PAGANISM ON THE RISE
Zenit reported on February 7, 2004, that Europe is experiencing a rising return of pre-Christian paganism. The article did not mention the fact, however, that Europe has been, for many centuries, deeply embroiled in pre-Christian paganism, such as the celebration of Christmas, Easter, and other pre-Christian pagan festivals. Still, the article pointed out:
“Denmark has announced it will allow a group that worships Thor, Odin and other Norse gods to conduct legally-valid marriages…” In quoting from the Guardian newspaper in Britain, the article continued:
“Cherie Blair, wife of the British Prime Minister, is keen on alternative forms of spirituality… Both Cherie and Tony Blair underwent a Mayan rebirthing experience while on holidays in Mexico in 2001… Fewer than 3% of Londoners are now regular churchgoers. At the same time, non-Christian practices such as Kabbalah, Buddhism, Hinduism and crystal healing are flourishing… For many westerners, particularly women, it has become the norm to master Buddhist chanting in a meditation class, learn about ancient Hindu philosophies during a yoga class, light an (aromatherapy) candle and say a prayer (to a nameless God) back at home.”
God does not look with favor or approval at those practices. In speaking about the great and terrible time period of the “Day of the Lord” soon to come, during which time God will intervene in the affairs of man and begin to punish man for his sins, Isaiah 2:6 reads: “For You have forsaken Your people, the house of Jacob [mainly referring here to the modern descendants of Jacob or Israel, that is, the United States of America, Great Britain and the Commonwealth nations], BECAUSE THEY ARE FILLED WITH EASTERN WAYS; they are soothsayers like the Philistines, And they are pleased with the children of foreigners [i.e., those who follow pagan religions].”
ANOTHER UNPOPULAR MOVE BY THE UNITED STATES
A recent decision by the Bush Administration, pertaining to 27 countries, is bound to further fuel the flames of anti-Americanism amongst many of the citizens of those countries.
As the press announced on April 2, travelers from western European nations and Japan will be added by September 30 to the list of foreign visitors fingerprinted and photographed upon arrival in the United States.The only “visa-waiver” countries excepted from the rule are Canada and — although this is hard to believe — Mexico.
The measure has received strong objection from the American travel industry, which fears that it will greatly reduce travel into the United States. The affected countries include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, among others.
The U.S. government had already begun in January to fingerprint and photograph visitors from nations other than the visa-waiver countries. About 2.6 million people have been processed so far, and about 200 have been stopped, because of prior or suspected criminal or immigration violations. NOBODY has been stopped, however, because of suspicion of terrorist involvement.
The U.S. government stated that the new measures will not create massive backlogs at airports and seaports for the estimated 13 million annual visitors from visa-waiver countries. It was pointed out that the procedure “only” takes 23 seconds per person. This is, of course, a very naive assessment. Considering the rather catastrophic situation already presently existing at the Los Angeles airport, this new procedure will cause a further delay of over an hour or perhaps even two hours for travelers arriving at LAX.
While some of the governments of the affected visa-waiver countries declined to comment or even expressed “understanding,” many of the affected citizens responded with outrage.
Italian citizens were quoted as saying: “With this condition, I won’t feel welcome any more… That’s too oppressive.”
A French citizen said: “Welcome to the dictatorship. Why don’t they put a barcode here [pointing to the back of his neck] and stick a microchip in your arm.”
A British citizen stated that he would be “very peeved.” Another said that the measure is “demeaning.” He continued: “There’s 1,001 places to go, so why not go somewhere where you’re not going to get treated like a criminal?”
A citizen from the Netherlands was quoted as saying: “What are they trying to do, alienate their last remaining allies? I think it’s a strange move.”
(Sources: Associated Press; Yahoo!News; Bloomberg. com; Der Spiegel Online; Bild Online)
GERMANY PARTIALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR IRAQ WAR?
On April 5, 2004, Der Spiegel Online reported that “Information provided by the German Federal Intelligence Service on Iraqi biological weapons has become a political issue: Did the Germans, by providing incorrect information, inadvertently contribute to the outbreak of the war?”
The article continued: “This is a sentence that will probably find its way into every history book: ‘It turns out that we were all wrong.’ This assessment, reached by former US chief weapons inspector David Kay, has been causing significant problems for US President George W. Bush for months. The inflated story about Saddam’s alleged arsenal of horror could be one of the factors that may cost him his reelection.
“Another remark Kay made during his testimony before a congressional panel in January has not yet become as widely known: ‘The Germans and their intelligence services believed that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.’
“Does this mean that key reasons to go to war were supplied by Germany, an opponent of the war? Both the German government and the Federal Intelligence Service, or Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), have been worried about a backlash from Washington for months. On the weekend before last, their fears became reality. Through an article printed in the Los Angeles Times, the US government leaked the information that Berlin allegedly bears a portion of the responsibility for the debacle in Iraq. According to the article, this is because the Germans are principally responsible for the fantastic story of biological weapons laboratories being hidden in mobile containers that the dictator supposedly had driven back and forth across the country in trucks. It was precisely this laboratory for toxic substances that US Secretary of State Colin Powell used as one of his central arguments in attempting to convince the UN Security Council of the dangers posed by Iraq.”
While the German government denied that the BND had given any wrong information to the U.S. government, Germany’s opposition party has begun to accuse the BND and the German government of incompetence or worse. As Der Spiegel Online pointed out:
“‘Either the BND wasn’t doing a very good job, or the government passed on the information provided by the BND in a manner that was simply negligent. In either case, the government bears full political responsibility,’ says the foreign policy spokesman of the CDU and CSU coalition, Friedbert Pflüger.”
“FATHER OF THE EU” SOON A SAINT?
As euobserver.com reported in March, “the Pope is set to beatify Robert Schumann — one of the founding fathers of the EU — next September. This is the first step on the road to Sainthood. The Head of the Catholic Church will take up an INVITATION TO ADDRESS THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE IN STRASBOURG NEXT SEPTEMBER — if his ailing health allows. And he is expected to use this occasion to beatify Mr. Schumann, to underline the CHRISTIAN ROOTS OF EUROPE.”
The article explained that Schumann proposed in 1950 “that France and Germany should join forces and create the European Coal and Steel Community on an equal footing. Germany agreed and the first institution of the EU was born.”
Beatification is the first step in the process that leads to a member of the Catholic Church becoming a Saint. To take the final step, miracles after the death of the person, allegedly done by the dead person, must be proved.
CLASH AT HOLY SITE
Israelis and Palestinians clashed on Friday at the Temple Mount, a holy site for both religions. While the clash was temporary and minor, it brought into focus the importance of the site. As the Associated Press reported on April 2, 2004, “it is a 35-acre walled esplanade on a hilltop in the old city of Jerusalem, where the Al Aqsa and the dome of the rock mosques sit atop the ruins of the biblical Jewish temples. In Jewish tradition, it is the place where King David kept the Ark of the Covenant, and where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Isaac. Jews believe the Second Temple, whose destruction by the Romans in 70 A.D. came to symbolize the start of the long Jewish exile, lies under the compound. Muslims revere the site as the spot from which they believe Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. At the Israeli-Palestinian peace summit at Camp David in July 2000, negotiators were unable to agree on who would have sovereignty over the site.” It is certain that the site will be in the news quite frequently in the future.
MAJOR EARTHQUAKES IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA?
As Der Spiegel Online reported on April 3, 2004, scientists at the University of Los Angeles have predicted that southern California will be hit by major earthquakes in September. The anticipated magnitude will be 6.4 on the Richter Scale — or even higher. The cause for the alarm is a recent series of minor earthquakes in the region.
MANY ARABS LIKE MEL GIBSON’S MOVIE
Associated Press reported on April 5, 2004, that Mel Gibson’s movie — “The Passion” — is a “hit” among Arabs. This, in spite of the fact that “many Muslims” normally “recoil at seeing their prophets [Jesus Christ is viewed by Muslims as a prophet] portrayed as flesh-and-blood characters,” and that the Quram, Islam’s holy book, denies the crucifixion. In sura (chapter) 4, verse 157, it is stated: “They said, ‘We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah’ — but they killed him not, nor crucified him. But so it was made to appear to them. And those who differ therein are full of doubts with no knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not.”
AP points out that Muslims believe “another man was crucified in Jesus’ place.”
Gibson’s movie has been labelled as anti-Semitic, and many Arabs approving of the movie have stated that the movie should motivate people to turn against the Jews, as the movie reveals “crimes committed by Jews against Christ.” This paradox with the official position of their own religion (that allegedly, Christ was not even killed) cannot be explained even by Arabs.
At the same time, many Jews have opposed the movie for numerous reasons. While fear of anti-Semitism was undoubtedly the major reason, another reason stemmed from the Jewish belief that Jesus Christ was not the Son of God, and that His death was just the death of an ordinary person — perhaps of a prophet.
Sadly, both Muslims and Jews, holding such beliefs, as described herein, are thereby rejecting the only “name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (compare Acts 4:12). The truth is that there is NO “salvation in any other” (same verse). To reject Christ as the Son of God, and to deny that He died and was resurrected from the dead, is tantamount to rejecting God’s gift of eternal life. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!”
Fortunately, Christ, who was God, became Man to die for us, so that we can have eternal life, when we repent of our sins and accept Christ’s Sacrifice. He was offered once to bear the sins of many (Hebrews 9:28). Christ was resurrected, to return “to those who eagerly wait for Him… apart from sin, for salvation” (same verse). Christ, the Messiah of Christians, Jews, Arabs, and the whole world, will come “a second time,” as our “great GOD and Savior” (Titus 2:13).