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Weekly News In Review

December 4 - 10, 2005
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The following articles were posted at this past week:

Christian Unity Conference
Religious studies professor withdraws intelligent design class
Narnia kits sent out to churches
Pope becomes first citizen of Bethlehem
Starhawk - How Narnia Made Me a Witch
Pope - Mary has accompanied Church in 40 years since Council
UN Ceremony Includes Map of "Palestine" in Place of Israel
Israel should move to Europe, Iranian president says
Presbyterian Leaders Meet Hizbullah Terror Chief
Bracing for attack, Israel adds to arsenal

Pope Prays At Marian Statue In Rome
Earth's Magnetic Pole Drifting Quickly
Christian nudists to build village in Florida

Article: Ecumenical Movement - Other Religions Uniting with Roman Catholicism


Anticipating a new era of relations between the Christian Churches in a metaphorical New Jerusalem which aspires to a total renewal of the church, the New Jerusalem Foundation is sponsoring the True Life in God event...

The conference is free to the public and all faiths are welcomed and encouraged to attend.


The free conference will include Master of Ceremonies, the V. Rev. Father Eugene Pappas of Brooklyn, New York, Rt. Rev. Alexei Smith, Ecumenical and Interreligious Officer, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Very Rev. Father John Bakas, Dean of Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Archbishop Cyril Bustros of Boston, member the International Commission for dialogue between Orthodox and Catholics, and internationally known True Life in God inspired writer Vassula Ryden. Egyptian born of Greek descent, the wife of a diplomat, Ryden has traveled to more than sixty countries with the message of unity. Her worldwide audiences have included Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians of many denominations.

The Rt. Rev. Alexei Smith declared, "Pope John Paul II, of Blessed Memory, unequivocally declared that ecumenism "is not just some sort of appendix which is added to the Church's traditional activity, but an organic part of her life and work, and consequently, must pervade all that she is and does." It is my hope that this conference will re-awaken Catholics to the ecumenical possibilities foreseen by His Holiness." The important timing of the conference comes in the first year of the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI who has made Christian Unity a central pillar of his spiritual leadership.

"The Pope is calling for prayer for Christian Unity while leaders around the world from the secular to the religious see the call for unity as necessary for a new era of peace."

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Article: Creation / Evolution - Misc.

December 1, 2005 - Religious studies professor withdraws intelligent design class

University of Kansas officials today approved religious studies department chair Paul Mirecki's request made last night to withdraw his course "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design and Creationism" from the spring semester class schedule.

Mirecki said continuing public controversy over his e-mails posted since 2003 on a Yahoo list-server discussion board moderated by the student organization for which he served as faculty adviser persuaded him to withdraw and not teach the course. He said departmental faculty he had spoken with on Wednesday agreed.

"My concern is that students with a serious interest in this important subject matter would not be well served by the learning environment my e-mails and the public distribution of them have created. It would not be fair to the students," Mirecki said.

"It was not my intent when I wrote the e-mails, but I understand now that these words have offended many on this campus and beyond, and for that I take full responsibility. I made a mistake in not leading by example, in this student organization e-mail forum, the importance of discussing differing viewpoints in a civil and respectful manner."
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Article: Apostasy

December 4, 2005 - Narnia kits sent out to churches

Churches in New Zealand are being encouraged to use The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a preaching tool to pack the pews.

Disney has hired Christian marketers in the US, UK and Australia to promote its film alongside mainstream publicists.

Evangelical film marketing company Heritage HM is contracted to promote the film to Christians in Australia and New Zealand. Chief executive Rod Hopping says the Gold Coast-based firm sent more than 1000 resource kits to New Zealand churches of all denominations last week. The kits contain material for Narnia-themed sermons, trailers to screen at church services, Sunday school lesson plans and ideas for promotions.

The benefits of tapping into the Christian gravy train were demonstrated with Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. The independent film became a money-maker thanks to evangelical churches. CS Lewis's The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe has been described as a mini Passion of the Christ, being a thinly veiled allegory of the resurrection of Christ.

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Article: One World Religion

December 6, 2005 - Pope becomes first citizen of Bethlehem

Pope Benedict XVI has become the first new citizen of Bethlehem after the town of Jesus' birth was declared an 'open city'.

The Pope accepted a Bethlehem passport from the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the weekend.

He becomes the first new citizen of Bethlehem following the launch of "Open Bethlehem", an international campaign to save the city.

Bethlehem faces a state of emergency following the completion of an 8 metre high illegal cement wall at the entrance to the city that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem and other Palestinian towns.
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Article: Rising Interest in the Supernatural

December 6, 2005 - Starhawk - How Narnia Made Me a Witch

C.S. Lewis's books not only taught me important values, they helped bring me to the Goddess. For me, one of her names is Aslan.

When I was eight years old, the librarian at my elementary school handed me "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." The book took me into a magic world, where animals talked and nature was shimmering with enchantment. I devoured the book and avidly read the rest of the series, over and over again. Narnia was my comfort when I was sick and my escape when life was boring and dreary.

The books made me aware that something was lacking in my daily routine of school and Hebrew school, of TV cartoons on Saturday mornings and games of handball in the apartment garage. I longed to step into another world, one that would be wilder, more fluid, and more infused with wonder than the decidedly unmagical San Fernando valley where I lived.

Starhawk is one of the leading voices in feminist and earth-based spirituality, author of 10 books, including 'The Spiral Dance,' 'The Fifth Sacred Thing,' and her latest, 'The Earth Path: Grounding Our Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature,' about our sacred connection to the natural world.

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Article: Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days

December 8, 2005 - Mary has accompanied Church in 40 years since Council

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Before the Angelus, the pope once again drew attention to the centrality of Mary in the experience of the Second Vatican Council, the 40th anniversary of which is marked today. He had just done so shortly before in a solemn celebration in St Peter's Basilica. The pope wanted to "give thanks to God for the gift of the Vatican Council II" and he said that Mary, defined as "Mother of the Church" in the conciliar sitting 40 years ago, had "accompanied church life - enriched by so many events - for these 40 years". In a special way, he added, "Mary has watched with motherly care over the pontificates of my venerated predecessors, each of who, with great pastoral wisdom, guided Peter's ship along the route of authentic conciliar renewal".

Note - in the Pope's speech, he said the following:

Dear brothers and sisters, for the crowning moment of this day fully dedicated to the Holy Virgin, following an ancient tradition, I will go this afternoon to Piazza di Spagna at the foot of the statue of the Immaculate Conception. I ask you to join me in spirit on this pilgrimage, which is an act of filial devotion to Mary, to entrust to her the beloved city of Rome, the Church and all of humanity.
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Article: Israel and the Last Days

December 8, 2005 - UN Ceremony Includes Map of "Palestine" in Place of Israel

The United Nations held a "Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People" last week. A large map of "Palestine", with Israel literally wiped off the map, featured prominently in the festivities.

The ceremony was held at the UN headquarters in New York and was attended by Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Presidents of the UN Security Council and the General Assembly.
During the festivities, a map labeled a "map of Palestine" was displayed prominently between UN and PLO flags. The map, with "Palestine" written in Arabic atop it, does not include Israel, a member of the UN for 56 years. The map does not even demarcate the partition lines of November 29, 1947, marking a Jewish state alongside an Arab state. The partition was dictated by the UN General Assembly itself.

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Article: Israel and the Last Days

December 9, 2005 - Israel should move to Europe, Iranian president says

Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sparked fresh outrage with the suggestion that the state of Israel should be moved to Europe, raising doubts on the reliability of Teheran as an EU partner in nuclear talks.

The latest anti-Israeli remarks by the Iranian president follow a comment made last month that Israel should be "wiped off the map".

Speaking in Mecca on Thursday (8 December), he stated according to media reports:
"If European countries claim that they have killed Jews in World War II (...) why don't they provide the Zionist regime with a piece of Europe?"

"Germany and Austria can provide the (...) regime with two or three provinces for this regime to establish itself, and the issue will be resolved", he added.
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Article: Israel and the Last Days

December 8, 2005 - Presbyterian Leaders Meet Hizbullah Terror Chief

Presbyterian Christians from Chicago met recently with Hizbullah terror chief Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon.

The meeting took place during a trip co-sponsored by the Chicago Presbytery Middle East Task Force, in which Rev. Bob Reynolds of the Presbytery's executive board took part.

The trip's leader, Dr. Robert Worley, praised Hizbullah and expressed understanding for the terror group's struggle against the Jewish State. Worley said that Presbyterians "have suffered much pressure on the part of Jewish organizations." Worley also told Nasrallah that Jewish influence in America leads to the perception that Hizbullah is a terrorist organization.

Local Jewish Federation and Anti-Defamation League officials contacted the Chicago Presbytery leadership, which refused to condemn the statements or meeting, saying instead that the trip was unofficial and not the responsibility of the group.

"The goal of my trip was educational," Reynolds told the Associated Press. "I think one way people can learn from one another is to learn the way people talk about themselves and describe their own reality."

The Presbyterian Church (USA) embarked on a campaign of divesting from Israeli companies last year.

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Article: Israel and the Last Days

December 9, 2005 - Bracing for attack, Israel adds to arsenal

Jerusalem - Israel is expanding its military arsenal to deal with what it views as the greatest threat to its existence: a nuclear attack by Iran.

It has acquired dozens of warplanes with long-range fuel tanks to allow them to reach Iran, and it signed a deal with Germany for two submarines reportedly capable of firing nuclear missiles.

Though Israeli security officials say a strike against Iran is not on the horizon, senior Israeli politicians have begun openly discussing a military option - either alone or with other countries.

Hard feelings between Israel and Iran date to just before the 1979 Islamic Revolution when the Israelis joined the United States in siding with the Shah before he was deposed.

Partly because of that, the founder of the Islamic revolution, the Ayatollah Khomeini, called Israel the "Little Satan," saving the term "Great Satan" for the United States, Israel's patron.

The Iranian brand of Islam allows no place for a Jewish state in the Middle East, and Israel points out often that Iran is the only member of the United Nations that publicly calls for destruction of another member. Israel's animosity toward Iran stems from not only the Iranian leadership's anti- Israel statements, but also its support of armed groups like Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.
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Article: Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days

December 9, 2005 - Pope prays at Marian statue in Rome

ROME (CNS) -- Continuing a tradition, Pope Benedict XVI went to the center of Rome Dec. 8 to pray at the foot of a statue of Mary.

Located near the Spanish Steps in a crowded district of upscale shops, the statue was erected to commemorate Pope Pius IX's formal declaration in 1854 of the dogma of Mary's Immaculate Conception.

The pope told the crowd that this year's feast day is especially important because it marks the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council.

He said that in closing the council Pope Paul VI placed the trust of the church in Mary for the "fruitful application of the council's decisions."

Pope Paul's trust, he said, was well founded.

Pope Benedict thanked Mary and turned to her with prayers inspired by the last chapter of "Lumen Gentium," the council's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.

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Article: Signs of the Times

December 9, 2005 - Earth's Magnetic Pole Drifting Quickly

SAN FRANCISCO - Earth's north magnetic pole is drifting away from North America and toward Siberia at such a clip that Alaska might lose its spectacular Northern Lights in the next 50 years, scientists said Thursday. Despite accelerated movement over the past century, the possibility that Earth's modestly fading magnetic field will collapse is remote. But the shift could mean Alaska may no longer see the sky lights known as auroras, which might then be more visible in more southerly areas of Siberia and Europe.

Scientists have long known that magnetic poles migrate and in rare cases, swap places. Exactly why this happens is a mystery.

Previous studies have shown that the strength of the Earth's magnetic shield has decreased 10 percent over the past 150 years.
During the same period, the north magnetic pole wandered about 685 miles out into the Arctic, according to a new analysis by Stoner.
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Article: Apostasy

December 06, 2005 - Christian nudists to build village in Florida

Jonathan Palmiter was enjoying a recent Sunday morning stroll through a lush yard full of trees and Spanish moss--naked as was Adam in the Garden of Eden.

A 59-year-old born-again Christian, Palmiter was visiting Natura, a development 40 miles north of Tampa, Fla., that, when it opens up next summer, will become the first nudist community for devout Christians in North America.

Natura is being developed over five years and will house as many as 200 people in 50 family houses on 100 acres of land, with room for up to 100 recreational vehicles, according to Daniel Bellows, chief executive of the development. He even envisions a self-contained village with home-schooling and a strip mall.

Christian nudism might sound like an oxymoron, but for thousands of devout followers, living and worshipping naked is at the core of their faith.



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