Category Archives: Religion

Anti-Islam activists stage protest atop Berlin monument

Merkel will not be pleased.

merkel muslim

From Fox News: Anti-Islam activists have staged an hour-long demonstration atop Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. The protesters unfurled a banner calling for “secure borders” in Germany as crowds of tourists milled around the iconic monument Saturday.

Police said 15 people were briefly detained over the protest and are likely to face charges of trespassing, harassment and breaching laws on public assembly.

AP Photo

AP Photo

Berlin police spokeswoman Patricia Braemer said the protesters belonged to the Identitarian Movement. Germany’s domestic intelligence agency earlier this month said it was putting the far-right group under observation because it aims to subvert democracy.

Leaflets scattered by supporters of the group claimed the government is trying to replace Germany’s population with Muslim immigrants.

Germany has seen an unprecedented influx of asylum-seekers, many from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, over the past year.

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Sunday Devotional: ‘Every one who exalts himself will be humbled’

Sirach 3:17-18

My child, conduct your affairs with humility,
and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,
and you will find favor with God.

The opposite of humility is narcissism or grandiosity — the exaltation and excessive love of your self. As such, narcissism is an offense against God because it violates the first of the Ten Commandments:

“I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange gods before me.”

As American culture becomes increasingly corrupt, it’s no accident that studies testify to a corresponding increase in narcissism “across the board,” in the words of San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge, the author of Generation Me (Free Press, 2006).

As recounted by Dan Zak for Washington Post, narcissism and one of its behavioral manifestations — entitlement — among college students have increased steadily since 1979. The data are clear: The ascent of narcissism and entitlement is dramatic. Professor Twenge observed:

“What we really have is a culture that has increasingly emphasized feeling good about yourself and favoring the individual over the group. And that has happened across the board, culturally, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. I have a 14-month-old daughter, and the clothing available to her has ‘little princess,’ or ‘I’m the boss,’ or ‘spoiled rotten’ written on it. This is what we’re dressing our babies in. Schools have programs designed to boost self-esteem. Parents say things like, ‘You shouldn’t care what other people think of you.’ We’re inundated with the notions of ‘feeling special,’ ‘believing in yourself’ and ‘be anything you want to be.'”

narcissismFor that reason, Twenge coined the term “iGeneration” (“i” as in both iPod and “me, me, me”) for the Millennials — those born in the general range of 1981 to 1999.

It is also no accident that the cultural rot and increase in narcissism “across the board” are accompanied by a dramatic increase in overt and coarsened sexuality, which permeats everything.

In a 1992 encyclical, Pastores Dabo Vobis, Pope/St. John Paul II explained the cause-and-effect connection between licentious (or unrestrained) sexuality and narcissism — the adulation of the self:

“…that outlook on human sexuality according to which sexuality…becomes degraded and thereby reduced to nothing more than a consumer good. In this case, many young people undergo an affective experience which, instead of contributing to a harmonious and joyous growth in personality which opens them outward in an act of self-giving, becomes a serious psychological and ethical process of turning inward toward self, a situation which cannot fail to have grave consequences on them in the future. In the case of some young people a distorted sense of freedom lies at the root of these tendencies. Instead of being understood as obedience to objective and universal truth, freedom is lived out as a blind acquiescence to instinctive forces and to an individual’s will to power.… On the religious level, such a situation, if it does not always lead to an explicit refusal of God, causes widespread indifference and results in a life which, even in its more significant moments and more decisive choices, is lived as if God did not exist.”

It is also no accident that all of these “Do As Thou Wilt” cultural indicators are accompanied by, not just the tolerance, but the celebration of homosexuality and transgenderism.

Psychiatrist Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, with more than 35 years of clinical experience treating homosexuals, including homosexual priests, said in a 2011 interview that “Narcissism — a personality disorder in which an insatiable need for admiration often leads to attention-seeking behavior — is prevalent among men who struggle with homosexuality.”

Jesus loves us this much

And what’s the antidote to narcissism?

The right kind of love.

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

Luke 14:11

“…For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

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


Tuesday funnies!

We have gone full circle! History repeating itself!

One of our first gender-neutral bathrooms



The Bar vs. The Baptists

In a small Midwestern conservative town, a business owner began to construct a building for a new bar. The local Baptist church started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayers.

Work progressed, however, right up until the week before opening, when a lightning strike hit the bar and it burned to the ground.

The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, until the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that the church was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building, either through direct or indirect actions or means.

In its reply to the court, the church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building’s demise.

As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork at the hearing and commented, “I don’t know how I’m going to decide this, but as it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer, and an entire church congregation that doesn’t!”



Sunday Devotional: Not everyone goes to Heaven

Luke 13:22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.”

Coming HomeA 2005 ABC News poll found that 89% of Americans believed in Heaven, which is consistent with data going back 30 years. More interesting is the fact that among those who believed in Heaven, 85% thought they would personally go there, such is our preening narcissism.

Today’s Gospel reading from Luke, however, is a sober reminder that we flatter ourselves when we imagine that we are destined for Heaven, for our Lord Jesus Christ said the gate is “narrow” and many “will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”

Recall that although we read and hear about near-death experiences (NDE) of what appears to be Heaven, there are NDE accounts of being in a dark place, full of demons. As an example, during his 2004 quadruple bypass surgery, Bill Clinton had a frightening near-death experience in which he found himself in a dark hellish place. As he recounted in an interview on ABC’s Primetime Live:

“I saw, like, dark masks crushing, like, death masks being crushed, in series, and then I’d see these great circles of light and then, like, Hillary’s picture or Chelsea’s face would appear on the light, and then they’d fly off into the dark.”

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The road to Heaven is a rigorous and demanding one. Afterall, Jesus did say “I have come to set the earth on fire” (Luke 12:49). So we are to look upon our life on this mortal coil as a trial by fire, wherein we must rid “ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters,
You have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:
“My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he acknowledges.”
Endure your trials as “discipline”;
God treats you as sons.
For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?
At the time,
all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.

So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
Make straight paths for your feet,
that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.

Only the holy go to Heaven. I want to be holy, and I so want you all to be holy. So let’s help each other trod that hard and “narrow” path of goodness, no matter the slings and arrows, the trials and tribulations. And at all times, “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1,2).

Christ crucifiedThe Greatest Commandment of all is to love God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength.

Jesus, I love you.

Rejoice that we have lived to see another glorious Sunday! And may the love and peace and joy and goodness of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you!


Sharp Shooter: Kim Rhode wins bronze, makes Olympic history

Obvious Bonus: She’s pro-Second Amendment.

From USA Today: Make it six straight for Kim Rhode. The 37-year-old American won a medal for her sixth consecutive Olympics on Friday, capturing bronze in the skeet shooting event at the Olympic Shooting Center.

It’s a stunning accomplishment from Rhode, who becomes the first female Olympian to medal in six consecutive games, and the first summer Olympian as well. Only Italian luger Armin Zoeggeler has done it on the men’s side.

Rhode’s bronze medal match ended in a shoot-off, after both she and China’s Meng Wei hit 15 of 16 clays. Rhode missed a clay in her first round of the shoot-off, but Meng followed by missing one of her own. Three rounds later, Meng missed her final clay to hand the bronze to Rhode.

Rhode lifted her arm to the sky when she realized she’d done it. She then walked over to the stands, where her husband handed her their 3-year-old son for a long hug. “Being a mom, having a son here, it’s amazing,” she said. “I hope that he remembers this. We’ve taken tons of pictures trying to capture the moment.”

Afterward, she said history was on her mind as she was shooting. “Most definitely,” she said. “When you’re in that bronze medal match, and you know you can walk away going for Olympic history or [nothing], yes, that was definitely on my mind.”

The crowd rose to give Rhode a standing ovation after the announcer told them history had just been made. Italians Chiara Cainero and Diana Bacosi won silver and gold, respectively.

kim rhode

Rhode’s Olympic history has been nothing short of dominant. She won gold in the 1996 Games in double trap at the age of 17, then followed up with bronze in Sydney, gold in Athens, silver in Beijing, and then gold in London. “Standing up there on the podium, it’s addicting,” Rhode said. “It keeps me coming back for more.” IOC president Thomas Bach was in the crowd for the event, catching a seat for history.

American Morgan Craft, 23, also competed in the event, but was eliminated in a semifinal shoot-off. Craft said after the final that she respected Rhode’s longevity, but doesn’t see herself competing in that many Olympics – her dream is to become a physician’s assistant.

Rhode has become an outspoken defendant of the second amendment in the United States. In a news conference before the start of the Games, Rhode spoke out about what it meant to her.

“We should have the right to keep and bear arms, to protect ourselves and our family,” she said. “The second amendment was put in there not just so we can go shoot skeet or go shoot trap. It was put in so we could defend our first amendment, the freedom of speech, and also to defend ourselves against our own government.”


Guess what women have the lowest divorce rate?

Answer: Virgin brides!

Reporting for Family Studies, June 6, 2016, Professor of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Utah Nicholas H. Wolfinger arrived at that finding by using data from the three most recent waves of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) collected in 2002, 2006-2010, and 2011-2013. For women marrying since the start of the new millennium:

  • Women with 10 or more partners were the most likely to divorce, but this only became true in recent years;
  • Women with 3-9 partners were less likely to divorce than women with 2 partners; and,
  • Women with 0-1 partners were the least likely to divorce.

Wolfinger’s finding confirms earlier research that found that having multiple sex partners prior to marriage could lead to less happy marriages and often increased the odds of divorce. But Wolfinger did uncover news findings, including:

  • The proportion of women who get married having had only one sex partner (in most cases, their future husbands) declined from 43% in the 1970s to 21% by the 2000s, to only 5% by the 2010s. The pace of decline quickened after 2000.
  • At the other end of the distribution, the number of future wives who had 10 or more pre-martial sex partners increased from 2% in the 1970s to 14% in the 2000s, and then to 18% in the 2010s.
  • Unfortunately, the NSFG doesn’t have full data on men’s premarital sexual behavior, and in any event they recall their own marital histories less reliably than do women.

The following chart (Figure 1) depicts the percentage of first marriages ending in divorce within 5 years of wedlock according to the decade the wedding took place and how many sex partners a woman had prior to marriage.

number of premarital sex partners & divorceConsistent with prior research, those with fewer sex partners were less likely to divorce. However, there are considerable differences by marriage cohort, i.e., when the marriage took place — in the 1980s, 1990s, or 2000s.

  • For all three cohorts, women who married as virgins had the lowest divorce rates by far.
  • The percentage of virgin marriages (on the part of the woman, at least) that dissolved within 5 years was 11% in the 1980s, 8% in the 1990s, and 6% in the 2000s.
  • The highest 5-year divorce rates of all are associated with marrying in the 2000s and having 10 or more premarital sex partners: 33%.
  • Before the 2000s, however, it was women with 2 partners prior to marriage, instead of those with 10 or more pre-marital sex partners, who had the highest divorce rates. Wolfinger’s “best guess” is that two partners may lead to uncertainty, but having a few more apparently leads to greater clarity about the right man to marry. While Wolfinger conncludes that “The odds of divorce are lowest with zero or one premarital partners, but otherwise sowing one’s oats seems compatible with having a lasting marriage,” he warns “But not too many oats” because women who married after 2000 who had had 10 or premarital sex partners had the highest divorce rates of all, of 33%. A lot of partners means a lot of baggage, which makes a stable marriage less tenable.

Religion and Divorce

Wolfinger hypothesized that religion may explain the low divorce rates of people with minimal sexual experience prior to marriage, and the NSFG data support such an interpretation, as seen in Figure 2 below.

number of premarital sex partners & church attendanceAs shown by the above Figure 2:

  • Women who marry as virgins are far more likely than other women to attend church at least once a week.
  • More interesting still is that the effect of religion became stronger in recent years — the divorce rate for virgin brides continued to drop for religious women between the 1980s and 2000s.
  • In general, people who attend church frequently have lower divorce rates than do non-participants.
  • Generally speaking, women who have multiple sex partners are less likely to be regular churchgoers.

Some other explanatory factors for the relationship between number of pre-marital sex partners and divorce are:

  1. Children: Women who marry with no or just one pre-marital sex partners are unlikely to have had children with another man. Getting married with a child already in tow has a profound negative effect on marital happiness and disproportionately high divorce rates.
  2. Personal history: People who suffered childhood sexual abuse are more likely to have extensive sexual histories and pre-marital sex. Childhood abuse also increases the odds of a problematic marriage.
  3. Race: Caucasian and African American women had similar premarital sexual behavior, but Latinas and members of the “Other” population group had notably fewer sex partners and lower divorce rates than either whites or blacks.
  4. Family history of divorce: People who grew up without both parents had more sex partners and divorced more.

Wolfinger’s most recent book is Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Children, and Marriage among African Americans and Latinos, coauthored with W. Bradford Wilcox (Oxford University Press, 2016). 

Recently, there was a discussion among some commenters on FOTM on the increasing prevalence of brides wearing strapless gowns like this:

strapless wedding gownThe discussion centered on why overweight brides would wear those strapless gowns. My question is why any woman, overweight or not, would wear a strapless wedding gown that’s more suitable for a nightclub because I don’t understand why a bride’s motive is to look “sexy” in a church before a throng of family and friends.

I suggest that Professor Wolfinger consider the popularity of strapless wedding gowns as an indicator of pre-marital sex, and as a predictor of divorce.


Ex-husband admits honour killing of British woman in Pakistan

Samia Shahid/Photo from Independent

Samia Shahid/Photo from Independent

From The ex-husband of a British woman who was the victim of an alleged honour killing in Pakistan has admitted strangling her to death, police have said.

Samia Shahid, a 28-year-old beautician from Bradford, died while visiting relatives in her ancestral village in the northern Punjab region of the country. Her family said she had a heart attack, but her husband Syed Mukhtar Kazam believes she was murdered in a so-called honour killing because the family did not approve of her marriage to him.

Ms. Shahid’s former husband Choudhry Shakeel was arrested along with her father on suspicion of murder – and Mr. Shakeel has since confessed he drugged and strangled his ex-wife, according to Pakistani newspaper Dawn.

Deputy Inspector General Abubakar Khuda Bakhsh, the investigating officer in the case, told Reuters Mr. Shakeel and Ms. Shahid’s father, Choudhry Shahid, had appeared in court in Pakistan. “The court has sent them to police custody for physical remand of four days,” Mr Bakhsh said. “Once facts are established, we would be in a better position to say if it is an honour killing (which are often ignored by police) or a murder as revenge.”

The case has attracted attention because it came days after the high-profile honour killing of outspoken social media star Qandeel Baloch, dubbed ‘the Kim Kardashian of Pakistan’. Ms. Baloch’s brother has been arrested in relation to her death.