Category Archives: Christians/Christianity

Angel over Ground Zero, September 2016

On September 9, 2016, a professional photographer named Richard McCormack took a pic of the New York city skyline, and captured the beam of light shooting up from One World Trade Center — Ground Zero of 9/11.

Photo by Richard McCormack

Photo by Richard McCormack

On Sept. 12, 2016, McCormack posted the pic to his Facebook page, with this comment:

Zoom in to the top of beam do you see something, I took this photo no photo shop no gimmicks took many and only one showed this image ,copyright Richard J McCormack 9/9/2016

Here’s a close-up of the figure at the top of the beam of light.

angel-over-ground-zero-closeup

McCormack describes himself as a clerk at the County of Hudson, and a photographer at The Jersey Journal.

His intriguing photo has been published in a number of venues, including New Jersey 101.5:

Richard McCormack took several pictures of the Sept. 11 memorial lights on Friday. All of the pictures looked pretty much the same – all but one that depicts an image he can’t quite explain.

At the very top of one of the beam, where it meets the clouds, there appears to be a distinctly human-like figure. The Jersey City man, who freelances as a photographer around Hudson County, said the image didn’t appear in any of the identical photos he took from the same location, and the pictures wasn’t altered or edited in any way. In fact, McCormack said, he doesn’t even know how to use editing programs such as Photoshop.

According to McCormack, the picture was taken from the waterfront in Hoboken during a festival late last week — just two days before the country held countless services and events in memory of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. The Hudson County man, a former postal worker who serves on the Jersey City Zoning Board, has seen the memorial lights before. He’s photographed them numerous times, but he says seeing the image at the top of the beam was a complete surprise.

“I did a double-take not knowing really what it was, but as I zoomed in it almost looked liked a vision of the Lord with his arms crossed,” said McCormack, who still remembers the horror that unfolded on 9/11. “I got very emotional, and I got tears in my eyes.”

McCormack said that while he does believe in prayer, he admittedly doesn’t go to church every week. He can’t say with any certainty what the image at the top of the beam is, but several people who commented on his picture on Facebook believe it’s spiritual, with many people saying they believe it to be an angel. At least one person recalled seeing it with her own eyes as she was driving.

“Yup. It’s an angel. Noticed it last night driving on the parkway,” Diane Brennan commented on the image, which McCormack posted around 9 p.m. Monday night and was quickly shared almost two dozen times.

Other people also commented, saying they believed it to be an angel or Jesus. Others, who know of McCormack’s lack of photo editing abilities, even commented on the authenticity of the picture.

“If someone else took the pic I would think this was Photoshopped…great pic Rich,” Linda Conner said.

Another person, Yvette Cid, also posted a comment saying, “Rich I know you don’t photo shop that’s an awesome pic wow I lost my two boys and I believe this is a sign to all that have lost a love one.”

Nancy Diaz, another commenter, said “it looks like there’s someone up there looking down.”

In fact, although he took the photos last week, McCormack said he didn’t even notice the anomaly until today. He said had he seen it yesterday, on 9/11, he would’ve been even more emotional.

“That day turned a lot of things around and changed our country,” he said of the terrorist attacks.

McCormack acknowleged that many people would either assume the photo was altered or that they would believe the image atop the beam can be easily attributed to other, non-spiritual factors such as the shape of the clouds. As of now, though, he still has no explanation but said he’s content knowing that so many people found a sense of comfort in seeing the photo.

See also “Angel and Devil on 9/11“.

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: Character matters

Luke 16:10, 13

Jesus said to his disciples:
“The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones….
No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

cross1

Americans have developed the woeful ability to compartmentalize.

In 1998, during Bill Clinton’s second presidential term, his sordid adulterous affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky came the light. Clinton’s public denial of the affair (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman”) led to his impeachment (and acquittal) for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Despite all that, I remember being dismayed at the time by a poll showing that a majority of Americans insisted that Clinton’s behavior was merely his “personal” life, which is separate from and does not affect his “public” life and conduct as U.S. president.

The words of Jesus in the above passage from Luke 16 is a reminder that morality cannot be compartmentalized and sectioned off into separate, discrete rooms. Instead, the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.” For “No servant can serve two masters”— you’re either with God, or you’re not. It’s that simple.

Let this be your guide in the upcoming November 8 election, as well as in all our dealings with each other and with ourselves.

Our Founding Fathers knew well morality cannot be compartmentalized, and how integral morality is for democratic self-government:

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” -John Adams, 1798.

“Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” -George Washington.

“[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” -Benjamin Franklin

“[W]ithout virtue there can be no liberty.” -Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence.

“[F]or avoiding the extremes of despotism or anarchy . . . the only ground of hope must be on the morals of the people. I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments. [T]herefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God.” -Gouverneur Morris, penman and signer of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Crossmedj

The Greatest Commandment of all is to love God with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind, and with all our strength.

Jesus, I love You. Thank you for suffering and dying for me and for this wretched humanity.

May the peace and joy and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

Eowyn

Canadian woman, 81, has “Don’t euthanize me” tattoo on her shoulder

Last December, Quebec became the first jurisdiction in Canada to allow “competent” adults experiencing “intolerable suffering” at the end of life to request “medical aid in dying,” aka physician-assisted suicide, aka euthanasia.

In June of 2016, the Canadian Parliament legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide for all Canadians. Doctors, who had sworn the Hippocratic Oath of “First, do no harm,” now can administer lethal injections to mentally fit patients suffering an incurable illness who are in constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain, or in an advanced state of irreversible decline. 

But Christine Nagel, 81, with no confidence in the medical system, had “Don’t euthanize me” tattooed on her shoulders to let medical practitioners know her wishes.

christine-nagel

Below is her essay in Mercator Net, Sept. 15, 2016:

For years, I warned my children to steer clear of tattoo parlors, and now at 81 years old, I have had to resort to one myself.

Bill C-14 makes it legal for us to play God and to make decisions over life and death ourselves. Assisted suicide is promoted as the most dignified way to treat an aging population–humanely, painlessly and without the need for suffering. Financially, it will become the salvation to our overburdened health care systems.

Our Government and Supreme Court do not of course mention anything about money, but they do warn us that within a few years, seniors will outnumber the rest of the population and will need an army of caregivers to cope with them. That will be costly. Inevitably, euthanasia will become a more “socially acceptable” way to solve this problem, than for example Hitler’s “Final Solution”.

Obviously, none of this is acceptable to us Christians. We look to Christ on the cross, stripped of his garments, writhing in agony, and covered in blood–hardly a dignified image of God’s son.

Yet the meaning of this is central to our faith. Suffering is vital to life and to our growth. What occurs at the end of my life is between God and me. Let no one else dare to interfere.

So to understand this message clearly, read my shoulder!

Christine Nagel
Calgary, Alberta

See also:

~Eowyn

Epidemic of loneliness due to decline in religion & church attendance

Carolyn Moynihan reports for Mercator Net, Sept. 12, 2016, that according to The New York Times, there is an epidemic of loneliness in “advanced” economies:

  • In Britain and the United States about one in three people older than 65 live alone, and studies show 10% to 46% of those older than 60 are lonely.
  • In 2012, about 20% of older people in Canada reported feeling lonely. But you don’t have to be old to feel isolated: in a study of 34,000 Canadian university students, almost two thirds reported feeling “very lonely” in the past 12 months.

Dr. Carla M. Perissinotto, a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco, calls the epidemic of loneliness a public health crisis. She says, “The profound effects of loneliness on health and independence are a critical public health problem. It is no longer medically or ethically acceptable to ignore adults who feel lonely and marginalized.”

A study she conducted showed that, among adults over 60, those who reported feelings of loneliness had significantly higher rates of declining mobility, difficulty in performing routine daily activities, and death during 6 years of follow-up. This association remained significant even after taking into account people’s age, economic status, depression and other health problems.

University of Chicago neuroscience researcher John T. Cacioppo, who studies the social nature of the human brain, puts loneliness on the same instinctive level as thirst, hunger or pain – as a survival mechanism. In an interview he says:

“One of the things that surprised me was how important loneliness proved to be. It predicted morbidity. It predicted mortality. And that shocked me. When we experimentally manipulated loneliness, we found surprising changes in the “personalities” of people. There’s a lot more power to the perception of being socially isolated than any of us had thought.”

Cacioppo’s research has shown links to high blood pressure and impaired immune responses. Other research implicates loneliness in heart attacks and suicide.

Many things beside social circumstances — not having family members nearby or not having friends — contribute to the loneliness epidemic. The following two seem especially significant:

  1. Ethos of individualism: American culture’s emphasis placed on individualism makes “independence” the highest virtue and an excuse for not “needing” others or for not getting involved in the lives of needy people. But the reality of human life is interdependence — we need each other. In fact, a main argument for euthanasia is that people do not want to be dependent – even on their families – and this could become society’s “decent” option for lonely people.
  2. Decline of religion and church attendance has removed an important social as well as spiritual support for people of any age. Researchers reported from a European study last year that joining a religious organization is more beneficial to mental health than joining charity, sport, education or political groups for a sample of people over 50. Epidemiologist Dr. Mauricio Avendano, one of the authors of the report, noted:

“The church appears to play a very important social role in keeping depression at bay and also as a coping mechanism during periods of illness in later life. It is not clear to us how much this is about religion per se, or whether it may be about the sense of belonging and not being socially isolated.”

In the case of Christianity, it teaches us that even if we don’t have a loving family on earth, we have a loving Father in Heaven. Our faith also teaches us how to be loving mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and even enemies, so no one should ever feel abandoned.

Coming Home1

A personal note: I like to think that, in addition to its manifest function of informing, this blog, Fellowship of the Minds, also serves a social purpose by providing political conservatives and Christians with a sense of fellowship and camaraderie. I take some solace in knowing that FOTM did that for at least two of our faithful readers in their last years: Wild Bill Alaska and pnordman. Wild Bill, a military veteran, used to send me jokes, many of which I posted on FOTM; pnordman was a sweet and kind woman, who showered FOTM with her lavish praises and appreciation. Whereas pnordman lived with one of her sons and his family, in Wild Bill‘s case, our fellowship was particularly important because he had lived alone in a modest studio apartment — which I found out only after his passing from cancer. Their respective real names are William Barnham and Patricia Nordman. Both were true blue Christians. May they rest in peace with our Lord.

See also “Being alone is bad for our health,” Oct. 10, 2015.

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: He came for sinners

Luke 15:1-10

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them he addressed this parable.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”

Good Shepherd saves lost lamb

It is said that the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit is to imagine that one’s sin(s) is so great that it is unforgivable. Imagine the gall of delimiting the omnipotence of the Creator! In other words, the sin against the Holy Spirit is not that God won’t or can’t forgive you; it is that the human refuses to ask for and receive forgiveness. Since God respects the free will He’s given us — even the freedom to not believe in Him and reject His mercy — He does not thrust Himself on us. And so the sinner remains unrepentant to the end, spurning the Creator’s clemency and love.

The proof against such an arrogant conviction that one’s sins are so great as to be unforgivable is in the lives and repentance of countless individuals who had done truly terrible deeds.

One of them is Saul, the highly-educated Roman Jew who hunted down and persecuted fellow Jews who were the earliest followers of Christ, most notably the killing by stoning of St. Stephen. Until the day when Christ really got Saul’s attention by striking him with blindness and spoke to him:

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Saul remained sightless and neither ate nor drank for 3 days, after which he became an entirely different man, which is always a mark of true conversion. He renamed himself Paul, which means “little”. Not only did he stop persecuting Christians, he became a devoted follower of Christ and arguably the most influential early missionary who spent the rest of his life traversing the Mediterranean Basin in a time when travel was arduous, laborious and dangerous, to bring His Word to both Jews and Gentiles.

More than any of Christ’s disciples, it was Paul who fully understood that, by His incarnation, death and resurrection, Jesus replaced the covenant of the Old Testament with a new covenant. This was made clear by Jesus Himself in the Last Supper:

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor 11.25; cf. Mt 26.27-29; Mk 14.24, Lk 22.20; Heb 8.6, 9.15).

Henceforth, God’s chosen are all who “take up their cross” and follow Jesus the Christ. In other words, what once was a tribal religion — Judaism — is now superceded by the universal faith of Christianity. That is why St. Paul is called the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” Without the work of Paul, formerly the sinful Saul of Tarsus, you and I might not be Christians.

So if you think Christ had come only for the perfect and the good, here is Paul’s testimony:

1 Timothy 1:13-16

I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant,
but I have been mercifully treated
because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.
Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Of these I am the foremost.
But for that reason I was mercifully treated,
so that in me, as the foremost,
Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example
for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.

Paul was beaten, arrested and imprisoned on more than one occasion. According to Christian tradition, he was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero on June 29, AD 67 — the same day as St. Peter was crucified upside down because Peter felt himself unworthy to be crucified as His Lord had been.

Shortly before he was martyred, St. Paul had written to St. Timothy these famous words:

“I am even now ready to be sacrificed, and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith. As for the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice which the Lord, the just judge, will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love His coming.”

For all these reasons — the sinful, pre-conversion Saul; the post-conversion Paul who turned his back on his past and devoted the rest of his life to Jesus; the Apostle to the Gentiles who taught us about Jesus’ New Covenant; the author of all those letters that teach and inspire “so long as men can breathe, or eyes can see”; the saint who so loves Jesus that he joyfully went to his martyrdom — I love and admire St. Paul with all my heart.

So whenever you imagine your sins to be so great as to be unforgivable — which, of course, is really your overweening arrogance speaking — just remember the man who once was named Saul.

Laughing JesusSee also:

May the love and peace and “ocean of mercy” of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

Wayne Madsen: Hillary Clinton courts Muslims to win election

Muslim refugees destroy
In his subscriber-only post of Sept. 5, 2016, “Anti-migrant forces gain political steam in Europe (and America),” independent investigative journalist Wayne Madsen writes:

Europe’s populist anti-migrant leaders are backing U.S. Republican Party nominee Donald Trump against his rival Hillary Clinton, who favors a 555 percent increase in Syrian Muslim refugees allowed into the United States. Trump’s underlying theme of protecting American society against Islamists, jihadists, and terrorists has struck the same chord among America’s middle class as have similar calls in Europe to defend Western civilization against a radical Sunni Muslim culture of rape, pedophilia, sectarian violence, and unsanitary behavior in public places. Anti-migrant European political leaders, such as former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage and Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders, were guests of honor at Trump’s GOP convention in Cleveland.

The Hillary Clinton campaign has become desperate for Muslim votes in the United States. The Clinton campaign has spurred voter registration drives among Bosnian Muslims in St. Louis, many of whom entered the country during Bill Clinton’s war against Christian Serbia in the Balkans Wars, in order to flip Missouri to the Democrats. Clinton surrogates are also pushing for increased registration among Albanian and Kosovo Muslim blocs in Michigan and Florida to supplement Clinton’s sizable support among Muslim Arabs in eastern Michigan and the Jacksonville area of Florida.

Trump, on the other hand, can rely on political support from those of Lebanese Christian descent in New Hampshire; Greek descent in western Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Virginia, and North Carolina; Serbian descent in Cleveland and its suburbs in Ohio; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and the greater Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania; and Armenian descent in California that know, all-too-well, the dangers posed by Muslim radicals. The Lebanese Christian and Greek communities in New Hampshire are powerful political forces that could tip the state to Trump when the danger of Mrs. Clinton’s close ties to her Muslim Brotherhood-linked aide Huma Abedin is fully made known to the public.

For electorates in the United States and Europe, voting for leaders who will defend Western civilization against an influx of actual and potential terrorists is the most existential decision they will ever make.

Meanwhile, in Europe, a Visegrad group of four central European nations — Czechia, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary — are standing firm against calls by the EU for them to take in Muslim migrants from refugee camps in Greece and other countries:

  1. Czechia President Milos Zeman said that Muslim migrants are “impossible” to integrate into his country, while Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka rejects the EU’s refugee quota system.
  2. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said the EU’s policy of forcing members to accept quotas of Muslim migrants amounts to “ritual suicide.”
  3. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called the Muslim migrants a “poison” in Europe and refused to accept any migrants into his country.
  4. Poland’s ruling Civic Platform government refuses to accept any Muslim migrants, although it did agree to take in some 300 Syrian Christian refugees because it does not consider them to be a threat to Poland’s security. Poland has rejected calls from the hypocritical Pope Francis — whose Vatican City has accepted only one Syrian immigrant family of 4 (who are Christians) — to accept a large number of Muslim migrants.

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: On slavery and welfare

Philemon 9-17

I, Paul, an old man,
and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus,
urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus,
whose father I have become in my imprisonment;
I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you.
I should have liked to retain him for myself,
so that he might serve me on your behalf
in my imprisonment for the gospel,
but I did not want to do anything without your consent,
so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary.
Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while,
that you might have him back forever,
no longer as a slave
but more than a slave, a brother,
beloved especially to me, but even more so to you,
as a man and in the Lord.
So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.

The above reading from St. Paul’s letter to Philemon is a powerful statement against both slavery as well as the institution of goverment-enforced welfare.

The letter was written by St. Paul during an imprisonment, believed to be in Rome between A.D. 61 and 63. The letter concerns Onesimus (pronounced “o-NEH-sih-muhs”), a slave who had run away from his master, Philemon (pronounced “fih-LEE-muhn”), an early Christian in Asia Minor who was a slave-owner and a minister of the house church that met in his home.

In their imprisonment, Paul converted Onesimus to Christ, then sends him back to his master, Philemon, with a private letter appealing on behalf of Onesimus, asking that he be welcomed not as a slave but as an equal — a brother in Christ.

By presenting Onesimus as “brother, beloved…to me, but even more so to you,” Paul voiced an idea that was revolutionary for, at the time, human slavery was an accepted institution that the Christian communities of the first century were in no position to challenge.

It is no wonder that the abolition movement that began in the 18th century in the UK and the US was pioneered, led, and staffed by Christians — a fact that is little known or publicized today.

Both Philemon and Onesimus were martyred at Colossaei during the first general persecution in the reign of Nero, and are regarded as saints by several Christian churches. (Note: The word “saint” simply means “holy”; the title of “saint” is honorific, a sign of our respect.) For the martyrdom of Paul, see “St. Paul, whom Christ struck blind”.

St. Onesimus

As for welfare, an institution that has become colossal and immovable in our time in the form of the bloated welfare state, there can be no more powerful statement against it than Paul’s words in his letter to Philemon:

“so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary”

Charity is voluntary, which studies show conservatives give more in both money and services than liberals.

But welfare, the revenue for which is extracted via confiscatory taxation, is not charity because it is enforced, and an involuntary “good” is no longer a good.

And yet “liberal” Christians precisely support this enforced charity — an oxymoron — in the name of “social justice”. But then those same “liberal” Christians also are “pro-choice,” a euphemism for government-sanctioned abortion — the lawful killing of unborn and entirely innocent human beings, for whom Christ weeps.

Jesus laughs with babyMay the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn