Seeking not to offend, Bush's holiday season doesn't leave anyone out
"There's something for just about every faith at the White House this holiday season," reports the Associated Press. "Over the course of 24 hours last week, President Bush helped light a menorah for Hanukkah and the national Christmas tree and visited a mosque at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan."
But it's not just a campaign of inclusion, says AP writer Jennifer Loven. It's also one of exclusion. This year's Bush holiday cards don't even mention Christmas (one recipient thought it was a Thanksgiving card), and this year's White House holiday theme is a history of presidential pets.
"It is a real visible manifestation of the President teaching the importance of tolerance and openness and celebrating faith," said Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer. "The purpose is not to preach a particular faith. The purpose is to celebrate faith itself."
But before you start your angry missive about the removal of Christianity from the public square, note that cards do include a Bible verse: "For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting and his truth endureth to all generations." (Last year's verse was Psalm 27:8, 13.) And at the lighting of the tree, Bush said, "For over two millenia, Christmas has carried the message that God is with us. And because he's with us, we can always live in hope."
Pat Robertson book linked to gay sex manual at Amazon.com
Some hackers are having fun at the expense of broadcaster Pat Robertson, specifically with his new book, Six Steps to Spiritual Revival. Last Friday, Amazon quickly deleted the page's recommendations under "Customers who shopped for this item also shopped for these items" when it listedThe Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Men as one of the titles.
"It seemed to us that this is a rather curious juxtaposition of the two titles," Amazon spokeswoman Patty Smith told technology news site CNet. "Amazon conducted an investigation and determined these results were not that of hundreds of customers going to the same items while they were shopping on the site."
In other words, someone tampered with Amazon's recommendations.
This morning, hackers were still hacking the page, and are now targeting the page's "So you'd like to … " recommendations.
But Amazon, not hackers, is responsible for some of the page's odd recommendations. On Friday, the site told visitors to the book's page that "Customers who wear clothes also shop for … Clean Underwear [and] Cheetah Print Slippers," according to the British tech site The Register.
So far, Robertson isn't commenting on the hack attack. But he had a bit of good news this week: his top racehorse and namesake, Mr. Pat, finally won its first race Friday. After several supporters complained that he was supporting gambling, Robertson promised he'd sell all of his horses by the end of November, but he still owns and races Mr. Pat, who has been a bit of a loser up to this point.
On a more serious note, Robertson has just launched CBN Newswatch, a 30-minute weekend news program designed to attract more non-Christian viewers than The 700 Club does. "It's a response to demand," senior producer Drew Parkhil told The Washington Times. "There is such a remarkable hunger out there among Christian stations, independent stations, cable networks. And it's not limited to spiritual stories. People feel like the big media may not give the whole story."
But you probably won't see stories on Amazon's faulty recommendations or the evils of horseracing.
Carjacking suspect seeks refuge at Biola
About 500 students were evacuated from their dorms at Biola University last Thursday when carjacking suspect Edward Hixon took refuge in the attic above the school's cafeteria, the AP reported. About 100 other students who were studying in the library during the five-hour standoff had to stay there until 2 a.m. Hixon was eventually apprehended and arrested.
- Don't believe in God? Have some eggnog anyway | Nearly half of adult Americans report they personally know someone who doesn't believe in God but still will celebrate the yuletide this year, according to a survey (The Knoxville [Tn.] News-Sentinel)
- Also: Excerpts from Christmas poll (The Knoxville [Tn.] News-Sentinel)
- Politically correct target Christmas | There is little evidence that the forces of political correctness have sought to devise new, generic names for Ramadan or Hanukkah, lest their religious observance offend people who are neither Muslim nor Jewish (Terry McConnell, The Edmonton Journal)
- Blue laws won't inhibit Christmas shopping | City Council votes to suspend laws ordering stores to open after 1:30 on Sundays (Associated Press)
- Use common sense on holiday names | The desire not to offend has stripped "the reason for the season" of all meaning (Editorial, The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.)
- For holidays, schools' focus on `inclusion' | Teachers are grappling with how to celebrate the holidays in public schools without advocating or discriminating against certain religions (The Cincinnati Enquirer)
- 'Season's Greetings' flavored with religious fervor this year | Christmas cards aren't comical as much this year as they are contemplative, according to those in the $7.5 billion greeting card industry (Waco [Tex.] Tribune-Herald)
- Stadium hosts 'biggest' nativity play | A crowd of 15,000 people took part in the UK's biggest nativity play at Manchester City's football ground on Sunday. (BBC)
- Vicar tells children Santa is dead | Lee Rayfield admitted making a serious misjudgment in telling the story to children as young as five (BBC)
- No real push from anyone to abolish Santa Claus | There is no occasion why anyone should shrink from using the imagery of Santa on the ground that it might give offence to people who are not Christians (Editorial, The Canberra Times, Australia)
- Bethlehem braces for Christmas strife | Spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office, Ranaan Gissin, was quoted as saying bluntly that Israel would "not let Arafat go to Bethlehem" (BBC)
- 'For us, there is no peace' | Sale of olive wood carvings helps Christians in Bethlehem (The Beacon Journal, Akron, Ohio)
- Arafat 'should not go to Bethlehem' | So says Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's spokesman (BBC)
- Palestinians: Let Arafat Go to Bethlehem (Associated Press)
What Would Jesus Drive?:
- Using Jesus as pitchman an idea not worth buying | These ads trivialize religion in order to make a point. Rarely do the words sacred and holy come to my mind when I think of car ads. (Tarin Harris, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Jesus at the wheel | Will Detroit heed new appeals? (Editorial, Sacramento Bee)
- Oh Lord, don't you buy yourself an SUV | The evangelical environmentalists appear to forget Christ's wondrous gifts when it came to transforming things, e.g. water into wine (Slinger, The Toronto Star)
- It's rugged, and they're cross | Jesus and his 12 apostles traveled rough terrain mostly by foot and mule, the latter being substantially more polluting than the full-size Hummer H2 or any other sport-utility vehicle, large or small (Warren Brown, The Washington Post)
- What would Jesus hate? | Isaiah warned us about trying to stick our own worldly idolatry on the messiah (Joe Bob Briggs, UPI)
- Reading between the lines reveals writers' choice rides | But why focus just on Jesus and what He might choose? (Royal Ford, The Boston Globe)
Money and business:
- The Jesus Market | Christianity may be struggling in the public square, but it's prospering in the public bazaar. (Stephen Bates, The Weekly Standard)
- Blessed are tacky prezzies | The site—run by two Christians—offers a nodding Jesus doll, holy boxer shorts, Ten Commandments blanket—and even a 47ft blow-up "working" church (The Sun, U.K.)
- Jesus action figure is big seller | But the toy received a lukewarm reaction from clergy today (AAP)
- Also: Jesus Action Figure (Accoutrements)
- Lifting blacks' faith in the markets | |Nearly 150 churches that have joined One Thousand Churches Connected, aiming to make black Americans more comfortable with investing (The New York Times)
- Another good word for teenage chastity | Teens are proving receptive to a message of sexual abstinence before marriage (Editorial, The Indianapolis Star)
- Gay comments concern bishops | Vatican's remarks are feared to incite hate crimes in US (The Boston Globe)
- Also: Affirming gay and lesbian priests | Suggestions that gays molest children lead to homophobia and create a dangerous atmosphere in which hate crimes flourish (M. Thomas Shaw and Bud Cederholm, The Boston Globe)
- For local lesbian couple, retaining Christian faith was important | But they couldn't find a church that would accept their sexuality until they found an ELCA congregation (The Sun Chronicle, Attleboro, Ma.)
- Catholic Charities to challenge Maine city's domestic partners ordinance | Social service agency refuses to provide health coverage to unmarried partners of its employees, saying to do so would violate religious doctrine (Associated Press)
Clergy sex abuse scandal:
- 58 priests send a letter urging cardinal to resign | "Your position as our bishop is so compromised that it is no longer possible for you to exercise the spiritual leadership required for the church of Boston." (The Boston Globe)
- Law and Vatican weigh scandal's cost | A terse statement released by the Vatican's press office said Law's unannounced visit was ''to inform the Holy See about various aspects of the situation,'' but fueled speculation that Law was also here to discuss the possibility of resigning (The Boston Globe)
- Also: Law goes to Vatican for advice | Discussions in store about bankruptcy, lawsuits, his future (The Boston Globe)
- Also: Law, Vatican officials discuss scandal (Associated Press)
- Church victims ready to settle cases | So says attorney representing half of the 450 alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests (USA Today)
- A church culture draws scrutiny | Catholic critics say 'clericalism' helped shelter sex abuse (The Christian Science Monitor)
- Double bankruptcy in Boston | The Boston archdiocese doesn't simply need protection from its creditors. It needs protection from its boss. (Editorial, Chicago Tribune)
- A new chapter in church tale | In the tale of two scandals, the CEO of Enron is gone, but the CEO of the Boston archdiocese is, incredibly, still at his post? (Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe)
- Broken vows | A former Catholic priest speaks out about secrecy, scandal, and being gay in the church (The Boston Globe)
- Pope's Christmas agenda a little lighter | A revised schedule for the Christmas season released on Friday showed that for the first time in 24 years the 82-year-old Pope will not visit a nativity creche built by Rome's street cleaners just outside the Vatican (Reuters)
- Newly released letters tell of Jesus calling Mother Teresa 'my little wife' | The letters she wrote to two priests, who acted as her spiritual mentors, also reveal that Mother Teresa suffered episodes of depression throughout her life in which she underwent grave crises of faith (The Scotsman)
- Catholics on a list of security threats | A group of government officials and religion experts has drafted a report that identifies the Roman Catholic Church and other "foreign confessions" as potential threats to national security and urges law enforcement agencies to closely monitor their activities (The Moscow Times)
- Maria Sung's story is over, says Archbishop Milingo | He said he never had any intentions of marrying Sung but that it was a condition by the Unification church for him to carry out his healing faith and preaching the word of God (The Post, Lusaka, Zambia)
- I was hoodwinked, says Milingo | He said the Unification Church had set conditions that he could only penetrate the sect and preach the gospel if he married one of them (The Times of Zambia)
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