Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, May 5, 2018 — “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”

May 4, 2018

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 290

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Reading 1  ACTS 16:1-10

Paul reached also Derbe and Lystra
where there was a disciple named Timothy,
the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer,
but his father was a Greek.
The brothers in Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him,
and Paul wanted him to come along with him.
On account of the Jews of that region, Paul had him circumcised,
for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
As they traveled from city to city,
they handed on to the people for observance the decisions
reached by the Apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem.
Day after day the churches grew stronger in faith
and increased in number.They traveled through the Phrygian and Galatian territory
because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit
from preaching the message in the province of Asia.
When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on into Bithynia,
but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them,
so they crossed through Mysia and came down to Troas.
During the night Paul had a vision.
A Macedonian stood before him and implored him with these words,
“Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
When he had seen the vision,
we sought passage to Macedonia at once,
concluding that God had called us to proclaim the Good News to them.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 100:1B-2, 3, 5

R. (2a) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is good:
his kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia  COL 3:1

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If then you were raised with Christ,
seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  JN 15:18-21

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
and I have chosen you out of the world,
the world hates you.
Remember the word I spoke to you,
‘No slave is greater than his master.’
If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,
because they do not know the one who sent me.”
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Reflection On John 15:18-21 By Fr. Alphonse
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John 15:18-21  Love and Hate

Jesus said to his disciples:  “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.  If you belonged to this world, the world would love its own…Remember the word I spoke to you…If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.  If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.  And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.”

Wow!  This week’s Gospels are speaking to us loud and clear.  You would think the Lord is speaking directly to us.  He is.  You would think the Lord is speaking about today’s issues.  He is.  You would think the Lord is warning us of what’s to come.  He is.

If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.  Christ knew what he was saying.  There’s no use sugar coating vinegar.  He laid it all out for his disciples to follow or to leave.  Ladies and gentlemen,here are the facts.  They will beat you and torture you and scourge you all because of me.  You will be hunted down and executed.  You will be called bigots, homophobes, radicals, extremists all because of me.  No slave is greater than his master.  If they ruined my reputation, they will ruin yours.  If they killed me, they will kill you.

Why so much hatred by non-Christians?  Can they love their enemies?  Why so much persecution of Christians?  Is there any point in all of it?  Hasn’t atheism and secularism won the day?  Not yet.  In fact, not at all.  Yes, atheism and secularism have grown in the United States and elsewhere, but so have infidelity, dysfunctional families, gangs, failing scores, eating disorders, population busts, abortion, sexting, drug use, pornography, suicide and general malaise.  You could say that secularism collapses under its own weight.  You may even say it collapses under its own success. Sure, you can say secularism holds its own ground, but the ground falls from underneath it.  You can say that it attracts; as fatal attractions go.  But the truth of the matter is this:  secularism does not have a chance of succeeding because secularism does not inspire.  It knows how to complain, but it doesn’t know how to create.  We complain all the time about the world.  But we don’t know how to create one.

For example the once-upon-a-time Occupy Wall Street movement attracted the young, just like the once-upon-a-time hippy movement of old.  And just like the hippy movement of old – that never really learned how to love – Occupy Wall Street movement quickly disintegrated to crime and filth. Secularism seeks to be an alternative to religion but it just can’t seem to muster anything that compares to the universality of the Church or the teachings of Jesus Christ. And, if you want to become the center of the Universe, then you better do more than just complain.  You have to be able to create something too.

Hatred is full of complaints.  God is full of love; and love always creates, even in death.

Check out this sobering truth.  Secularists have enormous backing and visibility; whereas Christians are attacked or ignored at every conceivable angle.  I am not exaggerating when I say there is little to no God inside the matrix (TV, computer, work, school, etc.).  Think about this:  the Media has billions of dollars and has complete access to the hearts and minds of millions and millions of people.  And there is little to no God in the Media.  Hollywood has their grip on the hearts and minds of millions and millions of people; and there is little to no God in Hollywood.  Public Schools have complete access to millions and millions of kids; and there is no God there.  The Federal Government does nothing to encourage religion, and has a lot of our money.  As you can see, secularists have billions and billions of dollars to spend every year to push out, ignore, or attack God from our midst.  And all God has are his little, itty-bitty tiny temples and private schools across the nation.

And yet, Goliath has been unable to push God out!  GOD WON’T LEAVE!  HE WON’T BUDGE!  HE WON’T DIE!  What is secularism to do???

Hate and persecute.  Hate and persecute.  Hate and persecute.

It’s human nature.  Actually, it’s fallen human nature; that is, when you put so much time and money and effort into something, and you get very little out of it, of course you’re going to be upset, infuriated, mean-spirited and even deadly.  But I’m here to tell you that their vulgarities, profanities, suicide bombers, lies and deceptions are a symptom of death knocking at their door.

So, what shall we do?  We shall overcome.  Love with a fight.  Little by little.  Step by Step.  Baby step by baby step.  Our eyes have seen the glory of the Lord.  “Do not be afraid.  I conquered the world.”

Rome was not built in a day, but it was destroyed in just a few.  Secularism will always appear to be making ground quickly, but again, it’s quick sand; whereas Christianity will always take its time, because it is always harder to create a culture of life than it is to dig a culture of death.  And Christianity is not about time, it’s about one life at a time.

I read today that twenty-one Anglican priests will be ordained this year for the English Ordinariate. That brings the total number to eighty.  Eighty Catholic priests!  A few years ago the Bishops in England were wondering how to solve their priestly shortage.  It would appear as though the Lord knew the solution.  Please pray for them and support them.  They are being battered on both sides of the Tiber: from Anglicans to liberal minded Catholics.

I also read that the SSPX (Society of Saint Pius X), a schismatic group that disavowed themselves from Vatican II, may soon be reconciled with Rome.  Its leader, Bishop Bernard Fellay, appears to be ready to come back to the fold.  If the SSPX does in fact do so, it will be a major victory for Christ and His Bride. Please pray for the Holy Father and for Bishop Bernard.  They will be battered on both sides of the Tiber:  from members within the Society and from liberal minded Catholics on the other.  As of January, 2010, the Society had over five hundred priests and over two hundred seminarians with nearly two hundred nuns.  This reconciliation is very close to the Holy Father’s heart and he needs our prayers.

If the Lord said his disciples would be hated because of him.  Then he also implied they would be loved because of him.  Let the prayer warriors out of their cage.

http://fralfonse.blogspot.com/2012/05/john-1518-21-love-and-hate-click-here.html

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

05 MAY, 2018, Saturday, 5th Week of Easter

DARE TO BE LED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ ACTS 16:1-10PS 100:1-3,5JOHN 15:18-21  ]

In undertaking the mission of Christ, should emphasis be placed on planning and strategizing, or simply being docile to the primacy of grace, which is to be led by the Holy Spirit?  Today, most of us spend much time meeting to brainstorm and formulate our pastoral plans.  This is more so when most of our people are highly educated and trained in corporate planning and strategizing.  Naturally, they bring in their acquired knowledge and skills from the corporate world to apply to the work of evangelization.

If we study the history of salvation, we will find that charismatic leaders and prophets did not plan much but simply responded to the times and the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  All the battles during the time of Moses, Judges and the Kings, were engineered by God.  He was revered as the Lord of Hosts, the Commander of the Army of Israel.  The leaders were told simply to rely on God alone.  Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.”  (Ex14:13f; cf Dt 3:22Joshua 10:142 Chr 20:17)

In the New Testament, Jesus’ mission was also done in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Immediately after His baptism, He was “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”  (Mt 4:1)  At the beginning of His mission, He was conscious that His mission was propelled by the Holy Spirit.   Citing from the Prophet Isaiah, He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.”  (Lk 4:18)  At His death, He surrendered His mission to the Holy Spirit.  “Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!’” (Lk 23:46)

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Holy Spirit book by Edward Leen

After His resurrection, He entrusted the mission to the apostles.  He told them to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.  “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samar′ia and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 cf Acts 1:4f)  He bestowed upon them the Holy Spirit and sent them out on a mission.  (cf Jn 20:21-23)  Indeed, the Acts of the Apostles illustrate from beginning to end that the mission of the disciples was the work of the Holy Spirit.

Indeed, in today’s first reading, we read how St Paul allowed himself to be led by the Holy Spirit at every stage of his journey.  He did not seem to have done much planning because he relied solely on the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  St Paul seemed to have moved along as the Spirit inspired him.  Docile to the Holy Spirit, he visited one town after another.  They were “told by the Holy Spirit not to preach the word in Asia. When they reached the frontier of Mysia they thought to cross it into Bithynia, but as the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them, they went through Mysia and came down to Troas.”  Finally, “one night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and appealed to him in these words, ‘Come across to Macedonia and help us’. Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the Good News.”

What about us?  Do we have the confidence to allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit?  Do we trust in the power of the Holy Spirit or in ourselves more?  More often than not, we trust God as a last resort.  We believe more in human planning and our hard work than the work of the Holy Spirit.  Many of us would go into detailed planning for our projects and activities.  Even when preaching a homily or giving a talk, we would prepare our power point, read from our prepared notes so that no mistakes would be made.  We leave no chance for anything else to happen because we want to be in control.  Only when things do not work out the way we plan, then we have no choice but to surrender our plans into the hands of God.

But this is not the way the Lord asks us to fulfill His mission.  He told the disciples, “And when they bring you to trial and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say; but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.”  (Mk 13:11)  True enough, when the apostles were arrested and tried before the Sanhedrin, they spoke courageously before them.  “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man that had been healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.”  (Acts 4:13f)

This is why St John Paul II in his apostolic letter said, “I have no hesitation in saying that all pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness.”  (Novo Milennio Inuente, 30)  “It is also clear however that the paths to holiness are personal and call for a genuine ‘training in holiness’, adapted to people’s needs.”  (NMI, 31) “This training in holiness calls for a Christian life distinguished above all in the art of prayer.”  (NMI 32)

St John Paul II underscores the primacy of grace.  He wrote, “If in the planning that awaits us we commit ourselves more confidently to a pastoral activity that gives personal and communal prayer its proper place, we shall be observing an essential principle of the Christian view of life: the primacy of grace. There is a temptation which perennially besets every spiritual journey and pastoral work: that of thinking that the results depend on our ability to act and to plan. God of course asks us really to cooperate with his grace, and therefore invites us to invest all our resources of intelligence and energy in serving the cause of the Kingdom. But it is fatal to forget that ‘without Christ we can do nothing’ (cf. Jn 15:5)” (NMI 38)

Truly, we must learn to rely on the grace of God more than ourselves.  For as St Paul wrote, “And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”  (1 Cor 2:3-5)  The Lord assured St Paul in his weakness,  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)  Hence, St Paul said, “I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Cor 12:9bf)

This does not mean that we discard the human talents that the Lord has given to us.  Even St Paul made use of his intellectual ingenuity.  He had Timothy circumcised because his father was a Greek.  Although it was not necessary for Timothy to be circumcised to be a Christian, yet for the sake of expedience and receptivity by the Jews, he felt it would make it easier for them to preach the gospel as there would be less resistance.   So by all means, we need to plan, strategize and be prepared, but we must also not constrain the Holy Spirit from blowing and acting beyond your expectations and planning.  We must be ready to change when the Spirit moves us.  If we are too rigid and fearful of responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we will reduce the effectiveness of His work in our lives.  Indeed, in my ministry, how often the Lord led me to do things beyond my logic and planning.  Many times, the talks I painstakingly prepared, and the homilies I wrote with much preparation were discarded at the last minute, even as I was delivering it, because I felt the Holy Spirit was leading me to speak on other matters.   With an act of faith in Him, I responded and He often brought about the conversion of hearts more than I could if I had followed according to plan.

In the final analysis, to be able to respond to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we must be people of prayer.  St John Paul II wrote, “It is prayer which roots us in this truth. It constantly reminds us of the primacy of Christ and, in union with him, the primacy of the interior life and of holiness. When this principle is not respected, is it any wonder that pastoral plans come to nothing and leave us with a disheartening sense of frustration?”  (NMI 38)

That is why it is very important that whilst we should engage in pastoral planning and serious preparations for our talks and homilies, yet we need to bring all these into prayer.  We must pray before we plan, during the planning and after the planning, even whilst we are executing the plan, because the Lord might want to surprise us as He surprised St Peter who said, “We have toiled all night and caught nothing” (Lk 5:5).  “This is the moment of faith, of prayer, of conversation with God, in order to open our hearts to the tide of grace and allow the word of Christ to pass through us in all its power: Duc in altum!” (NMI 38)

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

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The Chinese Dissident Who Wrote in Blood

April 14, 2018

Fifty years after her execution for criticizing Mao, Lin Zhao continues to rally democracy activists and to worry Chinese authorities

Lin Zhao visiting a tomb at Taoranting Park, Beijing in 1959.
Lin Zhao visiting a tomb at Taoranting Park, Beijing in 1959. PHOTO: COURTESY NI JINGXIONG

Few in the West know of the Chinese dissident Lin Zhao, who was executed 50 years ago this month at the height of the Cultural Revolution for her fierce opposition to Mao, but she is still very much a presence in China. On the anniversary of her death in two weeks, some of her many admirers will attempt to pay their respects at her tomb, and the Chinese authorities will try to stop them—all of which suggests something of the power of her words, even after a half-century.

Born in 1932 in Suzhou, Lin Zhao attended a Methodist mission school in the 1940s, where she converted to Christianity and then to Communism. She secretly joined the party at the age of 16 to agitate for a just society with “no corrupt officials.” Her disillusionment with the revolution came in 1957-58, after Mao launched his Anti-Rightist campaign against liberal intellectuals; some 1.2 million people were purged.

Named a Rightist herself in 1958 and designated for re-education, she attempted to kill herself, but survived. She returned to a fervent Christian faith, and her career of literary dissent began. In 1960, she was arrested.

To the common people alone our country rightly belongs;

‘how can mountains and rivers turn into an emperor’s private grounds?

——Lin Zhao, from a poem written in blood from prison

In her cell, Lin Zhao produced a series of impassioned writings, composed in her own blood when she had no ink. She would prick her finger, drain the blood into a plastic spoon and use a straw or bamboo strip to write on clothing or a bed sheet. When she had a pen, she would copy the texts onto paper. Prison rules required that her writings be kept as evidence against her, and no functionary dared to dispose of them.

In her poems, essays, and letters, Lin Zhao wrote about the sanctity of individual freedom and the evils of Mao’s dictatorial rule. One of her poems directed at Mao, written on a shirt, said, “To the common people alone our country rightly belongs;/how can mountains and rivers turn into an emperor’s private grounds?”

She chose Bastille Day in 1965 to begin what became a five-month project: a 137-page letter to the editorial board of the People’s Daily, the party mouthpiece, excoriating “ Mao Zedong Thought” as the “blackened marrow of totalitarian politics.” Democratic rights are God-given, she insisted: “Nobody has the right to tell me: In order to live, you must have chains on your neck and endure the humiliation of slavery.” She was executed three years later.

Pilgrimages to Lin Zhao’s tomb on Lingyan Hill in Suzhou have made the authorities increasingly nervous about her ideas and influence.

After Mao’s death in 1976, she was exonerated posthumously, and in 1982 her prison writings were released to her family. In the early 2000s, Lin Zhao’s former fiancé and classmates edited some of the texts, and they were digitized and posted on the internet. Her work quickly became a rallying point for political dissent.

Pilgrimages to Lin Zhao’s tomb on Lingyan Hill in Suzhou have made the authorities increasingly nervous about her ideas and influence. A decade ago, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of her execution, the government installed a security camera at the site, and over the years, the police have increasingly engaged in a battle of wills with visitors.

The concentration of power in the hands of President Xi Jinping has given Lin Zhao’s voice a new resonance and urgency for democracy advocates in China. With the 50th anniversary of her death approaching, some Chinese who tried to organize a pilgrimage to her tomb were again harassed by police. A recent government notice posted nearby led some to fear that the tomb would be destroyed, though the management of the graveyard denied this.

Either way, on April 29, there will likely be a heavy police presence on Lingyan Hill. Such fear of a young woman who was shot 50 years ago may seem paranoid, but it is actually quite rational. To borrow biblical language, she is one who, though dead, still speaks.

Appeared in the April 14, 2018, print edition as ‘The Chinese dissident who wrote in Blood.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-chinese-dissident-who-wrote-in-blood-1523634068

To Change The Church by Paul Douthat Begs The Qustion: Does Pope Francis Matter?

April 10, 2018

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New York Times op-ed columnist Douthat (Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, 2012) delves into the decadeslong struggle between liberal and conservative forces within Catholicism.

Starting with the Second Vatican Council, the author then covers the turbulent 1970s, during which the church struggled to find its way in the post-conciliar world. With the election of Pope John Paul II, a conservative interpretation of the Council took precedence and found its fullest interpretation in John Paul’s successor, Benedict XVI.

With Benedict’s surprising retirement in 2013, however, the church had a rare opportunity to change direction, and it did so with the choice of Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis. Despite the many issues facing Catholicism, Douthat chooses to focus mostly on the question of how the church views divorce and remarriage. Some of this work centers on remarriage and the pope’s sometimes-ambiguous teachings and statements on the matter.

While Francis is the central figure in such debates, most of the author’s commentary has to do with the many cardinals, and other clergy, whose activism on one side or another fuels the fires of division within Catholicism. Perhaps the book’s greatest attribute is the level to which it introduces average readers to the infighting among the Roman Curia and the larger family of bishops and cardinals who steer the church. Though largely sympathetic to Francis and Catholic liberalism, Douthat does play devil’s advocate on many occasions and, in his conclusion, provides some criticisms of the pope.

However, the author is prone to an overabundance of speculation, often bogging down his otherwise solid analysis with a series of what-ifs. His attempt to see the current church through historical lenses—e.g., comparisons with controversies over Arians, Jansenists, and other heresies and schisms—is laudable but overdone.

An imperfect but certainly fascinating look at the church under Pope Francis.

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/ross-douthat/to-change-the-church/

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Pope Francis in Lima, Peru, January 2018. Credit Luka Gonzales/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

TO CHANGE THE CHURCH 
Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism
By Ross Douthat
234 pp. Simon & Schuster. $26.

Gabby (as she is called) is a woman Ross Douthat knew at Harvard, where they were students in the 2002 class whose experience is the subject of his first book, “Privilege” (2005). Arriving at college, he is a Catholic convert from a country-day school in Connecticut, already recognizable as “that rarest of breeds, the college conservative.” And she — well, who she is, in his estimation, changes across freshman year. The first week, she is “a home-schooled Canadian from a windswept rock somewhere off the coast of Prince Edward Island.” Two months later she is “the artsy, home-schooled Canadian girl who hung out with cross-dressers and dated a gothish townie.” By spring she is tight with “bisexuals and men who majored in women’s studies; she moved off-campus within a year to live with her shaved-head sister and smoke to her heart’s content.”

Gabby came to mind as I read Douthat’s new book, “To Change the Church,” which fits with “Privilege” and his 2012 book “Bad Religion” to form a loose triptych about institutions in decline. It is high-minded cultural criticism, concise, rhetorically agile, lit up by Douthat’s love for the Roman Catholic Church. In some respects it goes to the root of the discontent that drives all three books; in others it is a simple sour mash, applying to Pope Francis insinuative caricatures like the ones he applied to Gabby.

Douthat came of age during the culture wars of the 1990s, and the culture-war schema pervades his work. At Harvard, he decides that the place is unmoored from Western humanism, a superluxury cruise on which the “overclass” consolidates itself through relentless networking, sucking up, résumé-enhancing and grooming in fast-track behavior. Ditto sex at Harvard, which he sees as an extracurricular mix of know-how and status-seeking. “The regimen of diaphragms and dental dams, masturbation and oral sex and porn, has replaced the older forces of family, religion and shame that policed the sexual landscape for generations. Instead of telling young people to save sex for marriage, the new sexual orthodoxy tells us to have as much as we want, but to do it carefully.”

In “Bad Religion,” Douthat in effect spells out how such a state of affairs came to pass. It involves “the slow-motion collapse of traditional Christianity and the rise of a variety of destructive pseudo-Christianities in its place.” Given two options — accommodation or resistance — most churches accommodate, leaving the culture to make an idol of the self.

Six years later, Douthat, a columnist for this newspaper, has become the successor to the conservative Catholic doyen William F. Buckley Jr. (who once took him sailing — and skinny-dipping — on Long Island Sound). His ascendance has come at an odd moment: The right wing dominates politics, but so-called conservatives have traduced the ideals that drew him to the movement. Small-government congressmen have dropped commitments to rein in federal spending; evangelicals (those champions of traditional marriage) are supine in their support of the sexual predator in the White House. And after a third of a century in which John Paul II made the papacy “a rallying point for resistance to the redefinition of Christianity,” the church is led by a pope who has no use for the culture-war schema of resistance and accommodation — who sees the church called to “go to the peripheries” rather than strive to restore Christianity as the vital center.

To Douthat Francis is an accommodationist, and decline has reached the apex of the church. “This is a hinge moment in the history of Catholicism,” he declares, “a period of theological crisis that’s larger than just the Francis pontificate but whose particular peak under this pope will be remembered, studied and argued about for as long as the Catholic Church endures.”

What immediately follows is an adroit, perceptive, gripping account of Catholic controversializing. Douthat sets out the liberal and conservative “master narratives” about the Second Vatican Council and then offers a third narrative that deftly blends the two. He sketches the life and times of the future pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Argentine Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires. There’s commentary on past controversies and a brief history of Catholic teaching on marriage, from Matthew 19 (“What God has joined, let not man put asunder”) to Humanae Vitae, the 1968 encyclical in which Pope Paul VI upheld the ban on artificial birth control.

It’s strong stuff, conversationally lively and expressive. Apt on-the-spot paraphrase abounds: “In his famous in-flight news conference coming back from Rio” Francis “seemed to indicate an interest in the remarriage issue, offering a positive-seeming mention of Eastern Orthodoxy’s practice on divorce. … But the furor over gay priests and `Who am I to judge?’ overshadowed these remarks.”

And then, as Douthat reaches what he sees as the heart of the matter — the Vatican synods on marriage and the family in 2014 and 2015 — his culture-warrior tendencies stir fully to life. He casts the synods as a battle: warring factions, attacks and frontal assaults, purges and collaborators. Francis’ openness to the German cardinal Walter Kasper’sproposal to relax the ban on divorced-and-remarried people in Germany receiving Communion at Mass is framed as a liberal pope’s “crusade to change the church.” Although Francis has invited free discussion more than any previous pope, his efforts to shape the synod’s outcome (he is the pope, after all) are seen as “stage-managing” and “deck-stacking.” The synod fathers’ disputes are rolled down the slippery slope and deemed a “full-scale theological crisis” in which the hope that Francis would foster unity and renewal is undone by the supposed liberals’ supposed desire to accommodate “the sexual revolution and all its works.”

Douthat’s own position is traditionalist-cum-literalist: Any relaxing of the Catholic teaching on marriage — one man, one woman, one time — means that core teachings can be changed; if core teachings can be changed, the Catholic Church is no longer the Catholic Church; and if the church is not the church, all hope is lost. From this fixed position, he slyly derides other positions, especially the liberal outlook.

As a first draft of history, “To Change the Church” is a high-wire act, an effort to maintain a balance between theology and polemics for a wide public. And yet the air is thin up there, the wire narrow and tight. From above, Douthat, seeing every act as a tactical move in the culture wars, pushing every hypothesis to its limit, ignores human experience. Left out is the prospect that Francis called a synod about marriage and family not because he wanted to fly the flag of the sexual revolution but because marriage and family are where so many people in our time encounter the paradoxes of body and soul, self-fulfillment and self-sacrifice. Left out is the fact that Catholics don’t skirt the church’s teaching on marriage just to make things easier for themselves; they say, “By what right do those child-abuse-indulging clerics tell me that my marriage is adulterous while twice-divorced, thrice-married Newt Gingrich is now a Catholic in good standing, living in Rome as the spouse of his ex-aide/girlfriend who is the United States ambassador to the Vatican?” Left out are the signs that the traditionalists don’t want to tamp down divorce so much as bar the door to same-sex marriage. Left out is the truth that sexual behavior is more fluid than the culture-war schema allows: that there are conservative libertines as well as liberals who live marriage faithfully (even chastely). Left out are people like Gabby, who live off the grid of the culture wars — as does Douthat himself, a conservative whom liberal institutions have educated, sponsored and let thrive.

Left out, especially, is the home truth that the Catholic Church has changed already. Vatican II was at once the church’s response to a crisis and the perpetuation of it. In less than five years the council fathers made changes whose number and scale dwarf the modest proposals floated in Francis’ pontificate — made them over the objections of Bill Buckley and other pundits who styled themselves as more Catholic than the pope. The biggest change had to do with the church’s relationship to Judaism, other churches and other religions. In a few strokes, Jesus’ hard saying “No one comes to the Father except through me” and its Catholic expression (“Outside the church there is no salvation”) were softened and qualified. The change was profound and tradition-defying. Ever since, the church has affirmed the integrity of other faiths; ever since, Catholics have had to ask themselves, “Why be Catholic, when other ways are O.K., too?” Ever since, there has been no one clear answer.

This is not to say that people entering into Catholic marriage shouldn’t fully grasp the church’s understanding of the sacrament and its obligations. It is to say that the view of marriage as a marker in a culture war — a doctrinal asymptote, a line that may be approached but not crossed — is itself a greatly diminished view of marriage. Fidelity is going into new forms; like it or not, Catholics, right up to the pope, have to work out the implications as we go. The slope is slippery now and forevermore. Truly, it has been all along.

EDITORIAL – Beyond Easter — Each of us has the power to “reset”

April 1, 2018

Editorial

(The Philippine Star) – April 1, 2018 – 12:00am
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After the long Holy Week break, Christians are reenergized and, it is hoped, renewed spiritually. The faithful in this predominantly Catholic country as usual combined religious devotion with relaxation during the week, and today celebrate the miracle of the risen Jesus Christ.

Through the passion, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ fulfilled the promised redemption from sin of the descendants of Adam and Eve. Redemption also heralds change for the better, which is a good commitment to make for the faithful on this special day. The nation can certainly use positive changes.

Non-Filipinos have wondered why Asia’s bastion of the Roman Catholic faith, where politicians like to present themselves as prayerful, devout churchgoers, continues to grapple with endemic corruption and one of the highest homicide rates in the world. In many parts of the country, murder has become the ultimate tool for eliminating political rivals and keeping a clan’s stranglehold on power.

Murder is also used to silence media critics and left-leaning militants, with the failure to solve the crimes breeding impunity. Tough anti-corruption laws and a code of conduct and ethical standards for public servants are brazenly violated. The few who control power and wealth have resisted meaningful reforms that would deprive them of their entitlements even if it would make economic growth inclusive and promote national prosperity. Social injustice pushes victims to insurgent movements, which also employ lethal violence to advance their causes.

Today families gather to celebrate the risen Christ, the greatest miracle of the faith. The Christian faithful have just gone through one of the holiest periods of the year, with Easter heralding a fresh start. Commitments to change for the better must be sustained beyond Easter Sunday.

A joyous, blessed Easter to all!

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/04/01/1801626/editorial-beyond-easter#O37E0m2WHdVCUtZ7.99

Image: Simon of Cyrene assist Jesus with his cross — From the film, The Passion of the Christ.

Despair Is From the Devil

March 31, 2018

Haaretz

Despite all the trouble, never before in history has the Jewish state flourished the way it does today, nor has it been as secure as it is now

.Soldiers at the Passover Seder in Ashkelon
Soldiers at the Passover Seder in AshkelonRay Scally

The main headline in Yedioth Ahronoth last Tuesday was: “The country is in grave condition.” This frightening diagnosis summarizes the opinion of six former Mossad heads: Zvi Zamir, Nahum Admoni, Efraim Halevy, Shabtai Shavit, Dani Yatom and Tamir Pardo.

According to Zamir, “the country is sick”; Pardo believes “we’re getting lost”; Shavit says that “as intelligence people, our most important ability is forecasting the future.” And the future – according to the prophetic abilities of these six observers of the House of Israel – is gloomy and depressing. Yatom, for example, envisions “the end of the Jewish state.”

The sickness of corruption, my dear and honorable Zamir, is indeed a major malady, but it is curable. It is now being treated by quite good doctors – the police, the prosecution, the media and public opinion. Thanks to the healthy foundations of society – like you, for example – we always take courage and manage to remove from our midst (most of) what is contaminated and loathsome.

I dare say that even the sins in absorbing the immigrants from the lands of the East are to no small extent exaggerated. Dr. Zvi Zameret, who spent most of his adult life in outlying towns, proved a decade ago that the immigrants supposedly “dumped” from trucks in the desert in 1951, in Yeruham for example, were from Romania and Hungary. The first immigrants from Morocco arrived there only in 1955.

I of course share your pain and worry over corruption, especially in government, and share Admoni’s anguish – and, I believe, that of most people in Israel – over the rift in the nation. But his statement that this rift “is greater than at any other time” does not stand the test of history. I recommend that Admoni and you look at the newspapers (and books) from the time of the Altalena, the Wadi Salib and Yosseleh Shumacher affairs, the dark days of mutual incitement in the Oslo period. Most of these events, and many others, were harsh and difficult – quite incomparable to what is happening these days, and most of them happened when the government was from the other political camp. Then, for some reason, the moral and societal condition was not described as “grave.” In retrospect – justifiably not. The fact is that we overcame. Together.

Yes, despite all the trouble, never before in history has the Jewish state flourished the way it does today, nor has it been as secure as it is now. It is within my people, all of its far-flung parts, that I dwell. Moreover, during the week you described Israel’s situation as “grave,” the Bank of Israel published its annual report. “The economy of Israel is at its peak,” it stated.

Like many in Israel, you too are holding your breath in the face of what is about to happen (it’s the government’s fault of course) on Friday on the Gazan border. Remember, please, the various petitions and other acts of persuasion in which you stated (including some of you who were then “in uniform”) that disengagement would put an end to bombardments from the Gazan border, and the area would become Singapore. Yes, your joining forces with a corrupt prime minister to uproot Jews from their communities is incontrovertible proof of shortsightedness. The hell in which the Gaza Strip’s Arab citizens and the Jewish inhabitants of the communities near the border with Gaza have been living for the past 13 years is, largely, the outcome of your ability – then and now – to “predict the future.”

Not only haste, but also despair, gentleman, with such great credit to your name (truly!), is from the devil. A happy – and encouraging – holiday to you and the whole House of Israel.

https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-despair-is-from-the-devil-1.5962115

Holy Thursday Meditation — The Cross doesn’t end in death, but in resurrection!

March 29, 2018

Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) – March 29, 2018 – 12:00am

It’s Holy Thursday a.k.a. Maundy Thursday and for the millions of Catholics from all over the country and the world, it is time for the Visita Iglesia, where devout Catholics more often than not… walk to at least seven churches within their town or city for this very solemn Catholic tradition. Lest you have already forgotten, Holy Thursday teaches us very important lessons, which have become doctrines of the Catholic Church.

Allow me to talk about the tradition of the institution of the Holy Eucharist, the institution of the Holy Orders and all these is preceded by the washing of the feet of the 12 Apostles. All these are “gifts” by God himself through the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. The washing of the feet by our Lord Jesus Christ is very significant as written in John 13: 1-7.

I love the conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter when this event was happening, when Jesus came before Simon Peter, Simon asked the Lord“Master, are you going to wash my feet? Jesus replied, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Then Peter replied“You will never wash my feet.” Jesus then replied to Peter“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Peter then replied“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”

For me, this singular act of humility by our Lord Jesus is revolutionary of sorts because leaders or masters have their feet washed by their servants or slaves. But not in this case, where the Master washed the feet of his 12 Apostles… something that they did not expect because it was clearly an act of humility. Today, you will never see world leaders (except the Pope) do this act of humility with their political underlings… as the teaching of Christianity is unfortunately no longer in vogue even in countries that used to be Christian nations.

The greatest gift of Holy Thursday is the institution of the Holy Eucharist, when our Lord broke the bread and gave it to his disciples and said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Jesus also did the same to the wine, which through the process of transubstantiation, truly becomes the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Few Christians realize that, it is for this very reason why the first miracle made by our Lord Jesus Christ was turning the water into wine at the bequest of his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is for this very reason why we read about the feeding of the 5,000, not counting women and children… because this event is relived in all our churches during the Holy Communion.

Of course, we still see the white wafer after the prayer of consecration is said by the priest, but as our Lord Jesus have taught us, “Blessed are those who cannot see, but yet believe.” Last September, we took a road trip from Rome to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit the uncorrupt remains of St. Padre Pio. On our way, we saw a sign that said, “Lanciano.” Upon investigation, we found out that it was the very same Lanciano where the Church of San Francesco was located halfway between Rome and San Giovanni Rotondo.

Lanciano is the legendary place of St. Longinus, the bearer of “The Lance.” He is the Centurion who pierced the side of Jesus who was already dead on the cross, and blood and water gushed forth from his side, spilling into the Centurion’s wounded eye. Thus he declared, “Truly, this man is the Son of God.” St. Longinus then moved to Cappadocia and finally stayed in Lanciano.

Eight hundred years later in Lanciano, a Basilian monk had doubts that Jesus was truly present in the Holy Eucharist, so when he uttered the words of consecration, the Holy Host turned into flesh and coagulated blood. We were blessed to have visited the very first Eucharistic miracle in the very same monstrance that bore the coagulated blood and the host that turned to flesh in Lanciano, which was a miracle of sorts for my family because that visit to Lanciano was not even in our radar screen. It was as if the Lord himself wanted us to visit him in Lanciano.

Finally lest we have also forgotten, Holy Thursday brings us the Holy Orders or the institution of the sacrament of the priesthood. In the last supper, our Lord Jesus Christ offers himself as the Passover sacrifice, God’s sacrificial and unblemished lamb and teaches his apostles and disciples to follow the same sacrifice of the Holy Mass, which began during the last Supper and continues all over the world where the Holy Mass is celebrated.

On Holy Thursday, Bishops and priests from all over the world would come together to celebrate the institution of the priesthood in a holy mass were the bishops bless the new Oil for Chrism that would be used for baptism, confirmation and the anointing of the sick or dying. At this point, we continue to reflect the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. But remember the Cross doesn’t end in death, but in resurrection!

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/03/29/1801273/my-maundy-thursday-reflection#eGXfvotvSxbEQmWZ.99

Dr. Jordan Peterson Talks Up The ’12 Rules For Life’

March 26, 2018

Peterson believes that the catastrophe of our times is a loss of sense of meaning in life. We need to seek deep engagement and meaning from life, he believes. He says this will not come from instant gratification but from seeking and taking responsibility and meaning. Our sense of meaning and purpose is what allows us to get through the hard times in life and the suffering. He says we are not teaching this to young people which is a mystery and a catastrophe. He tells us to live out the truth — much as Christianity teaches…

Interesting that this discussion was held just before the Christian Holy Week….

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For more on Peterson’s thinking:

Related:

  (Pope Francis says we must choose who we stand with. Are we with those that yell “Crucify Him” or are we with those that cheer “

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We just recently became interested on Aristotle’s “Metaphysics” after a professor we know said, “His is the inconvenient truth. Three hundred years before Christ, Aristotle believed he proved the existence of God using logic from his teacher Plato. College students today don’t want to think — even though they cast out religion. Therefore, Aristotle is usually overlooked these days….”

Can’t make truth, ideas or monuments go away by refusing to accept them!

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Israel suspends actions that led to closure of Christian holy site in Jerusalem

February 27, 2018

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel on Tuesday suspended tax measures and other actions that led to the rare closure of the church built at what is seen as the holiest site in Christianity, shut down all week in protest.

Christian leaders who have kept Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre closed since Sunday were yet to respond to the decision and it was not clear whether it would reopen imminently.

The closure has left thousands of pilgrims and tourists seeking to visit the site locked outside, with some kneeling in front of its large wooden doors to pray in Jerusalem’s Old City.

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Dozens of protesters rallied outside the church on Tuesday afternoon in support of Christian leaders.

A statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said a “professional team” would be appointed to come up with a solution to tax measures imposed by Israeli authorities in Jerusalem firmly opposed by Christian leaders.

“As a result, the Jerusalem municipality is suspending the collection actions it has taken in recent weeks,” the statement said.

Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi will also look into the issue of land sales in Jerusalem by Christian bodies.

During that time, a proposed law that Christian leaders say would allow Israel to expropriate church land is to be shelved, the statement said.

The church is built where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. Custody of it is shared by the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic denominations.

Christian leaders are in part angry over attempts by Israeli authorities in Jerusalem to enforce tax collection on church property they consider commercial, saying exemptions only apply to places of worship or religious teaching.

– ‘Dark period’ –

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat says the city is due 650 million shekels ($186 million/152 million euros) in uncollected taxes on church properties.

He stresses the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and all other churches are exempt, with the changes only affecting establishments like “hotels, halls and businesses” owned by the churches.

Christian leaders say the measure jeopardises their ability to conduct their work, which also includes social services to those in need.

A separate controversial bill seeks to allay the fears of Israelis who live in homes on lands previously held by the Greek Orthodox Church and which were sold to private developers, according to the lawmaker proposing the legislation.

The bill would allow certain lands sold by the Greek Orthodox Church to be handed over to the state, which would then compensate those who bought it from the church.

“This reminds us all of laws of a similar nature which were enacted against the Jews during a dark period in Europe,” Christian leaders said in a statement on Sunday.

Recent land sales by the Greek Orthodox Church — a major landowner in Jerusalem — to unknown buyers have drawn fire from both Israelis and Palestinians.

Palestinians fear the sales will favour Israeli settlement construction in east Jerusalem, while Israelis are concerned over private developers’ intentions for the land.

The decision to close the church was extremely rare.

In 1990, Christian sites including the Holy Sepulchre were closed for a day to protest the installation of Jewish settlers near the church, located in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Christian sites were shut for two days in 1999 to protest the planned construction of a mosque near Nazareth’s Church of the Annunciation, where tradition holds the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary she was to become the mother of Jesus.

by Majeda El-Batsh

Video Games and Children: Playing with Violence

February 24, 2018

Playing video games has become a popular activity for people of all ages. Video gaming is a multibillion-dollar industry bringing in more money than movies and DVDs. On average, girls spend more than an hour per day playing video games and boys spend more than two hours. Teens often spend even more time than younger children. Video games have become very sophisticated and realistic. Some games connect to the internet, which can allow children and adolescents to play games and have discussions with unknown adults and peers.

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While some games have educational content, many of the most popular games emphasize negative themes and promote:

  • The killing of people or animals
  • The use and abuse of drugs and alcohol
  • Criminal behavior, disrespect for authority and the law
  • Sexual exploitation and violence toward women
  • Racial, sexual, and gender stereotypes
  • Foul language and obscene gestures

Store-bought video games are evaluated by the Electronic Software Ratings Board (ESRB) and rated for their appropriateness for children and teens. The ratings are featured prominently on the game packaging.

Studies of children exposed to violent media have shown that they may become numb to violence, imitate the violence, and show more aggressive behavior. Younger children and those with emotional, behavioral or learning problems may be more influenced by violent images.

In moderation, playing age-appropriate games can be enjoyable and healthy. Some video games may promote learning, problem solving and help with the development of fine motor skills and coordination. However, there are concerns about the effect of video games on young people who play videogames excessively.

Children and adolescents can become overly involved with videogames. They may have difficulty controlling the amount of time they play. They may resist their parents’ attempts to limit their time playing video games. Spending excessive time playing these games can lead to:

  • Less time socializing with friends and family
  • Poor social skills
  • Time away from family time, school work, and other hobbies
  • Lower grades
  • Less reading
  • Less exercise and becoming overweight
  • Decreased sleep and poor quality sleep
  • Aggressive thoughts and behaviors

Tips for Parents
Parents can help their children enjoy these video games appropriately and avoid problems by:

  • Avoiding video games in preschool-aged children
  • Checking the ESRB ratings to select appropriate games—both in content and level of development
  • Playing videogames with their children to share the experience and discuss the game’s content
  • Setting clear rules about game content and playing time, both in and outside the home
  • Monitoring online interactions and warning children about potential dangers of Internet contacts while playing games online
  • Allowing video game playing only in public areas of the home, not in the child’s bedroom
  • Remembering that you are a role model for your children including which video games you play and how long you play them
  • Enforcing total screen time limits
  • Ensuring video games are only played after homework and chores are done
  • Encouraging participation in other activities, particularly physical activities

If you continue to have concerns about your child’s gaming habits or if your child is having difficulty with mood or behavior, ask your child’s pediatrician, family physician or school counselor to help arrange a referral to a trained and qualified mental health professional.

https://www.aacap.org/aacap/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Children-and-Video-Games-Playing-with-Violence-091.aspx

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Related:

 — Video Games Can Rot Your Brain

US Christian tourists see deep meaning in Trump’s Jerusalem move

January 21, 2018

AFP

© AFP / by Mike Smith | Members of a group of American Baptist Christian tourists stand at the Mount of Olives as they look towards Jerusalem’s Old City and the Dome of the Rock on January 20, 2018

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Near the olive grove where Christians believe Jesus agonised before his crucifixion, an American visitor spoke of a decision by US President Donald Trump some believe also holds spiritual importance.Phillip Dunn, the 37-year-old pastor of an evangelical Christian church in the US state of South Carolina, said he saw Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month as part of biblical prophecy.

“Certainly this holds a lot of significance for people in that way. We believe Christ is going to return,” Dunn, part of a group of around 50 American Southern Baptists visiting Jerusalem holy sites over the weekend, said before climbing back aboard a tour bus.

Trump’s controversial declaration on December 6 will be back in the spotlight over the coming days with Vice President Mike Pence arriving Sunday night for talks with Israeli officials in Jerusalem.

Dunn and his fellow believers are key backers of Trump’s move in the United States and part of the Christian evangelical community there that has become an important pillar of support for his Republican party.

Pence, who stood behind Trump as he made his Jerusalem announcement, is himself an evangelical Christian.

Dunn and others on the Jerusalem tour, planned before Trump’s announcement, said they were pleased with his declaration because they consider it important to support Israel and affirm its claim that the entire city is its capital.

But there were also otherworldly considerations among the group.

Some evangelicals believe, based on interpretations of scripture, that firmly establishing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and establishing a new temple there could help lead to the second coming of Jesus.

Dunn and others on the trip said interpretations of Jerusalem’s place in biblical prophecy vary too widely to provide a simple answer such as that one.

– ‘A lot of mystery’ –

Brett Burleson, a pastor at a church in Alabama, said “there’s a lot of mystery to that, so I don’t claim to know how it’s all going to play out”.

“We do recognise that this is a place where we believe the Lord Jesus himself will return and bring a peaceful end to human history,” the 47-year-old said.

Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the most sensitive issue in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel occupied and later annexed its eastern sector in the Six-Day War of 1967 in a move never recognised by the international community.

It sees the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians view east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Trump’s declaration deeply angered the Palestinians, with president Mahmud Abbas cancelling plans to meet Pence during his visit, which had been set for late December before being postponed.

The declaration was partly the result of a long political debate in the United States, with a law passed calling for the embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 1995.

It however allowed presidents to sign a waiver every six months to prevent the embassy move for national security reasons.

Trump again signed the waiver when declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital last month, but stressed he intended to move the embassy.

He also said Jerusalem’s final borders and status would have to be negotiated, but Palestinians were unconvinced.

– ‘Probably not’ –

David Parsons, vice president of the International Christian Embassy based in Jerusalem, said he helped draft an earlier version of the embassy legislation while working for a pro-Israel lobbying firm in the United States.

“We have a large, broad movement worldwide that supports Israel on various motivations,” Parsons said of the primarily evangelical Christian embassy.

“Some are motivated by biblical prophecy, but there’s a broad array of views on biblical prophecy.”

Zalman Shoval, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States, said Sunday that Israel has long reached out to US Christian groups for support.

Specifically mentioning evangelicals, Shoval said “we may not agree with everything anybody says about the future of Israel or the future of the country.”

Some evangelicals believe Jews would eventually have to convert to Christianity.

“But we must look at the present situation,” he told journalists.

“The present situation is that there is a very important body of people in America who believe — honestly and genuinely believe — in the future of the Jewish people and its place in the Jewish country in Israel.”

Lewis Richerson, 37, a pastor from Louisiana on the Jerusalem tour, may be among those he had in mind.

His support for Trump’s declaration was “primarily political” since backing Israel in part helps “promote democracy and freedom around the world.”

Richerson said of the declaration: “Is that some type of biblical prophecy? Probably not.”

by Mike Smith