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75-year-old woman to be ordained and excommunicated

Lillian Lewis poses for a photo in an alb and stole inside the First Congregational Church in Three Oaks, Michigan in advance of her ordination as a Roman Catholic Womanpriest (Credit: MLive.com/Julie Mack) Lillian Lewis has worked for the Roman Catholic Church in Three Oaks, Michigan for more than two decades.  Convinced that "ministry is my true calling," she now plans to be ordained.  According to her bishop, "if this invalid 'ordination' takes place then the woman attempting ordination incurs an automatic excommunication."  Nor should others attend the ceremony, he warns.

Despite official church teaching on the subject, 70 percent of Catholics believe women should be eligible for the priesthood.  Does the Church's position seem like legalism to you?  Is it another example of institutionalistic, hierarchical religion?  I'm interested in this issue today, not because I want to debate the merits of women in ministry, but because it serves as a parable for how so many view the Christian faith.

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Only a third of the world believes in the Holocaust

Child survivors of Auschwitz, wearing adult-size prisoner jackets, stand behind a barbed wire fence. Among those pictured are Tomasz Szwarz; Alicja Gruenbaum; Solomon Rozalin; Gita Sztrauss; Wiera Sadler; Marta Wiess; Boro Eksztein; Josef Rozenwaser; Rafael Szlezinger; Gabriel Nejman; Gugiel Appelbaum; Mark Berkowitz (a twin); Pesa Balter; Rut Muszkies (later Webber); Miriam Friedman; and twins Miriam Mozes and Eva Mozes wearing knitted hats (Credit: USHMM/Belarusian State Archive of Documentary Film and Photography/Alexander Voronzow and others in his group, ordered by Mikhael Oschurkow, head of the photography unit)Forty-six percent of the planet's population has never heard of the articles on the Holocaust on Denison Forum on Truth and Culture.  A third of those who have believe it is a myth or exaggeration.  As a result, only 33 percent of the world is aware of the Holocaust and believes it has been accurately described by history.

The Anti-Defamation League discovered this data when it recently polled 53,000 adults in 102 countries, representing 88.4 percent of the world's adult population.  According to their surveys, 1.09 billion adults worldwide are deeply infected with anti-Semitic attitudes.  That's one in four.  Not surprisingly, anti-Semitism is worst in the Middle East and North Africa, where 74 percent of the population harbors antagonism toward the Jews.

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Drive-through prayer lanes spreading across the country

Open for prayer business: Moriam Okereke (left) and Marilyn Bills get ready for drive-through hours prior to opening the drive thru lane at Hope United Methodist Church in Voorhees, New Jersey on May 22, 2014 (Credit: Philadelphia Inquirer/Elizabeth Robertson) "People go to Dunkin' Donuts for coffee, not because it's the best coffee, but because it's the most convenient.  In a similar way, this is a port of entry for somebody to begin to connect with God in an intentional kind of way."  So explains the pastor of the latest church to open a drive-through lane for people seeking prayer.

Churches from Florida to Kansas and Illinois to California are picking up the trend.  One purchased a nearby bank building, staffed it with volunteers, and opened for people to drive through.  The church uses the bank's deposit tube for people who want to write down their prayer requests rather than speak to a church member.  The strategy is working.  People have asked volunteers to pray for family members and other problems; one woman asked the church to pray for her daughter, who had moved to Israel and was entering the Israeli army.

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The faith of Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou speaks on race relations at Congregation B'nai Israel and Ebenezer Baptist Church in Boca Raton, Florida, January 16, 2014 (Credit: AP/Invision/Jeff Daly) Maya Angelou stood six feet tall, but her literary and cultural stature were immeasurable.  The novelist, actress and educator died yesterday at the age of 86, leaving an indelible impression that will be felt and debated for generations.

Her story was truly remarkable.  Born on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, she was raped by her mother's boyfriend when she was seven years old.  She testified against the man, who was later beaten to death by a mob.  She says, "My 7-and-a-half-year-old logic deduced that my voice had killed him, so I stopped speaking for almost six years."

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Woman stoned to death for marrying man she loved

Syrian women living in Jordan take part in a demonstration against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in front of the Syrian embassy in Amman February 2, 2012 (Credit: Reuters/Muhammad Hamed) Farzana Iqbal's family arranged for her to be married to her cousin.  She chose instead to marry a man she loved.  Yesterday she was attacked with bricks by her father, two brothers, and her former fiancé.  She suffered severe head injuries and was pronounced dead at a hospital.  Around a thousand Pakistani women are murdered every year by their Muslim families in so-called "honor" killings.

Meanwhile, an article on the Daily Beast website predicts that gay marriage will escalate the transition in America away from marital monogamy.  The writer foresees a "sex-positive, body-affirming compact between two adults that allows for a wide range of intimate and emotional experience," including "open marriage" and "polyamory" (being married to more than one person).  He cites a report that half of gay marriages are not monogamous (he believes the actual number is "more like three-quarters"), and believes this approach to fidelity will influence other marriages in our country.

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