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Middle East:

  • Dark days in Bethlehem | Under siege from all sides, Christians in the Holy Land have never been so beset. A report from the front (Newsweek)

  • Israel's Christian soldiers | Citing Scripture, Evangelical Christians have taken up the cause of preserving Israel with a passion—no matter how many liberal Jews find their unlikely devotion unsettling (New York)

  • Christians feel vulnerable in post-Saddam Iraq | Their main concern, as for all Iraqis, is the resultant insecurity. But Christians are also worried about a potential Islamization of Iraq (Reuters)

  • Also: Post-Saddam: Iraqi Christians fear repercussions | The dictator protected them from fundamentalists, but now the community fears that intolerance may return to their country (NDTV, India)

Other religions:

  • Pagans fight for divine rights of old Greek gods | The colorful Hellenes are viewed with interest by many in Greek society but largely ridiculed by the media (Scotland on Sunday)

  • Breaking the Heathen stereotype | On the 27th of September, a number of people from the area will gather for Pagan Pride Day (Richard B. Culver, The Dallas Morning News)

  • Of spindles and spirituality | The Church of Craft, a faith pieced together over the last three years like some sort of cosmic quilt, is looking for a permanent home, legal assistance to clarify their tax status as an official church, and the best place to buy googly eyes (The New York Times)

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  • Waiting for the messiah of Eastern Parkway | While he was alive, Rebbe Menachem Schneerson was the unifying leader of the Lubavitchers. Now, nine years after his death, some of his followers eagerly await his resurrection — and others see belief in a second coming as a curse on their movement (The New York Times Magazine)

Anglican breakup over gay clergy:

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  • Church report reinforces gay policy | The Church of England looks set to reinforce its policy on homosexuality by ruling out recognition of gay partnerships, in a discussion document to be published later this autumn (The Guardian, London)

  • Views on spiritual leadership | What is your faith's view on gay clergy and especially placing gay clergy in leadership positions? Religious leaders respond (Los Angeles Times)

More on Archbishop of Canterbury:

Same-sex marriage:

  • Marriage law eyed for GOP platform | Republicans are prepared to oppose homosexual "marriage" in their national platform, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie said yesterday (The Washington Times)

  • Ethnic, religious alliance backs gay-marriage ban | An alliance of African American, Latino, Asian, Jewish, Catholic and Muslim religious leaders lent their support Wednesday to a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage that will soon be introduced in the Senate (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Defining marriage a tricky task | For much of its history, marriage has been an economic, reproductive, political and practical concern for the benefit of families rather than individuals (Anne Mahoney, The Denver Post)

  • Let America decide | If marriage is to be radically redefined, the decision should, at the very least, be made by the American people and their elected representatives, not by unelected, unaccountable judges (Marilyn Musgrave, The Denver Post)

  • Concept is just fear run amok | The Defense of Marriage Act provides all the protection that any state needs from the would-be menace called same-sex marriage (Julie Tolleson, The Denver Post)

  • Straight, gay could both lose | The debate about the definition of marriage is based on the states' long-standing power to license, conduct and regulate marriages. We know that power has always been presumed constitutional. But that may have ended 32 years ago without notice (Michael Woodson, The Denver Post)

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Life ethics:

Church life:

  • Church bingo dwindling | As some players opt instead for high-stakes bingo at American Indian casinos, and as many church leaders question the compatibility of Catholicism and gambling, church bingo is being cast aside (The Arizona Republic)

  • Salt of the earth and the heavens | In Colombia, an centuries-old salt mine has been turned into a crystal cathedral (Los Angeles Times)

  • Serving diversity of worshipers | S. Phoenix area home to about 200 churches (The Arizona Republic)

  • New life seen in Protestant churches | Despite significant membership losses from the 1960s to the 1980s in their national denominations, many Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran, and Presbyterian churches are vital places, said Diana Butler Bass, an author and professor at Virginia Theological Seminary (Religion News Service)

  • Church centers breathing new life into area | Life resources bridge the gap between church, community (Houston Chronicle)

  • River's Edge church takes root | Evangelical 'alternative' aims to be heart of a network of mainly French-language churches (Montreal Gazette)

  • Churches look to strengthen marriages | Coalition hopes to strengthen unions by requiring premarital counseling (The Times, northwest Indiana)

  • Revving up the young a mission in life | Susan Gormann became Australia's youngest female religious leader when she was inducted moderator of the Uniting Church of Victoria and Tasmania (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)


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  • Italian saint's festival links Hollywood to Old World | A traditional church procession moves alongside the glitz of the Walk of Fame (Los Angeles Times)

  • Go straight to Heaven | Mother Teresa is on the verge of canonization, only six years after her death. Here's why the Pope is in a hurry to create new saints (Anne Sebba, The Spectator, U.K.)

  • Bishop Grahmann bars speaker, so group moves event | Bishop Charles Grahmann has banned a leader of Corpus, a national organization that supports allowing Catholic priests to marry, from speaking next month on property owned by the Dallas Diocese (The Dallas Morning News)


  • The Miss Stone Affair: A hostage crisis in Macedonia | An American missionary spinster and a beautiful Bulgarian woman (who turns out to be pregnant) are kidnapped in the rugged mountains of Macedonia and held for ransom by bandit-revolutionaries (The New York Times Book Review)

  • Earlier: Christian History Corner: The Day the Ransoming Began | A gripping new book details the first American missionary hostage crisis, over 100 years ago (Christianity Today, May 23, 2003)

  • John Winthrop: The Puritan dilemma | We have lost touch with our Puritan forebears. We have forgotten, in our giddy and disrespectful era, how wretched it must have been to live with them (The New York Times Book Review)

  • Bible track | George Rosie reviews Reformation: Europe's House Divided 1490-1700 by Diarmid MacCulloch (The Sunday Herald, Glasgow)

More books:

  • No end in sight for 'Left Behind' | Will Soon and Babylon Rising confuse Left Behind fans? (New York Daily News)

  • Beat of a different drummer | Mark Curtis Anderson captures the rugged tug of war of his youth—between sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll and the threat of damnation or the promise of salvation—in a heartfelt, funny and offbeat memoir, Jesus Sound Explosion (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  • 'Rumors' about people who say they're 'spiritual but not religious' | Yancey's latest isn't directed at Christians, but toward those who are in what he calls "the borderlands of belief" (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  • Decoding the subtleties of best-selling 'Da Vinci' | The early Christians opposed paganism in all forms, but the mother goddess cannot be lumped in with the rest, because every patriarchy - and not just religious ones - justifies its existence by demeaning women (Joseph F. Kelly, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)

Former CoE bishop and media personality Jim Thompson dies:

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  • The Rt Rev Jim Thompson | The Right Reverend Jim Thompson, who died on the cruise ship Minerva II yesterday aged 67, was Bishop of Bath and Wells from 1991 until 2001 and before that spent 13 arduous years as Bishop of Stepney in the diocese of London; his determinedly liberal views - on homosexual adoption, racism, women priests, and so on - were regularly aired on the Today programme's Thought for the Day slot (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Jim Thompson, former Bishop of Bath and Wells, dies (The Scotsman)

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