The Murky Waters of Regeneration

More news from around the world.
H/T: Fox News here

Tour Operators, Israel Reject Claims That Jordan River Is Unsafe for Baptisms

Operators of tours to the Holy Land are defending their services, yet proceeding with caution, in response to reports that one of the holiest sites in Christendom may pose serious health
concerns.

Israeli officials are reassuring Christian pilgrims that the Jordan River, where many Christians go to be baptized, poses no health risk, despite reports from environmentalists that the waters are dangerously polluted.

The environmentalist group Friends of the Earth contends that high levels of coliform bacteria from sewage in the river have made it unsafe for bathing. But water tests released this week prove otherwise, Eli Dror of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority told Reuters.

“There’s absolutely no problem with the quality of the water. People can come and baptize here as much as they want, I guarantee it,” Dror said.

Israeli officials strongly denied any problem and pointed out that they had received no health complaints.Tour operators, meanwhile, said they were not alarmed by the report.

“This destination has increased in popularity in the last few years, and [the baptisms] are such a small component of our tour that people focus on a lot of other things,” Lael Kassis of Go Ahead Tours said.

“Israel has a religious history dating back thousands of years, so people will go for the incredible history and culture. And parts of the river are cleaner than others, so I don’t hear any comments.”

The Lower Jordan is a murky stream cut off from its source in the Sea of Galilee by the needs of towns and agribusiness and topped with waste water
and runoff. But Israeli officials and tour providers say they work hard to provide a safe experience for people coming to be baptized in the river, and they say Friends of the Earth’s claims should not scare visitors away.

“This site is one of the most important, most holy sites of the Christian people and they come from all over the world, so we’re investing a lot of money to prepare it,” Raphael Ben-Hur, an official with the Senior Ministry of Tourism, told Reuters. “It would be crazy to allow pilgrims to immerse themselves in pollution.”

Jocelyn Pimm, managing director of Worldwide Christian Travel, agrees.

“People go just to be baptized in the River Jordan so the site is well-managed, specially designated for baptism with proper facilities, and I’ve never had complaints about pollution,” Pimm said. “We have more people traveling to Israel now than we have ever had.”

She said people will continue to go to the river regardless of the pollution reports, because there are so many historical and religious aspects to the pilgrimage.

“People will go just go to see the site without being baptized,” Pimm said. “One person in about every 10 groups asks to be baptized. It’s a very small number.”

But Friends of the Earth insists the Jordan River is no place for a baptism.

“We’ve known for a long time that these waters are not healthy,” Friends of the Earth’s Gidon Bromberg told Reuters. “For most of the year they are four times more polluted than Israeli standards would permit.

“People who baptize in these waters presently, if they have a cut in their skin, could quickly develop a rash. If they swallow any of the water they could develop a stomach upset and start vomiting,” he said.

Friends of the Earth alleged that competition for tourism may have persuaded Israeli authorities to bend health norms in the interest of keeping the industry booming there. But Dror said the group’s health risk allegation was a scare campaign designed to promote its wider agenda — to get Israel and Jordan to restore a third of the river’s inflow from Galilee and return the river to better health.

“Of course it could be much better,” Dror told Reuters. “But we need the water. We don’t have any other choice.”

Dror, referring to water quality assessment statistics, explained that the Lower Jordan contains large quantities of saline water from the upper Galilee, farm runoff, water from fish farms and partially treated sewage from a buried pipe — but not “raw sewage” as charged by environmentalists.

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Priest Reaches out ….. to dogs

H/T: BBC

Canadian priest sorry for giving dog Holy Communion

Priest with Communion wafer biscuits The dog took the biscuit but no wine was offered to the animal

A priest in Canada has apologised after giving Holy Communion to a dog.

Reverend Marguerite Rea of St Peter’s Anglican Church, in Toronto, received complaints from Christians all over Canada after she fed communion bread to a German Shepherd cross named Trapper.

Area Bishop Patrick Yu said the priest had contravened church policy with her “strange and shocking” actions.

Ms Rea said it had been a “simple church act of reaching out” to a new congregation member and his pet.

“If I have hurt, upset or embarrassed anyone, I apologise,” she told her congregation on Sunday morning, the Toronto Star reports.
Bone of contention

The canine controversy began last month when four-year-old Trapper and his owner, Donald Keith, 56, attended the church in Toronto’s downtown area for the first time.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

I don’t recall anything from the scripture about Jesus dying for the salvation of our pets”

End Quote Cheryl Chang Anglican Network in Canada

“The minister welcomed me and said come up and take communion, and Trapper came up with me and the minister gave him communion as well,” Mr Keith told the Toronto Star.

“I thought it was a nice way to welcome me into the church. I thought it was acceptable. There was an old lady in the front just beaming when she saw this.”

But not all parishioners at the service were quite so charmed by the sight of the priest leaning down and placing a wafer on the wagging tongue of Trapper, a German Shepherd-Rhodesian ridgeback cross.

Communion bread is considered by Anglicans to represent the body of Jesus Christ.

One onlooker filed a complaint with the Anglican Diocese of Toronto about the incident and has since left the church.

When news spread of the canine communion, St Peter’s Church began receiving e-mails from angry Christians all over the country.

“Communion is a symbol of the sacrifice of Jesus’ body; he died for all of us. But I don’t recall anything from the scripture about Jesus dying for the salvation of our pets,” said Cheryl Chang, director of the Anglican Network in Canada, the National Post newspaper reports.

“I can see why people would be offended,” said Bishop Yu.

“I have never heard of it happening before. I think the reverend was overcome by what I consider a misguided gesture of welcoming.”
‘Innocent’

Mr Keith has since been told that he and his dog are most welcome at the church, but Trapper can no longer receive communion.

“This has blown me away. The church is even getting e-mails from Catholics,” said the truck driver.

“Ninety-nine-point-nine per cent of the people in the church love Trapper and the kids play with him. It was just one person who got his nose out of joint.

“Holy smokes. We are living in the downtown core. This is small stuff. I thought it was innocent and it made me think of the Blessing of the Animals.”

Walking on Water

This morning’s gospel lesson of Jesus walking on the water (Matt. 14:22-33) reminded me of this video of illusionist Criss Angel (who is Greek by the way) who pulled the same stunt at one of his shows. (Actually, almost the same – see here to find out how he did it.):

Kosovo and the Liberation of Texas

For those of you who are not aware, George Patsourakos summed up on his blog (here) what went down at the Hague today:

“The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands, today (July 22, 2010)validated Kosovo’s declaration of independence, and rejected Belgrade’s argument that the declaration had no legal basis, according to the Serbianna website.

The ICJ judged that Kosovo’s independence from Serbia in 2008 was not illegal under international law.

The opinion also said that the Resolution 1244 and the Constitutional court in Kosovo are legal frames for resolution of Kosovo’s status.

The ICJ did not approve a right to separation and has referred the matter to the United Nations for solution.

The vote was 9 in favor and 5 against.”

Actually, there was a piece posted on Ad Orientem as well (here). Anyway, this is good news for more than just Albanians. In fact, it’s GREAT news for Texas.  The article below is taken from the Texas Nationalist Movement (here) and they explain their excitement over today’s ruling:

KOSOVO SECESSION DECISION REINFORCES LEGALITY OF SECESSION

Thursday’s ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague on whether the 2008 secession from Serbia by Kosovo violated international law takes a bite out of statists’ arguments against secession by Texas, Texas Nationalist Movement President Daniel Miller said.

“The recent opinion of the ICJ regarding the independence of Kosovo has tremendous meaning for Texas, Miller said Thursday. “While we decry the erosion of sovereignty to international bodies, the fact is that the United States government has systematically taken away the sovereignty of Texas and passed it along to international institutions which, by and large, do not represent the values of Texans.”

The world court ruled that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia did not violate international law. As read by ICJ President Hisashi Owada, international law contains “no prohibition on declarations of independence.”

Because the U.S. government, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, has supported both the secession of Kosovo and rulings by the World Court, Miller said, it could not morally continue to insist that secession from the United States is “illegal” and would not be justified in using military force to prevent Texas secession.

“The United States and other European nations have acknowledged the right of unilateral secession of any state, thereby making any violent opposition to a seceding state unsustainable and unjustified,” Miller said.

He added that the court’s ruling merely reaffirms what TNM and other movements have maintained for years.

“As the ICJ has ruled that unilateral secession is not a violation of international law, the next lawful authority is the US Constitution. As the US Constitution is silent on the matter, the 10th Amendment in the Bill of Rights is supreme which states: ‘The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.’ This places the lawfulness of a unilateral secession of Texas in the hands of Texans,” he said.

“The current Constitution of Texas, Article 1, Section 1 of the Texas Bill of Rights states: ‘…the maintenance of our free institutions and the perpetuity of the Union depend upon the preservation of the right of local self-government.’ It goes on further to say in Article 1, Section 2: ‘The faith of the people of Texas stands pledged to the preservation of a republican form of government, and, subject to this limitation only, they have at all times the inalienable right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think expedient.’

“The bottom line is that the unilateral secession of Texas is lawful on a State, Federal and International level,” Miller said.

Miller said it was important, however, to recognize the stark differences between the Kosovo independence movement – a movement primarily ethnic in nature – and the Texas independence movement, which cuts across ethnicities and is instead political, cultural and economic. In fact, given the U.S. government’s failure to perform its constitutional duties in preventing foreign invasion, it becomes imperative for Texas to secede in order to prevent secession along ethnic lines.

“This is a cautionary tale for Texans. The independence of Kosovo occurred as an ethnic secession,” Miller said. “The ICJ ruling indicates that at any time, a majority of the people can rise up and declare their independence.

“While the Texas Nationalist Movement is encouraged by this ruling, we also recognize the fact that groups who adhere to the political goal of Reconquista are emboldened by it as well,” he added. “This ruling, when coupled with the decline of the American Union, bolsters our position that the independence of Texas is an inevitability. With the United States Federal Government actively engaged in denying Texas the right to protect our own borders, we are locked in a race with the Reconquista movement to secure the independence of Texas.”

Miller said the TNM is committed to continuing to work through elected officials to establish an independent republic where the unique culture, political and economic institutions of Texas are preserved.

“Texans must gain their independence now,” he said. “It is moral, lawful and imperative if we ever hope to protect our freedom, our system of government and our national interests.”