Why do we hate?

A UK study found romantic love and hate are intimately linked within the human brain.
Scientists studying the physical nature of hate found that some of the nervous circuits in the brain responsible for it are the same as those that are used during the feeling of romantic love – although love and hate appear to be polar opposites.
The subjects were volunteers who all professed a deep sense of hatred for at least one individual.
Eli Siegel, the great American poet and historian, defined hatred and contempt of people different to ourselves as the “false importance or glory people get from the lessening of people not like themselves.”
We are encouraged to show contempt for those who are different to us by talkshow hosts, politicians, thousands of websites and even some church leaders.
Leo Tolstoy once said: “There is only one way to put an end to evil, and that is to do good for evil.”
It’s the same uncomplicated message echoed down the ages by the major religions, and specifically by Jesus – love God and love your neighbour. Anyone can hate. It takes a bit more effort to love.

Ground Zero cross can stay, court rules

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A cross-shaped beam from the wreckage of the World Trade Center can remain on display in the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, dismissing a lawsuit brought by atheists.

American Atheists filed a federal suit in 2012 claiming the 17-foot display at the museum built with a mix of public and private funds was unconstitutional. The group said its members suffered from both physical and emotional damages from the presence of the beamed cross, resulting in headaches, indigestion and mental pain.

The atheist group filed an appeal after a lower court dismissed the lawsuit, shifting the focus from the cross to asking for an added plaque that would say something like “atheists died, too.”

An observer would understand that the cross was also an inclusive symbol for any persons seeking hope and comfort in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, federal Judge Reena Raggi wrote in the court’s decision.

“Such an observer would not understand the effect of displaying an artifact with such an inclusive past in a Museum devoted to the history of the September 11 attacks to be the divisive one of promoting religion over nonreligion,” she wrote. “Nor would he think the primary effect of displaying The Cross at Ground Zero to be conveying a message to atheists that they are somehow disfavored ‘outsiders,’ while religious believers are favored ‘insiders,’ in the political community.”

The beam was found by rescue workers two days after the terrorist attacks and is part of the 1,000 artifacts in a 100,000-square-foot underground museum.

“We argued from the beginning that this was a flawed legal challenge designed to re-write history and eliminate a powerful historical artifact,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, a legal firm that filed a brief in support of keeping the cross. “This bizarre legal challenge from an atheist group was exposed for what it was — a skewed legal challenge that had no merit.”

A graphic and video that reveal the terrible Gaza toll

The Washington Post has a casualty counter for the Gaza conflict

It’s a sobering, to say the least, graphic that is updated daily. The latest death toll stands at 1046, and rising. And children are paying a terrible price.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/world/gaza-counter/

And here ITN journalist Jon Snow returns from Gaza and tells the heartbreaking story about the vulnerable children

How to flip your Karma

KARMA is the notion that we all get what we deserve. If that’s reality, we’re all screwed.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, if the concept of a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye is real, the whole world would be toothless and blind.

At the opposite end of the spiritual spectrum is grace – God’s free gift for the undeserving. It’s a gift of love that can take us by surprise.

Grace is the notion that God gives us what we don’t deserve. And doesn’t give us what we really do deserve.

It’s radical and shocking for many people because it upsets the “natural’’ balance in which we believe something good we have done in our lives merits the good things that come our way.

It also encourages the thought that those who act badly can get off the hook too easily. It sounds like a miscarriage of justice.

If something like karma is powerful, we are captive from birth by the hand dealt to us from a celestial pack of cards.
From a Christian point of view, it is not the major factor in our lives.
God’s grace, if we let it in, cancels every debt; every shameful thing in our lives.

Grace is free, but it’s not cheap. It works best when we acknowledge the source.

The blind agnostics

A common complaint of agnostics is this: “If only I saw a real miracle, I would truly believe. I would change my life.’’

Are they waiting for the parting of the seas? Or celestial fireworks spelling out their names?

Miracles happen around us every moment. Life itself is a miracle.
What makes many scientists awestruck are not the laws of the universe but how and why the laws have such seemingly calculated parameters. If the parameters were changed even slightly, the universe would have been bereft of almost all forms of life.

Dr Francis Crick, the biochemist Nobel prize winner who co-discovered the structure of the DNA molecule, once wrote: “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.’’

Sir Fred Hoyle, founder of the Cambridge Institute of Theoretical Astronomy and originator of the Steady State theory of the origin of the universe, commented: “The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way (by chance) is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the material therein.’’

Jesus, the Miracle Man himself, sometimes seemed unenthusiastic about lesser miracles.

“A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign,’’ he once told a bunch of miracle-seekers.

Jesus knew true miracles were signs of God. But he wanted to alert searchers of the real miracle of our lives—his presence on Earth.

The story of Jesus’ birth is marked by heavenly coincidences.
A Roman census moves Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem just in time to fulfil a 500-year-old biblical prophecy that the Messiah would be born there. Then simple shepherds find the birthplace after an encounter with angels.

Strange foreigners follow a star to the birthplace and supply precious gifts which can finance the family’s flight to Egypt to escape a death plot.

Then comes the adult Christ’s mission to save the world. C.S. Lewis called this “the one great miracle’’—the assertion that what is beyond all space and time, what is eternal, came into human nature.

How strange that we can now witness a supernova, but cannot easily envisage that the universe has been lovingly designed.

Hate is a choice; Just like love

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HATE is a choice, just like love.
A fascinating TV conversation between Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela revealed how that choice can be life changing.
Clinton told Mandela he had watch the historic moments when the African statesman was released from prison.
“As you walked across the courtyard, from the cellblock to the gate of the prison, the television cameras focused in on your face. I have never seen such anger, such animosity, and such hatred,” observed Clinton.
“I mean, you usually can’t see that so clearly revealed. It was all over you. It was intense hatred, intense resentment. That is not the Nelson Mandela that I know today. Could you explain what was going on?”
Nelson Mandela replied: “You’re the first one that brought that to my attention. I didn’t know that anybody noticed that. But as they released me from the prison block and as I walked across the courtyard to the gate, I thought to myself, ‘They’ve taken everything away from me, my family is destroyed, my cause has been crushed, my friends are dead, anything, anybody, that meant anything to me, they’ve destroyed it all,’ and I hated them with a fiery hatred. And then God spoke to me, and said, ‘Nelson, for 27 years, you were their prisoner, but you were always a free man. Don’t let them make you into a free man, only to turn you into their prisoner’.”
The remarkable thing is that we really love or hate our neighbor as ourselves. Philosopher Eric Hoffer said we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves

The simple miracle

THERE are those who proclaim the universe is orderly and beautiful.
Buddha knew it. So did Mohammed and Jesus of Nazareth.

They all stated that the miracles in life were not as obvious as the darkness. They encouraged their followers to pour their lives out for others; to engage this world and transform it.
In the end, they all said, spiritual choices meant a life was either lost or given to the world.

If God was no bigger than us, they said, there could be no mystery and no poetry. No discovery and no unconditional love.

At the basis of belief is the faith that this world is not all there is.

Faith is magical and mystical; it does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. But that doesn’t mean your brain has to go into neutral.

In Buddhism, faith is described as the act of the intellect assenting to a truth beyond its grasp. Buddhist literature states that faith without knowledge leads to the “conceit of ignorance’’ and knowledge without faith “begets a stony heart’’.

Christians and Muslims talk of the two treasures of faith.

The first is a joy born of love and wonder when faith in a caring creator is new. The second is a joy born of love and knowledge.

And between the experiences of the two joys lies discipline, disappointment and, often, disillusion.

It is in the midstream, when life is a battle and joy seems a thing of the past that faith in the unseen sustains the soul.

The second joy, love with understanding, is acknowledged as the greater gift. It has come by great faith, and, like true love, endures forever.

“Thank you for your faith’

Meriam Ibrahim, Pope Francis

POPE Francis has met privately with a Sudanese woman who arrived in Italy after escaping a death sentence in Sudan for refusing to recant her Christian faith.

The Vatican said Pope Francis had “a very affectionate” meeting with Meriam Ibrahim, 27, her husband and their two small children. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the pope “thanked her for her faith and courage, and she thanked him for his prayer and solidarity” during the half-hour meeting

Ibrahim arrived earlier in Rome, greeted by Italy’s premier, en route to the United States, where her husband has citizenship. Italy along with the United States worked for her release.

Israeli and Palestinian parents join forces

WITH the news coming out of the Gaza, you’d probably doubt the possibility of Palestinians and Israelis being on the same page, let alone in the same room. But these families came together to agree on at least one thing: They want to stop seeing their loved ones killed.

Recently, the Parents Circle-Families Forum (PCFF) brought together Palestinians and Israelis to promote peace and show reconciliation is possible. The nonprofit group shot a video featuring people who have lost loved ones in the political and religious violence that has shattered their hometowns. In an effort to demonstrate their hardship, members of the group came together in the video below with a resounding message on repeat: “We do not want you here.” The meaning is clear: They want no new members in this “club” of families aggrieved by violence.

“The PCFF has concluded that the process of reconciliation between nations is a prerequisite to achieving a sustainable peace,” their website reads.

15% Of The World’s nations Require Head Of State To Be From A Certain Religion

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THIRTY countries, or roughly 15 percent of the world’s nations, require their heads of state to follow a particular religion, according to a new Pew Research analysis.

These include both monarchies and republics, 17 Muslim countries, two Christian, two Buddhist and one Pancasila (the political philosophy of Indonesia.) The remaining eight prohibit clergy from running for office.

Several of the countries, including Iran, Saudia Arabia, Syria and Afghanistan, also made the State Department’s 2012 report on international religious freedom as some of the worst perpetrators of religious oppression. In Saudia Arabia for instance, not only is the president’s religion restricted, but any public practice of a religion other than Islam is prohibited.

Pew also notes that 19 additional countries require a particular religious affiliation for ceremonial monarchs, including 16 countries that are part of the Commonwealth of Nations under Queen Elizabeth II — who is referred to as the Defender of the Faith and belongs to the Church of England.

A giant leap (and a lunar secret) recalled

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45 years ago this week, mankind’s first footprint was placed on an extra-terrestrial world. It was the week man landed on the moon.

“Beautiful, beautiful. Magnificent desolation,’’ said Buzz Aldrin as he became the second person – just minutes after Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong – to set foot on another world on July 20, 1969.

Broadcasting from the moon, Aldrin urged listeners worldwide “to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.’’

A devout Christian, he became the first human to take communion while the spacecraft was on the moon, using a travel kit provided by his Presbyterian pastor,. This was not revealed until years later.

Aldrin recalled: “In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.’

“I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute [they] had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O’Hare, the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly. I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility . It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”

It’s also interesting to think that some of the first words spoken on the moon were the words of Jesus Christ, who made the Earth and the moon — and Who, in the immortal words of Dante, is Himself the “Love that moves the Sun and other stars.”

Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, chose Dvorak’s New World Symphony to take to the moon in 1969.

Soviet cosmonauts on space station Mir in 1988 requested Pink Floyd.

The first song to be beamed directly into deep space, was Across the Universe by The Beatles, which the American space agency NASA chose to transmit on its Deep Space Network on the 4 February 2008.

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 carried a library of music including Beethoven and Chuck Berry, Bach and Blind Willie Johnson, a raga, a Navajo night chant and Mozart

A lesson in hatred

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AMERICAN journalist Elizabeth Rubin discovered the true nature of hate when she spent two days with a Palestinian family in a West Bank refugee camp.
She interviewed a 13-year-old girl whose father had been killed by Israeli bombs.
The girl, who never smiled, told Rubin that her father wanted her to be a doctor. She said she would prefer to study nuclear physics so she could blow up her enemies.
Another girl at the camp, even younger, clutched a thick handful of what looked liked baseball or football cards. Rubin looked more closely and discovered they were photos not of sports stars but Palestinian suicide bombers.
The there’s a revealing short film shot at an Israeli army museum, that features a range of kids including one who says, “I picture a dead Arab and that makes me happy”.
These things are common when barbarism and hate are taught at a young age.
No wonder history has a tendency to repeat itself.

A day to mourn

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IT is a day to mourn. A passenger plane with 295 souls on board is shot down over the Ukraine and on the same day Israel launches a ground offensive in Gaza.
This is a world divided by conflict.
The performance of evil by ordinary people is one of the most disturbing social phenomena. It is not confined to one state or one nation.
Jesus was pretty clear on the subject of violence. Loving your neighbours – and your enemies – is the centrepiece of his gospel.
But in the end, we all make up our own minds on the validity of that. Free will allows some people to take up arms and kill others seemingly without care.
George Buttrick, in his book Christ and History, said we could not be lifted from the human dilemma without our consent, for we have a certain freedom to cross a moral border from right to wrong.
To continue to trust in grace, love, kindness and generosity is difficult in a world gone mad.
What we need is faith that we can do more than survive. Ultimately, we are citizens of heaven and this apparent global madness will probably make sense when we finally escape the shadowlands.

In 2009 Queen Rania of Jordan made an urgent plea on behalf of all the civilians living in Gaza for a “humanitarian ceasefire” and for the international community to do all it can to help alleviate the suffering. Her message is just as relevant today.

60 seconds of inspiration:Video

Sometimes the less people have, the more they give

While conducting a social experiment, Sam Pepper approached a few diners in a pizza shop, expressed that he was hungry and asked if they could spare a slice. He was rejected each time.

The first person to offer Pepper something to eat was the last person he expected help from. A down-and-out homeless guy didn’t hesitate to share his food.

Jews And Arabs who Refuse To Be Enemies

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As the Gaza conflict intensifies with rocket attacks from both sides, some people are promoting friendship on social media with the hashtag, “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.”

Ynet reports that about 300 people protested the rocket attacks on Gaza by the Israeli government in Haifa, shouting and holding signs, “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.”

Now the slogan has become an international social media campaign with a Facebook page and Twitter hashtag.

Photos here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/15/jews-and-arabs-refuse-to-be-enemies_n_5587742.html?utm_hp_ref=religion show that the people suffering from the ongoing violence are demanding an end to it, with people all over the world supporting them in solidarity

Egypt proposed a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas after a week of air strikes which have killed at least 185 Palestinians, at least 3/4 of whom were civilians, according to the BBC. Israel agreed but Hamas refused a ceasefire.

Today Israel resumed airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, six hours after agreeing to the Egyptian-proposed truce that failed to halt Hamas rocket attacks.

The spiritual tabletop test

IN his book What Good Is God? Phillip Yancey examines whether it makes any real difference if we believe or don’t believe in God in times of suffering.

Yancey starts with an example of “tabletop tests” in Silicone Valley where new products such as phones and MP3 players are placed on a tabletop and deliberately crashed to the ground to see if they still work in the real world

Yancey looked for similar tests in the realm of faith. He visited crisis points in the world – South Africa, the Middle East and India -and talked to groups of outcasts, prisoners, alcoholics and prostitutes. “When I spend time with these people, my own faith undergoes a tabletop test.,” he said

“It is one thing to say, Well, God is good because I live in a nice suburban home and my children are all Olympic athletes and doing well in school. But what good is God if you are in a prison being persecuted for your faith? That is to me the tabletop test of faith.”

He concluded that faith was about hope. Not a hope that we are going to live a problem-free existence, because that is not going to happen. “It is the hope that God is with us in these testing times of faith and that they can be redeemed, that good can be wrought out of them.”

“I’ve been privileged to see God at work.
“I have found that a time of pain and suffering can be a time when we are forced to stop in our tracks and ask ourselves what really matters.”

Pope: Two Percent Of Priests Are Pedophiles

ABOUT two percent of Roman Catholic clerics are sexual abusers, an Italian newspaper quoted Pope Francis as saying, adding that the pontiff considered the crime “a leprosy in our house”.

But the Vatican issued a statement saying some parts of a long article in the left-leaning La Repubblica were not accurate, including one that quoted the pope as saying that there were cardinals among the abusers.

The article was a reconstruction of an hour-long conversation between the pope and the newspaper’s founder, Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist who has written about several past encounters with the pope.

“Many of my collaborators who fight with me (against pedophilia) reassure me with reliable statistics that say that the level of pedophilia in the Church is at about two percent,” Francis was quoted as saying.

“This data should hearten me but I have to tell you that it does not hearten me at all. In fact, I think that it is very grave,” he was quoted as saying.

The pope was quoted as saying that, while most pedophilia took place in family situations, “even we have this leprosy in our house”.

According to Church statistics for 2012, the latest available, there are about 414,000 Roman Catholic priests in the world.

The Vatican issued a statement noting Scalfari’s tradition of having long conversations with public figures without taking notes or taping them, and then reconstructing them from memory. Scalfari, 90, is one of Italy’s best known journalists.

While acknowledging that the conversation had taken place, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi issued a statement saying that not all the phrases could be attributed “with certainty” to the pope.

Lombardi said that, in particular, a quote attributed to the pope saying cardinals were among the sex abusers was not accurate and accused the paper of trying to “manipulate naive readers”.

Last week, the Argentine pope held his first meeting with victims of sexual abuse by priests.

He told them the Church should “weep and make reparation” for crimes that he said had taken on the dimensions of a sacrilegious cult. He vowed zero tolerance for abusers and said bishops would be held accountable if they covered up crimes by priests in their diocese.

What love really is

NOTHING could make God love you more than He does right now: not greater achievement, greater beauty, greater recognition; not even greater spirituality.
And nothing could make Him love you less: not your character flaws, your past failures and regrets.

The irony is, we spend our lives trying to earn a love that can only be received by faith when we acknowledge that within us there’s an emptiness only God can fill. And He will. But the truth is, learning to live in the love of God is the challenge of a lifetime.

Many of us grew up with parents who withheld their love as an expression of their disapproval. And we think God does that too. But He doesn’t. ‘How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’ (1 John 3:1 NIV).

Sometimes our actions make us unlovely, but we are never unloved. And because God loves us – we have value. And nobody can take that value away. God’s love revealed at Calvary fastens itself onto flawed creatures like us, and for reasons none of us can ever quite figure out, makes us precious and valued beyond calculation.

This is love beyond reason. And this is the love with which God loves us.’

World’s largest study on same-sex parents finds kids are healthier and happier than peers

A cross-sectional study of children raised by gay couples, the largest of its kind, found that the kids are all right — and are, by some measures, doing even better than their peers.

Conducted by University of Melbourne researchers, the survey followed 315 same-sex couples, mostly lesbians, and their 500 children, using a variety of standardized measures to compare their health and well-being to the general Australian population.

“We found that children from same-sex families scored, on average, 6 percent better on two key measures, general health and family cohesion, even when controlling for a number sociodemographic factors such as parent education and household income,” wrote lead researcher Simon Crouch. “But on most health measures, including emotional behaviour and physical functioning, there was no difference when compared with children from the general population.”

The finding same-sex couples make perfectly fine parents echoes plenty of other research to that effect. That their children appear in some ways to be at an advantage, the authors suggest, could have something to do with the way their parents don’t default to gender stereotypes, creating a “more harmonious family unit and therefore feeding on to better health and well being.” Those benefits were somewhat undercut, however, by the continued experience of stigma, which negatively impacted their mental and emotional well-being.

But the real take-away from the study, according to its authors, isn’t that one type of family is necessarily better than another. ”Quite often, people talk about marriage equality in the context of family and that marriage is necessary to raise children in the right environment, and that you need a mother and a father to be able to do that, and therefore marriage should be restricted to male and female couples,” Crouch told ABC News.

“I think what the study suggests in that context is that actually children can be brought up in many different family contexts, and it shouldn’t be a barrier to marriage equality.”

Breaking ranks – the soldiers who refuse to fight

HOW many soldiers refuse to aim their guns at an enemy? Quite a few it seems.

General Samuel Marshall, the chief US combat historian during World War II, shocked military chiefs with his findings that, in an average infantry company during that war, only one in four soldiers actually fired their weapons while in contact with the enemy. About 75 per cent could not bear firing on another human being.

Marshall found that fear of killing, rather than the fear of being killed, was the most common cause of “battle failure” in the individual.

Marshall’s research methods have been questioned by some military analysts, but his broad conclusion is still accepted: soldiers often simply won’t shoot.

Research into killing ratios of other wars, including the US Civil War, has supported his claims. One historian wrote that at the great 1863 battle of Gettysburg, 27,000 muskets were left on field of battle and 90 per cent were unfired.

Psychologist Lt. Col. Dave Grossman,a former US Army Ranger and paratrooper, said there was a “the simple and demonstrable fact that there is, within most men and women, an intense resistance to killing other people. A resistance so strong that, in many circumstances, soldiers on the battlefield will die before they can overcome it”.

“Thus the evidence shows that the vast majority of combatants throughout history, at the moment of truth when they could and should kill the enemy, have found themselves to be “conscientious objectors”—yet there seems to be a conspiracy of silence on this subject,” he said.

The truth of the phenomenon has forced armies to develop sophisticated methods for overcoming our innate aversion to killing.

Happy birthday Dalai Lama

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THE Dalai Lama today celebrates 79 years (in this lifetime, anyway).

The Dalai Lama was born Lhamo Dhondup on July 6, 1935 to a farming family in northeastern Tibet. Buddhist leaders identified him as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama when he was just two years old. At age six, he began monastic education and at 15 assumed political power in Tibet following China’s invasion.

He has lived in exile from Tibet since 1959 but uses his position as the Tibetan leader to travel around the world promoting a message of peace.

Here’s what the Dalai Lama says about the gift of life:

Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.

Celebrity trademarks What Would Jesus Do

"Meet The Browns" Premiere - Arrivals

ONLY in America? US actor and director Tyler Perry has won a long trademark battle for the phrase What Would Jesus Do, defeating a reality television series star who sought to use the trademark for a Christian reality show.

The result ends a long and bitter court battle between the actor-director and Kim ‘Poprah’ Kearney, a reality TV star best known for an appearance of I Want To Work For Diddy on VH1.

Kearney had filed for the trademark of What Would Jesus Do in January 2008 order to make a Christian reality series.

Then in May of that year Tyler Perry Studios filed to secure the same trademark in order to use it for films, musicals and television series, according to The Guardian.

Perry’s work has been praised by Oprah Winfrey,

The origins of the English phrase’s popular usage can be traced to an 1896 book by minister Charles Sheldon, spreading like catchy, evangelical wildfire a century later across sermons and accessories including wristbands and even teddy bears in the 1990s. It apparently wasn’t until 2008 that someone thought to register this soul-searching moral imperative as a mark for entertainment

No, Tyler Perry did not coin this phrase. (Nor did Kearney.) But evidently, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, that doesn’t matter.

Finding the clues

SPIRITUAL insights are deeply personal and often experienced in solitude. Brilliant truth sometimes comes in the darkest hours.
We are each divinely designed originals, not clones. Yet, for all of us, the walls between the seen and the unseen are paper thin.

Philip Yancy, in his book Rumours of Another World, investigated the natural world and found the supernatural “hiding in plain view’’.

He said: “I have come to understand faith as the highest form of integrated encounter. Faith puts together, assembles, re-orders, accepting the entire world as God’s handiwork.

“We live among clues, like rescuers sifting through pieces of stained glass shattered by a bomb, and only with a blueprint or some memory of original design can we begin to connect the shards, to assemble them into a pattern that makes sense of our world.

“Nature and supernature are not two separate worlds, but different expressions of the same reality.”

Court Calls Out Angry Atheists

September 11th Memorial Held At Ground Zero On 9th Anniversary Of Attacks

ANGRY atheists have made outlandish claims about the Ground Zero Cross – the two intersecting steal beams in the shape of a cross that was found in the wreckage of the World Trade Center following 9/11.

Not only have they made these claims in public (calling it “offensive and repugnant”), they’ve made them in federal court. Now a federal appeals court is calling them out and demanding they provide a rational explanation as to how their “offense” constitutes a constitutional claim.

When the American Atheists first filed their lawsuit in state court seeking to have the cross torn down and removed from the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, they asserted in their complaint that their members were experiencing “dyspepsia [upset stomach], symptoms of depression, headaches, anxiety, and mental pain and anguish” as a “direct and proximate result of the unconstitutional existence of the cross.”

When the case was removed from state to federal court, the angry atheists quickly dropped their bizarre claims about the cross causing them upset stomachs, but continued arguing that the mere “existence of the cross” was causing them “depression, headaches, anxiety, and mental pain and anguish.”

Are these angry atheists, who vehemently oppose the very idea of the supernatural,somehow ascribing near supernatural power to the cross?

A federal court threw out their lawsuit last year. Unsurprisingly, the immediate reaction of American Atheists President David Silverman was “We are angry . . . .” On appeal, these angry atheists are arguing that they are “offended” by the Ground Zero Cross.

Now a federal appeals court is demanding that this angry atheist group explain just how their “offense” becomes a constitutional crisis.

The judge has now given the plaintiffs until July 14 to file supplemental legal briefs before deciding whether the case will proceed. Among the questions that must be answered in the new filings is how the offensiveness of the cross, which the plaintiffs view as a Christian symbol for all 9-11 victims, becomes a “constitutional injury.”

The other question is — if the plaintiffs indeed feel displaying the cross “marginalizes them as American citizens” — then how is that a “particular and concrete injury” compared to just “the abstract stigmatization of atheists generally.”

The judge has also asked the plaintiffs to substantiate their claim the museum and Sept. 11 memorial are getting taxpayer dollars.

Muslims Worldwide Fear The Rise Of Islamic Extremism: Survey

MOST people living in Muslim majority countries are very concerned about the threat of Islamic extremism in their nations, a Pew survey has found.

The poll investigated specific attitudes towards groups such as al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Taliban, Hezbollah and Hamas, in fourteen countries with significant Muslim populations, and found that almost universally negative opinions were held about them.

The data for the survey was collected between April 10 to May 25, 2014, which was prior to the ISIS takeover of Mosul and other areas of Iraq and Syria. Syria, Iraq, and Iran were not polled.

In the Middle East, fears about Islamic extremism have been on the rise since 2013, with Lebanon reporting that a staggering 92 percent of the country’s residents are very or somewhat concerned about Islamic extremism in the nation. Its long border with conflict-stricken Syria is a likely factor in the high degree of concern.

The Middle East isn’t alone. The majority of the population in 11 out of the 14 countries said that they were “concerned about Islamic extremism in our country.” Only 50 percent of Turkey, 46 percent of Senegal, and 39 percent of Indonesia reported feeling concerned.

Suicide bombing has been a tactic for Islamic militants operating all over the world for years now, though support for the practice has drastically declined in the last decade. No majorities in any of the countries polled expressed the opinion that “suicide bombings can often or sometimes be justified against civilian targets in order to defend Islam from its enemies.” However, 62 percent of respondents from Palestine’s volatile Gaza Strip did say that suicide bombing could sometimes or often be justifiable.

Nazi’s ‘Perfect Aryan’ Baby Was Actually Jewish

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HESSY Taft was six months old when her mother brought her to Berlin photographer Hans Ballin to have her picture taken. World War II had yet to begin, but anti-Semitism and the marginalization of Jews was in full swing in Germany.

When little Hessy’s photo turned up on the cover of a prominent Nazi magazine, her mother feared the family would be exposed as Jewish and targeted.

Taft’s mother reportedly went back to the Ballin to ask how the image had ended up in the Nazi contest for “most beautiful Aryan baby,” to which he responded, “I wanted to make the Nazis ridiculous.”

The Tafts kept their young daughter hidden after the incident as her photograph was by now widely circulated on Nazi postcards, and they feared she would be recognized. The Nazis never learned her true Jewish identity.

Now almost 80 years later the little girl, Hessy Taft, is grown up and works as a Chemistry professor at the Catholic St. John’s University in New York City. In June she presented a copy of the Nazi magazine, baby photo and all, to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel and shared her story with the Shoah Foundation

“I can laugh about it now,” Taft said in an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper. “But if the Nazis had known who I really was, I wouldn’t be alive.”

Taft narrowly escaped the Holocaust when the Gestapo arrested her father on tax charges. Luckily his accountant — a member of the Nazi party — came to his defense, and the family was able to flee to Latvia and later to France. When the Nazis captured Paris, the Tafts fled to Cuba with the help of the French resistance and finally settled in the United States in 1949.

On presenting her magazine cover to Yad Vashem these many years later, Taft said, “I feel a little revenge, something like satisfaction.”

What’s the real thing?

WE seem born to desire authenticity. There is something of the poet, painter, musician, dancer or architect in all of us. It must be so if we are created in the image of God.

This is a world of tragedy and pain. It is also a world of joy and fulfilment and we have to be artistically creative to deal with the paradox.
Sadly, creativity has sometimes become the domain of those who exploit it for big profits, or for destruction.

Creativity gave us Hamlet and the Beethoven symphonies – but also the Hiroshima bomb, pornographic web-sites, Trident submarines, dictatorial governments and rampant consumerism.

As George Orwell said, we have a hunger for something like authenticity, but are easily satisfied by a facsimile.

That hunger can easily seek human happiness as the ultimate goal of the human condition. But true creativity seeks the beautiful and ugly truth about what it means to be human.

In a time of shrill and divisive religious rhetoric, a simple message of faith rings with refreshing authenticity.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explained it was all about paradox. You could be blessed even when in mourning. You could find greatness in being lesser than others. Peace does not come with the absence of troubles, but with the realisation that God provides adequate resources.

Irrational gobbledygook? No, a work of art.