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Look busy! Sunday reflection

Westlake Legal Group jesus-mary-martha Look busy! Sunday reflection The Blog Sunday reflection religion Christianity

This morning’s Gospel reading is Luke 10:38–42:

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

It’s been many years since I’ve been part of a wedding, and except for the signal that it means I’m getting old, I don’t mind it much. The stress of weddings, especially formal weddings, tends to bring out the worst in people, in part because of the expectations we build up for such events. On the surface, it looks like a fun event, being dressed to the nines, having a banquet with friends and family, and dancing the night away. The emotional clashes and costs to get there, though, often overshadow the point of the celebration — so much so that we now have television shows glamorizing them.

Who needs to watch that? Just sign up to help organize the next family wedding.

I’m kidding (mostly), but it’s true that we sometimes get so caught up in preparation for an event that we forget the purpose of the event itself. That’s not just true of weddings, but of other celebrations and events. It’s not that preparation isn’t necessary, but so is perspective. This is one of the lessons we learn today from Jesus in this exchange with Martha, who has reached the end of her rope with her sister, but hardly the only one.

In the culture of that day — and to ours, still — hospitality was not just a virtue but a social imperative. Martha had not just welcomed Jesus into her house, but his disciples, which we know because she was “burdened with much serving.” It would have been rude not to serve the crowd, a type of rejection. Whether Mary helped or not, the job had to be done. Martha couldn’t let welcomed visitors go without food and drink in her house.

At the same time, Martha seems to be missing the point. This episode parallels Peter’s first impulse at the Transfiguration, in which he offers to build three tents as tribute rather than be in the moment with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. There is nothing ill-intended about Peter’s suggestion, but the process of building tents would necessarily have taken him away from a miracle unfolding before him, unfolding for his benefit. In its way, it misses the forest for the trees.

The same is true here. Jesus gently rebukes Martha’s complaint not because He scoffs at her responsibilities, but because she hasn’t focused on the most important aspect of the event. Christ has come into her house to discuss the Word of God. That should be Martha’s focus and the focus of her preparations and service as well. As necessary as preparation and service are, they cannot distract us from God’s Word.

This speaks to our own approach to worship, and beyond that to life. It’s certainly easy to busy ourselves with preparation and service, and it’s a virtue to volunteer one’s gifts to both, especially for the benefit of the church. But do we replace worship with service and preparation? Are we so burdened with service at Mass or chapel that we forget to pay proper attention to the Word of God? Are we seeing the forest in church, or just the trees?

The same is true outside of church, sometimes immediately outside of it. Inside, we sing about loving thy neighbor, but are we cursing him in the parking lot afterward because of frustration with traffic? (We have an unusual parking situation at our parish, so that one’s on me.) More importantly, do we put service to our other responsibilities, or our own desires, ahead of our need to listen to the Holy Spirit in our hearts? That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re out being mean and nasty to others, but it speaks of a kind of compartmentalization that often occurs between our faith and how we live our lives.

This extends to prayer life as well. How do we talk to the Lord? Martha loved Jesus and longed for His Word, but all that service was getting in the way of it — and her reaction was to complain about her sister to the Lord. Do we pray in that way? Are we asking the Lord to change others rather than asking the Lord to help form us to His will?

In our first reading today, Abraham shows a good balance between service and presence. When the three men approached his tent, Abraham welcomed them to his tent with full hospitality. He did not fuss over them, however; when he had given the full measure of hospitality, Abraham waited with patience for them to eat, refresh themselves, and speak their minds.

This is how we are meant to prepare and serve as well. We ready ourselves and we do the work necessary to make the Word of God central to our day and our life. That preparation and service need not be perfect; Christ perfects it for us. When service, preparation, and the business of life distracts us from God’s Word or compartmentalizes it, we should recall the good efforts of Martha and how they missed the mark. While we have Him in our lives, He should be the focus, and we should not resent those who have the correct perspective. And He has promised to be with us until the end of time.

Note: I just assume everyone gets the joke reference in the headline …

The front page image is a detail from “Christ with Mary and Martha” by Jacopo Tintoretto, c. 1570-75. On display at Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany. Via Wikimedia Commons.

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion. Previous Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here.  For previous Green Room entries, click here.

The post Look busy! Sunday reflection appeared first on Hot Air.

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Martin Parsons: The new Prime Minister should implement Hunt’s review on persecuted Christians

Dr Martin Parsons has a PhD in Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations and has been involved in supporting persecuted Christians since the 1990s, including while living in Afghanistan as an aid worker under the Taliban. He previously wrote an annual survey of Christian persecution for ConservativeHome.

“This is not about special pleading for Christians: rather it’s about ensuring that Christians in the global south have a fair deal, and a fair share of the UK’s attention and concern. So in that sense it is an equality issue. If one minority is on the receiving end of 80 per cent of religiously motivated discrimination it is simply not just that they should receive so little attention.”

(From the Bishop of Truro’s Independent Review for the Foreign Secretary of Foreign and Commonwealth Office support for Persecuted Christians.)

Spot on, some may say. However, the most important thing about the bishops’s review, which Jeremy Hunt set up just after Christmas, is not what it actually says about persecuted Christians – which isn’t new, anyway. It’s what it says about the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Go back to the 1990s, and the review observes that the Foreign Office was actively engaged in advocacy on behalf of persecuted Christians in such countries as Pakistan. That date, incidentally, is significant as, by then, communism, which had been the main ideological driver of Christian persecution around the world, had collapsed. However, Islamism was already on the rise in countries such as Pakistan, which by 1990 had already introduced the main aspects of its blasphemy laws.

However, the review found that today Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB), particularly for Christians has, with a few fine exceptions, largely dropped off the radar of most UK embassies and High Commissions overseas. No-one can make the excuse that there is now less persecution – far from it, as some of us were warning long before jihadists such as Islamic State were able to control large parts of Syria and Iraq where they executed, enslaved and religiously cleansed Christians and other minorities.

Well before then, the rising tide of Christian persecution was being carried out both by state actors in forms such as the spread of sharia enforcement and by non-state actors in ways which ranged from communal violence, following spurious blasphemy allegations in countries such as Pakistan, to the terror attacks on churches in northern Nigeria. But somehow the Foreign Office became distracted with a myriad of other issues.

The independent review headed by the Bishop of Truro discovered that, during the last five years, 63 per cent of UK diplomatic missions overseas had never implemented the ‘FoRB toolkit’ – the FCO’s primary means of assessing the status of Freedom of Religion or Belief in their host country. Indeed, six UK missions admitted they had never even heard of the toolkit.

The review did find some embassies, such as those in Islamabad (Pakistan) and Jakarta (Indonesia) which actually had an embassy official with specific responsibility for freedom of religion issues. But, even there, this was a part-time role for a single officer with a “huge number” of other responsibilities. In short, there is no overarching FCO strategy on the importance of freedom of religion in UK diplomacy.

To be fair, the Foreign Office went through something of a rough period when Tony Blair was Prime Minister, often being side-lined in foreign policy-making by Number Ten which led to a downgrading of the importance of detailed country knowledge and even such traditional forms of diplomatic training such as language acquisition.

However, when William Hague became Foreign Secretary in 2010 he began a process of reversing that decline. The whole area of freedom of religion was particularly championed by Baroness Anelay when she was Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The independent review praises the appointment of Lord Ahmad, her successor at the FCO as the Prime Minister’s special envoy to promote religious freedom, noting that this has brought a renewed awareness of the importance of FoRB at the Foreign Office.

It also specifically praises Lord Ahmad for his contact with embassies around the world, which led, among other things, to the reopening of a number of churches which had been closed by the Algerian government. So what is needed is not so much a new direction as continuing that journey, so that the Foreign Office once again does what we used to lead the world in doing.

The independent review makes 22 specific recommendations, some of the most important of which are:

  • The UK should again become a global leader in championing freedom of religion or belief.
  • Advocacy for victims of religious persecution should be a regular and normative part of the work of UK diplomatic missions, which should also be providing data on the status of FoRB in their country back to the Foreign Office in London.
  • The FCO should undertake detailed research to better understand the ‘huge increase’ in discriminatory acts against Christians around the world and give that phenomena a specific name (in his speech welcoming the review Jeremy Hunt termed it ‘Christophobia’).
  • The post of ‘Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief’ should be made permanent and should be supported by a Director-General level champion to lead the FCO’s FoRB team. This is an excellent recommendation. There is an urgent need to ‘beef up’ to tiny FoRB unit at the FCO so that it can provide detailed analysis of emerging global trends in the persecution of Christians and other minorities. However, that will require not simply a senior diplomat, but an adviser with specialist expertise in FoRB to head up that unit and fully support the endeavours of the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy, Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister in spreading FoRB around the world.
  • There should be a specific ‘John Bunyan’ stream of funding, promoting FoRB within the Magna Carta Fund, which the present Government launched in 2016 to promote democracy and human rights across the world.
  • Training in religious literacy and FoRB should be mandatory for all FCO staff.
  • A full cabinet discussion of ForB issues – including the need for departments ‘to recognise religious affiliation as a key vulnerability marker for members of religious minorities’ i.e. recognise that Christians and Yazidis etc. are targeted by jihadist groups precisely because of their faith. That is spot on. The failure of UNHCR’s vulnerability criteria to include anything which would directly encompass victims of the sort of religious cleansing we have witnessed in the Middle East is the primary reason why so few Syrian Christians and other religious minorities have been resettled under the governments’ Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.
  • ‘All of these foreign policy recommendations to the Foreign Secretary should be reviewed independently in three years’ time’ to ensure they have been implemented.

Of course, the real risk of all this is that the report gets praised – but is then quietly filed away. What needs to happen is a change of Foreign Office culture – and that these recommendations be institutionalised. Since freedom of religion largely developed in this country, and spread from here across the world, this is an area in which we really should be taking the lead. A good start would be for the Foreign Secretary to institute an annual report to Parliament on how UK foreign policy is helping spread FoRB. That would require all embassies and high commissions to report on it annually.

Our new Prime Minister has a whole host of incredibly urgent and important priorities to get through. However, it’s worth recollecting that so too did Margaret Thatcher in 1979 – and she achieved most of them. But, it is sobering reflect that she concluded her autobiography The Path to Power by saying her greatest achievement as Prime Minister was bringing freedom of religion to the former Communist countries of Eastern Europe. That’s a genuine legacy.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Love in the time of fallenness: Sunday reflection

Westlake Legal Group good-samaritan Love in the time of fallenness: Sunday reflection The Blog Sunday reflection religion Christianity

This morning’s Gospel reading is Luke 10:25–37:

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”

But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Today’s Gospel is one of the most well-known episodes of Jesus’ teachings. This parable extends far past religious teaching; it’s safe to say it is its own cultural phenomenon. The term “good Samaritan” is well known even absent the source material, a measure of just how influential the Gospels have been.

As such, the lessons that Jesus teaches in this are already well known and very understandable. Additional context, in that Samaritans and Judeans were antagonistic towards each other over religious differences, enhances but does not change our understanding of this parable. It does underscore the toughness in which Jesus taught that all men and women are our “neighbors” in God’s law. If we are to be children of God, we must love our brothers and sisters as we do ourselves. It is in that way that we show our love of the Father with all our minds, hearts, and souls.

So that might be pretty obvious to all who hear this passage today. Perhaps we can focus more on what love is in Jesus’ parable. Love in this case isn’t the presence of warm and fuzzy feelings. The Samaritan didn’t sing the Judean victim’s praises and pledge unending fealty to him. He simply saw the man dying in the street and did what he could to save his life. We get confused in the language of love at times and forget its real meaning, which is not romance or endorsement of all aspects of another. It is simply this: to sacrifice for the good of another for the other’s sake alone.

That separates the Samaritan from the priest and the Levite in this passage. It’s not that either of the other two men held any special animosity for the victim. It’s just that they didn’t care. It mattered not to them whether the man lived or died, or at the very least it didn’t matter enough for them to sacrifice even a small part of their day to see what could be done. They didn’t hate the victim, but they had no love at all for him either, even though he was more a part of their own community than the Samaritan’s.

Jesus challenges us in this parable to imagine a world in which all men and women had their neighbor’s best interests at heart at all times. The Judean might never have been a victim in the first place if God’s law had been truly followed by all. But even if the Judean had been injured in some other way — an accident or an attack by an animal — it would have been unthinkable. Just the fact that this parable could be told and understood measured how far people had fallen away from His Word.

That was not a new phenomenon, either. It is the story of fallen humanity almost from the moment of exile from the Garden of Eden. Even in Moses’ time, we learn in our first reading today, the Lord reminded the Israelites that they didn’t need to look to the stars or sky to find Him. The Lord could be found much closer at hand:

“It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”

We already know this, because the Lord has already written it on our hearts. We know that we should love our neighbors as ourselves, not because we like them but because they are family — the Lord’s family, and therefore ours. If we are to love God and seek His adoption, we have to love His whole family, not just those we favor.

This parable, of course, foreshadows Jesus’ own sacrifice on the cross for all of us. Jesus may not have “liked” each and every one of us at times in our own lives either. He certainly acted with anger against the moneychangers in the temple, for instance. However, Jesus came to save them too, and died on the cross for them just as much as he did for the two thieves next to him and all of the sinners before and since. That is the measure of God’s love, and His salvation through that sacrifice matches that measure.

Being a good neighbor in this parable has little to do with personal feelings, but with a commitment to love for the Lord rather than our own selfishness. That doesn’t mean agreeing with our “neighbors” or even feeling warm and fuzzy thoughts, but it does mean a commitment to seeking their best interests even when it might cross our own interests. But if we seek this enthusiastically enough, we might find that those interests don’t cross nearly as much as we first think.

The front-page image is a detail from “The Good Samaritan,” by Balthasar van Cortbemde, 1647. On display in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion. Previous Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here.  For previous Green Room entries, click here.

The post Love in the time of fallenness: Sunday reflection appeared first on Hot Air.

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Leave the dust behind: Sunday reflection

Westlake Legal Group emmaus-jesus Leave the dust behind: Sunday reflection The Blog Sunday reflection religion Christianity

This morning’s Gospel reading is Luke 10:1–12, 17–20:

At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.”

The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power to ‘tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

Who hasn’t wished for a photographic memory at times? When I was a little boy, I took piano lessons; wouldn’t be nice to instantly recall all of those skills? I’ve learned parts of four different foreign languages over the years, and yet struggle to speak in all of them — and some readers might wonder at times whether I’m doing well in English, for that matter. Memories fade, even the most pleasant of them, or perhaps especially the most pleasant of them.

It would seem nice to have one’s brain act like a reliable computer, one that could instantly bring back those memories and information. It would make it a lot easier to win barroom debates, at least, or family squabbles about who said what to Uncle Whositz at that holiday dinner in 1978. Or was it 1979?

True photographic memory is rare, however, and it’s not necessarily the unmitigated blessing we’d imagine. We might remember more than just the wonderful moments in our lives; we’d also recall every injury, both received and inflicted. That ability to recall might keep us stuck on those moments, defining us even more than the moment did the first time.

Today’s Gospel puts me in mind of this tendency to get stuck on the past when dealing with salvation. This lesson from Jesus does not directly deal with that, although Jesus and the apostles do discuss the need to put trust in Christ when coming to Him for forgiveness. In today’s Gospel, John teaches us about the need for humility and love in evangelization, not force or coercion.

This itself was a revelation, perhaps even a revolutionary concept in its time. The temple elite enforced their version of religion by force or the threat of it. Jesus would pay for His supposed heresy with his life, about as far from the “live and let live” instructions in this passage. As both Jews and Christians would soon discover, the Romans enforced tribute to their gods even more zealously. Most kingdoms of their time did the same, equating religious diversity to treason punishable by the state. And at least until the Enlightenment, that was the norm in Western culture, too. Even here in the New World, the Massachusetts Bay Colony expelled Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson in 1635 for having the temerity to suggest that the Puritans might want to extend some of that religious freedom they preached for themselves to people of other faiths.

This, then, was a revolutionary form of religious conversion — a conversion of the heart, and one open to all. In this specific event, Jesus sent his disciples out among the Judeans alone, but eventually Jesus would command them to “make disciples of all nations.” Preaching the Gospel would be an act of service and gratitude, not an act of imposition and oppression. The truth would set men and women free rather than just putting a different set of chains on them, because the point was to have our names “written in heaven” rather than on dusty monuments and disintegrating tablets.

However, this lesson speaks to me about the process of internal conversion as well. How are we to deal with our sins, both before and after conversion? Jesus understood that we would struggle with this our whole lives. In one sense, ignorance would truly be bliss, for we would be unaware of our offenses before God. Once we have become aware, we are rightly ashamed of them and seek forgiveness.

It’s not so easy to forget as it is to forgive, however, perhaps especially with ourselves. Even if we have sought out forgiveness and absolution, we continue to carry the memories of those sins and mourn the damage they created. If we cannot let them go, we either enter into perpetual mourning or we begin to rationalize them away as minor transgressions, or even worse as not sins at all. The first path locks us into our sinfulness, while the second path locks us out of salvation. Both of those paths carry us away from the trust and faith we need to put into Christ as our Savior and makes us more self-absorbed and isolated.

This is why we need to adopt these instructions for our own continuing internal conversion to Christ as well. Jesus did not send His Holy Spirit to annihilate the unconverted, but to give them an opportunity to seek salvation. The disciples did not go out with the sword to issue a convert or else ultimatum. They went out to give everyone a choice based on truth and to speak the truth about sin.

We must look at our sinfulness as the unconverted part of our lives — the resistant and defiant part of our natures. While still mindful enough of the damage to learn the lesson from it, we seek forgiveness and absolution — and then we must leave those unconverted passages as the disciples left the stubborn villages. We must put our trust in the Lord, shake the dust of that sinfulness from our feet, and march forward rather than looking back.

In short, we have to develop a memory that allows us to put the past where it belongs. A photographic memory will only burden us on our journey, even if it might provide a nice piano accompaniment from time to time. It’s not a question of forgetting as much as it is the need to focus our gaze on what is to come, and not on the dust of what has been left behind and in the care of Christ.

 

The front page image is a detail from Christ and His Disciples on Their Way to Emmaus, by Pieter Coecke van Aelst, 16th century. 

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion. Previous Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here.  For previous Green Room entries, click here.

The post Leave the dust behind: Sunday reflection appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group emmaus-jesus-300x162 Leave the dust behind: Sunday reflection The Blog Sunday reflection religion Christianity   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ocasio-Cortez Attempts to Pander to Christians Again, and It Blows Up In Her Face

Westlake Legal Group AlexandriaOcasioCortez-June2019-620x317 Ocasio-Cortez Attempts to Pander to Christians Again, and It Blows Up In Her Face socialism Politics pandering Front Page Stories Featured Story Faith democrats Culture & Faith Christianity AOC Allow Media Exception Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

If there’s one thing we know about Rep. Alexandria Ocaiso-Cortez (D) it’s that she is a seasoned panderer. I can’t say that she’s an expert at it at this time due to the fact that her pandering often times ends up going horribly for her.

The latest attempt was once again aimed at getting Christians to side with her on socialism.

An article written by Obery M. Hendricks Jr. at Sojourner attempted to sell us on the Biblical values of AOC’s socialism. The congresswoman couldn’t wait to show off just how into the faith she was by tweeting out about it with a Bible verse she cherry picked.

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me,” tweeted AOC.

Christians immediately showed up to laugh her off the stage.

To be clear, as I explain in detail, Jesus was not a socialist. Every now and again, socialists like AOC will attempt to sell us a narrative that Christ supports government seizure of the means of production. It’s a lazy narrative that’s backed by very little evidence, and as AOC demonstrates, it usually boils down to cherry picking various verses out of the Bible in order to back their point. As usual, a little education goes a long way to clearing the narrative that socialism attempts to dirty.

Ocasio-Cortez has attempted to hijack Biblical narratives and lessons multiple times in the past, and it’s never worked out for her. For one, she attempted to get Christians on board with her stance on illegal immigration by telling us that Jesus was a refugee. As I explained quite clearly, he wasn’t at all. A surface level look at the story of Jesus may lead one to believe he seemed like one, but even just scratching the surface shows us that he doesn’t qualify for the role.

The truth is that AOC doesn’t really care about Christians and Christianity. Sure she walks around with ashes on her forehead during Ash Wednesday…

But then she’ll go on to tell us that prayers don’t work. Ya know, prayers. The primary means of communication with almighty God and a cornerstone of the Christian faith. For someone so filled with faith, you’d think she’d have a much higher regard for it.

Ocasio-Cortez sees Christianity as useful, but she doesn’t seem to be looking for Christ. She’ll embrace it with the intention to pander to Christians who she thinks are stupid enough to be won over by quoting cherry picked Bible verses, then ditch it the moment its usefulness has run its course.

The post Ocasio-Cortez Attempts to Pander to Christians Again, and It Blows Up In Her Face appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group AlexandriaOcasioCortez-June2019-300x153 Ocasio-Cortez Attempts to Pander to Christians Again, and It Blows Up In Her Face socialism Politics pandering Front Page Stories Featured Story Faith democrats Culture & Faith Christianity AOC Allow Media Exception Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Benedict Rogers: Character, values and dignity. Why I am voting for Hunt.

Benedict Rogers is East Asia Team Leader at the international human rights organisation CSW, co-founder and Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, a former parliamentary candidate and a Senior Fellow at the Religious Freedom Institute.

As a former journalist, a human rights campaigner and a Christian, there are obvious reasons why I like Jeremy Hunt. As Foreign Secretary he has done more in a year than any of his predecessors combined to champion human rights – and in particular press freedom and freedom of religion or belief, two foundational freedoms that underpin any civilized democratic society.

Hunt has also done more to speak out against crimes against humanity in Burma, for the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and peace in Yemen than his predecessors. His decision not just to mandate the Bishop of Truro to conduct an inquiry into the persecution of Christians but to write, every day throughout Lent, to a persecuted Christian, speaks volumes about his values.

So too did his decision, on his first visit to Beijing, to meet the wives of jailed Chinese human rights lawyers. And his statements on Hong Kong, a city I lived in for the first five years of my working life and to which I was denied entry on the orders of Beijing 18 months ago, have been far more robust than his predecessors. Has he done enough? No, of course not: no activist would say enough had been done. But has he shone, as a Foreign Secretary who prioritises human rights? Definitely.

But of course, one doesn’t vote solely on these issues. The challenges facing our party and our country are wide-ranging. Brexit is the most immediate and most obvious. But there are pressures on our public services, threats to our security, challenges to our economy and questions about our standing in the world. And the answer to all of these major questions is clear: Hunt.

Of the original 11 candidates, there were only ever four whom I seriously considered – Sajid Javid, Michael Gove, Rory Stewart and Jeremy Hunt. Rarely have I had such a difficult choice. Rarely have I been such a floating voter.

I didn’t declare my support until last Thursday, when Javid was knocked out, for the simple reason that whichever one of my four favourites made it into the final two would have won my support. It was only when Javid was eliminated that I decided, when it came down to the final three, to declare my support for Hunt. Once I made the decision, the reasons crystalised. It comes down to three factors: character, values and dignity.

I have not really met Hunt. The only time we have encountered each other was just before Christmas last year. To my surprise, I received an invitation to a meeting with the Foreign Secretary to discuss the persecution of Christians – prior to his announcement of a review. Around the table were the Archbishop of Canterbury, a Catholic bishop representing Cardinal Nichols, the Coptic Archbishop Angaelos, the chief executives of three charities, and survivors of persecution.

I was impressed by Hunt’s personal engagement with the issue. It was obvious by the fact that he allowed people to speak for far longer than they should have done, and asked insightful questions, that he really cared.

While we had never met before, when he called me to speak he addressed me by my first name, and as he left he said: “It’s great to finally meet you.” There’s no reason, in the great scheme of things, why he should know who I am, but he did and that shows an impressive mastery of detail and personal focus.

I first became aware of Hunt about 13 years ago. A colleague of mine was his constituent. My colleague is a living saint – the epitome of charity, compassion, justice and Christian faith. But he is definitely not a Tory – he is firmly on the Left. Yet he told me early on that he had become a fan of his local MP – Hunt – who, he said, was remarkably responsive, compassionate and interested in human rights. My colleague then brought a Burmese friend, the daughter of a political prisoner, to see Hunt.

I am inspired by Hunt’s emphasis on turbo-charging the economy, deploying his experience as an entrepreneur to turn post-Brexit Britain into the world’s most dynamic economy. A man who has made millions from a successful business, and known the hard grind of business failure, is more likely to be able to take us forward as a global enterprise than one who has never run anything except some precarious newspaper columns.

One handicap sometimes held up is Hunt’s conflict with doctors. But if you look at his record as Health Secretary in full, it is this: he stood up to vested interests, expanded NHS delivery, won battles for further funding and championed the NHS – all qualities we want in a Prime Minister.

Brexit must be delivered, and made not just to work but to succeed. For that to happen all of us, whatever side we were on three years ago, must come together. That means we don’t need a ‘Brexiteer’ leader, we need a unifier, a leader who is not marked by labels but by their ability to implement the referendum result. We need a skilled and experienced negotiator. That man is Hunt.

If Britain is to walk tall in the world post-Brexit, it needs a leader respected by his counterparts as a statesman, taken seriously and not regarded as a subject of mirth. And we need a man who is internationalist and outward-looking. Hunt is clearly that man. Just read his speech on building an “invisible chain” of democracies.

My mother used to live in Japan, and speaks Japanese. When I showed her the video of Mr Hunt delivering a speech in fluent Japanese with no notes she was impressed. To have a Prime Minister who can speak several languages fluently walking the world stage would help turbo-charge Global Britain.

I joined the Conservative Party at the precocious age of 13. In 2005, I stood for Parliament. I have been a Conservative for over 30 years, and I retain hope. In times of victory and wilderness, I have never doubted the Conservative dream and Conservative values. In ups and downs, in government and opposition, I have stuck with three things I hold dear: a Great Britain, a Global Britain and a compassionate conservatism. It is clear to me that it is Hunt who will deliver all three.

I have always championed the underdog – minorities in Burma and Indonesia, prisoners in North Korea, dissidents in China and Hong Kong. So once again, I am with the underdog, and I believe he can win. As the American poet James Russell Lowell once wrote, “once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide, in the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side … Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust, Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ‘tis prosperous to be just; Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside.”

Join me in backing Jeremy Hunt.

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Into the Belly of the Beast: Brace For Impact – Chick-Fil-A Opens in Ultra-Left-Wing Seattle

Westlake Legal Group chick-fil-a-first-100-SCREENSHOT-620x330 Into the Belly of the Beast: Brace For Impact – Chick-Fil-A Opens in Ultra-Left-Wing Seattle Washington Uncategorized Seattle religion Politics LGBT katie herzog Front Page Stories Featured Story democrats Culture Christianity Chick-Fil-A bitter lake Allow Media Exception

[Screenshot from chickfila, https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=94&v=_RAzh13zoes]

 

Aaand it’s here.

The time has come, folks — it’s right into the belly of the beast for that most controversial and delicious supplier of waffle fries and social justice heartache (here and here): This week, Chick-fil-A opens its first-ever location in ultra-left-wing Seattle.

Hold on to your (kitty) hats.

Eater reports that hipsters will be able to Eat Mor Chikin on Thursday, June 27th.

In a place called — perhaps appropriately — Bitter Lake.

Some hungry fools are most likely already camping out. According to Western Washington’s KIRO Channel 7, that isn’t unusual:

In the past, opening events have included parking lot campouts of fans hoping to win a year’s worth of free meals. They’ve also caused traffic jams for weeks. In 2015, the opening of the Bellevue location had police officers directing traffic to keep cars moving and the crowds continued for several weeks. The city had to implement a new traffic plan to accommodate the massive lines of cars traveling around the restaurant.”

More on the freebies and fanaticism, from Eater:

Die-hard fans of the often-controversial Chick-fil-A chain camped out in subzero temperatures for an opening in Elmhurst, Illinois, suffering through the cold to earn free Chick-fil-A meals for a year. WGN reports that dozens of people camped out overnight in “tents and survival gear” to be among the first inside. It’s a Chick-fil-A tradition to offer the first 100 customers one free meal (a sandwich, fries, and a drink) every week for a year: some fans travel out-of-state for each successive franchise opening in an attempt to score the deal.

Sub-zero! That’s love right there.

Of course, not everyone’s smitten.

Here’s Katie Herzog for The Stranger:

Eater reports that America’s best most homophobic chicken chain will be opening their first location in Seattle’s Bitter Lake, a north Seattle neighborhood I’ve never been to been to but frankly, sounds like my kind of place.

The store is scheduled to open at the end of the month (Happy Pride!) and while one more fast food franchise wouldn’t normally be news, this is semi-notable because Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s president, is a notorious hater of gays. Cathy has given millions to groups that oppose same-sex marriage and has previously said that he supports “the biblical definition of the family unit,” which, I assume, means he thinks fathers should demand their prospective sons-in-law to present the patriarch with a bouquet of 100 foreskins before he’ll allow the couple to marry. Or maybe he’s more into the family unit in which a dad asks a mob to rape his daughters instead of the angels they’d rather rape instead? Either way, dude is a major Jesus freak, and while he backed away from some of his previous anti-gay sentiments after people started protesting his chicken shack, the company isn’t exactly known for its progressive values.

Whoa Nelly.

Well, if you’re not of the Katie Herzog school of thought, you may wanna check out a tasty chocolate shake with whipped cream and a cherry near a lake named for misery in the place that formally Smelled Like Teen Spirit. Starting Thursday, a north Seattle neighborhood will smell like lunch.

Are you in Seattle and wanting to join the First 100 campout? Find out more in the video below.

-ALEX

 

Relevant RedState links in this article: here and here.

See 3 more pieces from me:

Don Jr. Pounces Like A Cat On AOC & Those Backing Her ‘Concentration Camp’ Remarks, Calls Freshmen Dems ‘The Clown Show’

Accused Burglar Throws Human Feces At The Judge In Court. Then The Jury Acquits Him

Woman Fearful For Her Life Turns Over Her Estranged Husband’s Guns To The Cops. She Gets Arrested For Grand Theft

Find all my RedState work here.

And please follow Alex Parker on Twitter and Facebook.

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Best-Selling Author Nicholas Sparks’s Private Christian School Comes Under Legal Fire for Banning an LGBT Club

Westlake Legal Group the-notebook-fight-SCREENSHOT-620x330 Best-Selling Author Nicholas Sparks’s Private Christian School Comes Under Legal Fire for Banning an LGBT Club Uncategorized saul benjamin religion private school North Carolina nicholas sparks LGBT Front Page Stories Featured Story Faith epiphany school of global studies educational choice Education Culture & Faith Culture Christianity bigotry Allow Media Exception

[Screenshot from YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGIGG6QLjLg]

 

Did you know mega-author Nicholas Sparks founded a Christian school? I didn’t.

Apparently, the joint promotes views on morality that are — brace for impact — biblical.

The North Carolina prep venture’s called the Epiphany School of Global Studies — a (as per The Daily Beast) “faith-based academy focused on world issues with an emphasis on language-learning, regular visits to other nations, and a shared understanding that ‘learning about the world’ [is] an integral part of 21st-century life.”

The school’s mission statement notes that it’s “anchored in the Judeo-Christian commandment to Love God and Your Neighbor as Yourself.”

Another anchor, however, has caused waves of oppressed sexuality in the mind of one disgruntled ex-employee.

Since 2014, epiphany’s been engaged in a fight (and not the romantic kind like in The Notebook) with former headmaster and CEO, Saul Benjamin. He claims the school enacted bigotry in various forms.

Here’s Saul’s attorney:

“Sparks and members of the Board unapologetically marginalized, bullied, and harassed members of the School community whose religious views and/or identities did not conform to their religiously driven, bigoted preconceptions.”

Saul’s alleged the school is racist, as illustrated by its small number of black students. He also asserts a board member once told him she avoids a particular black-staffed Wal-Mart. When he hired the first full-time black employee, he says, he was met with “unwelcome comments and increased scrutiny.”

And then there’s the issue of the LGBT club, as laid out by TDB:

Rumor spread that Benjamin had formed what Sparks called a “gay club,” and the Board of Trustees insisted the club be banned. Two bisexual teachers approached administrators about the group, and were allegedly threatened with termination if they continued to discuss the issue, according to Benjamin’s complaint. It further alleges that at a board meeting on Oct. 30, 2013, a Board of Trustees member claimed Benjamin was “promoting a homosexual culture and agenda.” Sparks allegedly warned Benjamin against pushing the subject, suggesting it would be “wasting time on a side issue,” according to the complaint.

That sounds like a bit of strife, but would it be illegal, given that the school is private and can therefore dictate its own values?

According to the Beast, there was a lot of resentment brewing:

By November, resentments were running high. That month, Benjamin states in his complaint that two LGBT students approached Benjamin and informed him of their plan to stage a protest during chapel. They planned to remove their clothes and announce their orientation in body paint. Benjamin says he asked the girls not to protest, claiming it “was a time for healing, not heroics.” Instead, in the Friday morning Chapel Talk, a weekly tradition at the school, Benjamin spoke about bullying, and the school’s commitment to “loving their neighbors.”

According to emails involved in the legal dispute, on November 17th, 2013, Nicholas expressed to Saul disappointment over his pressing of the gay issue:

“I told you this would happen…if you didn’t follow our advice, which was simply ‘don’t rock the boat on this particular issue.’”

Additionally, he said it was important to “make sure all Christian traditions feel especially Christian, especially as we move into the Christmas season.”

The romance writer also defended the school against Saul’s contention of racism:

“Regarding diversity, I’ve now told you half a dozen times that our lack of diversity has NOTHING to do with the school or anyone at the school. It’s not because of what we as a school has or hasn’t done. It has nothing to do with racism or vestiges of Jim Crow. It comes down to 1) Money and 2) Culture.”

A half a dozen’s a lot.

The next day, regarding the LGBT contingent, Nicholas wrote that “not allowing them to have a club is NOT discrimination.”

Furthermore:

“Remember, we’ve had gay students before, many of them. [The former headmaster] handled it quietly and wonderfully… I expect you to do the same.”

Now things get really goofy: Three days after the email, Nicholas, Saul, and the Board of Trustees met. Saul was asked to resign. He insists the A Walk to Remember author acted in a “loud, ranting and physically intimidating manner.” In the legal complaint, he also charges he was made victim of “false imprisonment,” as he wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom or speak to a lawyer.

He resigned, ending his 98-day term.

So what’s Nicholas think about all of this?

As described by The Daily Wire:

In a declaration, Nicholas Sparks denied all the allegations brought against the school, asserting that Benjamin lost his job as headmaster of the Christian school for being “aloof, even rude, elitist and dismissive of their beliefs or backgrounds.” He also claims that Benjamin intentionally tried to start an LGBT club on campus in violation of the school’s policy.

It’ll be interesting to see how all this plays out in court. If private organizations can’t defend their religious views against internal engineering, American liberty is lost. And American liberty — it seems to me — is the whole point of America.

What are your thoughts on all this? Please let us know in the Comments section.

-ALEX

 

See 3 more pieces from me:

Over His Latest Anti-Trump Book, Michael Wolff Gets Called Out Again For Wrong ‘Facts.’ His Response Is A Head-Scratcher

The Vatican Drops A Gender Fluid Bomb On Pride Month, & People Are Mad

Brad Pitt, Journalists, & The City Push Back Against Boston’s Straight Pride Parade, But The Rally Gets A Hilariously Unexpected Grand Marshal

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And please follow Alex Parker on Twitter and Facebook.

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Brianna Wu Tweets a Glorious Self-Own After Dan Crenshaw Destroys Her Lecture on Christian Teachings

Westlake Legal Group DanCrenshawWPCFdinner Brianna Wu Tweets a Glorious Self-Own After Dan Crenshaw Destroys Her Lecture on Christian Teachings washington D.C. Texas republicans Politics North Carolina Massachusetts Front Page Stories Front Page Featured Story Featured Post elections democrats Dan Crenshaw Culture Congress Christianity Campaigns Brianna Wu Allow Media Exception 2020 Elections 2020

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX). Screen grab via C-SPAN.

It all started out with a tweet from failed 2018 Democratic Congressional candidate Brianna Wu (MA), who claimed that conservative writer Matt Walsh was a fake Christian:

Walsh fired back with what should have been the end of the argument:

But Wu wasn’t done. In her next tweet, she pulled the phony “Jesus was a liberal” card in an effort to one-up Walsh:

A number of conservatives took after Wu over her claims, including commentator Allie Beth Stuckey. But Wu was insistent that Jesus Christ was a socialist:

This back and forth caught the attention of Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-2), who stepped in to correct Wu on her Biblical fallacies:

Wu’s response to Crenshaw was a glorious example of a self-own, as she backed down from her insinuation that Christ was a socialist and instead suggested that the Bible “says very little, if anything” on how the giving is done:

“Kyle”, a self-described atheist, summed up Stuckey’s and Crenshaw’s claims nicely:

Game, set, match.

————–
—Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter.–

The post Brianna Wu Tweets a Glorious Self-Own After Dan Crenshaw Destroys Her Lecture on Christian Teachings appeared first on RedState.

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Finding our authentic voices: Sunday reflection

Westlake Legal Group pentecost-restout Finding our authentic voices: Sunday reflection The Blog Sunday reflection religion Christianity

This morning’s Gospel reading is John 14:15–16, 23b–26:

Jesus said to his disciples:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always.

“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Those who do not love me do not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

“I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”

Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, marking the day when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and allowed them to preach to the whole world. Today’s Gospel reminds us of that promise from Jesus before His Passion. In His final hours amongst the disciples, Jesus promised that they would not be alone in their new mission to make converts of the world.

In our first reading from Acts, Luke describes how the Advocate descended on each of the remaining disciples at Pentecost, which was the Festival of Weeks in the Hebrew tradition, called Shavuot. The immediate impact of the arrival of the Holy Spirit was witnessed by everyone:

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”

In its own way, the gift of Pentecost makes that Great Commission clear. There would have been no point in that gift had Christ not intended for His church to spread to all corners of the globe. Bear in mind, too, that this gift was not for the personal benefit of the Apostles. Its benefit applied to those who heard the Word of God through the testimony of the Apostles.

In the context of the first days of the church, this profound gift of languages would have been crucial to the Great Commission, as noted at the end of Matthew: “Go out and make disciples of all nations.” The apostles did not start out as scholars for whom this mission might still have been difficult. None of them were rabbinical students, to our knowledge; among them were fishermen, a tax collector, and other laborers. Most of them would have spoken only Aramaic and Hebrew, the latter perhaps only as a temple language, and that’s it.

Yet all of these seemingly inconsequential men had a different calling, one known only to the Lord until Christ’s arrival. Jesus picked them out specifically for a higher mission in service to God, and for three years taught them and prepared them for that mission. During that time, and again after the Passion, the Apostles had already committed themselves to Christ long before Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came not to bring that commitment, but to help the Apostles find their authentic voices — literally, in this case.

That is what the Holy Spirit does for us to this day. It’s very easy for us to get caught up in our worldly identities and material cares and lose sense of who we really are. We may be butchers and bakers and candlestick makers in our daily lives, but that’s what we do to provide, not who we are in the Lord’s eyes. That is not our essence — and if it is not our essence, it cannot be our authentic identity. And if it’s not our identity, it cannot be our priority.

So what is our identity? Jesus made that plain in the Gospels: we are God’s children, lost but not abandoned in sin. We are not just material creatures in a material world, but also spiritual beings with the image of God. That is our essence, our authentic identity, and it should be the priority we serve first and foremost.

This is the truth to which the Holy Spirit awakens us. When we welcome the Advocate into our hearts, we take a step to find our own authentic voices, and to use our unique gifts to serve the Lord in our own ways. Having discovered our authentic voices and those gifts, we go out into the world to proclaim the Gospel in our own ways and in those authentic voices, whether aloud or not, but always with joy in who we truly are.

Addendum: Unfortunately this year, our parish has discontinued our tradition of celebrating of Acts 2:1-11 by proclaiming our second reading in a foreign language. At least I finally got to read 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13 in Irish last year!

Also, a happy and blessed Shavuot to all our Jewish friends today!

 

The front page image is “Pentecost”, c. 1732, by Jean Il Restout. Currently on display at the Louvre Museum. Via Wikimedia Commons.

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion. Previous Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here.  For previous Green Room entries, click here.

The post Finding our authentic voices: Sunday reflection appeared first on Hot Air.

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