• Classic hymn 'Amazing Grace' remains popular worldwide

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It has endured for more than two centuries, offering hope to those grieving or searching for meaning to life. With its simple melody and message of salvation, “Amazing Grace” is a global music sensation.

  • GRACE NOTES 12/4/2010: Who's God's favorite?

    When my kids were little they used to ask me, “Who do you like best?”
    There’s really no way to answer that. How can you say, “Some days you and some days your sister?”
    Or: “Neither of you when you’re fighting with each other over hair scrunchies.”
    Even the standard “I like both of you equally” doesn’t satisfy a child’s question about who’s Mom’s favorite.

  • JUDI'S JOURNAL 12/4/2010: Why we still need faith.

    The leftover turkey sits abandoned in the cold repository of the refrigerator, plastic wrapped, gravy congealing on its sides. The half-eaten cranberry mold waits for someone to sneak a midnight snack, while the one slice of apple pie has only another minute left before it, too, will find its way onto the plate of a family member who needed just another piece, but not in front of the others, mind you.

  • A doorway to Jewish heritage

    Terry Dickson
    The Florida Times-Union
    — BRUNSWICK, Ga.
    One of the city’s most elaborate and historic buildings is also one of the least seen.
    Temple Beth Tefilloh sits on a corner at the entrance to the Glynn Academy Auditorium, a building used daily by students and frequently for community events. Both are historic, but the Jewish temple’s age is beginning to exact a toll, and its small congregation of about 50 families cannot afford the repairs alone, temple leaders say.

  • GRACE NOTES 11/27/2010: Thank you, God!

    (Note: This is my 10th annual Thanksgiving psalm.)
    Gracious, holy God, as the Puritans wrote in “The Valley of Vision,” “Thou hast made me out of nothing, hast recalled me from a far country, translated me from ignorance to knowledge, from darkness to light, death to life, misery to peace, folly to wisdom, error to truth and sin to victory.”
    You have been good to me!

  • ON RELIGION 11/27/2010: John Lennon and religion

    Few images of John Lennon are more iconic than that of the ex-Beatle playing a white piano in a white room, gazing into the lens while singing “Imagine.”
    “Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky. Imagine all the people, living for today,” said Lennon, in the anthem that for many defined his life. “Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too.”

  • ON RELIGION 11/06/2010: Repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' could cause dilemma for chaplains

    The setting: The office of a priest who serves as a military chaplain.

    The time: This hypothetical encounter occurs soon after the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that forbids gays, lesbians and bisexuals to openly serve in America’s armed forces.

  • ON RELIGION 04/24/2010: Hollywood takes notice of 'God films'

    Hollywood bean counters have started calling them “God films.”

    The typical faith-based indie has a tiny budget, and most of the actors are amateurs or second stringers from television. It doesn’t take much money to promote one because churches are eager to hold pre-release screenings that fire up clergy and volunteers to spread the word — on foot and online.

  • Missions work, unplugged

    LINEVILLE, Ala. — In a rural nook of east Alabama where there aren’t enough bright lights to blot out the stars at night, missionaries and community leaders from foreign lands are learning to save lives in the Third World not just with Bibles, but with mud, sand and leaves.

    Located off a winding highway, an organization called Servants in Faith and Technology has offered training for three decades on how to use common items to improve and extend lives in underdeveloped nations.

  • GRACE NOTES 11/06/2010: Church -- why bother? Teen edition

    A few weeks ago my youngest daughter came home for a quick visit on her way to a wedding and a football game.

    At 27, she has long outgrown her terrible teen years, although she still has a bit of an edge. That’s just Laura.

    When she was 14 or 15 she was into a grunge stage, very Kurt Cobain-Pearl Jam-Stone Temple Pilots. She’d wear pants big enough to fit two sumo wrestlers and heavy, bump-toe combat boots — to church. Hey, I was just glad she came to church back then and I wasn’t about to quibble over what she wore.