Burns Strider

WASHINGTON-Fresh off the campaign trail, where he headed Sen. Hillary Clinton’s religious outreach, Burns Strider has founded a new firm to help other Democrats bridge the so-called “God gap.” Few are as well-placed as Strider to do that. Strider, a 41-year-old native of Grenada, Miss., led the House Democrats’ Faith Working Group and has the ear of political insiders in Washington. Now he and three other young Democrats with campaign experience have formed the Eleison Group, a consulting firm dedicated to helping their party win campaigns, and assisting non-profits in shaping the national values debate. Early clients include the Michigan Democratic Party, Oxfam International and the We Campaign, part of Al Gore’s climate protection efforts.

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Polish priest wins 2008 Templeton prize

NEW YORK-Michael (Michal) Heller, a Polish cosmologist and Roman Catholic priest whose commitment to combining the insights of science and religion stretches back to his youth in war-torn Europe, has won the 2008 Templeton Prize. The $1.6 million award is the largest annual monetary prize given to a single individual, for work in connecting the realms of physics, cosmology, theology and philosophy. Heller, 72, is a professor of philosophy at the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Krakow, and has fond memories of discussing science and religion with a young Karol Wojtyla, the archbishop of Krakow who later became Pope John Paul II. In prepared remarks at Wednesday’s (March 12) announcement of the award, Heller said he had “always wanted to do the most important things, and what can be more important than science and religion? Science gives us knowledge, and religion gives us meaning.

10 Minutes with … Matt Riley

c. 2007 Religion News Service
(UNDATED) Matt Riley, a second-year student at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Conn., helps lead “The Left Behind,” a club of atheists and agnostics at one of the nation’s premier training grounds for clergy. Along with co-leader Christy Groves, Riley has given nonbelievers a place of their own on a campus that explores belief. He chose divinity school, he says, to obtain an “inside view.” The club fosters dialogue between non-Christians and Christians on campus and staged “Div School Idol,” a takeoff on “American Idol” in the chapel last spring. Q: How did “The Left Behind” begin?

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c. 1998 Religion News Service
RYCHWALD, Poland _”Can’t you see I’m busy?”Rabbi Michael Schudrich shouted with mock alarm. He was actually busy filling a squirt gun before diving back into battle with young people at the summer camp here for Jews exploring their identities. In a CD-ROM dictionary, a video clip of Schudrich could illustrate the definition of tireless. All day _ every day _ here, he chanted prayers at services, gave lectures, cheered at games and led after-meal songfests with his strong nasal baritone.

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c. 1997 Religion News Service
JERUSALEM _ He has hiked the Rocky Mountains and has guided inner-city youths in Outward Bound-style adventures. But for decades, Robin Wainwright’s big dream has been to make a camel trek through the desert steppes of Iraq and Jordan _ guided by the stars that led the biblical Magi from the east to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. Wainwright, a visiting professor of church history at the University of California in Berkeley, hopes to retrace the Wise Men’s mystical journey on the eve of the new millennium, leading a camel train that will embark from southern Iraq in August 1999 and arrive in Bethlehem on Christmas Day 1999. Wainwright and his wife Nancy, who together manage a private charity called the Catlin Foundation, were in Jerusalem and the West Bank recently to lay plans for the trek, which they hope will not only be a spiritual voyage, but also a peace mission to the warring nationalities and religious groups of the region.