Patrick Howley at Daily Caller has the story:

The Obama administration spent Christmas week trying to get two Islamist organizations off a foreign country’s terror list.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim American Society are both listed as Islamist organizations by the Islamist Money In Politics database, which tracks copious political spending by figures linked to the groups. The Muslim American Society was founded as an American-based Muslim Brotherhood front group.

CAIR and MAS representatives met with “senior U.S. government officials” just days before Christmas to discuss the groups’ inclusion on the United Arab Emirates’ official list of terrorist organizations.

“The two American Muslim organizations and the U.S. government pledged to work together to achieve a positive solution to the UAE designations,” the groups said in a joint statement.

The Obama administration’s State Department recently “affirmed that department officials meet regularly with representatives of CAIR and MAS,” according to the groups.

Video and more here.

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Simon’s Cat in ‘Off to the Vet’ – Vet Visit

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Published on Dec 19, 2014 by Simon’s Cat
Simon heads off to Cats Protection HQ for some inspiration for our new film Off to the Vet!

Subtitles/CC coming soon!

Our Indiegogo campaign closed on the 6th of August. Simon’s Cat in ‘Off to the Vet’ will be released in 2015! Keep an eye on our website for any news and updates!

CREDITS:
Featuring: Simon Tofield
Nicky Trevorrow
Emily Billings

Music by: Sam Clunie
Directed by: Chris Gavin

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Giant coconut crab found in Hawai'i

Watch out for those pincers!

by 1389 on December 26, 2014

in 1389 (blog admin), animals

Star Advertiser: Giant coconut crab grabbed off Honolulu street

A nearly 5-pound coconut crab was captured scurrying along a busy Honolulu street, and the state Department of Agriculture is hoping it arrived alone.

Holly Cantere, a resident of the Moanalua neighborhood, spotted the 4.8-pound crustacean just before noon Sunday. It was crawling along Salt Lake Boulevard, KHON-TV reported.

She captured the creature in a box and called the Agriculture Department. It was the first sighting of the invasive species since 1989, according to state officials.

Coconut crabs are the world’s largest arthropod and categorized with spiders and insects. The terrestrial hermit crab is native to areas throughout the Indian and Western Pacific oceans.

Rob Toonen, a University of Hawaii professor at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, said coconut crabs can grow to 3 feet.

“Three feet is as big as a trash can. Literally, as big as a trash can,” Toonen said. “That’s why people are worried about it having it show up here. A crab that big can do damage if it’s wandering around trying to find things to eat.”

A coconut crab infestation would have a huge impact on natural resources, he said.

“They’ll raid people’s trash cans. Eat native birds. Eat juvenile plants. And tear up the landscape if they’re here. They grab a hold of things. Can rip them open. Can bust open a coconut. And the idea of that crawling around in their backyard is not going to be very pleasant to most people in Hawaii,” he said.

The Department of Agriculture took possession of the crab. The agency is not sure how it got to Oahu.

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Published on Oct 17, 2014 by SRPSKA RTV

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Published on Dec 24, 2014 by Coffee with Sr. Vassa
Subtitles: ENGLISH
Follow us on www.srvassa.com

Merry Christmas to those of you who are already celebrating Christmas! At this time of year many of us are spending time with family and close friends, while others of us might experience more acutely than usual our loneliness or the absence or loss of the one or ones we lost. Whatever our situation may be, at this time of year we are confronted in a special way with our relationships with other people. So let‘s talk a bit today about turning things around. What do I mean by that? I mean, let‘s focus on what we can give at this time rather than w-hat we receive. Because this kind of focus can liberate us from the rut of self-pity or dissatisfaction with others who surround us. As it says in a well-known prayer, “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be con-soled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in forgiving that we are forgiven; it is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.” I was thinking about this today, zillions, after I read this interview in an Austrian newspaper with a man named Georg Fraberger, who was born with no arms or legs. He‘s a man of faith, a successful psychologist, author of several books, and also happily married with children. And he says that one of the most powerful antidotes against feelings of existential Angst or fear, and also depression, is compassion for other people and empathy, along with being yourself.

The Christmas episode that Sr. Vassa refers to in the above video is here:
Coffee with Sister Vassa Ep.17 (Christmas / Рождество Христово/Χριστούγεννα)

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Abbot Tryphon: The Morning Offering

By Abbot Tryphon on Ancient Faith Radio:

December 23, 2014 Length: 9:28

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From Abbot Tryphon’s blog:

How to end isolation

In an age when families no longer eat dinner together, children watch TV, play computer games, and text message their friends from their bedrooms. When adults can be seen walking in our cities talking on cell phones. At a time in our history when people can be sitting in a cafe with friends, all the while talking to someone else on a mobile phone, we have become a people living together in isolation.

I remember from my youth visiting my elderly grandmother, always finding her radio and TV blasting away. You’d walk into her kitchen and hear a radio, while in the living room you’d find her TV on, even though she rarely was listening to either. I knew this was a sign that she was lonely and the noise kept her company. Yet, when she did have someone there to visit, all the other sounds would be shut off.

On many occasions I’ve had to ask people if they wouldn’t turn off their TV’s when I’d arrive for a pastoral call. People don’t often notice the distractions that they’ve allow to intrude into their homes, having become so accustomed to these foreign invaders. Many husbands are shocked when their wives file for divorce, having been so consumed with outside entertainment, they failed to notice the line of communication between themselves and their spouses had been lost years earlier.

Children are no longer supervised with their homework because their parents are uninvolved, partly because the technology has left them in the dark. They therefore trust their children are working on their homework. The truth is often the case that their children are watching music videos on utube, while text messaging their friends (I once taught both in a high school and a college, so I know this to be true).

Even in our spiritual lives we tend to be living in isolation. Many reserve their prayers to issues revolving around finances, or prayers offered regarding their health, or that of a family member. Yet these people rarely think of the importance of corporate prayer with family and friends apart from the Sunday Liturgy. Prayer is a private matter, rarely shared with others. The fact that public prayer outside one’s parish is now frowned upon by the government, has further eroded our sense of corporate prayer as being something we, as a nation, value.

Entertainment has also taken on a central role in our lives, becoming so important as to have replaced visiting neighbors or friends. I’m old enough to remember the day when neighborhoods were filled with homes sporting large front porches. On those hot summer nights families would be sitting on their porches, sipping lemonade and waving at passing neighbors who were actually out for a stroll. Now we all have air conditioners, and front porches have been replaced with private back patios, where no one can see us. Gone are the days of neighborliness.

Isolation rules!

The Church is the Body of Christ and by Her very nature is anything but an institution wherein one can be isolated from others. We only let it be so if we fail to involve ourselves as the people of God, with one another. The greeting given by Orthodox Christians, passing on the holy kiss when we meet one another, or kissing the hand of our priest, are ways we avoid the isolation that dominates the society in which we live. Staying for the coffee hour, or the agape meal following the Sunday Liturgy, are ways in which we can do battle against the isolation that dominates the rest of our world. Attending midweek services is another way to stave off isolation.

Our youth need to learn from us the importance of communicating directly with their friends and family. Taking children out for a Sunday afternoon drive, exploring the country side, radio off, is a wonderful way families can reconnect. Taking grandmother on a family picnic to a local park, avoiding the back yard, is a wonderful, old fashioned way of introducing community to children. Letting them play with cousins in a park, as the extended family gathers for a picnic, can build families bonds that will last a lifetime.

When was the last time you sat around with a senior member of your family and asked them to share the memories of their youth? What a wonderful way to reconnect an aging grandfather to his own youth and showing him that you value his life experiences and the memories of his own parents and grandparents. What an invaluable legacy you impart to your own children, letting them know they were not born in a vacuum, but are a part of a long line of real people.

Isolation is a terrible threat to our way of life. Young people no longer have the communication skills that past generations learned from older family members. I am astounded when I think of how much of my grandparents are a real part of who I’ve become. It is not just genetics that they passed on to me, but memories of family history that was long gone when I was born. Even parts of my personality were gleaned from my great grandfather. My study, filled as it is with photographs, icons and collectibles, is a style that became my own, having loved the same clutter and warmth of my grandparents home.

Isolation does not have to be a part of our world. It just takes commitment on our part to build family and community. When people visit the monastery I routinely ask that they turn off their cell phones, so we can all leave isolation behind and connect as family, the children of the Most High. What a wonderful thing it would be if each family had two hours each night when the house phone, cell phones, the TV, and all other outside intrusions were banned. How about an evening of playing Uno, as a family, or putting a puzzle together? Then, end the evening with the whole family standing before the icon corner, doing the evening prayers!

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

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JewsDownUnder has the story:

Hashtag Hypocrisy.

In October last year, a gang assaulted 5 Jewish people as they were walking home from a Shabbat dinner.  Not only were some of the victims injured, but the trauma of the event would have made them very wary of venturing out at night again.

In August this year, six drunken teenagers boarded a school bus taking children from 2 Jewish schools, hurling anti-Semitic abuse and threatening to cut the throats of its young passengers, some as young as 6 or 7.  This incident would have been absolutely terrifying for the young victims.

Both these events happened in Sydney and were racist to the core;  yet I can’t remember anyone from the Greens/Left rushing to accompany Jews walking home on Shabbat; there was no #illwalkwithyou campaign to make the Jews feel safe on the streets of Sydney.  Similarly, the Greens didn’t offer an #illridewithyou gesture to the poor frightened Jewish kids.

But of course, in both these cases Jews were actually victims, an inconvenient fact for the Greens, who like to portray Zionists (read Jews) as the aggressors.  If , as in the current siege, they prefer to protect those from the same group as the perpetrator, logic would dictate they offer to ride with drunken teenagers and those from the same culture as those who attacked the 5 Jews.

Rachael Jacobs

Former Greens’ candidate Rachael Jacobs wasn’t particularly concerned for the welfare of the victims of the Martin Place terror attack; her compassion was directed at the co-religionists of the perpetrator. The Brisbane Times reported:

“Rachael Jacobs’ simple offer to walk with a Muslim woman as they got off a Brisbane train on Monday sparked a social media campaign under the hashtag #illridewithyou.

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eBritić has the story:

December 17, 2014
by Wm. Dorich,
Beverly Hills

A good actress able to shed tears on command is the trademark of any actor, however, Jolie’s phony manipulation of events in Bosnia are well know from her movie, “Land of Blood and Honey.” Knee jerk drama or “Crying on Demand” seems to be her real skill at deception and fabricating a media event when her real reasons to be in Bosnia were so misleading.

Angelina Jolie with artificial collagen duck lips

A closer examination of Angelina Jolie’s contempt for real victims is not just disingenuous her “Anti-Rape Campaign” is fraught with double standards, hypocrisy, omission and a clear message that the Serbs are the perpetrator of rape and that Bosnian Muslims their victims.

When Jolie went into film production for “Blood and Honey,” Bosnia refused to allow her to film on their territory. She was fully aware of the emotional scars and personal losses of many Bosnian families—especially those of mixed marriages who viewed her movie with contempt. She lost $40 million dollars on the film paid by Saudi co-conspirators. The showing of “Blood and Honey” in Belgrade had less than 40 people for the screening, half walked out. Pretending this was make-believe her moviegoers got a loud and clear message that this was a one-sided fabrication using real victim events. The film cleverly demonized the Serbs with collective guilt.

Jolie wasted no time or headlines to mention the more than 2,000 Muslim terrorists who entered Bosnia from Osama bin Laden’s training camps in Afghanistan. They decapitated hundreds of Serbian victims and roasted dozens of Serbian soldiers on spits like animals. That reality must have proven to be too accurate for her to address? Why does Jolie not go to Belgrade where half of the rape victims were Serbians?

Angelina Jolie cleverly omits any reference to evidence and testimony by Dr. Ljubica Toholj, a Serbian gynecologist and professor at Belgrade University who personally performed examinations on more than 350 Serbian POWs. Her findings showed that the majority of these victims were homosexually raped, their testicles were burned by electrical charges and evidence revealed that broom handles were shoved into the anus of these victims that did irreparable damage to internal organs. More than half of these Serbian men were circumcised as a form of torture and in the contaminated environment many suffer from numerous infections. The majority of these men are now sexually dysfunctional. If Jolie is truly driven to tears about rape not a single tear has been shed for these Serbian men. It’s too easy for Jolie to ignore the facts that do not support her lies and distortions.

Officials at the Brussels hearings were not interested in hearing testimony from Dr. Toholj, who possessed grim and accusing affidavits from Serb victims about a variety of abuses. She had arrived in Brussels for the hearings but was refused a visa by Belgian immigration officials. How convenient.

Angelina Jolie cleverly ignores United Nations document #S24491… submitted on December 18, 1992, regarding the rape of 800 Serbian women. While the media wrote dozens of ugly articles informing its readers that “Victims of rape means the woman will never be considered for marriage and their families suffer from the stigma.” #S24491 was released a month before Tom Post wrote his infamous front page Newsweek article about “50,000 Bosnian rape victims,” on January 4, 1992. However, 800 brave Serbian rape victims gave videotaped depositions that included naming their perpetrators—yet not a single one was ever brought to justice.

I believe that the Newsweek rape story was nothing short of damage control fomented by the U.S. State Department. I telephoned Tom Post whose story claimed he interview only “28 Bosnian rape victims”—a detail buried at the end of his story. I asked how he extrapolated 28 into 50,000? He said Bosnian authorities provided him with the rape figures. Does this mean Tom Post of Newsweek fame decided not to corroborate his evidence knowing the figure was preposterous? Or was the front-page space of Newsweek too sweet a professional coup to pass up? Obviously, these are the same Muslim authorities Jolie now relies on. Screw the facts and screw the truth. The naïve public be damned!

For Envoye Special, Jerome Boney went to investigate rape on the spot by going to Tuzla, the Muslim city mentioned in all the reports. He confided his astonishment in his February 4 broadcast: “When I was 50 kilometers from Tuzla, I heard: ‘Go to the Tuzla gymnasium, there you will find 4,000 raped women.’ At 20 kilometers the figure dropped to 400. At 100 kilometer there were no more than 40. And on the spot I found 4 women who agreed to testify.” – Jacques Merlino (France 2).

National Public Radio’s Sylvia Poggioli, writing in the Fall 1993 issue of Harvard University’s Nieman Reports, said such statistical disinformation “has stuck and the prevailing perception is that only Muslim women have been the victims and Serbian fighters the only perpetrators.”

The European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights held hearings a few days later in Brussels on February 17-18, 1993, to infuse credibility into the Warburton Delegation’s tentative claim of 20,000 Muslim rape victims that was almost immediately rejected because of the lack of supporting evidence and testimony. The chairman of the U.N. War Crimes Commission, international legal expert Frits Kalshoven, said the evidence that had been gathered was insufficient, while Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross concurrently declared that atrocities and rapes were being committed on all sides.

One alleged rape victim fled Bosnia for Switzerland where she became a daily talk radio guest reciting details of her rape over and over again until she went into labor…after 3 days of total radio silence a nurse at the hospital confirmed the Muslim rape victim gave birth to a black baby… in other words, this promiscuous Muslim girl got pregnant by a black UN soldier and it was too convenient to blamed an innocent Serbian man.

Daily news articles in 1993 about Serbian “rape camps” told of women “being raped two and three times a day until becoming pregnant so they would be forced to give birth to Serbian babies.” By the end of 1994 less than 360 babies were born to rape victims on all sides, one-third of them to Serbian women. Where are the 50,000 rape babies Jolie? Like Goebbels who preached “telling a lie a hundred times it becomes the truth” Jolie wallows in this disgusting brand of disinformation.

But the media cadence about “systematic mass rape” orchestrated by Bosnian and Croat government information ministries in late 1992 was also a distraction and a decoy. It is not too cynical to surmise that the media-wide mobilization in August 1992—when imitations of Roy Gutman’s death camp stories in Newsday were taking over prime-time television, newspaper headlines and magazine covers—obscured an already lengthy list of shocking revelations of mass rapes against Serb victims. Serbs had protested for months and were becoming increasingly insistent about the existence and locations of several dozen “rape camps” controlled by Bosnian Muslims and Croats where Serb women were being subjected to unimaginable forms of rape, sodomy, torture and murder.

Gutman who wrote the book, “Witness to Genocide” was an oxymoron for a title, as Gutman never witnessed a single death in the brief time spent in Croatia and Bosnia.  In the foreword to his book his own words betray his honesty and integrity that granted him half of a Pulitzer. “Having set such lofty standards, I immediately made an exception and wrote about the Omarska camp which I had not visited, based on the secondhand witness account.”  In other words, like Angelina Jolie lying and misleading the public is part of the process in hoping the truth never surfaces.

There are questions about Roy Gutman’s association with a disgusting Croat woman named Jadranka Cigelj—or Jadranka C., Jadranka Cigev, Jadranka Cigay or a Mrs. Jadranka—and whether she was the “tipster” that launched Gutman’s search for detention camps in Bosnia during his short Zagreb stopover.

Gutman brought Jadrinka Cigelj to the United State where she made numerous television appearances and testified before the House and Senate … after she departed the U.S. evidence surfaced that Ms. Cigelj reported rape under five other assumed names.  It was also discovered that she was a member of the CIC, the infamous Croatian propaganda arm of the government in Zagreb. And like a lapdog Angelina Jolie ate it up hook, line and sinker. Or is this immoral gig too good for her career to pass up?

While the Serbian Orthodox Church received its share of blame in the media, no connection is made to the late Serbian Patriarch Pavle who led over a million Serbs in protest marches that were the largest and longest in decades against the Milosevic government. During an interview with the Swiss Federal Parliament on December 10, 1992, the Patriarch told officials: “800 Serb women were documented as repeated rape victims in 20 camps operated by Muslims and Croats.” The Patriarch also cited the Yugoslav State Commission for War Crimes on August 2, 1992—the same day Newsday’s “death camp” stories went on American newsstands that identified locations at Sarajevo, Tuzla, Bugojno, Bihac and Slavonski Brod where Serb women were confined, raped and murdered by Croat and Muslim soldiers.

One gets the impression that media distortions and phony tears are behind rebuilding Jolie’s tarnished reputation now that the North Koreans have hacked into the Sony Pictures website and have released unflattering emails about Jolie. What these emails disclose is that Jolie cannot be this ignorant when she is so vocal about human rights violations throughout the world.

The Marie Claire headline is particularly interesting because it is inadvertently and tellingly ambiguous: “Angelina Jolie In Tears On Visit To Bosnia As Part Of Bosnian Anti-Rape Campaign” – from which the intended interpretation is most likely that Jolie cried on her visit to Bosnia, which she visited as part of an anti-rape campaign … a telling ambiguity that reveals something important about how celebrity tears function in the global exchange of charity and pity.  I find it compelling that celebrities like Jolie and other actors like George Clooney about the Sudan always find issued in other countries to support instead of those right here in Ferguson Missouri, New York and the thousands of rape victims right under Jolie’s nose in Hollywood.

William Dorich is the author of 6 books on Balkan history. His newest book is: Memoirs of a Serbian-American Dissident.

Excerpt from the Sony leaks:

Scott Rudin thinks that Angelina Jolie is a “minimally talented spoiled brat”

A series of emails, leaked as part of the mass Sony hack, reveal a tense exchange between Hollywood producer Scott Rudin (whose credits include The Social Network and The Grand Budapest Hotel) and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal.

In the exchange, Rudin and Pascal discuss Angelina Jolie, who seems to have objected to director David Fincher working on Sony’s Steve Jobs biopic, rather than overseeing Jolie in her forthcoming Cleopatra film. Earlier this year, it was reported that Jolie and her husband Brad Pitt were planning to co-star in Cleopatra, alongside all six of their children.

In the following email, Rudin makes his opinion of both the Cleopatra project, and Jolie clear:

“I’ve told you exactly how I want to do this material. It’s the ONLY way I want to do this material. I’m not remotely interested in presiding over a $180m ego bath that we both know will be the career-defining debacle for us both. I’m not destroying my career over a minimally talented spoiled brat who thought nothing of shoving this off her plate for eighteen months so she could go direct a movie. I have no desire to be making a movie with her, or anybody, that she runs and that we don’t.She’s a camp event and a celebrity and that’s all and the last thing anybody needs is to make a giant bomb with her that any fool could see coming. We will end up being the laughing stock of our industry and we will deserve it, which is so clearly where this is headed that I cannot believe we are still wasting our time with it.”

Elsewhere, Rudin tells Pascal: “YOU BETTER SHUT ANGIE DOWN BEFORE SHE MAKES IT VERY HARD FOR DAVID TO DO JOBS”. Pascal then appears to have accused the producer of making threats, with Rudin denying this. In a later email, Pascal writes: “You better shut it down. That is what you said. That sounded like a threat to me”.

But that’s not all.

Angelina Jolie’s movie ‘Unbroken’ cheats the audience of the real story of Louis Zamperini.

Chuck Norris: The Rest of the ‘Unbroken’ Story

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Dallas, TX - -(Ammoland.com)- On Dec. 25, the unforgettable story about Louis Zamperini, an Olympian turned World War II prisoner of war hero, opens in theaters nationwide.

As astoundingly resilient as Zamperini was, however, his real power was found in a fact underplayed in the movie; namely, he whose birth we celebrate Dec. 25 is the one responsible for restoring and transforming Zamperini’s heart and life.

First, let me say, few lives can compare with Zamperini’s. He lived hard from a young age. He smoked cigarettes by the time he was 5, and his favorite pastime as a youth was stealing beer from bootleggers.

Cops and his family members devised a plan to harness all his criminal energy into competitive running. It worked. In 1934, he set a record by running a mile in just four minutes, 21 seconds — a speed that landed him in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin alongside Jesse Owens and other greats. He placed eighth in the 5,000-meter run, but he ran the last quarter-mile in just 56 seconds — a time that prompted Adolf Hitler to want to meet him.

Zamperini wanted to compete in the 1940 Olympics, but Europe was in the midst of war. When America burst into World War II, Zamperini was drafted as a bombardier for the U.S. Army Air Corps. During a search and rescue mission for a downed American plane, Zamperini’s own plane plunged into the ocean because of engine trouble. He was among only three of 11 who survived.

Zamperini and his two fellow crewmen were afloat on a raft for 47 excruciating days, warding off starvation, sharks and the blistering sun. They survived by eating albatrosses that landed on the raft.

In 2003, The Christian Broadcasting Network conducted a two-part interview with Zamperini. He explained, “All we did on the raft was pray morning, noon and night.” Twice conditions got so life-threatening that he bargained with God that if he would spare his life, he would serve him forever.

Eventually, a plane flew overhead, but it was a Japanese fighter, which unloaded its ammunition on them. Amazingly, they weren’t hit. They drifted for two more weeks, and one crew member died. They finally spotted land on their 47th day, but shortly afterward, they were picked up by the Japanese before ever reaching land. Zamperini weighed only about 65 pounds when he went into captivity.

For the next two years, Zamperini became a prisoner of war and suffered horrendously at the hands of a tyrant guard called “The Bird,” torture that was so bad he chose not to talk about it in his CBN interview.

At the end of the war in September 1945, Zamperini was released, returned home, got married, had a family and tried to live as normally as he could, but he just couldn’t shake the wages of war.

She grew tired of Zamperini’s daily drunkenness and sought a divorce. Meanwhile, someone told her about a young new evangelist named Billy Graham, who was coming to the Los Angeles area. She attended his crusade and gave her life to Jesus Christ, believing he died for her sins.For years, the only “help” Zamperini received for his post-traumatic stress disorder was from a bottle of alcohol. He would often awaken screaming from nightmares and even once woke up to find himself strangling his pregnant wife.

She returned to Zamperini and explained to him some good news: “Because of my conversion, Louis, I’m not going to get a divorce.” He was thrilled but added, “She and her newly found Christian friends were all over me, and I avoided them like a plague.”

Because he wanted to save his marriage, however, Zamperini reluctantly agreed to attend Graham’s next crusade, which was the Los Angeles Crusade of 1949, held in a huge tent.

Zamperini explained Billy’s preaching this way:

“He talked about one person only — the person of Jesus Christ — for 30 minutes.” Zamperini continued, “He read the Scriptures, ‘For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ and ‘The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’”

Zamperini further elaborated, “I knew I was a sinner, but I didn’t like the idea of someone else reminding me!” So he started to walk out of the crusade. As he did, he thought about all of the prayers God had answered years earlier when he was on the raft and in the prisoner camps.

The Christian Post reported Zamperini’s feelings:

“I started to leave the tent meeting, and I felt (awfully) guilty about my life. Yes, I had a lot of great times, a lot of great (experiences), a lot of escape from death, but I still didn’t like my life after the war. I came home alive. God kept his promise. I didn’t keep mine, and so I went forward and accepted Christ.”

Zamperini explained that he knew, in an instant, that God had forgiven not only him but also his captors, including “The Bird.” As miraculous proof, Zamperini explained that the nightly nightmares he’d had since leaving the war vanished. He said, “That’s just some kind of a miracle.”

In 1950, Zamperini came full circle, returning to Japan to offer forgiveness to his captors. He couldn’t meet with “The Bird” but did meet with many others, and as a result, some gave their life to Christ. In 1998, at age 81, Zamperini again returned to Japan. He ran with the Olympic torch before a cheering Japanese crowd.

Asked what gave him the strength to return to Japan and forgive his torturers, Zamperini explained, “The heart of this story is when I found Christ as my savior. That’s the heart of my whole life.”

To ensure that moviegoers understand the full picture of Zamperini’s faith and life, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has announced that it will release its own movie about Zamperini, “Louis Zamperini: Captured by Grace,” online Dec. 25 — the same day as the release of the movie “Unbroken.”

To watch a preview of “Louis Zamperini: Captured by Grace,” go to http://billygraham.org/landingpages/unbroken/?source=BT14CYZMP.

Next week, I will discuss the depth of Zamperini’s Christian faith and what his own adult children have said about it.

About:
Action hero and Second Amendment activist, Chuck Norris is one of the most enduringly popular actors in the world. He has starred in more than 20 major motion pictures. His television series “Walker, Texas Ranger,” which completed its run in April 2001 after eight full seasons, is the most successful Saturday night series on CBS since “Gunsmoke.”In 2006, he added the title of columnist to his illustrious list of credits with the launch of his popular Internet column. Now Chuck is a regular contributor to AmmoLand, click the following link to See more of Chuck Norris on AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.

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Published on Dec 22, 2014 by Coffee with Sr. Vassa
Subtitles: ENGLISH
Also follow us on: www.srvassa.com
A brief, 2-minute Christian reflection, hosted by Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin of the University of Vienna, Austria.

We are nearing the feast of the Nativity or Christmas, zillions, and one of the things we might be doing before the feast is cleaning the house or apartment before having guests over. But let‘s talk today about a different kind of “cleaning house,“ of getting ourselves in spiritual order to greet the main Guest, Who is soon to be born into our world in Bethlehem. Ideally, we should constantly be preoccupied with this activity, with what I‘ll call “Keeping our House in Order,“ but if you‘re a messy person like me, it takes more work at special moments like a great feast. Let‘s remind ourselves of the 3 main activities involved in Keeping our House in Order: 1. Self-Examination; 2. Prayer, and 3. Contemplation. All three of these, practiced not necessarily in that order, but on a daily basis, keep us in what I like to call the God Zone, let-ting God‘s grace into our lives, and carrying the vision of God‘s will into all our activities. If we are church-going people, we are greatly helped in all three of these: with the first one, self-examination, we are aided and guided in the sacrament of repentance, which includes confession. So, be-sides our daily self-examination, where we assess the work that needs to be done in our ho-use-cleaning, we also receive the grace of un-burdening our workload, so to say, by sharing it before God and another human being, a priest. Our prayer and contemplation is aided by the services of the feast and its texts, which we might take some quiet time to reflect on at home.

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Published on Dec 22, 2014 by St Nikola Serbian Orthodox Church

Lecture by Mishko Kaludjerovic (more here).

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A Christmas Story

by 1389 on December 22, 2014

in 1389 Blog Mailbox, Christianity, Christmas

From: Father Philip (Speranza)
Sent: Saturday, December 20, 2014 6:49 AM

Several years ago, a preacher from out-of-state accepted a call to a church in Houston, Texas. Some weeks after he arrived, he had an occasion to ride the bus from his home to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much change. As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, ‘You’d better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it.’ Then he thought, ‘Oh, forget it, it’s only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount?

Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare; they will never miss it. Accept it as a ‘gift from God’ and keep quiet.’

When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, and then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, ‘Here,you gave me too much change.’

The driver, with a smile, replied, ‘Aren’t you the new preacher in town?’

‘Yes’ he replied.

‘Well, I have been thinking a lot lately about going somewhere to worship.
I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I’llsee you at church on Sunday.’

When the preacher stepped off of the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, ‘Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a quarter.’

Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read. This is a really scary example of how much people watch us as Christians, and will put us to the test! Always be on guard — and remember — You carry the name of Christ on your shoulders when you call yourself ‘Christian.’

Watch your thoughts; they become words
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

I’m glad a friend forwarded this to me as a reminder. So, I choose to forward it to you – my friend. God bless you.

If you don’t pass this on to anybody, nothing bad will happen; but, if you do, you will have ministered to someone today.

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Published on Dec 15, 2014 by Coffee with Sr. Vassa
Subtitles: ENGLISH
Find more at: http://www.srvassa.com/

A brief, 2-minute Christian reflection, hosted by Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin of the University of Vienna, Austria.

As we are approaching the feast of the Nativity or Christmas, at which Christ is born, ever so humbly, in a manger, and, perhaps even more strikingly, His Mother, the All-Blessed Virgin, gives birth, ever so humbly, in a manger, let‘s reflect a bit on the elusive quality or virtue called “Humility.“ In the few words we have recorded in the New Testament of the Mother of God Herself, She makes mention of humility several times, most famously, perhaps, when soon after She‘s received news, at the Annunciation, that She will give birth to the Savior, She says: “He has regarded the humility of His handmaiden… “ (Lk 1:4 7). Now, we don‘t know all that much about the day-to-day life of Mary, the Mother of God, but every time we do encounter Her in the New Testament, Her humility is striking, and we do know that She led a life of prayer and also read the Scriptures. This re-minds us, zillions, that humility is gift; it‘s a gift from God, a state of grace that comes from putting our life in God‘s care on a daily basis, in prayer. When we stop relying on ourselves in the largely futile effort to control everything and everyone, then our reaction to things that we‘d rather not have happen to us is no longer anger, uncertainty, and fear. We have rather the spiritual strength, the grace, the peace, and yes, the humility to survive. But humility is a gift. So when it eludes us, and we notice ourselves slipping into self-reliance and dissatisfaction with people and things we can‘t control, let‘s hurry back into the God Zone and get connected with Him!

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Published on Dec 17, 2014 by Trisagionfilms
Let my prayer be like incense offered before you, and my uplifted hands like the evening sacrifice.

Credits
Director/Editor: Efstratios Papageorgiou
Script: Michael Gavalas
Voice acting: Ioannis Seraskeris
Theological Consultant: Fr. Panayiotis Papageorgiou
Music: The Choir of Thrasivoulos Stanitsas
and Lampadarios Paul Lunderberg
http://trisagionfilms.com

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Published on Dec 11, 2014 by Head Squeeze
Greg Foot heads to Battersea to get up close and personal with some cats to see how they have the ability to manipulate and control humans.

Footnotes:
1. Driscoll, Carlos A., et al. “The Near Eastern origin of cat domestication.” Science 317.5837 (2007): 519-523.
2. Coppinger, Ray (2001). Dogs: a Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution.
3. Saito, Atsuko, and Kazutaka Shinozuka. “Vocal recognition of owners by domestic cats (Felis catus).” Animal cognition 16 (2013): 685-690.]
4. McComb, Karen, et al. “The cry embedded within the purr.” Current Biology 19.13 (2009): R507-R508.
5. J. HAVLÍCEK and J. FLEGR “Decrease of psychomotor performance in subjects with latent ‘asymptomatic’ toxoplasmosis” Parasitology 122. 05 (2001), 515-520
6. Flegr, Jason “Increased risk of traffic accidents in subjects with latent toxoplasmosis: a retrospective case-control study” BMC Infectious Diseases (2002), 2:11
7. Flegr, Jaroslav. “Effects of Toxoplasma on human behavior.” Schizophrenia bulletin 33.3 (2007): 757-760
8. http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/how-a-cat-parasite-affects-your-behavior-mental-health-sex-drive

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From: Archimandrite Philip (Speranza)
Sent: Saturday, December 13, 2014 7:26 AM

Everybody loves jolly ol’ Saint Nicholas, right? But in truth, the “jolly old elf” of Clement Clarke Moore’s 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” a pipe-smoking grandpa with a bucket full of coal for naughty boys who don’t eat their cauliflower, is fantasy and a far cry from the wiry bishop who, at the 1st Ecumenical Council, pulled Arius’ beard and punched him in the face for teaching heresy.

Still, some of our images of St. Nicholas are reality-based. Consider our picture of Santa Claus (a corruption of the Dutch “Sinterklaas,” “St. Nicholas”) as the gift-bringer. That’s rooted in the real St. Nicholas tossing three bags of gold through a worried father’s window. Why? Let’s begin at the beginning. Nicholas was born in Lycia on the southwest coast of modern Turkey. His wealthy, pious parents, Theophanes and Nonna, read the Bible to him and faithfully taught him his prayers, but died while he was still young. His uncle, Bishop Nicholas of Patara, ordained young Nicholas a priest and made him his personal assistant. The zealous youth proved himself an inspiring catechist in the Christian community and an obedient servant to his uncle. During these years he showed great kind-heartedness and generosity by distributing his inheritance to the poor.

And it was during this time, when the three grown daughters of a formerly rich inhabitant were in danger of being sold into prostitution because of their father’s pennilessness, that young Nicholas literally threw his money around. Hearing of their plight, young Nicholas secretly visited the man’s house at night and threw a bag of gold in at the window to provide a dowry for one of the girls. The eldest daughter was soon married, and Nicholas again made secret donations for the other two daughters, with equally happy results. And according to one version of the story, one of St. Nicholas’ gifts landed in a sock that was hanging by the fire to dry.

But what’s crucial here is that Nicholas lived the truth of Proverbs 14:21, that “he who despises his neighbor sins; but he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.” To put it another way, the “old elf” was jolly because he’s generous. And he was generous because, firstly of all, he looked beyond himself, and took the time and made the effort to notice what was happening to other people, like that family. Others likely stayed away from them, because a man who’d lost his fortune was “bad luck” or “bad news” or just plain “bad.” But St. Nicholas took the Lord Jesus at His word in Matthew 25:40, “Assuredly I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” And secondly, Nicholas took Sacred Scripture seriously when, in 2 Corinthians 9:11 the Apostle teaches that we “are enriched in everything for all liberality [generosity];” that whatever we have over and above our own needs God intends us to share with the poor. Nicholas had a heart for obedience to the written word of God and the living Word of God, Jesus Christ; and he both talked the talk and walked the walk.

When he was young, St. Nicholas made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. During the voyage, a fierce storm came up; but through the prayers of the saint, the waves were calmed, and passengers and crew were saved. When he returned some three years later to Asia Minor, Nicholas was made archbishop of Myra. Difficult years followed for the archbishop and his flock, forced underground by the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s brutal, pitiless persecution of Christians. The archbishop, himself in hiding, nonetheless did his best to encourage his people, until the day he too was betrayed and thrown into prison. In jail Nicholas continued to sustain and exhort his fellow believers to endure torture and death for the love of Christ. Mercifully, Diocletian’s died; the persecution ended; and Nicholas was released and returned to his duties.

As a bishop, Nicholas attended the first Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in AD 325, where he assailed the heretic Arius. In the middle of his hearing, Arius stood up on his seat in order to be better heard. Enraged by Arius’ denial that Jesus Christ is true God and true man, Nicholas lost it, strode quickly over to Arius, pulled him down by his beard, and punched him in the face. The scandalized Council fathers sprang upon Nicholas, stripped him of his omophorion (defrocked him as a bishop), and threw him in prison for his brutish behavior. That night Nicholas was visited by the Theotokos who loosed his bonds and vested him again in his apostolic garb. The bishops, astonished by this miracle, realized that Nicholas’ anger, although improperly expressed, was nonetheless righteous; and he was honorably restored to his episcopal see.

During one session of the Council, Nicholas appeared to be dozing. But he actually appeared miraculously to and by his intercession saved sailors whose ship was in danger of sinking during a storm at sea. The Council fathers resentfully charged Nicholas with sleeping through the entire council, whereupon the saint answered, “While you were talking, I was busy rescuing a disaster-driven ship at sea.” Some of the pious brethren took the ship to be a metaphor for the Church. Others dismissed his words as the babblings of an old man. But not long after the council, the rescued sailors returned safely home and, traveling through Myra, recognized Nicholas as their deliverer. Not surprisingly, every Orthodox Christian sailor for the past 1500 years has sailed under the protection of St. Nicholas.

Archbishop Nicholas peacefully fell asleep in the Lord on December 6, 343. He was immediately recognized as a saint and the patron of travelers; and Christians around the world still seek his intercession to be delivered from flood, poverty, or any misfortune. St. Nicholas’ incorrupt relics were venerated for centuries in the local cathedral church of Myra. Like those of many other saints, his bones exude sweet-smelling myrrh, through which God has worked many miracles of healing for those anointed with it. During the Middle Ages the Turks conquered Byzantine Asia Minor and were a constant threat to Christianity in that region. In 1087, solicitous for the safety of St. Nicholas’ venerable remains, Italian sailors, who were devoted to this saint, plotted to steal the body and in May of that year brought it back to their home village. St. Nicholas’ relics were thus taken from Myra to the city of Bari, where the saint’s body continues to exude holy myrrh 17 centuries after his death. Every year, on May 9th, the rector of the basilica in Bari crawls into a small opening in the crypt to drain the holy myrrh out of St. Nicholas’ tomb into a glass jar. The myrrh is diluted with water and serves as anointing oil for pilgrims to Bari from across the globe, including the late Metropolitan Volodymyr of Kiev, of blessed memory.

Sadly, here in North America, we’ve forgotten the true St. Nicholas, who’s not nearly as much fun as our Santa: a funny, fat, white-bearded egalitarian who gives kids whatever they want (and knitted sweaters from Grandma that they don’t want) whether they were nice or naughty, because he’s a fair Santa. The real St. Nicholas seems to just spoil the story. (And if children stop believing in the Santa who flies down from the North Pole with his reindeer, won’t they stop getting presents?) And if we tell Orthodox children different St. Nicholas stories, won’t it wreck Christmas for someone’s precious child when she hears one of our kids tell her at school: “Santa doesn’t live at the North Pole. He sleeps by the Adriatic Sea, sweating off myrrh for lame pilgrims”?

Maybe. But telling the truth is not being a spoil-sport; it’s spreading the good news. The wonderful reality of St. Nicholas’ life is that he deeply loved the Lord Jesus Christ and so ardently believed Christmas is about the incarnation of God that even at the risk of his own life he took the Lord Jesus at His word when, in Luke 12:8, the Lord promises, “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God;” and he was willing to courageously proclaim and defend his faith, despite Diocletian’s tortures. And if he accosted the deceiving unbeliever Arius, it was because the real St. Nicholas was passionate enough to both defend the truth of Christ’s divinity and provide just reproof to a sinner. It’s a privilege to be corrected from the Word of God by a godly person, even if Arius was too foolish to receive it. As Proverbs 17:10 so wisely observes, “A rebuke goes deeper into a wise man than a hundred blows into a fool.”

Look: far from being unexciting or overly religious, the real story of the real St. Nicholas is exactly the gift kids (and grownups) need today. Most of us do not need more stuff. What we do need is someone who inspires our moral imagination and both challenges and encourages us in the virtues of love, generosity, courage, justice, and evangelism. And through his example of following Jesus Christ no matter what, St. Nicholas gives us exactly that gift we so need.

Much more here.

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