Saturday, 4 April 2009

Order of Service for Jade Goody's funeral

Courtesy of the BBC here, though sadly (typically?) they report nothing of what Corinne Brixton said in their coverage of the funeral here.

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BNP continue strong polling

Ed: For those who are interested, the BNP is continuing to poll strongly where it chooses to put up candidates, as the results of recent bye-elections show.

The BNP target is not simply to win bye-elections, however, but to get a high enough percentage of the vote later this year to elect one or more MEPs.

It does seem that telling people "Don't vote BNP" is not having a sufficient effect.

Leeds, Temple Newsam
CON 1785
BNP 1502
LIB DEM 1468

Dormanstown, Redcar and Cleveland
LAB 667
BNP 305
CON 125

Skircoat, Calderdale
CON 1277
LIB DEM 1259
LAB 274
IND 238
BNP 235
IND 229

BNP 408
LAB 322
CON 247

Source here.

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Top British judge attacks European Court

Lord Hoffmann, the second most senior Law Lord, accused the Court of going beyond its jurisdiction and imposing "uniform rules" on states.

He said rulings that had gone against domestic decisions were "teaching grandmothers to suck eggs".

The judge insisted he supported the European Convention on Human Rights but not the institution that applies the law.

In a lecture to fellow judges, published this week, Lord Hoffmann said the European Court, in the French city of Strasbourg, was unable to resist the temptation to "aggrandise its jurisdiction" by laying down a "federal law of Europe". Read more
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Hate cleric, Abu Qatada, issues rallying cry from prison

The extremist cleric Abu Qatada has issued a 6,000-word rallying cry to his followers from inside one of Britain’s most secure prison units.

The Palestinian preacher hails the “victory” of the Mujahidin and claims that his treatment has helped to radicalise a new generation of young British Muslims.

Despite demanding his freedom, he says that “the gift of prison” has helped him to lose more than 50lb (22kg) in weight. He even suggests that a vigorous exercise programme appears to have cured his diabetes and back trouble.

The cleric boasts of being told by Bilal Abdullah, the NHS doctor jailed for the car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow in 2007, that he was heavily influenced by the cleric’s taped sermons. He describes the bomber, who narrowly failed in his attempts to blow up a nightclub and airport terminal, as “truthfully a man from the men of Islam, in knowledge, action, steadfastness and manhood”. Read more
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New President of Episcopal Divinity School: 'Abortion is a Blessing'

The announcement on Monday, March 30 that The Rev. Dr. Katherine Ragsdale was appointed as the sixth and newest president of Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) in Cambridge, MA, has orthodox and pro-life Episcopalians shaking their heads.

Ragsdale, who is an outspoken advocate of abortion and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender) rights, was the unanimous choice of the Board of Trustees and will begin her duties on July 1, 2009.

In addition to the press release and public letter concerning the appointment, the EDS website also has a link to Rev. Ragsdale’s sermon blog. There, the first sermon is entitled, “Our Work is Not Done.” The content has been cited and circulated on a large number of pro-life and conservative Christian blogs. An excerpt follows:

“When a woman wants a child but can’t afford one because she hasn’t the education necessary for a sustainable job, or access to health care, or day care, or adequate food, it is the abysmal priorities of our nation, the lack of social supports, the absence of justice that are the tragedies; the abortion is a blessing.

“And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion – there is not a tragedy in sight -- only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing. Read more
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TEC Bishop-Elect Replaces New Testament Reading with Quran Passage

Here is the bulletin insert [46kb PDF] on the Second Sunday After Epiphany, January 20, 2008, for St. Paul's Marquette, at which Kevin Thew Forrester presided, and substituted a passage from the Quran (13:20-23) for the New Testament reading. The Quran reading is at the top of page 3.

Reader: A reading from the Quran

In the name of God most merciful most compassionate. Is he, then, who knows that what has been revealed to those from thy Lord is the truth, like one who is blind? But only those gifted with understanding will reflect. Those who fulfill God’s pact and break not the covenant. And those who join what God has commanded to be joined, and fear their Lord, and dread the evil reckoning. And those who persevere in seeking the favor of their Lord and observe prayer and spend out of that with which We have provided them secretly and openly, and repel evil with good. It is these who shall have the best reward of the final Abode. Amen

Reader: Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.

Assembly: Thanks be to God.
Read more

Link to Wikipedia article on Forrester

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Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Bishop Michael Nazir Ali – ‘Enough is Enough’

Two very different interpretations of Bishop Michael Nazir Ali’s resignation have emerged in the British press today.

Melanie Phillips offers a careful assessment based on the facts of Dr Nazir Ali’s ministry and sees it as a shocking indictment of the Church of England that a bishop should have to resign in order to defend the teaching of the Church and its members effectively.

In contrast the Daily Telegraph’s George Pitcher speculates that the bishop mistakenly gambled on GAFCON becoming predominant and his departure signifies its demise as an effective movement in the Anglican Communion. “The traditionalist schism” we are assured “has fizzled out”.

While I have no privileged access to the thinking behind Bishop Nazir Ali’s decision, in retrospect we can see that even some two years ago he gave a strong hint that he might take such action, and for reasons which seem to have totally eluded George Pitcher.

In an address of 2nd April 2007 (subsequently published by Latimer trust as ‘Truth and Unity in Christian Fellowship’, Latimer Briefing 7), well before GAFCON was under consideration, he warned of a point where it would be no longer possible with integrity to work with the grain of the Church of England because of its chronic tendency to capitulate to the surrounding culture. There will come a time when “we will have to say ‘Enough is enough. We need now to bear prophetic witness to the culture around us, to the state, even within the church.’” (Latimer Briefing 7, p12)

It seems that Dr Nazir Ali has himself now come to that point where ‘Enough is enough’. Read more
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History has been 'feminised' says David Starkey as he launches Henry VIII series

British history has become "feminised" by female authors who concentrate on subjects like the six wives of Henry VIII rather than the king himself, Dr David Starkey has said.

By Stephen Adams, Arts Correspondent
Last Updated: 11:32PM BST 30 Mar 2009
History has been 'feminised' says David Starkey as he launches Henry VIII series
British history has become "feminised" by female authors who concentrate on subjects like the six wives of Henry VIII rather than the king himself, Dr David Starkey has said. Photo: MARTIN POPE

Speaking shortly before the launch of a new Channel 4 series to mark the 500th anniversary of the Tudor monarch's accession to the throne, Dr Starkey said he found it "bizarre" that so much historical effort was now focused on the monarch's wives.

In an interview with the Radio Times, out today, Dr Starkey said: "One of the great problems has been that Henry, in a sense, has been absorbed by his wives. Which is bizarre.

"But it's what you expect from feminised history, the fact that so many of the writers who write about this are women and so much of their audience is a female audience. Unhappy marriages are big box office."

He said that in his new series, Henry VIII: Mind of a Tyrant, "we're trying to say, 'Hang on a minute, Henry is centre stage.'

"This is Henry – wives appear simply to explain or complicate the story of Henry. This is his development, his psychology and, above all, why he matters."

Prominent female authors to write about Henry VIII and the Tudors include Lady Antonia Fraser, whose titles include the best-selling account The Six Wives of Henry VIII; Alison Weir, who wrote a book bearing the same title; and Jessie Childs, author of the prize-winning Henry VIII's Last Victim.

Talking to The Daily Telegraph, Dr Starkey said that while writing about Henry VIII, "even I fell into the trap of subjugating the history of Henry ... to that of his wives".

He said he did so because "they are a gift to the writer – you end up with six stories for the price of one."

But he warned that the "soap opera" of Henry's personal life should come second to the political consequences of his rule, such as the Reformation and the break with Rome.

Dr Starkey went further, by saying that modern attempts to paint many women in history as "power players" was to falsify the facts.

He said: "If you are to do a proper history of Europe before the last five minutes, it is a history of white males because they were the power players, and to pretend anything else is to falsify."

For example, while he considered Elizabeth I to be a great monarch, "the way she is presented as some sort of female icon is ludicrous".

During Victorian times her conduct was regarded as "perfectly deplorable", he added.

Dr Starkey insisted: "I'm not joining forces with Fathers for Justice, it is simply saying that our new world has its own set of prejudices, its set of distinctive lenses, and we need to be aware of them." Read more
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BNP to launch advertising campaign featuring Jesus Christ

The extremist British National Party (BNP) is to launch an advertising campaign featuring Jesus Christ.

The far-Right party will use the advert which features a bible verse quoting Jesus' words about persecution, in the run up to the European Elections in June.

It comes after the Church of England passed a resolution at its General Synod last month banning clergy from being members of the party.

The advert features a picture of Jesus Christ on the cross and quotes a part of a verse from John's Gospel (John 15:20) in which Jesus says: "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you". The verse comes in the context of Jesus' teaching about love.

The advert then asks: "What would Jesus do?".

The thinktank Ekklesia has monitored attempts by the BNP since 2003 to present itself as a ‘Christian Party’. It has also warned that misleading stories about ‘Christian persecution’ in the UK, as well as appeals by church leaders to recover the idea of 'Christian Britain', have played into the hands of the far-Right

In recent years the BNP has used religious rhetoric with increasing frequency. In recent local elections, the party's literature included copies of the controversial Mohammed cartoons. It also helped establish a 'Christian Council of Britain'.

The goal is to appeal to those in the population who identify with Christianity, but feel panicked both by 'liberal secularism' and the growth of Islam. Read more
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Monday, 30 March 2009

Tory councillor quizzed by police after making 'homophobic' joke about transsexuals

He thought he was just making a humorous remark.

But not everyone saw the funny side to Conservative councillor Jonathan Yardley's suggestion at a police liaison meeting that transexuals could call themselves both male and female.

Unbeknown to him, a transgender person was among the 50 members of the public present, and a complaint - thought to have been made by the person's partner - was later recieved by police about Mr Yardley's 'homophobic' comment.

It resulted, claims Mr Yardley, in him being 'put through the mill' by officers and told to be more careful what he jokes about.

Today Mr Yardley, 48, said: 'I find it ridiuclous you can get in trouble over an off the cuff remark with no malice intended. I didn't even know there was a transgender person there.

'There are much more important issues that the police should be spending their time on. These are the politically correct times we live in, you can¹t make jokes any more.'

At the meeting which landed him in hot water the public had been given handsets allowing them to electronically answer 36 questions that were being flashed up on screen as part of a presentation.

The first few questions, as is usual at the quarterly meetings in Wolverhampton chaired by Mr Yardley, the city council's Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety, were intended to establish the demographic of the audience.

The audience was told by a police authority worker: 'Let¹s start with an easy question to get us going: Press A if you're male or B if you're female'. The transgender person's partner then asked: 'What if you're transgendered?', and Mr Yardley said: 'You could press A and B together.' Read more
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Sunday, 29 March 2009

Save our churches by buying one

Twelve Churches, which opens at Bonhams in London tomorrow, will feature a series of paintings and limited-edition prints of historic churches by Gerard Stamp, the acclaimed artist.

All the works will be on sale to the public, with proceeds going to the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), the charity that cares for historic churches across the country.

The Sunday Telegraph's Save our Churches campaign has called on the Government to increase the level of funding to preserve historic churches and allow church buildings to be made more suitable for community use.

The campaign has been supported by politicians, celebrities and church figures, including David Cameron, Archbishop Rowan Williams, Joanna Lumley and the CCT. Read more

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Archbishop confronts BBC Director General over its treatment of religion

Dr Rowan Williams warned Mark Thompson at a meeting at Lambeth Palace that the broadcaster must not ignore its Christian audience.

His intervention comes amid mounting concern among senior members of the Church of England that the BBC is downgrading its religious output and giving preferential treatment to minority faiths.

The corporation recently sacked its head of religious programmes, Michael Wakelin, a Methodist preacher.

The emergence of a Muslim as the front-runner to succeed Mr Wakelin, along with the recent appointment of a Sikh to produce Songs of Praise, has raised fears within the Church that the Christian voice is being sidelined.

Mr Thompson caused controversy last year when he suggested that Islam should be treated more sensitively by the media than Christianity because Muslims are a minority religion. Read more

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We're in a state of sexual confusion

[...] It has been confusedly reported that the suggestion to televise advertisements for abortion clinics is an effort to "curb teenage pregnancies". This is not true, since an abortion clinic can only be of interest when pregnancy has already occurred. It is in fact an effort to curb live births to teenage mothers.

There is a grotesque and widening gulf in how society depicts pregnancy in mothers of different ages and classes. The pregnancy of an older, middle-class mother – a triumph over the dreaded spectre of infertility – or a wealthy celebrity is increasingly viewed by the media as a miraculous event: the world is beckoned in to relish vicariously everything from the first perceptible flutterings of foetal limbs to the gloriously expanding size of the bump.

If a 14-year-old girl should fall pregnant, however, sentimental cooing is replaced by cold functionality. The official line from the top down is: quick, get the damn thing "sorted out". If she agrees, the bemused girl is rushed to the nearest clinic for a termination, after which she is generally supposed to shut up about it and hug her shameful little secret close. Some girls may bounce back from such an experience with relative insouciance, others may find that it haunts them psychologically ever after. Responses to abortion are deep-rooted, complicated and rarely discussed in public: it's the sorrowful, silent side of sex.

I am not opposed to the provision of abortion services, sex education or contraception. I am, however, opposed to the persistent trivialising of both abortion and sex, particularly with regard to adolescents. The Government's policy of constant nagging about contraception has not solved the problem of teenage conception at all: it has made it worse. The line has been blurred between information and tacit encouragement. Read more
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