COMMENTARY: A spiritual power on the ticket

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) Republicans are desperate to attract women voters, which is why last week’s convention featured many high-ranking GOP women, from keynote speaker Rep. Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.) to Elizabeth Dole, whose virtuoso performance provided the most lasting impression of the week. Women also inserted most of the hatpins into the Clinton voodoo doll while the men, including House Speaker Newt Gingrich, conducted themselves as perfect, if slightly toothless, gentlemen.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1996 Religion News Service China seeks to”re-educate”Tibet’s Buddhist monks (RNS) The Chinese government, in an apparent effort to eradicate the influence of the Dalai Lama, has launched a political”re-education”campaign in Tibetan monasteries.”This is an education campaign for the whole Tibet region,”Reuters quoted a Chinese foreign ministry official in Tibet as saying Friday (Aug. 16).”It was launched about one month ago to effectively maintain the security of China and the stability of society, to protect normal religious activities and to build up religious order.” The official said that government officials had found that”in some monasteries, some lawless persons made use of the monks and monasteries to engage in activities to try and split China _ even including criminal activities.” But the London-based Tibet Information Network (TIN), a human rights group that supports the Dalai Lama, said the campaign amounted to a purge of so-called dissident monks, those who continue to maintain allegiance to the exiled Dalai Lama, their god-king who in their view remains the spiritual and temporal ruler of Tibet.

TOP STORY: THE POWER OF PRAYER:Prayer is best when it comes from the heart

c. 1996 Religion News Service (UNDATED) This morning upon waking, David Yount said his prayers. “Common people do not pray, they only beg,” George Bernard Shaw once sneered, but Yount is quick to differ. He believes prayer is natural for all of us, on the lips of athletes seeking Olympic greatness and children tucked into bed. At 62, Yount finds his morning prayer increasingly simple: praise of God, gratitude for another day.

A novice’s guide to effective prayer

c. 1996 Religion News Service (UNDATED) It’s not all that difficult to pray, according to David Yount, a syndicated columnist and author of”Breaking Through God’s Silence: A Guide to Effective Prayer (Simon & Schuster). Here are what Yount sees as 10 keys to effective prayer: 1. Be intentional. Resist bothering God when you are bored.

COMMENTARY: The search for intelligent life continues _ on Mars and on Earth

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) The reports last week that there were signs of life on Mars stirred considerable interest in the America media. Two paradigms emerged: First, life on another planet is a religious challenge; and second, such life destroys claims that we inhabitants of the”third rock from the sun”are unique.

NEWS FEATURE: BILLY AND FRANKLIN GRAHAM: A younger Graham closes convention with prayer

c. 1996 Religion News Service SAN DIEGO _ Following in the footsteps of his father, who has often prayed from the podiums of political conventions, evangelist Franklin Graham for the first time concluded the Republican National Convention Thursday (Aug. 15) with a prayer. Graham, 44, head of the international relief agency Samaritan’s Purse and an official of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, prayed”that Americans may never turn our backs on the hurting or the weak and the poor.”In his two minutes on the podium, Graham also invoked blessings on presidential candidate Bob Dole, running-mate Jack Kemp and their wives”in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Earlier in the day, dressed casually in a herringbone tweed jacket, black jeans and black cowboy boots, Franklin Graham paused after a brief morning practice at the podium for an interview on the convention floor.

NEWS FEATURE: BILLY AND FRANKLIN GRAHAM: A younger Graham to close convention with prayer

c. 1996 Religion News Service SAN DIEGO _ Following in the footsteps of his father, who has often prayed from the podiums of political conventions, evangelist Franklin Graham is scheduled to give the final benediction at the Republican National Convention Thursday (Aug. 15). Graham, 44, head of the international relief agency Samaritan’s Purse and an official of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said his two minutes at the podium will include a prayer”that our nation would never turn its back on the poor and the hungry.” Dressed casually in a herringbone tweed jacket, black jeans and black cowboy boots, Franklin Graham paused after a brief morning practice at the podium for an interview on the convention floor Thursday.

COMMENTARY: This sports madness, too, shall pass

c. 1996 Religion News Service (Rabbi Rudin is the national interreligious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee.) (UNDATED) It comes as no surprise that Americans are increasingly obsessed with sports. Athletic competition has so permeated our psyches, our culture and our political thinking that it has become a new kind of religion, with its own saints and sinners, vocabulary, theology and rituals. Again and again during the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, glib TV commentators equated American athletes’ intense dedication with the religious devotion found only among the members of a monastic order. I even heard one announcer piously compare the quest for an Olympic gold medal to the search for the Holy Grail.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1996 Religion News Service Poll: Dole fails to impress religious voters (RNS) Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole is failing to connect with key conservative religious groups, according to a new poll by the Barna Research Group. The poll, taken a month before the Republican’s Aug 12-15 national convention, showed President Clinton holding an overall 45 percent to 32 percent lead over Dole. One reason, according to the Barna Group, is Dole’s failure so far to maintain support among what Barna calls”born-again Christians.” Barna’s poll labeled as”born-again”those who say they have made a personal commitment to Jesus and who say they will go to heaven after they die because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus as their savior.

TOP STORY: GOD AND THE GOP: Powerful and pragmatic, religious right now a player in GOP

c. 1996 Religion News Service SAN DIEGO _ The religious right has emerged from the Republican National Convention with more influence within the party than it has ever had, despite its disappearance this week from the prime-time spotlight so the Dole campaign could pursue needed support among GOP moderates and swing voters. “This movement is growing more and more solid and is nowhere near peaking,” said Gary Bauer, president of the Family Research Council. “It wrote the party platform and got just what it wanted in there. No matter what happens in November, we’re the future of the Republican Party.” John Green, who heads the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, agreed.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1996 Religion News Service Church agencies ask Cypriot leaders to exercise restraint (RNS) The World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) have urged Turkish and Greek leaders on the divided island nation of Cyprus to restrain their followers in the wake of deadly intra-communal clashes.”It is imperative that the parties to the conflict ensure the sanctity of the buffer zone established by the United Nations,”the WCC said in a statement issued Monday (Aug. 12).”This is necessary if a just and peaceful solution to the conflict is to be achieved within an inter-communal framework.” The WCC statement, and a similar appeal by the CEC, came in the wake of clashes between Turkish police and Greek demonstrators over the weekend. The clashes were continuing on Wednesday (Aug.

NEWS STORY: YOUTH AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: Parents no longer encourage church vocations

c. 1996 Religion News Service (WASHINGTON) There was a time not too long ago when it was a point of pride for a Roman Catholic parent to have a son or daughter enter full-time church work or prepare to become a priest or nun. No more. A new survey of active Catholic youth shows that while many young people remain open and sensitive to the notion of entering the religious life or working full-time in some other capacity for the church, they receive virtually no encouragement from their parents.”Fundamentally, there has been a dramatic change in the last 30 years,”said Bryan Froehle of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University in Washington. Froehle was the lead researcher of the survey,”New Directions in Catholic Youth Ministry,”which revealed the sharp shift in parental attitudes regarding their children’s possible commitment to full-time church service.

NEWS STORY: YOUTH AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: Parents no longer encourage church vocations

c. 1996 Religion News Service (WASHINGTON) There was a time not too long ago when it was a point of pride for a Roman Catholic parent to have a son or daughter enter full-time church work or prepare to become a priest or nun. No more. A new survey of active Catholic youth shows that while many young people remain open and sensitive to the notion of entering the religious life or working full-time in some other capacity for the church, they receive virtually no encouragement from their parents.”Fundamentally, there has been a dramatic change in the last 30 years,”said Bryan Froehle of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University in Washington. Froehle was the lead researcher of the survey,”New Directions in Catholic Youth Ministry,”which revealed the sharp shift in parental attitudes regarding their children’s possible commitment to full-time church service.

COMMENTARY: Lessons from `Daddy Do-right’

c. 1996 Religion News Service (Dale Hanson Bourke is the author of”Turn Toward the Wind”and publisher of Religion News Service.) (UNDATED) I embarrassed my children again the other day. Waiting for them to emerge from the swimming pool locker room, I sat down on the edge of a planter and began to absent-mindedly pull out weeds. Soon I had accumulated a nice little pile of crabgrass, thistles and vines. When the boys saw what I was doing, they stopped bickering long enough to gasp.

TOP STORY: MISSION TO MARS: How will earthlings talk to aliens about God?

c. 1996 Religion News Service (UNDATED) When people talk about a mission to Mars, they probably don’t have Father Peregrine in mind. In Ray Bradbury’s”Martian Chronicles,”a popular science fiction series from the 1940s and `50s, Peregrine leads a group of earnest Episcopalian missionaries to Mars, joining thousands of other human colonists. Notions of advanced life on Mars were easier to imagine in those days, when we knew less about the solar system. They have since come crashing down like the meteorite in Antarctica that holds disputed evidence that micro-organisms may once have inhabited the red planet.