Church

So Wicked that Even Al Qaeda Disowned Them

ISIS.

Lying among a pile of papers at the hideout in Pakistan where Osama Bin Laden was shot dead was a carefully worded 21-page letter.
It warned of the rise of a new and ruthless group of Islamic extremists capable of such extreme brutality that Al Qaeda should sever all links with them.
In fact, it claimed the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or ISIS) had such complete disregard for civilian life that it could damage the reputation of Al Qaeda – if such a thing were possible for an organisation that has long traded in murderous terrorism…

Read more here.

 

Church

‘Christianity Is Finished In Iraq,’ Says Priest From Nineveh

CNA:

A man leaves his car and packs his bag at the Khazair checkpoint after fleeing from Mosul, Iraq on June 11, 2014. Credit: R. Nuri UNHCR/ACNUR via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

A priest hailing from what used to be Iraq’s largest Christian city has lamented the exodus of over 100,000 Christians from the city, many of whom are fleeing on foot with no food, money or water.

“Today the story of Christianity is finished in Iraq,” said a priest who identified himself as Fr. Nawar.

“People can’t stay in Iraq because there is death for whoever stays,” told CNA Aug. 8.

A priest who has been living and studying in Rome for the last three years, Fr. Nawar is originally from the Iraqi city of Qaraqosh (Bakhdida) on the plains of Nineveh, which was considered the Christian capital of the country until the Kurdish military forces known as the Peshmerga withdrew from it.

The city then fell to forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – known as ISIS – on Wednesday night. Since then more than 100,000 Christians have fled the city, many taking with them nothing but the clothes on their backs.

According to reports from BBC News, the Islamic State militants have taken down crosses and burned religious manuscripts…

Read on here.

 

Church

When God Was Silent

The Jewish and Christian crucible years.

At Aleteia:

The historical period that I am presently working on — roughly 200BC through 150AD — has a claim to rank among the most significant in the history of Western religion, a critical era for Jews and Christians alike. The problem is that until we decide what to call this era, it is all but impossible to understand it.

I was recently taken aback when I saw a word that I had not read in a while, namely “intertestamental.” Both word and concept are unfashionable to the point of being obsolete, but we do not as yet have a good replacement. In trying to find a better label, I am not just seeking tidiness. How we define a historical period is critical to how we approach it, and where we draw the fundamental distinctions between what does and does not belong within that topic.

Once upon a time, Christian scholars identified a sharp and obvious division between the writing of the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament ended with the restoration work of Ezra and Nehemiah, and the prophet Malachi, around 420 BC. The story then resumes with the opening of the New Testament, with the birth of Christ, and the missions of John the Baptist and of Jesus himself. Historical events certainly happened in those four centuries, some of great moment, but the gap was clear.

God rested his voice for a solid four centuries.

Critical Bible scholarship then blurred the distinction, pointing out that parts of the Old Testament belonged to that gap period. Daniel’s prophecies belong to the mid-second century BC. The Catholic Bible canon includes such first and second century BC texts as Maccabees and the Wisdom of Solomon.

The other critical development has been the enormous outpouring of research on what are generally called Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, “falsely-titled” writings, which together constitute a vast body of literature. Some of these had always been known in parts of the Christian world, in Ethiopia or the Slavonic lands, while others were discovered afresh, most famously with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

We now know that the era between about 200 BC and 150 AD was an era of enormous tumult and creativity in the Jewish and early Christian worlds. These centuries saw the great encounter between Judaism and Hellenism, as the Jewish world found its second capital in Alexandria. This is also the famous age of Jewish sects, like the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Enochic groups. I use these terms gingerly, as to speak of “sectarian” Judaism exaggerates their bizarre quality, and makes too many assumptions about the normality of “normative” Judaism.

Each of the great events called forth literary responses…

Read on here.

 

Religion

Rumors Abound but God’s Protection of Israel is No Fable

“A land that the Lord your God cares for. The eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.” (Deuteronomy 11:12)

IDF soldiers conduct training in a field near the border with Gaza in Southern Israel, on July 22, 2014. (Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Breaking Israel News:

Over the more than month long Operation Protective Edge conflict between Hamas terrorists and the IDF, a strikingly few number of civilian casualties have been suffered on the Israeli side.
Over 3,356 rockets have been fired at Israel, with that number rising everyday, and only four people have been killed as a result of rocket fire. While Israel’s Iron Dome is a wonder to behold and responsible for maintaining the safety of Israeli civilians from rocket fire, the numbers show that only 578 rockets were destroyed by Iron Dome Interceptions, or roughly 17 percent of all rockets fired at Israel.
Simple statistics show that there is something extraordinary occurring here.
Whether one chooses to believe that providence is behind the overwhelming number of misfired rockets or not, one must admit that the number of casualties should in theory be higher. After all, Hamas is quite experienced when it comes to rocket fire at Israel, having more than 14 years of experience.
Combine the above observation with the somewhat historical and biblical outlook of the Israeli public and military, and one is bound to come away with a viewpoint that at the very least recognizes the possibility of divine protection or intervention, thus setting the stage for the myriad of ‘bonafide’ stories telling of divine intervention sprouting forth like wildfire on social media networks in Israel…

More here.