Have you interviewed God today?
While The Prayer of Jabez continues to dominate the book bestseller lists, a different kind of "prayer" has become one of the Web's most popular sites. Jupiter Media Metrix says that Reata Strickland's Interview with God site was visited by more than 2.4 million people in June—and that number's likely to climb even higher this month. Strickland hasn't advertised the site, and it has received almost no media attention, but traffic continues to increase through word-of-mouth (Weblog has received dozens of reader encouragements to visit the site).

What kind of church is she the pastor of!?
Elsewhere online, the mighty have fallen—and fallen hard. Years ago, the American Bible Society's Houses of Worship was supposed to be an online supersite: every church in the U.S. and Canada was offered a free Web site (this was years before Beliefnet and other sites started offering the same thing). Many churches signed up, but the site itself never really caught on. The American Bible Society moved on to create the very similar ForMinistry.com, leaving the site relatively abandoned. Some churches, however, still had sites on HousesofWorship.com, and bookmarks and links continued to point to the site. The American Bible Society let the URL fall back into the public domain, and a pornography site picked it up. (Weblog will hate to be around when those pornographers get their interview with God … )

Nice try, Vatican says, but stem-cell research is still "absolutely unacceptable"
"If taken very literally, the president could rule in our favor and side with the pope," Elisabeth Bresee, executive director of the Parkinson's Action Network, told The Washington Post earlier this week. She was, of course, talking about Bush's meeting with Pope John Paul II, where the pontiff again pushed for a "culture of life" that opposes "evils such as euthanasia, infanticide and, most recently, proposals for the creation for research purposes of human embryos, destined to destruction in the process." (Bush also had words about the "gospel of life," saying it "welcomes the stranger and protects the weak and the innocent," but offered no specifics.) Bresse and other advocates of embryonic stem-cell research went into full spin mode, suggesting it was only the creation of embyros for research purposes that Pope John Paul II opposed—not the use of "spare" embryos originally created for in vitro fertilization. This spin got loud enough that the Vatican quickly issued a clarification, quoting from the pope's 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae:

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This moral condemnation also regards procedures that exploit living human embryos and fetuses—sometimes specifically 'produced' for this purpose by in vitro fertilization—either to be used as 'biological material' or as providers of organs or tissue for transplants in the treatment of certain diseases. The killing of innocent human creatures, even if carried out to help others, constitutes an absolutely unacceptable act.

Slate's William Saletan (who has written some brilliant articles for the online publication about stem-cell research, abortion, and other life ethics issues) notes that the prolife side also went too far in spinning the pope's statements, saying he had equated stem-cell research with infanticide. But such spinning is inevitable, Saletan writes.

This is the way popes talk. They give you the concept, and you figure out how to apply it. … Such abstraction gives the pope's adversaries a big advantage in the spin game. … The poor pope. He was trying to draw distinctions and connections, trying to convey that some things are worse than others but that the lesser evils must be shunned because they lead to the greater. If only he could fit that into a sound bite.

Meanwhile, other papers have been busy explaining where various churches stand on the issue (against embryonic stem-cell research: the Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, and United Methodist Church; for the research: Presbyterian Church U.S.A., United Church of Christ). The Dallas Morning News suggests the debate is getting too emotional. In the face of daily discoveries, syndicated columnist Ann Coulter denies there's much hope in embryonic stem cells: "This whole debate is a hoax designed to trick Americans into yielding ground on human experimentation." And most media are ignoring adult stem cells or stem cells from umbilical cords as an option.


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Kidnapped missionaries:

Church and state:

Religion and politics:


Sexual ethics:

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Religious liberty in the courts:

Ind. judge dismisses suit against gay-Jesus play

Worship wars:

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Church life:

Roman Catholicism:


Missions and ministry:

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Popular culture:


  • In search of Jesus' tomb | An archeologist believes Christ's burial site may remain intact in Church of the Holy Sepulcher. (Thomas Maugh, Los Angeles Times)
  • Congress bill would protect Temple Mount | Bill would eliminate aid to the Palestinian Authority if archeological antiquities continue to be removed (The Jerusalem Post)


Money and business:

Other stories of interest:

  • On monks' and nuns' islands, 'you have only God' | For half a millennium monks, priests, and nuns have lived isolated on about 20 islands on Ethiopia's Lake Tana,. The islands are so remote that the monasteries are still used as havens for the remains of Ethiopian emperors, ancient icons, crosses, paintings and other treasures of Ethiopia's Orthodox Christian church. (The New York Times)
  • What is the National Cathedral? | And who gets to have a funeral service there? (Slate.com)
  • Promise Keepers' appeal fades | 7,000 sign up for rally that once drew 72,000 (The Detroit News)

Related Elsewhere

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July 20 | 19 | 18 | 17 | 16

July 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9

July 6 | 5 | 3 | 2

June 29 | 28 | 27 | 26 | 25

June 22 | 20 | 19 | 18

June 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11

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