Friday, March 30, 2007

BBC News (UK): New York's Roger Smith Hotel gallery will display a 6-foot tall anatomically correct sculpture of a crucified Jesus in milk chocolate. The piece by Cosimo Cavallaro entitled "My Sweet Jesus" has stirred criticism from Catholic League head Bill Donohue who called it "one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever". On a related note, Donohue has also criticized the Broadway musical "Stairway to Hell" about a band that accidentally makes it to heaven where there is no rock 'n roll. Donohue said: "Men and women are dying everyday in Iraq to keep America free. It is sickening to note that some young Americans think freedom means the right to insult, degrade and abuse the sensibilities of Christians." UPDATE: The New York gallery has canceled the exhibit of "My Sweet Jesus" following criticism from Roman Catholic organizations.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Victoria Times Colonist (CANADA): "In the Bible, Samson is a hero who used his superhuman strength to do God’s will by pulling down pillars in a Philistine temple, killing thousands and himself in an act of vengeance. But in what’s sure to be a controversial interpretation of the story, a Victoria choir will present Samson as a suicide bomber."

The Conservative Voice (NC): Grant Swank, a commentator, responds to the New York Times article about an African-American priest in Atlanta, Georgia who began preaching acceptance of gay and lesbian persons five years ago. Swank responds: "The disease spreads further."

NewsReleaseWire: John Henderson, author of " A Deity for the New Millennium" responds to the recent TIMES article on including a course on the Bible in public schools. Henderson responds:

Southwest Nebraska News
(NE): McCook Community College in Nebraska will offer “Physics 2990: Creation Science” next fall. The course will cover such topics as:
· The age of the earth, the earth’s beginning, and where the earth is heading
· The Garden of Eden and life on earth before the flood and the major changes which have taken place since that time
· Dinosaurs in the past as well as in the present
· The flood, ice ages, mountain formation, coal and oil formation, and the Grand Canyon
· History of evolution through the ages and the effect it has had on the world as well as many very influential people
· What is taught in school textbooks, without factual supportive evidence?

Reuters: The increasing popularity of the Japanese comic style of manga in Britain and the U.S. has spawned versions of Shakespeare and the Bible. The website promises that in the first ever manga Bible, "Siku's provocative, edgy style brings a whole new dimension to the most important book in history."

Pittsburgh Post Gazette (PA): "Cooking with the Bible: Biblical Food, Feasts, and Lore" by Rayner Hesse Jr. and Anthony Chiffolo: Now you, too, can cook the stew for which Esau sold his birthright. Or "kill the fatted calf," as they did when the prodigal son showed up at home again.

Florida Baptist Witness
(FL): A Baptist pastor argues that topical preaching is "junk food, at best." Instead, the pastor provides biblical passages to support his belief that: "we need to return to expository preaching, generally defined as the explanation of a biblical passage after thorough contextual analysis, and then applied to the hearers."

The Conservative Voice (NC): Democrat and Republican presidential hopefuls alike need to recognize that the born-again Christian vote can make or break their nomination. Says one commentator:

"It’s going to be quite difficult for Democrat candidates to make any points with biblically knowledgeable Christians regarding abortion, for instance. There is no middle ground with that issue. One is either for saving womb babies or destroying womb babies. One cannot have half a baby. The same with active homosexuality lifestyles. One either defends the biblical morality, that is, that God abhors practicing homosexuality, or one does not. There is no halfway measure. Other issues as stem cell research also weigh in with biblically sensitive voters.

With present tense Republican contenders it really is the same tussle as with the Democrats because the Republican hopefuls are not yet revealing any near move toward biblical ethics. There are Republicans who sound as if they are against abortion and homosexual lifestyles; however, their political histories show them to be otherwise."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Popular U.S. television show The View discusses whether or not the Bible should be taught in school. An excerpt:

BEHAR: Well then in a literature course maybe. In college it should be taught. I don't think that it should be taught in high schools as truth.

WALTERS: But Joy, that's your opinion. To many people, everything- the virgin birth, I mean, it is faith and what is in the Bible, there are many, many people in our soci- who believe, who live their lives because it is in the Bible. You don’t happen to agree.

BEHAR: I understand that. But if I'm a Muslim, I don’t happen to believe in the virgin birth. I'm not a Muslim. But if I were. So I take the position of a Muslim right now. I don't want my kids learning –

HASSELBECK: Even if you’re a Muslim though. Don’t you want the information?

WALTERS: They don't have to. It is optional.

HASSELBECK: If you wanted to argue against the Bible on any, on any plane, wouldn't you want as much information on what you're arguing against? I think this could actually enable people into a very intellectual conversation.

Full transcript from NewsBusters: here

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Christian News Wire: In response to Time magazine's cover story on teaching the Bible in public school, Nancy Manno, a Christian talk radio personality, released a statement criticizing Charles Haynes. Haynes is part of the Bible Literacy Project which has produced a textbook on the Bible that many school districts use in their course on the Bible. An excerpt:
"The textbook is supposed to be about the Bible, but some have suggested that it follows Haynes' ideology by casting doubt on faith principles of the Bible, placing Islam in a favorable light, suggesting that the Bible was used to justify communism, and by promoting the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization, which uses literacy as a tool to sponsor homosexuality, abortion, and religious pluralism." (AUSTRALIA): Reminding Catholics of Mathew 25:41, Pope Benedict told a crowd in a suburb of Northern Rome that "Hell is a place where sinners really do burn in an everlasting fire, and not just a religious symbol designed to galvanise the faithful."

New York Times (NY):
Ministers in the African-American community have begun to embraced the gay community, often at the expense of parishioner membership and financial support. Some black ministers have been moved to reconsider biblical passages about same-sex relations by personal events, like finding out that a friend or relative is gay. “It really bothered my congregation when I said that as people of color who have been ostracized, marginalized, how can we turn around now and oppress other people?” said one pastor. Others have been moved by the need to address the high rates of H.I.V within the African American community.

Christian Post: Risque Bible magazine creates a buzz. “Most people have issues with the Bible,” says Dag Söderberg, the project leader of the Swedish Bible magazine. “They have never gotten into it. They don’t find it accessible. But it’s our history, our heritage. And for most of us, we relate to it more than we think. Religious or not, it shapes much of our moral codes.”

Juneau Empire (AK): Alaskans should vote "no" on April 3 for a law that would prevent non-married couples living together from sharing worker benefits. Among the reasons why this proposal should not come into law is that the Bible supports health care for all, even those who may be considered sinners. "For me, the Good Samaritan story is a clear biblical call for equal health benefits for people we may not religiously agree with." (subscription)

Calvin News (MI): Calvin College now offers HPV vaccinations to students.
"Calvin endorses a Biblical context for human relationships," says Nancy VerMerris, the director of health services. "We believe that God intended the blessing of sexual intercourse for men and women who leave their parents and become one in marriage. We advocate abstinence prior to marriage for both Biblical and health reasons." However, “Girls could be exposed after marriage from their husband," adds Barb Mustert, administrator of travel health and immunization. "Our message is always abstinence because that is what God wants us to do. Sex is to be saved for marriage. And the hope would be that your marriage partner wouldn’t be exposed to HPV. Our goal is to prevent something from occurring that is preventable. They are working on a vaccine for males, but it is not available yet."

McCook Daily Gazette (NE): "There is no doubt that the Commandment is thou shalt not murder. Depending upon differing interpretations, there are up to nearly 30 sins/crimes for which God instructs that men shall be put to death -- one of those sins/crimes is murder. Obviously God does not instruct man to violate God's commandments, therefore executing murderers can not be a violation of God's rules."

WorldNetDaily: "Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts" tops World Net Daily's shop list. World Net Daily is a conservative news site with the slogan: "Christians' duty to be armed." Darwin's Deadly Legacy (DVD) came in second on this week's list.

Monday, March 26, 2007

TIME Magazine: The cover story of this week's time is a piece entitled: "A case for Teaching the Bible." It covers such topics as "Is it constitutional?," "Why should I care?," and "Doesn't secular teaching about the Bible play into the hands of the religious right and the secular left?"

Dateline Alabama (AL): University of South Alabama administered Stephen Prothero's religious literacy test and found that Alabamians are more biblically literate than the rest of America.

Wilmington Morning Star (NC): Biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan shares nine things that people may not know about the life of Jesus such as: "The accounts of Jesus' infancy in Matthew and Luke are different because the writers had different intentions," "Disciples had actual visions of Jesus," and "Jesus' bodily resurrection was an allegory of the justice for all martyrs."

Church Executive Magazine (AZ): The producers of "As it Was" DVD series is launching a competition inviting youth groups to create reality-style TV programs that narrate the lives of biblical characters. The "Bible Is-Reel" competition will reward the makers of the film that introduces "historical figures in a creative way" with a ten day trip to Israel.

The American Spectator: Liberal evangelicals pursue a crusade against global warming at the expense of abandoning other evangelical issues such as family values and the sanctity of life. An expert: "They feel guilty about capitalism, and want other evangelicals to share in their guilt. Liberal evangelicals prefer not to talk about sexual sins. Carbon sins are a welcome substitute." Brian McLaren, one such "liberal evangelical," has reminded fellow evangelicals that the biblical heroes Joseph and Noah also shrewdly warned of cataclysmic climate change and although they were met with skepticism, the steps they took in preparation saved humanity.

The Washington Post (DC): The new book "The Gospel According to Judas" by best-selling author Jeffrey Archer and Vatican theologian Francis Maloney portrays Judas as the betrayed, rather than the betrayer. Though the account is fictional, the authors maintain that it is a theologically plausible explanation of why Christianity's most maligned personality did what he did. Last week the Vatican Pontificate Council held a lecture on the book in an effort to encourage others to "read the Bible carefully and intelligently." In a news conference Maloney said that he was inspired to write the account in response to the success of Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" and Richard Dawkin's "God Delusion." "Are we to stand by silently to allow the Gospel message of Jesus of Nazareth to be trivialized by Brown and ridiculed by Dawkins?"

Barbados Advocate (BARBADOS): "It is time we develop a biblical view of sex. [...] Not only did God create man in His own image; but He invented and created sex. More than that, He created sex to be a very pleasurable and enjoyable exercise. It is through the sex act that we have been given the god-like ability to create another human being in our own likeness! Not only does God tolerate sex, He approves it!"

New York Times (NY): British anthropologist Mary Douglas explores the subtle patterns that "divide the world into the clean and the unclean, the permitted and the forbidden, the pure and the polluted, imposing their categories on the continuities of nature, creating order while disclosing it." Stories that do not seem to have order work like a ring: they have an introduction, followed by a climax and then reverse the story. Douglas pays special attention to the book of Numbers in which "the parallels established by the ring form assume important meanings that are crucial for understanding the biblical book’s preoccupation with the priesthood and authority."

The Christian Century: "Since how we read the Bible and even how we argue about it is shaped by its place in our own faith development, it would be good to take some time out from contentious debates about the Bible to reflect on our personal experience with the Bible."

The Free-Lance Star (VA): "[The Bible is] a
book teeming with contradictions, borrowed myths, and murder on a vast scale. Just open any book of the Bible, close your eyes, and point. Your finger is sure to fall on any one of these anomalies."

Daily Vidette
(IL): "[T]he Bible should be taught in high school English classrooms by high school English teachers along with works like "Romeo and Juliet" and "The Great Gatsby." Why? Because the Bible is perhaps the most fundamental religious text in American society, as well as one of the greatest stories ever written."

International Herald Tribune (FRANCE): The St. John's Bible, a handwritten and illustrated Bible crafted by master calligraphers, draws on modern images to emphasize the Bible's universality for all people of all ages. In Luke, for example, the parable of the prodigal son includes renderings of simple rectangular towers — which a reader would identify as the World Trade Center — representing the need for forgiveness and alternatives to revenge. The story of Adam and Eve features an African man and woman, whose likenesses were influenced by photographs of Ethiopian tribespeople; they are surrounded by designs taken from objects as varied as Peruvian feather capes and Middle Eastern textiles. In a depiction of the Pentecost, there is a gold column of fire, but also simple black outlines of spectators at an American college football game."