TOP STORY: MEMOIR: At work in the `bookfields’ of the Lord

c. 1996 Religion News Service (UNDATED) I still enjoy the reaction I get when I tell people I once sold Bibles. Most folks give a quick squint of skepticism and an uneasy grin as they replay in their minds Ryan O’Neal and little Tatum flim-flamming their way across America in the movie “Paper Moon.” I reacted much the same way when a college friend described packing up and going across the country to sell Bibles for the summer. And I probably still would react that way if I hadn’t done it myself. Not that I really wanted to.

BODY & SOUL: Picture the cosmos, teeming with life

c. 1996 Religion News Service (Body & Soul is a regular column exploring the interplay between spirituality and psychology. Pythia Peay is the author of”Putting America on the Couch,”to be published by Riverhead Books in 1997.) (UNDATED) Science, for many of us, has been strictly a secular pursuit _ disciplined, rational and devoid of God, religious faith or spiritual content. But times have changed. Some scientists are discovering a surprising symmetry between space-age theories and ancient mystical concepts, albeit with a slight twist.

COMMENTARY: Following a God who votes like us

c. 1996 Religion News Service (Tom Ehrich is an Episcopal priest, author and former Wall Street Journal reporter living in Winston-Salem, N.C. Contact Ehrich via e-mail at journey(at sign)interpath.com.) (UNDATED) As the political year proceeds and moral issues take center stage, the word”Christian”will be worked overtime. Diverse coalitions of Christians will do battle with each other, each claiming ultimate authority. Politicians courting the”Christian vote”will pursue what pollsters tell them is a”Christian agenda.”The mind and will of God will be quoted with unwavering certainty, not only on issues with which Scripture does deal, but others as well, such as abortion, prayer in schools, immigration, perhaps even capital gains. But what, exactly, is a”Christian agenda?”From the days of prickly colonialists to the present, this nation has been a hotbed of religious variety, spawning over 260 Christian denominations.

COMMENTARY: Rhetoric and reality on crime

c. 1996 Religion News Service (Charles W. Colson, former special counsel to Richard Nixon, served a prison term for his role in the Watergate scandal. He now heads Prison Fellowship International, an evangelical Christian ministry to the imprisoned and their families. Contact Colson via e-mail at 71421.1551(at)compuserve.com.) (UNDATED) One of the more sustained cloudbursts of cheers during Bob Dole’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention came when he promised to get tough on criminals. Among other things, Dole pledged to work with states to repeal parole, crack down on drug law violators, and, in general, make life”hell”for offenders great and small.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1996 Religion News Service Muslim groups seek greater political involvement (RNS) Muslim Women for America, a new organization aimed at increasing the political influence of Muslim women, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced plans Monday (Aug. 26) to register Muslims to vote and get more Muslims to the voting booth on Election Day. Anisa Abd El Fattah, executive director of Muslim Women for America, said at a Washington news conference that the efforts are needed because although the number of Muslims in the United States is increasing their status is decreasing. She described Muslims as a”peaceful, productive and tax-paying community …

TOP STORY: JEWISH HIGH HOLY DAYS: Away from home for the High Holy Days

c. 1996 Religion News Service (UNDATED) When a research project kept Washington University junior Deborah Schnitzer at school in St. Louis on the Jewish new year, she and her apartment-mates welcomed 25 guests to an after-services potluck brunch. To keep from feeling homesick, the guests consulted their mothers for long-distance help with recipes _ everything from bagels and lox to blintz souffle to Deborah’s mother’s ice cream pie. “We found something at school we were comfortable with.

TOP STORY: MOTHER TERESA: To Mother Teresa, misery is an invitation to make God real

c. 1996 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Her gift is basic for a religious mystic: the ability to see the face of God, as she often described it,”in its most distressing disguise.” Mother Teresa has moved with passionate intensity through the 20th century, inspiring millions with her devotion to the poor who wander the world’s war zones and refuse-strewn streets. And her mystic’s vision is that misery is an invitation to make manifest the mercy of God. And now, as the frail nun hovers between life and death in a Calcutta hospital, the question persists: What will the world do without her?

BUSINESS STORY: `Unprecedented’ settlement reached in New Era case

c. 1996 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A path-breaking settlement has been reached in the scandal resulting from the collapse of the Foundation for New Era Philanthropy, the Pennsylvania charity whose grant programs have been described as an investment scam. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Bruce I. Fox approved a $39 million settlement Thursday (Aug. 22) that will allow agencies that lost money through New Era to receive as much as 65 cents on every dollar invested _ much of that money coming from organizations that profited from New Era dealings. Hundreds of groups across the country, ranging from evangelical ministries to the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, were affected when New Era filed for bankruptcy in May 1995.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1996 Religion News Service Arab-Americans protest Disney’s portrayal of Arabs (RNS) Arab-American leaders protested Thursday (Aug. 22) outside Walt Disney Pictures in Burbank, Calif., accusing the entertainment giant of stereotyping Arabs in two films and breaking a 1993 promise to consult with them about the portrayal of Arabs in their films. The protesters stopped short of calling for a U.S. boycott of Disney, The Los Angeles Times reported. However, Don Bustany, spokesman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said that some Muslim groups have asked other countries with large Muslim populations to boycott Disney products until the studio”stops doing what it is doing to Arabs.” The group objects to an assortment of villainous, Arab-like characters in this summer’s hit film”Kazaam,”starring Shaquille O’Neal, and to a nasty character named Habib in last year’s”Father of the Bride, Part II.”

TOP STORY: MOTHER TERESA: Mother Teresa has left her mark on Calcutta and the world

c. 1996 Religion News Service CALCUTTA, India _ It was nearly 50 years ago that Mother Teresa rescued the first emaciated woman from the filth-strewn streets of this city. The woman was lying face-down in the gutter. Half her face had been eaten away by insects and rats. Far worse horrors are the norm here in Calcutta, which India’s late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi called the”city of the dying.”

COMMENTARY: For people in the pews, is this dialogue really necessary?

c. 1996 Religion News Service (Andrew M. Greeley is a Roman Catholic priest, best-selling novelist and a sociologist at the University of Chicago National Opinion Research Center. His home page on the World Wide Web is at http://www.agreeley.com. Or contact him via e-mail at agreel(at)aol.com.) (UNDATED) Many years ago, at the beginning of ecumenical dialogue, the great Lutheran theologian Jaroslav Jan Pelikan asked whether there was”log”for the”dialogue”_ in other words, what is there to talk about? The same question can be asked of Cardinal Bernardin’s brave effort to persuade the Catholic Left and the Catholic Right to talk to one another.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1996 Religion News Service Mother Teresa hospitalized (RNS) Mother Teresa remained in stable condition in the intensive care unit of a Calcutta hospital Thursday (Aug. 22). The frail nun, who will turn 86 next week, was suffering from fever and cardiac problems and was breathing with the help of a respirator, the Associated Press reported. “With God’s grace, Mother is recovering and we all in the Missionaries of Charity are praying for her fast recovery,” said Sister Shanti, after a brief conversation with the ailing nun.

PBS offers religion and values this fall

c. 1996 Religion News Service (RNS) Here’s a summary of PBS’ upcoming TV programs that deal with religion and values: Adventures from the Book of Virtues The first in this fall’s line up,”Adventures from the Book of Virtues,”is an animated series adapted from”The Book of Virtues,”the best-selling anthology of moral tales edited by former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett. This is PBS’ first prime-time animated series, geared primarily to children with the hope that parents will tune in too. It offers lessons from classic literature, European fairy tales, Native American legends and African fables. Episodes feature 11-year-old Zach and 10-year-old Annie alongside animal characters such as Plato, the wise buffalo, and Aurora, the red-tailed hawk.

TOP STORY: PBS GETS RELIGION: Public TV’s fall lineup is heavy on God and virtue

c. 1996 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Children’s cartoons about virtue. A 10-part series on the Book of Genesis, complete with a companion book and discussions of the subject in communities across America. A documentary on the historic roots of the religious right. These three series to air in Public Broadcasting Service markets this fall continue a trend that began earlier this year with two major PBS series on the world’s religions and the search for spirituality in America.

TOP STORY: PBS GETS RELIGION: Public TV’s fall lineup is heavy on God and virtue

c. 1996 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Children’s cartoons about virtue. A 10-part series on the Book of Genesis, complete with a companion book and discussions of the subject in communities across America. A documentary on the historic roots of the religious right. These three series to air in Public Broadcasting Service markets this fall continue a trend that began earlier this year with two major PBS series on the world’s religions and the search for spirituality in America.