Today … in God: Tuesday, September 7

From Peter Boyer in the New Yorker: “Inside C Street, Washington D.C.‘s Frat House for Jesus“:

One midwinter night in 2008, Senator John Ensign, of Nevada, the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, was roused from bed when six men entered his room and ordered him to get up. Ensign knew the men intimately; a few hours earlier, he had eaten dinner with them, as he had nearly every Tuesday evening since he’d come to Washington. Now they were rebuking him for his recklessness. They told him he was endangering his career, ruining lives, and offending God.

The men leading this intervention considered themselves Ensign’s closest friends in Washington. Four of those who confronted Ensign—Senator Tom Coburn and Representatives Bart Stupak, Mike Doyle, and Zach Wamp—lived with him in an eighteenth-century brick row house on C Street, in southeast Washington, a short walk from the Capitol. The men regarded themselves in part as an accountability group. Despite their political differences—Coburn and Wamp are Republicans, Stupak and Doyle are Democrats—they had pledged to hold one another to a life lived by the principles of Jesus, and they considered the Tuesday supper gatherings at C Street an inviolable ritual.

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Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York returns to Port au Prince: Promises kept (via OdysseyNetworks.org):

When Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, and chair of Catholic Relief Services, visited Haiti  one week after the earthquake, he made a promise to return and to keep its plight before the eyes of the world. He fulfilled that promise in August. An Odyssey Networks film crew was with the Archbishop as he returned.

The Archbishop said that it is clear in Haiti that all of us are neighbors.

“We’re all in it together, we’re all children of God and we all have an obligation in charity and justice to one another. We’re all part of the same neighborhood,” he said.

“When I came down a week after the earthquake,” the Archbishop said,  “I saw medicine from an Islamic country being loaded into a Catholic Relief Services truck, being driven to a hospital (St. Francis de Sales Hospital) where it was unloaded by Baptists and put into the hands of  Israeli doctors. That’s solidarity.”
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Church “praying” about plan to burn Qurans: Associated Press via MSNBC:

MIAMI — A church planning to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11 is ‘definitely praying’ about the controversial demonstration, its pastor said after Gen. David Petraeus warned it would put in danger the lives of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

In an interview on CNN, Terry Jones, of the Dove World Outreach Church in Gainesville, Fla., appeared to suggest church members might decide not to go ahead with the controversial demonstration.

Jones, author of a book called “Islam is of The Devil,” told CNN’s “American Morning” show that the burning was designed to send a message to radical Islam.

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Can interfaith efforts douse Quran flames at Fla. church?: via Cathy Grossman’s Faith&Reason blog at USAToday:

Fear looms over a week that should be one of celebration (the end of Ramadan, the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Day cycle) and solemn commemoration for 9/11. Can interfaith voices for calm, tolerance and reflection overcome a church’s plan to burn the Quran?

Can interfaith voices for calm, tolerance and reflection — the love and morality taught by world religions — overcome headlines for a church planning to burn the Quran?

The Dove World Outreach Center, a tiny Florida church, is burning up the headlines with its plan, still on, according to On Deadline, to build a bonfire for the holy book of Islam, on September 11th.

General David Petraeus has warned, in an e-mail to the Associated Press, that images of the bonfire is provoking international protests and could endanger U.S. troops.

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Lindsay Melvin at the Memphis Commercial Appeal on “Cordoba Christians put out the welcome mat for mosque”:

When pastor Steve Stone initially heard of the mosque and Islamic center being erected on the sprawling land adjacent his church, his stomach tightened.

Then he raised a 6-foot sign reading, “Welcome to the Neighborhood.”

The issue for Stone and the 550-person Heartsong Church in Cordova, came down to one question:

“What would Jesus do if He were us? He would welcome the neighbor,” Stone said.

The Memphis Islamic Center, a nonprofit organization formed three years ago, is two weeks from breaking ground on the first phase of a multimillion-dollar complex.

While plans for Islamic centers across the country and just miles away have triggered vitriolic responses and divided communities, here in Memphis it’s been a peaceful process.

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Biopic “Wesley” released for church/congregational screenings (via Vision Video):


Foundery Pictures has just announced the availability of a special license for local churches to screen the award-winning independent film Wesley for their congregations. The movie, which premiered in 2009, was exhibited at select theaters across the US and at several international film festivals. The home DVD was released in July from Vision Video, www.visionvideo.com.

The film stars Burgess Jenkins (Remember the Titans, The Reaping) as John Wesley, Emmy-nominated TV legend June Lockhart (Lost in Space, Lassie) as his mother, Susannah Wesley, Golden Globe winner Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Death of a Salesman) as Bishop Ryder, and R. Keith Harris (Big Fish, Junebug) as John’s brother Charles Wesley.

The movie documents the personal struggles of John Wesley, whose work and ministry would transform the face of England in the 18th century. For the first time, Wesley’s fascinating spiritual struggle is presented in this dramatic feature film based on John’s own private journals. These journals, kept in a secret code, were not translated until the early 1980s; earlier books and one 1950s feature film were based only on the public record, and did not have access to the private thoughts, doubts, and struggles of this great spiritual leader.

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Mona El-Naggar in the New York Times on “The Female Factor: Peeking  out from under Hamas’ veil”:

GAZA — Doaa Abdel Latif appears to be part of the reason for the sway that Hamas wields over this crammed strip of humanity, home to an estimated 1.5 million Palestinians. Just under half the people here are women and girls who experience a double hold over their lives: by the Israelis who surround Gaza, and the men who dominate within it.

I met Ms. Abdel Latif, 24, at a Hamas-sponsored workshop on writing book reviews in English. Summarizing part of a book by Barbara Victor, a U.S. journalist, about Palestinian women suicide bombers, the Gazan woman was sharply critical of what she said was the author’s message.

“There is only one way for women to have equality and respect and that is to ‘commit suicide, participate in an act of martyrdom or send off a son to die.’ Is that what she wants to say about our society and religion?” Ms. Abdel Latif asked. “Well, there are 92,763 Palestinian women in universities versus 75,221 men. We like education.”

That, Ms. Abdel Latif said, is what brought her to this workshop at an association founded in 2006 by Huda Naim, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a leader in the Hamas women’s movement.

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In case you missed it on 9/3: New York Magazine on the guys from Christ-Wire, “Creating Parody from ‘Glenn Beck on Steroids'”:

In the world of Christwire, the Glenn Beck rally made Martin Luther King Jr. proud, Hurricane Earl is headed toward the Gay East Coast to reap God’s vengeance, and the recent increase in pet-on-pet rape is a pernicious consequences of same-sex marriage.

This is, of course, satire: Completely over-the-top, but mimicking some extreme religious-right talking points so well that several mainstream news sites have been hoaxed. In a competitive and superheated news climate, a religious site calling for a boycott of Bill Murray, “murderer of lambs,” was, for NBC Los Angeles, too good to not be true. The advice column “Is My Husband Gay?” (Does he “travel frequently to big cities or Asia”?) was, as the Atlantic Wire’s John Hudson discovered, taken at face value by the Huffington Post.

Christwire owners Bryan Butvidas and Kirwin Watson, after fielding press queries and book offers for months, have finally decided to go public. In an interview with New York, Butvidas said the site’s basic concept is to “see what Glenn Beck is talking about and then make it ten times worse.”

“We’re not trying to promote hate, we want to show how fake the world really is,” he said. “We write to see how far we can get people to believe our nonsense. People believe anything they read on the Internet.” Do readers get the joke? Just like with the media, not always. Butyidas, who usually pens columns under the name Tyson Bowers III, said some of the people who leave vituperative comments don’t get the irony.

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