Christmas Should Be Celebrated On October 6th Not On December 25th

Christmas Should Be Celebrated On October 6th Not On December 25th

 

Throughout my years of life here in a country (U.S.) that at least used to say they were a Christian Country there has been the debate about not only what year but also on what day Jesus was born in Bethlehem. First on the year, Jesus I believe was born in either the year 4 or the year 3 BC. and he lived for 33 years so he would have died in either the year 29 or 30 AD. By the customs of the time a man had to be at least 30 years old to be allowed to speak in the Synagogues and then Jesus taught for 3 years before he was killed. But this letter to you today is about the date in which He was born.

 

Historians and Scholars alike have made the very obvious observation that there was no way that the correct date was December 25th yet this is a date that the early Catholic Church in Rome set for a date. They believed that He was born on the winter saultus yet there is no Biblical information to back this up. There are a couple of things I would like for you to consider about His birth date. Most all of the Scholarly papers I have read throughout the years have stated that they believe that Jesus would have been born somewhere between March and October. A lot of their reasoning is/was because of the weather patterns in Israel that there would have been no Shepards out at night watching over their sheep simply because the weather would have been way too cold for that.

 

Please consider now the two reasons I have come to the October 6th date. One, it was the time of year where people from all over the Nation of Israel returned to the place of their birth to pay their taxes to the Romans. Most of the people only had crops to pay their taxes with, either directly with the crops or with the money they got from selling their crops. This would have required a fall date after the crops had come in. During the spring, summer or winter would not have made any sense because the vast majority of the people would have had nothing to pay the taxes with. A fall date is the only time of year that is at all logical. Now for the date of October 6th. The reason that I say that this date makes the most sense is because in the Hebrew calendar they believe that they have traced the time back to the date that Adam was created by God. That date is Saturday October 6th in the year 3760 BC. They believe that this was the first Sabbath. For those of you who read my material on this subject matter you know that I believe that Adam was the first human of the Royal Bloodline but that there were millions of men and women before him for at least hundreds of thousands of human years, just not of the Royal Bloodline. If the Jewish Scholars are correct about the October 6th date then it would make logical sense that this may well have been the date that Jesus was born into this world in the flesh, into this Royal Bloodline. This date would coincide well with the bounty of the crops so that people would be able to pay their taxes with their crops or the money from them.

 

This article is just something that I would like you to consider being it is obvious that the Catholic Church is and was wrong about the late December date. I was not given this exact date by some kind of Divine intervention, it is only my belief and now you know why I believe that this October date is a logical one. Besides, look what mankind has done to the December 25th date, it is now not much more than a commercial Holiday that is all about seeing how much money and misery that can be garnered from the populous, not about the birth of The King.

Trump And Xi Jinping: The Two Most Dangerous People In The World?

TRUMP AND XI JINPING: THE TWO MOST DANGEROUS PEOPLE IN THE WORLD?

 

Going back to the U.S. Elections of November 2016 I felt that we the people of this country only had two real choices to be our President. I also looked at our choices and felt that the people, no matter what, we were going to have a very evil person sitting in the Oval Office. I felt then as I do now, we could have a very smart crooked person (Hillary) or we could have a total dumbass crooked person for our President. The people by several million votes voted for the dangerous smart person but the Electoral College gave the victory to the crooked dumbass/ignorant ass, Mr. Trump.

 

As you have probably noticed I did not mention Russia or Mr. Putin in my comments above, there is a reason. Mr. Putin is a whole nother story. Mr. Putin is smarter than the average IQ I believe but he is definitely not a genius but neither is Mr. Trump. Mr. Putin is not stupid but he is still very dangerous because he has a dark heart/Soul. He is a bully and quite the smartass, but he is not at all stupid, unlike Mr. Trump.

 

Mr. Trump has proven to the whole world that he is a total buffoon, as well as an ignorant ass and a stupid ass fraud. There is one group of people though that still backs him no matter how ignorant and moral-less he acts each day, uneducated southern white males. I know that it sounds bad, the reality that I am a southern white male, I am a college graduate but I do not consider myself to be smarter than most folks. When I was in college I worked my behind off but could only manage about a 2.7 GPA. I do believe that Mr. Trump and almost all of his West Wing family are literally nothing more than a Mafia family, just like his Daddy was. Mr. Trump, through his massive ignorance of the whole world situation/realities is very dangerous. Through his massive ignorance, stupidity, arrogance and ego is still very likely to get our Nation into more military conflicts.

 

Mr. Xi Jinping I consider to be the world’s most dangerous human being. The man is very smart, he plays the ‘long game’ and he is a devout Chairman Mao believer. China is the most dangerous Nation in the world and Mr. Xi Jinping knows how to ‘play’ everyone, every leader every nation, he knows their weak points and he does attack them, just like the Devil attacks each humans weak points. Did I just call Mr. Xi Jinping the Devil, no I didn’t. But just as with every person, our bodies, are like a house, either we live there alone or with another entity. I have no doubt at all that at best Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Xi Jinping are empty houses. The only ones who can ‘move into’ anyone’s house is a Spirit, either good or bad. None of these folks I have mentioned have the Holy Spirit within them. To say that any of them do is akin to calling Hitler a devout Catholic, just because his Mom was a Catholic. Anyone can say they are a Christian but if we don’t have a strong faith backed up with good works, then we/they are just lying to their own selves. I used the word ‘works’ for a reason, no one is saved by their works, nor is anyone saved by just faith, they go hand in hand one with the other. If a person’s actions show them to be evil then they are not possessed by G-d’s Spirit. Not everyone who does evil is possessed by an evil Spirit though but in can happen. One thing that cannot happen is that an evil Spirit cannot move into a body that the Spirit of G-d resides in.

Sri Lanka Attacks: Relatives Of Key Suspect Zahran Hashim Killed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Sri Lanka attacks: Relatives of key suspect Zahran Hashim killed

Sri Lankan army personnel stand guard at a checkpoint as they search people and their bags at a check point in Kattankudy near Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, 28 AprilImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Searches have been carried out in Kattankudy

The father and two brothers of the alleged organiser of the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, Zahran Hashim, were killed in a security forces operation on Friday, police say.

Hashim, who blew himself up at a hotel in Colombo, founded an Islamist group, the NTJ, which has now been banned.

Police have raided the group’s HQ in the eastern town of Kattankudy.

The Sri Lankan president has announced a ban on face coverings, aimed at Muslim women following the attacks.

The attacks targeted churches and hotels, killing at least 250 people.

Sunday church services were cancelled across the country as a precaution but worshippers in the capital gathered to pray outside St Anthony’s, which was badly damaged in the attacks.

How did Hashim’s relatives die?

Security forces raided a house in Sainthamaruthu, near Hashim’s hometown Kattankudy, on Friday.

Gunmen opened fire as troops moved in, police say, and three men set off explosives, killing themselves, six children and three women. Three other people died in gunfire.

The headquarters of the NTJ under police guardImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionPolice sealed off the NTJ’s headquarters on Sunday

A close family relative confirmed for BBC News that Hashim’s father and two brothers died in the raid.

Police sources who spoke to Reuters news agency named the three men as Mohamed Hashim, and his sons Zainee Hashim and Rilwan Hashim.

All three had been seen in a video circulating on social media calling for all-out war against all non-believers, Reuters adds.

In Kattankudy itself, police searched the headquarters of the NTJ (National Thawheed Jamath), which Zahran Hashim had led.

Presentational grey line

‘Safe house’ discovered by chance

By Anbarasan Ethirajan, BBC News, Sainthamaruthu

GV of house that was raided
Image caption The safe house was discovered after local people alerted police

When I entered the house where the Islamists and their families were killed on Friday evening, the smell of death was unbearable.

A police officer at the site also said Zahran Hashim’s mother was also believed to be among the victims.

Security forces have been conducting raids across the country but this safe house was discovered by chance, when the suspicious house owner and local people alerted the police.

Every day, police are making arrests, seizing weapons, explosives and jihadist material suggesting the radicalisation process, however small it may be, has been happening over a period of time. If the security agencies had missed this, then it is a colossal failure.

The ongoing raids and discovery of weapons and material are gradually building up tensions among the communities. A hotel owner said she was worried because she was a Catholic. Muslims say they are nervous to visit Sinhala-majority areas. Some foreign governments have warned that there is a possibility of further attacks and if those happen, fragile ethnic relations could be further strained.

Presentational grey line

Announcing the ban on face coverings, which will begin on Monday, President Maithripala Sirisena said he was taking the emergency measure on national security grounds.

The announcement made no specific mention of the niqab and burka – worn by Muslim women – but instead said people’s faces should be fully visible so they could be identified.

What happened on Easter Sunday?

Sri Lanka has been on high alert since a co-ordinated wave of bombings last Sunday, which also wounded more than 500 people.

The bombings targeted churches that were packed full for the Easter holiday, as well as hotels popular with tourists.

As well as St Anthony’s Shrine, bombers struck churches in Negombo and the eastern city of Batticaloa, and hotels in the capital, Colombo.

Most of those killed were Sri Lankan, but dozens of foreign citizens were also among the dead.

Media caption‘This is Sri Lanka’: Fighting back with peace

While the authorities have blamed the NTJ for the attacks, they say they must have had help from a larger network.

The Islamic State group, which carried out mass attacks on civilians in Paris and other locations in recent years, has said it was involved, but has not given details.

How are the victims being remembered?

Christians in Sri Lanka prayed at home while the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, held a televised Mass, attended by the president and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

He called the attacks an “insult to humanity” in the service, broadcast from a chapel in his residence.

Media caption Sri Lankans pray and light candles, one week after a string of bombings by Islamist militants

“Today during this Mass we are paying attention to last Sunday’s tragedy and we try to understand it,” he said.

“We pray that in this country there will be peace and co-existence and understanding each other without division.”

Scores of people gathered for the public service outside St Anthony’s, where Buddhist monks joined Catholic priests in a show of solidarity with the Christian community.

Crowds of people watched the heavily-guarded church from behind a barricade, with some singing hymns and passing rosary beads through their hands.

Many lit candles and placed them in a makeshift memorial for the victims.

The church’s bells tolled at 08:45 (03:15 GMT) – the exact moment a bomber detonated his device one week ago.

The hands of its damaged clock tower are still stuck at that time.

Citing ‘high, concrete’ terror threat, Israel tells citizens to leave Sri Lanka

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Citing ‘high, concrete’ terror threat, Israel tells citizens to leave Sri Lanka

Four days after Easter suicide bombings killed at least 359 people and wounded 500 more, Counter-Terrorism Bureau tells Israelis to come home, cancel planned trips

Security personnel stand guard in front of St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 23, 2019, two days after a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. (Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

Security personnel stand guard in front of St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo on April 23, 2019, two days after a series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. (Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

The Israel National Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau on Thursday issued a warning for travel to Sri Lanka, saying there was a “high and concrete” chance of a terror attack, four days after the Easter Sunday suicide bombing attacks that killed more than 350 people in and around the capital of Colombo.

The agency said Israeli travelers should leave the island as soon as possible, and those planning to visit were advised to cancel their trips.

The announcement means the country now bears the security agency’s second-highest warning. The decision to issue the warning was made after consultations with security officials and the Foreign Ministry.

On Thursday, Sri Lankan authorities banned drones and unmanned aircraft and continued to set off controlled detonations of suspicious items. Sri Lanka’s civil aviation authority said that it was taking the aircraft measure “in view of the existing security situation in the country.”

A priest conducts a mass burial for Easter Sunday bomb blast victims in Negombo, Sri Lanka on April 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Hobby drones have been used by attackers in the past to carry explosives. Iraqi forces found them difficult to shoot down while driving out the Islamic State group, whose members loaded drones with grenades or simple explosives to target government forces. And Yemen’s Houthi rebels has used drones, most recently to target a military parade in January, killing troops.

Sri Lankan police continued their search for explosives, detonating a suspicious item in a garbage dump in Pugoda, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of Colombo.

The attacks Easter Sunday mainly at churches and hotels killed at least 359 people and wounded 500 more, the government said Wednesday. Most were Sri Lankan but the Foreign Ministry has confirmed 36 foreigners died. The remains of 13 have been repatriated. Fourteen foreigners are unaccounted for, and 12 were still being treated for injuries in Colombo hospitals.

Sri Lankan security personnel walk next to dead bodies on the floor amid blast debris at St. Anthony’s Shrine following an explosion in the church in Colombo on April 21, 2019. (ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP)

A top Sri Lankan official has said that many of the suicide bombers were highly educated and came from well-off families.

Junior defense minister Ruwan Wijewardene said at least one had a law degree and others may have studied in the UK and Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said one of the bombers had been in the country on a student visa with a spouse and child before leaving in 2013.

A British security official also confirmed one bomber is believed to have studied in the UK between 2006 and 2007. The security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation, said British intelligence had not been watching Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed during his stay in the country. His name was first reported by Sky News.

A photo published on the Islamic State terror groups propaganda outlet, the Amaq agency, on April 23, 2019, showing what the group says is eight bombers who carried out the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka. (Amaq)

Sri Lankan government leaders have acknowledged that some intelligence units were aware of possible terror attacks against churches or other targets weeks before the bombings. The president asked for the resignations of the defense secretary and national police chief without saying who would replace them.

Sri Lankan authorities have blamed a local extremist group, National Towheed Jamaat, whose leader, alternately named Mohammed Zahran or Zahran Hashmi, became known to Muslim leaders three years ago for his incendiary online speeches. On Wednesday, junior defense minister Ruwan Wijewardene said the attackers had broken away from National Towheed Jamaat and another group, which he identified only as “JMI.”

Sri Lankan security personnel inspect the debris of a car after it explodes when police tried to defuse a bomb near St. Anthony’s Shrine as priests look on in Colombo on April 22, 2019, a day after the series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. (Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Authorities remain unsure of the group’s involvement, though authorities are investigating whether foreign militants advised, funded or guided the local bombers.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara has said 58 suspects have been detained since the bombings.

READ MORE:

Coordinated attacks in Sri Lanka kill more than 200 people

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

In pictures: Coordinated attacks in Sri Lanka kill more than 200 people

Updated 9:43 AM ET, Sun April 21, 2019

Relatives of a victim of a blast at St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade, react at the police mortuary in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday.

Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

A series of bomb blasts struck luxury hotels and churches across Sri Lanka early Sunday. More than 200 people were killed and 560 injured in the coordinated attacks, which have put the entire country on lockdown.

The first wave of bombings struck at the heart of the country’s minority Christian community during busy Easter services at churches in the cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa.

French Titans’ Pledges to Notre-Dame Pass €600 Million

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

French Titans’ Pledges to Notre-Dame Pass €600 Million

The Arnault and Pinault families were among those who said they would devote resources and skills to the restoration of the cathedral, a symbol of French identity.

Battling the flames rising from the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday.Credit Bertrand Guay/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Image
Battling the flames rising from the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday.CreditCreditBertrand Guay/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the aftermath of the fire at Notre-Dame, one of the great symbols of France, the luxury industry — another symbol of the country, thanks to names such as Dior, Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent — has pledged hundreds of millions of euros to the cathedral’s restoration.

The donations were followed on Tuesday by other pledges that soon surpassed 600 million euros, or about $675 million, and included beauty, energy, and finance companies.

On Monday, as Notre-Dame burned and flames lit the sky, the Pinault family — owners of Kering, the second-largest luxury group in France — was the first to publicly offer a significant contribution, pledging to donate €100 million to the rebuilding effort.

“The Notre-Dame tragedy strikes all French people, as well as all those with spiritual values,” said François-Henri Pinault, chairman of Artémis, the family holding company that controls Kering.

“Faced with this tragedy, everyone wishes to bring this jewel of our heritage back to life as soon as possible,” he added. “Today, my father and I have committed to donate €100 million from the Artémis fund to take part in the effort needed to fully rebuild Notre-Dame de Paris.”

The French businessman François-Henri Pinault and his wife, the actress Salma Hayek, in Los Angeles last year.CreditChris Delmas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Image
The French businessman François-Henri Pinault and his wife, the actress Salma Hayek, in Los Angeles last year.CreditChris Delmas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Shortly afterward, the Arnault family and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, led by Bernard Arnault, the richest man in France, announced that they would give €200 million.

“The LVMH Group puts at the disposal of the state and the relevant authorities all of its teams — including creative, architectural and financial specialists — to help with the long work of reconstruction and fund-raising, which is already in progress,” they said.

LVMH is the largest luxury group in the world. Its fashion holdings include Celine, Dior, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton. The group also owns drinks brands including Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon and Veuve Clicquot, as well as the landmark Parisian stores Le Bon Marché and La Samaritaine. The group reported revenue of €46.8 billion in 2018.

Mr. Arnault was an early supporter of Emanuel Macron’s presidential bid, and Brigitte Macron, the French first lady, wears Louis Vuitton for most of her high-profile public events. Mr. Arnault also masterminded the Fondation Louis Vuitton, the contemporary art museum in the Bois de Boulogne designed by Frank Gehry that has helped reshape the landscape of Paris and that will ultimately become a gift to the city.

Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of the French luxury group LVMH, and his wife, Hélène Mercier, in Paris in March.CreditFrancois Mori/Associated Press
Image

Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of the French luxury group LVMH, and his wife, Hélène Mercier, in Paris in March.CreditFrancois Mori/Associated Press

For its part, Kering owns luxury brands such as Balenciaga, Boucheron and Yves Saint Laurent. The Pinault family — also among the richest in France — owns the wine estate Château Latour. The group’s 2018 revenues were €13.67 billion. François Pinault, the patriarch of the family that controls Kering, is building a contemporary art museum in the former Bourse de Commerce in the center of Paris that will be designed by the architect Tadao Ando.

François-Henri Pinault, Mr. Pinault’s son, is married to the actress Salma Hayek. Kering has its headquarters in Paris, and Ms. Hayek posted a message of condolence and support on Instagram after the fire. “As many others I’m in deep shock and sadness to witness the beauty of Notre-Dame turn into smoke,” she wrote. “I love you Paris.”

The two fashion groups are deeply embedded and invested in the heritage of France as a global beacon of beauty and artistic creativity, a tradition that is also carved into the stones of Notre-Dame.

In recent years, the luxury industry across Europe has become actively involved in restoring historic monuments. The Italian leather goods group Tod’s is underwriting the restoration of the Colosseum in Rome for €25 million. Fendi, which is owned by LVMH, paid €2 million toward the restoration of the Trevi Fountain in the Italian capital (the company held a fashion show there when it was completed). Bulgari, a jewelry brand also under the LVMH umbrella, spent €1.5 million on the Spanish Steps in the city. And Salvatore Ferragamo, an Italian luxury goods company, has supported the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Fendi, which is owned by LVMH, held a fashion show in July 2016 at the Trevi Fountain in Rome after renovations the company had underwritten were completed.CreditVictor Boyko/Getty Images
Image

Fendi, which is owned by LVMH, held a fashion show in July 2016 at the Trevi Fountain in Rome after renovations the company had underwritten were completed.CreditVictor Boyko/Getty Images

The motives are both altruistic — supplying funds that local governments do not have in the interests of saving a joint inheritance — and self-interested — the companies clearly understand that the more closely they associate with masterpieces of history, the more they bask in their glow.

In addition, when it comes to Notre-Dame, donors will benefit from a hefty tax write-off. Individuals in France can get a 66 percent discount on charitable gifts, while companies can deduct 60 percent of their corporate sponsorship expenses — which would most likely include assistance to the cathedral — from their corporation tax, though the amount is capped at 0.5 percent of turnover.

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Paris, however, such distinctions may not matter. The gifts from the likes of the Arnaults and the Pinaults are a reflection of how personally, and how profoundly, the fire has reached into the identity of French citizens and their businesses.

Indeed, just after the announcement from LVMH, Patrick Pouyanné, the chief executive of the French energy company Total, said on Twitter that his firm would contribute an additional €100 million to the cause, and L’Oréal and the Bettencourt-Schueller Foundation, which is backed by the family that founded the cosmetics giant, pledged a total of €200 million. Offers of aid in the reconstruction effort also came from the bank Société Générale (€10 million) and the advertising firm JCDecaux (€20 million), while the tire maker Michelin also promised a large sum and the construction giant Vinci offered to provide workers and architects.

Their legacy will now be part of Notre-Dame’s future.

Liz Alderman contributed reporting.

Vanessa Friedman is The Times’s fashion director and chief fashion critic. She was previously the fashion editor of the Financial Times. @VVFriedman

‘Blaze looks terrible’, Omar Abdullah tweets as fire ravages Norte-Dame

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

‘Blaze looks terrible’, Omar Abdullah tweets as fire ravages Notre-Dame

The fire caused a spire to collapse and raised fears over the future of the nearly millenium old building and its precious artworks.

INDIA Updated: Apr 16, 2019 00:39 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Notre-Dame Cathedral,Paris,Fire
Firefighters douse flames and smoke billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday .(AFP)

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and the Congress party tweeted their sorrow over the fire that ravaged the Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on Monday.

Omar hoped that the fire could be put before it consumes the entire building.

Omar Abdullah

@OmarAbdullah

This blaze looks terrible. I hope they are able to put it out before it completely guts this historic building.

Breaking News Feed@pzf

BREAKING NEWS: Huge fire reported at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.

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The Congress party in its tweet said it hoped there were no casualties.

Congress

@INCIndia

Heart-breaking news of the fire at the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. We hope there are no casualties & the Holy Cathedral can be salvaged.

cristina casacuberta@ccasacub

#notredame

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Flames that began in the early evening burst through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which collapsed, quickly followed by the entire roof.

A huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area. Parisians watched on, many of them lost for words.

Firefighters tried to contain the blaze with water hoses and cleared the area around Notre-Dame, which sits on an island in the River Seine and marks the very centre of Paris

(With inputs from Reuters)

First Published: Apr 16, 2019 00:39 IST

Pope Francis Blasts U.S. Bishops About Sexual Abuse ‘Credibility Of Church Is At Stake’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Pope Francis talks tough to U.S. bishops, says credibility of church ‘is at stake’

Pope Francis tells U.S. bishops grappling with priest sex abuse scandal to stop “playing the victim or the scold.”
 / Updated 
By Corky Siemaszko

Pope Francis delivered a blunt message Thursday to his American bishops — stop “playing the victim or the scold” and do something about the “culture of abuse” that has resulted in a crisis of credibility for the U.S. Roman Catholic Church.

Francis’ letter, which was dated Tuesday, was delivered as the bishops were at a weeklong spiritual retreat at the Mundelein Seminary north of Chicago.

Image:
Pope Francis arrives in Piazza Armerina, Sicily on Sept. 15, 2018.Andrew Medichini / AP file

“These have been times of turbulence in the lives of all those victims who suffered in their flesh the abuse of power and conscience and sexual abuse on the part of ordained ministers, male and female religious and lay faithful,” Francis wrote in his eight-page letter. “The Church’s credibility has been seriously undercut and diminished by these sins and crimes, but even more by the efforts to deny or conceal them.”

Instead of “helping to resolve conflicts,” Francis wrote the actions of the church thus far have “enabled them to fester and cause even greater harm.”

“We know that the sins and crimes that were committed, and their repercussions on the ecclesial, social and cultural levels, have deeply affected the faithful,” the Pope wrote.

Restoring credibility, Francis added, will not be accomplished by “issuing stern decrees or by simply creating new committees or improving flow charts, as if we were in charge of a department of human resources.”

“Clearly, a living fabric has come undone, and we, like weavers, are called to repair it,” he wrote. “This requires not only a new approach to management, but also a change in our mind-set.”

Francis told the bishops there needs to be a change in “our way of praying, our handling of power and money, our exercise of authority and our way of relating to one another and to the world around us.”

It is time, Francis declared, “to abandon a modus operandi of disparaging, discrediting, playing the victim or the scold in our relationships.”

“Our catholicity is at stake,” he wrote.

The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship or Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity,” said Francis’ letter is a “big deal.”

“First, it is directed not simply at the whole church, but the US church specifically,” Martin said in an email to NBC News. “Second, Francis does not hesitate to force the US bishops to look at the harsh reality of the ‘sins and crimes’ of abuse, their ‘loss of credibility’ and the cover-ups that have happened in the past. Finally, he is blunt about the many divisions among the US bishops and even the ‘slander’ that prevents them from working together more quickly on this.”

Why did Francis drop this letter now on the bishops?

“The timing is not only so that they can pray about these topics on their retreat,” Martin wrote.

The Pope is schedule to meet next month at the Vatican with the bishops from around the world and he wanted to get this message out now.

“The U.S. is a bellwether for many issues in the church, and so you can expect that nearly every bishop who will be attending that summit will read this letter,” Martin wrote.

In a brief statement, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the bishops “carry with us these days the pain and hope of all who may feel let down by the Church.”

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the Archdiocese of New York, called Francis’ message a “prophetic call.”

“I know that Cardinal Dolan, and, I am sure, every bishop in the country, would agree with Pope Francis that the abuse of minors, and especially how that abuse was handled in the past, has undermined and damaged the Church’s credibility, and that only through openness to the Holy Spirit and a spirit of humility and unity can that credibility be regained,” Zwilling said.

But Dolan has, for many years, been fighting attempts by New York lawmakers to pass a Child Victims Act that would do away with statutes of limitations that have prevented some alleged abuse victims from suing the church — and create a one-year “look-back window” that would allow alleged victims who weren’t able to sue in the past to file claims.

Are there any funny jokes in the Bible?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF  THE ‘ALETEIA’ NEWS SITE)

 

Are there any funny jokes in the Bible?

ABRAHAM AND SARAH

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The Bible is surprisingly full of humorous episodes that can make one chuckle or even laugh out loud.

The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom, including this profound insight on the value of humor, “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). While many see the Bible as a dry book of theological stories, it contains a good deal of humor in it, though not always what we would expect living in the modern world.

One of the first “jokes” God pulled was in the book of Genesis. When visiting Abraham and Sarah, God said to the elderly couple (well passed child-bearing years), “I will bless [Sarah], and moreover I will give you a son by her; I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her” (Genesis 17:16).

Abraham couldn’t keep himself contained, “Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’” (Genesis 17:17)

Sarah had a similar reaction to the news, “Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?’” (Genesis 18:12) God caught her laughing, but “Sarah denied, saying, ‘I did not laugh’; for she was afraid. He said, ‘No, but you did laugh’” (Genesis 18:15). You can’t pull a fast one on God!

God had the “last laugh” as the name of their son became Isaac, for Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; every one who hears will laugh over me” (Genesis 21:6). In Hebrew, Isaac means “he will laugh.”

Another humorous episode happened in the book of Numbers, when the People of Israel were complaining in the desert. They called out like a petulant child, “O that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic, but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at” (Numbers 11:4-6).

God responded by saying, the “Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall not eat one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils” (Numbers 11:19-20). He gave them quail that covered the earth, three feet deep! You wanted meat? Here you go!

In the book of Kings, Elijah is having a “Battle Royale” with some pagan priests and taunts them by saying, “Call louder, for he is a god; he may be busy doing his business, or may be on a journey. Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” (1 Kings 18:27). Some translations make “doing his business” more explicit by translating it as, “relieving himself.” This is in accord with the original Hebrew and so Elijah is taunting them by saying their god might be busy going to the bathroom!

These and other events in the Old and New Testaments reveal a lighter side to Christianity, showing that even God has a sense of humor and that “A cheerful heart is a good medicine.”

Finland: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Ancient North European Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

Finland

Introduction Finland was a province and then a grand duchy under Sweden from the 12th to the 19th centuries, and an autonomous grand duchy of Russia after 1809. It won its complete independence in 1917. During World War II, it was able to successfully defend its freedom and resist invasions by the Soviet Union – albeit with some loss of territory. In the subsequent half century, the Finns made a remarkable transformation from a farm/forest economy to a diversified modern industrial economy; per capita income is now on par with Western Europe. A member of the European Union since 1995, Finland was the only Nordic state to join the euro system at its initiation in January 1999.
History Prehistory

Prehistoric red ochre painted rock art of moose, human figures and boats in Astuvansalmi in Ristiina, the Southern Savonia region from ca. 3800–2200 BCE

According to archaeological evidence, the area now composing Finland was first settled around 8500 BCE during the Stone Age as the ice shield of the last ice age receded. The earliest people were hunter-gatherers, living primarily off what the tundra and sea could offer. Pottery is known from around 5300 BCE (see Comb Ceramic Culture).The arrival of the Battle Axe culture (or Cord-Ceramic Culture) in southern coastal Finland around 3200 BCE may have coincided with the start of agriculture. However, the earliest certain records of agriculture are from the late third millennium BCE. Even with the introduction of agriculture, hunting and fishing continued to be important parts of the subsistence economy, especially in the northern and eastern parts of the country.

The Bronze Age (1500–500 BCE) and Iron Age (500 BCE–1200 CE) were characterised by extensive contacts with other cultures in the Fennoscandian and Baltic regions. There is no consensus on when Finno-Ugric languages and Indo-European languages were first spoken in the area of contemporary Finland.

Swedish era (until 1809)

The sea fortress of Suomenlinna was founded by a discusion of the Swedish Diet in 1747 as a defence works and naval base, to be built on the islands off Helsinki.

Sweden established its official rule of Finland in the 13th century by the crown. Swedish became a dominant language of the nobility, administration and education; Finnish was chiefly a language for the peasantry, clergy and local courts in predominantly Finnish-speaking countries. The Bishop of Turku was usually the most important person in Finland during the Catholic era.

The Middle Ages ended with the Reformation when the Finns gradually converted to Lutheranism. In the 16th century, Mikael Agricola published the first written works in Finnish. The first university in Finland, The Royal Academy of Turku, was established in 1640. In the 18th century, wars between Sweden and Russia led to occupation of Finland twice by Russian forces, known to the Finns as the Greater Wrath (1714–1721) and the Lesser Wrath (1742–1743). By this time “Finland” was the predominant term for the whole area from the Gulf of Bothnia to the Russian border.

Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire (1809–1917)

Main article: Grand Duchy of Finland

On March 29, 1809, after being conquered by the armies of Alexander I of Russia in the Finnish War, Finland became an autonomous Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire until the end of 1917. During the Russian era, the Finnish language started to gain recognition, first probably to sever the cultural and emotional ties with Sweden and thereafter, from the 1860s onwards, as a result of a strong nationalism, known as the Fennoman movement. Milestones included the publication of what would become Finland’s national epic, the Kalevala, in 1835; and the Finnish language achieving equal legal status with Swedish in 1892.

Despite the Finnish famine of 1866-1868 – the last major famine in Europe – in which about 15 percent of the population died, political and economic development was rapid from the 1860s onwards. The disaster of famine led Russian Empire to ease regulation and investment rose in following decades.[7] The GDP per capita was still a half of United States and a third of Great Britain.

In 1906, universal suffrage was adopted in the Grand Duchy of Finland, the second country in the world where this happened. However, the relationship between the Grand Duchy and the Russian Empire soured when the Russian government made moves to restrict Finnish autonomy. For example, the universal suffrage was, in practice, virtually meaningless, since the emperor did not approve any of the laws adopted by the Finnish parliament. Desire for independence gained ground, first among radical nationalists and socialists.

Civil War (1917–1918) and early independence

On December 6, 1917, shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Finland declared its independence, which was approved by Bolshevist Russia.

Contrary to Lenin’s and Finnish socialists’ expectations, the majority of Finns voted non-socialists parties in 1917 general elections. Soon in 1918, the violent wing of social democratic party started a coup, which led a brief but bitter Civil War that affected domestic politics for many decades afterwards. The Civil War was fought between “the Whites”, who were supported by Imperial Germany, and “the Reds”, supported by Bolshevist Russia. Eventually, the Whites overcame the Reds. The deep social and political enmity between the Reds and Whites remained. The civil war and activist expeditions (see Heimosodat) to the Soviet Union strained eastern relations.

After a brief flirtation with monarchy, Finland became a presidential republic, with Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg elected as its first president in 1919. The Finnish–Russian border was determined by the Treaty of Tartu in 1920, largely following the historic border but granting Pechenga (Finnish: Petsamo) and its Barents Sea harbour to Finland. Finnish democracy didn’t see any more Soviet coup attempts and survived the anti-Communist Lapua Movement. The relationship between Finland and the Soviet Union was tense. Finnish ethnicity was targeted by genocide in the Soviet Union, though little of that was known in Finland. Finland disliked all forms of socialism, leading Germany’s national socialism to deteriorate relations with Germany. Military was trained in France instead and relations to Western Europe and Sweden were strengthened.

In 1917 the population was 3 million. Land reform was enacted after the civil war, increasing the percantage of capital-owning population.[7] About 70% of workers were occupied in agriculture and 10% in industry.[8] The largest export markets were United Kingdom and Germany. Great Depression in the early ’30s was relatively light in Finland.

Finland during World War II

During World War II, Finland fought the Soviet Union twice: in the Winter War of 1939–40 after the Soviet Union had attacked Finland and in the Continuation War of 1941–44, following Operation Barbarossa in which Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Following German losses on the Eastern Front and the subsequent Soviet advance, Finland was forced to make peace with the Soviet Union. This was followed by the Lapland War of 1944–45, when Finland forced the Germans out of northern Finland.

The treaties signed in 1947 and 1948 with the Soviet Union included Finnish obligations, restraints, and reparations as well as further Finnish territorial concessions (cf. the Moscow Peace Treaty of 1940). Finland ceded most of Finnish Karelia, Salla, and Pechenga, which amounted to ten percent of its land area and twenty percent of its industrial capacity. Some 400,000 evacuees, mainly women and children, fled these areas. Establishing trade with the Western powers, such as the United Kingdom, and the reparations to the Soviet Union caused Finland to transform itself from a primarily agrarian economy to an industrialised one. Even after the reparations had been paid off, Finland continued to trade with the Soviet Union in the framework of bilateral trade.

Cold war

In 1950 a half of the workers was occupied in agriculture and a third lived in urban towns.[9] The new jobs in manufacturing, services and trade quickly attracted people towns. The average number of births per woman declined from baby boom peak 3.5 in 1947 to 1.5 in 1973.[9] When baby boomers entered the workforce, the economy didn’t generate jobs fast enough and hundreds of thousands emigrated to the more industrialized Sweden, migration peaking in 1969 and 1970.[9] This mass migration is largely the reason why 4.7 percent of Sweden’s population speak Finnish today.

Officially claiming to be neutral, Finland lay in the grey zone between the Western countries and the Soviet Union. The “YYA Treaty” (Finno-Soviet Pact of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance) gave the Soviet Union some leverage in Finnish domestic politics. This was extensively exploited by President Urho Kekkonen against his opponents. He maintained an effective monopoly on Soviet relations, which gave him a status of “only choice for president”. There was also a tendency of self-censorship regarding Finno-Soviet relations. This phenomenon was given the name “Finlandisation” by the German press (fi. suomettuminen). When Finlandisation was not enough, direct censorship was used, including in 1700 books and many movies, and asylym-seeking defectors were returned to be killed by the Soviet Union. Soviets created and financed anti-Western and pro-Soviet youth movements peaking in 70s, when communist-led Teen Union harassed teachers suspected of bourgeois ideas, and their former members have still a lot power. Soviet intelligence services sometimes used their contacts to install personnel in the administration, mass media, academia, political parties and trade unions. Politicization was widespread and public sector workers were often dependent on having the correct political party membership.

However, Finland maintained a democratic government and a market economy unlike most other countries bordering the Soviet Union. Property rights were strong. While nationalization committees were set up in France and UK, Finland avoided nationalizations. After failed experiments with protectionism, Finland eased restrictions and made a free trade agreement with the European Community in 1973, making its markets more competitive. Local education market expanded and an increasing number of Finns also went to have education in the United States or Western Europe, bringing back advanced skills. There was quite common, but pragmatic-minded, credit and investment cooperation by state and corporations, though it was considered with suspicion. Support for capitalism was widespread.[7] Savings rate hovered among the world’s highest, at around 8% until 80s. In the beginning of the 1970s, Finland’s GDP per capita reached the level of Japan and the UK. Finland’s development shared many aspects with Asian countries such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan.[7]

Having been targeted by Soviet intelligence and youth propaganda, liberals lost support and socialist-majority generations seized power in 70s and 80s. Corporatism and taxes were increased. The power of social democrats and the almost overnight-grown trade union SAK became hegemonic in politics.[10] In 1991 Finland fell into a Great Depression-magnitude depression caused by combination economic overheating, depressed Western, Soviet and local markets, and disappearance of Soviet barter system. Stock market and housing prices declined by 50%.[11] The growth in the 1980s was based on debt, and when the defaults began rolling in, GDP declined by 15% and unemployment increased from a virtual full employment to one fifth of the workforce. The crisis was amplified by trade unions’ initial opposition to any reforms. Politicians struggled to cut spending and the public debt doubled to around 60% of GDP.[11] After devaluations the depression bottomed out in 1993.

Liberalization and integration with the West

Like other Nordic countries, Finland has liberalized the economy since late 80s. Financial and product market regulation was removed. The market is now one of the most free in Europe. State enterprises were privatized and taxes were cut. However, unlike in Denmark, trade unions blocked job market reforms, causing persistent unemployment and a two-tier job market. Trade unions also blocked social security reform proposals towards basic income or negative income tax. Finland joined the European Union in 1995. The central bank was given an inflation-targeting mandate until Finland joined eurozone.[11] The growth rate has since been one of the highest of OECD countries and Finland has topped many indicators of national performance.

In addition to fast integration with the European Union, safety against Russian leverage has been increased by building fully NATO-compatible military. 1000 troops (a high per-capita amount) are simultaneously committed in NATO operations. Finland has also opposed energy projects that increase dependency on Moscow.[12] At the same time, Finland remains one of the last non-members in Europe and there seems to be not enough support for full membership unless Sweden joins first.[13]

The population is aging with the birth rate at 10.42 births/1,000 population or fertility rate at 1.8.[9] With median age at 41.6 years Finland is one of the oldest countries [14] and a half of voters is estimated to be over 50 years old. Like most European countries, without further reforms or much higher immigration Finland is expected to struggle with demographics, even though macroeconomic projections are healthier than in most other developed countries.

Geography Location: Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Sweden and Russia
Geographic coordinates: 64 00 N, 26 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 338,145 sq km
land: 304,473 sq km
water: 33,672 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Montana
Land boundaries: total: 2,681 km
border countries: Norway 727 km, Sweden 614 km, Russia 1,340 km
Coastline: 1,250 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm (in the Gulf of Finland – 3 nm)
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm; extends to continental shelf boundary with Sweden
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: cold temperate; potentially subarctic but comparatively mild because of moderating influence of the North Atlantic Current, Baltic Sea, and more than 60,000 lakes
Terrain: mostly low, flat to rolling plains interspersed with lakes and low hills
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m
highest point: Haltiatunturi 1,328 m
Natural resources: timber, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, chromite, nickel, gold, silver, limestone
Land use: arable land: 6.54%
permanent crops: 0.02%
other: 93.44% (2005)
Irrigated land: 640 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 110 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 2.33 cu km/yr (14%/84%/3%)
per capita: 444 cu m/yr (1999)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: air pollution from manufacturing and power plants contributing to acid rain; water pollution from industrial wastes, agricultural chemicals; habitat loss threatens wildlife populations
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: long boundary with Russia; Helsinki is northernmost national capital on European continent; population concentrated on small southwestern coastal plain
Politics Politics of Finland takes place in a framework of a semi-presidential representative democratic republic and of a multi-party system. The President of Finland is the head of state, leads the foreign policy, and is the Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Forces. The Prime Minister of Finland is the head of government; executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the Parliament of Finland, and the government has limited rights to amend or extend legislation. The president has the power of veto over parliamentary decisions although it can be overrun by the parliament.

Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The Judiciary consists of two systems, regular courts and administrative courts, headed by the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, respectively. Administrative courts process cases where official decisions are contested. There is no “Constitutional Court”, i.e. the constitutionality of a law cannot be contested.

Though Finland has a primarily parliamentary system, the president has some notable powers. The foreign policy is led by the president, “in co-operation” with the cabinet, and the same applies to matters concerning national security. The main executive power lies in the cabinet headed by the prime minister. Before the constitutional rewrite, which was completed in 2000, the president enjoyed more power.

Finns enjoy individual and political freedoms, and suffrage is universal at 18; Finland was the first country to give full eligibility to women. The country’s population is ethnically homogeneous with no sizable immigrant population. Few tensions exist between the Finnish-speaking majority and the Swedish-speaking minority, although in certain circles there is an unending debate about the status of the Swedish language. According to Transparency International, Finland has had the lowest level of corruption in all the countries studied in their survey for the last several years.

The labor agreements also pose significant political questions. Bargaining is highly centralized and often the government participates to coordinate fiscal policy. Finland has universal validity of collective labour agreements and often, but not always, the trade unions, employers and the government reach a Comprehensive Income Policy Agreement. Significant trade unions are SAK, STTK, AKAVA and EK.

People Population: 5,238,460 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 16.9% (male 449,548/female 433,253)
15-64 years: 66.7% (male 1,768,996/female 1,727,143)
65 years and over: 16.4% (male 344,798/female 514,722) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 41.6 years
male: 40 years
female: 43.1 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.127% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 10.42 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 9.93 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.038 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.024 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female
total population: 0.958 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 3.52 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 3.84 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.66 years
male: 75.15 years
female: 82.31 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.73 children born/woman
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