Catholic Prayer Breakfast; UCC’s new ads; and the Ukrainian Easter egg

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President Bush found a friendly audience at today’s National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, reports Piet Levy in Friday’s RNS report: For the second year in a row, Friday’s National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, a gathering of so-called “faithful” Catholics from around the country, scored the most prominent speaker imaginable-President Bush. Well, perhaps the second-most prominent. At the last breakfast, the event’s vice president, Austin Ruse, joked that the pope would make an appearance the next time around. No such luck this year, but the president was a celebrated understudy, winning over the crowd with comments on Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, immigration reform, and abortion. “Some people believe you cannot distinguish between right and wrong,” Bush told the crowd. “The Catholic Church rejects such a pessimistic view of human nature and offers a vision of human freedom and dignity rooted in the same self-evident truths of America’s founding.”

The United Church of Christ has an edgy new ad campaign, reports Frank Bentayou: In the United Church of Christ’s new ad campaign, spring-loaded platforms burst from certain pews in a Gothic sanctuary filled with mostly white, middle-class types. They hurl those who are a tad different from everyone else out of their seats. The message seems to be that some churches prefer you vanish if you appear Middle Eastern, gay, old, poor or dressed too casually. Text and a voiceover at the end counter that the UCC invites everyone to join its worship community. The ad probably will generate visibility. But will raising so complex an issue in so playful and “edgy” a manner actually help people decide their religious affiliation?

What came first-Easter or the Ukrainian Easter Egg? asks reporter John Petkovic: Forget the chicken. This time of year, the conundrum of the egg is enough to leave humans and fowls scratching their heads. What came first, the Easter or the Ukrainian Easter egg? This city’s Ukrainian Museum-Archives has cracked the answer. The evolution of the art form known as pysanky dates back more than 2,000 years. Derived from the Ukrainian word for “to write,” it started as a pagan art form that celebrated seasonal rebirth. When Christianity came to Ukraine in the 10th century, the eggs were incorporated into the Easter observance and new images were introduced to illustrate Christian themes.

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