Friday, March 28, 2008

Christianity without Christ

That triumphal barnburner of an Easter hymn, Jesus Christ Has Risen Today – Hallelujah, this morning will rock the walls of Toronto's West Hill United Church as it will in most Christian churches across the country.

But at West Hill on the faith's holiest day, it will be done with a huge difference. The words “Jesus Christ” will be excised from what the congregation sings and replaced with “Glorious hope.”

Thus, it will be hope that is declared to be resurrected – an expression of renewal of optimism and the human spirit – but not Jesus, contrary to Christianity's central tenet about the return to life on Easter morning of the crucified divine son of God.

Generally speaking, no divine anybody makes an appearance in West Hill's Sunday service liturgy.

There is no authoritative Big-Godism, as Rev. Gretta Vosper, West Hill's minister for the past 10 years, puts it. No petitionary prayers (“Dear God, step into the world and do good things about global warming and the poor”). No miracles-performing magic Jesus given birth by a virgin and coming back to life. No references to salvation, Christianity's teaching of the final victory over death through belief in Jesus's death as an atonement for sin and the omnipotent love of God. For that matter, no omnipotent God, or god.

Ms. Vosper has written a book, published this week – With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important than What We Believe – in which she argues that the Christian church, in the form in which it exists today, has outlived its viability and either it sheds its no-longer credible myths, doctrines and dogmas, or it's toast.

She is considered one of the bright, if unconventional, minds within the United Church, Canada's largest Protestant Christian denomination. She holds a master of divinity degree from Queen's University and was ordained in 1992. She founded and chairs the Toronto-based Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity.

Full story here.

Ms Vosper should stop deceiving herself and her followers and just call themselves atheists or anything they like. Anything but Christians.

They do not believe in Jesus Christ or God. So what is the point of calling themselves Christians? Progressive or otherwise?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Shopping for a mattress

Last Saturday, we went to Sleep Train so that I could check out the mattresses there. My goodness, mattresses are expensive!

My waveless water bed has outlived its usefulness. One tube burst it's seam and after fixing it once before it burst again. That's it, time to get a new mattress!

I tried a few mattresses and stayed away from the plush top ones. I prefer my mattress comfortable but slightly firm. I finally decided on a latex mattress - synthetic was all they had. It reminded me a lot of the latex mattress I had at my parent's home.

The kids left the store with a stuffed animal each. That's Ba Bear with the pink bunny rabbit that Denice got from the store.

Since we got to the store after 2.30 p.m. they were unable to deliver it that day. Today, there was no delivery due to the Easter holiday. So my new mattress will only be delivered tomorrow. The old one is already outside, and Sleep Train will dispose of that old mattress for me.

As I will be getting a new mattress, I thought a new quilt would go well with it! wink This batik quilt was made about two years ago, but I never did finish the binding on it. I trimmed the sides, and need to get to work with the binding.

Duncan loves to sit on my quilt every time I lay it out on the floor. He even did Snow Angel moves on the wrong side of the quilt. The white backing reminded him of snow. lol

I can't wait for my new mattress to arrive. Meanwhile, I am sleeping on a twin bed, and Doug is sleeping in the guest bedroom. mrgreen

African Violets

I love African Violets but I have not had much success with them. I don't know how many pots I have killed and the two surviving ones look miserable. They have not flowered in the last few years. I continue to keep them on my kitchen window sill because they are still alive!

Do they look pitiful or what?! You think they look like that because I never fertilize them? Could be, eh. Haha.

A few weeks ago, I saw several pots of African Violets at the local supermarket. I wanted to get more than one pot, but resisted, and brought one pot home instead. So far they are still alive! I was afraid that the moment I brought it into the house it will die on me!

This is a pretty color. There were several colors to choose from, and after picking up and putting down a few, I finally decided on this one. I think I should start fertilizing it every couple of weeks or so, so they will bloom constantly. If it doesn't die on me before it has a chance to re-bloom, that is!

Any tips on keeping African Violets healthy, anyone?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Resurrection? Prove it to me

"Raised from the dead? Sure. Right. And I have a bridge I'd like to sell you."

That's how Thomas might have responded if he had lived in our day. "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."1 He'd seen dead people before. And Jesus was dead. He sounds like sophisticated rationalists of the Twenty-first Century. "It isn't plausible," they would contend. "It didn't happen."

But what if it did happen?

Thomas was convinced when Jesus appeared to him, reached out his hands to Thomas, and said, "Put your finger here."

Thomas dropped to his knees. "My Lord and my God!"2

It was self-hypnosis, you counter. The disciples wanted to believe that their Lord was not dead, so they just invented it out of whole cloth.

Really? Let's look at some of the evidence.

  1. Jesus' body was missing. If the Jews could have found it, they could have stilled the preaching of Jesus' resurrection that filled Jerusalem. But they could not.
  2. The body wasn't stolen. The Romans had no motive. The Jews had no motive. Ah-ha, you say, the disciples stole it. There is the matter of the Roman guards, and the disciples' initial disbelief when the women brought them the news early that Easter morning. This brings me to my third point.
  3. If the disciples had stolen the body, you wouldn't expect them to risk their lives. People don't die for what they know is not true. But the disciples put their lives on the line, and nearly all were eventually martyred for their faith. They certainly believed it.
  4. The church mushroomed size in Jerusalem, the very place he was crucified. Followers of Jesus in the city of Jerusalem grew from a few dozen to thousands upon thousands soon after Jesus' resurrection. They believed it was true.
  5. Contemporary documents refer to the event. Thallus the Samaritan, Suetonius, Tacitus, Pliny contain references to Jesus. Jewish historian Josephus writes about Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. They knew something had happened.

Jesus' resurrection from the dead is actually more plausible than any other explanation. That's why we Christians make such a big deal about Easter. That's why we celebrate.

Jesus' resurrection means that death is not the end. That though my body may lie mouldering in the ground, Jesus, whom the Father raised from the dead, gives me eternal life. Ultimately, we Christians believe, our bodies, too, will be raised from the dead.

And since Jesus is not dead, people can encounter him today. You can know him through a personal relationship. I could point to lots of people who can testify what Jesus has done in their lives to bring them from the brink of disaster to peace and meaning and joy. He changes people for good.

If you're not sure can't really say you've met this risen Jesus, this Easter Sunday why don't you slip into church to seek him. And perhaps in the midst of our celebration, you'll find him for yourself.

He's alive, you know. That's what Easter is all about!

By Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Soldier's View of the Tomb

Cassius stood at rigid attention in front of the commanding officer of Jerusalem's military cohort. "Centurion," the officer barked, "explain yourself! One of your squads was assigned to guard a tomb, a dead man. What could be so hard about that? Now I'm hearing rumors that the body is missing? Tell me this is all a mistake!"

"Sir, may I be frank, one old soldier to another?" asked the Centurion. He and the Tribune went back a long way, though the Tribune was of the equestrian class, and he a mere commoner.

"Please, Cassius," he said somewhat more gently, and motioned for the Centurion to take a seat.

"I must beg your indulgence, sir," Cassius began. "The story actually begins weeks ago."

"Take your time," the Tribune said, relaxing somewhat.

"Ever since this Jesus began preaching around Jerusalem, we thought he might be some kind of revolutionary bent on stirring up the populace with his talk of the Kingdom of God. But I went and listened to him, sir. He was no threat. Thousands would sit in rapt attention as he would talk about his Father, and loving your neighbor, forgiveness from past sins, and beginning a new life. It was fascinating, sir. Made you feel like he cared about you personally, he did."

The Tribune was resting his chin on his hand. "Go on, soldier."

"The next I saw him, we had been ordered to stand guard outside the Governor's official residence. The crowd was getting ugly. Pontius Pilate was sitting up there on the judgment seat and Jesus stood before him. Someone had roughed him up a bit, sir.

"What did you expect, Centurion?"

"Finally," Cassius continued, "Pilate motioned for silence. 'I find no crime in this man,' he called out. Then he tried to set Jesus free. He asked them to choose between Barabbas--a known murderer and rebel--and Jesus."

"And now that criminal Barabbas is walking free again."

"Jews from the ruling Sanhedrin were shouting, 'Crucify him! Crucify him!' The rabble took up the cry. It was touch and go for a minute there, sir. Then Pilate called for a basin, and began to wash his prissy little hands ...."

"Centurion, I'll allow no disrespect," the Tribune said sharply.

"Yes sir, but you know Jesus was innocent, pure and simple. He had just offended some powerful priests. But when Pilate saw how the wind was blowing he went along. I thought Rome was about law and justice, not expediency."

"Ruling is sometimes dirty business, Centurion," interjected the Tribune.

"So is soldiering, sir. On your orders one of my squad was picked to scourge the man."

"Oh, they enjoyed it well enough," said the Tribune. "That tall soldier ... Publius, wasn't it? He flogged like a madman, as I recall, with the metal tips of the scourge biting into his back until the skin lay in tatters and blood ran free."

"Few times in my career have I been sickened by blood," commented Cassius, "but to see an innocent man treated with such cruelty...."

"I don't recall you stopping them from dressing him in a purple robe with a reed for a scepter and a crown of thorns. Oh, they were having fun, all right."

"I've crucified hundreds in my time," Cassius replied, "but this man was different. He didn't curse. He didn't whimper. He was half-dead already from the beating Publius gave him, and he fell on the way to Golgotha."


"He was just too weak to carry the cross, so we conscripted a strong Cyrenean to carry it. Then we crucified Jesus."

"All men die the same."

"Not like he did," replied Cassius. "We spiked him to the cross-bar and hoisted it onto the upright, but I'll never forget his prayer: 'Father forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing.' Sir, I was responsible for killing him, and he forgave me."

"Haven't you been a soldier too long to be troubled by a guilty conscience, Cassius?"

"Then the thief crucified next to him asked to be remembered when Jesus came into his kingdom."

"His kingdom!" the Tribune sneered.

"But listen to his answer: 'Today you will be with me in paradise.' Amazing! About noon, Tribune, the sky grew dark. Everyone saw it, and felt the cold chill when he cried, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' He sounded like the loneliest man in the world, hanging in the darkness. He spoke scarcely a word until three in the afternoon when he shouted, almost triumphantly, 'It is finished!' And, if you listened closely, you could hear him whisper, 'Into your hands I commit my spirit.'

"At that very moment the ground began to tremble and roll," said Cassius. "Knocked me to the ground for a moment. And then the darkness began to lift. I tell you, Tribune, that was no mere man we crucified, he was the Son of God."

"A few freak coincidences and you're willing to declare him divine? He's just as dead as anyone."

"No, Tribune, he's not."

"He's not?"

"The chief priests and Pharisees insisted that Pilate guard the tomb so Jesus' disciples wouldn't steal the body."

"I know. I ordered it."

"We posted three men around the clock, relieved every eight hours as regulations call for. I sealed the tomb before they began. It was secure."

"So, what's this rumor that the body is gone?"

"It is gone, sir."

"I'll have your hide, Centurion!" the Tribune shouted, rising to his feet.

Cassius stood, too, but went on. "About seven o'clock Sunday morning, sir, the three soldiers on duty came running into the barracks like they'd seen a ghost. 'Centurion! Centurion!' they shouted. 'He's alive!' I got them calmed down, and made them tell me every detail.

"Their shift had begun about midnight," he said. They had been wide awake all night--telling stories about their girlfriends back home most of the time, I understand. Then, just before dawn, they said the garden tomb lit up as if it were high noon, and an angel with garments like lightning came and rolled the stone away from the tomb. They just sat there trembling. Then one of them got up-- Publius, I think they said--and looked in the tomb. The body was gone, and the graveclothes were lying on the limestone shelf wrapped round and round, but no body in them."

"You expect me to believe that?" the Tribune responded disdainfully.

"I questioned them closely. Each looked. Each saw the same thing. The body was gone."

"They must have fallen asleep, and told a story to cover themselves."

"They were battle-hardened veterans, sir, not some green troops. I know those men. Besides, sir, you'd think the sound of people trying to roll a huge stone would awaken sleeping soldiers. No, they were telling the truth, all right."

"What do you expect me to tell people, Centurion? That he rose from the dead?"

"I don't know what you're going to tell them, Tribune, but that's what happened. He's alive. I tell you, he's alive!"

"We'll tell the soldiers to say they fell asleep and his disciples stole the body," suggested the Tribune.

"What soldier is willing to say he fell asleep?" asked Cassius with a thin smile on his face.

"We'll pay them to say it," said the Tribune. "The chief priests owe us. They'll come up with a goodly sum to bury this story.... I'll take care of it from here on out, Centurion. You didn't see anything. You don't know anything. Got it?"

"But I do know, and I did see, Tribune. I can't change what happened. Jesus is out there alive. More than alive."

"Forget this ever happened, Cassius."

"Forget it if you can, sir. But with all respect, Jesus is alive, and that changes everything."

Source: Joyful Heart

Monday, March 17, 2008

1 Puteri

Woo hoo! After more than 3 months my custom plates are here! I received a letter in the mail from the DMV on Friday, made an appointment online to pick them up, and this morning my new plates are on my car!

I had to affix the registration stickers in the car before I screwed the new plates on. I brought a screw driver with me because I had to return the old plates to the DMV.

I don't know what happened to two other screws for the plates! There were only two to hold each plate! I think I need to buy a better frame for both the front and back plates. The above picture was taken right after I'd screwed on the plate - at the DMV car park. mrgreen

My car with its new registration on my drive way. The only thing though, I wished it was a fancier car! Haha.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spring Blooms

In case you missed the pictures I took and posted in my Iban language blog of the blooming trees around here, here they are for your viewing pleasure!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sherif Girgis: The Audacity of Hope

This morning, on The Laura Ingraham Show, I heard a very articulate Princeton University student talk about the open letter he had written to Senator Obama.

Today was the first time I had heard of Sherif Girgis. I do not know how I could have missed this bright young man because I am, afterall, a subcriber of National Review.

This following is the letter Sherif Girgis wrote to Senator Obama, and reproduced from NRO.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The Audacity of Hope
A second-generational query.

By Sherif Girgis

Dear Senator Obama:

As an immigrant from Kenya, your father found new hope in America’s noble principles and vast opportunities. The same promise brought my parents here from Egypt when I was still too young to thank them. Now you have inspired my generation with your vision of a country united around the same ideals of liberty and justice, “filled with hope and possibility for all Americans.”

But do you mean it?

As a legislator, you have opposed every effort to protect unborn human life. Shockingly, you even opposed a bill to protect the lives of babies who, having survived an attempted abortion, are born alive. Despite your party’s broad support for legal abortion and its public funding, most Democrats (including Senator Clinton) did not oppose the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. You, however, opposed it. Your vision of America seems to eliminate “hope and possibility” for a whole class of Americans: the youngest and most vulnerable. You would deny them the most basic protection of justice, the most elementary equality of opportunity: the right to be born.

As a prerequisite for any other right, the right to life is the great civil-rights issue of our time. It is what slavery and segregation were to generations past. Our response to this issue is the measure of our fidelity to a defining American principle: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life.”

You have asked me to vote for you. In turn, may I ask you three simple questions? They are straightforward questions of fact about abortion. They are at the heart of the debate. In fairness, I believe that you owe the people you would lead a good-faith answer to each:

1. The heart whose beating is stilled in every abortion — is it a human heart?

2. The tiny limbs torn by the abortionist’s scalpel — are they human limbs?

3. The blood that flows from the fetus’s veins — is it human blood?

If the stopped heart is a human heart, if the torn limbs are human limbs, if the spilled blood is human blood, can there be any denying that what is killed in an abortion is a human being? In your vision for America, the license to kill that human being is a right. You have worked to protect that “right” at every turn. But can there be a right to deny some human beings life or the equal protection of the law?

Of course, some do deny that every human being has a right to life. They say that size or degree of development or dependence can make a difference. But the same was once said of color. Some say that abortion is a “necessary evil.” But the same was once said of slavery. Some say that prohibiting abortion would only harm women by driving it underground. But to assume so is truly to play the politics of fear. A compassionate society would never accept these false alternatives. A compassionate society would protect both mother and child, coming to the aid of women in need rather than calling violence against their children the answer to their problems.

Can we become a society that does not sacrifice some people to help others? Or is that hope too audacious? You have said that abortion is necessary to protect women’s equality. But surely we can do better. Surely we can build an America where the equality of some is not purchased with the blood of others. Or would that mean too much change from politics as usual?

Can we provide every member of the human family equal protection under the law? Your record as a legislator gives a resounding answer: No, we can’t. That is the answer the Confederacy gave the Union, the answer segregationists gave young children, the answer a complacent bus driver once gave a defiant Rosa Parks. But a different answer brought your father from Kenya so many years ago; a different answer brought my family from Egypt some years later. Now is your chance, Senator Obama, to make good on the spontaneous slogan of your campaign, to adopt the more American and more humane answer to the question of whether we can secure liberty and justice for all: Yes, we can.

— Sherif Girgis of Dover, Del., is a senior philosophy major at Princeton University and a 2008 Rhodes Scholar.

A grandma in court

Lawyers should never ask a Mississippi grandma a question if they aren't prepared for the answer.

In a trial, a Southern small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked, 'Mrs. Jones, do you know me?'

She responded, 'Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you'll never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.'

The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, 'Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?'

She again replied, 'Why yes, I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a
youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him.'

The defense attorney nearly died.

The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, 'If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I'll send you both to the electric chair.'

Monday, March 03, 2008

Love and Sex with Robots


No, you did not read that title wrong! mrgreen

This morning I was listening to the Laura Ingraham show and she had David Levy, the author of Love and Sex with Robots as her guest. It was a fascinating interview and I don't doubt that some people will prefer robots to humans for love and sex.

No, not the normal healthy people who can develop relationships with other humans, but for those who are awkward and can't form relationships with other humans for one reason or another.

I just saw the interview that Stephen Colbert did with David Levy. Now that was one funny interview because Colbert just had to interject his wisecracks into the interview! You can watch the video of that interview here.

I can see Japan as the leader in using robots as companions because Japan is one country that has a serious declining population problem. There are just not enough young people to look after their aging population.

Riz Khan also interviewed David Levy on his Al Jazeera show. It was a good interview but the focus was less on the topic of the book and more on the use of robots in general.

One of the questions that a viewer of the show asked was, "I am a Muslim. Will I be allowed to have four robots?" lol

A more entertaining and thought provoking interview can be found on New Scientist Technology Blog.

Can you see yourself having sex with a robot? mrgreen

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Baby Shower

A few weekends ago, I was invited to a baby shower. The shower was held at Kathy's place. Kathy is the mother of the mother to be. I think that was the first baby shower, I'd ever been invited to.

It was a very well done shower. The weather co-operated that day, and the tables and chairs moved from inside the house to the back yard.

The guests were served a Mexican lunch of taco salad and tropical fruit smoothie. Nice! I was quite hungry and forgot to take pictures of the food and the table setting!

The cake. The theme of the shower was jungle animals.

This baby quilt was the inspiration for the theme.

The fire place was done up with baby pictures of Christina, the mother to be, and her sisters and some baby clothes.

This baby will be Kathy's first grandchild and as such she just cannot wait for the arrival of the baby! She has even done up a nursery in her house!!

My contribution to the nursery was the blue gingham valance and the yellow gingham bumper pads on the crib. I sewed them for Kathy.

Christina and the cake. Her baby is due on April 1st. She and her husband chose not to know the sex of the baby. They want to be surprised. Good for them!

Because they do not know the sex of the baby, the baby stuff that we bought for them were blues, yellows, and greens.

There were a lot of gifts! In fact, everything she had listed on the baby registry was taken up. So those who were late, bought other baby stuff not listed in the registry. I think she received too many receiving blankets!

There were also some games and prizes to be won from the games. I did not win anything. Just wasn't my lucky day, I guess!

Every one went home with a little baby shower favor. It was a little packet of 3 animal shaped cookies.

All in all, a very nice baby shower.

Goose Eggs Galore

It's goose egg laying season! mrgreen This year will be the third year for the mother goose and the second year for the kids. For laying eggs, that is.

Last year we had more eggs than we could consume, and we gave away most of them. We are not going to let the eggs hatch, you know why! Inbreeding!

Just to show you the size of the goose eggs compared to the chicken eggs.

Want to know exactly how big they are? Doug suggested I take a picture of the eggs next to a measuring tape! lol

We've given away some of the eggs to our kids' teachers, and also to Doug's colleagues.

Goose eggs are rich - the egg yolk is thick and dark orange. Not everyone likes them. I made banana bread recently and instead of using two chicken eggs, I used one goose egg. Yummy!

Too bad you guys do not live around here. Otherwise, you'll get to enjoy some of our goose eggs too!