RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Former Salvation Army Leader Named to NAE Post (RNS) The National Association of Evangelicals has chosen a former top official of the Salvation Army to serve as its new executive director. W. Todd Bassett, the former national commander of the Salvation Army, has been a member of the NAE’s Executive Committee for four years. “We’re thrilled to have him do this,” said interim NAE President Leith Anderson, pastor of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minn., on Wednesday (Jan. 17).

Questions and Answers on TM from David Lynch

c. 2007 Beliefnet (UNDATED) In works such as “Blue Velvet” and “Twin Peaks,” filmmaker David Lynch has explored the darker side of human nature. In his personal life, though, Lynch has found contentment and balance by practicing Transcendental Meditation. Popularized by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Transcendental Meditation involves twice-daily sessions in which practitioners meditate on a specific mantra. Lynch has worked to publicize scientific research on the benefits of TM, and his David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace works to bring TM into schools to reduce student stress.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Poll Suggests U.S. Must Respect Victories for Religious Parties Abroad WASHINGTON (RNS) A new Gallup Poll of Muslim nations indicates the best way to minimize anti-Western sentiment would be for the United States to recognize electoral victories by religious parties in democratic elections. The 2006 World Poll of countries in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia also noted that nearly 80 percent of Muslims surveyed were in favor of having a democratic regime, as long as it is rooted in Islamic principles, or Shariah. “The (U.S.) government should support any party committed to the rules and norms of the democratic process,” Dalia Mogahed, executive director of The Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, said at a news conference Tuesday (Jan. 23).

Transcendental Meditation Makes a Comeback

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) “TM? Is that still around?” That’s the immediate reaction of many to the mention of Transcendental Meditation. After a bright turn in the psychedelic limelight of the 1960s when it was embraced by celebrities such as the Beatles and Donovan, it seemed to go the way of bell bottoms, flower power and love beads. But others maintain that it’s never gone away.

The Gospel According to John, Ringo, Paul and George

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Rock music writer Steve Turner grew up in a Christian home in Daventry, England. And like other teenagers who came of age in the 1960s, Turner was a huge Beatles fan. “At that time, Christians weren’t too keen on rock ‘n’ roll music, so people in the church generally weren’t too keen on the Beatles,” Turner says in a phone call from London. “Yet, after a few years, the Beatles became interested in religious topics, so there was this interplay between religion and rock music that I became interested in.” Forty years after John Lennon made his infamous and often misunderstood comment that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus” _ spawning ban-the-Beatles protests _ Turner explores the Fab Four’s spiritual quest in his latest book, “The Gospel According to the Beatles” ($19.95, Westminster John Knox Press).

COMMENTARY: The Problem of Sandbox Bullying

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Not long ago, the “enemy du jour” stalking traditional Christian denominations was “creeping congregationalism.” That meant the tendency of congregations to function independently of traditional denominational standards or structures. Conservatives in the Episcopal Church, for example, lamented the loss of cohesion or what they called “catholicity.” Then the denomination, with significant cohesion, made some decisions the conservatives didn’t like, and suddenly they are demanding their own form of congregationalism, claiming they have the right to leave the national church and to take their property with them. And they demand a choice as to which “catholicity” they recognize: Nigeria or New York. In other words, in this argument, as in most religious arguments, the issue is rarely higher-order concerns like Scripture, tradition or reason.

My Sweet Lord: Revisiting the Beatles and Transcendental Meditation

RNS offers a special package of four stories as part of its Tuesday report, called My Sweet Lord: Revisiting the Beatles and Transcendental Meditation. The articles included are as follows: The Gospel According to John, Ringo, Paul and George, by Bob Carlton: Forty years after John Lennon made his infamous and often misunderstood comment that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus”-spawning ban-the-Beatles protests-rock music writer Steve Turner explores the Fab Four’s spiritual quest in his latest book, “The Gospel According to the Beatles.” Transcendental Meditation Makes a Comeback, by Nora O’Dowd: “TM? Is that still around?” That’s the immediate reaction of many to the mention of Transcendental Meditation.

RNS Daily Digest: Also transmitting in `c’ category

c. 2007 Religion News Service Beloved French Priest Abbe Pierre Dies at 94 PARIS (RNS) Abbe Pierre, a Capuchin monk who became one of France’s most beloved and popular figures, died of a lung infection in Paris Tuesday at the age of 94. The man known simply as Abbe Pierre wore many hats: priest, resistance fighter, lawmaker _ and, most famously, champion of the homeless who founded the international nonprofit, Emmaus. “All France is deeply touched,” French President Jacques Chirac said in one of many tributes that poured in throughout the day. “She has lost an immense figure, a conscience, an incarnation of good.” Born Henri Groues to an affluent family in 1912, Abbe Pierre became a Capuchin monk as a young man.

New Congress Changes Tone of Anti-Abortion Rally

c. 2007 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ The thousands of anti-abortion advocates who gathered here on Monday (Jan. 22) for the 34th annual March for Life came with a message for the new Democratic Congress: No matter what happened last November, America, they say, still opposes abortion. “I’m always concerned when the Democrats are in control,” said Mary Dixon, 66, who traveled to Washington with 53 other members of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Burlington, N.C., for the annual rally that marks the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. The marchers already are looking ahead to the 2008 presidential election.

Vatican Mulls New Strategy for Chinese Catholics

c. 2007 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ When it comes to addressing the spiritual needs of China’s estimated 12 million Roman Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI knows his options are limited. In recent years, China has shunned nearly every overture the Vatican has made towards restoring diplomatic relations severed more than a half-century ago. When the Holy See invited a Chinese representative to attend John Paul II’s funeral in 2005, Beijing demurred. When the newly elected Benedict rolled out the welcome mat for bishops in China’s state-run church to attend a synod in Rome, the bishops were grounded.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Science, Religion Join Hands When a Child Is Dying

c. 2007 Religion News Service PORTLAND, Ore. _ Daniel Kerner checked into a Portland hospital last fall and got stem cells from dead fetuses injected into his brain. He’s the first person in the nation to undergo this procedure, the first patient in a clinical trial that tests every ethical, religious and scientific boundary. He recently celebrated his seventh birthday, a little boy in blue jeans defying an incurable disease.

New School Rises Near Site of Amish Killings

c. 2007 Religion News Service NICKEL MINES, Pa. _ An Amish one-room schoolhouse is quietly rising here in a field at the end of a private drive behind a row of houses. Half-a-dozen men were working on the construction on a recent afternoon, within walking distance of the site of the school where a gunman shot 10 Amish girls Oct. 2, killing five of them.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Pastor Says Female Professor Was Dismissed Because of Gender (RNS) A pastor and influential blogger has accused Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, of gender discrimination in denying tenure to a female former faculty member at the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary. The allegations were made on the personal blog of Wade Burleson, a pastor in Enid, Okla., who gained attention in Southern Baptist circles last year when he challenged the denomination’s ban on missionaries who speak in tongues. Burleson alleged that Patterson had promised Sherri Klouda, who taught Hebrew, that she would stay on faculty after he was appointed president in 2003, but later refused to grant her tenure. Burleson alleged that Patterson dismissed Klouda because of his strict interpretation of key Biblical passages _ particularly that the Bible prohibits women from teaching men in the areas of theology and Biblical studies.

GUEST COLUMN: The Lion and the Lamb Find Common Ground

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) What trumps the most heartfelt of differences? The issue that President Bush and minions in his administration have repeatedly said does not exist or is a figment of the over-reactive, tree-hugging liberal imagination: global warming. In the most unlikely of unlikely coming-togethers _ indeed, pigs are skyborn _ leading scientists and evangelical Christian leaders have put aside their fierce stands over the origin of life to work together to fight global warming. Representatives from both camps met this week on the urgent need to save the planet.

At Merton’s Abbey, Silence Speaks Louder Than Words

c. 2007 Religion News Service TRAPPIST, Ky. _ Like a pale fortress over the scarlet hills, the Abbey of Gethsemani rises at the end of Monk’s Road. Founded in 1848 by French Trappist monks, Gethsemani is now home to about 70 monks who spend their days in work and prayer. It’s also the yearly destination for 4,500 faithful, who stay for short periods in the retreat house, and an equal number of visitors who come to walk the grounds and visit the church and reception center.