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How the National Prayer Breakfast sparked an unusual meeting between Muslims and evangelicals

Source: Washington Post, by Michelle Boorstein


Roberts and Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah are attending the Thursday breakfast following an unusual gathering that was held during the previous three days: 400 faith leaders coming together to forge interreligious ties, work that has been common for many U.S. faith groups for decades but often has eluded one particular pair: Muslims and evangelicals. White evangelicals have the most anti-Muslim views of any American faith group, polls show, and the meeting — timed so Bayyah could attend the huge prayer breakfast in Northwest Washington — reflects the urgency an increasing number of imams and pastors feel at a time when the world seems especially tribal and explosive.


Of course they want to bring others to Christ, said Roberts and other pastors who have been trained through his program. But among evangelicals there has been a mobilizing, a growing — if still relatively small — number of leaders who are investing in learning more about Islam, making personal relationships and working to bring their congregations together.

Some of the reason for what conference attendees described as this quiet shift is cultural, some political — and some theological. The idea that Christians shouldn’t wait for some future heavenly kingdom but instead view current life as the kingdom of God changes the willingness — and in fact eagerness — to work with a broader circle of humanity.

“Jesus teaches the Lord’s Prayer — ‘Thy kingdom come’ — and when Jesus is defining that kingdom — ‘on Earth as it is in heaven.’ The guiding principle for Christian life is: How would I live my life if this was heaven today? I’d love my Muslim neighbor, my Jewish neighbor,” said Steve Bezner, pastor of Houston NW megachurch in Houston. Bezner did a retreat with Roberts in Abu Dhabi last year and another one with local clergy this month. He was among the dozens of evangelical pastors at the D.C. conference this week.


“The first time I met an imam in my neighborhood, we’re five minutes into the conversation and he said: ‘Do you think I’m going to hell?’ I said: ‘That’s what my tradition teaches, yes.’ He said: ‘Good, I think you’re going to hell, too, so now we can have an honest conversation.’ ”


Read it all at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/02/08/how-the-national-prayer-breakfast-sparked-an-unusual-meeting-between-muslims-and-evangelicals/

Congress has another government shutdown deadline this week

Congress gave itself two weeks before another shutdown deadline and did nothing.

Source: Vox, by Tara Golshan

The federal spending bill, which Congress passed to end the three-day government shutdown two weeks ago, runs out again this Thursday, and Congress hasn’t made any progress toward reaching a permanent funding deal or dealing with the immigration issue — the problems that brought them to a shutdown in the first place.

Congress has to pass a spending bill by midnight Thursday, February 8, or the government will shut down again.


Meanwhile, DACA negotiations have completely stalled, stuck between the moderate-but-passable proposals that the White House won’t support, and conservative Trump-endorsed proposals that won’t see the light of day in the Senate. At some point, lawmakers will also have to address the debt ceiling, which the Treasury Department says it will hit by early March — earlier than expected, the New York Times reported, because of the debt taken on by the GOP tax bill passed late last year.


Now only three days before the shutdown deadline, House and Senate leaders are expected to inform their members of a plan to pass yet another short-term government spending bill to keep the government open for a few more weeks, giving lawmakers additional time to strike a more permanent 2018 spending agreement.

If it passes, it will be the fifth short-term spending bill Congress has installed since the start of the fiscal year last September, a trend that has increasingly angered lawmakers who are eager to permanently fund domestic programs and defense spending.


Read it all at: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/5/16973924/congress-government-shutdown-spending-daca

The Nunes memo wasn't meant to win over everyone - just 34 senators

US Constitution: The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds (67 out of 100) of the members present.

Source: Washington Post, by Max Boot


The case against the FBI that’s being assembled by Trump and his minions is not designed to convince dispassionate observers. It’s only supposed to give the thinnest of cover to true believers — and at least 34 senators — to do what they are predisposed to do anyway, i.e., protect the president at all costs.

The Nunes memo is a modern-day version of the jury nullification that O.J. Simpson’s legal team sought to inspire. (I’m grateful to Eric Felten of the Weekly Standard for the analogy.) Johnnie Cochran and company spun an elaborate conspiracy theory about how the Los Angeles Police Department supposedly framed their client. They were helped by minor procedural errors in the handling of evidence and by previous racist remarks from one of the detectives, just as Trump is helped by minor FBI missteps such as the Strzok texts and the alleged failure to alert a judge about Steele’s Democratic Party funding.

It was never clear why the LAPD would be eager to frame a local celebrity for murder, just as it’s not clear why the FBI — full of white, middle-age, conservative agents — would want to frame a Republican president. And, of course, the supposed police conspiracy could not possibly account for the mountain of evidence against Simpson, just as the supposed FBI conspiracy cannot possibly account for the undeniable reality that the Russians really did intervene in the election to help elect Trump and that there are numerous documented links between the campaign and the Kremlin.

But in Simpson’s case, it didn’t matter: The overwhelmingly African American jury bought the argument because jurors knew the experience of police brutality and sympathized with the defendant. Likewise, today it doesn’t matter to the president’s acolytes that the case for an anti-Trump conspiracy is so flimsy. They are simply looking for an excuse to exonerate him, evidence be damned. Sadly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders may have been wrong: Attacking the FBI could turn out to be a winning (if reprehensible) strategy for Trump.

Read it all at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-nunes-memo-wasnt-meant-to-win-over-everyone--just-34-senators/2018/02/03/607531d6-085d-11e8-b48c-b07fea957bd5_story.html

"Annihilation" Feb 23 release.

Looks like in the vein of original Solaris, Event Horizon, Sunshine, maybe even Arrival - with great actresses! Thought-provoking alien mystery?

Based on the first book of the "Southern Reach Trilogy," by Jeff VanderMeer. File under "New Weird fiction - fantasy, science fiction and supernatural horror (Wiki)."

I never heard of the books, but this looks like something I could sit through!

Trump has picked a fight with the FBI. He'll be sorry.

Source: Washington Post, by Eugene Robinson

Presidents don’t win fights with the FBI. Donald Trump apparently wants to learn this lesson the hard way.

Most presidents have had the sense not to bully the FBI by defaming its leaders and — ridiculously — painting its agents as leftist political hacks. Most members of Congress have also understood how unwise it would be to pull such stunts. But Trump and his hapless henchmen on Capitol Hill, led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), have chosen the wrong enemy. History strongly suggests they will be sorry.

I’m old enough to remember the days when J. Edgar Hoover ran the place like his own private Stasi — wiretapping civil rights leaders such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., infiltrating anti-Vietnam War groups with informers and provocateurs, seeking or manufacturing damaging “evidence” against those he targeted, keeping copious files on the peccadilloes of the politicians who were theoretically his masters. Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt through Richard Nixon coexisted warily with Hoover, afraid to fire him for fear of all the beans he might spill.

It was another FBI man — Mark Felt, then an assistant director — who became the famous source Deep Throat, secretly meeting Post reporter Bob Woodward in a parking garage to guide the paper’s illumination of the president’s crimes.

Now comes Trump. His oafish attempts to neutralize the FBI director he inherited, James B. Comey — trying to extract a Godfather-style loyalty pledge, asking him to drop the investigation of Michael Flynn, ultimately firing him — are potential fodder for what may be an obstruction-of-justice case against Trump being assembled by Mueller.

Comey wrote everything down. The FBI always writes everything down.

Read it all at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/messing-with-the-fbi-trump-doesnt-know-history/2018/02/01/53f94f62-0788-11e8-94e8-e8b8600ade23_story.html

Stocks rocked in their worst day since October 2008

That would be under...Bush's watch, wouldn't it?

Source: Business Insider, by Seth Archer

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 666 points in its biggest point decline since October 2008, when the Troubled Asset Relief Program didn't pass, according to Bespoke Investment Group. Its 2.56% decline was the biggest percentage slide since Brexit.

The big drop came after some of the largest companies in the world reported disappointing earnings for the holiday quarter. Of the mega-cap tech stocks that reported this week, only Amazon had a solid quarter, as Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft all had blemishes in their reports.

More at: http://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/stock-market-news-plummet-as-tech-earnings-disappoint-and-inflation-fears-creep-in-2018-2-1014935742

President Donald Trump's Schedule for Friday, February 2, 2018

President Donald Trump will visit the Border Protection National Targeting Center where he will tour the facility then participate in a roundtable discussion on border control.

The president and first lady will then head to Palm Beach, Florida for a weekend at Mar-a-Lago.


• 4:40 PM The President and First Lady depart Washington, D.C., en route to Palm Beach, FL – Joint Base Andrews

• 7:00 PM The President and First Lady arrive in Palm Beach, FL – Palm Beach International Airport


Doctor approved, too.

After 22 years, a synagogue study group finishes reading the Torah from beginning to end

Source: Washington Post, by Julie Zauzmer


They began reading Genesis in 1996. “I wanted to take my time with it, go slowly with it, so we could really just soak in and absorb the wisdom of the text,” Weinblatt said. “Like those people who like to take their time with a fine cigar or a fine glass of wine, we took our time with a fine work of literature.”


(Amanda Bergman says)...“Over the course of these last 20 or so years, my concept of God has changed,” she said. “That truly is from studying the Torah and learning about all the different attributes of God and the different, if you will, personalities of God.”

When she joined, in her early 30s, she thought of God as “a person up in the heavens.” Now, she considers God to be a spiritual force present in nature and in people. “I’ve been able to look at God, I think, without blinders,” she said.


Weinblatt says he doesn’t encourage anyone to take the Bible literally, saying that’s not a “Jewish way” to read scripture. In the study group, there’s a wide variety of views about the divine inspiration of the text, and he encourages everyone to keep an open mind. “If you believe the Torah is the product of human beings, you have to be open to the possibility that also the hand of God is involved here,” he tells them. “Conversely, if you believe that the Torah comes from God, you have to recognize that the hand of human beings was in here as well.”


Read it all at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/02/01/after-22-years-a-synagogue-study-group-finishes-reading-the-torah-from-beginning-to-end/

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