Cardinal Pell slammed for ‘lavish’ spending

POPE Francis’ finance czar has defended the expenditures of his office following leaked reports it had racked up a half-million euros ($575,000) in bills in the past six months.

Australian Cardinal George Pell’s office has been insisting on a spending review elsewhere in the Vatican.

A spokesman for the Secretariat for the Economy, in a statement, said the expenses were normal for a new operation and below budget.

Italian newsweekly L’Espresso recently detailed opposition within the Vatican to his financial reforms, and cited receipts for expenditures including the salary and housing costs for his Australian aide and clerical tailor’s bill for more than 2,500 euros ($2,800).

The paper said he also spent about $6650 on kitchen-sink fittings, paid an assistant a $21,600-a-month salary and has chosen to fly business class.

While Pope Francis is known to live modestly, Cardinal Pell is reportedly spending $5100-a-month on rent for an office and apartment, including $87,000 on new furniture

Happy birthday George Harrison

George Harrison would have been 72 today,

Harrison once said his biggest break in life was getting into the Beatles, and that his second biggest break was getting out.

Meanwhile in news today, the George Harrison memorial tree in Los Angeles, ironically killed by beetles, is to be replaced .

in George’s honour we bring you this…Here Comes The Moon (one of his lesser known but beautiful songs)

If there is no God

If there is no God, then all that exists is time and chance acting on matter. If this is true then the difference between your thoughts and mine correspond to the difference between shaking up a bottle of Mountain Dew and a bottle of Dr. Pepper. You simply fizz atheistically and I fizz theistically. This means that you do not hold to atheism because it is true , but rather because of a series of chemical reactions… … Morality, tragedy, and sorrow are equally evanescent. They are all empty sensations created by the chemical reactions of the brain, in turn created by too much pizza the night before. If there is no God, then all abstractions are chemical epiphenomena, like swamp gas over fetid water. This means that we have no reason for assigning truth and falsity to the chemical fizz we call reasoning or right and wrong to the irrational reaction we call morality. If no God, mankind is a set of bi-pedal carbon units of mostly water. And nothing else.

–Douglas Wilson

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HERES a simple question then: why are we here? And where do we go from here?

CT scan finds mummified monk inside 1000-year-old Buddha

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A CHINESE statue of the Buddha has been discovered to contain the entire mummified body of a monk, folded into the same position.

The Buddha, exhibited at the Drents Museum in The Netherlands last year, was taken to the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort, where it was subjected to a full CT scan and had samples taken with an endoscope.

The mummy inside the statue — the only one of its kind ever found — is believed to be a Buddhist master named Liuquan of the Chinese Meditation School, who died around 1100 AD.

The CT scan and endoscopy revealed more than just the mummified remains of Liuquan. Samples of a material that has yet to be identified were taken from the thoracic and abdominal cavities, and something else extraordinary was discovered: in the spaces once occupied by organs, the team found scraps of paper scribed with ancient Chinese characters.

The team believes the mummy may be an example of self-mummification in order to become a “living Buddha”, a gruelling process that involved a life of extreme austerity.

Practiced mainly in Japan, self-mummification was a grueling process that required a monk to follow a strict 1000-day diet of nuts and seeds in order to strip the body of fat. A diet of bark and roots would follow for another 1,000 days.

At the end of this period, the monk began drinking a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Japanese varnish tree, normally used to lacquer bowls and plates. The tea caused profuse vomiting as well as a rapid loss of bodily fluids, possibly making the body too poisonous to be eaten by bacteria and insects.

A living skeleton, the monk was then placed in a stone tomb barely larger than his body, which was equipped with an air tube and a bell.

Never moving from the lotus position, the monk would ring the bell each day to let those outside know that he was still alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the monk was presumed dead, the air tube removed and the tomb sealed.

After another 1000 days the tomb would be opened to check whether the monk had been successfully mummified. Of the hundreds of monks that tried this horrifying process, only a few dozen actually became self-mummified and venerated in temples as a Buddha

Atheist group threatens suit over ‘angels’ on memorial to beloved teacher

JOANN Christy’s 26-year career educating children at Ravenswood Middle School in the US came to a tragic end in 2004, when she died in a car accident. But her loved ones and the community she had served sought to remember her with an engraved, stone memorial decorated with angels near the school’s entrance.

But more than a decade later, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation wants the memorial gone, claiming its presence on public grounds violates the First Amendment. The foundation criticized the display as a promotion of religion that infringes on students rights.The foundation wrote a letter to the school requesting an investigation into the memorial and the “multiple Latin crosses” near the school’s entrance.

Christy’s family, apparently in an attempt to resolve the situation, reportedly agreed to the removal of the crosses, but left the angels in memory of Christy, who had a collection of angel figurines.

The legal threat did not sit well with some in the community, who said the memorial is merely a remembrance of a teacher, not an endorsement of Christianity.

Charles Hicks, the pastor at Christy’s church, remembered her as a devoted Christian who died in a car crash after a Bible study meeting at the church.

“It is a remembrance of who Joann Christy was,” Hicks said. “And it is hard to separate the good that she did and her devotion to her Christian faith.”

A local TV station pointed out that the atheist group did not have an issue with the school’s mascot: a red devil.

No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia

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MORE than 1000 Muslims have formed a human shield around Oslo’s synagogue, offering symbolic protection for the city’s Jewish community and condemning an attack on a synagogue in neighboring Denmark last weekend.

Chanting “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia,” Norway’s Muslims formed what they called a ring of peace a week after Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a Danish-born son of Palestinian immigrants, killed two people at a synagogue and an event promoting free speech in Copenhagen last weekend.

“Humanity is one and we are here to demonstrate that,” Zeeshan Abdullah, one of the protest’s organizers told a crowd of Muslim immigrants and ethnic Norwegians who filled the small street around Oslo’s only functioning synagogue.

“There are many more peace mongers than warmongers,” Abdullah said as organizers and Jewish community leaders stood side by side. “There’s still hope for humanity, for peace and love, across religious differences and backgrounds.”

Norway’s Jewish community is one of Europe’s smallest, numbering around 1000, and the Muslim population, which has been growing steadily through immigration, is 150,000 to 200,000. Norway has a population of about 5.2 million.

The debate over immigration in the country came to the forefront in 2011 when Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people and accused the government and the then-ruling Labor party of facilitating Muslim immigration and adulterating pure Norwegian blood.

Support for immigration has been rising steadily since those attacks, however, and an opinion poll late last year found that 77 percent of people thought immigrants made an important contribution to Norwegian society

MEANWHILE…WHAT WALKING FOR FIVE HOURS AS A MUSLIM THROUGH AN ITALIAN CITY LOOKS LIKE

“Taliban!” one woman shouted as Hamdy Mahisen walked past her on a Milan street.

“Shit, have you seen the ISIS?” asked another passer-by.

Mahisen, a student of Egyptian descent, walked around Milan as part of a “social experiment” conducted by Italian newspaper La Repubblica. Wearing a traditional Islamic outfit and holding a Quran, Mahisen silently strode around the Italian city for five hours as the reactions his presence elicited were surreptitiously filmed.

As the video below shows, Mahisen drew distrustful stares and nasty comments from people on the street.

“Look, he’s got the Quran,” said one man, according to a La Repubblica translation. “Think if he’s got a gun under his tunic.”

Anti-Muslim sentiment is reportedly on the rise in Italy following the deadly extremist attacks in France and Denmark. The country is also currently on edge over the threat of an ISIS invasion via Libya.

WHAT 10 HOURS WALKING IN PARIS AS A JEW LOOKS LIKE

Earlier this week, Jewish journalist Zvika Klein was recorded walking through Paris for 10 hours wearing a kippah, or yarmulke, to show what it’s like to be a Jew in the French capital.

“I got spit at, cursed and threatened,” Klein wrote on Twitter of the experience.
The video has garnered more than 1 million views since being posted to YouTube

Odds of Jesus returning soon

According to Sportsbet the odds of Jesus Christ returning soon are 501/1

It’s all too obvious that, even if Jesus returned this year in clouds of glory, there would be those who wouldn’t acknowledge him.

The author John Updike said if Jesus did return sometime soon the event would be cut down to size by the TV evening news. It wouldn’t be the lead item.
“Our brains are no longer conditioned for reverence and awe,’’ he said.

Years ago, acclaimed US broadcaster Edward R Murrow caused a bit of a fuss when he observed: “If we were to do the Second Coming of Christ in color for a full hour, there would be a considerable number of stations which would decline to carry it on the grounds that a Western or a quiz show would be more profitable.’’

If Jesus was on his earthly mission today, he might be cited by the AMA for practicing medicine without a licence, the Liquor Licencing people for making wine without a permit, the Department of Health for opening graves without a permit, the Equal Opportunity folks for practicing discrimination and PETA for sending demons into a herd of pigs. Not to mention the interfaith movement for declaring that one way is right.

The miracle is that Jesus’s mission and message remain relevant and widely heard despite the attempts over centuries to tone them down.

Jesus continues to challenge conventional ideas of what’s right and wrong, to cut through hypocrisy, to inspire protest against injustice, assure the oppressed that they are loved and valued, and to instil hope that another kind of community is possible,

Whether that’s possible all hinges on whether Jesus was, as he said, the Son of God, human but divine and capable of saving us all.

There will always be those who try to downplay Jesus as just a social reformer, or a long-haired peace activist.

But a mere hippie or moral teacher could not have made this unique impression on mankind.

Despite our efforts to keep him out, God intrudes. When Jesus returns this time, we’ll all know it.

India’s PM appalled by temple built to worship him

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was appalled that some of his fans had built a temple to deify him, adding that such an act contradicted tradition.

Hundreds of his followers in the western city of Rajkot donated funds for a temple that features a seated statue of Modi and is topped out with a wind gauge shaped like a lotus, the symbol of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“I was appalled,” Modi said. “This is shocking and against India’s great traditions. Building such temples is not what our culture teaches us.”

Modi’s reaction unnerved some of those involved in the temple project, who plan to replace the statue of the prime minister with the idol of a Hindu god, but others were unfazed.

“We love Modi and worship him because he is the finest leader we have ever had,” said Paresh Rawal, an edible oil trader who donated the land for the temple.

Modi, the former leader of Gujarat state, where the temple is located, swept to power last year in the biggest national election victory in three decades, and has since led his party to a string of state poll wins.

Happy Valentine’s Day

VALENTINE’S Day yet again. A time for exchanging tacky chocolate hearts, trinkets, mushy cards and flowers and dinner where we all pretend to ignore the over-priced set menus.

You might not be able to put a price tag on love, but you sure can on all the accessories.

The subversive truth is that love can be everything it’s cracked up to be.

Where there is great love, there is always the possibility for great miracles to occur in our lives.

So let’s celebrate this one day but know there’s much more to love than Cupid, Eros, heart-shaped balloons and chocolate.

And a word of advice – turn off the Iphones and pay attention to your loved ones. That’s what they really want.

And just for fun here are 20 love songs in strange new styles

Cracks in the atheist edifice

Excerpts from a recent story in The Economist
http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21629218-rapid-spread-christianity-forcing-official-rethink-religion-cracks

CHRISTIANITY is hard to control in China, and getting harder all the time. It is spreading rapidly, and infiltrating the party’s own ranks. The line is blurring between house churches and official ones, and Christians are starting to emerge from hiding to play a more active part in society.

The Communist Party has to find a new way to deal with all this. There is even talk that the party, the world’s largest explicitly atheist organisation, might follow its sister parties in Vietnam and Cuba and allow members to embrace a dogma other than—even higher than—that of Marx.

Any shift in official thinking on religion could have big ramifications for the way China handles a host of domestic challenges, from separatist unrest among Tibetan Buddhists and Muslim Uighurs in the country’s west to the growth of NGOs and “civil society”—grassroots organisations, often with a religious colouring, which the party treats with suspicion, but which are also spreading fast.

It is hard even to guess at the number of Christians in China. Official surveys seek to play down the figures, ignoring the large number who worship in house churches. By contrast, overseas Christian groups often inflate them. There were perhaps 3m Catholics and 1m Protestants when the party came to power in 1949. Officials now say there are between 23m and 40m, all told. In 2010 the Pew Research Centre, an American polling organisation, estimated there were 58m Protestants and 9m Catholics. Many experts, foreign and Chinese, now accept that there are probably more Christians than there are members of the 87m-strong Communist Party. Most are evangelical Protestants.

Predicting Christianity’s growth is even harder. Yang Fenggang of Purdue University, in Indiana, says the Christian church in China has grown by an average of 10% a year since 1980. He reckons that on current trends there will be 250m Christians by around 2030, making China’s Christian population the largest in the world.

Some Chinese also discern in Christianity the roots of Western strength. They see it as the force behind the development of social justice, civil society and rule of law, all things they hope to see in China. Many new NGOs are run by Christians or Buddhists. There are growing numbers of Christian doctors and academics. More than 2,000 Christian schools are also dotted around China, many of them small and all, as yet, illegal.

One civil-rights activist says that, of the 50 most-senior civil-rights lawyers in China, probably half are Christians.

Religious leaders’ plea for Indonesia death row pair

Senior religious leaders in Australia have called on Indonesia to show mercy to two men on death row in Bali, as Indonesia’s top diplomat in the country said their executions would go ahead.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were arrested in 2005 on the holiday island of Bali and sentenced to death the following year for attempting to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.

The pair, members of an Australian drug-smuggling gang dubbed the “Bali Nine”, recently lost their final appeals for clemency despite arguing that they had rehabilitated themselves in prison.

One of the judges who sentenced Sukumaran to death has told News Corporation that she never wanted to give him the death penalty and has regretted it every day since.

Indonesian authorities are pushing ahead with the planned executions, which are expected to be carried out this month.

Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher and Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohammad called on Indonesian President Joko Widodo to save the men, who are both in their early 30s.

“Our request today is for clemency or a commuted sentence for Andrew and Myuran so as to allow them to be further rehabilitated,” the religious leaders said in a joint statement.

“To execute would prematurely end these lives, robbing both of them and our communities of the opportunity for ongoing repentance and rehabilitation.”

But Indonesia’s ambassador to Australia Nadjib Riphat Kesoema told reporters in Canberra the duo’s legal appeals had already reached the “highest level”.

“I think all the efforts, all the legal efforts have reached the highest level now and Indonesia has notified the government of Australia that we will execute,” The Australian reported him as saying.

The Great Atheist Contradiction

Atheist Richard Dawkins has declared, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference. . . . DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.”

But Dawkins doesn’t act like he actually believes that. He recently affirmed a woman has the right to choose an abortion and asserted that it would be “immoral” to give birth to a baby with Down syndrome. According to Dawkins, the “right to choose” is a good thing and giving birth to Down syndrome children is a bad thing.

Well, which is it? Is there really good and evil, or are we just moist robots dancing to the music of our DNA?

Atheists like Dawkins are often ardent supporters of rights to abortion, same-sex marriage, taxpayer-provided healthcare, welfare, contraceptives, and several other entitlements. But who says those are rights? By what objective standard are abortion, same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, taxpayer-provided healthcare, and the like, moral rights? There isn’t such a standard in the materialistic universe of atheism. So atheists must steal the grounds for objective moral rights from God while arguing that God doesn’t exist.

http://townhall.com/columnists/frankturek/2015/02/06/atheists-steal-rights-from-god-n1953525

And the deaf shall hear…….

THIS young woman lost her hearing and speech after contracting malaria and then being taken to witchdoctors as a little girl. In July of 2014, after suffering for 16 years, she attended a Christ for all Nations Gospel Crusade in Bujumbura, Burundi. During the worship she noticed a change beginning to take place. In that meeting she was delivered and healed. This is her story.

Vatican video that ‘offended’ the politically correct

A VIDEO promoting the Vatican’s outreach initiative toward women has been widely ridiculed as a sexist stereotype of the modern Western woman.

The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, which made the video, is sponsoring the conference on Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference.

The video features Italian actress Nancy Brilli asking for women to contribute 60-second clips of their lives to be broadcast at the conference.

“I am sure you have asked yourself many times,” she says, “who you are, what you do, what you think about your being a woman, your strength, your difficulties, your body and your spiritual life.”

The video drew intense criticism. Some said it was just “too sexy”

Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with it.

“What are they thinking at the Vatican?” asked Phyllis Zagano of Hofstra University, writing in the National Catholic Reporter.

“Sexy sell has long gone by the boards in developed nations, and is totally unacceptable in Muslim countries,” she wrote.

Outrage was so strong the Vatican’s culture minister, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, removed the English version of the video from his department’s website.

But at a press conference he stressed that criticism came primarily from the United States and Canada, where many thought the video hit all the wrong notes: a sugar-coated message, delivered by a privileged white woman, that failed to acknowledge the serious problems poor women face.

“These critics said, although I disagree, that when we speak of women, we must start with the abuse to which they are subjected, to focus on all that is negative,” he said.

The Holocaust’s Forgotten Victims

The Five Million Non-Jewish People Killed By The Nazis

Six million Jewish people were murdered during the genocide in Europe in the years leading up to 1945, and the Jews are rightly remembered as the group that Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party most savagely persecuted during the Holocaust.

But the Nazis targeted many other groups: for their race, beliefs or what they did.

Historians estimate the total number of deaths to be 11 million, with the victims encompassing gay people, priests, gypsies, people with mental or physical disabilities, communists, trade unionists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, anarchists, Poles and other Slavic peoples, and resistance fighters.

Homosexual men, and to a lesser extent women, were compelled to renounce their sexuality under the Nazi regime. An estimated 100,000 were arrested and some sent to prisons, while between 5,000 and 15,000 were sent to concentration camps, where some were forced to wear pink triangles on their uniform to denote being gay. As many as 60% of those send to the camps perished, according to German LGBT scholar Rüdiger Lautmann.

Romani gypsies were the second-largest group of people killed on racial grounds in the Holocaust. They were considered outsiders and “racially impure” by the Nazis and up to 1.5 million died in what is also known as the Porajmos (“mass killing” in Romani.) Like Jews, Roma people were murdered, sent to camps and gassed or used for forced labour. But only in the 1970s did the West German Federal Parliament classify their persecution as being racially motivated, and scholars largely ignored their deaths until the 1980s.

Those with mental and physical illnesses were regarded by the Nazis as “unworthy of life”, leading to a clandestine program of mass murder, under the cover of ‘mercy killings’.

Institutions were turned into mass killing centers, with SS officers wearing lab coats to keep up the appearance of a medical program. Families were told their relatives had died from illness and given faked death certificates, when in reality up to 300,000 people in German and Austria were systematically murdered, usually in gas chambers disguised as showers. Their organs were used for experiments.

Many members of the Christian clergy were either threatened with deportation and kept in custody, or sent to camps. The Catholic Church was particularly suppressed in Poland, where nearly a fifth of all priests – around 3,000 – were killed between 1939 and 1945, most in concentration camps

READ MORE HERE

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/27/holocaust-non-jewish-victims_n_6555604.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

8 Things Jesus Never said

Jesus said a lot of things throughout the Bible, but there are also a lot of things he didn’t. Here are eight things Jesus never said (From chururchleaders.com).

1. “No shirt, no shoes, no service.”

Jesus never gave prerequisites for encountering his love. Regardless of your past, the love of Christ is available for anyone who is willing to accept it. Nobody is too flawed for forgiveness and eternal salvation.

2. “Follow me, and I will bring you fame and fortune.”

Jesus never promises fame or fortune, yet these are also not things he opposes if used for his glory. If your reasoning for seeking a relationship with God is materially focused, you may want to evaluate what god you’re really yearning for.

3. “Everything will go according to your plans.”

Many of us pray to Jesus thinking that everything we ask of Him is going to be answered in our timing. The reality is that not all prayers will be answered, but that Jesus does have the power to fulfill any prayer that is asked of him. He’s that BIG! Just because a prayer isn’t answered in your timing does not mean your prayer has been ignored. God hears all, knows all and knows what’s best for each of us as individuals. Take a step back and trust in God, his timing and his will.

4. “I will bless you if you pray hard enough.”

The blessing of prayer is in prayer itself. Communication and dialogue between our heavenly father and us is more fulfilling than anything else we can ask for. Jesus isn’t a magic genie, and if your prayers seem more like wishes than heart-felt conversations, you may want to re-think how your foundation of faith is being built.

5. “Life is going to be without rough patches.”

So many people think that just because they believe in Jesus means everything is going to be flawless and perfect. This really isn’t the case at all. You may have a relationship with Jesus, but this doesn’t mean life is going to stop moving forward, tough circumstances are going to cease to exist, and rough times will never be a possibility. Even though Jesus never said life would be easy, he did say he would be there for you in your times of need. The message of The Gospel isn’t that life will be perfect, but that in its imperfection we have a perfect and flawless Savior.

6. “I will answer prayers on your time.”

Although God is faithful in his answering of prayer, we cannot expect him to answer every prayer to our exact measurements. Faith is trusting God even when things don’t make sense, and that includes a prayer that we feel may be unanswered or at the wrong time. Faith is trusting in God’s timing, not ours.

7. “You’re too far gone to be saved.”

Nobody is too far traveled from having a relationship with God. No matter where life has brought you, you always have the opportunity to look next to you and see the open arms of Jesus. The forgiveness and love that He offers is not something we can run from, nor become too dirty to accept.

8. “You deserve to have nice things.”

Jesus never said you deserve a huge house, nice car, big paycheck and a sweet job. In fact, everything in the Gospel points to simplicity rather than luxury. This isn’t to say that you’re not allowed to have nice things but that Jesus didn’t promise you are going to be given them. God’s plan for each of our lives is different, and we need to understand that not everyone is going to make the same amount of money, drive the same types of cars or even live in the same type of housing.

What we need to understand is that Jesus did say we need to love our neighbors, help those who are in need, and that the widow and homeless deserve to be loved as Christ loved the church.You don’t deserve to have nice things, but you do get to experience the love of Christ, and that is worth more than anything this world can offer.

http://www.churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-articles/246459-8-things-jesus-never-said.html

The sin of selfies

Felix Siauw, an Indonesian author and speaker and Muslim cleric, believes selfies are a sin and recently posted on his Twitter account a “17-pont manifesto” about how selfies are a sinful act for believers. Especially to blame? Why women, of course, who “put too much emphasis on their selfies.”

According to Quartz’s Lily Kuo, the Indonesian Muslim cleric argued that taking a selfie often means succumbing to pride, arrogance, and ostentation — all of which make them a sin under Islam.”.

One of the points on Siauw’s Twitter also specifically blamed women for this issue. According to a translation from news website Coconuts Jakarta, Siauw said women put too much emphasis on their selfies, which makes both selfies and women impure.

But Siauw isn’t the first religious believer to denounce the selfie. Arab News reported last year that scholars felt the selfies Muslims took on their journey to Mecca were inappropriate. And Emmilie Buchanan-Whitlock of Deseret News National reported that some scholars and experts also see selfies as a new way for people to worship a false idol (themselves), which would also make selfies a sin.

There has been some backlash to Siauw’s declaration, however. Social media users have been posting selfies and tweets with the hashtag #selfie4siauw to show that they support selfies and don’t see them as a sin.

The weird cult of Sir Prince Philip

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Improbable as it seems, the newly knighted prince – whose royal title is Duke of Edinburgh – is worshipped by the inhabitants of Tanna, one of 83 islands that make up the nation of Vanuatu, formerly the New Hebrides, an Anglo-French territory.

The islanders believe he is the descendant of one of their ancestral spirits, and that he will one day return to live among them.

One of dozens of “cargo cults’’ found around the South Pacific, the adulation of the 93-year-old prince is thought to date back to 1974, when he and the queen travelled to Vanuatu on the Royal yacht Britannia.

While they did not alight on Tanna, news of their visit reached its shores, and was woven, it seems, into an ancient story.
The heart of the Prince Philip movement is the village of Yaohnanen, on Tanna’s upper slopes, reached via a tortuously winding, rutted track.

Buckingham Palace, aware the prince is revered in this obscure corner of the world, sent out the three photographs. They include a black-and-white print delivered by the British Resident Commissioner in 1978, two years before a group of islands known as the New Hebrides became the independent nation of Vanuatu, and a framed colour picture of Prince Philip grasping a ceremonial pig-killing stick, a gift from the islanders.

After waiting nearly four decades, the locals believe the Duke’s return is imminent.

“I’ve read it in a document somewhere,’’ said a local “We know he is a very old man, but when he comes here, he is going to be young again, and so will everyone else on the island.’’

For now, the village serves as a shrine to this unlikely deity, best known in the English-speaking world for a string of indiscreet gaffes.

The prince asked an English naval cadet whether she worked in a strip club.
In the past, he has quizzed Australian Aborigines on whether they still throw spears, and warned British students in China: “If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed’’.

It’s all about relationships

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IN one of the greatest sermons ever preached- and this one was delivered on a mountaintop not from a church pulpit – Jesus exploded the myth that true happiness is how we feel, what we have or what we do. It was all about relationships, he said.

He said the first step towards true happiness was knowing that this world was in a mess. And knowing that, we had to commit to helping each other even our enemies and realise that we were all dependant on each other.

True happiness started, Jesus said, when we realised there was much to grieve about and mourn in this world. Happiness was bred when we hunger for righteousness. In other words, we can only start to be truly happy when we are so dissatisfied with the ways of the world that we search for the truth that makes some sense of the craziness that surrounds us.

Everyone has at least one god

With the possible exception of hardcore fundamentalists, every practitioner of religion is willing to enter into dialogue with others—unless or until the person across the table crosses YOUR sacred line.

Robert V Thompson….. (http://www.examiner.com/x-1390-Religion–Culture-Examiner~y2009m10d29-Religion-without-rationalization-dropping-the-dogma)……. argues that whether you consider yourself religious or irreligious, everybody lives by a set of conscious (sometimes unconscious) principles that govern your beliefs and behavior.

Post-modern culture celebrates pluralism—meaning that everyone has some piece of the truth but no one owns all of it. The deeper question is how do you hold on to your personal convictions without becoming inflexible?

How can you worship your god without trashing the god of others?

Truth be told, everybody has a god—whether you are a theist, panentheist or atheist—everybody has a god. Your god is that to which you give your ultimate allegiance. Regardless of your philosophical assumptions or metaphysical conclusions, everybody has at least one god.

What if God….?

THE Rev John Hudson, a New York minister, once imagined God appearing in the heavens and ordering all religions founded in His name to immediately take a long overdue rest.
In this vision, God speaks to the religious leaders, sternly reminding them that he had given them the ability to think, choose and imagine. But the minute I turn my back, you all start fighting crusades and jihads, says the God of Rev Hudson’s imagining.
Citing the conflict in the Middle East as the last straw, God sends the religious leaders, with their flocks, to their room so they can sit and think about what they’ve done. They are not allowed to take their mobile phones, iPads or computers with them.
Eventually, the clerics realize the error of their ways and use their energies to halt global war and wipe out poverty and disease.
Its a nice tale. So is another I heard of.
In this one, God issues a recall of all currently functioning humanity after centuries of complaints that something is seriously wrong with the human race.
In his announcement, God categorically says the recall is not the result of the manufacturers defect. It is simply humanity’s refusal to follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions.
Thus, the warranty on human beings is universally void.
But God declares he has extended the warranty on humans way beyond what the law requires, He offers the warranty to all who admit they didn’t follow the manufacturers instructions and promise, in the future, to do so.
Despite the unprecedented offer, it is greeted with derision in many quarters. Some think the offer is just too good to be true. There must be a trick,
So God respects the freedom of choice, allowing some to accept and others to reject his offer. He doesn’t force people either way.

The rich man and the bag

THERE once was a rich man who was near death. He was very grieved because he had worked so hard for his money

and he wanted to be able to take it with him to heaven. So he began to pray that he might be able to take some of his

wealth with him.

An angel hears his plea and appears to him. “Sorry, but you can’t take your wealth with you.” The man implores the

angel to speak to God to see if He might bend the rules.

The man continues to pray that his wealth could follow him. The angel reappears and informs the man that God has

decided to allow him to take one suitcase with him. Overjoyed, the man gathers his largest suitcase and fills it with

pure gold bars and places it beside his bed.

Soon afterward he dies and shows up at the Gates of Heaven to greet St. Peter. St. Peter seeing the suitcase says,

“Hold on, you can’t bring that in here!”

But, the man explains to St. Peter that he has permission and asks him to verify his story with the Lord. Sure

enough, St.Peter checks and comes back saying, “You’re right. You are allowed one carry-on bag, but I’m supposed

to check its contents before letting it through.”

St. Peter opens the suitcase to inspect the worldly items that the man found too precious to leave behind and

exclaims, “You brought pavement?”

Crazy dogs reveal the truth

THE American Crow Indians would sometimes indulge in what they called “crazy dog’’ activities to rescue their lives from spiritual ruts.

The whole tribe would purposefully eat dinner for breakfast, wear their clothes inside-out or bash pots and pans all night.

Being a crazy dog meant being willing to be seen as foolish, weak or strange – for the sake of others and for their own sense of well-being.

There’s a profound meaning to all this. Sometimes we can only see truth by turning our world upside down. To follow God is to be open to the preposterous; to run against the ways of our world and look foolish while dancing, at least sometimes, to the music of Heaven.

Writer Cynthia Heimel advised: “When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.’’

Life is a paradox and some of the greatest truths are revealed to those who believe the seemingly foolish notions that the first are last, the greatest are the least, the strong are the weak, and the meek win it all in the end.

Mike Yaconelli, in his book Messy Spirituality, points to the crazy dogs of the Bible. There’s Noah who, against the backdrop of ridicule, builds a huge boat in the middle of the desert because God tells him it will rain.

And when the water recedes what does Noah do? He gets naked and drunk.

King David slays a giant and conquers Jerusalem. At his victory procession he dances in his underwear before his army, his people and his wife, so offending her sense of royal decency that she vows never to be seen with him in public again.

And there’s John the Baptist who eats locusts and honey, dresses like a wild animal and rails against the authorities with such vigour that they eventually remove his head.

Jesus hung out with fools, prostitutes, tax collectors, adulterers, riffraff and non-religious people of all kinds. What landed him on the cross was a holy absurdity _ that common. ordinary, broken, screwed-up people could be godly and that Heaven wasn’t just for the pure, the talented, the good, the humble and the honest.

That prompted the poet Rainer Rilke to ask: “Who is this Christ, who interferes in everything?’’
God, it seems, loves messy people. His light shines brighter in messy stables, small faithful gatherings and the dusty, ambiguous gutters of life than it does in the cathedrals.

Writer Raymond Brown said that God “writes straight with crooked lines’’.