Friday, April 6, 2007

The Local (SWEDEN): Scandic, a Swedish hotel chain, has removed Bibles from their guests' rooms Instead, scripture from several religions in various languages will soon be available at hotel receptions.

Charlotte-Observer (NC): Three members of a gay-rights group called Soulforce tried to speak with officials at a fundamentalist Christian university about their policy discriminating against homosexuals. As soon as they walked onto Bob Jones University's campus, they were arrested and charged with trespassing. A statement released by school officials explained:
"Since the Scripture says clearly that homosexuality is a sin, BJU policies forbid homosexuality. We do not single out homosexuality in our policies, however, but address all forms of sexual expression prohibited by Scripture, including lewdness, sensual behavior, adultery, pornography, and sexual perversion of any kind. We can't grant open forums and discussions to a group whose expressed purpose is to undermine the clear teaching of Jesus Christ." WorldNetDaily hails the decision as: "Brave New Schools."

CBS News (NY): Once again, the Bible is this year's bestselling book.

The Sydney Morning Harald (AUSTRALIA): A new wave of Christianity is hitting Australia and its doing its best not to look like Christianity. The newspaper described the phenomena as an "extraordinarily diverse and fast-growing Christian movement catering to the multitudes who reject the institutional church but want to follow its founder, Jesus Christ. [Members] meet in cafes, clubs, homes, halls, parks or galleries. Rather than "church", they may meet as families, students, businesspeople or surfies. They may be affiliated to mainstream churches or they may be entirely independent. Most are committed and young."

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

New York Times (NY): For archaeologists, there is no evidence of an Exodus out of Egypt. There is only one piece of evidence to suggest Jews were ever even in Egypt. “If they get upset, I don’t care,” said Dr. Zahi Hawass, an archaeologists who works in Egypt. “This is my career as an archaeologist. I should tell them the truth. If the people are upset, that is not my problem.” Books have been written on the topic, but the discussion has, for the most part, remained low-key as the empirically minded have tried not to incite the spiritually minded.

Christianity Today (UK): Polygamy a "misunderstanding"
"Polygamy as a pre-requisite for church membership? This is exactly what one African pastor taught his church when he felt they needed to follow the examples found in Scripture without regard to culture or setting, the Langham Partnership reports. This misunderstanding led to the African pastor making polygamy a requirement for all church members because 'there were so many examples of it in the Old Testament!' The Langham Partnership said that 'in a country where people do not need to go to Bible College before becoming pastors, misguided and dangerous theology can arise.'"

Tyler Paper (TX): The House Public Education Committee is considering legislation that would require the state's nearly 1,700 public school districts to offer elective courses teaching the Bible as a textbook, "not a worship document."

Los Angeles Times (CA): Kingdom Come, the last of the “Left Behind” series of Bible-inspired thrillers written by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, made its way to bookstores across the U.S. yesterday. Though sales have waned throughout the 16 book series, the startling success "Left Behind" has drawn attention to the Christian market. One reader commented, "Somehow, God has blessed these books to reach people like me who would never touch the Bible. And I am so hungry for knowledge." The Times (UK) writes: "The Left Behind series appeared to chime with the sense of the impending Apocalypse among many Americans, reinforced by the election of President Bush on a faith-based platform and global events which — in some eyes — confirm biblical prophecy." As LaHaye said in a television interview, "I’ve come to the conclusion that the world cannot last more than 25 to 50 years."

Haaretz (ISRAEL): "Ruth and the Song of Songs are the most Land-of-Israel books that I know of, then or now. When the question arises of whether there is such a thing as Israeli literature, and not just Israeli writers, these two books are the decisive answer: Indeed there is such a literature. [...] I once suggested to our Interior Ministry that it rely on the Book of Ruth to establish the rules for obtaining citizenship in this country, and now I am suggesting to the Tourism Ministry that it use the Song of Songs to attract tourists in love."

Monday, April 2, 2007

Bible Bending Item of the Day: "Virtue" perfume
"We turned to the Bible to seek inspiration about which items to include and became convinced that a formulation would reveal itself," explains Rick Larimore, IBI's chief executive officer. "Creating Virtue(R) has been an adventurous journey through fragrance and scripture, with remarkable miracles confirming our choices."

Reiten Television KXMB Bismark (ND): A North Dakota citizen urges other citizens to write their state senator in order to ensure that their right to preach the message of the Bible will remain protected. This is a response to fears that have arisen in some Christian communities following Canada's inclusion of "sexual orientation" among the "identifiable groups" protected by the Canada's Genocide and Hate Crimes legislation. Under section 319 (2), "Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction."

Because of the inclusion of "sexual orientation" among the protected groups, some Christians warn that pastors will be banned from speaking out against homosexuality and "The Bible, at least certain portions of the Bible, may be declared 'hate literature.'"

Washington Times (DC): Tony Campolo recently published "Letters to a Young Evangelical" because: "A lot of young evangelicals were turning away from evangelicalism because they saw evangelicalism as being synonymous with gay bashing and anti-environmentalists, anti-women, pro-war, pro-gun. They were saying, “If that’s what evangelicals are, then we’re out. We’re not going to be a part of that movement. I felt it was time to say, “Hey, wait a minute. There are a whole mob of us out there who believe in the Apostles’ Creed, who believe the Bible is an infallible thing, who believe that Jesus is the Savior and you can have a personal relationship with Him who are not into those kinds of attitudes." Campolo discusses why he thinks women should preach, his fear that Christians are beginning to worship America rather than Jesus, and the need for pastors to talk to their congregations about abortion.

CBS Chicago (IL): A art student in Chicago has created some discussion with his depiction of Barack Obama as Jesus.

Variety: The 168 Hour Film Project annual marathon was held in Glendale, California last week. The 168 Hour Film Project is a competition where producers have 168 hours (1 week) to film and edit a 10-minute movie based on a theme and a Bible verse. This year "A Good Day," a film about father-son relationship drama inspired by Matthew 6:20-21, swept the awards.

North Country Times (CA): Gay-rights activists asked administrators at a university affiliated with the Mennonite Brethren church Monday to change the school's policy opposing homosexual sex among students. Officials at Fresno Pacific said the Bible guided their policies, and the student handbook would continue to oppose any sex outside of marriage.

Jamaica Gleaner
(JAMAICA): Do not use the Bible to justify hate.

Pascagoula Mississippi Press (MS): The Ocean Springs Board of Education is taking a long look at instituting a Bible as literature course at Ocean Springs High School. "The Bible has informed so much of who we are as Americans," said John Brenke, the school board member who proposed the course. "The founding fathers knew (the Bible). When you listen to the presidential inaugural, you hear it. A well educated person ought to know what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. They may not agree with it, but they ought to know it."

The Tribune Democrat
(PA): A high school in Pennsylvania will also begin to offer a course on the Bible using the Bible Literacy Project's textbook "The Bible and Its Influence." “I think we’re on the cutting edge with this in the area,” Principal Tom Fleming said.

Amarillo (TX): "We can, and we certainly do, argue about whether the Bible is the inspired word of God, literally true in all it contains, and a sound basis for both criminal and civil law in America. But when it comes to the question of homosexual marriage, labeled any way you prefer, there is a document that trumps the Bible in this country. It's called the Constitution."

Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Sydney Herald (AUSTRALIA): A study published in the March issue of Psychological Science may shed some light on the relationship between scripture and violence. Brad Bushman and his colleagues from the University of Michigan "hypothesized that exposure to a biblical description of violence would increase aggression more than a secular description of the same violence. We also predicted that aggression would be greater when the violence was sanctioned by God." In a two part study, undergraduate students discussed a violent section from the Book of Judges, half of whom were told the section was from the Bible while the other half were told it was from an ancient scroll. The participants were then asked to complete a task in which the winner could blast the loser with noise up to 105 decibels. "What we found is that people who believed the passage was from the Bible were more aggressive, and when God said it is OK to retaliate they were even more aggressive," said Bushman. Read more about the study here.

Hutchington Herald Dispatch (WV): Grizzly Adams Productions Inc. has produced "The Case for Resurrection," a TV/DVD documentary that discusses what purports to be solid evidence of Christ's resurrection and life after death. "The world has long demanded solid proof of the existence of Christ, his death and resurrection," says David Balsiger, the documentary's senior producer. "Now the evidence is here -- including the ability to view the world's first scientific three-dimensional holographic image of the face of Christ."

The Washington Post (DC): Reviews three books that explore the Bible's verisimilitude:
  • DAVID AND SOLOMON "In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition" By Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher: Finkelstein and Silberman argue that it is "highly unlikely that David ever conquered territories of people more than a day or two's march from the heartland of Judah. . . . Solomon's Jerusalem was neither extensive nor impressive, but rather the rough hilltop stronghold of a local dynasty of rustic tribal chiefs."
  • JESUS AND YAHWEH "The Names Divine" By Harold Bloom:
    Bloom sets out to separate the identities of "a more-or-less historical person, Yeshua [or Jesus] of Nazareth; a theological God, Jesus Christ; and a human, all-too-human God, Yahweh." He finds the three "totally incompatible," which indicates to him the "irreconcilability of Christianity and Judaism,"
  • MURDER AT GOLGOTHA "A Scientific Investigation Into the Last Days of Jesus' Life, His Death, and His Resurrection" By Ian Wilson
    Wilson embarks on "a searching revisit to the original events" in which he examines, among many other things, the gospels "as 'witness' statements" and researches "how the Romans conducted their executions by crucifixion, how they fastened the victims to their crosses, and how long these might endure such an ordeal."
The Conservative Voice (NC): "Lacking a biblical worldview and an understanding of Scripture is the main reason Christians are dipping into the forbidden waters of Eastern meditation to 'know the unknowable.'"

Manila Times
(PHILIPPIANS): A Canadian judge, who was recently conferred with an honorary doctorate from Philippine universities, in criticized for invoking "religious spirituality as the basis for her opinions" appearing to favor patria potestas (supreme parental authority). The judge is reportedly a member of No Greater Joy, a ministry founded by Debi and Michael Peale who believe that "the Bible and common sense are the foundations for effective parenting." NGJ advocates corporal punishment when "training" children. The ministry is controversial for offering pieces of advise such as Debi's suggestion on what to tell a child caught lying: “You are a liar, and lying is an ugly, hateful thing. In order that your soul shall be spared, I’m going to whip you.”

Tuscaloosa News (AL): "A recent poll suggesting that Alabamians are more Bible-literate than people in other parts of the country doesn’t surprise me. If you grew up Southern, chances are good that you grew up with the Bible."
Jerusalem Post (ISRAEL): "The Exodus has also become a prototype of redemption for all nations of the world, a model against which other redemptions are measured and assessed. The coming of the Messiah is a momentous event - not only for the Jewish people, but for the entire world. It is not simply a matter of national deliverance, nor even of a Jewish renaissance, but of an intrinsic change in world history. In a certain way, the Final Redemption, as its name implies, marks the "end of history," or, at least, the end of history as it has been for the last several millennia."