• 'Noah' not welcome

    Officials across much of the Muslim world said Thursday that the upcoming big-budget Hollywood film “Noah” featuring Russell Crowe as the ark-building prophet will not be shown in local theaters because it could offend viewers.

    The decision comes after the film sparked controversy among conservative Christians in the U.S., which prompted Paramount Pictures to add a disclaimer to its marketing material saying that “artistic license has been taken” in telling the story.

  • The 'Francis effect'

    VATICAN CITY — No glitzy gold, no rich velvet, no regal fur. Pope Francis’ pared down papal wardrobe of sensible black shoes and a white cassock so thin you can see his black trousers through it is a perfect fit for his call for simplicity and humility among his clergy.

  • GRACE NOTES 2/15/14: 'I love him, but...'

    I’ve always said motherhood is easy when you don’t have kids. Likewise, it’s easy to be married when you’re not. When you’re not married and you’re only dreaming about it, you imagine the ideal. In your imagination, you and your spouse say and do all the right things, and even your arguments are sweet and making up is rosy.

    In real life, however, marriage gets thorny, and sometimes bloody.

  • Gathering of love: Thousands of Haitians attend Christian summit

    BOIS-NEUF, Haiti — The Christian pilgrims crowded a barren mountainside in central Haiti by the thousands, seeking favors and spiritual renewal.

    Organized over the weekend by Our Lady of Fatima Bible Center, the three-day summit was among the largest of its kind in the Caribbean nation in recent years. Although the center is Roman Catholic, the event had an evangelical feel, and some elements of Voodoo.

  • GRACE NOTES 2/8/14: Finding your soulmate

    The other day I posted on the Chronicle’s Facebook page a question for discussion: Do you believe in soul mates? Why or why not?

    Someone replied “Yes!” Another said he believes God puts the person meant for you in your life, and another said, “No. If there’s one for me, he must be lost because I have never found him. I really think it’s a fairytale.”

    I love that answer.

  • GRACE NOTES 2/1/14: The joys of repainting — and thin no more!

    Some time last year, I came back from a week off to a full voicemail box.

    One of my least favorite things in life is talking on the phone. First, I have trouble hearing, so if, for example, you were to call me and say, “My daughter needs a kidney transplant,” I might hear, “My dog lives in Sydney — as a tramp.”

    The conversation would generally deteriorate from there, and I would end up looking like an idiot, which I try to avoid at all cost.

  • JUDI'S JOURNAL 2/1/14: Straight from the heart
  • The dilemmas of a commitment

    Even if you haven’t heard of a commitment device, chances are you’ve used one.

    Basically, it’s a clever means, either a punishment or a reward, to help you commit to something that you know will be difficult.

    Anyone who has ever been on a diet uses them: When I lose 10 pounds I’ll treat myself to a new pair of shoes — or a hot fudge sundae.

  • Growing church has big dreams

    HOMOSASSA — Every church has a personality.

    For Nature Coast Church in Homosassa, theirs has always been a church that’s a safe haven for broken people.

    They love people; they love the community and love to watch God work to restore individuals and families, said church pastor the Rev. Brad Bresson. He believes it has a lot to do with their understanding of the gospel of grace. They love because they know they are loved by God.

  • Growing the legacy of Anne Frank

    On Jan. 16, Jews all over the world celebrated a holiday called Tu Bishvat, dedicated to nature and the preservation of the environment. Long before “green technology” or before global warming, Jews set aside the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat to rejoice in the coming of spring to the Land of Israel. Since the almond tree blossoms on this date, it was a fitting time to honor trees and nature.