Franklin Graham angry at benefit film
When HBO shows a film, it usually precedes it with a warning about whether it includes nudity (or the ever popular "brief nudity"), violence, or other such objectionable material. But now evangelist Franklin Graham is issuing a warning of his own. The HBO film Dinner With Friends, he complains, contains language and themes "morally inconsistent with the values and work of my parents and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association." Of course, that's also true of almost all of HBO's programming, from Sex and the City to G-String Divas. The difference here is that Dinner With Friendspremiered as a fundraiser for the Ruth and Billy Graham Children's Health Center. Actress Andie MacDowell, who stars in the film, is also the national spokesperson for the center, which earned $115,000 from the event. Franklin Graham was reportedly upset that the Grahams weren't warned that the film contained frank sexual discussions and numerous instances of the f-word. But the real news here may be that the film contains no nudity. Imagine that! An HBO film with no nudity! Meanwhile, in the Grahams' hometown paper, Don Hudson suggests that criticizing the film while not returning the money is hypocritical. But could Franklin Graham really return the money? It went to a hospital named for his parents, not a Graham organization.

Taliban may be relenting
Several sources have good news from Afghanistan today. Taliban foreign minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil says the International Committee of the Red Cross will be allowed to visit the eight foreign detainees accused of Christian evangelism. (The flip side of the coin: Mohammad Wali, who is in charge of the religious police, said he was unaware of the decision to allow visits, and Taliban chief spokesman Abdul Hai Mutmaen says "Our stance regarding the visit has not changed.") But in an even more hopeful sign, Abdul Hakeem Mujahid, the Taliban's liaison representative to the United Nations, says the Christians will "absolutely" be able to go home soon. Of course the bad news in all of this is that prospects do not look as good for the 16 Afghans also arrested for evangelizing. And The New York Times reports that the arrests will also hurt the rest of the country as conflicts between the Taliban and aid organizations worsen:

In its fourth year of remorseless drought, in its 22nd year of relentless war, Afghanistan may well be the world's neediest country. The United Nations and hundreds of relief groups provide help that now amounts to more than $300 million a year. But those organizations and the Taliban are often incompatible caretakers, steeped in cultural conflicts and mutual distrust. One dispute follows another, and it seems that when the aid agencies are not threatening to pack it in, the mullahs are threatening to throw them out.
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  • Home Sweet School | The new home schoolers aren't hermits. They are diverse parents who are getting results—and putting the heat on public schools (Time)
  • Christian schools should make advanced literacy a high priority | When a Christian settles for semi-literacy, or "functional" literacy, he says in effect that the words revealed through and by the Word aren't all that important. (Preston Jones, The Dallas Morning News)

Faith and medicine:

Missions and ministry:

  • Priest to circus workers relishes road mission | The death of animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams brought Father Jerry Hogan's job to center ring (The New York Times)
  • Missionary plane crashes in Indonesia | Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot, three passengers injured (Voice of America)
  • Wrong place for conversion kick, Buddhists tell Sydney's Anglican Archbishop | Jensen says he had not intended to single out Wollongong's Buddhist community (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Truck-stop ministry refuels souls | Because of the ministry's impact, some truckers have rearranged routes so they can return for services (The Tennessean)
  • Changing mission | More storytelling, less sermonizing mark more sensitive approach to indigenous peoples (Dallas Morning News)
  • For Christ's sake, why can't they evangelize? | How does one align approval of Christian church factions speaking out vigorously on such matters as international borrowing and lending, environmentalism, illegal immigrants, Aboriginal land rights, drug addiction, the status of women, taxation and foreign trade, with outrage over a Christian church leader's commending Christ to the attention of us all? (Frank Devine, The Australian)
  • Hunger Site seeks sustenance | Not long ago, the Hunger Site ranked as the most-visited online charity site. But then its owners ran out of money and shut it down. Now former beneficiaries are hoping to find a buyer. (Wired News)


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Stanley Hauerwas:

  • For God, not country | The un-American theology of Stanley Hauerwas (Lingua Franca)
  • Do the right thing, damn it | Stanley Hauerwas, America's leading theologian, on laying bricks and taking the Lord's name in vain. (Killing the Buddha)


Other religions:

  • Muslim Jesus | Tarif Khalidi of King's College, Cambridge, talks about The Muslim Jesus, his new collection of sayings and stories that depict Jesus in Islamic literature (NPR's Weekend Edition, 14.4 or 28.8 kbps)


  • True love should wait | In growing virgin movements, teenagers pledge to make abstinence a lifestyle choice (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Bible Belt leads at 'living in sin' | In the seven states where the law forbids people to "live in sin", the number of cohabiting couples has almost doubled from 500,000 in 1990 to 930,000 (The Daily Telegraph, London)

Life ethics:

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