Over the weekend in Columbus, Ohio, American Episcopalians elected a female as a new presiding bishop for America, Katherine Jefforts Schori of Nevada. The news media greeted this in typical terms: female bishop (no liberal ideology listed) selected, angering church "conservatives." (Ann Curry did that on NBC this morning.) Dig a little deeper, and find that of course, the new bishop delights the libertine left, as the Washington Post reported Monday:
The Rev. Jennifer Adams, who presides at Grace Episcopal Church, which is deemed "gay friendly" by the Grand Rapids, Mich., branch of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, described Jefferts Schori at the convention as "a woman of integrity, consistency and faith. I have no doubt her election as presiding bishop will be a gift to our church."
We're all a little tired of the parade of Pat Robertson gaffes that the press seems to enjoy -- the latest one being the leg-press-a-ton boasting. But Catholic blogger Mark Shea reports the latest from gay bishop Gene Robinson, an outrageous gaffe that the secular media will predictably ignore:
Rigby is the pastor at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Austin, TX. He has gotten into hot water for conducting ceremonies for homosexual couples. His church has also admitted a professed atheist as a member.
PBS talk-show host Charlie Rose returned to his set on Monday night after some weeks off for heart surgery. While he was out, PBS used a rotating set of liberal-media stars as hosts, including Barbara Walters, Brian Williams, and CNBC's Maria Bartiromo. Just last week, MRC intern Chadd Clark found some typical liberal thoughts coming from guest hosts.
On June 5, former CNN anchor Judy Woodruff interviewed Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and she echoed Charlie Gibson's lame idea that public opinion on so-called "gay marriage" is a 50-50 polling proposition:
The United States Senate today, spending the day debating an amendment to the US Constitution to ban gay marriage. President Bush lobbying hard for it. The polls show the American people almost split down the middle. You've written a letter urging members of the Senate to vote for the ban. Why?"
Here’s everything Reuters and the NY Times are telling readers at nytimes.com (3:30 p.m. eastern, Jun. 13) about today's press conference Israel's Defense Minister Amir Peretz held concerning the explosion last week that killed seven Palestinian civilians ("Israel Denies Role in Deadly Gaza Beach Blast")
Israel on Tuesday denied responsibility for an explosion on a Gaza beach last week that killed seven Palestinian civilians and led militant group Hamas to call off a 16-month truce.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz told reporters the explosion was not caused by the Israeli Defense Forces but did not provide an explanation for what might have caused the blast, which killed several members of the same family.
Major General Meir Califi, who headed the army's investigation into Friday's incident, said Israel's shelling of Gaza had stopped by the time the beach explosion occurred.
"The chances that artillery fire hit that area at that time are nil,'' Califi told a news conference.
Hamas, which heads the Palestinian Authority after winning elections earlier this year, has blamed Israel for the explosion, which came on a day of heavy shelling of Gaza.
Israel frequently fires artillery rounds into the coastal strip in response to Palestinian rockets fired at Israel.
There has been a surge in violence between Israel and the Palestinians since the beach explosion, the immediate aftermath of which was caught on film and showed an 8-year-old girl desperately searching for her dead father.
An investigator from international rights group Human Rights Watch told reporters in Gaza earlier that evidence pointed to Israel having fired the shell, but he had to leave the door open to the possibility that the explosion was caused by something else.
The world has taken another turn for the bizarre. CNSNews reported on Friday (hat tip to NB reader RJ) that a new family movie about football, “Facing the Giants,” has been given a “PG” rating by the Motion Picture Association of America apparently for having too much religious content.
Too much religious content? Are you kidding me?
This story appears to have first been reported by Terry Mattingly at the Scripps Howard News Service on Wednesday: “‘What the MPAA said is that the movie contained strong 'thematic elements' that might disturb some parents,’ said Kris Fuhr, vice president for marketing at Provident Films, which is owned by Sony Pictures. Provident plans to open the film next fall in 380 theaters nationwide with the help of Samuel Goldwyn Films, which has worked with indie movies like ‘The Squid and the Whale.’"
Just what kind of “thematic elements” are present? The article elaborated:
Do you ever have one of those moments when you're reading the newspaper, and you feel like a reporter is just pulling a number out of the air? The way that reporters staunchly suggested without a study that there were three million homeless Americans in the 1980s?The Washington Post gave me that impression with its Monday story on Latinos converting to Islam. How common is it, and who's done a study? The Post warns "precise numbers" aren't available, so it makes what sounds to me like an over-guess:
Across the nation, thousands of Latino immigrants are redefining themselves through Islam, including a few hundred in the Washington region, according to national Islamic groups and community leaders.
Andrew C. McCarthy writes in National Review that when the New York Times reported on the foiled terrorist plots in Canada, they took great pains not to mention the terrorists were Muslim.
Not only were all those arrested Muslims. The reported evidence against them fits to a tee the shopworn pattern of Islamic terrorism repeated for much of the last two decades. Young men were radicalized at the local mosque and its companion school by elders preaching from the Koran.....
Nonetheless, the rigorous media practice in Phase One is to suppress any reference to Islam, the single thread that runs through virtually all modern terrorism—from New York, to Virginia, to Bali, the Djerba, to Baghdad, to Mombassa, to Tel Aviv, to Nairobi, to Dar es Salaam, to Ankara, to Paris, to Riyadh, to Amman, to Sharm el-Sheikh, to Aden, to London, to Madrid, and, now, to Toronto.
CNSNews.com has an exclusive interview with Ann Coulter today as her book "Godless" The Church of Liberalism" hits the book stores. She tells Randy Hall that abortion is the "virgin sacrifice" of the liberal "religion" she describes in the book. Coulter goes on to say that one of the main goals of the American public education system is to force small school children to become atheists. Coulter takes on the spectrum of what she considers liberal doctrine, ranging from global warming and stem-cell research to "dry" toilets. Here's a sampler of her lines:
Cybercast News Service: During his May 10 appearance on the "700 Club," Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said: "One of the misconceptions about the Democratic Party is that we're godless and that we don't have any values. The truth is we have an enormous amount in common with the Christian community, and particularly with the evangelical Christian community." How would you respond to his statement?
Ann Coulter: Who knew Howard Dean had a sense of humor?
The Washington Post's Alan Cooperman reported on protesters who staged a silent demonstration during Mass at a Catholic service in St. Paul, Minnesota. The group of gay activists wore rainbow-colored sashes as they went to receive Communion in protest of Church teachings on homosexuality.
Cooperman's description of a subsequent mishandling of the Eucharist refused to condemn the act as objectively disrespectful of the sacrament:
In an act that some witnesses called a "sacrilege" and others called a sign of "solidarity," a man who was not wearing a sash received a Communion wafer from a priest, broke it into pieces and handed it to some of the sash wearers, who consumed it on the spot.
The Washington Post's Michelle Boorstein gave readers of the Sunday paper a peek into the beauty of the traditional Latin Mass held every Sunday at St. Mary Mother of God Catholic Church in Washington, D.C.
The ringing of bells. Latin wafting high into the church rafters. Women's heads draped in lace.
is a solemn aura to 9 a.m. Sunday Mass at Saint Mary Mother of God, a
D.C. parish on Fifth Street NW where hundreds of Catholics who long for
ancient ritual gather each week to celebrate what is among the most
traditional and complex of Roman Catholic rites: the Tridentine Mass.
But mostly there is a powerful silence, a seriousness created by the
absence of contemporary church: no responsive readings, no guitars, no
congregants walking to a microphone to read from Scripture or to make
bingo announcements. There is just a centuries-old script, which
dictates the near-constant, intricate movements of the altar servers --
circling the altar, kneeling, pressing hands together, bowing -- as
well as the position of the priest, whose back is to parishioners.
Together, everyone faces East, acknowledging that Jesus is the true
Goldhagen wrote in the Times in reference to Pope Benedict's recent appearance at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp. The smears and invectives from Goldhagen are numerous. He baselessly asserts an "unavoidable causal, historical and moral link connecting the church, the Nazis and Auschwitz" while staking his bogus claim of "a connection between the Catholic Church, Christianity and the Holocaust." Goldhagen then accuses Pope Benedict of "clouded historical understanding" and "whitewashing of the past."
Over at CNSNews.com, a project of the Media Research Center, they have some hot stuff today on the Jesus front. First, we're told the American Family Association is protesting a student-run, taxpayer-funded, newspaper at the University of Oregon for the publication of two cartoons, one showing Jesus in sexual arousal and the other showing him kissing another man.
An official grievance over the cartoons was filed by Students of Faith on April 21. But the University of Oregon ruled that, "The Student Insurgent (newspaper) did not practice discrimination." The university also declared that the newspaper, "through its publication, continues to add to the cultural and physical development of The University Community." (It's just too funny that the paper is called The Insurgent! We may now seriously doubt any Muhammad cartoons are in the works.) Dawn Rizzoni reported:
After successfully putting the kibosh on a "South Park" episode that made fun of scientology and himself, actor Tom Cruise has expanded his censorship efforts overseas where he's succeeded in getting the same episode pulled in the U.K.:
The South Park episode "Trapped In the Closet," which
mocks actor Tom Cruise's rumored homosexuality as well as his belief in
the controversial religion Scientology, has finally been seen by the
English. The episode had been banned from UK broadcaster Channel 4
after Cruise had complained.
According to the World Entertainment News Network, London's National Film Theater screened the episode on Monday, May 15. After the showing, South Park
creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker spoke about the necessity of free
speech. The event concluded with free copies of the episode being
handed out to attendees.
In regards to possible action by the litigious Cruise, a spokesman for
the Theater said, "If we were charging [for tickets] there may have
been legal problems, but it was a free event, so it should be fine."
Right up there with "dog bites man," the news that Mel Gibson doesn't like "The Da Vinci Code" should come as no surprise. The creator of the film "The Passion of the Christ" thinks it could mislead some.
Mel Gibson has slammed The Da Vinci Code for attacking his religious beliefs.
The Aussie actor is concerned that people may take both the book and the recently released film as fact.
"I'm not angry, per se, that it refutes everything I hold sacred, the foundations of my beliefs," Gibson said. "The Da Vinci Code is an admitted work of fiction but it cleverly weaves fact into maverick theories in a way that will appear plausible to some."
Imagine you're a newswire editor writing the headline for a story in which former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has accused Pres. Bush of 'religious absolutism.' What would be a fair headline? Something like:
Albright Accuses Bush of 'Religious Absolutism'
Now consider Reuters' actual headline:
Albright Critical of Bush's Religious Absolutism
Note the not-so-subtle difference. We've moved from Albright accusing Bush of religious absolutism, to Reuters effectively reporting Bush's absolutism as a fact, of which Albright is simply critical. Not even a set of quotation remarks around 'religious absolutism' to clarify that the words are Albright's, and not unquestioned fact.
The New York Times seems to be quite confused by all this DaVinci Code stuff. All this focus on religion must be too much for them. The latest is a May 21st article by Laurie Goodstein titled “It's Not Just a Movie, It's a Revelation (About the Audience)” that claims, among other misleading things, that Gnosticism is said to be somehow new on the Christian religious scene.
Goodstein seems to imagine we live in “an era in which many Christian believers have assimilated a whole lot of new and unorthodox ideas, as well as half-truths and conspiracy thinking, into their faith, while still seeing it as Christianity.” She has decided to call it “Da Vinci Christianity.”
But, like too many in the media, Goodstein thinks she has discovered something “new” when she is merely seeing something that has been around for time immemorial.
A number of Canadian news websites are reporting that the Iranian parliament passed a law this week requiring non-Muslims in the country to wear certain insignia identifying them as such (hat tip to Drudge). As reported by Canada’s National Post: “Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.”
The article continued: “‘This is reminiscent of the Holocaust,’ said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. ‘Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis.’"
Apparently, this has been confirmed by Iranians now living in Canada: “Iranian expatriates living in Canada yesterday confirmed reports that the Iranian parliament, called the Islamic Majlis, passed a law this week setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical ‘standard Islamic garments.’"
On The Situation Room on Thursday, CNN's Jack Cafferty used his Cafferty Report segment to rant against a proposal by Republican Senators for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage as "shameless" and "an effort to appeal to right-wing nuts" in the Republican Party. He further accused Republicans of "groveling at the feet of the lunatic fringe," and sarcastically concluded, "That's leadership."
Cafferty began his segment by labeling it a "lesson in hypocrisy" as he went on to recount a private meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee that was held by Republican Chairman Arlen Specter, and Democratic Senator Russ Feingold's decision to storm out after an argument with Specter. Cafferty commented, "These guys are shameless," and then continued: "Senator Specter, in a real show of courage, says that he's, quote, 'totally opposed to the amendment,' but he voted for it anyway, saying it deserves a debate in the Senate." (Transcript follows)
Like most of his fellow critics, the Times A.O. Scott gives a ho-hum thumbs down to "The DaVinci Code" (in which a mortal Jesus is at the center of an elaborate fraud, with the Catholic Church as a murderous conspiracy) but doesn’t see anything to get offended by:
"In any case Mr. Howard and Mr. Goldsman handle the supposedly provocative material in Mr. Brown's book with kid gloves, settling on an utterly safe set of conclusions about faith and its history, presented with the usual dull sententiousness. So I certainly can't support any calls for boycotting or protesting this busy, trivial, inoffensive film. Which is not to say I'm recommending you go see it."
After a couple days in which the only people offered the opportunity to comment on the controversy surrounding the Da Vinci Code were the movie's director and cast members, this morning's Today show finally gave an outside expert and Catholic officials their shot. The result was an oddly ambivalent reaction in which the movie was simultaneously praised as offering an opportunity to teach about the Church - and condemned as filled with lies.
A quick recap on the state of play at Today. Matt Lauer has been "On the Road with the Code" this week. On Tuesday, as reported here, NBC reporter Melissa Stark timidly raised the matter of the controversy with Code director Ron Howard. Stark didn't bother informing viewers just what all the fuss is about - which is none other than the movie's premise that Christ wasn't really divine, that he was married to Mary Magdalene and had children with her, that the true religion is the "feminine divine" and that the Roman Catholic Church has perpetrated a murderous patriarchal plot to suppress the truth. That's all!
When Mel Gibson introduced "The Passion of the Christ" into the public conversation, Hollywood had a lot to say about it. Now Hollywood is offering its response with the upcoming release of "The DaVinci Code," inviting commentary not on that movie, but on Hollywood itself.
Three years ago, Mel Gibson gambled his own personal fortune on a great creative risk, going completely outside the established Tinseltown system to produce a horrifyingly realistic reenactment of Our Lord’s crucifixion, and resurrection. It took not just sacrifice but also real courage to make this. The studios all scoffed at the idea. The reviews were horrible – before anyone had seen a frame of it.
It's not enough for "DaVinci Code" star Ian McKellen to make cracks about Bible disclaimers. MRC's Michael Chapman passed along that in an interview with Reuters, he took his wisecracks directly to the Catholic Church:
“When I put the book down I thought, ’what a load of potential codswallop .That’s still going on in my mind. But I’m very happy to believe that Jesus was married.”
Sir Ian, who came out as gay in 1988 during a Radio 4 discussion programme, continued: “I know that the Catholic church has problems with gay people and I thought that this was absolute truth that Jesus was not gay.”
If "The Da Vinci Code" was already feeding the flames of controversy with its challenge to the basic tenets of Christianity, actor Ian McKellen managed to pour a refinery tank's worth of gasoline on the fire on this morning's 'Today' show, asserting that the Bible should carry a disclaimer saying that it is "fiction." Video: Windows Media or Real Player, Plus audio MP3
Matt Lauer, in his second day "On The Road With The Code," was in Cannes for the film festival, where the Code will have its debut. It has already been screened to some critics, who have given it decidedly mixed reviews.
Chris Weinkopf writes at American Enterprise Institute Online that if Hollywood had made a movie about all of Islam being a sham, with a murderous sect that kills all those who try to reveal the true secret, the media would have denounced the movie as hate speech, sure to inflame the terrorists and defame a major world religion.
Imagine, if you can, a major studio releasing a thriller in which the stars investigate the origins of Islam. Pursued by a murderous Muslim cleric, they uncover a series of shocking discoveries: Mohammed was no prophet! The Koran is a hoax, the work of self-serving hypocrites! Modern-day Muslims are dupes, if not deranged psychopaths!
Now imagine, in the unlikely event such a film were ever made, what sort of reception it would get in the establishment media. Given the categorical refusal of the American press to publish the Danish Mohammed cartoons, it's a safe bet that the talking heads and big newspapers would only mention the movie to denounce it.
Let's be clear: the Da Vinci Code portrays Christianity as a fraud and the Roman Catholic Church as a murderous conspiracy. As Archbishop Angelo Amato, the number two official in the Vatican doctrinal office which was headed by Pope Benedict until his election last year recently stated, if "such lies and errors had been directed at the Koran or the Holocaust they would have justly provoked a world uprising."
Yet the Today show has decided to offer the movie, scheduled for release this week, untold millions in free advertising by devoting hours of, um, worshipful coverage to it, going so far as to send Matt Lauer to Europe for the week to be "On the Road with the Code."
It's the weekend, so under the more relaxed weekend rules, permit a somewhat aged item. Like a nice cheese. MRC's Geoff Dickens just recently found a Geraldo Rivera rant from the end of his syndicated show on the night of the May 1 work-boycott protest for illegal immigration.
They are demonstrating for justice and fair play for the 11 or 12 million living and working in the United States illegally. Many taking to the streets for these May 1st rallies are drawn from the community of the undocumented, others are citizens of the U.S. who, like myself, believe this nation of immigrants has room for more. Driven in part by the hysterical response of vigilante groups like the so-called Minutemen and by opportunistic congressmen who’d make felons of all those who are here illegally. Millions more of us today ask our fellow countrymen to treat the undocumented as honored guests.
Okay, selling Oprah as God-like has been done as a joke before, but Yahoo is highlighting an Ann Oldenburg article in USA Today taking it seriously, headlined "The divine Miss Winfrey?" Oldenburg began:
After two decades of searching for her authentic self -- exploring New Age theories, giving away cars, trotting out fat, recommending good books and tackling countless issues from serious to frivolous – Oprah Winfrey has risen to a new level of guru...Over the past year, Winfrey, 52, has emerged as a spiritual leader for the new millennium, a moral voice of authority for the nation.
"She's a really hip and materialistic Mother Teresa," says Kathryn Lofton, a professor at Reed College in Portland, Ore., who has written two papers analyzing the religious aspects of Winfrey. "Oprah has emerged as a symbolic figurehead of spirituality." (Later, Lofton added, "She's a moral monitor, using herself as the template against which she measures the decency of a nation.")