Sunday, September 26, 2010
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
This is such a sad story below. I am a former atheist (but I never felt a need to be threaten by other people’s belief in their gods and the God); however, I can understand part of this man’s (Christopher Hitchens) position reflecting back on those days. Continue to pray for him.
Atheist Hitchens skipping prayer day in his honor
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Stricken with cancer and fragile from chemotherapy, author and outspoken atheist Christopher Hitchens sits in an armchair before an audience and waits for the only question that can come first at such a time.
"How's your health?" asks Larry Taunton, a friend who heads an Alabama-based group dedicated to defending Christianity.
"Well, I'm dying, since you asked, but so are you. I'm only doing it more rapidly," replies Hitchens, his grin faint and his voice weak and raspy. Only wisps of his dark hair remain; clothes hang on his frame.
The writer best known to believers for his 2007 book "God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" has esophageal cancer, the same disease that killed his father. He is fighting it, but the 62-year-old Hitchens is realistic: At the very best, he says, his life will be shortened.
For some of his critics, it might be satisfying to see a man who has made a career of skewering organized religion switch sides near the end of his life and pray silently for help fighting a ravaging disease.
He has an opportunity: Monday has been informally proclaimed "Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day."
Christopher Hitchens won't be bowing his head, even on a day set aside just for him.
"I shall not be participating," he said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Hitchens was diagnosed with cancer in June, forcing him to cancel a tour to promote his new book, "Hitch-22: A Memoir." He took time off from work as chemo treatments began but recently published the first of what is intended to be a series of essays in Vanity Fair magazine about his diagnosis.
On Sept. 7, he visited Birmingham for his first public appearance since the diagnosis, a debate against David Berlinski, author of "The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions." They argued over the implications of a purely secular society before a crowd of about 1,200 in an event sponsored by Fixed Point Foundation, the Christian apologetics group headed by Taunton.
Taunton is devoutly Christian yet has developed a fast friendship with Hitchens, who appeared at a similar debate sponsored by the organization last year. Taunton is among those praying for Hitchens, and Hitchens takes no offense.
The way the English-born Hitchens sees it, the people praying for him break down into three basic groups: those who seem genuinely glad he's suffering and dying from cancer; those who want him to become a believer in their religious faith; and those who are asking God to heal him.
Hitchens has no use for that first group. "'To hell with you' is the response to the ones who pray for me to go to hell," Hitchens told AP.
He's ruling out the idea of a deathbed change of heart: "'Thanks but no thanks' is the reply to those who want me to convert and recognize a divinity or deity."
It's that third group — people who are asking God for Hitchens' healing — that causes Hitchens to choose his words even more carefully than normal. Are those prayers OK? Are they helpful?
"I say it's fine by me, I think of it as a nice gesture. And it may well make them feel better, which is a good thing in itself," says Hitchens.
But prayers for his healing don't make him feel better.
"Well, not any more than very large numbers of very kind, thoughtful letters from nonbelievers, some of whom know me, some of whom don't, asking me to know that they are on my side," Hitchens said. "That cheers me up, yes."
Hitchens doesn't know exactly how "Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day" began, other than that it's one of those things that appears on the Internet and goes viral. He declined an invitation to appear at a rabbi's prayer service in Washington that day, and he doesn't see any point in the exercise.
"I'm perfectly sure that there is nothing to be gained from it in point of my health, but perhaps I shouldn't even say that. If it would do something for my morale possibly it would do something for my health. We all know that morale is an element in recovery," he said. "But incantations, I don't think, have any effect on the material world."
The National Cancer Institute says esophageal cancer affects about 16,500 Americans each year, almost 80 percent of them men. Smoking and drinking alcohol regularly increase the risk of the disease; Hitchens does both.
The cancer that began in Hitchens' esophagus already has spread into the lymph nodes in his neck, and he fears it has reached a lung. He's visibly tired after a book signing and luncheon appearance and says he needs to rest, even though resting seems like such a waste of time when so little time may be left.
Already into his fourth round of chemotherapy, which he is receiving every three weeks, Hitchens says it's difficult to gauge his eventual legacy. He hopes to be remembered with affection by some; with passion by others; and hopefully as a good father by his three children.
As for his work, Hitchens says he would be happy to be recalled simply as one of those "who are attempting to uphold reason and science against superstition."
"I'd be proud to have my contribution at that," Hitchens said. "This is a very long, long, long story. It's humanity's oldest argument. If I played a small part in keeping it going that would be enough for me."
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
IHOP spars with IHOP. Is a new name in the future? Pancakes versus heresy--who knows? IHOP has connections to the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) movement. Time for breakfast….
IHOP (the pancake-maker) sues IHOP (the prayer center) over trademark
By DONALD BRADLEY, The Kansas City Star
Pancakes and prayers — have we reached a point where even those two can’t get along?
Frankly, yes. So praise the Lord and pass the syrup, the International House of Pancakes and International House of Prayer are fixing to throw down.
IHOP (pancake), based in Glendale, Calif., has sued IHOP (prayer), based in Kansas City, for trademark dilution and infringement. The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, essentially said there was room for only one IHOP and that would be the restaurant chain that has been using the initials since 1973.
The religious group drawing thousands from around the world to south Kansas City to prepare for “end times” was started just 10 years ago.
Other than an acronym, the two have nearly zilch in common.
The IHOP (prayer) on Red Bridge Road operates 24/7/365, sending a never-ending digital signal of prayers to Jerusalem, where it streams live on God TV for broadcast all over the world.
The other largely operates 24/7/365, too, but it is known for its pancakes, including a signature breakfast specialty called “Rooty Tooty Fresh ’N Fruity.”
But the chain, which has 1,476 restaurants across the country, claims it has six registered trademarks with the IHOP acronym and that the religious group’s use of the same four-letter logo causes, according to the lawsuit, “great and irreparable injury and confuses the public.”
The lawsuit further accuses the church mission of adopting the name International House of Prayer knowing it would be abbreviated IHOP — the intent being to misappropriate fame and notoriety of the food chain.
On Tuesday, IHOP (pancake) spokesman Patrick Lenow said the suit was filed only after the church mission refused repeated requests to stop using the trademark.
“We are compelled to protect the 350 small-business owners who own IHOP franchises and the IHOP good name that’s been around for 52 years,” Lenow said.
Thus the question, why sue now? The church mission started calling itself IHOP a decade ago.
“They’ve expanded — and now some of the branches are serving food,” Lenow said.
Among the seven defendants, four are in California where the suit was filed, including the Pasadena International House of Prayer. Although the suit also seeks attorney fees and costs of litigation, it does not ask for monetary damages.
Calls to IHOP (prayer) chief operating officer Mark Schumacher were not returned.
Gary Cooper, a former Houston attorney who until recently served as the mission’s chief financial officer, said the lawsuit lacked legal basis.
“I don’t think it will go anywhere,” Cooper, who serves on an IHOP board, said Tuesday by telephone from Oklahoma.
But Gary Hecker, a well-known intellectual rights attorney in Los Angeles and founder of the Hecker Law Group, said the court would probably side with the restaurant chain.
“Because of that extremely famous name, IHOP may well have the right to protect itself even well outside the scope of selling pancakes,” Hecker said Tuesday.
One defense might be that the two sides are so different that no confusion could exist.
Even so, Hecker said, “I would take the pancakes.”
IHOP (prayer) was started by a man named Mike Bickle, who by his own admission grew up in a Waldo bar and claims to have traveled to heaven twice.
The ministry is now planning to build a $150 million world headquarters — including IHOP University and a 5,000-seat conference center — along U.S. 71 in Grandview.
Again, IHOP (pancakes) got there first. One of the restaurants is across the highway.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
By NINIEK KARMINI (AP)
JAKARTA, Indonesia — A group of Christian worshippers said they would defy police and the threat of attack to hold Sunday prayers outside their now-boarded-up church near Indonesia's capital.
Religious tensions that had been growing for months in the industrial city of Bekasi came to a head last week when unidentified assailants stabbed a member of the Batak Christian Church in the stomach and hit its preacher on the head with a wooden plank. Neither injury was life-threatening.
Police arrested 10 suspects including the local leader of the hard-line Islamic Defender's Front, which has for months warned the Christians against holding prayers in the staunchly Muslim neighborhood.
The Islamic Defender's Front pressured local authorities early this year to shutter the Batak church, arguing the permit was granted without the required approval of residents.
But dozens of church members have gathered in the vacant lot in front of the church each Sunday for months.
Police said Saturday that to prevent more violence they would deploy 600 officers to block services on Sunday.
Bekasi Police Chief Col. Imam Sugianto warned them against returning Sunday, saying "if they don't listen, we will take them ourselves to a temporary place for worship offered by the government."
Travis Siagian, a member of the congregation, called it unfair to block their services.
"We're going back — not because we want to provoke anyone. We just want to enjoy the same rights to worship as any other religion in this country," Siagian said.
Indonesia, a secular country of 237 million people, has more Muslims than any other in the world. Though it has a long history of religious tolerance, a small extremist fringe has become more vocal — and violent — in recent years.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Pastor keeps changing mind on Koran burning
A Christian church leader in the United States has abandoned his weekend Koran-burning plans to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Pastor Terry Jones from the Dove World Outreach Centre in Florida had planned to mark the occasion by burning as many as 200 copies of the Koran.
But he received a strong rebuke from president Barack Obama, who urged him to give up on what he called a "stunt".
Mr Obama even warned it could help recruit suicide bombers to blow themselves up on American soil.
Pastor Jones has now sparked new controversy by claiming that he dropped his plan in exchange for a deal to move a proposed Islamic centre away from New York's Ground Zero.
The developers say there is no such deal.
Pastor Jones said: "The American people do not want the mosque there. And of course Muslims do not want us to burn the Koran.
"The imam has agreed to move the mosque. We have agreed to cancel our event on Saturday. And on Saturday I will be flying up there to meet with him."
But the imam leading the project for the Islamic cultural centre in New York, Feisal Abdul Rauf, quickly denied any such agreement.
However the imam from the Islamic Society of Central Florida, Muhammad Musri, says he has been negotiating a meeting with Pastor Jones and Imam Rauf.
"[I] got the commitment to fly up to New York and meet with [Imam Rauf] in the company of Pastor Jones to discuss and come to a decision on relocating the mosque in New York," he said.
Imam Rauf quickly denied any such meeting.
In a statement, he said: "I am glad Pastor Jones has decided not to burn any Korans. However I have not spoken with Pastor Jones or Imam Musri.""I am surprised by their announcement. We are not going to toy with our religion or any other, nor are we here to barter."
It was enough to draw Pastor Jones back out from his church to address the media for a second time.
"I was told he cannot move it tomorrow. I said that is fine, but it cannot be in 10 years. These are the exact words that I said," he said.
"The man said that is fine. I said now he has agreed to move the mosque away from the Ground Zero area? Yes he has, that is what I was told."
So does Pastor Jones doubt what he has been told?
"I don't feel tricked. I was lied to of course. That is why at this time I am not prepared to believe that. I am not prepared to make that accusation," he said.
"I want to just wait and see. And right now I am believing his word. I find it very hard to believe that he would lie to me."
Pastor Jones says no matter what happens the Koran burning is definitely off.*Continue to read the entire article here.