Today's Top Five

1. 'Tis the season to evangelize

Years ago, when Weblog was an intern in D.C., he was sitting in Union Station awaiting a train home. It was the end of the summer, and a youth ministry conference was going on just miles away. A young woman walked up to the bench and awkwardly began a conversation. Weblog had seen this before and knew what was coming—a gospel invitation. Unfortunately, the girl was so nervous she could barely converse, much less share the gospel. So Weblog was able to do some Barnabas ministry, comforting the young woman who was sent to Union Station and told to preach the gospel to a specified number of non-Christians. Weblog felt sorry for her, having been in similar pressure situations in which a conference leader exhorted attendees to head out to the streets and preach the gospel. Christians shouldn't be ashamed to walk up to strangers and tell them why they're going to hell, after all this is eternity we're talking about.

Turns out, it's a late summer ritual, and missionary trips to the city are going on across the country. The New York Times says, "If it is summer in New York, it is high season for visiting missionaries, whose numbers have swelled greatly in recent years, according to the leaders of several mission groups. That is not only because of the growing pull of evangelical churches, but also because of New York's appeal as a challenging landscape for young evangelicals."

Street preachers are out in force in Dallas-Fort Worth, though it turns out they're not so welcome. And smaller festivals are attracting youth in Middle America, while on the West Coast masses are filling Angel Stadium.

2. Indonesia waits on execution of Christians

The AP reports, "The delay, early on Saturday, came hours after an appeal by Pope Benedict XVI to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to spare the lives of the men, found guilty of killing Muslims in religious clashes in 2000 on Sulawesi island."

3. Why is this news?

Weblog is trying to think of appropriate analogues: A teenager, upset that his parents won't let him take the car out with friends, decides to do it anyway; an employee, bothered that his boss won't let him manage a project, decides to create a team and do it anyway, knowing he may be fired.

This story of a female "Catholic priest" who started her own church because the Roman Catholic Church doesn't allow female priests sounds too whiny, too full of "it's not fair" complaints. Perhaps that's because the article only quotes people complaining about the Catholic church's policy.

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The L.A. Times profiles Jane Via's first solo mass at the independent "Catholic" church she started. The service "marked her congregation's first gathering since she met with San Diego Bishop Robert Brom to discuss the consequences of her ordination, which could ultimately include excommunication."

The Times goes on to note that while other denominations allow female priests, the Roman Catholic Church doesn't. "The Vatican's position on women entering the priesthood has not budged, despite polls showing a majority of American Catholics favor allowing them to do so."

The article quotes no one, including Bishop Brom, who opposes female ordination. It doesn't explain the church's theological basis for its opposition. The article, as well as others recently, simply champion women's ordination. Again, since there seems to be no chance of Via's protest having any effect on the church, why is this news?

4. Cruising for Jesus

Religious tourism is nothing new. Christians have been visiting the Holy Land for millennia; monasteries once earned sizable fortunes as pilgrims flocked to gain spiritual and physical benefit from relics the monasteries housed.

Doubtless the spiritual and the material fed one another in those days much as it does today. Time reports on the growth of the Christian tourism industry. "Religious tourism accounts for one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism market," says Kevin Wright, religious-travel manager at Globus, an international tour company that offers 20 faith-based itineraries, up from 8 in 2004. "We're talking about a $1 billion industry."

The growth, by 8 million in the last decade, of the number of people calling themselves Christian, a boom in international travel, and boomers who want a spiritual experience is driving the growth of the industry. These are luxurious spiritual experiences, too.

For those who want to combine the luxury of a cruise with the spirit of a mission, there's the Cruise with a Cause, offered by Christian Travel Finder. Joan Tidwell, 53, took her daughter Lindsay, 18, on the voyage as a high school graduation gift. Mother and daughter, who are Baptists, boarded Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas for a five-day voyage and enjoyed cruise-ship amenities, concerts by such contemporary Christian artists as Todd Agnew and New Song at night, a day of missionary work in Freeport, Bahamas, and a day of snorkeling, sunbathing and swimming on CocoCay.
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Time didn't discuss the ethics of personality-driven cruises that feature pastors and ministry leaders. That would have been helpful, because Weblog just doesn't know what to think when he sees ads for a cruise to the Bahamas featuring a megachurch pastor. Is it simply a family friendly vacation with some Bible study and ministry work or a way to sell books and build the personality of a speaker/author/minister? Fortunately, Weblog doesn't have to make the agonizing decision of how to spend his vacation money. After all, this is a ministry.

5. Bono speaks again to church leaders

"The main thrust of the Scriptures is to meet Christ in working with the poor," Bono told church leaders at Willow Creek's Leadership Summit. Bill Hybels interviewed Bono on a tape played at the conference, in which the rock star spoke about his trip to Ethiopia in 1985 where he became concerned about the poor. "Christ won't let you walk away because it's difficult, expensive, and a moral hazard," Bono said, speaking of the AIDS epidemic.

Hopefully, Bono will take his own advice in his new role as part owner of Forbes magazine.

Quote of the Day

"Jon Micah Sumrall, the lead singer of Kutless, expressed an interest in our finding a sponsor that fit their lifestyle, and motorcross riding is something the band is enthusiastic about."

—Kathy Armistead, a commercial agent at the William Morris Agency, which helped broker a sponsorship of the Christian band Kutless by American Suzuki Motor Corp. The sponsorship is the first time a major automotive company teamed up with a Christian band for a national campaign.

More Articles

Church life | Missions & ministry | Catholicism | Abuse | Church & state | Politics | Lebanon/Israel war | Uganda | Religious freedom | Health | Crime | Music & entertainment | Money & business | Deaths | People | More articles of interest

Church life:

  1. Church chooses the river to wash away sins | Pastor Scott Heare waded into knee-high water in the Guadalupe River on Saturday evening joined by the Texas sun, open sky and occasional kayaker pondering why he and about 150 people were gathered there. (San Antonio Express)

  2. Religion-related fraud getting worse | Billions of dollars has been stolen in religion-related fraud in recent years, according to the North American Securities Administrators Association, a group of state officials who work to protect investors. (Associated Press)

  3. Earlier: The Fraudbuster | The faithful are being defrauded of billions. But this Ponzi-busting ex-con knows how to stop it. (Christianity Today)

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  1. Expose bogus pastors - PM urges church | Prime Minister Themba Dlamini has called upon the church to expose bogus pastors who hide behind the cloak of the pulpit when, in fact, they are sex pests and a greedy lot. (Swazi Observer, Swaziland)

  2. African minister thrives in Ukraine | The Rev. Sunday Adelaja, a Nigerian preacher, understands why some in Ukraine are suspicious of him. (Associated Press)

  3. Church joins faction opposed to gay bishop | But St. Paul's Messiah Episcopal not leaving U.S. denomination (Pioneer Press, Minn.)

  4. When faith, values collide | Some black gays torn by choosing church that speaks to their soul but opposes their sexuality (Indianapolis Star)

  5. Episcopal pastor to end long tenure | He also serves as state Senate chaplain (Concord Monitor, N.H.)

Missions & ministry:

  1. Missouri church ministers to skaters | Calvary Chapel is the only place in Maryville where skaters can ride their boards legally. It provides an option for young people who otherwise would face a summer of boredom in the small northwest Missouri town. (St. Joseph News-Press, Mo.)

  2. Disc jockey's mission of mercy resonates | His Kenya trip leads others to `sponsor' kids in need (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

  3. Interns live their faith through public service | Religious groups turn the District into a training camp for young people. (Washington Post)

  4. Choral outreach on a broader scale | Korean choir, once a group of orphans relating their plight, now seeks aid for all suffering children. An L.A. stop on a U.S. tour enthralls the crowd. (Los Angeles Times)

  5. A Christian site grapples with Muslim mysteries | When Israel and Hezbollah began trading blows last month, the community at, a fundamentalist Christian site dedicated to the proposition that the end times are near, was atwitter, taking the conflict as another sign of an impending judgment day. (New York Times)

  6. Redemption or bust | If it is summer in New York, it is high season for visiting missionaries, whose numbers have swelled greatly in recent years, according to the leaders of several mission groups. (New York Times)

  7. Evangelists take to the streets, but aren't always welcome | Ministers from mainline Protestant denominations tend to frown on street preaching, but some churches and ministries are betting that it will add believers to the growing evangelical movement. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

  8. SHOUTfest delivers message to the masses | On a hot and humid afternoon and evening along the banks of the Mississippi, this year's SHOUTfest showed last year — when 7,000 people showed up — was no fluke. Just as many, or more, people turned out Sunday to hear 15 modern-day Christian artists and bands. (Quincy Herald Whig, Ill.)

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  1. Turning to Christianity, en masse | Harvest Crusade attendees crowd Angel Stadium as Pastor Greg Laurie talks of signs of the end of the world. (Orange County Register)


  1. Pope says Church not a string of "nos" | Pope Benedict said in an interview aired on Sunday that Catholicism should not be seen as a "collection of prohibitions" because of bans on gay marriage, abortion and contraception but as a Church with positive values. (Reuters)

  2. Female priest defies the Catholic church | In San Diego, Jane Via leads a Mass by herself. She is facing possible excommunication. (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Masses, capitalism coexist at the mall | Just past the entrance for Joe's American Bar and Grill, in between the signs for Bader Dental Group and Dellaria Salon, the nameplate "Catholic Chapel and Religious Gift and Book Shop" directs you downstairs to the mall basement and St. Therese. (Boston Globe)

  4. Vital experience for Hispanics | Catholics in Tulsa celebrate a much-revered tradition (Tulsa World)

  5. Pope to visit Mid-East 'at peace' | Pope Benedict XVI has said he would like to visit the Holy Land "in a time of peace" but does not feel strong enough to go on many long trips. (BBC)


  1. Bishop sorry for not turning in priest | A Roman Catholic bishop apologized Saturday for waiting several days to notify authorities about sexual abuse allegations against a priest, a delay that may have allowed the priest to flee to Mexico. (Associated Press)

  2. Diocese ordered by judge to identify sexual abuse victims | His ruling violates promise of anonymity to hundreds in Ky. (Washington Post)

Church & state:

  1. Racial, religious preference questions removed from plebe sponsor forms | The U.S. Naval Academy has removed questions about racial and religious preference from the application form that allows local families to sponsor midshipmen, after protests from the civil rights community. (Washington Post)

  2. Social services under Bush - Only Christians need apply | Thanks to President Bush and his plan to Christianize the nation's provision of social services, one's relationship with Jesus Christ has become a real resume booster. (Robyn Blumner, Salt Lake Tribune)


  1. Religious liberals join forces for political comeback | Left-leaning churches push own faith-inspired agenda (Columbus Dispatch, Ohio)

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  1. Change tactics -- hit above the belt | Northland's Hunter advises the Religious Right (Orlando Sentinel)

  2. Ill. gay marriage ballot issue rejected | State elections officials voted Friday to keep a referendum against gay marriage off the November ballot, saying supporters failed to gather enough valid signatures. (Associated Press)

  3. Activist religion agenda broad | Liberals and moderates who feel their faith has been co-opted are organizing to counter what they say is the religious right's overemphasis on hot-button topics at the expense of other social-justice matters. (Associated Press)

  4. Faith full of folly | In these murderous times, let's stop protecting religion from criticism (Pamela Bone, The Australian)

Lebanon/Israel war:

  1. Evangelicals quiet about war in Lebanon | In the flurry of pro and con statements from American Christians regarding Israel's strikes on Hezbollah guerrillas, one major religious group has remained notably quiet — evangelicals. (Associated Press)

  2. Fleeing Lebanese Christians see town forever changed | Nearly everyone has now departed the Christian town, where houses of cream stone and red-tiled roofs sit tucked in a southern corner of Lebanon, perched unfortunately along the Israeli border. (Washington Post)

  3. Religion crucial to peace: rabbi | Religion, often seen as a problem in Middle East conflict, offers the best hope for a lasting peace, according to a leading rabbi and member of the Israeli Parliament. (The Age, Australia)

  4. Archbishop to hold vigil for Middle East | The Archbishop of York, the second most senior cleric in the Church of England, is to camp inside his cathedral and forgo food for a week in solidarity with those caught up in the Middle East conflict. (Reuters)

  5. Archbishop's peace vigil in tent | The Archbishop of York has moved into a tent in York Minster as part of an act of "public witness" to encourage peace in the Middle East.


  1. Uganda asks for help with cease-fire | Uganda asked Sunday for international monitors to observe any cease-fire it reaches with the Lord's Resistance Army, which has led a brutal 19-year insurgency. Negotiations between the government and the rebel group are under way, but Uganda says it is waiting for a comprehensive peace deal before it agrees to a cease-fire. (Associated Press)

  2. Earlier: Deliver Us from Kony | Why the children of Uganda are killing one another in the name of the Lord. (Christianity Today)

Religious freedom:

  1. Christians win stay | Indonesia has issued a last-minute stay of execution for three Christian militiamen on death row, but stressed the punishments would still be carried out. (The Australian)

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  1. N. Korea Russian Orthodox church opens | North Korea's first ever Russian Orthodox church conducted its inaugural mass Sunday, the North's official news agency said, although there was no sign the hardline communist regime has eased its tight controls on religion. (Associated Press)

  2. Malaysia braces for ruling on Islam conversion | Malaysia is expecting a court ruling any day now that could shake society to its foundations: does a Muslim have the right to convert to another faith? (Reuters)

  3. Chinese reporter arrested for posting church expose | Chinese authorities have arrested a journalist for posting reports on the Internet about the government's demolition of a church and its crackdown on a group of Christians, a Paris-based press freedom group said yesterday. (Taipei Times, Taiwan)


  1. HIV prevention pill shows early promise |The first test of a daily pill to prevent HIV infection gave a tantalizing hint of success, but a real answer must await a larger study due out next year. (Associated Press)

  2. Faith is the key to curing ailments at healing room | Healing Rooms of Tidewater believes all illness is caused by Satan and curable with prayer. (The Virginian-Pilot)

  3. Girl's cancer disappears | Hours before a young girl was set to undergo surgery her disease disappeared. (CNN, video)


  1. Man convicted in Calif. pastor's death | A jury has found a 24-year-old man guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a pastor outside his church last year. (Associated Press)

  2. Tenn. minister's wife to remain jailed | Despite indications that she would be released, a minister's wife charged with killing her husband will remain jailed because of problems discovered with her bonding company, a judge ruled Friday. (Associated Press)

  3. Undaunted by vandalism, West End church bands together | Parishioners pray for miscreants and plan repairs (Boston Globe)

  4. Vandals tear a Bible in half, ransack Old West Church | The vandals who hit the historic Old West Church in Boston spared little. (Boston Globe)

  5. Robbers vandalize school in Roxbury | St. Patrick's is hit 2d time this week (Boston Globe)

  6. Minister arrested for taping pageant | An evangelical Christian minister claims he was unlawfully arrested while trying to tape a performance of a Mormon-themed pageant in the Clarkston Cemetery near Logan on Friday night. (Associated Press)

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Music & entertainment:

  1. Suzuki fuels Christian rock band Kutless' tour | In a deal that marks the first time a major automotive company has engaged in a national campaign with a Christian rock act, American Suzuki Motor Corp. will sponsor Kutless' Hearts of the Innocent tour this fall. (Billboard)

  2. Evangelicals hate Gibson's sin but love his 'Passion' | It has taken a couple of weeks, but the reviews from evangelical Christian leaders about Mel Gibson's latest performance are now in. (Washington Post)

  3. Show documents atheist's month in Christian home | The premise for the TV show "30 Days" is to place individuals in a lifestyle that is different from their upbringing, values or profession. (Lawrence Journal World, Kan.)

  4. Braves say no to conservative group | The Atlanta Braves will mix baseball with the gospel when they hold another "Faith Day" this weekend. But one of the country's most prominent Christian organizations has been tossed out of the game. Focus on the Family, a group founded by James Dobson, was barred from participating in Sunday's postgame activities after sponsoring the first such event at Turner Field last month. (Associated Press)

Money & business:

  1. With business leading a push, liquor comes to dry Bible Belt | While much of America put Prohibition to rest 73 years ago, large parts of the South have remained strictly off-limits to alcohol sales. (New York Times)

  2. Spirit and adventure | Faith-based travel is booming, but today's pilgrims are looking for more than a tour of churches. They seek religious insights--and fun (Time)

  3. Christian lifestyle store manages to stay personal with customers | Susan Byrd and Aaron Leventhal, mother-son co-owners of the Upper Room in Essex Junction, have put a spin on their Christian lifestyle store to give them an edge over big-box retailers like Wal-Mart. (Burlington Free Press, Vt.)

  4. Squeezable saints are gaining popularity | Some ministries rely on Scripture, music and dynamic preachers to spread the faith. Teri O'Toole's ministry relies on cotton, paint and rubber. (Los Angeles Times, via St. Louis Post-Dispatch)


  1. Killer changed her life, but not her faith | Three years ago Lucia Oerter suffered a loss that might undermine anyone's faith in God: her son-in-law killed her 2½-year old granddaughter, another little girl and himself. (New York Times)

  2. Bus crash kills 23 after church event in Guatemala | A bus crashed off a road in Guatemala late on Sunday, killing 10 children and 13 adults on their way home from a church meeting, emergency workers said. (Reuters)

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  1. 'I know that Jesus is on the other side' | Diagnosed with cancer at age 23, Krista Wickerham believed her disease was a gift from God. (The Record-Courier, N.V.)


  1. Theologian left a legacy of faith and biblical text | Leon Morris, perhaps Australia's most prolific biblical and theological author, has died, aged 92, at Karana nursing home in Kew after a fall that led to an infection and pneumonia. (The Age, Australia)

  2. Retired missionary prays for future of Venezuelans | The 68-year-old missionary retired this spring after spending the last 40 years teaching seminary students in Venezuela and Columbia. A high school Spanish teacher from Nicaragua "who instilled in her a love for the Latin American people" sparked a lifetime labor of love. (Grand Junction Sentinel, Col.)

  3. To hell and back | Carlton Pearson says something amazing happened: God gave him an inspiring message. He wanted to share it with everyone. And as Keith Morrison tells us, that's when the trouble started (MSNBC)

  4. Bono talks at pastors' training | U2 frontman pushes charity (Myrtle Beach Sun News)

  5. Leadership seminar reaches 80,000 | CedarCreek Church is one of sites for broadcast; Bono among speakers (Toledo Blade)

More articles of interest:

  1. Bible guide interesting, not impartial | In this book, you get a lot more than the history of the Bible. You'll read about relics, church and state, early Christian heresies, the Shroud of Turin, even The Chronicles of Narnia. (Sun-Sentinel, Fla.)

  2. Gospel truth? Faith-based legends abound | Madalyn Murray O'Hair never petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to get religious broadcasting off the air. James Dobson never launched a petition drive to stop her. O'Hair died more than a decade ago, but the rumor about her FCC petition lives on. (Dallas Morning News, via Fort Wayne News Sentinel, Ind.)

  3. The American exception | Why Muslims in the U.S. aren't as attracted to jihad as those in Europe (Time)

  4. Love thy neighbor, whoever they are | Christians, Muslims and Jews trying not to forget that the past and present are as intertwined as love and hate. (Ralph De La Cruz, Sun-Sentinel, Fla.)

  5. Third 'have sex below legal age' | Nearly a third of 16 to 24-year-olds lost their virginity below the age of consent, a survey has suggested.

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's executive editor. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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