Musings of a Recovering Lutheran: May 2012
O LORD, God of my salvation,
         I have cried out day and night before You.
Let my prayer come before You;
         Incline Your ear to my cry. 

Psalm 88:1-2 (NKJV)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Update on Asia Bibi



Gabriela Knaul, the United Nations' Special Rapporteur, says Pakistani judges are being pressured to convict persons accused of blasphemy.

Key quote:

Lawyers who do decide to defend people accused of blasphemy often face intimidation and threats to their lives.

Minorities Minister and a committed Christian, Shahbaz Bhatti, was killed by gunmen over his support for reform of the blasphemy laws.

His death came just months after the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was shot dead by his own bodyguard after he expressed support for the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010.

The online petition calling for mercy for Asia Bibi can still be found here.

For those who do not know who she is, here is the story about Asia Bibi's unjust imprisonment and death sentence for "blasphemy" against the Prophet Muhammad.

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Reading list

The Wonder of Heaven, by Ron Rhodes.

The Dragon has landed

The unmanned Dragon spacecraft landed in the Pacific Ocean this morning. In doing so, it became the first commercial vehicle to fly to the International Space Station and return to Earth.

Today's verse

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

II Corinthians 3:18 (KJV)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dragon to return to Earth Tomorrow

The unmanned Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to splash down in the Pacific Ocean tomorrow morning.

Key quote:

[T]oday, Dragon is the only spacecraft capable of returning a significant amount of cargo from the space station. The other cargo vehicles serving the space station - from Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency - can carry cargo up but all are destroyed after leaving the station.

Today's verse

The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Psalm 12:6 (KJV)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Movie night

Rio Bravo (1959).

Today's verse

Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.

Psalm 40:4 (KJV)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Archaeologists discover evidence of Bethlehem before Jesus' time

The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced the earliest archaeological evidence of the city of Bethlehem.

Key quote:

Archaeologists have discovered a bulla – or piece of clay used to seal documents and other objects – that is only about half of an inch across and has the word "Bethlehem" written on it in ancient Hebrew.

"This is the first time the name Bethlehem appears outside the Bible, in an inscription from the First Temple period, which proves that Bethlehem was indeed a city in the Kingdom of Judah, and possibly also in earlier periods," said Eli Shukron, director of the excavation, in a statement.

Growing enrollment at Liberty University

According to the US Department of Education, Liberty University is seventh in the nation in terms of total enrollment.

Key quote:

Liberty’s accelerating growth is largely fueled by its booming online education program, which has more than doubled since 2009. In April, Liberty University Online hit 75,000 students enrolled. That number climbed to 78,000 this month.

Today's verse

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Today's verse

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Acts 2:1-21 (KJV)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Today's verse

Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Psalm 30:4-5 (LKV)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Update on Asia Bibi



Assistant US Secretary of State Mike Posner highlights the case of Asia Bibi.

The online petition calling for mercy for Asia Bibi can still be found here.

For those who do not know who she is, here is the story about Asia Bibi's unjust imprisonment and death sentence for "blasphemy" against the Prophet Muhammad.

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

The Dragon has docked

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft has successfully docked with the International Space Station.

Blog about Brett Kimberlin day

Today is Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day. Brett Kimberlin was convicted of a series of bombings in Speedway, Indiana in the late 1970s. Here is a summary from one of the court proceedings against him:
On February 28, 1979, a federal grand jury indicted defendant on thirty-four counts stemming from a series of bombings in Speedway, Indiana. Counts 1 through 16 of the indictment charged that defendant illegally possessed and manufactured firearms in connection with the bombings; Counts 17 through 22 charged that defendant maliciously caused damage by means of explosives; Counts 23 and 24 charged that defendant, a convicted felon, possessed explosives; and, Count 25 charged that defendant illegally transported ammunition in interstate commerce. Counts 26 through 30 of the indictment charged that defendant unlawfully possessed an official insignia of the Department of Defense and a Presidential seal, and Counts 31 through 34 charged that defendant falsely impersonated a Department of Defense official. The case proceeded to trial on all thirty-four counts, but the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on Counts 1 through 25. The jury did vote to acquit defendant on Count 30, however, and voted to convict defendant on Counts 26 through 29 and Counts 31 through 34. After declaring a mistrial on Counts 1 through 24, the district court sentenced defendant to consecutive three-year sentences on Counts 31 through 34 and to concurrent six-month sentences on Counts 26 through 29.

Prior to a second trial on Counts 1 through 24, the district court granted defendant's motion to sever Counts 23 and 24 from the remaining counts. These counts were then the basis of a trial upon which the defendant was convicted. The district court entered a judgment of conviction on the two counts, which this court affirmed. United States v. Kimberlin, 692 F.2d 760 (7th Cir.1982).

The district court then conducted a third trial, on Counts 1 through 22. At this trial, the jury voted to convict defendant on each count. The district court then entered a judgment of conviction and imposed sentence on the counts. Defendant's appeal from that judgment is presently pending in this court. United States v. Kimberlin, No. 82-1025.

The appeal before this court in the present case concerns Counts 26 through 29 and Counts 31 through 34. As we have noted, the district court imposed consecutive three-year sentences on the latter four counts and concurrent six-months terms on the former. Defendant appealed his convictions and sentences on these counts to this court. We affirmed the convictions and sentences in an unpublished order. United States v. Kimberlin, 673 F.2d 1335 (7th Cir.1981). Defendant then sought Rule 35 and section 2255 relief in the district court, with no success. The district court likewise denied a subsequent motion to reconsider its previous denial of post-trial relief, and we affirmed the district court's decision. United States v. Kimberlin, 675 F.2d 866 (7th Cir.1982). Defendant subsequently filed a second motion for Rule 35 relief, raising numerous double jeopardy challenges to the format of the indictment as well as claims that his consecutive three-year sentences constituted cruel and unusual punishment and claims that the judge who initially denied post-trial relief was unconstitutionally biased. The district court denied defendant's second Rule 35 motion on January 23, 1985.

Source: http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F2/781/781.F2d.1247.85-1190.html

Google Cached: http://scholar.googleusercontent.com/scholar?q=cache:3OPg0zH-oU4J:scholar.google.com/&hl=en&as_sdt=2,44

While in jail, Kimberlin claimed that he had sold marijuana to then Vice-Presidential candidate Dan Quayle. Since his release, Kimberlin has become a leftwing blogger and is trying to use the legal system to harass people who write truthfully about his terrorist past.

Here are some more details about Kimberlin's past as the Speedway Bomber:

A Speedway High School gym bag had been left by itself, as if forgotten by a player. One of the parents, Carl DeLong, 39, walked over to retrieve it when the bomb went off. His right leg was nearly blown off and his left leg and right hand were severely damaged. Doctors tried to save his leg but had to amputate.
DeLong later committed suicide:
While Kimberlin was in prison, Carl DeLong committed suicide. Had his only injury been the loss of his right leg he might have adapted and moved on. But his left leg had been severely damaged too and he still carried shrapnel in his body, which kept him in constant pain as it slowly worked its way out. After 11 operations he hit a plateau physically and knew he'd never get any better than that. On Feb. 23, 1983, he closed his garage door and sat in his van with the engine running. Later that year, DeLong's wife, Sandra (who had also been injured in the bombing), won a $1.6 million judgment against Kimberlin in civil court.

Kimberlin is a truly dangerous person who is well-funded today by several leftist groups. It is important to remind people of his terrorist past, and his current incarnation as a leftwing blogger who loves to harass his critics. If you have a blog or a Twitter account, please consider writing about Kimberlin today.

Today's verse

Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.

Psalm 83:1 (KJV)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dragon getting closer to docking

The Dragon has been given the "green light" and is closing in on the International Space Station (ISS). If all goes well, the ISS will try to capture the Dragon on Friday.

Today's verse

And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.

Mark 6:34-44 (KJV)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

50% of Americans call themselves pro-life

The number of Americans who consider themselves pro-life is one point shy of a record high, according to a new Gallup survey. The split is 50% pro-life, and 41% pro-choice (a record low).

Please continue to pray to end the genocide of abortion.

Today's verse

Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

Romans 15:2 (KJV)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Dragon flies!!

SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 booster this morning. The Dragon spacecraft it was carrying should dock with the International Space Station sometime on May 25. Here is a timeline from the SpaceX website:
  • May 22/Launch Day: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launches a Dragon spacecraft into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
  • May 23: Dragon orbits Earth as it travels toward the International Space Station.
  • May 24: Dragon’s sensors and flight systems are subjected to a series of complicated tests to determine if the vehicle is ready to berth with the space station; these tests include maneuvers and systems checks in which the vehicle comes within 1.5 miles of the station.
  • May 25: NASA decides if Dragon is allowed to attempt berthing with the station. If so, Dragon approaches. It is captured by station’s robotic arm and attached to the station, a feat that requires extreme precision.
  • May 25 - 31: Astronauts open Dragon’s hatch, unload supplies and fill Dragon with return cargo.
  • May 31: After approximately two weeks, Dragon is detached from the station and returns to Earth, landing in the Pacific, hundreds of miles west of Southern California.
UPDATE: Here is the video from the NASA website.

Today's verse

Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.

Psalm 35:1 (LKV)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Will the Dragon fly?

SpaceX is set to try again to launch its planned unmanned mission at 3:44 AM EDT tomorrow morning (May 22). If all goes well, the Dragon spacecraft will eventually dock with the International Space Station (ISS).

Movie night

Fort Apache (1948).

Today's verse

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (KJV)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Yet - it is necessary

Christian evangelist Luis Palau believes praises Liberty University for keeping its Christian values.

Key quote:

"In the early years, I used to wonder whether a Christian education as such was necessary," Palau admits. "But now that the U.S. has changed so radically, it's absolutely necessary, and I've become convinced that its is essential."

Without such an education, the evangelist says young minds and communities get infiltrated with a secular worldview. So he finds it refreshing to see a university so clear about its mission.

Christians are not officially barred from teaching in the public education sector in the United States, although there are a growing number of cases where individual Christians and Christian student organizations are being discriminated against. In post-secondary education (my occupation) it is increasingly risky to express skepticism about a number of issues such as the homosexual lifestyle, evolution, and radical Islam. Granted: it is difficult to retaliate against Christian professors who are tenured, but the rest of us we do not always have the luxury of academic freedom. Given the growing hostility of American society (or at least a noisy but powerful segment of it) to the Christian worldview, it is not hard at all to foresee a time when many public universities and colleges and K-12 schools will impose a religious litmus test for employment - even it the test is not officially affirmed.

That is why I believe Christian schools and colleges are so important. Christian education can be an important force in protecting religious freedom and academic integrity of all schools, since it would be extremely difficult (though not impossible) to shut Christian schools down completely.

As to whether Christians should avoid public education altogether, I find that a tough call. Christians who attend public schools and colleges should be aware of the fact that their religious freedoms and rights will not always be respected by school officials. But not all school administrators subscribe to the anti-Christian prejudice that seem to be gaining in popularity, and it is only fair to point this out. Many - likely most - teachers and administrators still take their responsibilities seriously.

Today's verse

O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. For the Lord most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.

Psalm 47:1-2 (KJV)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Failure to launch

Professor Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has been closely following the efforts of private companies to provide space launch capabilities. Yesterday, SpaceX came within a few seconds of a successful launch of its Dragon unmanned spacecraft that was to have rendezvoused with the International Space Station. The launch was to have taken place at NASA's Cape Canaveral launch facilities.

SpaceX is one of several private companies that are seeking to fill the gap left by the downsizing of NASA. Another is Quicklaunch, which is working on the idea of using hydrogen gas launchers to fire unmanned payloads into Earth orbit.

Today's verse

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

Psalm 8:3-4 (KJV)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Reading list

Children of God, by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Today's verse

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

Proverbs 12:15 (KJV)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Marvel at God's creation

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Luke 12:27 (KJV)

(I took these photos a few weeks ago on my home from work.)

Today's verse

Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.

Psalm 86:3 (KJV)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Update on Asia Bibi



The New American has a good summary on the growing persecution of Christians worldwide. Asia Bibi's case is mentioned.

The online petition calling for mercy for Asia Bibi can still be found here.

For those who do not know who she is, here is the story about Asia Bibi's unjust imprisonment and death sentence for "blasphemy" against the Prophet Muhammad.

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Today's verse

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 (KJV)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Today's verse

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Romans 3:10-12 (KJV)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Today's verse

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Psalm 139:14 (KJV)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cutting class

The title of this post is more than a bit crass, but I could not resist. How would you like it is you were a teacher, and some of your male students were missing class ... because of circumcision? That's what is happening for teachers in the Monduli area, as some of their male students from the Maasai tribe undergo a traditional rite.

Key quote from the article:

Circumcision in the Maasai world goes beyond the usual male-cut; the nearly three-month long passage involves series of informal education including military training, hunting and endurance as well as survival skills.The whole thing is later topped by the actual male cut or circumcision, performed by elders using sharp knives in early hours of the morning, after which the youths will stay in the camp for over a week as the wounds heal, then come out as "Morans."

What is alarming is the cutting is almost always done with unclean knives.

(The article in the link above has an interview with Mr. Mollel, a former colleague of mine.)

Today's verse

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31:10-31 (KJV)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Reading list

Relativity, by Russell Stannard.

No-hitter

Texas A&M pitcher Ross Stripling threw a no-hitter today.

Today's verse

O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.

Psalm 95:1-6 (KJV)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Today's verse

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Perhaps they will need to produce photo identification as well

Unborn children must be registered when their parents visit the White House. Once again, real life is funnier than the Onion!

The president is pro-abortion, so perhaps the Administration feels the unborn might represent a security threat. Who know what those infants might be plotting while lurking in the womb?

Today's verse

And [Jesus] entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.

Mark 3:1-6 (KJV)

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Today's verse

O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

Psalm 8:1 (KJV)

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The deadly danger of ... a T-shirt?

William Swinimer will now be allowed to wear his Jesus T-shirt. In some parts the Western world, that is increasingly a major victory for religious freedom.

Key quote:

The T-shirt, which says Life is Wasted Without Jesus, is not the issue, said Nancy Pynch-Worthylake, superintendent of the South Shore regional school board. The issue is how to express one’s beliefs without offending others. “For us, it never really was about the one shirt,” Pynch-Worthylake said Friday.
Contrast that school board's near-hysterical reaction to a T-shirt with the name of Jesus on it to the bland acceptance of using school facilities to conduct Muslim prayers.

This is why I have a hard time taking the separation-of-church-and-state fundamentalists seriously. It is too easy to find examples where they ignore the use of schools for non-Christian activity (Muslim prayers), or actively promote religious beliefs (global warming cultism, evolution).

Today's verse

I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

Psalm 32:5 (KJV)

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Today's verse

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:8-9 (KJV)

Friday, May 04, 2012

Form VI results

The National Examinations Council of Tanzania (NECTA) has released the results of this year's Form Six national examinations.

Reading list

H.M.S. Surprise, by Patrick O'Brian.

Today's verse

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Update on Asia Bibi



With Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani due to arrive in a week for an official visit of the UK, Foreign Secretary William Hague released the 2011 Human Rights and Democracy.

Key quote:

On the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death on blasphemy charges, the report said that there remains “considerable concerns regarding the integrity of the case against her, the fairness of her trial, and her safety and treatment in prison.”

I have mixed feeling about this report. On the one hand, it is good that Asia Bibi has not been forgotten, and her treatment in prison is of concern to the British government. But the part in the report about "the integrity of the case against her, the fairness of her trial" is deeply disturbing. Is the British government conceding that being tried for "blasphemy" is now an acceptable legal procedure, providing certain safeguards are met? And if so, what possible safeguards could any civilized nation propose to make such trials "fair"?

Meanwhile, the online petition calling for mercy for Asia Bibi can still be found here.

For those who do not know who she is, here is the story about Asia Bibi's unjust imprisonment and death sentence for "blasphemy" against the Prophet Muhammad.

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Education partnership

Harvard and MIT today announced a new partnership called edX. Initially edX will offer courses from MIT and Harvard, with other universities joining in the future.

Today's verse

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.

Ezekiel 37:1-14 (KJV)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Religious Congregations & Membership Study for 2010

Just released today, this is a census of religious bodies in the USA. (h/t: Paul McCain at Cyberbrethren)

Today's verse

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)