The courage and sacrifice of today's Christian martyrs should not go unnoticed and unappreciated. One such heroic figure, the 94-year-old Roman Catholic bishop Cosma Shi Enxiang, has recently died in Chinese custody, according to an official government statement, reported on February 2 by an independent Catholic news service focusing on Asia. His generation felt the brunt of Chinese Communist cruelty, but his death as a religious prisoner reminds us that religious repression in China is far from over.
Altogether, since 1954, Bishop Shi was held captive for over 40 years by the Communist government for his religion, making him one of the longest serving political prisoners of our age. (I intend in no way to minimize the suffering of Nelson Mandela and Alexander Solzhenitsyn by pointing out that Mandela was imprisoned by South Africa's apartheid government for 27 years, and that Solzhenitsyn was forced to spend eleven years in the Soviet gulag.)
He was incarcerated for refusing to submit to government religious oversight — oversight that precludes, for example, preaching against abortion and female infanticide. His final detention, at a secret location, lasted 14 years and nothing is known about it. His first prison term spanned 23 years, from 1957 to 1980, and was mostly spent doing hard labor, first at a labor camp in Heilongjiang province, then in coal mines in Shanxi province. He was rearrested in 1989 and released in 1993. Though his health was ruined, he continued to serve as bishop in the years in between. more >>
Like so many others, I find it impossible to believe Brian Williams simply "made a mistake." At the risk of indulging in armchair pop psychology, I'd say it's far more likely that a titanic ego collided with reality, and reality lost.
In my own experience, there are few things more humbling than getting downrange and realizing that — no matter your accomplishments back home — you're not really a big deal. It's especially humbling when your accomplishments are all in the civilian world, with the "bragging rights" consisting of degrees from fancy schools, cool media appearances, and writing opportunities — all things that mean exactly jack and squat when you come face-to-face with young guys who know what it's like to look death in the eye and do their job with courage and honor. Even an NBC News anchor can feel small next to a guy who just kicked down a door and went in with no knowledge of what was waiting for him on the other side, or just rolled back into the gate after a six-hour firefight. That's not to say that it's not a real accomplishment to become a news anchor. It is. But it's not one that requires the depth of courage and fortitude a person sees at war. And the contrast can be humbling — or humiliating, if one is given over to arrogance and envy.
I served with heroes. I've told many stories from my deployment, of guys who did things I'll never do. It was an honor to serve with them, and to do what little I could to facilitate and empower their work. But I'm not them. My story will never be their story. And that's okay. more >>
A pro-Israel group says "shame" should be on any member of Congress who decides to skip next month's address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Last month, Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, invited Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress regarding the possible removal of economic sanctions against Iran.
"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes the case for renewed Iran sanctions with greater expertise and insight than any other leader on the world stage today," David Brog, executive director of Christians United For Israel, told The Christian Post. more >>
Supporters of the Islamic State terrorist organization are distributing a recently modified version of a popular first-person shooter video game that allows gamers to role play as ISIS militants who are on a mission to murder westerners.
The Daily Mail reports that supporters associated with ISIS are distributing a modified version of the Czech-produced video game ARMA III, that allows users to pretend to be radical extremist characters based off of Islamic State militants.
Although the original ARMA III game takes place in the year 2030 and only allows users to take on the role of NATO forces fighting against coalition forces from Middle Eastern and Asian countries, the new ISIS modification allows players to control militants and specifically rewards players for killing not only westerners but Syrian regime soldiers and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, as well. more >>
Churches in Jordan have offered their prayers and condolences to the Muslim family of the fighter pilot burned alive by ISIS earlier this week, and have urged for peace, religious harmony and unity. King Abdullah II has promised, however, that there will be a "relentless" war against ISIS in retaliation for the murder.
Father Rifat Bader of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Amman said on Wednesday that "as the churches denounce this heinous crime against humanity, they ask all citizens to reinforce their national unity under the Hashemite leadership, led by King Abdullah II."
Bader added, according to Catholic News Service, that Christians are holding prayer vigils for religious harmony "so that religions will constitute a factor conducive for peace, harmony and unity among people, rather than a factor leading to division, killing, oppression and dispute." more >>
Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill revealed that over 60 churches were recently damaged by heavy fighting in the Donetsk and Horlivka dioceses in Ukraine. The patriarch called for an end to the bloodshed between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels, which he said has led to suffering and persecution of Christians.
"The whole civilian population of Donbas is suffering from the humanitarian disaster and armed conflict there together with the devout members of our church, whose parishes and cloisters make up a majority of religious communities in the region," Kirill told senior clergy, as translated by Interfax-Religion.
Western leaders have blamed Russia for directly supporting the rebels who've taken over a number of cities in eastern Ukraine, which has lead to the deaths of over 5,000 people. Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, has denied all accusations of involvement in the conflict. more >>