Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Getting reacquainted with Satan (

A Carleton University professor throws new light on the Prince of Darkness, Jennifer Green reports

By Jennifer Green, The Ottawa Citizen September 25, 2010

The devil is not who we think he is. In fact, for much of ancient history, he wasn't even a "he," says Kimberly Stratton, who is teaching a new Carleton University course on the history of Satan.

The earliest Biblical references use "satan" as a verb, meaning to block or prevent something.

In the Book of Numbers, an angel blocks or "satans" Balaam from cursing the Israelites. "In the original Hebrew, the verb is to 'satan' him," says Stratton. "The angel himself was a normal angel of God." In the Book of Job, "satan" is a job title, something like a Crown prosecutor who seeks sinners and brings them to justice.

"He is still an angel in God's court. There is no indication that he is an opponent of God. He just seems to be an angel doing his job. If anything, he has a higher-ranking position in heaven." Even in the New Testament's Gospel of Matthew, the Devil tests Jesus in the desert, but then he disappears, and ministering angels come in. "So it's not clear there that he isn't still part of God's entourage. ... acting somehow as the Crown attorney." Stratton outlines in her course how man's ideas of God and goodness, evil and misfortune, are shaped by history.

In 586 BC, the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, the sole place of Jewish sacrifice, and dragged the nation into exile.

Once there, they tried to reconcile their misfortune with God's justice. They also started to believe there was only one God -- their own.

"If your god uses other nations to punish you, he must be in charge of those other nations and if he's in charge of those other nations, he must be more powerful than those other gods," says Stratton. "Eventually, you conclude there is just one god." The other gods became characterized as demons, traced back to the race of giants mentioned in Genesis, the offspring of "fallen angels" who came down from heaven and mated with human women. Stratton stresses that this is the only mention in the Bible of fallen angels, later stories notwithstanding.

The early church father Origen of Alexandria first suggested several hundred years after Christ's death that Satan fell because he refused to bow down to humans.

We also hear that he is the snake in the garden, trying to tempt Adam and Eve, but we are never told why, says Stratton.

"We're left with some guy who's evil for no reason. He is just an opponent of God, out to create havoc and ruin the world and ruin mankind, just because." In the Middle Ages, the devil becomes a useful tool for inflicting horrific measures against whoever might be in the way. If Jews or women or Knights Templar control too much of the economy, don't submit to their husbands, or own too much land, those in control could accuse them of worshipping Satan, making it perfectly acceptable to seize their goods, torture them, and burn them at the stake.

In the 16th century, as Protestants broke away from the Catholic Church, both competed to enforce moral reform, clamping down on women in particular.

"So there starts to be this association that women are running amok, striving to overthrow their husbands, and overturning domestic duties. They are so sexually insatiable they have to go to the devil to be satisfied." Once they have sold themselves to the devil purely for sexual reasons, they are in his thrall.

In preparation for the course, Stratton spent the better part of one summer looking at movies about Satan. Her favourite, Bedazzled, a 1967 movie with Dudley Moore, is surprisingly close to the Old Testament.

"(Satan's) job is to throw little things in (people's) way, to see how they react, and whether they roll with it and manage to keep their faith." Six years later, The Exorcist scorched the popular imagination. But, as creepy as it was, offers a surprisingly lazy devil. "This is the arch enemy of God and the worst he has to offer is a girl swearing and masturbating?" Al Pacino's Satan in The Devil's Advocate calls himself the first humanitarian, and offers this critique of religion: "God gives you all these desires and passions and then he gives you all these rules: look but don't touch, touch but don't taste, he's up there laughing." The devil in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is so androgynous that Stratton figures the director was linking Satan with homosexuality, another vilified group.

One scholar on Stratton's recommended reading list argues that Satan is not really that important, not even in the Bible.

Nor is he all that evil, writes Henry Ansgar Kelly in Satan: A Biography.

Kelly, distinguished professor emeritus in UCLA's English department, calls for a return to the original biblical view of Satan as a sort of prosecuting attorney rather than an embodiment of evil bent on destroying humankind.

Kelly says the latter characterization of Satan tars God with the same dark brush: "The ... vilification of Satan as the great enemy of God, to whom God delivered the entire human race for punishment, casts God not as the merciful father of the gospels but as an inept and irrational tyrant." Christ's sacrifice redeems relatively few, leaving millions of others, conceived and born in the state of guilt without having committed any personal sin, to suffer in Hell forever.

He writes: "It's a miserable picture isn't it? And it is owing in the large part to the unjustifiably bad press given to Satan over the centuries." Moving away from the "Prince of Evil" nomenclature brightens our view of God and human nature, allowing us to focus "on the real causes of the evil actions that people actually commit." At the end of all this research, Stratton believes there is no devil out there. "But what we have is people who create devils by believing in devils." Her course, limited to 20 students in the third or fourth year of the bachelor of humanities program, meets once a week for three hours.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Monday, 13 September 2010

media analysis: from LE DEVOIR

 Pasteur en délire - Les médias ont-ils joué avec l'autodafé du Coran ?
Jean-Claude Leclerc 13 septembre 2010 Éthique et religion

Le pasteur Terry Jones aura réussi à retenir l’attention des médias avec sa menace de brûler le Coran.
En faisant le jeu d'un pasteur en mal de brûler le Coran un 11 septembre 2010, les médias ont-ils failli provoquer un grave incident? Avant même que Terry Jones n'ait pu mettre son projet à exécution, plusieurs ont posé la question. Le président Barack Obama, ayant pressenti le danger, hésitait à donner trop d'importance au personnage. Mais comment un pareil type, hier inconnu, a-t-il pu retenir ainsi l'opinion mondiale?

En juillet, à l'annonce de sa «Journée internationale pour brûler le Coran», le chef spirituel du Dove World Outreach Center n'avait guère capté l'attention des médias. Certes, un site «athée» avait noté la parution d'une page sur Facebook. Et aux États-Unis comme à l'extérieur, une vidéo placée sur YouTube le 17 juillet avait provoqué des réactions. Parmi les premiers à s'y intéresser, on relève le blogue d'un Michael Tomasky au Guardian de Grande-Bretagne.

Deux jours après, une association américaine d'Églises évangélistes diffusait, il est vrai, une déclaration pressant le groupe de Jones d'abandonner son idée de brûler des exemplaires du Coran. Mais, le 31 juillet, une entrevue du pasteur intégriste à CNN lui donnait une tribune internationale. Une agence de presse ayant relevé cette nouvelle affaire de Coran, plusieurs médias la mentionnèrent, dont le Times of India!

Au début d'août, le Sun de Gainesville — 115 000 habitants, et site de l'Université de Floride — interviewe le maire, Craig Lowe, qui réprouve le comportement du pasteur. Et les citoyens qui s'expriment semblent, pour la plupart, du même avis. Or, d'après une des analyses de cette étrange initiative, même si le débat se poursuit alors sur les réseaux sociaux ainsi qu'à la télévision et à la radio, l'histoire n'a pas encore pris une importance internationale.

Les uns attribuent l'escalade à la distribution de corans gratuits par le Conseil des relations américano-islamique. D'autres trouvent plutôt que David Petraeus, chef des forces de l'OTAN en Afghanistan, a mis le feu aux poudres en intimant à Jones de cesser de mettre en danger la vie de soldats et de civils à l'étranger. Des journalistes l'ayant interrogée, la secrétaire d'État, Hillary Clinton, a condamné, bien sûr, l'autodafé. Il ne restait plus au secrétaire à la Défense, Robert Gates, puis au président lui-même qu'à interpeller Jones pour que l'homme devienne un acteur mondial.

Qui est responsable alors de ce délire collectif, la presse ou la Maison-Blanche?

La presse a raté une bonne occasion d'examiner la source de cette «nouvelle». Quelle compétence théologique, en effet, permettait à Jones — qui n'a jamais étudié l'islam — de condamner le Coran ou de dicter aux musulmans où bâtir une mosquée? Quelle expérience à titre de «pasteur» l'autorisait à presser les adeptes de la vraie foi de «se tenir debout»? Aucune. Il aura fallu que son bûcher soit à la veille de flamber pour que des médias s'intéressent au passé du personnage.

Qui est-il ?

Cet ancien gérant d'hôtel a pris la direction, il y a 15 ans, d'une petite secte fondée par un homme d'affaires en 1986. Avec son épouse, il en habitait une grande propriété, mais surtout y gérait une entreprise de meubles, vendus sur eBay. Ses ouailles ne dépassaient pas la cinquantaine. Et dans une «académie» attenante, des pensionnaires s'occupaient aussi à travailler pour l'entreprise du pasteur.

D'après des rapports de presse en Allemagne, Jones y a été associé à une «communauté chrétienne» à Cologne, avant d'en être écarté. Son style de leadership était contesté, ainsi que son diplôme de théologie, obtenu d'une école biblique non reconnue. En Floride, sa petite Église s'était donné un mandat universel, comme son site le proclame, mais elle n'avait guère de succès.

Jones a certes publié un livre dont la page titre affirme que «l'islam vient du Diable». Mais ses affaires vivotaient. Les autorités locales de Gainesville mettaient en question son statut fiscal. Le moment pour le prophète de frapper un grand coup n'était-il pas venu? Avec tous ces musulmans osant implanter une mosquée à deux pas de Ground Zero, Dieu lui en aura, dit-on, donné l'inspiration.

L'Amérique s'éveillant au péril, le pasteur de Gainesville allait enfin fournir de quoi la galvaniser. Pourtant, rappellent des chroniqueurs, il n'aura pas été le premier à lancer l'idée d'un autodafé du Coran. Plus tôt, en 2008, un pasteur de la Westbobo Baptist Church de Topeka, au Kansas, en avait brûlé un exemplaire en pleine rue, et immortalisé la scène sur un film. Même illustré, l'événement, pourtant, ne fit pas le tour du monde. Les médias n'en avaient pas fait une nouvelle.

(Radio-Canada fit mention de cette Église de Topeka, — non reconnue par la confession baptiste — quand certains de ses membres, déjouant les gardes-frontières, vinrent au Manitoba, à l'occasion des funérailles d'une victime d'acte criminel. Ce crime était la punition de Dieu pour la tolérance de l'avortement, de l'homosexualité et autres plaies sévissant au Canada.)

Cette fois, les médias n'auraient probablement pas parlé de Jones si son projet, circulant sur les réseaux sociaux et sur les stations qui y prennent leur pâture, n'avait ameuté un plus grand public. Quand le public s'émeut, les médias s'agitent, et les politiciens également. C'est ainsi qu'un pasteur sans envergure, mais friand de notoriété, a réussi à kidnapper jusqu'au président des États-Unis.

Bref, ce «media event» spectaculaire mais débile n'aurait obtenu qu'une mention à la chronique des incidents loufoques, si les médias s'étaient le moindrement enquis du triste curriculum de Terry Jones. Par contre, en donnant une grande visibilité à une violence symbolique, ils risquaient de provoquer ailleurs des réactions extrêmes qui, elles, auraient été fort réelles.



Jean-Claude Leclerc enseigne le journalisme à l'Université de Montréal

Sunday, 12 September 2010

« Une réalité toute simple »: frère Roger de Taizé

Ouvrant l’Évangile, chacun peut se dire : ces paroles de Jésus sont un peu comme une lettre très ancienne qui me serait écrite dans une langue inconnue ; comme elle m’est adressée par quelqu’un qui m’aime, j’essaie d’en comprendre le sens, et je vais aussitôt mettre dans la pratique de ma vie le peu que j’en saisis…

Ce ne sont pas les vastes connaissances qui importent au début. Elles auront leur grande valeur. Mais c’est par le cœur, dans les profondeurs de soi-même, que l’être humain commence à saisir le Mystère de la Foi. Les connaissances viendront. Tout n’est pas donné d’un seul coup. Une vie intérieure s’élabore pas à pas. Aujourd’hui plus qu’hier, nous pénétrons dans la foi en avançant par étapes.

Au tréfonds de la condition humaine repose l’attente d’une présence, le silencieux désir d’une communion. Ne l’oublions jamais, ce simple désir de Dieu est déjà le commencement de la foi.

De plus, personne ne parvient à comprendre tout l’Évangile à lui seul. Chacun peut se dire : dans cette communion unique qu’est l’Église, ce que je ne comprends pas de la foi, d’autres comprennent et en vivent. Je ne m’appuie pas sur ma foi seulement mais sur la foi des chrétiens de tous les temps, ceux qui nous ont précédés, depuis la Vierge Marie et les apôtres jusqu’à ceux d’aujourd’hui. Et jour après jour je me dispose intérieurement à faire confiance au Mystère de la Foi.

Alors il apparaît que la foi, la confiance en Dieu, est une réalité toute simple, si simple que tous pourraient l’accueillir. Elle est comme un sursaut mille fois repris tout au long de l’existence et jusqu’au dernier souffle.

frère Roger, de Taizé

Bishop Kenneth Ulmer: The king still has one more move!

( post updated on 22 /06/2014, to include the original speech transcript at the end)

This week i heard Bishop Kenneth Ulmer  speaking about a chess-painting, most probably by Friedrich Moritz August Retzsch on Goethe´s Faust.

Eric S. Ritz writes this note about this picture :

On display in the magnificent Louvre Museum in Paris, France, is that dramatic painting of Goethe's Faust. Faust is seated at a table engaged in a competitive game of chess. And at first glance, it looks like Faust is losing. His opponent in the chess game is Satan. The devil sits there grinning smugly. He thinks he has the victory in hand. He is pointing at the chessboard with an evil leer and he is gloating.

As you look at the painting, you can almost hear the devil shouting: "Checkmate! Game’s over! I win!"

However, a person with a keen eye who knows the game of chess can see that the match is not over at all. As a matter of fact, just a few years ago, an internationally famous chess player was admiring the painting when all of a sudden he lunged forward and exclaimed:
"Wait a minute! Look! Faust has another move and that move will give him the victory!" 

original speech transcript :

The Champion in You

Written by: Bishop Kenneth Ulmer

2119 09/12/10

I want to thank my friend and my brother, Dr. Schuller, for he is a true champion and God has used him to bless men and women, literally, around the world.
The world loves champions. But I want to suggest to you that there is a champion even in you. The person sitting next to you, the person in front of you or behind you, there is a champion in you. If you get nothing else out of what I say, today, let the Lord put that in your spirit. Someone is watching from the other side of the world and God has brought you to this broadcast today to deposit into your spirit a truth that there is a champion in you.
That's what Paul was saying when he wrote to the young church of believers at Rome. And in that eighth chapter, he said in verse thirty-seven (of Romans), "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." And in all these things we are more, Paul says, than conquerors. We're champions. There is a champion in you.
At the end of the game, at the sound of the last bell, across the last finish goal, when all the goals have been scored, and all the baskets have been counted, the champions will stand. The world loves a champion and there is a champion even in you.
Paul says we are more than conquerors. We not only win, but we win big. There is a champion in you. Why is that so? How can Paul make such a profound proclamation? What he speaks in this chapter seems to be kind of a hinge between the preceding part of this letter and the remaining part where he spends about eight chapters talking about doctrine and then the remaining chapters he talks about duty. And it is this section on conquerors, that seems to hold together or place a hinge between what he's already said and what he is about to say. It is in this section that he says we are more than conquerors. Why is that so?
First of all, because of God's presence in you, there's a champion in you. Paul says, and we know, that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord. Paul says all things work together. There is a grammatical problem in this phrase because after suggesting that all things work together, he then raises issues that give us another nuance and another implication of this text. He says all things work together. Therein lies the problem because "things" is the subject and "work" is the verb. Things don't work. Things have no volition. Things make no choices. Things have no mind. Things have no consciences, things have no will, and things cannot work.
A more accurate translation of this verse, I believe, is found in the New International Version that does not say that all things work, but rather that in all things God is at work. Ah, a significant difference. In all things, God is at work. God is working all things together to release the champion that's in you. He's able to blend and to work and to mix and to match all the elements of our lives to release the champion, the conqueror in you.
Few people in this room have ever had the pleasure of eating three or four cups of flour. Few people in this room have ever had the pleasure of drinking maybe a bottle of vanilla extract or a couple gallons of water or milk or, or various ingredients that come together to make a cake. My Momma had a way of mixing eggs and mixing flour and mixing ingredients and, when she put them all together, she had a pound cake. You don't know about a pound cake here in Orange County, but Momma could make a pound cake by mixing ingredients that, in and of themselves, were not very tasty. Paul says God is at work mixing together elements of our lives that, in and of themselves, are not always pleasant. In and of themselves, are challenging and painful and sorrowful and often discourage us. And yet God says we know that in all of these things, he is at work mixing and matching and blending and working together on our behalf so that he might release the champion that's in you.
Because of God's presence, also because of God's power, he says, "If God be for us who can be against us?" The power of God, the presence of God in your life, is there to release this champion that's in you. Paul says, but God is at work conforming us to his image. He's doing a work in your life right now, conforming you to his image. God did not save you to bring you to heaven to be with him; he's not lonely. But, rather, that on your way to heaven, you might become more and more like Jesus the Christ. And so the Bible says that he is at work conforming us shaping us.
We just sang a song that says, "Melt me, mold me, shape me." He's conforming us to the image of his Son, so that he might release this champion that's in you.
There was a very famous sculptor who one day instructed his servant to bring into his workroom this huge mass of unfinished marble covered with dust - a rugged looking piece of marble. He pulled it in and pulled it in and finally the servant said, "Master, what will you make of this unattractive mud- and dust-covered mass of marble?"
The sculptor backed up and looked at it this way and looked at it that way and looked at it this way again and looked at it that way again, and then he said, "I see a magnificent stallion. I see a stallion with glaring eyes and flared nostrils and flowing mane. I see encased in this mass of unattractive marble, a magnificent stallion.
The servant said, "Well master, how will you get such a masterpiece out of this unattractive dust- and mud-covered mass of marble?"
The sculptor said, "Well, I'm going to take my hammer and I'm going to take my chisel and I'm going to begin to chip away and chip and away and chip away and chip away and I'll chip away everything that does not look like a horse. There's a horse in there and when I get rid of everything that does not look like a horse, I'll have a masterpiece."
God says he wants to conform you into the image of his Son to release the champion in you. And those times when it seems as though life is battering you, and your experiencing pain and sorrow and confusion and disappointment and discouragement and even failure,. God says, "I'm going to chip away everything in your life that does not look like a champion so that when I finish, the champion in you will come forth. There is a champion in you."
God says he has the power to conform you to the image of the Christ in you who was the champion. Because of God's presence, because of God's power, because of God's protection, he says, "Who can separate us from the love of God?" And then he says, "I'm persuaded that nothing can separate us from the love of God." He sets up two bookends - he says who can separate us and then he says I'm persuaded that nothing can separate us. And in between these two book ends, he says now, we are more than conquerors; who can separate us from the love of God" I'm persuaded nothing can separate us from the love God, why? Because we are more than conquerors.
Paul says I'm persuaded I'm persuaded that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Who can separate us? But there's another grammatical problem in this text. Because he asks the question, who can separate us? But then he goes to give a list of things. He says "who" and then he talks about "what." A grammatical problem. He says who can separate us and then he goes to give us a list of things. Therein lies the issue. Paul says, "Recognize that we wrestle not against flesh and blood." We don't wrestle against the stuff and the things, but there's always a "who" behind the "what." That who can never separate us; the word means to pull apart. Who or what can pull me apart from God's love? The word means to bring distance between. Who or what can put distance between me and the love of God? The word means to separate, to put distance, to bring apart. Who or what can ever separate me from the love of God?
Paul says, I'm persuaded, I'm persuaded. The word means I've been moved. It suggests that I was once in this position and I've now been repositioned to a position of possibility and positivity. I've been moved. I've now shifted. I'm now convinced. I've had my mind changed. I've had a shift in my thinking. And what I thought might have been possible, I now realize nothing can separate me from the love of God. He says neither things present nor things to come.
The summary is that nothing now and nothing later can separate me from the love of God. The phrase "things present" means the things that are set before me now. The phrase "things present" means things that I'm dealing with now, things that are eminent now, things that are attacking me now, things that are challenging me now, things that are discouraging me now. Paul says none of the things I'm dealing with now can separate me from the love of God. His love is that strong that none of the stuff that would seek to separate me would be successful. Weapons will be formed against you, but no weapon that is formed will prosper because nothing shall separate you from the love of God.
Now in order for there to be a separation, someone must move. God says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." If you turn around and God is not there, guess who moved? God says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." The word "leave" means "to stay behind." God says I will never let you go into this challenge and I will stay behind. I'll never leave you. I'll never let you face this problem, this trial, this pain, this affliction, while I stay behind. I'll never leave you.
Then he says, "I'll never forsake you." The reverse of "forsake" means to "go ahead of." God says I'll never go ahead of you and let you handle the problem. I'll never do it. God says I protect you with my presence. I'll never leave you, nor will I forsake you. In order for there to be separation, one of the parties has to move, but what if I am moved? What if the challenge, the problem that I face, shakes me loose? What if the struggle that I'm facing dislodges me from the presence of God and I sense I feel that I'm out there all by myself?
Champions feel alone sometimes. Champions feel abandoned sometimes. Champions feel like giving up sometimes. But what happens when I find myself off course? He says, "I'm persuaded that nothing can separate us from the love of God." The love of God. We are conquerors through the love of God. This love of God - listen now - God's love is not linear; it is not straight line. God doesn't only love me when I'm on this straight and narrow path. Not so. God loves is not linear. God's love is angular. So that, even when the trials of life blow me off path, even when the struggles that I face, the failures that I experience, the bad decisions that I make, the bad choices that I make get me off course, his love, because it is angular and not linear, loves me back to himself. Paul says, I'm persuaded. Paul says, I've been moved, I've been repositioned, I've been shifted, I've been brought back in a relationship with him. He loves me back to him. He moves me closer to himself because God always has the last move.
There was a man, an international chess champion, walking with a friend through a museum. He came by this one particular picture that caught his eye and he stopped and looked at it. He said to his friend, "There's something wrong with this picture." The man continued to study and ponder this picture, scratch his head, and he said, "Man, there something wrong with this picture." Because the picture was of a scene of two men sitting on opposite sides of a table and in the midst of this table there was a chessboard and the title of this picture was "Check Mate." It was a picture of two men sitting opposite sides of a table, one obviously portrayed as the devil, and the other as a bewildered perplexed man. The picture suggested that the game was over because there were no more moves on the board. This man looked at it and studied it and looked at it and studied it and said, "There's something wrong with this picture. Because I am an international chess champion and as I studied this board, something is wrong." He began to look at the board and look at the picture and move his hand and look at it and move his hands and look at it and move his hands. He said, "Ah! I've figured it out. We must contact the man who painted this picture because he must either change the name or change the picture because the picture is named Check Mate, which suggests that the game is over, but the King chess piece still has one more move."
This game is not over yet because the King still has one more move. It does not matter how life tries to dislodge you. Does not matter how struggles try to pull you away from God, how your faith begins to weaken, God always has the last move because the King still has one more move. Does not matter what happens on the stock market, does not matter what happens in the economy with the falling real estate and the challenges of the corporate world, God always has the next move because there's a champion in you and you will come through this. You will make some adjustments. You'll make some changes, but by the champion that's in you, you shall come forth. Success is on you. Favor is on you. The power of God holds you up and pulls you through because there is a champion in you and God will always reposition you to get that position of glory because the King still has one more move.
You remember Moses, don't you? Moses was down at the Red Sea leading the people out of Egypt when he came to a cul de sac with the Red Sea in front of him, mountains on both sides, and Pharaoh's army behind him. It looked as though the game was over. God told Moses, "Raise your rod!" God did a karate chop on the Red Sea, parted the waters on both sides, and the people of God walked through on dry land. Why? Because the King still has one more move.
You remember Paul and Silas, don't you? Paul and Silas were in a Philippian jail with shackles on their hands and shackles on their feet and they were doomed and they were struggling and Paul said, "Long about midnight, let's have a prayer meeting. My name begins with P; I'll do the praying. Silas your name starts with S; you do the singing." Long about midnight, they began singing and praying and singing and praying and singing and praying. God called an earthquake and said, "Go down and release my children." God said to the earthquake, "Go down and shake the place up."
Earthquake said, "Do you want me to level it?
He said, "No. Just do a whole lot of shaking going on." He shook the place and they walked out because God is the King and the King still has one more move.
You remember Jesus, don't you? They put Jesus on an old rugged cross. They put nails in his hands and rivets in his feet. They put a spear in his side and crown of thorns on his head. It was looking like the game was over and it was checkmate. They took him down from the cross, put him in the borrowed tomb - all night Friday night, all day Saturday, all night Saturday night. Here comes my Baptist, y'all. But early Sunday morning, he got up with all power and heaven and earth in his hand because the King still has one more move.
I came to tell somebody, today, somebody watching by television, don't throw in the towel. Don't throw up your hands, don't walk off the court, because the King still has one more move and there is a champion in you. Give yourselves a hand - for the champion that God wants to release in your life. You are victorious, you are successful, you've got the power of God and the favor of God, and the King still has one more move.
Come on and give God glory in this house. Come on and bless him. There is a champion in you. It does not matter what you are wrestling with today, does not matter what kind of attack you are under today, does not matter how discouraged you might be today, there is a champion that God wants to release in you. There is a champion in you that God wants to release and come forth in success and in victory. You are more than a conqueror. You don't just win, you win big. Because the King still has one more move.
Father, we bless you in this house today. We thank you for your word, Father. Now I ask that you would encourage your children with your strength. Oh God, bring us through every challenge that we face physically, financially, mentally, relationally. Release the champion in us and then you take all the glory. You are the King and you always have one more move. In Jesus name, Amen.
© 2010 Crystal Cathedral Ministries. This message was delivered by Bishop Kenneth Ulmer from the pulpit of the Crystal Cathedral and aired on the Hour of Power, September 12, 2010.

© 2010 Crystal Cathedral Ministries. P.O. Box 1, Garden Grove, CA 92840. Phone: 1-714-971-4000. Website: Email:

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Stephen Hawking: God did not create Universe

There is no place for God in theories on the creation of the Universe, Professor Stephen Hawking has said.

He had previously argued belief in a creator was not incompatible with science but in a new book, he concludes the Big Bang was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics.

The Grand Design, part serialised in the Times, says there is no need to invoke God to set the Universe going.

"Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something," he concluded.

'Planetary conditions'

In his new book, an extract of which appears in the Times, Britain's most famous physicist sets out to contest Sir Isaac Newton's belief that the universe must have been designed by God as it could not have sprung out of chaos.
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Citing the 1992 discovery of a planet orbiting a star other than our Sun, he said: "That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions - the single Sun, the lucky combination of Earth-Sun distance and solar mass - far less remarkable, and far less compelling as evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings."

He adds: "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.

"Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.

"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."

The book was co-written by US physicist Leonard Mlodinow and is published on 9 September.

In his 1988 bestseller, A Brief History of Time, Prof Hawking appeared to accept the role of God in the creation of the Universe.

"If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we should know the mind of God," he said. 

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Kerala, Asia's best travel destination

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Even as Kerala is named the best travel destination in Asia, we bring you 25 reasons to visit God's Own Country. That is, if you haven't already.

Kerala Tourism got a boost when the million-plus readers of the acclaimed travel portal,, placed the state as the best Asian holiday destination ahead of Bali, Phuket and the Maldives in a poll conducted over 3 months across Asia (India, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and the Middle East), Europe and North America.

"This is a phenomenal recognition for Kerala and the people who are working in the tourism sector," said V. Venu, secretary, Kerala Tourism.

The only other Indian destinations to be listed in the top 10 were Rajasthan and Goa - at eighth and 10th spot respectively.

So, here's why you should pack your bags and get those tickets for Kerala.

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