Ordained Clergy helped calm Ferguson unrest

Father Erik, an ordained priest of our church, posted to our seminary forum about the racial protests going on in Ferguson, Missouri after a white police officer fatally shot a young black man.

Father Erik writes:

…the presence of clergy amongst the protesters …[reportedly has had] a recent calming effect.  As the article says, where tear gas and rubber bullets did not work, having a significant presence of clergy engaging persons seems to have a positive effect in reducing additional violence.  http://www.buzzfeed.com/jimdalrympleii/how-clergy-in-ferguson-succeeded-where-the-police-failed

…A pastor local to me stated that when the MO State Police got involved one of their commanding officers helped calm the crowds by walking with them in a protest march.  If that is an accurate report, we see another example of face-to-face human interaction having a positive, peaceful effect over and above the use of gas and bullets.

As the movie “The Five Element” observed, violence begets violence.

Now I’m neither a peace- or war-monger.  I feel there are times when violence must be met with violence.  But it is never a long-term solution.

I find it encouraging that clergy began to show a significant presence (over 100 as per the report) and that this has begun a positive shift.  It seems it might collectively give us something to think about.

So too, the larger social issues are worth consideration.  These are national and even international problems, so our individual effective response is limited.  To my mind a popular bumper sticker summed this dilemma up nicely:  “Think Globally – Act Locally.”

My gut instinct is that we are most effect close to home, where we can look someone in the eye.  Voting is important, and being active in our local communities is important.

The following is a YouTube link to a sermon which addresses these points (I think it was the one that mentioned the MO State Police too).

“Offending the Pious”
http://youtu.be/Ny3yajLR9zQ?list=UUeF1t9dro_UwXa5qO_FH7bg (17-minutes long)


Another reason to become an ordained minister, rabbi, or other clergy

You can be one of the peacemakers.  There is work to be done in ministry.  If you have heard the Call to serve as a spiritual guide, a member of the clergy, to become an ordained minister, reverend, rabbi — now might be your time to answer that Call.

Here is another article on the subject,
Clergy calm tension on the streets of Ferguson — where you can see several photographs of ordained clergy in Ferguson, both men and women ministers, priests, black and white, all working together to bring peace. It’s worth remembering that the great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an ordained minister, Doctor of Divinity, and a peacemaker with martyr-like stature surpassing Ghandi.

Become an Ordained Minister, get your Doctor of Divinity degree like Martin Luther KingHe never supported violence — and he went on a very famous protest march.

Killing children, selling women, beheading, crucifying – and burning manuscripts from church history

Was just reading Matthew 24 again looking at the “signs of the times”: Wars and Rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, false prophets, etc.  Elsewhere in the Greek Bible there are prophecies of pestilence (Ebola?) and slaughter of Christian martyrs.

Finally the US started to help the ancient Christians in Iraq, and the Yezidi sect (descendants of Zoroastrianism), but is this just the beggining of the end? Are we all marching to Armageddon? Just don’t know…

Iraq Jihadists Remove Crosses from Churches, Burn Manuscripts

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية


Jihadists who took over large areas of northern Iraq Thursday have forced 100,000 Christians to flee and occupied churches, removing crosses and destroying manuscripts, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako said.

“There are 100,000 displaced Christians who have fled with nothing but their clothes, some of them on foot, to reach the Kurdistan region,” he told Agence France Presse.

“This is a humanitarian disaster. The churches are occupied, their crosses were taken down,” said Sako, the leader of Iraq’s largest Christian denomination, which is aligned with the Roman Catholic Church.

He added that up to 1,500 manuscripts were burnt.

Pope Francis later called on the international community on Thursday to protect the mostly Christian communities of northern Iraq fleeing the jihadist advance.

A statement delivered by his spokesman said the pope joined the urgent appeals for peace from bishops in the Middle East and called on the international community to “ensure the necessary help” reaches people fleeing fighters from the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.

The 77-year-old pontiff “calls on the international community to protect all those affected or threatened by the violence, and to guarantee all necessary help” to those forced to flee their homes, “whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others.”

“The Holy Father renews his spiritual closeness to all those who are suffering through this painful trial, and makes the impassioned appeals of the local bishops his own,” the statement said.

The Islamic State (IS) group, which swept across much of Iraq’s Sunni heartland two months ago, attacked several towns and villages east of its main hub of Mosul, the country’s second city.

Among them was Qaraqosh, Iraq’s largest Christian town with a population of around 50,000, and several surrounding areas that were previously controlled by the Kurdish peshmerga force.

Fleeing residents reached by phone as they tried to enter the neighboring autonomous region of Kurdistan confirmed the jihadist takeover.

AFP could not immediately verify the current status of those towns, which witnesses said have been completely emptied of their usual population.

“Daash (IS) militants last night attacked most villages in the Nineveh plains, firing mortar rounds and seizing some of them,” Sako said, speaking from his base in Kirkuk.

“The government is unable to defend our people, as is the Kurdistan government. They need to work together, receive international support and modern military equipment.”

“Today we appeal with lots of pain and sadness, to all people of good will, the U.N. Security Council, European Union and relief organisations, to help those people who are facing mortal danger,” Sako said.

“I hope it is not too late to avoid a genocide,” he added.

SourceAgence France Presse

Show Your Support of Middle East Christians Suffering Ethnic Cleansing

Support Ancient Christians of the Middle East
Show solidarity with Christians in the Middle East who are suffering ethnic cleansing at the hands of the murdering ISIL “the Islamic State”. These are descendants of ancient Christians who settled in Iraq and Syria 2000 years ago — which is 600 years before the religion of Islam even existed. Now they are being killed or forced from their homes by the tens of thousands. Besides killing their Christian victims by beheading, the Islamic State army are also crucifying some victims. Videos of both methods surfaced last week.

Many Twitter and Facebook people have changed their profile photo / image / icon to this black and gold image. Friend Christine Chase is displaying this symbol and tells here what it means:

“In Iraq, the homes of Christians are being marked with this by ISIS aka ISIL and their Sympathizers. It is the Arabic “N” for “Nazarene”, marking the people so identified as Christians. In much the same way the yellow star marked Jews in Germany. I and some others have adopted it as our avatar as a sign of solidarity with those so marked.”

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood under the Morsi government forced the Egyptian Coptic Christians (whose ancestors were there since the beginning of Christianity 2000 years ago) wear black crosses on their clothing, and black crosses were spray painted on their houses, cars and shops. The guy that made the video that supposedly caused the Benghazi Libyan hit on the US consulate there was a Coptic Christian from Egypt. I used to go to church with ancient Copts (because they are Eastern Orthodox like the Greeks, Russians and Ukrainians.  Copts are so cool. It’s ashame they are being chased out of Egypt in droves.

Luckily the Egyptian Army kicked out the Muslim Brotherhood and the Christian citizens have a better chance, although their churches are still getting burned and their houses are still getting marked with black crosses.  My daughter says she wants to wear a black cross in honor of the persecuted Christians and we discussed putting the Arabic “N” as shown above onto our front door.  Yeah, we’re Nazarenes, you got a problem with it? we will be saying.

Wish we could do more, something tangible to help those suffering in Iraq on the Ninevah plain especially.  I am still sick just thinking of that video showing the Islamic State freaks blowing up the 1600 year old church that surrounded the 27oo year old(!) tomb of Jonah (the guy swallowed by the whale in the Old Testament).  They blew it up two weeks ago, just like the Taliban blew up the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan, the only standing Buddhas in thee world.  Muslim extremists are on the rise everywhere it seems.  They are perpetrating ethnic cleansing in Africa (Boko Haram kidnapping the school girls), the Middle East, and no doubt want to keep going.

Interpreting Dreams in the pre-Internet World

This witty article was published this week in the good ol’ Memphis Flyer, one of the weekly papers for which I used to co-write an “advice” column. It was called The Dream Zone, which I co-wrote with Lauri Loewenberg for a decade before the Internet “killed the newspaper star”.  I miss that pre-Internet era sometimes… our column appeared in over 30 papers around the country every week. I did not own a cellphone when we started, and barely had email. Lauri and I wondered if this guy is making fun of us, but we don’t care if he is.  (smile) He certainly brings up some bizarre dream interpretations with a supernatural twist, and chose obscure trivia regarding our ordination and online spiritual school. But I enjoyed reading every word, fondly remembering the bygone days when I was a “columnist” and the word “blogger” didn’t exist yet.  Sigh…

Looking Back at a Time When We Cared About Your Dreams

Readers of the Flyer got such awesome advice from a syndicated column called “The Dream Zone” that ran in the back of the paper in the early 2000s.

The Dream Zone was the work of two leading dream experts, Lauri Quinn Loewenberg and Dr. Katia Romanoff.

While the Dream Team (I apologize) split up in 2012, [I don’t remember spitting up — we are still here, just the 30+ papers we used to be in are barely surviving since the Internet took over the world] they fielded some wild stuff from the minds of sleeping people. All you had to do was write a letter about your confusing dreams, and these two would tell you what it really meant.

For instance, Shelly from Prophetstown, Illinois, had a scary recurring dream about her dad driving over the top of a bridge and almost wrecking his car into the river.

That one is pretty obvious:  [I interpreted this one!] “The fear of crossing bridges is an ancient one. Our ancestors feared there were trolls and other nasties under bridges. This was really just a fear of the unknown. Just cross your fingers before you move onto the bridge. Crossing your fingers is also a practice used by our ancestors to ward negativity and nasties in general. It was called ‘making the sign against the evil eye,’ and may indeed have a calming effect on the often-fearful subconscious. Try it some time for your bridge fright and rest assured you are using an ancient tried and true technique of your foremothers and forefathers.”

There you go. Problem solved.

Today, Loewenberg, a “certified dream analyst,” appears on all sorts of television programs and holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She was formerly a student of Dr. Katia Romanoff, who leads the Esoteric Theological Seminary from which you can get ordained in a boatload of priesthoods — the Chaldean Patriarchate of Babylon at Baghdad, for example — and sign up for the New Order of the Knights Templar or Third Millennium Angelic Alliance, which works “hand in hand with the angelic-warriors and divine messengers.”

These days, your weird dreams are your own damn problem. But back in the days before the internet could interpret your dreams with some fancy computer program, newspapers were full of syndicated columns of every variety. Columnists and cartoonists were pooled into services that papers could license from the syndicate.

According to a recent article in Editor & Publisher magazine, in the 1930s, there were 130 syndicates offering features and columns to more than 13,000 newspapers throughout the country. That number has dropped precipitously since then with the 2011 merger of United Media and Universal Uclick resulting in a single large syndicate offering some 100 features.

Everyone remembers News of the Weird, which we stopped running about two years ago. As if Memphis wasn’t weird enough. You don’t need to import weird to Memphis. Right next to the Dream Zone is Advice Goddess, whose face will be familiar to readers of a certain age.

Public-radio car gurus Click and Clack had a syndicated column, which I assume was 90 percent just them laughing.

But let’s return to the Dream Zone.

Carol, 43, from Ohio, wrote in June 2004 to complain about her dream in which she was house-hunting and almost got it on with the devil. To her chagrin, she woke up before things got properly sinful. Loewenberg told Carol that if she were really on the right track in her life, there would have been consummation. So, by logical extension, you’ll never know you’re on the right track in life until … oh dear.