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New Book Gives New Life to the Scrooge Story

SEATTLE – Just in time for Christmas, A Modern Christmas Carol replaces Scrooge with a character most of us would agree needs a good soul searching—a televangelist. In a thought-provoking retelling of the Dickens classic, A Modern Christmas Carol tells the story of a shrewdly successful televangelist who receives unexpected Christmas visitors: first, his long-dead partner, and then three ghostly guides. Finally able to acknowledge the shallowness of his message and doubts he has long suppressed, he makes amends with far-reaching consequences. Most readers will enjoy seeing a televangelist get his comeuppance, but this book is more than that. It explores faith and the evidence for Christianity, and it should provoke or intrigue any reader interested in the impact Christianity has on modern society.

Exorcism

When a profound liturgical act, the prayer service, with an exorcism attached, gets seen as a “stunt,” it loses its ability to achieve its non-stunt end, of which nothing is more profound and urgent in Catholic and other Christian liturgies.

Quote of the Day: Megachurch pastor Rick Warren

“God doesn’t expect me to be thankful FOR all circumstance, but IN all circumstances. There’s a huge difference. The first attitude is masochism. The second shows maturity.” — California megachurch pastor Rick Warren, writing in Time magazine about thankfulness during what he called “the worst year of my life” after his youngest son committed suicide.

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Ignatius Press to release Pope Francis’ first Apostolic Exhortation

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 25, 2013 – Pope Francis is an evangelist, someone who spreads the good news about God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.  Francis’ humble, compassionate style and direct, yet thoughtful, manner of speaking has won him an audience among Catholic and non-Catholic alike. In his The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium), Pope Francis challenges all Christians to participate in the work of evangelizing — of sharing Christ’s love with others. This book is Francis’ first Apostolic Exhortation, a teaching document on a particular theme to encourage and challenge people.  The Joy of the Gospel addresses the key subjects of the recent Synod of Bishops, which focused on the New Evangelization, an essential topic for the recent popes. Ignatius Press is slated to release the book as a high-quality, hardcover, deluxe edition in December.

Specific Immigration Provisions: Fines, Waiting Periods, and Increased Border Security

Although immigration reform policy is complex and continues to evolve, the Senate bill that passed in June (S-744) includes three key features: a 13-year waiting period before immigrants may become full citizens, an estimated $4,000 in mandatory fines and fees to be paid over the course of the citizenship process, and a $46 billion investment in increased border security. While there is consensus around some provisions, on others, views differ sharply by political affiliation.

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Nearly three quarters of household charitable giving goes to organizations with religious ties, new study finds

(Los Angeles, CA) The new report Connected to Give: Faith Communities demonstrates that nearly three quarters of all U.S. household giving—73 percent—goes to organizations with religious ties. The report, which for the first time takes into account donations to religiously identified charitable organizations alongside congregations, highlights the multidimensional nature of religion and giving in America. “It’s like putting on 3D glasses,” said report co-author Dr. Shawn Landres, CEO and research director of Jumpstart, the philanthropic research and design lab spearheading Connected to Give. “In addition to looking at congregations, when we also look at the religious identity of the organization and the religious or spiritual orientation of the donor, it turns out that a majority of Americans contribute to organizations with religious ties and a majority of Americans cite religious commitments as key motivations for their giving.”

Donations to religious congregations—primarily for religious activity or spiritual development—represent about two fifths of household giving nationally. In addition, there are many nonprofit organizations pursuing other purposes, such as basic needs, health care, or international aid, but which also have religious identities.