.
Dobson said that neither of the two other Republican presidential front-runners—Giuliani or McCain—has attempted to contact him. "I do not believe that the current excitement over Giuliani will continue," Dobson said.
Dobson was a major force in the 2004 election, giving the first public presidential endorsement of his career to George W. Bush. Bush got nearly 6 million new white evangelical votes in 2004 that he didn't get in 2000, accounting for about twice his margin of victory. Dobson's national activist network led an unprecedented effort to get conservative evangelicals to the polls. Its greatest impact was likely in Ohio, the lynchpin to Bush's re-election, where Bush won by fewer than 120,000 votes.
Dobson, who turns 71 years old next month, has been the subject of recent rumors that he would retire from his position of Focus on the Family chairman and possibly step out of the political spotlight in the next couple of years. In the interview, however, Dobson said that he no intention of doing either.
"I have 10-to-12-hour-a-day energy," Dobson said. "I feel that God has asked me to do what I'm doing. I have no intention to stay away."
Monday, March 26, 2007
This man was reasonably well off. Yet there were still so many things he wanted and couldn't afford. Each night he'd go to bed and dream about these things. His dreams made him restless and unhappy.
But then one night he had a new dream. In it, a spirit appeared and told the man that if he went down to the river the next morning, he would encounter an old monk, carrying a rock. The spirit said that the monk would happily hand over this rock - and that once this happened the man would find himself rich beyond his imaginings. He would be able to get everything he ever wanted.
The next day, the man woke up excited and raced down to the river. Sure enough, a monk was sitting by the water's edge. The man nervously approached the monk and asked, "Do you have a rock you can give me?"
The monk replied: "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do have a rock. I found it just the other day." Reaching into his pack, he said, "Here, take it. I don't really need it." The man stared at the rock in disbelief, for the monk had just handed him the largest diamond he had ever seen. He raced back home with his new possession and hid it where he thought no one could find it. He was ecstatic. Now I'm rich, he thought.
But over the next few days, the man found he had great difficulty sleeping. He tossed and turned. His thoughts were continually on the diamond. What if I lose it? Or what if someone tries to steal it? The man felt more unsettled than he ever had before.Finally, overcome with anxiety and exhausted from insomnia, he returned to the river with the diamond. "Take it back," he told the monk. "It's not what I really want. What I want is something else you have - the ability to give such a beautiful and valuable thing away. For that, and only that, is true wealth."
Sunday, March 25, 2007
American Evangelist Pat Robertson's pronouncement that Ariel Sharon's stroke was an act of Divine retribution for his abandonment of the Gaza settlements - though he subsequently apologized - was a frightening reminder of how extreme the views of those on the religious Right can be. Sadly, Robertson has something in common with some on the religious Right in Israel who have expressed similar sentiments.
Yet, even as the Israeli Right can draw support from the Christian Right, the converse is not true for the Israeli Left. The liberal Protestant stance on Israel, particularly with calls from some quarters for divestment, makes an alliance between liberal Jews and Presbyterians, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Lutherans - to name but a few - tenuous.
Liberal Jews do find a common language with liberal Christians on a host of social issues - abortion rights, gay and lesbian rights, separation of religion and state - but when it comes to Israel they often part ways.
Not that there is genuine disagreement about Israel's actions in the territories. Here both communities are on the same page. However, the methods that many liberal Protestants employ to pressure the Israeli government to abstain from certain actions carried out against the Palestinians strike those of us in the Israeli peace and human rights movements as disingenuous.
The challenge is: How do we Jewish liberals maintain our partnership with liberal Protestants on social/religious issues and, at the same time, reject their criticism of Israel, which often lacks any balance? Concomitantly, how do we avoid going over to the "other side," making common cause with Evangelicals on matters related to Israel, when on so many other issues we hold antithetical positions?
• WE need to engage our natural Christian partners in an honest dialogue and not dismiss them as closet anti-Semites. Additionally, we must distinguish between edicts that emanate from those Protestants who sit in some ivory-tower headquarters and the average parishioner. Rarely have I encountered general agreement among local ministers and their constituents with their respective leaders' pronouncements on divestment from Israel or frequent condemnation of Israel's behavior.
• Instead of divestment, which would most likely redound negatively on Palestinians, we need to lobby for investment in organizations and institutions within Israel and the Palestinian Authority that jointly promote peace and dialogue.
• Because the Jewish people's ancient historical ties to the Land of Israel for over two millennia seem not to bear weight on liberal Christians as they do with their right-wing co-religionists, we need to help them understand Israel's present history, correcting their notion as if the Jewish state began in 1967 with the occupation. We need to remind them that Israel was established by an act of the international community when the United Nations voted to divide Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. Israel accepted the UN ruling, but, as soon as the Jewish state was declared on May 15, 1948, six Arab countries invaded Israel in order to "drive it into the sea." After the armistice agreements signed in Rhodes in 1949, first with Egypt on February 24 and later with Jordan on April 3, it was Jordan and Egypt that occupied the West Bank and Gaza until the Six Day War.
• We need to sensitize our Protestant friends to our narrative that dates back from the time of the exiles, the Crusades, the Inquisition, Cossacks, Czars, Nazis, Arab armies, terrorists to today's virulent anti-Semitism that spews forth from virtually every corner of the Muslim world. If one wants to see inflammatory cartoons, just look at the Arab press's portrayal of Jews, which dwarfs Nazi caricatures of the Jewish people as does Hamas's charter make Hitler's Mein Kampf look moderate.
• We need to help them couch their language in such a way that Israelis can listen to their legitimate concerns.
• We need to tell them that their constant criticism of Israel, accompanied by calls for any form of divestment, only serves cynical attempts not just in the Muslim world, but also in some European capitals and on college campuses to delegitimize the existence of a Jewish state. With the election of Hamas, fueled by a dramatic increase in Islamic fundamentalism that calls for Israel's destruction, one must be careful when taking Israel to task for troublesome moral actions.
•We therefore need to point out that Israel must be judged by universal moral standards. Living as we do with constant terrorism, compared to other countries, not only in the Middle East where we are surrounded by dictatorships, religious fanatics, military despots, feudal lords, sheikhdoms and monarchies, but also to Western democracies, Israel is a model of restraint.
If similar standards of behavior applied to Israel were equally applied elsewhere, then we should expect vociferous and unrelenting condemnation of the manifold abuses in the Arab world; and most certainly of Palestinian violence in Israel and within the Palestinian Authority.
• We need to disabuse them of the view that Christian Arabs are suffering solely because of the occupation. In his book The Body and the Blood, former Middle East bureau chief of the Boston Globe Charles Sennott traces the disappearance of Christianity from Nazareth to Bethlehem to Jerusalem to Egypt to Lebanon. For most of the history in this region, Jews were not in control and it was, and primarily still is, the constant brow-beating by Muslims that has caused Christians to emigrate from the Middle East, reducing them to an insignificant minority in the place of their origins.
• We need to convince our liberal Protestant friends to emulate the Evangelicals. While we and they must discard many of the Christian Right's social and political stances, as well as reject their theological belief that Israel is a passageway to the return of the "messiah," at which time all peoples, the Jews being the first among them, will accept Jesus, we must recognize that when Scuds fell and suicide bombings were going off, it was these very Evangelicals who flocked to Israel to show their solidarity with the Jewish state. Such commitment lends both credibility and authority to their positions - an essential ingredient lacking in the liberal Christian community, putting into question its commitment to the existence of a Jewish state in its historical homeland.Finally, we need to emphasize that such a commitment to the existence of the State of Israel is essential to guarantee a continuing dialogue between any Christian denomination and any religious and/or secular stream within the Jewish world.
Scientists create a sheep that's 15% human25.03.07
Scientists have created the world's first human-sheep chimera - which has the body of a sheep and half-human organs.
The sheep have 15 per cent human cells and 85 per cent animal cells - and their evolution brings the prospect of animal organs being transplanted into humans one step closer.
Professor Esmail Zanjani, of the University of Nevada, has spent seven years and £5million perfecting the technique, which involves injecting adult human cells into a sheep's foetus.
Chimera: sheep have 15 per cent human cells and 85 per cent animal cells
He has already created a sheep liver which has a large proportion of human cells and eventually hopes to precisely match a sheep to a transplant patient, using their own stem cells to create their own flock of sheep.
The process would involve extracting stem cells from the donor's bone marrow and injecting them into the peritoneum of a sheep's foetus. When the lamb is born, two months later, it would have a liver, heart, lungs and brain that are partly human and available for transplant.
"We would take a couple of ounces of bone marrow cells from the patient,' said Prof Zanjani, whose work is highlighted in a Channel 4 programme tomorrow.
"We would isolate the stem cells from them, inject them into the peritoneum of these animals and then these cells would get distributed throughout the metabolic system into the circulatory system of all the organs in the body. The two ounces of stem cell or bone marrow cell we get would provide enough stem cells to do about ten foetuses. So you don't just have one organ for transplant purposes, you have many available in case the first one fails."
At present 7,168 patients are waiting for an organ transplant in Britain alone, and two thirds of them are expected to die before an organ becomes available.
Scientists at King's College, London, and the North East Stem Cell Institute in Newcastle have now applied to the HFEA, the Government's fertility watchdog, for permission to start work on the chimeras.
But the development is likely to revive criticisms about scientists playing God, with the possibility of silent viruses, which are harmless in animals, being introduced into the human race.
Dr Patrick Dixon, an international lecturer on biological trends, warned: "Many silent viruses could create a biological nightmare in humans. Mutant animal viruses are a real threat, as we have seen with HIV."
Animal rights activists fear that if the cells get mixed together, they could end up with cellular fusion, creating a hybrid which would have the features and characteristics of both man and sheep. But Prof Zanjani said: "Transplanting the cells into foetal sheep at this early stage does not result in fusion at all."
lAnimal Farm is on Channel 4 at 9pm tomorrow
Tut tut, Prince Harry. This reminds me of a song written long ago by a friend named Thomas and entitled, "Cunti"
By James Weatherup & Rav Singh
FIGHTING drunk Prince Harry exploded into booze-fuelled rage on Saturday after being caught on a secret date.
Our astonishing pictures show the paralytic prince crashing onto his backside as a minder tries to manhandle him into his car.
Other photographs show how, seconds earlier, Harry ran amok, attacking one snapper and yelling at him to "F*** off" as he sneaked out of a London club following a night out with very close friend Natalie Pinkham.
The 22-year-old prince — due to head to Iraq for a six-month tour with his unit in weeks — was furious that he'd been spotted meeting former TV presenter Natalie, 29, while girlfriend Chelsy Davy is away on her gap year.
The two had spent the night canoodling on the dance floor of Boujis, with Harry caressing the beauty whose boobs he once famously groped on another wild night out in London nearly four years ago.
One fellow clubber revealed yesterday: "He and Natalie were dancing very close and his hands were everywhere."
Harry tried to sneak out of the back door of the club at 3am yesterday while Natalie left by the front. But when the royal on the razzle spotted photographer Nirach Tanner waiting he chased him down the street in a fury.
"He was very drunk. I took a few shots of him and he just came for me," said Tanner, 27. "He knows me because I've taken his pictures before and I have never had a problem with him.
"He saw me as he came out of the club's rear entrance because he didn't want to be spotted leaving with Natalie.
"He screamed at me to ‘F*** off', then grabbed me and tried to shove me over. He had his hands around my collar and back.
"It was an assault. I've never known anything like it before."
Another photographer who saw the prince lunge at Tanner said: "Harry's mood changed as he came out and he started chasing after him. It was only for seven or eight yards but the prince went to grab him.
"If Tanner hadn't been trying to get away it could have got ugly. I thought they taught discipline in the army but Harry wasn't exactly showing any.
"His bodyguard tried to stop him getting hold of Tanner but then things went pear-shaped when Harry tried to change direction and get into his Range Rover which had driven up.
"He turned sharply left, completely lost his footing and fell on his backside. We could see he was wearing pink socks and pink boxer shorts. He was all over the place.
"The bodyguard had to help him up and direct him into the car. Harry looked a bit dazed but didn't say anything and got in and buried his head in his arms."
Royal raver Harry's antics will doubtless be of huge interest to absent girlfriend Chelsy Davy, 21, now on a round-the-world tour after graduating from university in Cape Town, South Africa.
In the club Harry and Natalie — who he describes as one of his favourite drinking buddies — knocked back vodka and Red Bull.
The two were surrounded by royal protection officers at a private corner table. Harry's pal and former royal aide Mark Dyer was also there.
Harry and Natalie occasionally dashed out onto the tightly packed floor where they danced close together with the Prince caressing the sexy brunette's curves.
A fellow reveller said: "Harry was obviously very drunk. He and Natalie spent most of the night huddled together at a corner table beside the dance floor where Harry's bodyguards did their best to hide them both from view.
"They ordered full-size bottles of vodka and cans of Red Bull and mixed their own drinks at the table. It was clearly a big night out for both of them. Harry kept putting his arm around her.
"At times it even looked like he was kissing her neck — although it was difficult to see. They were certainly being very touchy-feely with each other."
The prince also danced with a second girl — an attractive mystery blonde.
Our source revealed: "They were gyrating together. He held her very close and had his leg between hers. He was totally out of it. It was like something from a hip hop video.
"The club was totally packed and he was constantly bumping into other people but he just didn't care."
After the near brawl in the street, there was nearly another incident as Harry's Range Rover sped off into the night.
Tanner added: "The driver panicked and floored it while Harry's friend Mark Dyer was half in and half out of the car. I screamed at him to stop otherwise Mark would definitely have fallen out. Luckily for him he did and Mark was able to scramble in and then they roared off.
"It's hardly the way for a prince to behave on a night out, is it?"
MEANWHILE Harry's brother Prince William danced on a PODIUM for revellers at a Bournemouth nightclub.
The young royal turned up at Elements on Thursday night with a bunch of army buddies and posed for mobile phone snaps with local girls before demonstrating his moves on the podium.