Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Pentagon vs. Christianity

There is some outrage within the Christian community regarding the National Day of Prayer and the Pentagon.

The headlines state Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham and the entire National Day of Prayer task force, including Shirley and Dr. James Dobson were uninvited to the National Day of Prayer observance at the Pentagon.

The apparent reason the invitation was rescinded was Graham’s post 9/11 comment that Islam, as practiced, is evil. The Dobson’s suggest the Pentagon’s rejection of Christian leaders is much broader than previously recognized.

A Pentagon spokesman, George Wright went on to confirm this information saying, “While we appreciate Franklin Graham’s worldwide outreach and his willingness to speak at this Pentagon multi-faith event, his presence would be inappropriate. Mr. Wright had no comment about Franklin Graham’s organization, Samaritan’s Purse, which aids millions of the needy around the world.

Wright stated the Pentagon event "will continue as scheduled under the administration of the office of the Pentagon Chaplain." Asked which chaplains, representing which faith traditions, will be involved in the upcoming event, Wright replied, "The agenda has not been finalized."

Graham has stuck to his views and stated that he loves the Islamic people. Through his ministry he has provided assistance to people in Muslim countries. He states, “I do not agree with their religion at all...look at what their religion does jut to women...it is horrid. I speak out for people that live under Islam that are enslaved by Islam and I want them to know they can be free.”

Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council had this to say. "This decision is further evidence that the leadership of our nation's military has been impaired by the politically correct culture being advanced by this administration," Perkins said. "Under this Administration's watch we are seeing the First Amendment, designed to protect the religious exercise of Americans, retooled into a sword to sever America's ties with orthodox Christianity.

"For those Christian leaders who have avoided the controversy of political issues, saying they just wanted to preach the gospel -- this should be a wake-up call!"

However, Franklin Graham says, "The military never extended the invitation to me," Franklin Graham explained Friday on CBN. "I got a call from the Pentagon, from the head chaplain, and he asked if I would rescind this invitation. I said, 'Sir, I never got the invitation.' The invitation is actually to the National Day of Prayer (task force). It wasn't give to me. I said 'You'll have to go to the National Day of Prayer. I'm their honorary chairman, but the invitation didn't come to me directly.' So they disinvited, is my understanding, the National Day of Prayer."

While Graham and the National Day of Prayer task force will be excluded from the Pentagon event, Graham will still be the keynote speaker at the other major National Day of Prayer observance to be held May 6 in the Nation's Capital, at the Cannon House Office Building.

On Sunday, President Obama visited Billy Graham's residence in Montreat, N.C. Franklin Graham said that during Sunday's visit, he spoke briefly with President Obama about the Pentagon's decision to spurn the task force, which has participated in the Pentagon event for several years. Graham says he told the president that anti-Christian activists are trying to remove all traces of religion from the U.S. military. "I wanted to make him aware of that. He said he would look into it,"

The National Day of Prayer became law under the Truman Administration. The National Day of Prayer task force is a privately funded organization that has been involved in the Pentagon’s observance in past years.

Graham also said the Pentagon decision was an ominous sign for the future of religious freedom in America.

"I think no question … religious freedom is under attack," he said. "There has been an erosion now for many years, but we have seen it really accelerate in the last 10 years. This political correctness that has crept in, that if we stand for what we believe in, all the sudden we are not tolerant. They almost make it look like we are participating in hate speech, when we say that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and there's no way to God except through Christ and Christ alone. They are interpreting that now as being hostile and hate speech."

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb of Wisconsin ruled that holding a National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional, maintaining it violates the First Amendment's prohibition against the establishment of a religion by the federal government. The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed in 2008 by a group of atheists and agnostics.

For what its worth, my suggestion is we all pray for our Country and it's leaders.  May they recall the principals under which The United States of America was founded and not forget them.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Last Supper Grew to Ungodly Portions

Paintings Reveal That Plate, Portion Sizes Gradually Grew in the Past Millennium

By Bill Hendrick from WebMD Medical News Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

March 24, 2010 -- Paintings of the Last Supper over the past millennium show that plate and food serving sizes have gotten larger throughout history, possibly foretelling today’s supersized portions, according to a new study.

The findings suggest that the phenomenon of serving bigger portions on bigger plates, which pushes people to overeat, has occurred gradually over the past 1,000 years, says co-author Brian Wansink, PhD, a marketing and economics professor at Cornell University and an expert on eating habits.

“We took the 52 most famous paintings of the Last Supper and analyzed the size of the entrees, bread, and plates, relative to the average size of the average head in the painting,” he says in a news release.

Wansink and his brother and co-author, Craig Wansink, professor of religious studies at Virginia Wesleyan College, used computer-aided design technology that allowed items in 52 paintings to be scanned, rotated, and calculated, regardless of the orientation of the objects in the artwork. “To account for the varying dimensions of the paintings, the average sizes of these items were indexed based on the average size of the heads depicted in the paintings,” the authors write.

The main discernable dishes depicted in the paintings included fish or eel (18%), lamb (14%), and pork (7%), and 46% of the paintings had no discernable main dish.

'Last Supper' Portions Growing

The study, published in the April 2010 issue of the International Journal of Obesity, finds that the size of the entrees in Last Supper paintings has progressively increased 66%, plate size 66%, and bread size 23% in the past 1,000 years.

“The last thousand years have witnessed dramatic increases in the production, availability, safety, abundance, and affordability of food,” says Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.

“We think that as art imitates life, these changes have been reflected in paintings of history’s most famous dinner,” he says.

The researchers used 52 paintings depicting the Last Supper that were featured in the 2000 book Last Supper by Phaidon Press.

Craig Wansink tells WebMD in an email that “the use of the head in measuring the size of the bread was simply to focus on proportionality between the paintings.”

In short, the scholars say the trend of larger plates and portion sizes detected in recent years and linked to obesity is a phenomenon that started hundreds or even more than 1,000 years ago.

They examined 10 paintings of the Last Supper completed between 1000-1300, five done between 1300 and 1400, 15 between 1400 and 1500, 13 between 1500 ad 1600, and nine between 1600 and the year 2000.

“Perhaps the increasing portion sizes and food availability we have recently noticed is rooted in a general trend that has been artistically depicted for more than a millennium,” the authors write.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Left vs. Right Article

I have friends that have conservative views and friends that have liberal views.  I love them all, although the ones that are liberal are somewhat of an enigma to me. 

A few years back my wife and I were invited to a Reform Synagogue in Cincinnati.  If you did not know it, Cincinnati is a major center for Reform Judaism and home to Hebrew Union College.  Reform Jews are definitely liberal in their religious views and can have liberal views in politics. 

The experience of worshipping with the people that attend this schul was wonderful, unforgettable and treasured.

I don't think we can lump all liberals and all conservatives together as society and the media often portray the two groups.  I certainly do not want to be hurtful to anyone.

I found this article yesterday in the Jewish World Weekly online.  It was written by Dennis Prager.  I have reprinted the text just to share it with my friends and family. 

Prager is a gentleman on the far right of the playing field. Some of his views are rather extreme.  However I found this article to provide some insight into cultural differences.  (I can hear some of my liberal friends groaning.)  Email me if you disagree.  Keep in mind it was geared to a Jewish audience. And keep in mind Prager's views are not entirely my views. I disagree with some of his points.

Many Americans find it difficult to understand why Jews on the Left — including many who would call themselves "liberal" rather than "Left" — continued to enthusiastically support President Obama after the revelations about the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish views of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the religious mentor and close friend of Obama. This confusion is all the greater now that Obama has humiliated the prime minister of Israel and created the most tense moment in American-Israel relations in memory.

Likewise, many Americans wonder how Democratic congressmen who claim to be faithful Catholics and are pro-life could vote for the health care bill that allows for federal funding of abortions — after opposing it up to the last day.

There is an explanation.

Leftism, though secular, must be understood as a religion (which is why I have begun capitalizing it). The Leftist value system's hold on its adherents is as strong as the hold Christianity, Judaism and Islam have on their adherents. Nancy Pelosi's belief in expanding the government's role in American life, and therefore her passion for the health care bill, is as strong as a pro-life Christian's belief in the sanctity of the life of the unborn.

Given the religious nature and the emotional power of Leftist values, Jews and Christians on the Left often derive their values from the Left more than from their religion.

Now, of course, most Leftist Jews and Christians will counter that Leftist values cannot trump their religion's values because Leftist values are identical to their religion's values. But this argument only reinforces my argument that Leftism has conquered the Christianity and the Judaism of Leftist Christians and Jews. If there is no difference between Leftist moral values and those of Judaism or Christianity, then Christianity is little more than Leftism with "Jesus" rhetoric added, and Judaism is Leftism with Jewish terms — such as "Tikkun Olam" ("repairing the world") and "Prophetic values" — added.

But if Christianity is, morally speaking, really Leftism, why didn't Catholics or Protestants assert these values prior to 19th-century European Leftism? And, if Judaism is essentially a set of Left-wing values, does that mean that the Torah and the Talmud are Leftist documents? Or are the two pillars of Judaism generally wrong?

More questions:

Why are almost no Christians and Jews who believe that G-d is the author of the Bible (or, in the case of Jews, the Torah) on the Left?

Why are so few pro-life Catholic and Protestant Christians on the Left? Do they not care about "the poor"?

Of course, that is what people on the Left believe. As former head of the Democratic Party Howard Dean said, "Our moral values, in contradistinction to the Republicans, is, we don't think kids ought to go to bed hungry at night."

They believe such things despite the fact that traditional Protestants and Catholics have created more institutions to take care of the sick and needy than probably any other groups in the world. And despite the fact that religious Americans give more charity and volunteer more time than secular Americans do.

And why have the great majority of Orthodox Jews rejected the Left? For Jews on the Left, the explanation is simple: Orthodox Jews have primitive beliefs and therefore primitive values.

The obvious response is that for the Leftist, all opposition to the Left, secular or religious, is primitive and usually worse (Racist, Sexist, Homophobic, Xenophobic, Ignorant, Bigoted, Intolerant, Mean-Spirited, etc.). So this doesn't tell us much. What might tell us much is this: With a handful of exceptions, Orthodox Jews know Judaism far better than non-Orthodox Jews do. Given how few of them are Leftist, this would suggest that Judaism and Leftism are indeed in conflict.

But that doesn't matter to most Jews on the Left because to be a good person (and, to those for whom it matters, to be a good Jew), one need not know Judaism, let alone follow Judaism. One needs only to feel what is right (Leftism is overwhelmingly based on feeling); and, when in doubt, one can determine what is right from The New York Times, not from sacred Jewish texts.

One of the many fundamental differences between Leftism and Judaism concerns evil. Jews and others on the Left (everywhere, not just in America) have a real problem identifying, let alone confronting, evil. Yet, for Judaism, identifying and confronting evil is as basic a Jewish value as exists. That is why, for example, there is no pacifist tradition in Judaism.
Regarding evil, the Psalmist writes — and this is recited in synagogue every Sabbath — "Those who love G-d — hate evil." And as regards pacifism, one of the Prophets, Joel (3:10), inverts what became the much more famous quotation of Isaiah and Micah: "Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears." And later, the Talmud, almost equivalent in importance to the Bible, teaches (Berachost 58a): "The Torah has said: If a man comes to kill you, rise early and kill him first."

In contrast, Leftists, including Leftist Jews and Christians:
 were the loudest in condemning President Ronald Reagan when he labeled the Soviet Union an "evil empire."  

  • much of their lives to opposing the war in Vietnam, which they labeled immoral even though it was a war against Stalinist tyranny.  
  • opposed deposing the mass murderer Saddam Hussein.
  • Many even opposed the Gulf War.
  •  believe that the moral wasteland known as the United Nations is, or must be the greatest force for good on earth, not the United States.  
  • oppose allowing the American military to recruit on campuses.
And the further Left one goes, the more one demonizes free Israel and supports the dictatorships that wish to destroy Israel.

Indeed, Israel provides the clearest proof of how Leftism is stronger than the Jewishness of most Jews on the Left. Israel is threatened with a Holocaust by Iran and tens of millions of Islamic supporters outside of Iran, and Palestinian society is saturated with the most virulent Jew-hatred since the Nazis. Yet while today's Jew- and Israel-haters call the Left home, Jews on the Left continue to be proud members of the Left. Such is the power of Leftism, the most dynamic religion in the world for the last 150 years.
And that explains Bart Stupak's vote, too. In his inner conflict between Catholicism and Leftism, the more dynamic religion won.