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JONAL ENTRY 1657 SATURDAY, DECEMBER 20 2014

Today's Scripture: The scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "in you shall all the nations be blessed." So then, those who are men of faith are blessed with Abraham who had faith. For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be every one who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them." Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law; for "the righteous shall live by faith"; but the law does not rest on faith, for "He who does them shall live by them."

St. Paul's letter to the Galatians, chapter 3:8-12,
from today's Orthodox lectionary readings.
See the homiletical thought below. 
«

Today's diary - life in the Republic of Malta

Friday I got a lot of new, more exciting, pictures than the kind I used yesterday, so even though it keeps me hunched over a hot computer until all hours of the night, here's the first of them. When I came out of the MUR (the gates of which are seen above in the background, two of the posts of which are topped by globe-shaped light fixtures), on my way to the bus that would take me to Costa Coffee, I ran into my Canadian friend, Paul, along with 100 or so other people gathered just outside the gates. Paul told me they were waiting for a procession to begin, from the primary school that's directly across from the MUR gates to a church three or four blocks away, in Hal Balzan, Hal Lija's next-door neighbor.

So I decided that Friday's blog could wait; this is what we in the biz refer to as a photo op extraordinaire. One of the first members of the procession to show up was the one with the long ears in the center of the photo, the donkey brought in to transport "Mary," sitting on his back, and led by "Joseph," holding the bridle, front left. The donkey's "handler" is the boy on the right, holding the reins. It turned out that the procession caused the bus I was going to take to Costas to be delayed, so I got to have both my seat (on the bus) and my pictures in this instance.

Paul also informed me that last evening a "live Nativity" was also getting underway in a section of our neighborhood just a few blocks away. That turned out to be much more elaborate than just a manger scene with live actors and animals in the corner of a church yard. It actually recreated a whole "Roman Palestine village" in a cordoned-off section of Hal Lija with various occupations being enacted, a brass band playing, Roman soldiers, and more. I'll begin running photos of that wonderful event in Monday's blog, Lord willing.

After my blogging shift at Costa, the skies were threatening rain, so I decided against trying to get to my "gorge" pictures yesterday. Instead, I set out to find the central library of Malta, which I had been told was within a manageable walk from the main bus station. I eventually found it, learned that it is normally open 9 to 5 weekdays and to noon on Saturdays, and that it has excellent free wifi, which I used for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. I'll probably be spending time there most weekdays for the duration of my time here in Malta.

I never did see any rain on Friday, but will probably save the photos of the gorge for use after Christmas Day, at any rate. «

A closer look
Links to news, features, and opinion pieces. See caveats, below.

Serial's sin is assuming that teenagers don't have religious motivations

OCN Net: the relevance of Saint Silouan the Athonite for our time

Public school punished blind boy by trading his cane with a pool noodle

BBC News - No US help as Islamic State closes in on Iraqi air base

Bruno Latour’s 1993 We Have Never Been Modern a neglected masterpiece

Taliban justifies Pakistan school massacre, vows more of same is coming

Analysis: What lawsuit might mean for Obama immigration fiat

What singling out 'Christian' adverts for disclaimers really says to public

'We tolerate so much immorality that we release outrage on trivial infractions'

Orthodox film makers discuss the making of Serbian film, The Healing

First Things book review: The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning

A cheap over-the-counter painkiller (ibuprofen) may extend life 12 years

After 40 years as a shoulder-level double amputee, man gains two bionic arms

'Killer cops protestors' seen as the new Puritans in Christmas-fest opposition

Joseph Bottum: Joyous surrender: a rhapsody in (tacky) red and green «

Christian worldview - picking up sides
(This department alternates with Writing stuff)

l'm uncomfortable using "liberal" as the name for the party leading the ideological war against orthodox Christians and the traditional beliefs and values of Christianity and classical humanism, because I believe that in the classic sense of the word, today's American conservatives are classical liberals. I prefer calling the adversaries "Progressives," as Progressivism is more readily understood as a philosophical movement based on Darwinism that has always admitted some affinity to Karl Marx.

But time and emphases have changed, values have been clarified, and Obama has evolved; England's tories are now conservatives and its labour movement is now its liberals, American liberals virtually never advocate limited government these days, and though I can well remember when most Democrats didn't want to be called liberals, that day has also passed. Lots of Republicans (Eisenhower, Rockefeller, Nixon) were happy to be known as liberals in their time, but now even the liberal Republicans (John McCain, Jeb Bush) run from that label, knowing they can't win without conservative backing. And those whose politics is inseparable from their Christian worldview have a God who, with His truth, are the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

I know lots of self-described liberals who do not equate "Christian" with Westboro Baptists. But certainly in the social networks, when anyone defends Christianity, he will be attacked by outspoken "liberals" who take the position described in the meme. They see us all as "flat-earthers," "homophobes," "racists," "gun-slingers" wrapped in our religion and deniers of science, modern medicine, and use of the Internet. So I guess today's point is that a Christian worldview needs to clarify where the lines between the forces of darkness and light are drawn today, while never forgetting that the real line between those "sides" is drawn, as Solzhenitsyn recently reminded us, right through the middle of every human heart. «

Today's video

 «

Chuckle

 «

Today's quotes

 «

A man obtains the fear of God if he has the remembrance of his unavoidable death and of the eternal torments that await sinners; If he tests himself every evening as to how he has spent the day, and every morning as to how he has spent the night, and if is not sharp in his relations with others.

— St. Abba Dorotheos «

That the lost soul is eternally fixed in its diabolical attitude we cannot doubt: but whether this eternal fixity implies endless duration—or duration at all—we cannot say.

— C.S. Lewis «

Homiletical thought: For Paul, who once boasted of being "a pharisee of the pharisees" (a "super Jew," as it were) to preach the message of today's epistle passage, that God's plan had always been to save the Gentiles through the preaching of faith, and that all salvation—even that of the Jews of Abraham's time and ever since—had been wrought through faith but not through bloood lines, must have been earth-shaking to Paul. In being chosen to be the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul had been chosen to change the world, to see the fig tree of Israel stripped of all its fruit and the mountain of Rome be moved in a sea change. «

§     §     § Return to top

Caveats on "A closer look"; links to articles on current issues—news, features, and opinion that may signify how the cultural winds are blowing. Note that most 'news reports' are not 'objective' and if some are 'neutral' it's because the writers and editors are disinterested (could care less about the topic). Neither are 'news reports,' in general, highly accurate or unbiased; try to discern the bias of any report's source; always read aware and at your own risk. «

Unless specified otherwise, none of the message memes used in this blog are the creation or property of the author, but are reposted here from the social networks. «

Quotations usually have not been vetted (and thus may be falsely attributed). «

Videos used here are embedded from video websites (most frequently YouTube), and occasionally these are removed from the sites from which they were embedded, or permissions on those sites change, causing them to "disappear" from these pages. This is also likely to happen to links to articles outside this site. This is beyond the control or remedy of this blog. «

Comments: Please leave comments on my Facebook or Google+ page. «

§ I have now uploaded over 3,000 photos and videos, mostly from my recent 19-month visit to Northern Ireland, but also including several hundred photos and videos from my summer in Pennsylvania (2012), some photos of the family, and some new ones from Malta on my Flickr site. Most of these are now organized by sets. Click here for the Flicker site.

For more and more spontaneous posts, follow me onhttps://www.facebook.com/jon.kennedy.94617, and Twitter (click on either icon to go to the site).

Google+ works more automatically, so most of the pictures I post (excluding Flickr) are posted there. Feedback: Please comment on anything in today's blog on the Facebook and Google+ pages linked above, and of course via email to jrk@nantyglo.com.

Feedback is always welcome.

§     §     §

Please pray for my mission to Europe. You can read my background overview of this undertaking here. My residence/postal address is Room 215B, Robert Mifsud Bonnici str, Lija, LJA 1405 Malta. Mobile, (Not yet available, please check later blogs for update).

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

 

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This blog is just
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between an American lay missionary in Europe, his friends there, his friends in his home parish in Silicon Valley, California, and his friends in his native coalfields of Western Pennsylvania, and any others interested. When time for deeper reflection is lacking, this may consist mainly of reposts of things from online networks that seem to resonate with members of his circles.

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