- - Friday, May 20, 2016

1| United Methodist Church votes to withdraw from pro-abortion lobby, by Mark Tooley

On May 19 history was made. The United Methodist General Conference, representing a 12 million member denomination, voted to withdraw its church agencies from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), a Washington lobby that opposes all restrictions on abortion.

In 1973 the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) organized what was then the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, which for many years was housed in the Methodist Building on Capitol Hill. The group from the start opposed any restrictions on abortion including parental consent laws. Support for abortion rights was conventional wisdom for Mainline Protestant elites in the early 1970s.

United Methodists have debated RCRC for much of 40 years, with especially close General Conference votes in 1992 and 2008. GBCS and the New York-based United Methodist Women, which also belonged to RCRC, have long vigorously rebutted any attempts to withdraw.

2| Oklahoma abortion bill: Legislature passes bill that makes performing an abortion a felony |NPR

Oklahoma lawmakers have passed a bill that makes performing an abortion a felony.

NPR’s Jennifer Ludden told our Newscast unit that the bill is the first of its kind, and an abortion rights group plans to sue if the governor signs the bill into law. Gov. Mary Fallin has not yet indicated what she plans to do. Here’s more from Jennifer:

“Under the bill, doctors who perform an abortion could face three years in prison, and lose their medical license. There are no exceptions for rape or incest — only the mother’s life. Oklahoma lawmakers passed the measure with no debate. The only doctor in the Senate — a Republican — voted no, calling it ‘insane.’ “
That doctor, Sen. Ervin Yen, predicted it would be “declared null and void” should it be signed into law, The Oklahoman reported.

3| Ed Stetzer in The Washington Post: Call yourself a Christian? Start talking about Jesus Christ

As I head to Wheaton College to take a newly created endowed chair, I’m aware of the man it is named after — Billy Graham. He was known for many things that should be part of our reputation as well. He cared for the hurting, sought to bring peace to tumultuous times and partnered with others for the greater good. Ultimately, however, he was mostly known for one thing: sharing the gospel.

And we should do the same today.

In Jesus’ last words before he ascended, he said we are to “make disciples of all nations.”

Evangelism isn’t just one part of our calling. It is central to our calling. Jesus’ last words should be our first priority.

4| The Toothbrush: A Beacon Of Our God-Given Creativity

The act of purchasing this toothbrush is benign for most of us. You didn’t plan for weeks, scouring Amazon for consumer reviews. You probably didn’t call your mom first to ask her which toothbrush is best for you. You didn’t call your dentist for a consult before making this purchase.

…Because when you live in a flourishing society, you don’t have to.

…When we live in a society where people can unleash their God-given creativity, we get things like toothbrushes. We can trust the strangers who produce these life-saving things we put in our mouths. We don’t have to inspect the factory or know the toothbrush plant manager to trust the item. This is because market trade allows us to trust strangers. This sort of trust frees us from having to make toothbrushes (and other items we might not skilled at making) on our own.

When we discuss these things in class, I often ask my students what they have that George Washington didn’t. He had many things that most of us don’t: the title of President of the United States of America, a large farm, lots of resources, etc.

But George didn’t have a toothbrush, or floss, or mouthwash. Near the end of his life he had false teeth made of wood. Can you imagine that? All you will ever have to do is imagine that—you won’t have to experience it—because of the productive energy of strangers who wake up in the morning to provide you with things like toothbrushes.

5| How we caught a black hole emitting intense wind

***As the Psalmist wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

We continued to study the black hole for 25 years, but it was very quiet for most of the time. Luckily I happened to be observing it on June 14 2015, just 13 hours before its next outburst happened, and noticed the accretion disc was moving in towards the black hole. This beautifully illuminates the physics of accretion discs going into an “active” state, so I knew what was coming. Once the outburst began, an international team of astrophysicists was assembled to follow it in detail, using telescopes available to us now of vastly greater power compared to what we were using 25 years ago. This time, its X-ray brightness increased a million fold in a few days, becoming the brightest source in the sky.

The results, which have just been published in Nature, are surprising. They show a powerful wind of hydrogen and helium emanating from the black hole and travelling at a mind-boggling speed of 3,000 kilometres a second. Formed in the outer layers of the accretion disc, this wind has to move quickly to be able to escape from the immense gravitational field surrounding the black hole.

6| Pope Francis rips ‘bloodsucking’ bosses and prosperity theology |RNS

Pope Francis has blasted employers who do not provide health care as bloodsucking leeches and he also took aim at the popular “theology of prosperity” in a pointed sermon on the dangers of wealth.

Referring to businesses that hire employees on part-time contracts so they don’t have to provide health and pension benefits, Francis said Thursday (May 19) that was akin to sucking the blood from their workers’ veins, leaving them “to eat air.”

“Those who do that are true leeches, and they live by spilling the blood of the people who they make slaves of labor,” the pontiff said at morning Mass in the chapel of the Vatican guesthouse where he lives.


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