Virgin Mary Statue Beheaded; Owner Calls It A Hate Crime

Via the Huffington Post:

Usually, gnome news is good news, but it’s terrible for Darlene Fraga — and her Virgin Mary statue.

Vandals snuck on to Fraga’s property in Windsor Locks, Conn., a few weeks ago and hacked off the head of the Virgin Mary statue in her yard. A week later, the head was replaced with a garden gnome.

“It just hurts me so bad I want to cry,” Fraga told “They took a sledgehammer or something and decapitated her and took her crown of roses and her rosary beads.”

Police investigating the matter don’t have a suspect, but believe kids may be responsible since there have been other reports of random vandalism in the area.

Fraga has a different theory: The head hacking was a hate crime against her.

“That’s up in my yard. That’s not near the corner. That’s right on my yard,” Fraga told

Fraga’s friend, Roger Cygan of Somers, is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, according to Associated Press.

As hard as it’s been for Fraga, she has yet to move the Virgin Mary statue or the gnome.

“I think after I get over the initial shock, I’m going to take the whole thing down,” Fraga told

Regardless of whether there are any arrests, Fraga believes the culprit will have to answer to a higher authority.

“Whoever did it, God knows and you know,” she told the station. “It’s riding on your shoulder now.”


Bible Archaeology

Archaeologists Discover First Temple Era Water Cistern in Jerusalem

The large reservoir is believed to have been used by pilgrims to the Temple Mount who required water for bathing and drinking.

The Jerusalem Post reports:

A large water reservoir dating to the First Temple period was uncovered  during archaeological excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities  Authority (IAA), in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority,  near Robinson’s Arch in Jerusalem.

The excavation which exposed  the reservoir is part of ongoing efforts to map ancient Jerusalem’s  entire drainage channel. The findings, together with other discoveries  from the past year, will be presented on Thursday at the 13th annual  conference on the “City of David Studies of Ancient Jerusalem.”

The recently discovered reservoir, with an approximate capacity of 250  cubic meters, is one of the largest water reservoirs ever discovered  from the First Temple period. Due to its size, archaeologists believe  the reservoir was designed for and used by the general public.

According to Eli Shukron, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel  Antiquities Authority, “the exposure of the current reservoir, as well  as smaller cisterns that were revealed along the Tyropoeon Valley,  unequivocally indicates that Jerusalem’s water consumption in the First  Temple period was not solely based on the output of the Gihon Spring  water works, but also on more available water resources such as the one  we have just discovered.”

Dr. Tvika Tsuk, chief archaeologist of  the Nature and Parks Authority and an expert on ancient water systems,  presumed that “the large water reservoir, which is situated near the  Temple Mount, was used for the everyday activities of the Temple Mount  itself and also by the pilgrims who went up to the Temple and required  water for bathing and drinking.”

She added that the reservoir’s  general characteristics typify the First Temple period and resemble  ancient water systems previously found near Beersheva, Arad and Bet  Shemesh.

Upon completion of the excavations, the IAA will examine the possibility of turning the water reservoir into a tourist  attraction.


Lutherans Latest to Reject New NIV Bible Over Gender Language

Good… The more the merrier. It’s a very poor translation of the Scriptures.

The updated NIV Bible has gained another critic: the Lutheran  Church-Missouri Synod. In a recent report, a panel of Lutherans cautioned  against use of the new NIV over gender-related issues.

“The use of inclusive language in NIV 2011 creates the potential for  minimizing the particularity of biblical revelation and, more seriously, at  times undermines the saving revelation of Christ as the promised Savior of  humankind,” the Commission on Theology and Church Relations Executive Staff  stated in an August report.

“Pastors and congregations of the LCMS should be aware of this serious  weakness. In our judgment this makes it inappropriate for NIV 2011 to be used as  a lectionary Bible or as a Bible to be generally recommended to the laity of our  church.”

The New International Version is reported to be the world’s leading  contemporary English Bible translation as it is known for being easy to  understand. It was announced in 2009 by global ministry Biblica that the popular  translation would be revised for the first time in 25 years.

The updated NIV (completed by members of the Committee on Bible Translation,  an independent body of global biblical scholars that has the sole authority to  update the text of the NIV) was released in 2011 and has drawn criticism largely  over its revised gender language.

Critics include the Committee on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and the  Southern Baptist Convention, which officially rejected the revised NIV last  year, saying it “alters the meaning of hundreds of verses, most significantly by  erasing gender-specific details which appear in the original language.”

Conservative Lutherans are the latest to express caution against use of the  2011 NIV.

The Commission on Theology and Church Relations of the LCMS has long  recognized that language evolves. It also acknowledged the intent of the  Committee on Bible Translation to try to communicate the meaning of the Bible’s  texts in English as it is used today.

But the commission took issue with some of the substitutions for masculine  singular pronouns.

“While there may be many examples in which such substitution does not change  the sense or inherent intent of the passage,” the commission reported, the  approach is advised against because “of its potential to alter  significantly the meaning of passages.”

Among the changes made in the updated NIV is the substitution of “he,” “him,”  and “his” for “they,” “their,” and “them.”

The commission provided two significant examples where such a revision proved  to affect the meaning of Scripture “adversely”…

There is more with examples here.



Eastern Orthodox Lose Two Evangelical Bridges

Christianity Today:

Metropolitan Jonah, by most accounts the highest-ranking, evangelical-friendly archpriest in North America’s Eastern Orthodox Church, resigned under duress in July.

His removal has observers less concerned about his leadership shortcomings, which allegedly led to his removal, than about the widening gap between conservatives and the Orthodox Church.

“His efforts were the most explicit attempt by any Orthodox hierarch to join with evangelicals and other conservatives in a common social agenda,” North Park University professor Brad Nassif said of Jonah’s nearly four-year tenure as primate.

Jonah, a former Episcopalian, was especially popular among the convert wing of the Orthodox Church of America (OCA), which in 2008 constituted 51 percent of the denomination’s 85,000 North American adherents, according to the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute.

His ecumenical social efforts also endeared him to a wider conservative audience. In 2009, he linked arms with prominent evangelicals and conservative Catholics in signing the Manhattan Declaration, which defended a traditional definition of marriage and denounced abortion.

His bold social stances drew the ire of members of his own community, according to conservative pundit and Orthodox convert Rod Dreher.

Dreher, who broke the news of Jonah’s resignation, compared the OCA synod in a blog post to “a pack of ravening wolves” that he said has long been trying to unseat its leader.

The New York-based synod countered the Internet buzz with a statement outlining the allegations that led to Jonah’s forced resignation, including that Jonah knowingly harbored a priest accused of rape in his diocese.

The synod said its request “came at the end of a rather long list of questionable, unilateral decisions and actions, demonstrating the inability of the Metropolitan to always be truthful and accountable to his peers.”

Jonah’s resignation came only five days after the death of 73-year-old Peter Gillquist, who infused evangelical fervor into the Antiochian Orthodox Church beginning in 1987, when he led some 2,000 of his Protestant followers into Eastern Orthodoxy.

“If he had not come into the church and brought those people in, our church would have atrophied to the point of near extinction,” Nassif said. “Gillquist came along at the right moment in American Orthodox history.”

Among his many accomplishments, Gillquist helped create the first Orthodox study Bible and served for a quarter of a century as chairman of the archdiocese’s department of missions and evangelism.

Gillquist, like Jonah, served as a critical bridge for relations between evangelicals and Orthodox, having spent the majority of his career on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ before his conversion.

Frederica Mathewes-Green, a prominent Orthodox author and speaker, called the losses a “double blow” to American Orthodoxy. However, she doesn’t believe this will affect relations between the two groups.

“The change that has taken place so steadily over the years can’t be undone by these two losses,” she said. “And yet, they are losses we regret all the same.”