- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 25, 2000

Hip gospel?

"There's this terminally hip bar … and I'm drinking too much gin, smoking cigarettes that don't belong to me and here's my confession reading aloud from 'The Gospel According to John.'
"Those I'm reading to, they're friends, mostly, and friends of friends and I doubt a single one of them believes any more than I do in God-the-Almighty, let alone in Jesus Christ. A blond girl named Lauren takes the book away from me, but only so she can read for herself. 'It's almost Ginsberg,' she sighs.
"I've been carrying John in my coat pocket all week, ever since it came in the mail from Grove Press, along with the three remaining gospels, Genesis, Exodus and six more installments of the Bible… . They're called Pocket Canons, and they're priced at $2.95 apiece. Each one has a celebrity introduction, followed by the King James text, from which not a single thy, thou or thine has been omitted… .
"There's something disconcerting about these Pocket Canons… . That Psalms is introduced by U2's Bono, or even that Mark is prefaced by Barry Hannah, sounds like the opening of a none-too-promising 'Saturday Night Live' skit. There's a high-speed cultural collision happening here. The question is whether it's a case of fusion or fission."
Jonathon Keats in "This guy walks into a bar" in the May/June issue of Sojourners

Another urban legend?

"Claim: An Alaska Airlines pilot, involved in the investigation of the horrific crash of Alaska Flight 261, has listened to the cockpit voice recorder from the downed plane and he reported that for the last nine minutes of the flight, the wife of the pastor from Monroe, Wash., can be heard sharing the Gospel with the passengers over the plane's intercom system. Just before the final dive into the Pacific Ocean, she can be heard leading the sinner's prayer for salvation… .
"The claim made in the piece quoted above is implausible. The crew of Flight 261 wrestled with a jammed stabilizer for 11 or 12 minutes, trying to maintain altitude and guide their plane to an emergency landing, before the airliner finally plunged into the Pacific Ocean near Port Hueneme on 31 January 2000… .
"No one would have been allowed to stand in the cabin and deliver a nine-minute prayer over the intercom while the pilots struggled to keep the plane level and in the air, nor is it likely that any such comments would have reached the cockpit… .
"This piece appears to be based on either an accidental or a deliberate distortion of something said by Jeff Knight of Monroe, Wash., whose parents, Joe and Linda Knight, were co-pastors of the Rock Church and were aboard Flight 261 when it crashed… .
"It's possible the Knights did do what their son described, but since everyone on board Flight 261 died in the crash and the cockpit recorder did not capture the voices of anyone but the flight crew, the only evidence for it is Jeff's belief that they did."
Barbara and David P. Mikkelson, in an essay posted April 3 on the Web site www.snopes.com/spoons/glurge/alaska.htm

The search for meaning

"I have had an on-again, off-again relationship with the Episcopal and Catholic churches over the years. My reluctance to seek regular guidance and inspiration from the church, to submit myself completely to Christian teachings, is something I think a lot of people of my generation have experienced… .
"Then I got the call… . My father and mother had just returned from her pulmonary specialist… . It was Stage 3 lung cancer which meant my mother would likely be dead within six months… .
"Hillary Clinton is right about the spiritual hunger and emptiness so many Americans feel in the midst of our freedom and prosperity. It's too bad that she can't wean herself from dependence on the cultural elites that have done so much to create this emptiness by banishing all talk of God, of right and wrong, from the public square.
"Sadly, our search for something to fill the void has taken many of us, especially women, down the wrong roads."
Laura Ingraham in her new book, "The Hillary Trap"

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