NEWS STORY: Modern Day Magi Recreate Ancient Christmas Trek

c. 2000 Religion News Service BETHLEHEM, West Bank _ As the sun sets over Bethlehem on Christmas Day of the new millennium, “Wise Men” from distant lands are set to ride into the town astride camels, bearing “gifts” of goodwill for the residents of an ancient city, mired in modern political turmoil. The caravan of 21 male and female pilgrims will arrive here after making a 1,000 mile overland journey from the Iraqi-Iranian border, retracing the trail that the New Testament’s Wise Men, or Magi, were believed to have followed when they made their famous visit to the newborn Jesus. Over the journey’s course, the trekkers camped in Bedouin tents in the lush green fields along Iraq’s Euphrates River, rode along the green hills of the Jordan Valley and trod in winter rain storms this week along the last stretch between the West Bank cities of Jericho and Bethlehem. Two of the four men playing the modern roles of wise men almost didn’t make the last leg of the trek after Israel initially denied them entry Tuesday (Dec.

NEWS STORY: Modern Day Magi Recreate Ancient Christmas Trek

c. 2000 Religion News Service BETHLEHEM, West Bank _ As the sun sets over Bethlehem on Christmas Day of the new millennium, “Wise Men” from distant lands are set to ride into the town astride camels, bearing “gifts” of goodwill for the residents of an ancient city, mired in modern political turmoil. The caravan of 21 male and female pilgrims will arrive here after making a 1,000 mile overland journey from the Iraqi-Iranian border, retracing the trail that the New Testament’s Wise Men, or Magi, were believed to have followed when they made their famous visit to the newborn Jesus. Over the journey’s course, the trekkers camped in Bedouin tents in the lush green fields along Iraq’s Euphrates River, rode along the green hills of the Jordan Valley and trod in winter rain storms this week along the last stretch between the West Bank cities of Jericho and Bethlehem. Two of the four men playing the modern roles of wise men almost didn’t make the last leg of the trek after Israel initially denied them entry Tuesday (Dec.

NEWS FEATURE: Scholars Debate Origin, Number of Three Wise Men

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Each Christmas, Christians around the world sing the beloved carol “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” However, according to religious scholars, there could have been as few as two or many more “kings,” or wise men, as they are called in the Scriptures. Dr. Mervyn A. Warren, professor of religion and preaching at Oakwood College, a Seventh-day Adventist school in Huntsville, Ala., says the wise men, or “magi,” probably came from the area of Persia or southern Arabia. “It was more likely Persia because magi have historically been connected with that area,” Warren says. “It was somewhere east of Jerusalem, but definitely not the Orient as we know it today.

NEWS FEATURE: Scholars Debate Origin, Number of Three Wise Men

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Each Christmas, Christians around the world sing the beloved carol “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” However, according to religious scholars, there could have been as few as two or many more “kings,” or wise men, as they are called in the Scriptures. Dr. Mervyn A. Warren, professor of religion and preaching at Oakwood College, a Seventh-day Adventist school in Huntsville, Ala., says the wise men, or “magi,” probably came from the area of Persia or southern Arabia. “It was more likely Persia because magi have historically been connected with that area,” Warren says. “It was somewhere east of Jerusalem, but definitely not the Orient as we know it today.

COMMENTARY: TV’s Image of Jews Threatens Vital Pluralism

c. 2000 Religion News Service (Rabbi A. James Rudin is the Senior Interreligious Adviser of the American Jewish Committee.) (UNDATED) Because television plays a defining role in shaping our national values, important questions are constantly being raised regarding the images TV transmits about America’s ethnic, racial and religious groups. In 1999 the American Jewish Committee, the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and the Jewish Television Network cosponsored a conference that examined television’s changing image of American Jews. While the meeting focused on Jews, it has profound implications for the general society. Conference proceedings have recently been published by the AJC, and the troubling findings should be required reading in all network boardrooms. In the years following World War II, commercial TV quite deliberately presented a carefully homogenized view of American life, especially families.

NEWS FEATURE: Japanese Rabbi A Hanukkah Lesson in Resisting Assimilation

c. 2000 Religion News Service GREAT NECK, N.Y. _ This week, Rabbi Ted Tsuruoka is busy preparing his sermon for Friday’s (Dec. 22) Shabbat service, which is also the second night of Hanukkah. Hanukkah, the eight-day festival that commemorates the victory of a band of Jews over their Hellenistic rulers more than 2,000 years ago, is about more than menorahs and dreidles. It is, Tsuruoka says, “about the miracle of a small handful of Jews who were able to sustain their faith.” If anyone can talk about resisting assimilation, it is Tsuruoka, a third-generation Japanese-American who converted to Judaism, and the small band of Long Island Jews who hired him as their rabbi.

NEWS FEATURE: Japanese Rabbi A Hanukkah Lesson in Resisting Assimilation

c. 2000 Religion News Service GREAT NECK, N.Y. _ This week, Rabbi Ted Tsuruoka is busy preparing his sermon for Friday’s (Dec. 22) Shabbat service, which is also the second night of Hanukkah. Hanukkah, the eight-day festival that commemorates the victory of a band of Jews over their Hellenistic rulers more than 2,000 years ago, is about more than menorahs and dreidles. It is, Tsuruoka says, “about the miracle of a small handful of Jews who were able to sustain their faith.” If anyone can talk about resisting assimilation, it is Tsuruoka, a third-generation Japanese-American who converted to Judaism, and the small band of Long Island Jews who hired him as their rabbi.

NEWS STORY: Eastern Orthodox Bishops Call for Spiritual Reawakening

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Declaring that “the church is not a museum and we are not her curators,” the leaders of the nation’s 6 million Eastern Orthodox Christians called for a widespread spiritual reawakening and a commitment to evangelizing the “mission territory” of North America. The bishops of the eight ethnic Orthodox churches in North America released their statement, “And the Word Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us,” on Thursday (Dec. 14) to mark the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. Known together as the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA), the bishops joined for their most comprehensive statement on integrating Orthodox theology in a multicultural and increasingly secular society.

NEWS STORY: Eastern Orthodox Bishops Call for Spiritual Reawakening

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Declaring that “the church is not a museum and we are not her curators,” the leaders of the nation’s 6 million Eastern Orthodox Christians called for a widespread spiritual reawakening and a commitment to evangelizing the “mission territory” of North America. The bishops of the eight ethnic Orthodox churches in North America released their statement, “And the Word Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us,” on Thursday (Dec. 14) to mark the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. Known together as the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA), the bishops joined for their most comprehensive statement on integrating Orthodox theology in a multicultural and increasingly secular society.

NEWS STORY: Religious Leaders Issue Christmas Messages

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Editors: Here the texts of the Christmas messages issued by a number of U.S. and international religious leaders: The Rt. Rev. Frank T. Griswold Presiding Bishop, the Episcopal Church “O come thou Wisdom from on high. All is neither calm nor bright as we once again celebrate the Savior’s birth. Instead, we find ourselves in a bleak midwinter of fear and rage, rocks and bullets, which have turned the land of Jesus’ birth into a war zone.

NEWS STORY: Religious Leaders Issue Christmas Messages

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Editors: Here the texts of the Christmas messages issued by a number of U.S. and international religious leaders: The Rt. Rev. Frank T. Griswold Presiding Bishop, the Episcopal Church “O come thou Wisdom from on high. All is neither calm nor bright as we once again celebrate the Savior’s birth. Instead, we find ourselves in a bleak midwinter of fear and rage, rocks and bullets, which have turned the land of Jesus’ birth into a war zone.

COMMENTARY: Nationalism and Human Dignity: New Possibilities

c. 2000 Religion News Service (Rabbi Brad Hirschfield is the director of Leadership and Communities for CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.) UNDATED _ Recent disputes about the nature and extent of German nationalism have been making the headlines. The news has focused on German parliamentary leader Friedrich Merz’s call for all immigrants to adopt German “Leitkultur,” or “guiding culture.” This call ignited a fierce debate about the appropriateness of such “strident German nationalism” and the possibility of reawakening the animating spirit that created Kristallnacht _ “Night of Broken Glass” _ commemorated in November to mark the night of rioting and destruction in 1938 that led to the Holocauset. In fact, some leading German publications went so far as to call for nothing short of a “fully tolerant society” in Germany, which apparently, could never allow such a request for “guiding culture” to be made. So much for arguments for full tolerance.

COMMENTARY: Nationalism and Human Dignity: New Possibilities

c. 2000 Religion News Service (Rabbi Brad Hirschfield is the director of Leadership and Communities for CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.) UNDATED _ Recent disputes about the nature and extent of German nationalism have been making the headlines. The news has focused on German parliamentary leader Friedrich Merz’s call for all immigrants to adopt German “Leitkultur,” or “guiding culture.” This call ignited a fierce debate about the appropriateness of such “strident German nationalism” and the possibility of reawakening the animating spirit that created Kristallnacht _ “Night of Broken Glass” _ commemorated in November to mark the night of rioting and destruction in 1938 that led to the Holocauset. In fact, some leading German publications went so far as to call for nothing short of a “fully tolerant society” in Germany, which apparently, could never allow such a request for “guiding culture” to be made. So much for arguments for full tolerance.

NEWS SIDEBAR: A Prayer for the Feast of St. Chad

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A prayer for the Feast Day of St. Chad, celebrated March 2: Almighty God, whose servant Chad, for the peace of the church, relinquished cheerfully the honors that had been thrust upon him, only to be rewarded with equal responsibility: keep us, we pray Thee, from thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, and ready at all times to step aside for others, that the cause of Christ may be advanced and thy blessed kingdom enlarged; in the name of Him who washed His disciples’ feet, even Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen. (Source: http://www.saintchads.org.uk/stchadcollect.htm) DEAEND CAMPBELL