Prayer changes things
The old cliché: Be careful what you pray for, you just might get it. The new warning: Be careful praying. Last Thursday, an American Airlines passenger in Los Angeles tried to use the plane's intercom to lead other passengers in prayer before takeoff. If his prayer was not to fly, it was answered. American ejected him—but didn't press charges and even refunded his ticket. "It's quite all right to pray individually, but what he did alarmed a number of other people on board," said American Airlines spokesman Dale Morris. Three days later, a Delta plane flying from Atlanta to Newark made an emergency landing in Charlotte, North Carolina. The reason? Two men had huddled together in the back of the plane, speaking a foreign language. When the plane landed and police boarded the plane, they discovered the nefarious plot: two Jewish men had been praying. Folks, I know some people are saying religion is to blame for the attacks, but enough is enough.

To tell the tooth
Luke, is that really you? Just in time for the Feast of St. Luke (Oct. 18), Italian scientists have announced evidence that the remains said to be the evangelist's are real. Radio carbon dating of the body dates the death between A.D. 72 and 416, and analysis of the teeth indicate that the corpse's DNA is "characteristic of people living near the region of Antioch." Dr. Guido Barbujani of the University of Ferrara, who extracted the DNA, is still cautious. "I think we should accept that there is no way to tell if it was the Evangelist Luke," he told The New York Times, "but the genetic evidence does not contradict the idea."

Crossing the line?
The Chicago Tribune took aim Friday at Providence, a Cincinnati-based firm that aids families of victims killed in catastrophes. It seems that Providence sent out a packet to 76 families of passengers killed in the September 11 hijackings, with a recommendation that they contact various law firms to sue the airlines. "This is a company that is preying on grieving widows and orphans," says the lawyer of Jeffrey Mladenik's widow. "It's despicable."

The packet also included an "inspirational story about Rev. Scott Willis and his wife, Janet, who lost six children in a fiery van-truck crash in 1994." The very end of the Tribune story notes that Jonathan T. Jannis, a representative for Providence, "acknowledged that the story was included in the packet without the Willis family's knowledge, saying a Christian publishing company received payment from his firm for the information."

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Apparently that's a reference to Good News Publishers, which published an evangelistic tract titled "Through the Flames: The Willis Family Story." The Willis family's lawyer told the Tribune that the couple was upset—the story was intended for evangelizing souls, not soliciting business. "They're a bunch of vultures," he said.

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