Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 7/21/18

The Catholic church loves its relics and few have been as celebrated and publicized as the Shroud of Turin. Despite the proof that it’s a 14th century forgery, credulous Catholics will still flock to it and continue to put their faith in their works-righteousness institution with its emphasis on religious objects and ritualism rather than trusting in Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.

There was a glut of local news stories this week, including coverage of a memorial to a priest and nun who tragically died in a church fire trying to rescue consecrated Jesus wafers (see my related post here); news that Rochester will join the “inclusive” band wagon and outlaw gay conversion therapy; an update on one of the first, big breakaway Catholic groups in the city that ordains women as priests and “affirms” everyone; and the angry reaction from Catholics in nearby Buffalo as they come face-to-face with the pedophile priests and cover-up scandal in their community

I’m certainly not a fan of the prosperity gospelers, but I find it gallingly hypocritical for the Vatican to take pot shots at the Osteens, Copelands, Myers, and Dollars when Catholic prelates have been living like kings and princes for 1500 years.

Jesus reincarnated? This new show is no surprise given the rising popularity of neo-Hinduism in the West.

The raging controversy over Francis’ lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees in his “Amoris Laetitia” document has run out of steam if the number of news articles are any gauge. Conservatives continue to wring their hands, but have been steam-rolled because they lack the fortitude to mount any kind of meaningful opposition. In the meantime, liberal bishops are busy implementing the new guidelines.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae encyclical, which banned all forms of birth control, even non-abortifacient contraceptives. Result? The church hierarchy lost a massive amount of credibility in the eyes of its membership, the vast majority of which have defiantly used or are using birth control. Pope Francis and his progressive allies would love to reform the church’s teaching on contraceptives, but it’s a question of how and when. It would not be surprising to the see the church’s teaching overturned via a guileful, semi-ambiguous method, as Francis did by lifting the ban on communion for remarried divorcees in a footnote in his Amoris Laetitia encyclical.

Fundamentalist publisher, Jack Chick, hatched some absolutely outrageous conspiracy theories involving the Vatican and the Jesuits and ultimately helped to undermine credible Gospel witness to Roman Catholics. A couple of times, I’ve commented that Chick, in his wildest dreams, could not have come up with a papacy like that of Francis, which has created so much Sturm und Drang within Catholicism. I’m definitely not a fan of TBN huckster and ecumenist par excellence, James Robison, but I got a chuckle when I saw this article (written by a Catholic) in Robison’s virtual news rag, which makes the same observation.


Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 7/14/18

In the above article, a Catholic deacon explains his church’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Although Catholicism pays lip service to “grace” and “faith,” the bottom line for every Catholic is they must “cooperate with grace” (i.e., obey the Ten Commandments and church rules) in order to merit Heaven.

It’s not a question of “can” the Catholic church change its teachings regarding homosexuality. Pope Francis and his progressive allies have already made great strides in moving the church towards “affirming” practicing LGBTers.

Pastor Leonardo De Chirico of Rome, Italy is the driving force behind the Reformanda Initiative, which seeks to educate evangelicals regarding the differences between Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit and the Gospel of grace. Why don’t we see a similar effort in the United States?

Judge Amy Coney Barrett was recently in the news again as a possible candidate to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice, Anthony Kennedy. Coney Barrett is a charismatic Catholic and a member of the People of Praise “covenant community,” a cultish group comprised mainly of Catholics that seeks to promote ecumenism.

The effects of Pope Francis’ most recent airplane-aisle ruling, allowing individual bishops to decide on intercommunion with Protestants, continue to ripple through the church, but with noticeably less opposition than his lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees in 2016. Are church conservatives being worn down?

Opposition mounts as efforts to canonize two anti-Semites, Polish cardinal, August Hlonde and G.K. Chesterton, continue.

Mega-churches continue to bend to the culture to attract visitors. What will be the next innovation? Here’s some speculation from The Babylon Bee.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 7/7/18

In 1962, the Catholic bishop of nearby Buffalo, Joseph Burke (photo right), officially banned the national dance craze, the “Twist,” popularized by Chubby Checker (photo left), at every Catholic school and parish sponsored dance within the Buffalo diocese. However, by the time I hit the junior high years at my Catholic parochial school (1968-1970), even slow-dancing was acceptable. After I was saved and joined a Baptist church, the admonitions against dancing were a bit jarring, but I got it. The irony that I wanted to point out is that at the very same time bishop Burke was railing against the “Twist,” he was covering up for pedophile priests within his diocese who were molesting children.

It seems like every time I read something about popular mega-church pastor, Andy Stanley, he’s chipping away at confidence in the Bible in some fashion.

The Catholic church in America is hemorrhaging members and closing parishes except in some areas in the South where many former Rust Belters are relocating. It’s ironic that Robert Schuller’s shrine to apostate Protestantism is being turned into a Catholic church. The opening is scheduled for July 19, 2019 after a renovation costing $113 million.

This kind of government-supported intolerance is headed to the U.S.

In the past two years, pope Francis has guilefully changed two fundamental Catholic doctrines by lifting the ban on communion for remarried divorcees and allowing individual bishops to decide on intercommunion with Protestants. Conservative prelates and priests are attempting to counter these changes, as we see in the stories above, but their position is untenable. What will be the next doctrine to fall? Remember when Catholics used to boast that their pope could never lead the church into doctrinal error?

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior back in the heyday of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and faith and politics were regularly mixed together from the pulpit of our first Bible-preaching church. Well-meaning Christians have different views on this, but I believe the church lost its Gospel focus when it became enmeshed in nationalism and politics.

A couple of years ago I could not have imagined the Catholic conservative rag, the National Catholic Register, publishing articles critical of the pope, but they’ve become commonplace. What? Another book from a Catholic author about the heresies (politely referred to as “paradigm shift” in this article) of Francis? I’m going to need a stronger prescription for my eye glasses at this rate.

Catholic apologists try to sell their church as a united monolith when it’s actually held together by rubber bands and twine, with priests, bishops, and the pope holding conflicting beliefs, most of them un-Biblical from either side of the spectrum.

This is a funny satirical piece but also a sad commentary on today’s evangelicalism as Sarah Young’s books sell like hotcakes.

Priest orders mourners to “get the hell out of my church!”


Readers know that I usually collect news stories for the weekend roundup, but sometimes a story requires a separate post all by itself, as in this case.

On June 27th, grieving family and friends gathered at Saint Mary Catholic Church in Newport, Maryland for a funeral mass for the late Agnes Hicks (photo center). Prior to the start of the mass, one of the mourners accidentally knocked over a “sacred” chalice near the altar, damaging it. The parish priest, “Reverend” Michael Briese (photo left), became violently enraged by the accident (photo right).

One of the daughters of the deceased told reporters that the unhinged Briese then told the Hicks family, “There will be no funeral, there will be no mass. Get this thing (the casket) out of my church! Everyone get the hell out of my church!”

The priest called the police to remove the family and friends of the deceased from the church. Once at the scene, the officers determined a crime had not been committed and graciously made immediate arrangements for an alternate funeral service in another county.

Following the incident, Briese and the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. issued separate public apologies. The priest has been placed on administrative leave while the diocese “investigates.”

As an ex-Catholic, I don’t find priest Briese’s reaction to be shocking given the circumstances. The Roman Catholic church has always valued its “sacred” religious finery over people. Catholics believe their “sacred” chalices hold the transubstantiated body of Jesus Christ in the forms of bread wafers and wine. For a person to carelessly knock over a “sacred” chalice and damage it would be seen as an act of intolerable desecration by pious Catholics. If there had been Jesus wafers or Jesus wine in the chalice at the time of the accident, well, the priest’s reaction would have been even worse. Try to imagine the Lord Jesus Christ berating a mourning family because someone accidentally damaged a cup. Sigh.

I also need to point out that the mass is a major component of Catholicism’s complex false salvation system, which teaches that salvation is earned through sacramental grace and merit. The mass is blasphemous on so many different levels. My heart grieves for the millions of Catholics who are depending on their priests and the man-made Catholic religious system for their salvation.

Keep in mind that the headlines over the last twenty years have revealed that these celibate priests who are so reverential and protective when it comes to their “sacred vessels” are engaging in the worst kinds of wickedness behind closed doors.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” – Matthew 23:25-26

Jesus is not in a “sacred” cup and offered up as a victim on Catholic altars. He is seated at the right hand of God the Father and making intercession for everyone who accepts Him as Savior by faith alone. Repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior today!

Priest Sorry for Canceling Funeral, Telling Mourners to ‘Get the Hell Out’ of Church Over Broken Chalice

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 6/30/18

Rather than cautioning 800 celibate Catholic priests to refrain from sexually abusing minors, Rick Warren (photo right) should be warning evangelicals and Catholics of Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. But Warren has been the Vatican’s primary polezni durak (useful fool) “evangelical” for decades.

Jesuit priest, James Martin, is the main point man for the progressive wing of the Catholic church in its push to completely affirm active LGBT members. Martin’s name is becoming increasingly visible as the crusade for full recognition of LGBTers intensifies. I recently read Martin’s book, “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship, of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity” in order to gain some understanding of the Catholic Left’s perspective on this topic and I’ll be writing a short review soon.

As events are unfolding, it’s not preposterous to imagine a future when organized religious instruction of children will be verboten. But the Catholic doctrine of infant baptism, in which all sin is allegedly washed away by physical water in conjunction with the precise recitation of the baptism incantation, is just incredibly bad Bible exegesis.

It’s easy to rip on charlatan Bakker, but just about everybody on TBN is a pea from the same pod.

This African priest felt the need to liven the mass up a bit to keep the customers satisfied, but got his hands slapped by the higher-ups. Be assured that priests outside of Europe and North America dress up the boring mass all the time on the QT, this one just got caught. But no matter how you adorn it, the blasphemous mass is still the blasphemous mass. There’s an old saying that goes something like, “You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.”

Although liberal Catholic priests have been inviting Protestants to receive communion on the sly for decades, intercommunion was officially forbidden. In an airplane aisle press conference two weeks ago, pope Francis declared that individual bishops can set the intercommunion guidelines for their own diocese. Church conservatives are reeling back on their heels once again.

Phil Lawler, the conservative Catholic author of the hard-hitting critique of pope Francis, “Lost Shepherd: How Francis is Misleading His Flock” (see here), provides some insight into the deleterious effects of the widespread homosexuality within the priesthood. Forced celibacy both attracts and fosters deviancy.

Beth Moore’s name was recently bandied about as a possible candidate for president of the Southern Baptist Convention. The SBC is a big tent and includes many faithful preachers, but also many heterodox ones. Moore is a TBN regular who pushes ecumenism, mind-emptying contemplative prayer, and regularly rubs shoulders with Word of Faith, prosperity charlatans like Joyce Meyer. We’re seeing women increasingly taking the role of pastor in churches even though God’s Word does not allow it.

These (c)hristian movies from Pure Flix and others might have some limited good content, but as a whole they push ecumenism.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 6/23/18

I believe Jeffress (photo right) would do much better by working to spread the Gospel rather than joining with conservative religious unbelievers to try to prop up the Falwellian notion of America being a “Christian Nation.”

A few days ago, Francis visited the headquarters of the World Council of Churches in Geneva to help celebrate that organization’s 75th anniversary and bolster ecumenism. There may be an exception here and there, but it’s doubtful that any minister of a WCC-affiliated church preaches the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Pope Francis used the church synods of 2014 and 2015 to prepare the way for his “Amoris Laetitia” encyclical, which guilefully lifted the ban on communion for remarried divorcees. Francis and his progressive allies are now “greasing the skids” for pro-gay accommodations at the World Meeting of Families conference in Ireland in August and at the Synod of Bishops in October. Church conservatives, led by cardinal Burke, are staging their own competing conference in opposition to the Irish event, but still lack the gumption to officially break with the pope.

Canada is several years ahead of the U.S. with its hostile attitude toward Biblical Christianity. The LGBTQ community will not tolerate the Bible’s stand against homosexuality.

Twenty years ago, if an American cardinal was removed due to sexual abuse of children, it would have been a MAJOR news story. These days its – ho-hum – a short blurb on page six.

I’ve been following this intercommunion controversy for four months. First, Francis gave liberal German prelates the green light to formalize intercommunion with liberal Lutherans. When conservatives balked, he called both sides to the Vatican only to tell them to go back to Germany and decide the matter amongst themselves. Then he put the whole thing on hold. And now, in an off-the-cuff, airplane aisle press conference (his modus operandi of choice), Francis declares the matter of intercommunion with Protestants to be up to each individual bishop! It’s simply amazing to watch Francis casually dismantle doctrines long-held to be infallible. Church conservatives are caught in a Catch-22 because unequivocal loyalty to the pope is one of their prime beliefs. Catholic apologists have always boasted that, through divine guidance, popes were incapable of leading the church into doctrinal error. Previous popes forbade intercommunion, but Francis has now overturned that in an airplane aisle. What is a Catholic to believe these days? Come out of her (Revelation 18:4), my Catholic friend, and put your trust in Jesus Christ and His unchangeable Word!

Bravo to this Catholic newspaper for defying a popular Catholic myth! Sir Thomas More is constantly presented as a champion of religious freedom because the Lord High Chancellor of England chose death rather than support King Henry VIII in his split from the Catholic church. What most Catholics purposely don’t mention is that during the early portion of Henry’s reign, when the king was faithful to Rome, More hunted and executed Protestants.

A Chick-Fil-A opened two months ago about five blocks from my workplace and I really learned to love the Spicy Chicken Deluxe Sandwich Combo. This past week, our company relocated eight miles away. I’m disappointed but my waistline is grateful.

Would Jesus have designed a wedding cake for a same-sex couple? AKA the “gospel” according to Joy Behar!

We’ve all heard the recent news regarding the Supreme Court upholding Christian baker, Jack Phillip’s right not to design and create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

The other day, I was looking through some YouTube videos and saw the one below, which featured Phillips as a guest on ABC’s morning show, “The View.” This episode was broadcast in 2017 before the case went to the Supreme Court.

For eleven minutes, he and his lawyer were grilled by the mostly-unfriendly, five-member panel. At the 4:53 mark, Paula Faris asks Jack, “What do you think Jesus would have done in that situation (i.e., asked to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple)?” Jack’s answer, that he doesn’t believe Jesus would have made a cake, is met with incredulous disdain. The panel (and audience) largely agrees with Joy Behar (photo above) when she declares, “Jesus is gonna make the cake!”

Blood-bought, born-again followers of Jesus Christ know that the Lord Jesus Christ would never condone sinful behavior by creating a wedding cake for a male couple, decorated with two male figurines on the top, etc., etc. It would not happen. Believers who read their Bibles know this.

The panel presumes to speak for Jesus, although they are not born-again in Christ and do not read His Word. They have their opinion about what Jesus would do in Phillips’ circumstance, but it’s opinion without any Biblical basis. One of the panelists, Sara Haines, takes disparaging pot shots at the Bible for its teachings about homosexuality, and celebrates that “faith has evolved” since the “thousands of years ago” when God’s Word was written. We also hear from the same panelist, who professes to have been “raised in the church” (what church?), that the Bible isn’t to be trusted because it was “translated 60-some times,” whatever that means. The Bible is a closed book to unbelievers.

The Supreme Court ruling is not the end of this. We can anticipate the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality to became an increasingly rancorous point of contention between Bible Christians and unbelievers (religious and secular).

Please watch the video below if you can spare eleven minutes. It’s an education. Jack actually does fine given the unfriendly panel and his lack of experience on television.


“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” – Romans 1:26-27

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 6/16/18

Last weekend, I posted that seventeen individuals had recently come forward here in Rochester, N.Y. with claims of sexual abuse against eight Roman Catholic priests. These new claims are in addition to those made by many other victims in the past regarding some of the same as well as different priests. There is no chance of prosecuting the priests involved because of our state’s ridiculous time limitations on reporting crimes of sexual abuse. But as a public relations move, the diocese of Rochester has contracted retired judge, Robert Lunn (photo left), to review these seventeen claims and award settlements to the victims as he (and bishop Salvatore Matano – photo right) sees fit. Excuse me, but isn’t that like putting the inmates in charge of the asylum? Most of these predatory crimes happened in previous decades, but while fewer priests may act out their deviant urges because of the heightened public scrutiny, the incubator for that deviancy, the rule of celibacy, is still in place.

Our lost Catholic friends celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) on Thursday, May 31. Catholics are taught that their priests change bread wafers and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ during the mass and that the Jesus elements are then offered up to God the Father by the priest as a sacrifice for the sins of the congregants. On this feast day, Catholics give extended worship to the Jesus elements and in many parishes, a large Jesus wafer is placed in a transparent monstrance and paraded through the nearby streets, where the credulous faithful bow low in worship as it passes by. Pope Francis says only the eucharist satisfies hearts, but eating the consecrated Jesus wafer effects no change, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. It’s all a sham.

Unwary and undiscerning evangelical pastors are prone to quote English intellectuals, C.S. Lewis and Roman Catholic apologist, G.K. Chesterton, even though both held heterodox beliefs. Chesterton (1874-1936) was clearly not a friend of the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. It appears some Catholics are now championing the popular Chesterton for sainthood despite his documented anti-Semitic views.

As reported previously, Francis committed a huge gaffe when he accused Chilean victims of priest pedophiles of being “slanderers.” He subsequently needed to throw a few Chilean bishops under the bus for PR purposes.

This article categorizes converts to Catholicism as 1) intellectual converts, 2) converts by marriage, 3) aesthetic (smells and bells) converts, 4) social media converts, and 5) Muslim converts. All of the above are searching for works-righteousness religion rather than salvation in Jesus Christ by grace alone through faith alone. The article fails to mention that for every person who converts to Catholicism, 6.5 leave. See here.

This Catholic appeals to obstinate Protestants (and Baptists!) to shed their sectarian views and jump aboard C.S. Lewis-style, “wide-is-the-way” Mere Christianity.

Cardinal Burke remains pope Francis’ most vocal critic and gives him a jab for not coming out publicly against the recent pro-abortion referendum in Ireland (like all political progressives, Francis favors population control). But opposition to Francis is still largely confined to conservative prelates and priests with the credulous faithful keeping their heads down and going through the motions every Sunday as mandated.

Liberal mainline Protestants and compromising “evangelicals” view Francis’ upcoming visit to Calvin’s Geneva and the pope’s other ecumenical gestures as simply wonderful. Calvin would rebuke them all.

Go get ’em, Babylon Bee!


Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 6/9/18

June is the month for weddings and many couples opt to have their wedding ceremonies at scenic, outdoor locations, but Roman Catholics were barred from doing so. Catholic sacramental weddings could only take place inside a Catholic church. But in a concession to the plummeting number of sacramental weddings, that rule is now changing. The Baltimore archdiocese has joined the diocese of Helena, Montana (where?) in allowing non-church weddings on a case-by-case basis. Look for this to soon be implemented nation-wide. The Catholic church boasts that it’s “Semper eadem,” always the same, while at the same time it’s constantly changing its thick rule book.

Back in early-May, pope Francis instructed the German bishops to settle the debate over intercommunion with Protestants amongst themselves. This past week, it was revealed in a published “missive” that the pope reversed himself and put the issue “on ice.” Too many controversies at once? Regardless of this temporary setback, intercommunion remains a top priority for Francis and his progressive allies.

I had never heard of a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” in my 27 years as a Roman Catholic. We were only taught a formal relationship with God through the church and the sacraments. But in acknowledgement of the millions who accepted Jesus Christ as Savior through faith alone and left Catholicism, the Catholic church has adopted some of the evangelical parlance. However, when Catholics talk about having a “personal relationship with Christ,” what they mean is taking the consecrated Jesus wafer into their mouth and down their digestive tract as this article notes.

Christian business owners serve gay customers all the time. Selling a product to an individual doesn’t mean condoning their “lifestyle.” But it’s a little different for Christian vendors in the wedding industry who transact their business right where the tire meets the road. I’m grateful that the Supreme Court upheld baker, Jack Phillips’ right not to participate in same-sex weddings.

Here in Rochester, N.Y., seventeen victims came forward this week with claims of being sexually abused by eight Catholic priests. These new claims are in addition to previous claims made by many others in the past involving some of the same priests as well as others. The Roman Catholic priesthood, with its rule of celibacy, both attracted and spawned social deviancy. Will the Rochester diocese be bankrupted by payouts to these victims like many other dioceses across the country? A bill is currently before the New York State legislature which lengthens the statute of limitations for cases of sexual abuse of children. The bill passed the assembly, but is stalled in the senate. It’s chief opponent? The Roman Catholic church.

June is LGBTQ pride month, but I certainly won’t be attending the parade in town (which is actually scheduled for next month here in Rochester). Progressive Catholic clergy are pushing for their church to bless same-sex unions and priest, James Martin, is their designated point man. He’s catching some anticipated flak, but I suspect this will be a done-deal in another 5-10 years, maybe via another footnote?

This amazing science news is causing a bit of a stir and it should. Suspect dating methods aside, it’s quite interesting how this comprehensive DNA study shows the vast majority of the 100,000 different animal species tested show beginning at the same time, contradicting Darwin’s theory of evolution. Hmm. Got Bible?

Osteen’s an obvious target, but MANY mega-churches are serving pablum rather than preaching on right doctrine or ever referencing church history.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 6/2/18

Observers weren’t all that surprised that Ireland passed a national referendum legalizing abortion by a 2-to-1 margin. It wasn’t all that long ago when Ireland was THE bastion of Catholicism in Europe, but the banning of all contraceptives, including non-abortifacients, by the church and the widespread scandals of abusive Catholic clergy caused many to turn against the church and organized religion. Pope Francis was noticeably silent in the build-up to the vote. In the past, he has echoed the viewpoint of the progressive wing of the church regarding abortion, saying that he doesn’t want Catholicism to be known for being a “one issue” institution.

The growing emphasis on emotionalism and experientialism within evangelical (c)hristianity has opened the door to all types of aberrant phenomena.

Anyone who’s been around Catholicism long enough is aware that quite a few of its priests are effeminate. Francis and the progressives are moving the church towards blessing gay unions (which are undoubtedly already being performed on the QT by liberal priests).

Jim Bakker and his cousins on TBN are a blight on the body of Christ.

Have you noticed this newest squabble over Catholic-Lutheran intercommunion in Germany has taken the spotlight off of the controversy over Francis’ lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees? Francis’ agenda keeps rolling along. Will the conservatives eventually just run out of ammunition and acquiesce to the progressive steamroller or will they break away?

I’m convinced a number of these Marian phenomena are of demonic origin.

The former primate of Poland, cardinal August Hlond (d. 1948), is being proposed for canonization to sainthood. In interwar Poland, anti-Semitism was accepted as common currency and supported by the Catholic church. Hlond vilified Jews in his infamous 1936 pastoral letter, but such behavior is not considered scandalous in contemporary Catholic Poland where anti-Semitism still runs deep.

Are there any genuine, blood-bought, born-again believers who attend Osteen’s church or faithfully watch him on TBN? Are they reading God’s Word? What goes through their mind and spirit when they encounter Biblical passages that are totally contrary to Osteenism?