The guest

November 25, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small Tennessee town.

From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family.
The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in our family. Mom taught me to love the Word of God. Dad taught me to obey it.
But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries and comedies were daily conversations.
He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening.

Family Spellbound

He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill and me to our first major league baseball game.
He was always encouraging us to see the movies, and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars. The stranger was an incessant talker.

Dad didn’t seem to mind but sometimes Mom would quietly get up – while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places – and go to her room and read her Bible and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave. My Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them.

Profanity was not allowed in our house – not from us, our friends, or adults.
Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four-letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm.

To my knowledge, the stranger was never confronted. Dad didn’t permit alcohol in his home.
But the stranger enlightened us to other ways of life. He often offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages.

He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished.
He talked freely about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.

Family

I know now that my early concepts of the man/woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.

I believe it was only by the grace of God the stranger did not influence us even more.
Time after time he opposed my parents’ values. Yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave.

More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young family on Morningside Drive.
But if I were to walk into my parents’ home today, I would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.

His name? We always called him TV.

TV

– fwd: samuel machado

Hindu radicals storm prayer meeting in India and beat Christians

November 25, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Hindu MahasabhaTelangana, November 24, 2015: A mob of around 60 Hindu radicals stormed a Christian prayer meeting in India, beating the believers who had met together. A pregnant Christian woman was among those beaten, and lost her baby as a result of the attack.

Around 40 Christians had met together to pray in the home of another Christian in the Mahabubnagar District of India’s Telangana state on 12 October, according to International Christian Concern. At around 7.30 pm, a mob of Hindu radicals, led by the previous village surpanch (council president), broke into the house shouting insults at the Christians.

They beat the Christians harshly, including the women and the children. One of the believers in the group, 25-year-old Swapna, was four months pregnant at the time and begged the attackers to leave her alone because of her pregnant condition. They beat her anyway and she was later discovered to have lost her baby.

The authorities arrested seven people in connection with the attack after the believers registered the incident with local police. However, they were released on bail later the same day.

A similar incident of violence against Christians meeting together to pray in the private home of a believer took place recently about 35 km (22 miles) outside Delhi. The Christians were beaten and dragged to a police station where they were told, “This is a Hindu nation. Your kind of prayers are not allowed,” according to a report published by Christian Today on 13 November.

Christians in India are frequently the victims of violent attacks, and these have increased dramatically since Hindu-nationalist President Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014. Prayer meetings are often raided and Christians beaten; many rural Christians have been expelled from their villages and refused access to the village well and pastureland; and others have been forced to convert to Hinduism, often with violence.

– barnabas

Muslims will not leave India, come what may: Owaisi

November 25, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Indian MuslimsHyderabad , November 24, 2015: All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Tuesday said that the Muslims would not leave the country, come what may, and that they would continue to live here as “proud Indians”.

“Muslims will not succumb to dog whistle politics of the Sangh Parivar and other fascist forces but continue their democratic struggle for justice, due share and the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the country,” the Lok Sabha member from Hyderabad told reporters here.

When asked for reaction on Bollywood actor Aamir Khan’s revelation on Monday that his wife asked if they should move out of the country due to security situation prevailing in the country, the AIMIM leader said, “I can’t speak for a film star. I can only speak as a proud Indian Muslim that I will never succumb to all these dog whistle politics of the Sangh Parivar and other fascist organisations.”

“They can’t create fear in our hearts and minds because this is our county. So long as life on earth survives, Muslims will live in India as proud Indians,” he added.

Owaisi said Indian Muslims would definitely struggle for their due share and rightful position, which no one could deny them since it was what the constitution guarantees.

“We are Indians not only by birth but by choice. We have seen many adversities, many riots; thousands of lives were lost. We have also seen destruction of Babri Masjid,” he said.

Owaisi said grievances of Indian Muslims had always been with parties in power as they did not give them the rights the Constitution guaranteed. “Still this is our country. We will continue to fight. We will continue to struggle and definitely get our due share and our position,” he added.

The AIMIM leader said Muslims would not disappoint great freedom fighters who dreamt of Muslims living in the country as proud Indians.

– tcn

Lahore: plant and three Ahmadi places of worship torched for “blasphemy”

November 25, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

churches burnedLahore, November 23, 2015: An Ahmadi-owned plant and three Ahmadi places of worship were torched in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

According to a preliminary police report, hundreds of people, acting on unfounded rumours that a copy of the Qur‘an had been burnt in the factory, stormed the site and set it on fire. They later did the same to three Ahmadi mosques.

“We live in difficult times in terms of intolerance. We must unite to combat the scourge of racism, discrimination, and terrorism,” said Fr Arif John, from the Diocese of Rawalpindi.

The Catholic Church and other Christian denominations agreed to hold a special prayer in Rawalpindi as well as Jhelum, where the incident took place, to show solidarity with the people attacked “in the name of religion”.

The first attack took place last Friday. A mob of hundreds of Muslims stormed a chipboard factory owned by Qamar Ahmed Tahir, an Ahmadi, who was also responsible for the factory’s security.

Following the violence, police arrested him on blasphemy charges. However, what actually happened remains unclear.

According to some, Mr Tahir ordered an employee to burn a copy of the Qur‘an. The day after the plant attack, a crowd stormed Ahmadi places of worship, torching three of them. Chaos spread across Jhelum and police were able to restore law and order in the city with great difficulty.

Investigation eventually showed that the allegations against the owner were false. It was determined that Tahir only supervised the burning of waste material. Nothing closely related to the Qur‘an, or religious material, was found in what was left of the site.

“Torching a place based on false information only leads to the loss of property,” said Fr John. “False charges like this one leads to complete chaos in the city.” For this reason, “we call on everyone to join hands to pray. We must pray more to send a message of peace in such sad times.”

Pakistan’s Ahmadi Muslim community has about four million members. Founded in the late 19th century by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in what was then British India, the Ahmadi faith is considered heretical by most Sunnis and Shias. Whilst claiming to be Islamic, it draws on the beliefs of other religions as well.

Within Pakistan, Ahmadis are not allowed to Islamic greetings and prayers, and cannot refer to their places of worship as mosques. However, like Pakistan’s Christians, they have often been victimised by the country’s blasphemy laws, which are used to persecute minorities.

– asianews

Catholics welcome secular government in Bihar

November 25, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

BiharPatna, November 24, 2015: Church leaders in eastern Indian Bihar state hope the election victory of a secularist chief minister will see more room for religious tolerance, amid worrying trends in anti-Christian sentiments nationwide.

Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal United party and his alliance won most of the seats in the 243-seat legislative assembly and was sworn in as state chief minister Nov. 20. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, which rules the federal government and many other states, won 58 seats.

It was the third consecutive term for Nitish in an election largely seen as a fight between secular and hard-line Hindu forces.

“We hope the state will now more earnestly uphold tolerance, religious harmony and the constitutional rights of people, especially the marginalized,” said Archbishop William D’Souza of Patna, based in the Bihar state capital.

The Jesuit archbishop, along with the four other bishops from the state, was scheduled to meet Nitish this week to offer him the Catholic community’s support. The bishops are currently in Patna for the annual gathering of regional bishops.

Farther Anand Kumar, spokesman of Buxar diocese, described Nitish’s victory as a “great relief” for Christians and religious minorities in Hindu-majority India.

“There was great fear psychosis at the way campaigns for the election were held. What would happen to us if the Hindu nationalist BJP swept the polls? So concerned were the people,” he said.

The priest said he hoped the state, led by a secularist chief minister, would recognize the important role Christian institutions play in society.

“Christians render so much services in the state in various fields like education, health and social service. We expect the state to become more generous to us and give more positive support to our missionary enterprises, like recognition and aid for our rural schools,” he added.

In states where the BJP is in power, Christian leaders and media report violence against clergymen, the raping of nuns and the jailing of priest on fabricated charges, and the banning of missioners from entering villages.

Bishop Cajetan Francis Osta of Muzaffarpur, also in Bihar, believes that the challenge for the new government is to set an example for the country by maintaining peace and harmony in the state, which will help restore the same throughout the country.

S.K. Lawrence, secretary of Alpsankhyak Isai Kalyan Sangh (minority Christian welfare forum), said Nitish’s election victory was a positive sign.

“We are happy that the divisive forces and hate mongers have been defeated,” he said, referring to the BJP party, which is seen as the political wing of Hindu groups trying to create a Hindu-only India.

Christians “expect the new government to ensure the all-round development and safety of all communities, especially the religious minorities and weaker sections,” he added.

– ucan

Blacks & Gays lead with STD rates

November 25, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

STDU.S, November 24, 2015: Bill Donohue comments on a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2014”:

After decades of the most progressive sex education programs in our  nation’s history, and the most massive distribution of free condoms ever undertaken, never has the rate of sexually transmitted diseases been worse. The rates among blacks and homosexuals are astonishing.

There was an overall increase of 2.8% in chlamydia rates between 2013 and 2014; the rate among blacks is 6 times the rate of whites. After reaching a historic low in gonorrhea rates in 2009, the figures for 2014 grew quickly; the rate among blacks is 10.6 times that of whites. Syphilis rates jumped so much that they are now at their highest rate since 1994; the rate among blacks is 5.4 times the rate among whites.

Blacks comprise roughly 13% of the U.S. population, yet they account for 55.4% of all gonorrhea cases and 50.6% of all syphilis cases. Even more disturbing are the rates for chlamydia and gonorrhea among blacks in the 0-4 age group: no racial or ethnic group comes close to them.

Primary and secondary syphilis is now a mostly gay disease. Although gays make up a mere 1.6% of the population, they account for 83% of all male syphilis cases. Throat and rectal infections are particularly high.

How did we get to this point? We have no problem waging war on promiscuity when it comes to food, alcohol, or cigarettes, but we refuse to treat sexual promiscuity the same way. We speak endlessly about the horrors of obesity, cirrhosis of the liver, and lung cancer, but when it comes to STDs, we get clinical.

It’s time we put political correctness aside and started having an honest conversation with everyone about the dangers of sexual promiscuity. Condoms are not the answer—restraint is. And no groups need to hear this message more than blacks and gays.

– catholic league

Money is yours but resources belong to the society

November 24, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

Ratan Tata Tweet…

GermanyGermany is a highly industrialized country. In such a country, many will think its people lead a luxurious life.

When we arrived at Hamburg , my colleagues walked into the restaurant, we noticed that a lot of tables were empty. There was a table where a young couple was having their meal. There were only two dishes and two cans of beer on the table. I wondered if such simple meal could be romantic, and whether the girl will leave this stingy guy.

There were a few old ladies on another table. When a dish is served, the waiter would distribute the food for them, and they would finish every bit of the food on their plates.

As we were hungry, our local colleague ordered more food for us. When we left, there was still about one third of un-consumed food on the table.

When we were leaving the restaurant, the old ladies spoke to us in English, we understood that they were unhappy about us wasting so much food.

“We paid for our food, it is none of your business how much food we left behind,” my colleague told the old ladies. The old ladies were furious. One of them immediately took her hand phone out and made a call to someone. After a while, a man in uniform from Social Security organisation arrived. Upon knowing what the dispute was, he issued us a 50 Euro fine. We all kept quiet.

Think.Eat.SaveThe officer told us in a stern voice, “ORDER WHAT YOU CAN CONSUME, MONEY IS YOURS BUT RESOURCES BELONG TO THE SOCIETY. THERE ARE MANY OTHERS IN THE WORLD WHO ARE FACING SHORTAGE OF RESOURCES. YOU HAVE NO REASON TO WASTE RESOURCES.”

The mindset of people of this rich country put all of us to shame.

WE REALLY NEED TO REFLECT ON THIS. We are from country which is not very rich in resources. To save face, we order large quantity and also waste food when we give others a treat.
(Courtesy: A friend who is now changed a lot)

THE LESSON IS:- THINK SERIOUSLY ABOUT CHANGING OUR BAD HABITS.
VERY TRUE -“MONEY IS YOURS BUT RESOURCES BELONG TO THE SOCIETY.”

India’s ancient values important amid intolerance: President

November 24, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

religious freedomNew Delhi, November 22, 2015: Underlining that pluralism and multi-culturalism were at the core of India’s psyche, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said the world was witnessing “the worst impulses of intolerance” and it was time to reinforce the values that bind together a diverse India.

Inaugurating the first-ever international conference of Indologists at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mukherjee said the world was struggling to deal with the kind of hatred never seen earlier.

“We are, today, witnessing events without precedent: when the world is struggling to deal with the worst impulses of intolerance and hatred that mankind has ever witnessed,” he told the gathering of Indian and foreign Indologists.

“At such a time, there can be no better recourse than to remind ourselves of the high values, written and unwritten samskaras, duties and the way of life that is the essence of India.

“This is the time to reinforce the civilizational values that bind together the complex diversity of modern-day India and promote them among our people and the world,” he said.

The president has in recent times repeatedly referred to “intolerance”. But on Saturday, he did not refer to any specific incident within the country.

Mukherjee exhorted the indologists to highlight India’s pluralism and multi-culturalism rather than excessively dwelling on ancient times or merely fill with nostalgia about India’s grand past.

“I anticipate that your scholastic interactions, while firmly anchoring today’s India in her glorious history – will illuminate the logical path to her destined greatness.

“I am confident that your deliberations over the next three days will highlight the manner in which pluralism and multi-culturalism are at the very core of the Indian psyche.”

Quoting Swami Vivekananda, Mukherjee said the one great lesson the world has yet to learn from India is the idea not only of toleration but of sympathy.

“It is here that Indians build temples for Mohammedans and Christians; nowhere else,” he quoted Vivekananda as saying. “The one great lesson, therefore, that the world wants most, that the world has yet to learn from India, is the idea not only of toleration, but of sympathy.”

Noting that the Vedic texts were the first to pronounce the universal concept of ‘Vasudhaiva kutumvakam’ (world is one family), he also dwelt on the need for inclusiveness.

“It must be recognised that India’s ancient traditions, to survive and grow, did not hesitate to selectively embrace all that is good in modernism.

“Her history remains alive and vibrant in the thoughts, actions, customs and rituals of her people. Modernity, in all its manifestations, is equally welcome here,” he said.

The president said India’s ancient traditions, to survive and grow, did not hesitate to selectively embrace all that was good in modernism.

“Her history remains alive and vibrant in the thoughts, actions, customs and rituals of her people. Modernity, in all its manifestations is equally welcome here.”

He also lauded Sanskrit, saying it has long been the medium for studying at least two major religions of the world and eight philosophical schools. “It is the language of the greatest works on human development, world peace and global prosperity.”

Mukherjee conferred the first Distinguished Indologist Award to German scholar Emeritus Heinrich Freiherr Von Stietencron for his significant contribution to Indology.

The three-day conference is being attended by 22 Indologists, including scholars from China, Russia, Sri Lanka and India.

– ians

Christian forum slams RSS for remarks on Church-Maoist nexus

November 24, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

RSSRaipur, November 18, 2015: Taking strong exception to senior Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) leader Indresh Kumar’s allegations linking Maoists and Christians , Chhattisgarh Christian Forum described it as a conspiracy to malign the minorities saying that in fact Church can be a vital bridge in solving the Naxal problem.

Addressing a press conference here, Chhattisgarh Christian Forum president Arun Pannalal and Rev Akhilesh Edgar said Indresh Kumar’s statement that Maoists never targeted Churches, priests and nuns was frivolous and in bad taste. ” Till date, the RSS has not been attacked by the naxalites. So do we presume that there is an understanding between the RSS and the naxalites ? Similarly Maoists have never attacked Hindu temples, mosques and other religious and many other institutions. Does this mean that there is some understanding between them?”, they asked.

Christian fourm alleged that it was not a secret that fringe elements associated with RSS had vandalized churches. In Bastar region the VHP is very active. Christian graveyards, churches, schools and social centres have been attacked.

They alleged that the whole exercise is in consonance with “one religion theory”. Questioning the RSS allegations of large scale conversions, they said as on independence the Christian population was 2.8%, where as now Christians are only 2.3%. Thus the Christian community’s population is declining. The allegations of religious conversions hold no water, as till date not a single accused has been sentenced or proven guilty.

Forum leader claimed that Church was engaged in the development even 100 years ago. A population of 2.8% was giving medical and educational services to a large population. The government of today has yet not been able to reach the distant forest tribal areas with its social, medical and educational services.

Pannalal said RSS allegations of Maoist Christian nexus could also be a ploy to prepare the ground to falsely implicate Christians under the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act as the cases registered Christians in the past under other laws could not stand judicial scrutiny. ” Christian community strongly condemns RSS leader’s statement”, they added.

– times of india

Sohrabuddin Shaikh fake encounter: Brother withdraws petition challenging Amit Shah’s discharge from the case

November 24, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Rubabuddin ShaikhMumbai, November 24, 2015: Rubabuddin Shaikh, the brother of Sohrabuddin Shaikh who was killed in a fake encounter by the Gujarat ATS, has withdrawn his petition challenging BJP president Amit Shah’s discharge from the Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter case on grounds of ill health.

On October 6, in a decision that had surprised his lawyers, the brother of Sohrabuddin had told the Bombay High Court that he wanted to withdraw his petition filed in September challenging Amit Shah’s discharge and cited a communication gap between him and his counsel.

The High Court had given him one month time to rethink over his decision and to ascertain whether the move was voluntary or not.

“On being questioned, the applicant [Rubabuddin] has stated that he is seeking to withdraw the applications voluntarily and he is not under pressure, threat or coercion from any person to withdraw the applications. It is necessary to ascertain whether the withdrawal is voluntary.” reads the then issued High Court order.

Rubabuddin was then quoted by The Hindu as saying that he was under tension and feels too helpless to pursue the matter.

“Mei mansik roop se bahut pareshan hu aur asamarth hun. Isliye vapas liya. Isse jyada mei kuch nahi bol sakta [I am mentally troubled and feeling helpless. That’s why I have decided to withdraw. I can’t say anything more],” he had told The Hindu.

On Monday, November 24, when Justice AV Nirgude asked Rubabuddin if he still wanted to withdraw the petition, he replied in the affirmative. The court accepted his statement and permitted withdrawal of the plea.

The encounter cases of Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram Prajapati were clubbed and transferred from an Ahmedabad court to the Mumbai court in 2012 following a Supreme Court order.

The Mumbai court gave the discharge order while hearing interim applications of 38 accused, including Shah.

On December 30, 2014, after BJP rose to power in centre, a CBI court in Mumbai had discharged Amit Shah in the alleged fake encounter case on the grounds that there was no evidence suggesting his role and the implication was totally politically motivated.

Importantly in January 2007, Rubabuddin had written to then Chief Justice of India alleging that Sohrabuddin was killed in a fake encounter by a team of Gujarat Anti Terror Squad (ATS) in 2005. The Apex Court then directed the state police to conduct a probe which led to implications of high profile politicians and 10 police officers who were subsequently arrested for the killings of Sheikh and Prajapati.

But most of the police officers came out on bail and were reinstated and promoted by the Gujarat government. This included IPS officer Abhay Chudasama, who was granted bail by the Bombay High Court in April 2014, and subsequently promoted to the rank of a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) this year.

According to the CBI, gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi were abducted by Gujarat’s ATS when they were on way from Hyderabad to Sangli in Maharashtra, and killed in an alleged fake encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005. Prajapati, a key witness to the alleged fake encounter, was killed by police at Chapri village, Banaskantha district of Gujarat, in December 2006.

– tcn

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