01: The Universal Life Church gained notoriety in the 1970s for its mail-order ordinations it provided to anyone of any faith.
The group is still around and is prospering due to the Internet. By going to the church’s web site and pressing the “enter” key, as well as by paying $20, inquirers are legally ordained, and in most states are permitted to perform marriages, baptisms, funerals and other ceremonies. While the bulk of ordinations are still done by mail, it is estimated that the Internet has increased church activity (including ordinations) by 25 to 30 percent, with 15,000 ordinations being conducted monthly.
Other groups are increasingly offering similar services on the Internet. The ULC has an objective behind its easy ordinations. Daniel Zimmerman, who operates a church web site, says “The secret purpose behind Universal Life Church is to get rid of all religions. If everyone is ordained than it doesn’t mean anything anymore.”
(Source: National Catholic Register, March 25)
02: M. Night Shyamalan’s films, such as “Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable,” present a Hindu-based spiritual perspective and are finding widespread popular appeal.
Shyamalan, a screen writer and director, gained fame through his 1999 thriller, the Oscar nominated Sixth Sense, which tells the story of a young boy who sees ghosts. The India-born Shyamalan attended Catholic schools as a child in Philadelphia but was raised and remains a Hindu. His films tie everyday life to spirituality and draw on such Eastern themes as the preeminence of the spiritual over the physical planes of life.
The Hindu factor is seen most strongly in Sixth Sense where ghosts seek release from karma or the consequences of bad actions to proceed for the next state of evolution, intimating the possibility of reincarnation.
(Source: Hinduism Today, March/April)