NEWS STORY: Pope urges bridges in Georgia after saying Christianity will explode in Asia

c. 1999 Religion News Service UNDATED _ Pope John Paul II Monday (Nov. 8) met Orthodox Christian resistance in Georgia after boldly proclaiming in the face of Hindu hostility in India that Christianity was poised to sweep across Asia in the new millennium. Arriving in Tbilisi, capital of impoverished Georgia, John Paul called for”new bridges”between the Catholic and Orthodox churches and”a more truly shared witness to Jesus Christ, the gospel of eternal life.” Georgia is the second predominantly Orthodox nation the pope has visited this year.

NEWS STORY: Fired policewoman says wearing pants violates religious beliefs

c. 1999 Religion News Service MOBILE, Ala. _ A veteran detective fired by the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office for refusing to wear uniform pants says the dress code requirement violates her Christian religious beliefs. Lark Huber wore skirts while a plainclothes detective, but earlier this year was moved to a patrol position that her bosses said required a uniform that included pants. Huber’s attorney said the requirement is unnecessary.

HOLIDAY FEATURE: The good books

c. 1999 Religion News Service UNDATED _”Some books are to be tasted,”wrote Francis Bacon, the English philosopher and statesman,”others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” Every year at this time, millions of books are bought, wrapped and given as gifts. During 1999, the publishing industry has been busy producing new volumes for adults and children of varying degrees of faith. For many, nothing says gift-giving like big, bulky coffee-table books that look great even if never opened, but two new gift books contain many rewards for those who venture to digest their contents.”Sister Wendy’s 1000 Masterpieces”(DK, $40) is a weighty and wonderful collection of 1,000 full-color works by 500 artists from the past nine centuries, including German abstract artist Josef Albers and Spaniard Francisco de Zurbaran.”Great art offers more than pleasure,”writes the art-loving nun who hosted her own series on PBS.”It offers the pain of spiritual growth, drawing us into areas of ourselves that we may not wish to encounter.”

COMMENTARY:

c. 1999 Religion News Service (Andrew M. Greeley is a Roman Catholic priest, best-selling novelist and sociologist at the University of Chicago National Opinion Research Center. Check out his home page at http://www.agreeley.com or contact him via e-mail at agreel(at)aol.com.) (UNDATED) Last week Americans got a chance to see just how corrupt and hypocritical the Bible-thumping, self-righteous, moralistic Republican Congress really is. Congress, always owned by the National Rifle Association, has now sold its soul completely to that evil organization. Astonishingly, it used the Columbine High School massacre to weaken gun control laws instead of tightening them, all the while insisting it was dealing with the problems of juvenile crime.

NEWS FEATURE: T.D. Jakes takes his ministry, message to the prisons

c. 1999 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ With an estimated 150,000 inmates watching from behind the secured walls of 120 prisons across the nation, Bishop T.D. Jakes seemed determined to deliver a message of survival that would set their souls free.”For those of you behind prison walls tonight, you may feel cursed, you may be depressed, you could have been dead tonight, but I came to serve notice that you survived,”Jakes shouted.”You survived.” Going live, using two-way audio and video links, the fiery evangelist prayed for, preached to, and pleaded with inmates at three maximum-security prisons _ the Hughes Unit in Gatesville, Texas; Northeast Ohio Correctional Unit in Youngstown, Ohio; and California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, Calif. _ during his”Manpower”conference here Sept. 9-11, at the MCI Center.

COMMENTARY: Discovering a new generation of Jesus Freaks

c. 1999 Religion News Service (Dale Hanson Bourke is publisher of RNS.) ORLANDO, Fla. _ For the past several years, Christian messages aimed at teens have been deliberately user-friendly. Teen Bibles shed the somber black and burgundy for splashes of color and names like”The Message”or”Quest.” T-shirts went from depicting the gruesome crucifixion scenes to imitating popular logos, such as samples displayed this week at the Christian Booksellers Association convention in Orlando featuring a gray background, red and white stripes and blockletters for”Tommy Hellfighter.”

NEWS FEATURE: Vegas star Lola Falana shuns show business, embraces religion

c. 1999 Religion News Service NEW ORLEANS _ The big, doelike eyes are still long-lashed and beautiful. But the sleek Bob Mackie gowns that helped shape Lola Falana’s sexually charged Las Vegas stage persona 15 years ago have given way to a plain white cotton shift and sandals. A heavy crucifix around her neck has replaced the expensive jewelry. Indeed, the whole show business career is over, she says.

Relief worker charged with vehicular manslaughter awaits trial

c. 1999 Religion News Service TBILISI, Georgia _ An American Catholic Relief Services worker facing charges of vehicular manslaughter believes this week’s papal visit to this former Soviet republic may help his case.”I work for a Catholic organization and I would hope that it would be brought to his attention,”said Loren Wille, 54, of Golden, Colo., who was driving in a traffic accident this summer that killed his friend and translator. Wille made his comments during Pope John Paul II’s two-day visit to the Georgian capital, which ended Tuesday (Nov. 9). The pope, in his first-ever trip to the Caucasus, met with President Eduard Shevardnadze and other political and religious leaders.

NEWS FEATURE: Europe’s leper colonies dwindling

c. 1999 Religion News Service TICHILESTI, Romania _ When he worships in the Orthodox chapel here in his small, isolated village in eastern Romania, Cristache Tatulea finds special significance in certain Scriptures.”I can’t read the Bible because I don’t see well,”said Tatulea, 67.”But I heard in church about how Jesus Christ helped the lepers, and this gives me hope that God will spiritually help us.” Tatulea and about 30 people live in a relic of history _ one of Europe’s few remaining leper colonies. The inhabitants no longer have the leprosy bacteria that ravages the skin and the nervous system, said Barbu Iganatescu, the colony’s resident doctor. But most are missing legs, fingers or eyes because their deadened nerves failed to sense injuries until it was too late to treat them.

NEWS FEATURE: Israel’s non-Orthodox movements make a Jewish High Holy Days pitch

c. 1999 Religion News Service JERUSALEM _”There is more than one way to be a Jew”proclaim the billboards decorated with a multi-colored Star of David, which have appeared around central Israel in recent days. The slogan is the theme of a controversial new campaign by Israel’s tiny Masorti (Conservative) and Reform Jewish movements to draw secular Israelis into their synagogues during this weekend’s Rosh Hashanah (New Year) holiday. The campaign of radio spots, road and bus billboards and newspaper advertisements represents a new stage in the battle for legitimacy by the two movements among mainstream Israelis. But it has drawn fire from Israel’s Orthodox world and even encountered resistance within the bureaucracy of Israel’s state-owned Israel Radio network.

NEWS STORY: Scandal-plagued Seventh-day Adventist president resigns

c. 1999 Religion News Service UNDATED _ Robert S. Folkenberg resigned as president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Monday (Feb. 8), saying the controversy over allegations about his business relations with a Sacramento, Calif., man”is distracting from God’s work.” Folkenberg, 58, has been president of the 10-million-member international church since 1990 and was credited with”visionary”leadership by the same Seventh-day Adventist leaders who had questioned his ability to continue to lead the denomination because of the growing scandal. Questions about Folkenberg’s continuing role as president of the Silver Spring, Md.-based denomination arose after church administrators learned he and the church, as well as others, were subjects of a suit alleging fraudulent business practices.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1999 Religion News Service June 14, 1999 Pope to visit ailing Armenia patriarch (RNS) _ Pope John Paul II will make a hastily arranged”ecumenical pilgrimage”to Armenia to visit the seriously ill Orthodox Patriarch Karekin I at the end of his current trip to Poland, the Vatican said Monday (June 14). In a virtually unprecedented last-minute change of plans, John Paul will spend an extra night in Poland and then fly on to the Caucasus before returning to Rome on Friday (June 18), Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said. The Roman Catholic pontiff had been scheduled to visit Armenia and meet with Karekin I July 2-4, but the Vatican announced Friday the trip had been postponed”because of the deterioration in the patriarch’s health.” Karekin, who is over the age of 80, reportedly suffers from terminal cancer.

COMMENTARY: Assuming the burden of human rights

c. 1999 Religion News Service (Dale Hanson Bourke is publisher of Religion News Service.) PARIS _ Jesse Jackson is preaching. At least he is supposed to be preaching. Standing in the majestic pulpit at the nondenominational American Church in Paris, he eyes the empty press section and the reserved VIP rows that seem to taunt him. Finally, he says he wants to recognize any of the staff of the American embassy in the audience.