Charles Colson's Justice Fellowship down to bare-bones operation
"The public-policy arm of Charles Colson's Prison Fellowship Ministries has laid off all but one staff member and ended its lobbying activities," reports The Heritage Foundation's Eli Lehrer on National Review Online. The one person left on staff is former California State legislator Pat Nolan, who isn't saying what happened. "It was a decision we made to focus what resources we have on our core mission of bringing the gospel into prisons," Nolan said. "We are going to step away from working on the nuts and bolts of it with state legislators to try to exhort the Church to take a more active role in it." Lehrer says other conservative organizations are feeling similar crunches due to "the stock market slump and donors' focus on George W. Bush's campaign." In September, Prison Fellowship closed 20 offices and eliminated 100 positions.

Neuro-theology: Wired for God?
In a book to be published in April, University of Pennsylvania neurologists say that spiritual experiences are brought on by a lack on sensory input, a "quieting of the brain's orientation area," reports Newsweek. "The human brain has been genetically wired to encourage religious beliefs," explains one of the scientists. "Neuro-theology at least suggests that spiritual experiences are no more meaningful than, say, the fear the brain is hard-wired to feel in response to a strange noise at night," Newsweek's Sharon Begley summarizes. "Believers, of course, have a retort: the brain's wiring may explain religious feelings—but who do you think was the master electrician?" Actually, several Christians might welcome such studies, suggesting that believers depend too heavily on religious "feeling" and neurological highs rather than serious theology and right living. In any case, Newsweek isn't exactly breaking the story. In 1998, Knight Ridder, the New Zealand Herald, and other media picked up the studies of Andrew Newberg and Eugene d'Aquili (authors of that upcoming book, Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief, and an earlier one, "The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Religious Experience). The two also wrote an article for Science & Spirit titled "Wired for the Ultimate Reality: The Neuropsychology of Religious Experience."

Lessons from Jesse—and the son of Jesse
In what one former CT editor is calling "the most explicitly biblical thing I've ever heard on NPR," David Franklin, president of Atlanta's Interdenominational Theological Center, commented on Jesse Jackson's admission of an extramarital affair through the Old Testament story of David. The lessons, he said, are that "Jackson has been, and will continue to be, an instrument in God's hand. … What he did was wrong; it was sinful. … Redemption is possible and available for Jackson. … [and] God is profoundly concerned not only with the great sinner, usually the great man, but with the most vulnerable people in the story, namely the women and children." If you have the RealPlayer (you probably do), click here to hear it (or here if you have a really slow connection) or bookmark this page until you get the RealPayer.

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