Cutting: What Would Jesus Do?
Weblog has to admit a bit of discomfort a couple years ago when the Church of England's Birmingham Diocese launched a campaign of posters that said, "Body Piercing? Jesus had his done 2000 years ago." As it turns out, diocese leaders were far from the only ones comparing the crucifixion to contemporary body piercings.

Now an article in The Guardian not only connects the crucifixion to the much more horrific teen trend of self-mutilation (cutting)—it blames it. "Images of self-harm are all around us, particularly in religious iconography," writes Hilary Freeman. "Christianity is founded on the notion that Christ suffered for the world's sins and there have been sects which practiced self-flagellation and mutilation throughout history. Pain and the spilling of our own blood are seen as ways of cleansing ourselves. Likewise, when teenagers cut themselves they often say it is a release, a way of punishing themselves or others."

Whatever. Lately the cross has been blamed for everything from anti-Semitism to war to "religious intolerance, forced conversions, inquisitions and even racism." One supposes that many groups would want to tie their agendas to the pivotal point in human history. Still, it bears repeating that it was Jesus up on the cross—and that he died so that we don't have to play this victimization game.

A therapist nonreferral
Speaking of really bad articles in The Guardian, one of Britain's leading newspapers, a psychoanalysis of President Bush by Oliver James (author of They [F-word] You Up: How to Survive Family Life) is really a howler. Yes, it's an insane attack on Bush, but it's really an attack on conservative Christians.

"[Bush's] moralism is all-encompassing and as passionate as can be. He plans to replace state welfare provision with faith-based charitable organisations that would impose Christian family values. The commonest targets of authoritarians have been Jews, blacks and homosexuals." James writes. "His deepest beliefs amount to superstition."

And then there's his conclusion:

Bush's deep hatred, as well as love, for both his parents explains how he became a reckless rebel with a death wish. He hated his father for putting his whole life in the shade and for emotionally blackmailing him. He hated his mother for physically and mentally badgering him to fulfill her wishes. But the hatred also explains his radical transformation into an authoritarian fundamentalist. By totally identifying with an extreme version of their strict, religion-fuelled beliefs, he jailed his rebellious self. From now on, his unconscious hatred for them was channeled into a fanatical moral crusade to rid the world of evil.
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We'll leave the fisking to more politically minded bloggers. This one's just so over the top that we almost didn't even bother linking to it.

Mr. Robertson, check your calendar
In an interview on MSNBC's Buchanan and Press, broadcaster Pat Robertson was asked about what re-election strategy President Bush should adopt. "I think he's got to cultivate the evangelicals. He's taking them for granted. I think Karl Rove takes them for granted. I think they pretty much were responsible for the demise of the Christian Coalition. And I think they don't have a grassroots force out right there of evangelicals, which means some of the evangelicals might stay away and not vote. But so far, he's strong as lye with these people. They love him."

The statement rightly surprised Buchanan. "Did I hear you say that Karl Rove destroyed the Christian Coalition?"

"No, I didn't say he destroyed it but … he wasn't too keen on keeping it going, I don't think," said the Coalition founder. "I mean, there was studied indifference, and I think that the demise of the Christian Coalition can in part be laid at their feet."

Never mind that by the time Bush took office the Christian Coalition was pretty dead already. He might as well have blamed Rove and the Bushies for his failed 1988 presidential campaign.

Robertson endorses Schwarzenegger
Remember when Pat Robertson said he was getting out of politics? No, he really said it. Old habits die hard, apparently. And a lot of religious conservatives may be upset with his endorsement of Arnold Schwarzenegger in that MSNBC interview.

"He is pro-abortion. He is pro-gay rights. He's got a lifestyle that I guess—or had a lifestyle we could call, I guess, bodybuilder lifestyle that you've been reading about," Pat Buchanan said. "Pat Robertson, should Christians in good conscience, can they vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger?"

"I'm a bodybuilder," Robertson replied.

I do some pretty heavy weightlifting, so I think the weightlifters of the world need to unite. But I tell you what, those guys in California could use a big bruiser to knock some heads together. I mean, they're out of control out there, so what are they going to do? I mean, you're going to have Bustamante, who is sort of a, you know, the Governor Gray Davis light. They don't want any more of Gray Davis, so who are you going to put in? I think we don't have anybody else that's coming up on the radar, so the other alternative is just stay home.
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Of course, the same religious conservatives that may be upset over Pat's support of Arnold are already upset with the broadcaster's support of China's one-child policy, business deals with former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, involvement in horse racing (and failure to keep a promise to sell the horses), and many other comments he's made.

Ray Knighton, founder of MAP International, dies at 81
After a month's illness, MAP International founder J. Raymond Knighton Jr. died of congestive heart failure Saturday. His Christian organization, founded in the Chicago area as part of the Christian Medical Society, is now independent, based in Brunswick, Ga., and has about 125 staff members around the world involved in providing medicines, preventing and treating disease, and promoting community health development.

"Ray was one of those visionary people who had a big heart for everybody and anybody," MAP president and CEO Michael Nyenhuis told The Florida Times-Union. "In true humility, he'd tell you that it wasn't his vision that created MAP. Rather, he'd say it was the result of circumstances set by God and that he was just following God's lead."

More articles

Estrada pulls name as judicial nominee:

Anglican Church:

  • Anglican evangelicals in crisis meeting | The biggest gathering of British evangelical Christians for more than a decade is to meet in Blackpool this month to discuss strategy in dealing with the Church of England's crisis over homosexuality (The Guardian, London)

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Homosexuality and the Church:

  • Petitioners seek second vote to hire gay pastor | Some at Princeton church fear lesbian minister would result in falling attendance (Peoria Journal Star, Ill.)

  • Schism threatens | At least two Wimmera congregations have threatened withdrawal after a nationwide assembly decision confirmed a liberal approach to ministerial criteria (The Wimmera Mail-Times, Australia)

  • Moderator tries to bridge gap on gay clergy | But whether the Right Rev Professor Iain Torrance will be invited to preach from a local pulpit when he visits Skye and Lochcarron presbytery in November for a 10-day visit is still in doubt (The Herald, Glasgow, Scotland)

  • Priest expelled for marrying two men | The Russian Orthodox Church has unfrocked a priest for marrying two homosexual men, allegedly in return for a $475 bribe to ignore a ban on same-sex weddings (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Also: Russian Church in gay wedding row | The Russian Orthodox Church has defrocked a priest for conducting the country's first reported gay wedding (BBC)

Gay marriage:

  • Alliance to force marriage vote early | Opposition hopes split among Liberals brings government to defeat (The Ottawa Citizen)

  • Marriage fight heats up | At masses this weekend, Catholic priests in diocese are being asked to read letter from bishop opposing same-sex marriage (The Sudbury Star, Ontario)

  • 1996 marriage act called vulnerable | "It is likely, though not inevitable" that the Defense of Marriage Act and other prohibitions on same-sex "marriage" will be found unconstitutional in the near future, Gregory S. Coleman, former solicitor general of Texas, told the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and property rights (The Washington Times)

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Politics, law, and the First Amendment:

  • Jesus' special interest: Prison rape and the law | As someone who has been a prisoner and in prison ministry for three decades, I can tell you that this situation—prison rape—has been a national scandal, a blot on our claim to be a civilized people (Charles Colson)

  • Does God bless more than America? | If our president is unable to acknowledge, or perhaps even understand, the divergence of religious traditions possessed by patriotic Americans, how can he then comprehend the complex world beyond our borders where he has now sent our sons and daughters to fight and die? (Constance Hilliard, USA Today)

  • Does the Patriot Act infringe on freedom of religion? | Religious leaders respond (Los Angeles Times)

  • Clergy support tax plan | Clergy from Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish faiths joined forces Thursday to support Gov. Bob Riley's tax plan, with some saying the Christian Coalition of Alabama does not speak for all the faithful when it opposes the proposal (Associated Press)

  • God Almighty | Look at public prayer's substance, not the idiom in which it is prayed (Marc Howard Wilson, Jewsweek)

  • Preacher gets another chance to argue First Amendment case | 6th Circuit reinstates James D. Hood II's lawsuit claiming Ohio officials violated his rights by charging him with trespassing on Statehouse grounds (Associated Press)

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Life ethics:

  • Disabled rape victim gives birth to girl | J.D.S. and her unborn child spent the summer at the center of a statewide scandal over treatment of the developmentally disabled and a national debate on fetal rights (The Orlando Sentinel)

  • Birth control in Russia | Rather than limiting access to abortion, the Russian government should expand women's ability to get effective contraception (Editorial, The New York Times)

  • Abortion protesters cleared of 'insult' | Two antiabortion campaigners accused of insulting passersby by displaying a large poster of an aborted fetus were cleared of all charges yesterday by Abergavenny magistrates (PA, U.K.)

Paul Hill:

Pop culture:

  • Should gospel acts proselyte secular songs? | Many Christians believe that all true gospel songs must be spiritually stimulated. On the other hand, there are those who support the proverbial premise of 'tun yuh hand mek fashion', since they re-create noted secular songs into gospel (Jamaica Gleaner)

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Church life:

Married Catholic priests?

  • Celibacy issue flares again within ranks of U.S. priesthood | The debate about whether to allow married men to serve as Roman Catholic priests is back on the front burner, pressed by priests concerned about the dwindling of their ranks (The New York Times)

  • Celibacy vow must be saved, bishop stresses | Catholic priests' efforts rebuffed (Chicago Tribune)

  • Head of U.S. bishops affirms celibacy | Responding to priests who argued that married men should be allowed into the priesthood, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops affirmed his support for celibacy Thursday and questioned whether adding married clerics would increase the number of priests (Associated Press)

  • A married priesthood? | A shortage of Roman Catholic priests has led some clergy to call for celibacy to be optional. Though controversial, 'Rent-a-priest' helps fill the gap for some Catholics (The Christian Science Monitor)

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  • Zealous no more | Alan Wolfe's The Transformation of American Religion is an oddly modern jeremiad (The Wall Street Journal)

  • Seeing icons as 'windows into heaven' | Frederica Mathewes-Green, a commentator for National Public Radio, has written a new book, The Open Door: Entering the Sanctuary of Icons and Prayer (Paraclete Press, $16.95), to explain her growing love for icons (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

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  • Sunday school moves out of church | Novel follows church leader who relies on the morals and teachings that he learned as a child (Burbank Leader, Calif.)

  • 'Da Vinci Code' hot, critics hotter | Detractors find fault with the book's research, accusing it of intellectual dishonesty and calling it anti-Catholic (New York Daily News)

  • Chapter & verse | Reviews of Learning Theology With the Church Fathers and Ten Shekel Shirt's newest album (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)


Missions and ministry:

  • Battle for Jewish souls hits streets of Toronto | Theological war games unfolded on the streets of Toronto and York Region last week, in the first few days of an aggressive campaign by Jews for Jesus to convert Jews to Christianity (The Canadian Jewish News)

  • Former trucker ministers to men on the move | Chaplain and volunteers tend to transient flock and to wives at home (The Washington Post)

  • Faith put to the fire | Dark side of Africa tests Superiorite's faith,but strengthens spiritual her resolve (The Daily Telegram, Superior, Wis.)

  • Pride and a prayer | The home team's dugout at Holman Stadium became a makeshift house of worship (The Nashua Telegraph, N.H.)

Other religions:

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  • In defense of God | A number of liberal atheists condemn belief in God as destructive nonsense, but their simplistic arguments are no better than the religious zealots they deplore (Bradford R. Pilcher, Jewsweek)

Ten Commandments—news:

Ten Commandments—opinion:

  • The Ten Commandments are not secular | The Ten Commandments aren't a legal agreement among people or between the government and the people. They are a covenant between God and God's people (David Waters, Scripps Howard News Service)

  • Alabama justice using commandments for his politics | All the energy expended on the church vs. state debate could be put into teaching morality (Editorial, York Daily Record, Pa.)

  • A God-intoxicated country | Ten Commandments have no business in America's courthouses (Larry Durstin, Cleveland Free Times)

  • Commandments: Monument not the issue | Advocating one religion not government's place; spreading message of right and wrong is (Editorial, The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, S.C.)

  • Stacked Decalogue | Spelled out in all their ancient splendor, though, the commandments are a decidedly odd set of directives to be looming, physically or spiritually, over an American courtroom (Katha Pollitt, The Nation)

  • Thunder rolls? | God in the hands of angry humans (Dave Shiflett, National Review Online)

  • A land of constitutional disenchantment? | If people of religious persuasion, or no religious persuasion at all, can be so easily converted or offended by a public display of the Ten Commandments or the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, heaven help them the next time they receive an e-mail from a representative of a Nigerian prince who needs a bank account number to deposit millions he cannot get to because of government instability. (Dave Henry, Amarillo Globe-News)

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  • Sacred texts, used and abused | A courthouse in Alabama, an execution in Florida (Michael Knox Beran, The Wall Street Journal)

  • Letter of the law eludes manly Justice Moore | We don't believe Moore's decision to install the Ten Commandments monument in the justice building in Montgomery, Ala., violated the First Amendment. We do believe, however, that when a federal district judge and the rest of the Alabama Supreme Court say otherwise, that Moore should have removed the monument then and there. (Editorial, Amarillo Globe-News)

  • Some embrace 'outside agitators' now | The Ten Commandments monument case continues to weigh down the mailbag here. (Jim Earnhardt, Montgomery Advertiser)

  • Ala. protesters are distracted by trivialities | Ten Commandments battle diverts believers from important work (Cal Thomas)


  • D.C. vouchers clear Senate panel; democrats vow fight | Senate Appropriations Committee votes 16 to 12 (The Washington Post)

  • D.C. vouchers on track in House | House Republican leaders are moving ahead on a $17 million school-choice plan for the District, amid concerns that some lawmakers may have been swayed by the National Education Association's anti-voucher campaign during the August congressional recess (The Washington Times)

  • Feinstein will endorse D.C. vouchers | The former San Francisco mayor, a longtime voucher foe, said she changed her position only in the case of the District's pilot program and does not support taxpayer-funded private school scholarships in California or elsewhere in the country (The Washington Post)

  • Catholic university opens doors | School officials tout orthodox environment (The Boston Globe)

Other stories of interest:

  • 'Killer' Christ icon is removed from Hermitage display | An ancient icon depicting Christ has been removed from display at the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg after claims that its "energy field" is killing staff (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Rest, prayer, and a happy hour | At a home in the Bronx, retired priests ponder eternity as they read theology, contemplate and await the 5:15 p.m. cocktail hour (The New York Times)

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  • Prayer marked final minutes | Even as their minivan filled with water, Robert and Melissa Rogers tried to comfort their four young children, singing Bible songs and praying (The Washington Times)

  • Baylor's savior fell hard from grace | When Dave Bliss arrived at Baylor in 1999, he was seen as the God-fearing savior of a basketball program that had soured into one of the nation's worst (Associated Press)

  • Religion news in brief | Pope condemns violence in Mideast and Africa, African church leaders talk about priorities, Idaho's Ten Commandments monuments provoke few complaints, and other stories (Associated Press)

  • Top-dollar sale urged for KOCE | Orange Coast faculty advises station owners to take the highest price, even if it's from televangelists (Los Angeles Times)

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