RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service U.S. Bishops Agree to Meet With Catholic Lawmakers on Iraq War WASHINGTON _(RNS) U.S. Catholic bishops have agreed to meet with Catholic House Democrats to discuss a “responsible transition” to end the war in Iraq,the bishops announced Wednesday (July 18). “The current situation in Iraq is unacceptable and unsustainable, as is the policy and political stalemate among decision makers in Washington,” Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando wrote in a letter to Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio. Wenski is chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committee on international policy. In June, 14 Catholic U.S. Representatives, including Ryan and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., asked U.S. bishops for help in “mobilizing public support for Congress’s efforts to end the war.” The U.S. bishops have frequently expressed moral reservations about the Iraq war, Wenski wrote in his letter to Ryan, which the bishops’ conference made public.

Post-Virginia Tech, mental health commitments remain a difficult issue

c. 2007 Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly (UNDATED) The April shooting at Virginia Tech University was the deadliest in modern American history _ 33 people, including the shooter, were killed. And there are still more questions than answers about what went so wrong. How was it, for example, that Seung-Hui Cho slipped through the mental health system even though he was judged “an imminent danger to himself or others as a result of mental illness”? On a broader scale, Judges, psychiatrists and mental health activists say they’re still struggling with the moral dilemma of exactly how and when to commit people to a mental hospital.

Scholars Trace a Lifetime of Faith

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Michele Dillon and Paul Wink have interviewed scores of septuagenarians about their faith _ or lack thereof _ and compared their answers to those they gave during their teens and middle age. Their discovery? People really don’t change much over time _ religiosity in early adulthood is comparable to that in late adulthood, with a dip in middle age. Other data include: religiosity peaks during teenage years; “spiritual seekers” (those who remain interested in religion while not being tied to one particular faith or tradition) and more church-oriented people are equally altruistic; and religion serves as a psychological buffer only for the elderly in poor health.

COMMENTARY: Lessons Learned From Military Chaplaincy

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Like everyone else, I remember significant dates in my life: family birthdays, graduations, weddings, the deaths of relatives and friends. But there’s an important date of another variety: 9 Aug. That is the unique “militaryspeak” the U.S. Air Force used when it ordered me to report for active duty years ago as a chaplain, just two months after my rabbinic ordination. Although my tour of duty in Japan and Korea is long over, 9 Aug remains etched in my memory.

Make Peace, Not Fear

One Church Has Lessons on a House (of God) Divided RNS’ David Briggs looks at one church’s response to the liberal-conservative divide in American politics, in this week’s full-text article, linked above. Quote: The groupâÂ?¦found that amid differences in politics and beliefs, “when we seek and share God’s values our differences can lead to creative dialogue instead of confrontational disagreement.” Respecting one another also meant being open to change.

Heavy Metal Guitarist Plays a New Tune

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Most of Brian “Head” Welch’s tattoos are new. It seems like the multicolored ink sleeves and matted brown dreadlocks would be remnants of the “old” Brian, the one who spent a decade pounding out power chords to lyrics like “Right now / I feel it scratch inside / I want to slash and beat you.” But the tattoo near his makeup-lined eyes gives him away. It’s a small teardrop _ a traditional gang symbol _ juxtaposed with a cross. When he got it a couple years ago, he thought it symbolized the intense love of Jesus Christ.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Interfaith Leaders Commend North Korean Nuclear Pact (RNS) An interfaith coalition of religious leaders is congratulating the Bush administration for reaching an agreement with North Korea to shutdown its nuclear weapons facilities. “The agreement with North Korea demonstrates the value of diplomacy in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons,” the leaders said in a statement released Tuesday. The statement was signed by Catholic and Episcopal bishops as well as Presbyterian, evangelical and Muslim leaders. “It validates the preferential use of words, rather than war, as a response to conflict.

Talking God and Baseball with Mike Piazzan

c. 2007 Beliefnet (UNDATED) After starting his career as the 1,390th player chosen in baseball’s 1988 amateur draft, Mike Piazza has gone on to defy expectations and become one of the top major-league catchers of all time. Piazza won the 1993 Rookie of the Year Award, has been chosen for a dozen All-Star games, and holds the record for most home runs by a catcher. Piazza is also a devoted Catholic and appears in the documentary “Champions of Faith,” which profiles Christian baseball players. Currently playing for the Oakland A’s, Piazza spoke about forgiving his opponents, praying (or not) for home-runs, and passing judgment on baseball’s steroids scandal.

Little Movement Thinks Its Big Moment Has Arrived

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Alan Cecil is one spiritual leader who actually gets excited when people lose their faith. That’s because his little-known Noahide (pronounced No-AH-HIDE) movement specializes in ministering to serious God-seekers who no longer trust their religious authorities. And in an age marked by clergy scandals and hot-selling books that skewer organized religion, he and his colleagues believe their moment has finally arrived. “It’s bad to destroy someone’s faith without having something to offer him,” says Cecil, a Noahide teacher and author of “The Noahide Code.” “We’re offering the original moral code that God gave to mankind.” Like the flood that Noah famously endured in his ark, the Noahides’ offer of a world-saving moral code stretches to the ends of the Earth.

Talking God and Baseball with Mike Piazza

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) After starting his career as the 1,390th player chosen in baseball’s 1988 amateur draft, Mike Piazza has gone on to defy expectations and become one of the top major-league catchers of all time. Piazza won the 1993 Rookie of the Year Award, has been chosen for a dozen All-Star games, and holds the record for most home runs by a catcher. Piazza is also a devoted Catholic and appears in the documentary “Champions of Faith,” which profiles Christian baseball players. Currently playing for the Oakland A’s, Piazza spoke about forgiving his opponents, praying (or not) for home-runs, and passing judgment on baseball’s steroids scandal.

Christian Craftsman Jigsaws for Jesus

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Paul Porter likes to jigsaw for Jesus and carve Scripture with a scroll saw. Cutting tiny, intricate patterns into blocks of olive wood imported from Bethlehem, he has shaped startling icons reflecting sacred themes. Many of the pieces have been given to clergy, missionaries, the sick and shut-ins. “I started scroll-sawing five years ago, but I’ve been woodworking all my life,” Porter said.

Vatican Moves Downplay 1960s Church Reforms, Observers Say

c. 2007 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ In making two controversial decisions earlier this month _ opening the door to wider celebration of the “Latin Mass” and asserting the Roman Catholic Church as the one true “Church of Christ” _ the Vatican insisted that no essential Catholic belief or practice had been changed. In fact, Pope Benedict XVI and other Vatican officials stressed their decisions’ coherence with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, the international assembly that ushered in a series of reforms during the 1960s. But the pope also made clear his conservative understanding of the council,stressing its continuity with the church’s traditions, rather than the innovative and even revolutionary spirit that many believe the council embodied. Some observers thus view the recent decisions as an effort by Benedict to correct misunderstandings of Vatican II and its teachings _ an effort some say could undermine the council’s legacy.