Greenbelt Interfaith News

    June 1999

    Articles Index

    Historical and Prehistorical

      Central and South America
      Middle East
      North America

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    Science and Religion

      World: Academics Ponder the Ties Between Faith and Fact. By Gregg Easterbrook. When the baby boom generation first decamped for college, if there was one intellectual topic that was totally passe, it was the relationship between science and religion. Now, as the boomers' children head to college, if there's one intellectual topic that is starting to blaze red hot, it is the relationship between science and religion. [The Los Angeles Times]

      World: Is God in the Details? By Faye Flam. Most scientists, when surveyed, say they do not believe in God, but suddenly science and religion are communing with one another. Critics charge that the new emphasis on science and religion paints a picture of scientists finding God. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

      U.K.: Religion Tackles Mental Illness. The Religion and Severe Mental Illness Conference in May aimed to "raise awareness of the issue of mental illness as the proper concern of religious leaders and those involved in or associated with religion". It was addressed by leaders of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. [BBC News]

      U.S.: Spiritual Harm is Health Issue One. By Paul Barnsley. It was a move that caused more than a bit of friction with Native health care providers who have been trained in the western, scientific tradition and objected to the focus on traditional approaches. [Sweetgrass News]

      U.S.: Study Questions Health, Faith Link. By Adelle M. Banks. A new report by a team of researchers at Columbia University has voiced strong criticism of the plethora of recent studies linking the religious beliefs and activities of patients to better health. [Religion News Service]

      U.S.: Curricula are Changing to Encourage Exploration of Faith's Role in Mental Health. By Murray Dubin. During the last century, psychiatry has generally argued that religion has no role in improving mental health. Well, there's room for the deity now. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

      U.S.: Scientific Analyst Ian Barbour Wins Templeton Religion Prize. By Richard N. Ostling. Ian Barbour, whose "Issues in Science and Religion" influenced a generation of theologians and scientists exploring each other's realm, has won the $1.24 million Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. [The Associated Press]

      U.S.: Paleontologist Argues for Keeping Science and Religion Apart. By Holly J. Lebowitz. In recent years, a spate of books, news reports and academic papers has appeared maintaining that science and religion, after centuries of conflict, finally seem to be coming together. But there is at least one respected voice saying that not only was this conflict false, but that science and religion should remain separate. [Religion News Service]

      U.S.: Science, Religion Questioning One Another Once Again. By Karen R. Long. Those two old war-horses, science and religion, are playing high-profile footsie again. Prominent theologians and physicists converged on the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History for three days last week (April 14-16) to argue whether the newest cosmology – fresh off the Hubble Telescope – adds heft to the arguments that God does exist. [Religion News Service]

      U.S.: Is Astronomy Refashioning the Images of God? By Karen R. Long. The hope that humanity is not alone in the universe heated up in April with news of the first solar system outside our own. Astronomers meeting with theologians at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History rushed to update their slides and reword their presentation. [Religion News Service]

      U.S.: Scientists, Theologians Discuss "Cosmic Questions". By Frank D. Roylance. "I have to admit that when physicists go as far as they can go, there is an irreducible mystery that science will not eliminate," Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg says. But unlike many other scientists, Weinberg – an outspoken atheist – is conceding nothing to theology. [The Baltimore Sun]

    World: Sikhs Battle Internal Division on Eve of Historic Anniversary. By Scott Neuman. The disagreement might seem minor: whether to take a religious meal while seated at a table or on the floor. But for the world's 20 million Sikhs, the issue symbolizes a power struggle between moderates and conservatives. [The Associated Press]

    Germany: Why East German Teens Seek Secular Rite of Passage. By Lucian Kim. A record 11,000 young Berliners will take part in the Jugendfeier this spring, and the Humanistic Association, which organized the event in eastern Berlin's Friedrichstadtpalast, is initiating some 100,000 young people nationwide. [The Christian Science Monitor]

    U.K.: Church Wins Prayer Space Within Millennium Dome. By Victoria Combe. Under pressure from church leaders to acknowledge the religious significance of the Millennium, the Dome organisers have allocated a sound-proofed room for prayer and meditation for people of all faiths. [The Electronic Telegraph]

    U.K.: Church of England Seeks Multi-Faith Representation in House of Lords. By Andrew Sparrow. Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Jews should have guaranteed seats in the House of Lords, the Church of England says. [The Electronic Telegraph]

    U.S.: Interfaith Conference Looks Backward and Forward. By Heather Elizabeth Peterson. One of the nation's most active interreligious organizations, the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, celebrated its twentieth anniversary in May. [Greenbelt Interfaith News]

    U.S.: Pagan Coalition Builds Community Through Action (and a Whole Lot of Email). Today, it is a large task force in Washington, DC with 23 group supporters, five different programs, two listserves, and a substantial multi-page website, but Mystic District Planning Coalition began a year ago as little more than an idle observation during a subway ride. [Mystic District]

    U.S.: Condemned American Indian Allowed to Undergo Religious Rite. For the first time since restoration of the death penalty, an American Indian awaiting execution for murder has been allowed to undergo a traditional sweat lodge-purification ritual in prison. [The Associated Press]

    U.S.: "Xena" Producers Relent on Hindu Episode. By Cynthia Littleton. Following weeks of protest from Hindu groups, the producers of "Xena: Warrior Princess" have agreed to pull out of worldwide circulation an episode that dealt with Hindu deities. [Reuters]

    U.S.: Atheists' Pick for New Home Draws Surprise. Residents say a belief in God is reflected throughout Cranford, New Jersey. But tolerance is also fostered there. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

    U.S.: New Age Monthly Celebrates Twenty Years. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the once-fringe four-page newsletter is now a magazine of 80 pages and 100,000 circulation. [Detroit Free Press]

    Vietnam: Cao Dei Religion Struggles in Vietnam. By Andy Solomon. Fear is pervasive at the Tay Ninh Holy See, the seat of this unique sect that blends Eastern and Western religious philosophies under a banner of "Love and Justice." [Reuters]

    Historical and Prehistorical


    Nigeria: Searching for the Queen of Sheba. A team of British scientists may have rediscovered the centre of one of Africa's greatest kingdoms – and the possible burial place of the legendary Queen of Sheba. [BBC News]


    Myanmar: Restoration to Start on Buddhist Pagoda. In the first large renovation of the Shwedagon Pagoda in more than a century some 9,000 gold plates, weighing more than a ton, will be added to the Pagoda. [Buddhayana Quarterly]

    Nepal: Slow Delivery for Buddha Birthplace Project. By Alastair Lawson. The birthplace of Buddha is being turned into an international pilgrimage centre – a project which the authorities in Nepal hope will draw visitors to their country. [BBC News]


    Inca Sacrifices in Argentina

      Argentina: Tiny Sacrifices at 22,000 Feet. By Jonah Blank. At the peak of an Andean volcano, three children were found cold, with gold – and 500 years old. [U.S. News & World Report]

      Argentina: Highest Dig Yields Inka Sacrifices. By Angela M. H. Schuster. The perfectly preserved bodies of two Inka girls and a boy have been found atop the 22,000-foot Andean volcano Llullaillaco in northwestern Argentina. [Archaeology]


    Knowth Tomb

      Ireland: Knowth Tomb May Surpass Newgrange. By Elaine Keogh. The tomb at Knowth, County Meath, was a royal burial place for thousands of years. As conservation work nears completion, it is emerging as more elaborately decorated than the bigger tourist attraction of Newgrange. [The Irish Times]

      Ireland: Prehistoric Moon Map Unearthed. By David Whitehouse. A map of the Moon 10 times older than anything known before has been found carved into stone at one of Ireland's most ancient and mysterious Neolithic sites. [BBC News]

      Ireland: Cartographer Uncovers Secrets of Knowth Carvings. By Kevin O'Sullivan. The megalithic tombs of Knowth have revealed another secret, thanks to the intuition of a Canadian cartographer. [The Irish Times]

    The Sun and the Moon in Orkney

      U.K.: Ancient Tomb Captured the Winter Sun. By David Whitehouse. A mysterious prehistoric tomb on the island of Orkney has a special "light box" cut into its roof, archaeologists have discovered. It allowed a shaft of light to herald the start and end of winter. [BBC News]

      U.K.: Ancient Tomb Captured Both Sun and Moon. By David Whitehouse. An ancient Irish tomb may have been built with a light chamber aligned not only to the Sun, but to the Moon as well. [BBC News]

    Ireland: Experts Fear for Future of Ancient Burial Site. By Elaine Keogh. In ancient times Tlachtga was the religious centre of Ireland and a place of ceremony where our ancestors lit fires to banish the forces of darkness on the eve of Samhain. Today there are fears for the future of the bronze burial site that was the birthplace of Hallowe'en. [The Irish Times]

    Russia: Bronze Age to New Age. By Spencer P. M. Harrington. The zealous attention of New Age groups to ancient megalithic tombs along the eastern Black Sea coast has spurred measures to protect the monuments. [Archaeology]

    Russia: The "Princess" of Ipatova Found. By Andrej Belinskij and Heinrich Härke. A rich Scythian-Sarmatian burial has been discovered near the town of Ipatovo, in southern Russia, containing gold necklets and spiral bracelets, an akinakes (dagger) in a gold-covered scabbard, ceramic vessels, and other offerings. [Archaeology]

    U.K.: Roman Coffin Discovered. By Olga Craig. It is one of most exciting discoveries in archaeology in recent times. But the unearthing of a Roman tomb in the City of London has also created an intriguing mystery: who is in it and why was she buried so elaborately? [The Electronic Telegraph]

    U.K.: Fences Come Down at Stonehenge. Plans to restore the site around Stonehenge to how it may have been thousands of years ago were announced in April. [BBC News]

    U.K.: Neolithic House and Roman Temple on Rail Link Route. Archaeologists working on the line of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link through Kent have encountered a number of important sites, including a Neolithic long house, Roman and Saxon cemeteries and a Roman villa with outbuildings and a private temple. [British Archaeology]

    U.K.: "Seahenge" Moves On. By Kim Riley. A Bronze Age circle of wooden posts, known as "Seahenge", is being removed from the sands on the Norfolk coast. [BBC News]


    The Historical Jesus

      U.S.: Bible Scholar Thinks Many Peers Miss Out on Jesus. By Richard N. Ostling. Luke Timothy Johnson, a former monk who later married, caused a ruckus with his 1995 book "The Real Jesus," a racy attack on academic fashions. Johnson is now revisiting his theme in two new books that are less polemical and more pastoral. [The Associated Press]

      U.S.: Rebel Theologian: It's Hardly Retirement for John Crossan. By Mark Pinsky. John Dominic Crossan, a scholarly guerrilla, has settled deep behind enemy lines. Scorned by some conservative theologians as an academic antichrist for his controversial views on the "historical Jesus," Crossan is quietly ensconced in Central Florida, an evangelical stronghold. [The Orlando Sentinel]

    Canada: Smuggled Mosaics Going Back to Syria. By Susan Semenak. They have endured for more than 1,500 years. They lined the floors of Syrian churches through many wars and then languished in a St. Laurent warehouse for eight years after a bungled smuggling attempt brought them to Montreal. [The Montreal Gazette]

    Gaza Strip: Sixth-Century Byzantine Church Discovered. By Ross Dunn. Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a sixth-century Byzantine church dedicated to John the Baptist at an Israeli military installation in the Gaza Strip. [Ecumenical News International]

    Germany: Recovering Gilgamesh's Opening Lines. By Ronan James Head. The Gilgamesh epic has been pieced together from clay tablets found around the Fertile Crescent. But these tablets, inscribed with cuneiform characters, are extremely fragmentary; after almost 150 years of decipherment, about 20 percent of the epic remained missing – including its opening lines. But Theodore Kwasmann, an American scholar working in Germany, has changed that. [Archaeology Odyssey]

    Israel: Bronze and Brass Hoard Found. By Haim Watzman. Three large clay jars containing well-preserved Islamic bronze and brass objects have been recovered at Tiberias, Israel. [Archaeology]

    Israel: Plan to Recreate Jesus' Hometown Underway. The project, dubbed Nazareth Village, is set to open with the new millennium, when millions of tourists are expected to visit the Holy Land. [Biblical Archaeology Review]

    Israel: Oldest Synagogue in Jerusalem Found. By Judith Sudilovsky. Following in her late grandfather's footsteps, Hebrew University archaeologist Eilat Mazar has identified the oldest synagogue in Jerusalem – a room in a structure dubbed "the House of Menoroth" (House of Menorahs, or Candelabra). [Biblical Archaeology Review]

    Jordan: Cattle Save Sculpture. By Spencer P. M. Harrington. A barn full of cows and their dung cushioned the collapse of a Roman temple at Dharih, Jordan, around the eighth century A.D. Excavation of the temple has raised questions about early Christian attitudes toward pagan images. [Archaeology]

    Jordan: Site of Jesus' Baptism Found – Again. By Judith Sudilovsky. Jordanian archaeologists have uncovered the remains of two Byzantine churches on the east bank of the Jordan River, about 5 miles north of the Dead Sea – churches that may mark the site of Jesus' baptism. But a site directly across the river, on the Israeli-controlled west bank, already claims that honor. [Biblical Archaeology Review]

    Palestine: Mosaic Found Under Manger Square. Excavators with the Palestinian Department of Antiquities have found a large Byzantine mosaic while renovating Manger Square, in front of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. [Biblical Archaeology Review]

    U.S.: Biblical Scholars Gather in Orlando. By Hershel Shanks. "It started early. With hundreds of people assembled to listen to four great scholars talk about the latest on ancient seals and seal impressions, no one from the hotel was there to tell us how to turn out the lights so we could see the slides." [Biblical Archaeology Review]


    U.S.: Navajos Shun Return of Burial Plunder. By Bill Donovan. While other tribes have worked with museums like the Smithsonian and the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff to get the human remains returned for reburial, Navajo officials say that their medicine men and reservation communities have expressed no desire to do so. [The Arizona Republic]

    U.S.: History Meets Future in Indian Rock Art. By Peter Corbett. Images of snakes, lizards, stick-figure people and deities left by Hohokam artists centuries ago decorate the outcropping of rock at the resort with its manicured lawns, flower gardens, fountains and stucco buildings built into the mountain's rocky slopes. [The Arizona Republic]

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    © 1999 Heather Elizabeth Peterson
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