|President and Mrs. Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast|
|Pastor Abedini and his family|
The president drifted off into political correctness a few times, as when he said, "We sometimes see religion twisted in an attempt to justify hatred and persecution against other people just because of who they are, or how they pray or who they love" [my italics]. With this comment, of course, the president accuses those who believe homosexual acts to be sinful of twisting religion and justifying hatred. I guess that makes me and the Catholic Church and most orthodox Christians twisted haters. I've been called worse things.
My problem with prayer breakfasts is that they center less on on prayer and more on poorly veiled political speeches. The president's comments [you can read his entire address here] are not addressed to God but rather to the gathered Washington insiders, and their purpose is less worshipful than political. But I suppose we should be happy they actually get together once a year to talk about God...a far better subject than what they usually talk about.
Persecution of Christians. The Pew Research Center has released its latest findings on global religious persecution, and not surprisingly Christians are the most persecuted of all believers. The persecution of Christians has been reported in a mind-boggling 110 countries. Jews, who make up a tiny percentage of the world's population, experienced persecution in 95 countries. Interestingly, the harassment and persecution of believers increased in every region of the world, except the Americas. Furthermore, the number of nations experiencing religious terrorism and sectarian violence also increased significantly, doubling over the past five years. These trends are less than encouraging.
The Internet as Teacher. There's a lot of trash on the web, actually more than a lot, but there's also some very interesting stuff. You can read virtually all of the world's great literature. You can access the minds of experts in every field. You can work your way through courses offered by some of the world's great universities. You can even read this blog. And you can do much of this absolutely free! It's truly remarkable. Another fascinating online resource is Youtube. Yes, I admit that there are a lot of strange and ridiculous videos on Youtube, but there are also some very useful things. YouTube is eminently practical. For example, if you want to learn how best to re-grout the ceramic tile in your shower, there's a video showing you how. If you want to clean your Mossberg shotgun...yep, there's a video. Even more remarkable, however, Youtube can teach you how to open a bottle of wine using only your shoe! This is something I've been aching to learn for decades, and now, here it is, wonderfully encapsulated into a 49-second video, thanks to Mirabeau Vineyards.
One can also learn how to open a bottle of beer without a bottle opener, but for some reason it requires over six minutes of instructional video. Perhaps beer drinkers are slower learners.