News Bites

God Talk. Time magazine has named Stanley Hauerwas, a United Methodist professor at Duke University in North Carolina, "America’s Best Theologian." In the Sept. 17 issue, the newsweekly said Hauerwas "has been a thorn in the side of what he takes to be Christian complacency for more than 30 years."

Choose Life. The Ukrainian Parliament approved a new penal code that does not include the death penalty. When Ukraine joined the Council of Europe in 1995, it committed itself to abolish the death penalty in three years. Conversely, Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has lifted a moratorium on the death penalty and said the first executions would be of kidnappers.

Ired Up. "This rage must stop!" contend United Methodist-sponsored public service announcements distributed recently to more than 12,000 U.S. radio stations. The new "Rage" series includes hip-hop, rock/rap, country, adult contemporary, and news/talk formats to take listeners from anger to antidotes that encourage them to "live your life to the fullest."

To Boldly Go. Ken Clapham, an Anglican priest from England, wants to be the first vicar in space. Clapham hopes NASA will appoint him chaplain to the international space station. He sees the role as the ultimate "mission field," though he stresses that he would minister to crewmembers of all faiths.

Phil Berrigan, peace activist and WWII veteran who is serving a federal prison sentence for nonviolent anti-war action, was placed in solitary confinement for 10 days following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. When Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s office asked why, prison officials told them that Berrigan was segregated as a direct consequence of the terrorist actions and that as a "high profile prisoner" it was done "for his protection."

Pint of Peace. When a pub went up for sale next to his church, Gary Mason, pastor of the Methodist East Belfast Mission, persuaded a local charity to buy it and lease it to the church rent-free. Now "Luk4" is open for the young people of East Belfast as a youth center, teen nightclub, and safe-haven alternative to the pressures of recruitment into the paramilitary forces.

Block the Box. Residents of Belfast, Maine, voted to ban retail stores larger than 75,000 square feet, effectively defeating Wal-Mart’s bid to build a local super center. The national organization Sprawl-Busters helped citizens of Belfast (pop. 6,400) learn about local economies and the often-predatory practices of the big-box retailers.

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