He Still Loves Israel

Michelle Boorstein at the Post has a fascinating article on Theodor Herzl’s (aka the founder of Zionism) grandson being exhumed from his grave in Washington to be buried near his relatives in Israel. Stephen Theodore Norman was the only of Herzl’s descendant to embrace Zionism, Boorstein writes. “It wasn’t sort of an obvious thing. Herzl didn’t actually know [Norman]; it was a longer shot,” said Jacob Dellal, spokesman for the Jewish Agency-World Zionist Organization, which represented Jews before the founding of the state. The group still shares jurisdiction over some state entities, including Mount Herzl.

Oral Robertson University?

Speaking of Pat Robertson, the Virginian Pilot has this little nugget about Pat’s offer to explore possible ties with the troubled Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, which remains in turmoil after ORU President Richard Roberts was forced out (Roberts said God told him to quit) under a cloud of allegations of lavish spending, improper sexual behavior and illegal politicking. Both Roberts and Robertson are charismatic Christians with an eye for educating the next generation (Robertson founded Regent University in Virginia Beach). “We are pleased to report that Dr. Pat Robertson, president and chancellor of Regent University and long-time friend of Oral Roberts University, has contacted members of the board of regents and has expressed interest in exploring options for the future of ORU with Regent University,” George Pearsons, chairman of the ORU Board of Regents, said in a statement posted on the university’s Web site. Pearsons told the Oklahoman: “It’s all open. It’s all out there,” Pearsons said.

Religious Liberty for All?

The case of the Regent University law student who pasted an, um, unflattering photo of Regent founder Pat Robertson on his Facebook page now heads to court. Money quote, from Adam Key, the center at the center of it all: “I went there because I wanted an environment conducive to learning that had a respect for religious liberty, but the only liberty they are interested in defending is theirs and people like them,” Key said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday.

O Mane Pad My Bills…

The PA state senate opened their session with a Buddhist prayer Tuesday night. No word in this article about what the prayer actually said, or even what school of Buddhism the pray-er follows (they call him Sensei, so I assume he’s Zen). Notwithstanding that, the reporter immediately moves on to the flap about prayer in the statehouse. Usual suspects, usual arguments.

Presby Pastor Throws Hat in Ring

Presbyterian News Service has word that the Rev. Bill Teng will stand for position of moderator of the PCUSA at the denomination’s assembly in San Jose, Calif., next June. I may be wrong but this is the first official announcement I’ve heard from any candidate. Teng, who was born in Hong Kong and now pastors Heritage Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Va., says “Our denomination at this time really needs to have a sense of hope.” Teng is vying to succeed the current moderator, Joan Gray, at the end of her term. The PCUSA is also accepting nominations to succeed the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, the longtime stated clerk, who has said he’ll step down at the end of his current term.

Mourning Hyde

Religious leaders from Cardinal George of Chicago to James Dobson of Colorado Springs are mourning former Rep. Henry Hyde today. I hadn’t realized Hyde was author of the “Mexico City policy,” which basically prohibits U.S. foreign aid from going to programs that offer abortion. George says: “His concern reached from those not yet born to immigrants. For all who believe that human life is a gift that should be protected, Henry Hyde was an inspiration. He stated once in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, ‘God put us in the world to do noble things, to love and to cherish our fellow human beings.'” Dobson said: “As the author of legislation that came to be known as the ‘Mexico City Policy,’ Rep. Hyde helped prohibit federal money from being used to support abortion or abortion-related activities in countries around the world.

Huckabee Surge

I agree with David Brody assessment that Huckabee hit the Bible question out of the park. Money quote: The part of Huckabee’s answer that probably resonated with Evangelicals is when he said, “There are parts of it I don’t fully comprehend and understand, because the Bible is a revelation of an infinite God, and no finite person is ever going to fully understand it. If they do, their god is too small”. Folks, that’s called speaking the language of Evangelicals because that’s exactly what many of them think and feel. It was spot on and at the same time a nod to moderates to say “Hey, we Christians don’t have everything figured out either!”

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Pope offers `working meeting’ with Muslims VATICAN CITY (RNS) In response to a letter from Muslim leaders seeking better relations with the Christian world, Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday (Nov. 29) invited those leaders to the Vatican for a “working meeting” on inter-religious dialogue. Writing on behalf of the pope, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, expressed Benedict’s “gratitude” and “deep appreciation” for an open letter that 138 Muslim scholars and clerics sent to the pope on Oct. 13.

Books trace real and imagined history of Christmas

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The origins of the first Christmas are complicated. Establishing their historical authenticity is probably impossible, but then, that’s not the real point of Christmas, according to the authors of three new books on the holiday. In “The First Christmas,” leading scholars Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan explore how history influences our reading of the nativity narrative in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Borg and Crossan strive to help readers see the story in a new way, exploring its meaning in the context of both the first and the 21st centuries.

Some churches conflicted over Kwanzaa

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Come each December, high atop the choir loft of St. Luke Community United Methodist Church in Dallas sit the traditional three purple and one pink Advent candles for several Sundays. But as the month comes to a close, another candelabra appears when the Kwanzaa kinara _ with its seven black, red and green candles representing principles of black heritage _ is placed on the altar below. “We’ll light the Advent candles and we’ll light the Kwanzaa candles,” said the Rev. Tyrone Gordon, pastor of St.

COMMENTARY: The truth, available to all with eyes to see

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Last week, a truth-loving friend sent what he found to be inflammatory comments uttered by the documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog. Herzog was speaking at the American Film Fest 2007 on the subject “Is the filmmaker’s responsibility to the subject to capture objective truth, or realize his own artistic vision?” Here’s how he answered: “There is no truth; if you’re looking for it, go do something else. Objective truth is baloney.” He went on to argue that the line between documentary and narrative cinema is irrelevant, and so he aims for a deeper artistic truth. Today’s younger generation often “learns history” through docudramas.

GOP Debaters Answer Biblical Question

A question of biblical proportions came up during Wednesday’s CNN/YouTube Republican presidential debate. A Dallas man held up a Bible to the camera during his videotaped query and asked if the candidates believed every word of it. Here’s how the candidates, responded, according to a transcript in two parts from CNN Politics.com: Anderson Cooper of CNN: Mayor Giuliani? Mike Huckabee: Do I need to help you out, Mayor, on this one? (Laughter) (Applause) Rudy Giuliani: Wait a second, you’re the minister.