01: St. Benedict Center in Madison, Wisconsin is the first ecumenical community for women in the U.S. Lynne Smith, a Presbyterian minister, recently joined the community and another Protestant, a Mennonite, is also planning to join.
Although the community only numbers three members, the center has long been open to ecumenical and even inter-faith guests. In 1999 the Catholic sisters of the center won the support of their federation of Benedictine communities (governance in the Benedictine tradition is largely autonomous although under the leadership of the area bishop) to start other ecumenical communities in their jurisdiction.
In recognizing the differences that exist among Christians concerning the Eucharist, the sisters will have access to communion services in their respective traditions.
(Source: National Catholic Reporter, Feb. 21)
02: Walking Together is a controversial youth movement in Russia known for its quasi-military structure, nationalist fervor and strict religious and moral teachings.
The group, with about 80,000 members in 60 cities and towns across Russia, started out as a patriotic society with the election of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, to whom they remain strongly loyal. Members view the movement as a social group, though one with religious overtones and a strong self-help component that emphasizes following the Ten Commandments. Walking Together members organize summer camps with the Russian Orthodox Church and volunteer to teach in schools.
They also engage in activism and protests, such as against Communists, gay rights groups and the Church of Scientology, leading their critics to charge that they favor a return to censorship.
(Source: New York Times, Feb. 16)
03: It has recently been revealed that David Myatt, a leading neo-nazi in England, is also a Muslim convert who has agitated for extremist and terrorist activity, including the attacks of Sept. 11.
Myatt, 51, was the “political guru” behind the British white supremacist group Combat 18 and was the leading neo-nazi intellectual in the nation since the 1960s. Since 9/11 Myatt has taken on various pseudonyms, including his Islamic name Abdul Aziz, and posted messages on various Websites supporting suicide missions and urging young Muslims to take up Jihad. Online Myatt convinced some that he was an Islamic scholar — at least until his true identity was revealed.
Observers say that Myatt had dabbled in pagan and Buddhist religions before and that he still writes on neo-nazi themes. But he is apparently part of a small phenomenon of far rightists who view Islamic extremism as a vehicle toward achieving their goal of a society driven along racial lines A leader of one British Muslim extremist group, Al Muhajiroun, has welcomed Myatt into its ranks, saying, “I am sure he can help the Islamic cause.”
(Source: Sunday Mercury of Birmingham, Feb. 16)