• ON RELIGION 05/22/2010: Trying to focus on the future

    As strange as it may sound, the head of Focus on the Family is trying to find just the right place in his Colorado Springs, Colo., office to put a framed copy of an editorial from The New York Times.

  • ON RELIGION 05/08/2010: Obama meets Billy Graham

    Both men faced rows of loved ones still wrapped in grief after shocking tragedies.

    Both men quoted the Psalms. Both concluded with visions of eternal life and heavenly reunions. Both referred to familiar songs that offered comfort.

    Facing those gathered in Beckley, W.Va., to mourn the loss of 29 miners, President Barack Obama asked them to remember a rhythm-and-blues classic — “Lean on Me” — that had its roots in coal-country life.

  • One year later...

    God doesn’t need big numbers to accomplish his work.

    He doesn’t need wealth or fame or flash.

    He only needs available people who are willing to do the work he has called them to do, says the Rev. Charles Johnson, pastor of The Potter’s House Praise and Worship Christian Fellowship Church in Beverly Hills.

    This month, the church is celebrating its first year as a church, and what a year it’s been.

  • GRACE NOTES 05/15/2010: Undercover God

    Have you seen the reality TV show on CBS called “Undercover Boss”?

    The concept: High-level chief executives in various national companies — White Castle, 7-11, Waste Management and 1-800-Flowers — go undercover.

    The CEOs disguise themselves as regular employees and for one week do various entry level jobs within their company, working alongside the rank and file.

    They stay in budget motels and sweep floors, get dirty, work machines and listen to what the people have to say about the bosses and the company, the good and the bad.

  • JUDI'S JOURNAL 5/01/2010: Bar Kochba

    His very name is the stuff that legends are made of: Bar Kochba, son of a star. “A star rises from Jacob” (Numbers 24:17), a messiah, a savior for Israel.

    The year is 132 C.E. The Romans again have imposed tyrannical rule over the province of Judea. Jews are forbidden to practice circumcision, Roman promises of a Temple rebuilt have gone unfulfilled and the people long for sovereignty in their own land. The mood is ripe for rebellion and with the people behind him, Bar Kochba rises to the occasion in open rebellion against the might of Rome.

  • Pastor stepping down from pulpit at 82

    As he faces retirement after 25 years as the minister of First Christian Church of Chassahowitzka, the Rev. Lindsay Bledsoe says he’s had a “bodacious life.”

    Sunday is his official retirement date, although ministers never really retire.

    “They’re making me ‘Minister Emeritus’ of the senior citizens,” Bledsoe said. “I’ll go to the hospitals and visit for a few years and then I may go back up to the Panhandle.”

  • GRACE NOTES 05/08/2010: Have you ever been Hur?

    Once a week my husband meets with a friend to talk sports while I stay at home, close to the computer, to look up obscure sports trivia such as “When was the last time a Canadian hockey team won the Stanley Cup?” (Montreal, 1992.)

    Here’s a bit of sports trivia: How many points did Football Hall of Famer Ed “Too Tall” Jones score during his career? The answer: none.

    He played in 245 games, made 1,032 tackles, blocked 86 passes, was credited with 57 quarterback sacks and 19 fumble recoveries, but not one touchdown and not even one field goal.

  • The Path Home

    As she wields a hammer, Sherry Knight can’t stop smiling.

    In possibly a month or two, Lord willing, she’ll be moving into her own home, Habitat For Humanity’s 56th house in Citrus County.

    It’s an accomplishment for every Habitat homeowner, but for the once homeless Knight, it’s a statistical long shot.

    According to DuWayne Sipper, executive director of The Path, only one out of 1,000 homeless ever become homeowners.

  • A string of prayers

    On May 3, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI announced a “new springtime” for the Catholic prayer ritual known as the Rosary.

    He said, “It is one of the most eloquent signs of love that the young generation nourish for Jesus and his Mother.”

    Centuries earlier, St. Dominic prayed to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary instructed him to “preach the Rosary as an antidote to heresy and sin,” according to the Catholic Encyclopedia.

  • Terry Mattingly, On Religion, 4/10/10

    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.