‘No more boys and girls’ BBC experiment pushes gender-free classrooms

August 20, 2017 by admin  
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U.K., August 17, 2017: A BBC Two documentary is testing out gender-free classrooms where 7-year-old children are being taught to forget differences between boys and girls in an effort to achieve so-called “true equality between the sexes.”

The documentary, titled “No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender-Free?” premiered on Wednesday and follows presenter Dr. Javid Abelmoneim as he leads a classroom of schoolchildren in a gender experiment.

As the Evening Standard reported, Abelmoneim took over a class of 23 pupils from Lanesend School on the Isle of Wight, looking to challenge them on gender stereotypes.

“At the beginning of episode one, the children undergo psychometric tests to assess their perception of sex and gender,” the article described.

“Despite their young age many of the pupils already perceive a significant difference between the two sexes. Every girl but one said they believed boys are ‘better’ than them, with the exception of Tiffany who commented that ‘men are better at being in charge’ and another, Kara, explaining ‘girls are better at being pretty.’”

The documentary comes at a time when the number of children being referred to gender identity clinics in the U.K. has reached record highs.

Gender Identity Development Service statistics released in July found that 84 children aged between 3 and 7 were referred to such clinics in 2016, which is more than four times higher than the number of referrals in 2012–2013.

Some, such as Chris McGovern, a former adviser to the Department for Education, have criticized such developments.

“It has become an industry, people are making a career out of encouraging children to question gender at an age when they need to be left to be children. When teachers raise these issues children can become confused or unhappy and traumatized by it,” McGovern told The Telegraph at the time.

Abelmoneim strongly denied that the classroom experiment could be harmful to children. “One, this is absolutely not about gender identity. Two, in no way could you imagine anyone ever trying to steer children in a way that’s harmful,” he argued in an interview with Telegraph Online.

“We’re talking about the BBC. I’m a doctor. Their parents and teachers were involved. Three, watch the program and then if you still want to hold that view — well, then you’re daft.”

Still, some scholars, such as Dr. Joanna Williams, a university lecturer and author of the book Women vs Feminism, have warned in the past that children being taught to “unlearn” the difference between boys and girls could be harmful.

“Children — encouraged by their experiences at school — are beginning to question their gender identity at ever younger ages,” Williams warned in an article for the Telegraph Festival of Education in June.

She pointed out that an increasing number of schools are “encouraging even the youngest children to question whether they are really a boy or a girl.”

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Why do Christians hesitate to rise up on anti-Christian persecution?

August 18, 2017 by admin  
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U.S., August 18, 2017: On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department released the first International Religious Freedom Report in the era of President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. It highlighted persecution and hatred against scores of religious minorities around the world, including Christians.

The report prompted me to reflect anew on why Christians sometimes seem hesitant to raise their voices about such atrocities.

I’ve been writing and speaking about anti-Christian persecution for some time, including my 2013 book The Global War on Christians. One frequent question I get, more times than I can count, is this: “Why are you focusing only on Christians? Isn’t that narrow and confessional? Shouldn’t we be concerned about everybody?”

Such questions are born of the noble instinct that the Church shouldn’t be focused only on its own self-interest, but the welfare of all, and the answer is, of course we should be concerned about everybody.

However, there’s an important caveat.

Most Jews I know are strongly opposed to intolerance against anyone, but they feel a special, visceral reaction when it’s targeted against fellow Jews. Most Muslims I know don’t want anyone oppressed, but they’re especially galvanized by Islamophobia. Outside the bounds of religion, many women are especially concerned with misogyny and violation of women’s rights, many members of the LGBT community are especially vigilant about homophobia, and so on.

In all those cases, enlightened people not only understand the reaction, we applaud it. We encourage members of those communities to speak out, we want to hear what they have to say, and we know we need them to hold our feet to the fire.

To take another example, Americans of all stripes have been horrified by the racial ugliness we saw in Charlottesville last weekend, and Christian leaders have been on the front lines of denouncing it, including strong statements from both the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and multiple bishops individually. While rhetoric alone won’t solve the problem, many Catholics felt pride in seeing their leaders rise to the occasion.

So why should it be different when it comes to anti-Christian persecution? (Notably, so far there has been no statement from the bishops’ conference about the new report, which, once again, documents a worldwide pattern of savagery against Christians as well as other religious minorities.)

You certainly can’t make the argument that Christians don’t have it as bad. Globally speaking, Christians are the most oppressed religious community on the planet. Conventional estimates are that 200 million Christians live every day with the threat of physical harassment, arrest, torture, and even death, simply for their religious beliefs.

I’ve spent time with illiterate, impoverished Christian women in India, whose husbands were slaughtered in the most grotesque fashion imaginable by Hindu radicals. I’ve been face-to-face with Nigerian Christians whose families have been ripped apart by Boko Haram militants, including one badly injured woman who lost her husband and three of her five children in a Christmas Day bombing.

I’ve passed time with Egyptian Christians who were kidnapped, brutalized and humiliated by Islamic radicals, including a Coptic doctor who was taken into the desert for months and repeatedly whipped for refusing to accept Islam. I’ve spoken with Christians in Colombia who were menaced, kidnapped and injured by para-military forces of both left and right during a long-running civil war, including a Catholic bishop who had to cut our interview short because he couldn’t stop sobbing.

In other parts of the world, I’ve met victims who’ve experienced persecution at the hands of a staggering variety of other actors – including, alas, sometimes fellow Christians.

It’s not acceptable to say these people don’t need attention because Christianity is wealthy, powerful, and privileged. Whether that’s true or not in some places, it definitely doesn’t apply to the people I’ve met, who are generally poor, forgotten, and defenseless.

It also doesn’t cut it to say that Christians shouldn’t complain because they’ve been guilty of abuses themselves, such as the Crusades or the Inquisition. Whatever one makes of those chapters of history, what does the impoverished and grieving mother I met in Nigeria have to do with any of it?

Finally, it’s disingenuous to assert that anti-Christian persecution is nothing more than a right-wing wedge issue, designed to provide cover for controversial positions in the West’s wars of culture. Think what you want on those matters, but I promise you, the vast majority of suffering Christians in this world don’t even know those wars are going on.

Are Christians the only ones at risk? Of course not. To be credible, does a Christian witness in defense of religious freedom have to apply across the board, without exception? Again, of course.

But should it be acceptable for Christians to feel a special, gut-level empathy for other Christians, because their faith says they’re fellow members of the Body of Christ? Once more, of course.

In 1 Corinthians, St. Paul wrote, “If one part [of the body] suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.” That’s either just pious rhetoric, or Christians actually mean it – and if they do, devoting energy to the defense of persecuted Christians isn’t confessional, it’s compassion, in the literal sense of the word, “suffering with” someone.

The bottom line is that perhaps it’s time for well-meaning Christians to get over the ambivalence they sometimes feel about highlighting anti-Christian persecution as a fact of life in today’s world, on a staggering scale.

It doesn’t have to come at anyone else’s expense – and, besides which, if comfortable and affluent Christians in the West don’t speak up, who in the world will?

- crux

This surfing school in Chile was created for kids with Down syndrome

August 17, 2017 by admin  
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Chile, August 17, 2017: On Sundays, Felipe Pereira is full of enthusiasm. That’s because on Sundays, the 21-year-old goes to Paradise Beach to enjoy the sea along with his friends and to learn how to surf.

For children and young adults with mental disabilities, this is more than a sport. It is the Waves of Hope free surfing school, based in northern Chile’s Antofagasta region.

The school is directed by Chilean surfing enthusiasts Claudio Morales, Catalina Daniels and Pablo Marín. They launched the program five years ago.

After knocking on a lot of doors, running pilot projects, consulting with specialists, and coming up with financing, they began their first class with six surfboards and six wetsuits.

Each Sunday from December to February, the three directors and other volunteers welcome up to 15 children with Down syndrome, Asperger’s syndrome and autism, giving them completely personalized classes adapted to each person’s condition.

Pereira is a very sociable young man who does folk dancing, goes swimming, and works in his school’s bake shop. He told CNA that what he likes most about the surfing classes is “getting on top of the surf board and catching the waves.”

“I like the sea. I really like to go,” he said. Pereira also liked his instructors, saying, “I like how nice they are to us, I love what they do.”

Instructor Catalina Daniels told CNA that her students “challenge you to change. You can’t go on being the same.”

“They are a tremendous example of how love is the driving force of the best things, the best times, the best efforts. Affectionate warmth is the best investment and with them it’s incredible,” she said.

Daniels also discussed the impact of faith, saying “the person who knows Christ, Jesus, who by his mercy came into your life, can’t be the same. You have to be better, more loving, more understanding, more tolerant, because they are.”

Surfing requires strength, balance, agility, and a lot of technique. But what is most important, the Waves of Hope founders recognize, is the relationship between the instructor and the student. This breaks down the barriers of discrimination to make way for integration.

Many Chileans have never spoken or shaken hands with a person with Down syndrome.

“So very motivated volunteers come, but the first day they don’t know what to say, they don’t know how to act, they try to help, but even they freeze up,” Daniels told CNA.

But the students laugh and tell jokes, and eventually, relationships are formed.

“They have an incredible time. They float, row, do group dynamics, take up the surfboard. They have demonstrated that they can do a lot, they have overcome many difficulties related to their condition,” Daniels said.

She explained that the problem is rooted in discrimination and the lack of proper integration.

“They were born struggling with frustration, they were born already disadvantaged,” she said of the students. “It was really hard getting support from the businesses. Why don’t we see girls with Down syndrome promoting products in advertising? Because the beauty of our students is an atypical beauty and no one wants it on their front page.”

“Chile is a country that creates handicaps,” she reflected, adding that trends to de-value family, school and the Church also cause problems for the disabled.

Daniels recommended that people draw closer to God: “to give love you have to be with the Creator of love…When you have love, you have to give it, you have to give it shape, make it real.”

Claudio Morales, another director, added that the volunteers are “the big winners” of Waves of Hope.

“Children with Down syndrome capture your heart in an incredible way,” he said. “I believe that all the volunteers have a changed way of looking at life.”

- cna

Trump admin calls ISIS attacks against minorities ‘Genocide,’ details persecution in religious freedom report

August 16, 2017 by admin  
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U.S., August 16, 2017: The United States has detailed the atrocities suffered by Christians and other minorities at the hands of the Islamic State terrorist group, specifically calling it genocide, in the Trump administration’s first International Religious Freedom Report, released Tuesday.

“ISIS has and continues to target members of multiple religions and ethnicities for rape, kidnapping, enslavement, and death. ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in areas it controlled,” Secretary of State Rex. W. Tillerson wrote in the report.

“ISIS is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups, and in some cases against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities. The protection of these groups – and others who are targets of violent extremism – remains a human rights priority for the Trump Administration.”

The annual study by the U.S. Department of State provides an update on the religious freedom situation in 199 countries around the world, exploring the different forms and levels of persecution people of various faiths and ethnic groups are being subjected to.

Tillerson said at the release of the report that “almost 80 percent of the global population live with restrictions on or hostilities to limit their freedom of religion.”

“Where religious freedom is not protected, we know that instability, human rights abuses, and violent extremism have a greater opportunity to take root,” he warned.

Last month, the State Department pushed back against reports that its lawyers have been removing the word “genocide” from speeches and official documents concerning IS.

The Washington Free Beacon cited human rights activists and attorneys earlier in the month that accused Trump’s State Department of “systematically removing the word ‘genocide’ to describe the Islamic State’s mass slaughter of Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic minorities.”

State Department Press Secretary Heather Nauert later stated, however, that “that is categorically false.”

“We have looked through documents ourselves. The word ‘genocide’ is in fact in there. That has not been removed,” Nauert said.

Countries highlighted in the religious freedom report include Iraq and Syria, where IS continued its radical violence throughout 2016.

It also took aim at government-led persecution, such as China’s Communist Party and its growing crackdown on Christians.

“A pastor of an unregistered church and his wife were reportedly buried alive while protesting the demolition of their church; the wife died while the pastor was able to escape,” the report states in part, referring to a story from April 2016 in Zhumadian, Henan province.

Persecution watchdog groups, such as China Aid, called the burying alive of Ding Cuimei, the victim, a “cruel, murderous act.”

The U.S. report further highlighted the severe religious rights abuses in North Korea, noting that simply owning a Bible is illegal and “punishable by imprisonment and severe punishment, including, in some cases, execution.”

It pointed to accounts of “private Christian religious activity in the country,” along with NGOs and academics that put the number of Christians at several hundred thousand, but said that it is hard to verify the exact number.

The State Department emphasized its firm commitment to stand up for the rights of the world’s most vulnerable populations and to advance the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“From the beginning, America has been a place that has cherished the freedom of worship,” Trump states in the report. “Sadly, many around the globe do not enjoy this freedom … [W]e pray for the strength and wisdom to achieve a better tomorrow – one where good people of all faiths, Christians and Muslims and Jewish and Hindu, can follow their hearts and worship according to their conscience.”

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Pope Francis orders Catholic group to stop offering Euthanasia at Belgian hospitals

August 14, 2017 by admin  
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Belgium, August 14, 2017: Pope Francis and the Vatican have ordered an end to a Belgian Catholic charity’s “disloyal” and “outrageous” practice of offering euthanasia at all 15 of its psychiatric hospital centers.

The Brothers of Charity group has reportedly been making use of the legality of euthanasia in Belgium and allowing doctors to offer euthanasia for psychiatric patients in cases where “no reasonable treatment alternatives” are available.

The Holy See Press Office confirmed on Friday that Francis ordered the Catholic group to stop offering euthanasia, which is a controversial practice that goes against Roman Catholic Church doctrine.

The Vatican leader apparently said in a letter to the charity that it must “fully support the vision of the magisterium of the Catholic Church, which has always confirmed that human life must be respected and protected in absolute terms, from the moment of conception till its natural end.”

Rene Stockman, the charity’s superior general, who delivered the request from Pope Francis, said that “this is the very first time a Christian organization states that euthanasia is an ordinary medical practice that falls under the physician’s therapeutic freedom.”

“This is disloyal, outrageous and unacceptable,” Stockman said, according to The Associated Press.

The decision to allow euthanasia was apparently made by the group’s lay board of directors, which prompted an investigation by the Vatican.

The Brothers of Charity has clarified that patients who request to die are granted such permission only if they are in a state of “unbearable suffering.” Also, at least three doctors, including one psychiatrist, must be consulted.

Mattias De Vriendt, a spokesman for the Belgian charity, revealed that the group has recieved requests from patients seeking to end their lives, but did not say whether any procedures had been performed yet.

The Vatican has warned that the charity might face legal action, and could be expelled from the Church unless it reverses its policy.

“We will take our time in the next few weeks to evaluate these letters,” de Vriendt said, referring to Pope Francis’ order.

Euthanasia remains a divisive issue among evangelicals as well, a LifeWay Research survey from last year pointed out.

The U.S. online poll, which randomly sampled 1,000 respondents, found that four out of 10 evangelicals believe that doctors should be allowed to assist terminally ill patients in ending their lives.

“If they are facing a slow, painful death, Americans want options,” Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, said at the time.

“Many believe that asking for help in dying is a moral option. They don’t believe that suffering until they die of natural causes is the only way out.”

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Archaeology discovery: Mug workshop found near where Jesus turned water into wine

August 13, 2017 by admin  
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Israel, August 11, 2017: Archaeologists have discovered an ancient mug workshop that would have been located near the town of Cana, where Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine.

Archaeologist Yonatan Adler and his team recently found the mug workshop near Reineh in modern day Israel, according to AFP.

“Adler and his team have uncovered fragments of chalkstone mugs and bowls along with thousands of cylindrical chalk cores discarded in the process of hollowing out the vessels with a lathe,” reported AFP.

“They are typical of a period from the second half of the first century BC to the middle of the first century AD. Jews of the period used stoneware for reasons of religious observance, Adler said.”

Described in John 2:1–12, at a wedding feast in the town of Cana, Jesus performed his first miracle, which was the changing of water into wine.

Included in John’s account was a mention of six large stone water jars, which were used for Jewish purification rites.

In an interview with AFP, Adler noted that thus far “we haven’t found production of these large jars” at the Reineh site

“But presumably the stone jars that would have been used at Cana would have been produced at a site like this, probably in the area,” Adler explained.

“What’s exciting here is that for the first time we have physical evidence of production of stone vessels here in Galilee.”

This is not the first discovery of a site connected to the New Testament that has garnered headlines this year. Earlier this month, another group of researchers announced that they might’ve discovered the home of three of Jesus’ disciples.

Earlier this month, researchers from Kinneret College said they believe they’ve found the Roman city of Julias, which was built as part of the town of Bethsaida, which is identified in John 1:44 as the hometown of Philip, Andrew, and Peter.

“A multi-layered site discovered on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, in the Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve, is the spot, the team believes,” reported Haaretz.

“The key discovery is of an advanced Roman-style bathhouse. That in and of itself indicates that there had been a city there, not just a fishing village …”

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Transgender identity: Let’s look at the bible

August 11, 2017 by admin  
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U.S., August 11, 2017: When it comes to making a biblical case for transgender identity, some have cited scriptures about “natural-born eunuchs” and Apostle Paul’s words that there is “neither male nor female” in Christ Jesus. This argument and arguments against it were already laid out in a previous Christian Post article.

Offering more insights on what the Bible has to say about the issue of gender identity, Dr. Richard Land, who is president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in North Carolina, and Pentecostal pastor Bishop Harry Jackson spoke with CP and began with how God created humans.

“The Bible tells us in Psalm 139 that God knits and embroiders us together in our mother’s womb. And all of our parts were in God’s book before any of them came to be. Clearly, God is involved in every conception that takes place,” said Land, noting that it is a biological fact that one’s sex is determined at that precise moment.

Jackson, who leads Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, explained that one’s biological sex is not only a divine imprint but part of God’s “assignment” to the human being.

“I believe that God gives us the original assignment of gender, even nationality — what we would call race — where we were born, and the family into which we were born. All of that is pre-selected by God. He wants us to steward that uniqueness as a beginning point, as a gift from God,” Jackson said.

“In the context of that, the Lord has a fairly strict set of boundaries that He wants us to carry out, principles by which we live.”

At a recent SES event on “God, Sex, & Gender,” Land posed the question, “What is a human being?”

He pointed to the first chapter in the first book of the Bible — Genesis — where it states that God made man in His image and likeness, and “male and female He created them.”

There is a difference between human beings and the rest of creation as humans are the only creature that have the divine image, Land stressed.

“A human being is a special creation of God, thus human life is sacred,” he said.

Additionally, the Apostle Paul, Land noted to CP, calls the human body “the temple of the Holy Spirit” in 1 Corinthians 6 and the word he uses for temple in the Greek refers to the Holy of Holies, the innermost part of the temple. This was the very place where the Holy Spirit — the shekinah glory — dwelled.

With all that said, when someone maintains that he or she was born in the wrong body, this is not just a matter of confusion; it represents the “ultimate rebellion” against God’s design for them, Land contended.

Jackson also called transgenderism a rebellion against the original assignment God gave each person.

In essence, Land believes that transgenderism is “self-idolatry.”

“It is the ultimate attempt to become one’s own god. I want to be different than the way God made me so I’m going to employ modern medical science to change my gender, chemically and surgically,” he maintained.

“The religion of America today is narcissism. … We want to define our own version of truth of who we are regardless of anything else.”

He went on to explain that at the root of the transgender movement is a resurgent Gnostic belief that the body and mind are not united and the hedonistic creed of the sexual revolution: “If it feels good, do it.”

“The sacred trinity of modern man is I, myself, and me. And it is only with modern science that people have the ability to claim they can change their gender and seek to do so,” Land, a father of three, said.

Renowned Anglican theologian N.T. Wright also recently called the confusion about gender identity a “form of the ancient philosophy of Gnosticism.”

“The Gnostic, one who ‘knows,’ has discovered the secret of ‘who I really am,’ behind the deceptive outward appearance,” Wright said.

“This involves denying the goodness, or even the ultimate reality, of the natural world. Nature, however, tends to strike back, with the likely victims in this case being vulnerable and impressionable youngsters who, as confused adults, will pay the price for their elders’ fashionable fantasies.”

Christians should have particular reverence for their God-given biology and the human body because the Lord took on a human frame, noted Land, who is also executive editor of The Christian Post and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“We are not what God intended us to be,” he said, speaking of how much our bodies matter. “He intended us to be the vice-regents of creation and we have become slaves to our own sin and desires through the Fall. But Jesus came … in order that He might make us everything that He is.”

And when people receive Christ and what was accomplished on the cross by faith, they are in the process of being all that God created them to be.

Pastorally speaking, both Land and Jackson emphasized the need to love transgender persons.

“Christians have an obligation and a responsibility to love people who identify as transgender and to seek to act redemptively toward them,” Land emphasized, adding that those who struggle with gender dysphoria should never be made fun of or mocked.

At the same time, pastors should not affirm transgenderism as normative.

“You do them no service by acquiescing to their malady and calling it normal,” Land said. “Calling it normal does not make it normal, affirming it as healthy does not make it healthy.

“God has set the norms and when you live in a society where there are no norms, everything is normal, and that is a recipe for madness.”

For Jackson, he outlined three things he would tell someone who has gender confusion:

“1) God loves them, 2) they are not an accident, and 3) they should be willing and expect the grace of God to help them comply with God’s commandments for their behavior on any level,” he explained.

“We have to understand that the people who come to us for help in the context of Christian ministry, they have to be willing to accept the Bible as the highest authority for human behavior, and whatever counseling and encouragement and help will be based prescriptively on what the Bible teaches.”

Jackson said that if he pastors someone who thinks that ministers are prejudiced against them, he said he cannot help it, because he’s not going to change the doctrine of his church to accommodate an exceedingly small minority of people.

People must come to understand that when they accept Jesus, it is a call to a lifestyle and journey with God, Jackson added, emphasizing that it’s imperative for churches to find a way to teach about these things in a loving but directive manner in order to set people on a course to have a normal family life as they pursue God and the Scriptures.

- christian post

Why YouTube needs Catholics

August 10, 2017 by admin  
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U.S., August 10, 2017: Catholic YouTube junkies of the world, unite – you are needed for the New Evangelization.

That was essentially the message of the recent Catholic YouTubers Hangout, the first-of-its-kind online meeting of dozens of Catholics from around the world who met last month about bringing the Gospel to their YouTube channels.

About 50 channels logged on to take part, hailing mostly from the United States, but also with channels joining from places like Italy, Brazil and Spain.

The hangout started as the brainchild of Daniel Glaze, who is one-half of the channel “That Catholic Couple” – the other half is Daniel’s wife, Ana. On their channel, they show their followers (dubbed “The Donut Squad,” a play on Glaze) all about their life as a young Catholic couple and first-time parents.

Daniel said the idea for the hangout came when he was watching a Catholic YouTube video one day and wondered whether Catholics on YouTube knew each other or ever collaborated together.

Steve the Missionary (aka Steven Lewis) of the “Steve the Missionary” channel, and Maria Mitchell, the producer of the “Ascension Presents” channel, had similar questions. Why weren’t there more Catholics on YouTube, the way there were on other social media platforms like Twitter? Why wasn’t there a Catholic community on the platform?

“(We all) noticed that there really wasn’t a cohesive community of people who create together, react to each other, or collaborate with each other,” Lewis told CNA.

“Daniel was the one who was smart enough to start calling his friends and asking what we wanted to do about it.”

And that’s how the Catholic YouTubers Hangout was born. The free online conference was open to any channel that was in some way, shape or form, Catholic – meaning either the content explicitly talked about Catholicism and the Catholic church, or the creator of a channel is a Catholic who is letting their faith influence their work.

The goals for the hangout were twofold: to create a community of Catholic YouTubers, and to encourage further collaboration within that community.

Each host of the hangout also gave a keynote address, the main ideas of which can also mostly be found in this collaborative by Daniel, Ana and Lewis: https://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=inXOliuYdQk&t=21s

This community of Catholic YouTubers is necessary, Lewis said, because “Catholics need to get their voice in the hyper-progressive, strictly materialistic, and atheist and agnostic conversation happening on YouTube.”

He said he wants there to be a “Catholic YouTube” of sorts – a corner within the platform dominated by explicitly Catholic conversations and creators, like there is on Twitter or Instagram.

“But I know that that’s not enough,” he said.

“The second thing I want is for Catholics to be a part of every other corner of YouTube. We should be earning our rights to be heard in the conversations happening on ‘Gamer YouTube,’ ‘Politics YouTube,’ or ‘Movie-Nerd YouTube,’” he said.

“Having both of these is important to spreading the Gospel. The first is important for answering the explicit questions of people interested in the faith, the second is important for putting the Gospel in new places among the people of the world.”

Lewis, who has been creating videos for his channel since 2013, said he was inspired to start making videos because he was already a major YouTube junkie, as well as a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) at the time. He realized there was a need for the Gospel to reach one of his favorite online platforms.

“I love trying to say old truths in new ways. I love seeing and explaining the new ways that deep truths percolate into our lives,” Lewis said.

While many of his videos could fit in a category of apologetics and faith conversations geared towards millennials, they also include things like Lewis’ thoughts on the World Cup, eulogies for closing coffee shops, or his ability to eat bacon on certain Fridays in Lent when some dioceses were granted dispensations and others were not.

Daniel noted that even within his own Catholic-themed channel, the conversations are not necessarily explicitly Catholic, but are about life as a young family, informed by a Catholic view.

“We need more variety of Catholic content on YouTube, which means we need Catholic content creators living out their faith and showcasing it through video. For example, my channel ‘That Catholic Couple’ is a vlogging (video blogging) channel where we regularly share what it means to be a young family. Yes, we speak about our faith, but our content isn’t always explicitly Catholic. Plus, we need different perspectives on the platform to put the Gospel in the niche corners of YouTube,” he said.

During the hangout, Lewis said he challenged Catholic YouTubers to do two things: first, to watch and subscribe to each other’s channels, because it helps build community. Secondly, he encouraged them to keep watching their favorite secular videos on YouTube, because it can help creators to hone a more professional style.

“Don’t be afraid of the secular influences on your style,” Lewis said.

“We think of Audrey Assad (a Catholic singer/songwriter) as writing in the tradition of modern praise and worship writers. While that’s true, if you ask her what her musical and lyrical interests are, she’ll tell you about artists like Paul Simon: a secular artist of such quality, that anyone can learn from him,” Lewis said.

Daniel added that the community is important, because it will allow Catholics to push each other to be better. Creating great art is something that the Church used to lead the world in, but has fallen behind in recent years, especially when it comes to creating good video.

“To be frank, the time of bad Catholic video content needs to end,” he said.

And the need for good Catholic video has never been more urgent, as video streaming has exploded in recent years with the boom of smartphones, Lewis added.

“The explosion of streaming video, especially through our phones, means that people are open to the possibilities of what a video can show them. Like any media, streaming videos can be baptized and used to glorify God. Let’s not waste our time!” Lewis said.

“It’s tough because we are currently outnumbered on YouTube, but so were the Apostles, so we’re in good company,” he added. “Also, I really like this new bromance I’ve got with Daniel.”

Daniel said that the hangout was only the beginning, and the he plans on continuing to look for opportunities to provide resources to foster community and collaboration among Catholic YouTubers, ultimately to help further the message of the Gospel.

“A good friend of mine once said, ‘conversion of the heart isn’t fostered by one video, but it can start one.’”

Lewis urged all Catholics to share videos and blogs that further the Gospel message. And, if they find a gap somewhere, to fill it.

“Online evangelization is not about getting famous, it’s about seeing a need and addressing it,” he said.

“If you find a video/post/blog that says what you need to say right now, like and share it! If you can’t find that video/post/blog, I guess it’s time for you to make it yourself!”

- cna

This priest preserves Iraqi culture found in historic manuscripts

August 9, 2017 by admin  
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Italy, August 9, 2017: As Iraq and surrounding areas face the destruction of many of the region’s archaeological treasures, one priest and his fellow Dominicans are preserving the area’s history and culture through an archive of Christian and other religious manuscripts.

“First, we save them (the manuscripts) physically, materially. We bring them to safety and bring them with us at the peril of our lives, of course. But, we also electronically copy them and number them and by doing this, the book or manuscript becomes immortal,” Fr. Najeeb Michaeel told CNA.

“In reality, I did not save this history just because I am a Christian. I saved this because I am human and everything that is human interests me, like the lives of human beings and of a human being become much more valuable when he has roots.”

Fr. Najeeb Michaeel is a Dominican friar and priest from Iraq. In 1990 he created the Center for the Digitization of Eastern Manuscripts to help digitize documents and archives of letters, paintings, and photos.

Since 2007 Fr. Najeeb and those who help him have moved and protected manuscripts from likely destruction at the hands of Islamist extremists. So far, the group has digitally preserved more than 8,000 previously unpublished manuscripts, dating from the 10th to the 19th centuries.

“Culture and civilization were born here and today it is a bath of blood and the destruction is almost complete and total, but even with all of this we keep the hope for a better future,” Fr. Najeeb said.

The question today is why we do not work to protect these villages, and to keep these things from destruction, he asked, and urged people to try to influence their governments to protect these historical places.

This collection of manuscripts “presents a small selection to say to the world, here are our roots, you need to help us, you need to help protect us. We do not have the right, as an international community, to sell arms to kill one another and not at the same time promote culture and the rights of man.”

Since 1750 the many manuscripts had been kept in the library of the Dominican monastery in Mosul. They were moved from the monastery starting in 2007, amid the backdrop of increased violence against Christians and other minorities at the hands of extremist groups.

Because of the violence, which included the killing of priests, for safety the Dominican brothers began to quietly move from their church. They continued to say Mass and the sacraments, but were physically living more than 18 miles away in the village of Bakhdida.

To not draw attention to themselves they dressed in civilian clothes and came and went discretely to celebrate Mass in caves, “like the first Christians did in the catacombs at the beginning of the Christian era,” Fr. Najeeb said.

It was during those next few years that the brothers began to progressively bring the manuscripts out of the convent in Mosul.

Then, in 2014, the Islamic State arrived in Mosul. Under threat of death unless they converted to Islam, Christians fled the city. Stopped at checkpoints on the roads, Islamic State took everything, so they were forced to leave with only the clothes they were wearing.

Amazingly, Fr. Najeeb and his brothers made it safely past the checkpoints. Then, just ten days before Islamic State invaded Bakhdida, Fr. Najeeb rescued many of the manuscripts again, this time bringing them to Erbil, where they have remained.

The documents include more than 25 subjects, including theology, philosophy, astronomy, medicine, history, and geography, many of which date back “to the 10th, 11th, and 12th century in Aramaic, which is the language of Jesus Christ, which is our mother tongue all the way to today,” Fr. Najeeb said.

They also have documents in Syriac, Arabic, Turkish, Armenian, Hebrew, Persian, and more: “All of this makes up our collection and heritage, not only Christian but also in the international communion for the whole of humanity,” he explained.

Rome hosted an exhibit and conference on just a small sample of the many photos and manuscripts June 10-17.

This exhibition was “just a small fragment of what we have in Iraq with respect to manuscripts and archives and materials and photos, because we have as well the largest deposit of photos in Iraq,” Fr. Najeeb explained.

The more than 10,000 photos “tell the story of the past: the face, the work and much more,” he continued. “Even the archaeology. And we have many archaeological documents in cuneiform as well, very ancient.”

Since 2009 the Dominicans in Iraq have also partnered with Benedictine monks, who also help with the supply of equipment and organizing internships.

Their internship program has about 10 young university students, Fr. Najeeb said, which provides “practical information for true professionals in the field of the restoration of manuscripts, for their protection and digitization, and also the process of storing them and protecting them with sophisticated technology to be able to officially protect them in a scientific way.”

Fr. Najeeb noted that preserving the manuscripts is far more important than merely having a record of history and an archive of historical objects, but something vital for the education of future generations as well.

“In fact, the manuscripts and the archives of these ancient document make up our history and are our roots. We cannot save a tree without saving its roots. The two can bear fruit,” he said.

“So, it is important all of these archives. This history is a part of our collective archives, our past, our history. And these we absolutely had to save, as our children.”

- cna

Welsh pub renames beer after seminarian mix-up

August 8, 2017 by admin  
Filed under lead story, newsletter-lead

Wales, August 7, 2017: How does a pub make up for mistakenly trying to kick out a group of celebrating seminarians? By naming a beer after them and calling it the “Thirsty Priests.”

Tim Lewis is the PR Manager for Brains, the company which owns the City Arms Pub in Cardiff, Wales.

He said that re-naming one of the seminarian’s favorite beers was a small thank you for the group’s good humor in being mistaken as a bachelor party and nearly kicked out of City Arms Pub.

“We wanted to do something as a ‘thank you’ to the priests for taking the misunderstanding in such good spirits,” said Lewis, according to Wales Online.

Described as a “rich, warming ale with a clean, rewarding finish,” The Rev James beer was renamed the “Thirsty Priests,” with the added slogan “saving souls and satisfying thirsts.” It was added to the pub’s tap this past weekend.

While celebrating the July 29 ordination of Father Peter McClaren, a group of seminarians dressed in their cassocks entered the City Arms Pub, only to be turned away by staff members who mistook them for a bachelor party.

“The staff thought they were a stag. We do have quite a few issues on the weekends with parties wearing fancy dress so it is our policy to turn them away,” said assistant manager Matt Morgan, according to the BBC.

But as the seminarians were about to leave the bar, the manager overheard them praying, and, realizing the establishment’s mistake, invited the men back in for a round of beers on the house.

The seminarians took the error in good humor, and were warmly received by staff and customers for the rest of their time at the pub. The whole affair was amusing, noted the seminarians, and the men were encouraged by the positive interaction with the community – which also enabled the locals to engage the seminarians in questions about the Church.

Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff, who is also a fan of City Arms Pub, said he was happy to hear about the seminarians’ interaction with the community, noting that “Priests are of the community and for the community they serve.”

Adding to the amusement of the evening, one member of the group, Reverend Robert James – who was ordained a deacon last June – was partial to a beer resembling his own name. The Rev James, a popular ale on the bar’s menu, is now rebranded at the establishment in honor of the seminarians.

The Archdiocese of Cardiff applauded the pub for its good humor over the viral news, jokingly adding that “a number of our clergy, including the Archbishop of Cardiff, frequent your bar so don’t turf any more out please!”

- cna

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