Pagan Idols Set Up in English Martyrs Church

Alan Williams

BRENTWOOD, England (ChurchMilitant.com) – A Catholic church in England is facing backlash for displaying Hindu, Buddhist and African idols in front of the altar for a service marking Pope Francis’ pan-religious day of prayer.

On Thursday morning, the diocese of Brentwood tweeted a picture of the idols of Shiva and Buddha, alongside an icon of Jesus the Good Shepherd and an African carving advertising an “interfaith prayer service” to be held at the Church of the English Martyrs, Hornchurch, at 7 p.m.

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Fr. Britto Belevendran, pastor of English Martyrs, Hornchurch

“Pope Francis has appealed for a Day of Prayer and Fasting and Works of Charity for believers of all religions on 14 May, to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic,” the diocesan website announced.

“In response to this appeal, Fr. Britto Belevendran, chair of the Interfaith Committee, will be leading an interfaith prayer service at 7 p.m. on Thursday 14 May (live streaming).”

“He says: ‘I invite the parishes and friends of other faiths to come together to pray for the healing of the globe and our fragile humanity from the present pandemic,” it continued. “Please join in in whatever ways you can.'”

Within minutes, hundreds of outraged Catholics bombarded the diocese’s Twitter thread accusing Fr. Belevendran of idolatry, syncretism, sacrilege and the heresy of indifferentism.

Catholic commenters hit out at the parish priest: “Shame on you.” “Willfully breaking the first commandment.” “Repent!!! You will suffer hellfire for this!” “This is sacrilege, and I will be contacting your diocesan chancellor.”

Not a single comment was positive or in favor of the interfaith service. 

Within less than an hour of Church Militant contacting the priest for comment, the tweet with the photograph of the idols was deleted. 

“It is ironic that this happened in a church named in honour of the English martyrs whose feast day was only celebrated a week ago,” Catholic journalist Caroline Farrow told Church Militant.  

“These priests, religious, laymen and women gave their lives so that Catholicism could be preserved. While it may have been motivated by good intentions, this act of blasphemy nonetheless spits upon their selfless sacrifice,” she lamented. 

The U.K. campaign director for CitizenGO told Church Militant she is running a campaign attempting to persuade the government to reopen churches: “But you have to wonder that if idol worship is what they are going to be used for, perhaps it’s better they remain closed.”

Farrow added:

You have to wonder what on earth the parish priest was thinking of allowing a 10-armed pagan idol to sit atop an altar. Worse still, that whoever was running the diocesan Twitter account appeared to agree and endorse this act of sacrilege. The bishop needs to be alert to the spiritual dangers of this, all of those involved need a course on remedial Catholicism and some serious reparation needs to be made. 

An Indian convert to Catholicism told Church Militant she was heartbroken by the idolatry: “My ancestors worshipped these idols and I am grateful to the Catholic missionaries who came and preached the Gospel to my ancestors, delivering us from worshipping such grotesque images of wood and stone.”

It is ironic that this happened in a church named in honour of the English martyrs whose feast day was only celebrated a week ago.

“Father Belevendran says he is from India,” she said. “Doesn’t he know how the caste system of Hinduism oppressed us for 3,000 years and only Christianity liberated us? Doesn’t he know the idol he placed on the altar is that of Shiva — the Hindu god of destruction?”

“Is the Bishop of Brentwood so racist that he believes Catholicism is only for white English people and not for brown-skinned Indians like me and so I need to go back to Hinduism?” she asked. “The image of Shiva as Nataraja on the altar conveys the Indian conception of the never-ending cycle of time, which is completely contrary to the biblical linear concept of time.”

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Bishop of Brentwood Alan Williams

Church Militant wrote a second time to Fr. Belevendran asking why the post with the picture of idols was suddenly pulled from the diocesan Twitter feed, asking him why he chose to reject the uniqueness of Jesus, the Son of God, and “install a statue of Shiva (Nataraja) the god of destruction on a table before the altar.” As of press time, Church Militant received no response. 

Brentwood diocese under Bp. Alan Williams is continuing to promote Pope Francis’ pan-religious day of prayer. Another tweet invites Catholics to join in Holy Mass “in response to Pope Francis’ call for interfaith Day of Prayer.”

Meanwhile, following Church Militant’s report on Catholics condemning the pontiff’s day of prayer as “blasphemy” and “sacrilege,” the pontiff has responded asserting that he is not promoting “religious relativism” but human fraternity.   

“Perhaps there will be someone who will say: ‘This is religious relativism and it cannot be done.’ But how can we not pray to the Father of all?” Francis asked in the Santa Marta chapel on Thursday.

“Everyone prays as he knows, how he can, as he has received from his own culture. We are not praying against each other, this religious tradition against this, no,” the pontiff added. “We are all united as human beings, as brothers, praying to God, according to our culture, according to our own tradition, according to our beliefs, but brothers and praying to God. This is the important thing.”

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This content was originally published here.

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WHY I WON’T GET MARRIED OR HAVE CHILDREN – NOLLYWOOD ACTOR-CUM-PRODUCER OLU MICHAELS

Nollywood actor and film maker, Olu Michaels, 48, is one of the movie entrepreneurs who invested so much without getting the desired reward. He has worked with many  big names in the Nigerian movie industry, including Funke Akindele on Jenifa’s Diary for two years. The travel agent-cum-producer, in this no-hold-barred interview with OLAITAN GANIU revealed why he wants to remain single, and even childless, how his multi-million naira investment on movie project went down the drain, among others. Excerpts:

IT seems you’re a jack of all trade. What aspect of entertainment are you venturing into now?

I’m focusing on movie production because I’m looking into changing the narrative where this cartel has been in the industry for a while. I don’t like the idea where each time I switch on my television, there are certain people who do a so-called English movie. Also, as a producer, each time I said I want to produce a movie, I was told: ‘If this or that person are not going to be in the movie, we won’t buy it.’

I have actually produced a movie, gave it to a marketer and they refused it simply because the director is a Yoruba man or he is not part of their caucus. So, why is that? As long as the storyline is good, why do I have to bring your clique into my production? In the next two years, I’m looking into changing the narrative.

What approach are you using in changing this narrative?

Of course, I will keep doing what I know how to do best. Over the years, I’ve worked for many people and my observation is that once you are creative and unique, if you’re in a hole, clients will look for you. So, my approach is, continue producing good movies. If the content is good, the storyline is fantastic and picture quality is perfect, fans will look for you.

Do you partner with digital platforms?

No, this is another problem – getting a link with Netflix, Showmax, iRoko and likes. Hopefully, we would get a link someday because I am so passionate about dominating the Nigerian movie industry. Over six years, with the little money I saved, added with loan – my plan was actor to buy a house with money in Ajah, but the plan changed when I was coming back from France and I met an actress at the airport. I told her my desire to become a popular actor and she was like: ‘I could help you if you really want.’ As we speak, I have invested almost N100million and I’ve not got a penny back, not even a thousand naira.

Why?

It is annoying if I want to go in detail. The first movie I ever made titled, Igbekele, was shot for N2.1million and before I got a marketer to buy it for N600,000. In fact, the marketer was telling me, ‘I am just doing you a favour and to encourage you.’

Since then, about 13 movies I have produced so far are here on my table and the cheapest of them is N2.1 million. Last week I just finished one for N4.7million.

Do you think that is what’s robbing off movie entrepreneurs?

There are so many producers who have been here before me and some of them told me: ‘I give you just one year. You might not have money to feed.’ And, honestly, they are not lying because in less than six months, I have spent N47million and have not got a penny.

Even the N600,000 I said earlier the market bought my movie, he promised to pay in 4-5 months’ time and that will by February 2020. And people buy from us and sell it to online platforms for millions.

Read Also: Nollywood Actress Eniola Ajao opens up: my relationship with movie star Odunlade Adekola

So, what do you think is the way forward?

Well, what I think will help is when a company such as DSTV, Rock (Remi Njoku) open their doors; they only appoint a few people who can go to them. I think marketers might have edge over us as producers.

At a point, I was willing to give my movies to DSTV for free. All they need to do is to make the movie known to people and after a while, people will pay for it. Again, I’m not asking these people to give me money to produce movies. I have all the necessary resources and equipment to perfect movie but at least they should see the content but they will rather take their own people.

And for your movie to be in cinemas in Nigeria is not easy except you are a popular actor or actress.

Despite these challenges, you keep producing, why?

I will keep producing movies, except there is no money. But as long as there is funds, I don’t think I will stop. Honesty, I should get tired because of the house I’m hoping to buy. I don’t have it. Since I don’t have a house to stay, I will keep shooting. I just keep hoping that I won’t get tired one day.

Which project are you currently working on?

We just rounded off a movie last week and we are shooting another three before the year runs out. We are just waiting for the two titans, Omotola and Genevieve – in the Nigerian movie industry. I am currently working on featuring the two together on one of our projects.

For two years, I was part of a crew that worked on the popular comedy series, actress Jenifa’s Diary, created by Funke Akindele. I have produced several movies through my production outfit by the name ‘ibelieve’. The outfit has  produced  movies such as Irin Ajo, Like mother Like son, Crack, The Messenger and Tafa Onimoto among others.

 How are you charging the government to intervene?

The federal government has been doing the little they could but unfortunately, there are some people that are supposed to speak too, especially the veterans, to encourage the younger ones.

 As an actor, what do you look forward to in the script?

Deep storyline. In Nigeria, most scriptwriters narrow a storyline, they write based on one family. One of the best movies I saw recently is a movie titled, ‘King of Boys’. In the movie, there are lots of stories. You might just be seeing only Shola Shobowale but there over seven stories in the movie.

As a professional filmmaker, do you think it’s ideal to produce a movie in two to three days?

Well, it depends on the story. I won’t say it is wrong or right. When I came into the industry that was what was being done. I’ve been in a movie set in Asaba to produce an English movie and at a point, I wanted to run away because that is what I was used to in Yoruba setting, which could take about two to three days. If you go more than three days, they will tell you, it’s a project.

Today, a project is one week and what the English movie refers to as project is years but Yoruba sector, three days, we are through with a movie because of the cost and that is why there is no substance. I’m challenging all that with my movie project.

What would you describe as your best achievement?

So far, each time I get on set, I have been able to touch different lives. I am passionate about empowering and doing charity work. I believe if you are from nowhere, you will understand what it takes when someone begs you for food. Sometimes, I don’t like giving cash but prefer to donate the machine or equipment needed. While I was growing, I had nobody to help me. The worst that can happen to people is being poor without having someone to help.

 Any plans to venture into politics?

Yes, eventually I am hoping to become a governor or senator.

 Are you married?

I’m not married, and I don’t intend to. Truth be told, I’m scared of marriage and I don’t think I will ever get married. Though, I wanted to have kids when I was younger but not now, it is too late. Why I said it’s too late for having children is that I am a workaholic and I don’t  like a situation where I would want to sleep and then a baby starts crying. My parents have been begging me to get married but no.

 What do you look out for in a woman?

I am a jealous man. For example, if I marry an actress and I see her kissing another actor on set, I will never tolerate such. Also, if I marry a beautiful woman, I might never concentrate on my work because I will be on the look to protect her.

 How do you feel being lonely at night?

What I do every time I feel lonely is that I have a car that I bought with all my money. It is a Mercedes-Benz and the interior is wow. I love it. I just drive round town and get home and sleep off.

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Film producer blame filmakers for “Lionheart” disqualification at the Oscars

Agency Reporter

The entire Nollywood is to be blamed for the disqualification of Nigeria’s Oscar choice “Lionheart’’, a movie producer, Chima Okereke, said on Wednesday

“Lionheart”, directed by Genevieve Nnaji, was Nigeria’s first-ever Oscar submission for best international feature film.

It was disqualified on Monday by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for not having “a predominantly non-English dialogue track”.

Films for the must have a predominantly non-English dialogue track but the 95-minute Lion Heart is largely in English, with an 11-minute section in the Igbo Language.

Okereke, the Managing Director of the Fresh Talent Production, a movie company, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the structure was flawed.

“In the opinion of the screeners, the film should have used majorly the Igbo Language than the English Language, and the blame game started flying.

“It is important to understand that profit considerations cannot allow a big film of that status, shot in Nigeria, to be shot majorly in Igbo or any other Nigerian Language.

“It will most likely lead to loss of capital investment; people might not want to watch because it was done in a local language; sentiments, politics and ethnic nuances will kill its potential patronage no matter how great the film is in terms of theme, interpretation, value and impact,’’ he said.

He saidd that the committee that nominated “Lionheart’’ did not want an opportunity to slip by.

“The gamble did not fly; now, we should learn from it.

“At least, thousands of filmmakers who lampooned some of us for not aiming for Oscar will now see the reason.

“King of Boys’’, “Trip to Jamaica’’, “Wedding Party’’ and others that made huge profits as we gathered, would not have made it to Oscar because they were not shot in Yoruba or Igbo language and then
subtitled in English,’’ he said.

He noted that some years back at a seminar organised Directors Guild of Nigeria, the issue of nomination for Oscar came up.

“I told everyone who nursed that idea to do that in indigenous language. You see it now.

“Only one category is reserved for films made outside Hollywood, and to be qualified to win Oscar, the language must be indigenous.

“It could be Spanish, Portuguese, Igbo, Efik, Mandarin, Yoruba, etc., targeting at least 60-65 per cent indigenous language.’’ he said.

READ ALSO: Genevieve Nnaji’s ‘Lionheart’ is Nigeria’s submission for the Oscar

Okere said that filmmakers working toward entrance for Oscar would have no choice than to use non-English language.

Use your local language; shooting a film with American or British Language will not get you a nomination,’’ he said.

Okereke, however, said that a film shot in English Language could make it to Oscar if co-produced with a Hollywood producer.

“The lesson from “Lionheart’’ disqualification is: Take your language serious; follow the rules. Hollywood takes film production as a serious business and protects it with its award system.

“There has to be collaborative efforts from filmmakers in Nigeria by putting the elements needed to win at the big stage – from story to language options and to value and marketing.

“Filmmakers have to go back to the drawing board and get it right.

“If we neglect this facts, we miss billions in not keying into global film business,’’ he said.

(NAN)

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It’s official. Watching soccer can be good for your health

(CNN)With every painstaking second that ticks by you get that bit closer to the edge of your seat. This could be it, this could be the week your beloved soccer team wins that all-important three points.

All of a sudden, the whistle sounds, and the game is over. You leap into the air celebrating the win like some feral animal, confused by those who don’t get this invested into 22 people kicking a ball around a field.
Watching soccer is special, there’s simply nothing quite like it. But now, thanks to new research led by the University of Leeds, it gets even better.
    The recent study, due to be released soon, suggests watching your beloved soccer team romp home to victory has a positive impact on your health, with spectators experiencing physical stresses equivalent to going for a brisk 90-minute walk.
    Results also found that a win lifts a spectators mood for a whole 24 hours after the game has finished.
    “Ultimately supporting your team at a football match gives you a moderate cardiovascular workout and depending on the result of the match, a psychological boost or slump,” said Dr. Andrea Utley, the sports scientist who led the study in conjunction with BetVictor.

    ‘Good stress’

    The experiment monitored 25 Leeds United fans, aged between 20 and 62, throughout three key games during the Championship last season.
    One game was watched in a controlled environment while the other two were watched live in the stadium during the team’s chaotic playoff finals, with promotion to the English Premier League at stake.
    Researchers analyzed the participants’ heart rates before the game, at halftime and after the match had finished — noticing that on average heart rates increased by 17 percent.
    “There is good stress and there is bad stress and there’s a level of arousal which is actually good for you and the level of arousal that takes you over the edge,” Utley told CNN Sport.
    “Although people think watching football takes you over the edge, it doesn’t. We found it just kept people at a good level of arousal.”
    Heart rates particularly peaked around goal scoring opportunities, with rates increasing 27 percent after a Leeds United goal and 22 percent after an opposition goal.
    Ultimately, the more the game matters, the bigger the reactions are.

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    Long term benefits

    If this wasn’t good news enough, the research also indicates that watching soccer can have long term benefits.
    Even though blood pressure increased during the game, findings revealed that, as a whole, fans had a lower blood pressure long after the match had finished.
    “There is this belief that you are in agony watching the game,” added Utley.
    “The reality is that it’s not actually true. I think we quite enjoy this, we enjoy being passionate.”
    However, this was not the case after watching a loss, with blood pressure continuing to rise long after the final whistle.

    ‘Severe slump’

    The study also noticed how people’s mood is hugely affected by the outcome of the match.
    Participants filled out a short mood survey before and after each game which revealed just how hard a loss can hit supporters.
    When their team wins, fans experience “an absolute high” with the euphoria lasting a day. However, when their team loses, the slump can “actually be quite severe.”
    One of the participants said losing a match felt like a “low hum”.
    “That disappointment of Friday meant that the first thing I thought of when I woke up on Saturday morning was, ‘I don’t believe we lost that game,'” they said in a focus group after the game.
      “That sort of sets the mood for the rest of that morning until you can pull yourself out of it.”
      Another participant said the loss felt like “a friend has died.”

      Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

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