Dec 20, 2018


Gay people should not join Catholic clergy, Pope Francis says

Pope Francis is “concerned” about what he describes as the “serious issue” of homosexuality, saying in an interview published on Saturday that being gay is a “fashion” to which the clergy is susceptible.

“The issue of homosexuality is a very serious issue that must be adequately discerned from the beginning with the candidates,” the pontiff said with regards to would-be priests.

“In our societies it even seems that homosexuality is fashionable and that mentality, in some way, also influences the life of the church,” he says in the book The Strength of a Vocation, released in Italy on Saturday.

“This is something I am concerned about, because perhaps at one time it did not receive much attention,” he says in the book, a transcript of an interview that will be released in 10 languages.

Two Jesuit provinces release names of priests with credible abuse claims

Fr. Scott Santarosa, provincial of the order's West province based in Portland, Oregon, and Fr. Ronald Mercier, provincial of the Central and Southern province based in St. Louis, released separate lists Dec. 7 of priests and religious brothers who were alleged to have abused minors.

The release of 153 names by the two provinces comes as dioceses, archdioceses and religious orders nationwide have made public since summer the names of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse.

. . .

The priests also said they released the names in response to calls for transparency from the faithful and survivors.

"Silence in the face of the events of recent months cannot be an option," Mercier said in a statement.

"Words cannot possibly suffice to express our sorrow and shame for what occurred, our promise of prayer for healing and our commitment to work with them. Caring for these survivors, and preventing any such future events, must be our focus as we move forward," he said.

Catholic News Service's Hanukkah Tweet Shows Ancient Jewish Temple's Destruction

Sometimes it's the most well-intended messages that go awry.

Catholic News Service, a U.S. denominational news agency, posted a tweet on Sunday that said: "Hanukkah began at sundown. Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate!"

An accompanying photo showed a relief from the Arch of Titus, a marble structure built in Rome in the first century that commemorates "the victory of the Roman general, later emperor, Titus, in the Jewish War of 66-74 CE," according to a project at Yeshiva University.

The relief shows Roman soldiers carrying the spoils of the war, including a seven-branched menorah from the destroyed Temple of Jerusalem. Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Temple in the second century B.C. and involves a nine-branched menorah.

Investigation Unearths Hundreds Of Abuse Allegations In Independent Baptist Churches

An investigation has uncovered hundreds of abuse allegations against leaders of a conservative, loosely affiliated network of evangelical Christian churches.

The report, published by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Sunday, identified 412 abuse allegations in 187 independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches and institutions across 40 states and Canada, with some cases reaching as far back as the 1970s.

. . .

Some of the women interviewed suggested that the patriarchal theology preached in IFB churches protects its male pastors from criticism and helps create a pattern of abuse and cover-up.

Interviewees told the Star-Telegram that pastors in IFB churches were treated as if they were chosen by God and beyond reproach. Abusers used their power and position to psychologically manipulate and silence their victims, the women said. And often, even when victims spoke up, the accused pastors would manage to avoid criminal charges and use informal pastoral networks to relocate to another church. 

Sex robot conference cancelled over backlash to proposed speech by Steve Bannon

An academic conference on sex with robots has been cancelled due to a backlash against a proposed speech by Steve Bannon, Donald Trump‘s former adviser.

Mr Bannon had been due to speak at the International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment (ACE) this month in Montana, but protests from activists and fellow speakers forced the cancellation of the event, its organisers said.

A linked conference being held alongside ACE – the International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots (LSR) – was also cancelled over the outcry, a statement on its website said.

“Since the arrangements being made for both conferences were inextricably intertwined, we have had no alternative but to postpone the congress on Love and Sex with Robots,” organiser David Levy wrote.

The Hippies Were Right: It's All about Vibrations, Man!

The mind-body problem enjoyed a major rebranding over the last two decades and is generally known now as the “hard problem” of consciousness (usually capitalized nowadays), after the New York University philosopher David Chalmers coined this term in a now classic 1995 paper and his 1996 book The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory.

Fast forward to the present era and we can ask ourselves now: Did the hippies actually solve this problem? My colleague Jonathan Schooler (University of California, Santa Barbara) and I think they effectively did, with the radical intuition that it’s all about vibrations … man. Over the past decade, we have developed a “resonance theory of consciousness” that suggests that resonance—another word for synchronized vibrations—is at the heart of not only human consciousness but of physical reality more generally.

So how were the hippies right? Well, we agree that vibrations, resonance, are the key mechanism behind human consciousness, as well as animal consciousness more generally. And, as I’ll discuss below, that they are the basic mechanism for all physical interactions to occur.

Satanic Temple monument added to Illinois Capitol rotunda displays

A display from The Satanic Temple-Chicago has been placed in the Statehouse rotunda, joining the Nativity scene to mark the Christmas season and the Menorah to mark Hanukkah.

According to the Satanic group’s application to the secretary of state’s office to allow the display, the sculpture is called “Knowledge is the Greatest Gift,” and it depicts the forearm of a young woman extended, with her hand holding an apple.

The whole structure, including the base, is about 4 1/2 feet tall, and the arm and apple statue is about 18 inches long.

Dave Druker, spokesman for the secretary of state, said the Chicago-based Satanic group had the right, just like religious organizations, to put up its display in the rotunda.

Nobody knows why the Earth just rang like a bell

Seismic sensors first picked up the event originating near an island between Madagascar and Africa. Then, alarm bells started ringing as far away as Chile, New Zealand and Canada.

Hawaii, almost exactly on the other side of the planet, also picked up the “event.”

Nobody knows what it was.

Meteorite? Submarine volcano? Nuclear test?

“I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it,” National Geographic reports Columbia University seismologist Göran Ekström as saying. “It doesn’t mean that, in the end, the cause of them is that exotic.”

. . .

Ekström, who specializes in unusual earthquakes, points out much about the Nov. 11 event was weird. It was as though the planet rang like a bell, maintaining a low-frequency monotone as it spread.

Turns Out Neanderthals And Early Humans Had Sex Waaay More Than We Thought

It's the classic on-again off-again relationship - but on an epic timescale. As early humans made their way out of Africa and into Europe and Asia, they stumbled upon their first Neanderthals. And when two sexually compatible beings live side by side for approximately 30,000 years, a little hanky panky is bound to happen.

Today, most people have about two percent Neanderthal DNA, a reminder of our ancestors' sexual proclivities. In fact, the only people who don't have some Neanderthal DNA are those whose ancestors stayed in Africa, never to frolic with their northern neighbours.

Recently, however, scientists have been taking a closer look at the human genome, and they've noticed something curious about the Neanderthal DNA in particular. It appears that people in East Asia have Neanderthal DNA that is 12 to 20 percent higher than in people of strictly European descent.

Academic revives ancient Babylonian 2,000 years after language died out

A Cambridge academic has taught himself to speak ancient Babylonian and is leading a campaign to revive it as a spoken language almost 2,000 years after it became extinct.

Dr Martin Worthington, a fellow of St John’s College, has created the world’s first film in the ancient language with his Babylonian-speaking students dramatising a folk tale from a clay tablet from 701BC.

Entitled The Poor Man of Nippur, it recounts the tale of a man with a goat who takes revenge on a City mayor for killing the animal by beating him up three times.

It is the culmination of his two decades of research into how the language, once the lingua franca of the Middle East used by Babylonian kings in Mesopotamia, Egyptian pharaohs and Near East potentates,  was spoken and pronounced.

After More Than 4,000 Years, Vibrant Egyptian Tomb Sees The Light Of Day

More than four millennia after being chiseled by Egyptian artisans, the intricate hieroglyphics and stone carvings of an ancient tomb have been uncovered.

Egyptian officials made the announcement Saturday at the site of the discovery in Saqqara, outside of Cairo, according to multiple media reports. Photographs of the tomb show a narrow doorway leading to a rectangular room, its walls covered with carved symbols, images and human forms. Particularly striking are their well-preserved colors – light yellows, rich blues and a reddish-brown skin tone.

"The color is almost intact even though the tomb is almost 4,400 years old," said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, according to Reuters. He told reporters the find was "one of a kind in the last decades."

. . .

The tomb uncovered this week dates from the reign of Fifth Dynasty Egyptian King Neferirkare Kakair, Reuters reports. The news site Egypt Today reports that the site honors Wahtye, a purification priest. It also details the collection of domestic moments carved into the walls "featuring Wahtye ... and his family, in addition to scenes depicting the manufacturing of pottery and wine, making religious offering, musical performances, boats sailing, the manufacturing of the funerary furniture, and hunting."


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