GUEST COMMENTARY: Taylor Responds: You’re Missing My Point:

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A guest commentary I wrote calling upon U.S. churches to criticize U.S.-backed Israeli attacks in Lebanon (“U.S. Churches Should Condemn the Slaughter,” Religion News Service, Aug. 9), has drawn different kinds of criticism. The respected National Council of Churches (NCC) claims it has been addressing the conflict, but no one is listening. “We are right here,” it insists, “calling on President Bush to broker an immediate cease-fire,” and remaining “vocal and outspoken” against the violence.

She’s Back …

The Virgin Mary-seen by devotees over time in a sandwich, various condensation stains, potato chips, pretzels, you name it-has now been seen at a candy store in California. This time it’s a chocolate dripping. Since the discovery at Bodega Chocolates, Angiano’s employees have spent much of their time hovering over the tiny figure, praying and placing rose petals and candles around it. Let’s hope the candles are far enough away that she doesn’t melt.

Pastor Says He Fears God More Than Homeland Security

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A United Methodist pastor in Chicago said Thursday (Aug. 17) he will not bar his church door if officials come seeking illegal immigrant Elvira Arellano, but he expects authorities will have to “deal with God.” The church, located in the heavily Latino Humboldt Park neighborhood, has been housing Arellano, a 31-year-old Mexican immigrant and member of the church, and her 7-year-old son, Saul, since 9 a.m. Tuesday _ the time she was ordered to report to the Department of Homeland Security for possible deportation. “I fear God a lot more than I do Homeland Security,” said the Rev. Walter Coleman, pastor of Adalberto United Methodist Church, in an interview. “We hope that the federal government _ our government _ will respect the dignity and sanctity of the church, and the faith and the family, and that they will not violate that,” Coleman said.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Grenade Explosion Kills Five in Indian Temple CHENNAI, India (RNS) At least five people were killed and 35 injured when a grenade exploded Wednesday (Aug. 16) at a Hare Krishna temple in northeast India during services to honor the birth of Lord Krishna, the human incarnation of the deity Vishnu. At least some of the injured were foreigners, although their identities were not immediately available. No one has claimed responsibility for the explosion.

American American Jewish Volunteers Sign Up for Israeli Army

c. 2006 Religion News Service BEACHWOOD, Ohio _ Yoni Geller told his parents in January of his decision. Over time, they came to accept it. But Israel was at peace. The plane carrying their 19-year-old son toward his goal was in flight July 13 when Eddie Geller and Esti Gumpertz watched the first explosions of war flash across the television in their home here.

COMMENTARY: A Few Inconvenient Truths

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) I hold these truths to be self-evident: Truth No. 1: Israel has “won” only a single conflict with its hostile Arab neighbors: the 1967 Six Day War. Because Israel’s defeat of three Arab armies nearly 40 years ago was so swift, the United Nations and the “international community” could not snatch victory from Israel. But that has never stopped them from trying.

A “Clear and Present Danger”

Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford, Ill., a heavyweight in the bishops’ conference (he’s an expert on canon law and helped craft the sex abuse reforms), says “adherents of one political party” are leading the nation towards moral oblivion. Doran never says which party he’s talking about, but it’s pretty clear it’s not the Republicans. The seven “sacraments” of their secular culture are abortion, buggery, contraception, divorce, euthanasia, feminism of the radical type, and genetic experimentation and mutilation. These things they unabashedly espouse, profess and promote. Their continuance in public office is a clear and present danger to our survival as a nation.

Is Gambling a Sin? One Bishop Doesn’t Think So

Thomas Tobin, the Roman Catholic bishop of Providence, R.I., says he won’t take a position on whether to open a casino in the Ocean State because, well, he likes to roll the dice from time to time. “I buy raffle tickets to support a local parish or school. I participate in friendly football pools. I’ve won and lost (usually lost) a few bucks on the golf course. And on a few occasions, I’ve even made a pilgrimage to Foxwoods, paying my tithe to the slot machines.”

Willie Nelson talks Tao

Quote of the Day: Country singer Willie Nelson “I believe that all roads lead to the same place. We’re taking different ways to get there, but we all end up in the same place. It’s kind of like Kinky Friedman’s statement, `May the God of your choice bless you.’ That’s the main thoughts that I have about life.” -Country singer Willie Nelson, author of the recently published “The Tao of Willie,” responding to a question from Time magazine about how his views about Tao may differ from his Methodist roots.

Pictures of Faith

Artist Finds God on Gotham’s Mean Streets New York photographer Larry Racioppo, who has “has captured the ways religious faith” in the city, is profiled in this week’s full-text RNS article, linked above. Quote: His sharp eye and sensitivity have produced a remarkable and distinctive chronicle of New York City: everyday expressions of religious faith as experienced on Gotham’s streets, particularly its poorer corners.

COMMENTARY: Mel Gibson’s Scarlet Letter: `S’ for Sinner

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) “Alcohol,” my mother used to quote from an old Irish saying, “takes the varnish off everything.” And so it did for actor/director Mel Gibson when he uttered what he himself describes as “despicable” slurs about the Jewish people after police pulled him over for drunken driving in Malibu, Calif. For some reason, Gibson’s fall from superstar grace has not been washed pure in the tsunami of sympathy that usually flows over movie and rock stars following infidelity, ransacking hotel rooms or ingesting the Hollywood smoothie of cocaine and alcohol. Maybe Gibson’s mistake is in so forthrightly acknowledging his fault, confessing it unconditionally, and proposing to make up for it by seeking treatment for his alcoholism and help from the Jewish community. Who does this guy think he is?

COMMENTARY: Mel Gibson’s Scarlet Letter: `S’ for Sinner

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) “Alcohol,” my mother used to quote from an old Irish saying, “takes the varnish off everything.” And so it did for actor/director Mel Gibson when he uttered what he himself describes as “despicable” slurs about the Jewish people after police pulled him over for drunken driving in Malibu, Calif. For some reason, Gibson’s fall from superstar grace has not been washed pure in the tsunami of sympathy that usually flows over movie and rock stars following infidelity, ransacking hotel rooms or ingesting the Hollywood smoothie of cocaine and alcohol. Maybe Gibson’s mistake is in so forthrightly acknowledging his fault, confessing it unconditionally, and proposing to make up for it by seeking treatment for his alcoholism and help from the Jewish community. Who does this guy think he is?

Artist Remembers Nazi Holocaust in German Sidewalks

c. 2006 Religion News Service HAMBURG, Germany _ Crowbar in hand, artist Gunter Demnig sets to work on his latest memorial. He pries five bulky paving stones from the sidewalk, scrapes the clumpy dirt underneath with his trowel, then pounds a small concrete brick into one corner of the hole he’s made. It’s capped with a simple brass plaque that reads: Bela Anschlawski Born 1939 Deported 1942 Auschwitz The spot was once home to Hamburg’s German-Jewish Orphanage. But the children, some as young as 3, were all carted away to concentration camps in the 1940s.

Artist Remembers Nazi Holocaust in German Sidewalks

c. 2006 Religion News Service HAMBURG, Germany _ Crowbar in hand, artist Gunter Demnig sets to work on his latest memorial. He pries five bulky paving stones from the sidewalk, scrapes the clumpy dirt underneath with his trowel, then pounds a small concrete brick into one corner of the hole he’s made. It’s capped with a simple brass plaque that reads: Bela Anschlawski Born 1939 Deported 1942 Auschwitz The spot was once home to Hamburg’s German-Jewish Orphanage. But the children, some as young as 3, were all carted away to concentration camps in the 1940s.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Focus on the Family to Target Eight Battleground States WASHINGTON (RNS) The conservative evangelical group Focus on the Family will mount a voter registration drive in eight battleground states this fall to “combat voter apathy and encourage Christians to go to the polls,” according to an e-mail sent to supporters. The drive, announced in an e-mail to activists last week (Aug. 11), solicits volunteer “county coordinators” to “recruit key evangelical churches, friends and family.” “In 2004, about 25 million evangelicals failed to vote. Now is the time to reverse the trend,” Erin Blad, Focus on the Family’s constituent coordinator, wrote in the e-mail.