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Religion News Report

October 20, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 275) - 3/3

arrow Latest: Religion News Blog
Rainbow

» Continued from Part 2

=== Noted
31. The New Gospel of Academia
32. Born to Believe (Church of the First Born)
33. Drive-thru Deliverance (Landmark)
34. Pokémon founder deals a winner
35. From ancient Eden to the hippie era - searching for utopia
36. Motivational speakers

=== Books, Film, Internet
37. Watch Out Harry Potter -- the Hobbit Is Back
38. Religious themes dominate 'Second Coming'
39. Anonymous Net Posting Not Protected

=== The Bishop Around The Corner
40. Bishop attacks floral tributes



=== Noted

31.. The New Gospel of Academia
Los Angeles Times, Oct. 18, 2000
http://www.latimes.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[Trends]
In Pennsylvania, researchers are documenting how religion keeps young people from drugs and delinquency. In Cambridge, professors are pondering how faith propels environmentalism and inner-city economic development.

And in one of the world's most religiously diverse laboratories--Southern California--scholars are visiting such sacred sites as Sikh gurdwaras, Chinese Buddhist temples and Armenian apostolic churches to scrutinize the powerful role that religion plays in the lives of new immigrants.

Across the nation, scholars have begun to promote a new paradigm in academia: Religion matters.

Once a largely forgotten factor in social research, dismissed by those who believed that society would inevitably secularize and cast spirituality aside, religion is now a hot field of inquiry. Until recently, a long-standing academic bias against religion has blinded many scholars to its powerful role in shaping both private lives and the public culture.

''While millions, even billions, of people view so many different human concerns through the lens of religious faith, this crucial subject remains one of the most understudied social phenomena of the 20th century,'' Princeton University President Harold Shapiro said last year.

That's changing. Driven by new funding opportunities, a national spiritual resurgence and growing political interest in faith-based initiatives, more people than ever are studying religion. No longer confined to schools of divinity, religion is being increasingly probed in departments of sociology, political science, international relations, even business schools. The new research is expected to ''significantly reshape the social sciences,'' said Jon Miller, a USC sociology professor.
(...)

The American Academy of Religion, for instance, reports a 34% increase in membership in just the last six years, from 6,700 members to 9,000. Major academic organizations have added religion subsections in recent years; the one established by the American Sociological Assn. has gone ''from nowhere to one of the largest'' in the last five years, Jon Miller said.
(...)

Interest in religion's impact on social problems has grown tremendously in the last few years, as policymakers have looked for new approaches and shown a greater willingness to lower the wall between church and state to allow more public funding of religious initiatives, scholars say.
(...)

The resurgent interest in religion marks a startling turnabout for academia--sociology in particular. Although many early sociologists were Christians active in the 19th century social reform movements, religion lost its academic luster in the 1950s, said Jon Miller of USC's sociology department.

The two theorists with the most influence on sociology at that time, Karl Marx and Max Weber, traveled different philosophical paths to reach similar conclusions--that society would inevitably push religion to the periphery, he said.

''In real life, we know religion never went away, but people just stopped paying attention to it,'' he said.
(...)

''There has been a phobia about religion, but the corner has been turned,'' Don Miller said. ''People's religious experiences are going to be taken much more seriously in the academy, rather than being seen as something to be debunked and discarded.''
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» See also: Alternative Religions And Their Academic Supporters


32.. Born to Believe
WestWord.com, Oct. 12, 2000
http://www.westword.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Church members had faith that God would heal their children. But often faith wasn't enough.
(...)

In the early to mid-twentieth century, when doctors were scarce and prenatal care was nonexistent, high infant mortality rates were not uncommon on Colorado's Western Slope. But for members of the First Assembly and Church of the First Born, a Christian denomination that uses prayer instead of medicine to heal the sick, the mortality rate appears to have remained high. Between 1990 and July of this year, eleven children born to members of the First Born were buried in the Pea Green cemetery.
(...)

With the exception of one child, who died in a fire, the causes of their deaths are not publicly available, so it's impossible to determine whether these children might have lived if they had received medical intervention. But of the four whose cause of death is known -- Angela Sweet, Warren Trevette Glory, Billy Ray Reed, even Ishmael Berger Belebbas -- authorities say each child would have had a good chance of surviving had his parents sought timely medical attention.

But those parents, devout members of the Church of the First Born, believe so wholeheartedly in the power of prayer that they never even considered that option. While their grief is as intense as that of any parent who loses a child, the sorrow is tempered by the unerring conviction that the child's death was God's will. Sanctified through their parents and utterly free of sin, the children -- or ''little dolls,'' as one church member calls them -- are believed to be merely asleep until Judgment Day, when they will awaken and join the Lord and their families in heaven.

Since 1989, the Colorado Legislature has rebuffed efforts by law-enforcement officials to clarify state laws that currently exempt parents who use spiritual healing from charges of child abuse and neglect. Much of the opposition has come from the Christian Science Church, a denomination founded in Boston in the late 1800s by Mary Baker Eddy. Although Christian Scientists believe that prayer is an effective alternative to modern medicine, their underlying theology is markedly different from that of such fundamentalist churches such as the First Born. But according to a 1998 paper published in Pediatrics magazine, some children of Christian Scientists are also dying from illnesses that could easily have been treated.

Until the law is changed, prosecutors around the state predict these deaths will continue. And cemeteries like the Pea Green, which sells four plots for $100, will continue to do a brisk business.
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33.. Drive-thru Deliverance
Phoenix New Times, Oct. 2000
http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
It's not called est anymore, but you can still be ridiculed into self-awareness in just one expensive weekend
(...)

It has been a long haul for this mainstay of the self-awareness movement, which started under the name ''est.'' Peaking in the late '70s, est helped people ''get it'' with its characteristic and controversial marathon seminars and abrasive, confrontational techniques. In 1985, Werner Erhard and Associates changed the name from est to the Forum.

For the past decade, the company has had a different name -- Landmark Education -- and new management. But little else has changed. Est's intellectual scion still claims that it can change people's lives by pummeling them into admitting that they are failures and remake them through hours of guided introspection and group confession.

And it still charges hundreds of dollars for the privilege of spending three days wedged cheek to jowl with other souls who have forked over cash to be yelled at, ridiculed, berated and, of course, transformed.

Landmark Education holds permanent court at its Phoenix office on Osborn Road, hosting basic ''Forums'' every six weeks, which generally attract more than 100 people at $350 a head. It offers introductory courses nearly every day, and at any given time, two to four seminars of some sort are in progress. Despite decades of persistent controversy, the programs continue to attract crowds with promises of quick salvation from whatever ails you.
(...)

Est, a two-weekend self-awareness program, gained popularity throughout the '70s and '80s, attracting celebrities and bringing fame to Erhard. In the late '80s, IRS allegations arose that Erhard owed back taxes and was improperly transferring assets out of the country. Around the same time, one of his daughters went on 60 Minutes to air allegations of sexual abuse. Erhard sold his ''technology'' to his employees and left the country. No criminal charges were ever filed against Erhard, and the claims were never proven; his daughter later recanted and said she was coerced by a San Jose Mercury News reporter into making the abuse allegations.

Erhard later sued the IRS, claiming it made false statements about him, and the agency settled with him for $200,000. Still, the damage was done. Erhard was out, and Landmark was in. The new company, Landmark Education, was incorporated in California in 1991 and is headquartered in San Francisco, owned by its employees and led by Erhard's brother Harry Rosenberg, the chief executive officer.

Landmark literature credits Erhard with developing its coursework, but says he has nothing to do with the management of Landmark and is not a stockholder. Company spokesperson Mark Kamin says this doesn't mean Landmark thinks poorly of Erhard. ''I want to be really clear that we don't have a problem with him,'' Kamin says.

Landmark Education's General Curriculum consists of four programs that cost about $1,000 to complete. In total, the organization offers more than 60 programs that vary in price, some costing as much as $1,900. The company says it pulled in more than $50 million in revenue in 1998, a hefty sum considering that it does not advertise or market its seminars. Instead, it relies on word of mouth and a large group of volunteers to solicit customers.

Landmark says it offers courses in more than 100 cities around the world, to more than 100,000 new participants annually. Corporations also hire Landmark to come in and conduct seminars for groups of employees. Landmark calls its product ''technology,'' and proffers testimonials about the organization claiming it boosts confidence, improves relationships and increases joy in life. Some credit Landmark with their financial and professional success. Others claim it has cured physical ailments and helped them become fearless.

According to Landmark literature, more than seven out of 10 participants surveyed think the Forum is one of their life's most rewarding experiences. The company gladly distributes copies of letters of support it has received over the years from psychologists, doctors, judges, religious officials, law enforcement officials and the like.

The letters of support are also letters of defense. Controversy has so plagued the organization that its Internet home page has a ''Past Controversy'' icon. Click on it, and find that the controversy is blamed mostly on misconceptions about Erhard, irresponsible journalists and the misperception that Landmark is a brainwashing cult, a characterization the company contests with vigor and lawsuits.

But to say the controversy is in the past is not entirely accurate. One of the questions the company will not answer is, ''How does it work?''

To discover that, you have to take the course.
(...)

Everyone registering for the Landmark Forum is asked to sign a paper relinquishing right to a jury or court trial and agreeing to arbitration should any controversy or claim arise out of his or her participation.

But in September 1997, the company was hit with a lawsuit from a customer who claimed she was sexually assaulted by a group leader at the Dallas Landmark Forum. In the suit, filed in Dallas County, Tracy Neff claimed that in 1995, David Grill, then executive director of Landmark's Dallas branch, invited Neff to his home and assaulted her.

The suit claimed that Landmark had received numerous complaints about Grill from both students and Landmark officials relating to sexual and/or behavioral misconduct, yet still put him in charge of the Dallas facility. Landmark ''should have been aware of Grill's propensity to commit criminal sexual assaults with students from a time preceding his assignment as executive director of the Dallas Landmark facility,'' the suit alleged.

As part of a settlement, both Neff and her attorney, Jay English, agreed to sign a comprehensive confidentiality agreement, so English can't comment on any specifics of the case. But he does offer up his personal opinion about Landmark Education.

''My set of facts in my case was so obnoxiously egregious -- I cannot say anything about it -- but I am no fan of Landmark Education,'' English says. ''It was settled, they compensated my client for her injuries, and it was an amazing, amazing case.''

Rick Ross, a Phoenix-based cult interventionist, was called in as a consultant on behalf of Neff. Ross can't discuss specifics of the case, either, but says the plaintiff was awarded a substantial sum of money, though the amount cannot be disclosed because of the confidentiality agreement. Art Schreiber, general counsel for Landmark, disagrees that the award was substantial.

The Neff case, Ross says, was one of the more shocking complaints he has heard about Landmark. ''I see it as a controversial group that I would not recommend to anyone because of all the complaints I've received,'' Ross says.

Ross says he gets numerous complaints from people who tell him they were traumatized by the organization. He gets complaints from people who say they were pressured and relentlessly pursued by the group. And he hears from family members concerned about radical personality changes they see in loved ones spending time and money on Landmark courses.

Ross says he has even received e-mails and phone calls from people who say they have been hospitalized for breakdowns as a result of their involvement in Landmark. Kamin says that if people have had breakdowns after participating in the Forum, it isn't fair to blame Landmark.
(...)

In its literature, Landmark points out that its seminars are intended for ''well'' people and are not designed to address issues best dealt with by physicians, psychotherapists or other health professionals. It warns that the Forum may be physically, mentally and emotionally stressful. Participants must assume for themselves, their heirs, family members, executors, administrators and assigns all risk of physical injury and mental and emotional upset which may occur during or after the program.

Landmark can provide concerned participants with a letter from Raymond D. Fowler, executive vice president of the American Psychological Association. His professional opinion -- not presented as the view of any organization he is affiliated with -- is that the Landmark Forum is not harmful.
(...)

But Ross says he's heard from people who say they were well before participating in the Landmark Forum, and not so afterward.
(...)

Desiree Lewis was concerned about her husband after he attended the Landmark Forum in Phoenix. She says he went into the Forum Friday morning and came back Sunday night as a person she didn't recognize.

''What I thought right away was that he'd been brainwashed,'' Lewis says. ''He was acting so completely out of his normal character -- laughing and then crying, and speaking with all these weird words. I just wanted to shake him and say, ''Could you go back outside and come in the man I married, because who are you?'' It was truly frightening.''

Lewis says on Monday morning, her husband called in sick, and she found Rick Ross' site on the Internet. ''I told my husband, 'You were brainwashed, you're some kind of nut, and if you go back to this thing on Tuesday night I will file divorce papers on Wednesday.' He was hemming and hawing, saying, 'I made a commitment to these people.' I said, 'I'm your wife -- who are these people?'''

Lewis convinced her husband to discontinue his association with the group.

Such reactions explain why Landmark -- and est before it -- has often been labeled a cult. The unwashed find their loved ones changed, speaking a new language, acting out of character and ready to volunteer all their free time to a for-profit corporation. Ross says he's been retained twice in the past few months to do interventions with people whose loved ones want them out of Landmark.

But Landmark vigorously disputes the cult accusation and freely threatens or pursues lawsuits against those who call it one.

When the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) made statements and distributed materials alleging or implying that Landmark is a cult, the company sued. In 1997, CAN resolved the suit by stating it has no evidence that Landmark is a cult.

Landmark also boasts numerous letters from experts stating that it does not meet cult criteria. One such letter comes from Dr. Margaret Singer, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, and an expert on cults. Landmark sued Singer after she mentioned the company in her book Cults in Our Midst. Singer says she never called it a cult in her book, but simply mentioned it as a controversial New Age training course. In resolution of the suit, Singer gave a sworn statement that the organization is not a cult or sect. She says this doesn't mean she supports Landmark.

''I do not endorse them -- never have,'' she says.

Singer, who is in her 70s, says she can't comment on whether Landmark uses coercive persuasion because ''the SOBs have already sued me once.''

''I'm afraid to tell you what I really think about them because I'm not covered by any lawyers like I was when I wrote my book.''

Singer will say, however, that she would not recommend the group to anyone.

Kamin says in the face of such evidence, Landmark can in no way be considered a cult.

''Our official stance is that it's ridiculous [to call Landmark a cult],'' Kamin says. ''It's actually insane.''
(...)

Even professional cult buster Ross agrees that Landmark isn't one. ''I'm a relative conservative on the issue of defining a cult,'' he says. ''In my mind, I look for an absolute authoritarian leader . . . I just don't see any parallel with that type of leader in Landmark.''

The company does not meet many of the conventional definitions of a cult. Landmark does not require its members to turn over their personal assets, except the cost of tuition. Landmark does not cut people off from family and friends, there is no communal living situation, nothing to worship, and participation must be voluntary.

But does Landmark wash brains? That is an entirely different question. In an article titled ''Coercive Persuasion and Attitude Change,'' Richard J. Ofshe, professor of social psychology at UC-Berkeley and co-recipient of the 1979 Pulitzer Prize, defines coercive persuasion, or brainwashing, as ''programs of social influence capable of producing substantial behavior and attitude change through the use of coercive tactics, persuasion, and/or interpersonal and group manipulations.'' Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, a psychiatrist and professor at the City University of New York, studied brainwashing in China, and in his book Thought Reform and the Psychology of TotalismOff-site Link identified eight criteria as a basis for answering the question: ''Isn't this brainwashing?''

They include: control of communication, emotional and behavioral manipulation, demands for absolute conformity, obsessive demands for confession, agreement that the ideology is faultless, manipulation of language in which clichés substitute for analytic thought, reinterpretation of human experience in terms of doctrine and classification of those not sharing the ideology as inferior.

Ofshe points out that brainwashing isn't always as scary as it sounds and it doesn't necessarily involve physical assault. He distinguishes four characteristics of coercive persuasion: the reliance on intense interpersonal and psychological attack, the use of an organized peer group, applying interpersonal pressure to promote conformity and the manipulation of the person's social environment.

In his report on the Landmark Forum, Raymond Fowler of the American Psychological Association states, ''The relatively brief encounters in a pleasant environment that characterizes the Landmark Forum program could never effect such extreme and unwanted changes in personality and behavior as those attributed to the various forms of 'mind control.'''

When asked whether they use any brainwashing techniques, Kamin says ''absolutely not.'' ''I think that's about as libelous as you can get, and I think it would be very interesting if you print it,'' he says. ''I'm not going to even respond; I think it's ridiculous. I think it's a ridiculous allegation.''

Kamin says he's shocked that anybody would even raise the question. ''We will take very seriously anything that libels or slanders us. And I believe you will,'' he says. ''And if you say I'm defensive, I want you to be clear that's an interpretation that may or may not damage my reputation personally. Because I'm not defensive.''

But Ross questions whether coercive persuasion is what allows a group like Landmark to produce attitude and behavioral changes in people and convince them that their long-term participation in the group is essential to preserving that change.

''The problem is -- is it really making their lives better, and what is the long-term result?'' Ross asks. ''What I have seen is that they are very good at convincing people that their lives have been changed and they've had good results.''

Ross gets letters from people who say he has no legitimate grounds to criticize Landmark because he hasn't been through the training himself. ''I don't have to jump off the South Rim to know it's a bad idea,'' he responds.
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34.. Pokémon founder deals a winner
Daily Express (England), Oct. 15, 2000
http://www.lineone.net/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
After a year of Pokémon fever that has seen kids scrapping in playgrounds and exchanging the contents of their piggybank for a Charizard or Mew, parents and teachers might rue the day that Peter Adkison ever dreamt up the idea of a trading card game.

Since launching in the UK last year, more than 200million Pokémon cards have been sold and the game is tipped to be top of the toy charts for the second Christmas running.

Adkison, 39, is sanguine about the fuss he has caused. ''Kids are fanatical about it, so you get a few people who go off the deep end. It's a shame. We just want people to play it and have fun. The positive things, like getting kids away from computer screens and helping them read, are ignored. Games get you using your imagination.''

Landing the licence to market Pokémon trading cards put Adkison's hobby games company, Wizards of the Coast, on the map. The Seattle-based company runs mall tours throughout the US, attracting up to 15,000 at a time. In the UK, more than 6,000 enthusiasts have joined the Pokémon League which holds after-school and weekend events at toy stores.

While Pokémon has secured the position of trading cards as one of the UK's most popular games - earning it a permanent place on retailers' shelves - the craze owes its popularity to a game dreamt up by Adkison and a group of his friends. Adkison set up Wizards of the Coast 10 years ago when he was working as a systems analyst at Boeing, little knowing that his love of role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons would result in a new gaming phenomenon.

A whip round among friends and fellow gamers produced enough money to develop a trading card game. Two years later Magic: The Gathering was born, and it quickly attracted a cult following.

Adkison gets very animated when he tries to explain the game, which basically consists of a duel between two wizards played out through decks of cards, with plenty of spells and creatures thrown in.

''It's not just about collecting cards. There's a real game involved. And the great thing about fantasy is you can break the rules. I've been into this kind of thing since I was a kid, I used to play military-style board games with my dad before I got into Dungeons and Dragons. I still play.''

What started as a hobby soon took on a life of its own and Adkison quit his job to work on Wizards of the Coast full-time. Magic: The Gathering is played by more than 6million people throughout the world. There is even a World Championships every year and some professional players earn a massive £75,000 a year from playing the game.
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35.. From ancient Eden to the hippie era - searching for utopia
Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 19, 2000
http://www.csmonitor.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) Each age has had its visions of an ideal society. Yet not until Sir Thomas More penned ''Utopia'' in 1516 did that ideal significantly shift to something conceivable in this world. Before that, it had largely been an exclusive place for the exceedingly righteous, the just, or more simply - the dead.

In ''Utopia: The Search for the Ideal Society in the Western World,'' the New York Public Library's new exhibition traces the evolution of this ideal from antiquity to the present day.

The library, in collaboration with the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, where a similar exhibition was shown this summer, has pulled together manuscripts, drawings, maps, posters, and other artifacts to illustrate the gradual development of the utopian ideal.

What at first might seem an esoteric topic turns out to be a fascinating exploration of this deep undercurrent in human thought. And it's surprising how pervasive the search has been, stretching from Plato's ''Republic'' through the French and American Revolutions, communism, the hippie movement of the 1960s and '70s, to Disney's concept of the ''perfect'' small town - Celebration, Florida. The list embraces a broad spectrum of ideals and approaches. But it all started with ancient mythologies.

There's never been a shortage of material to inspire those dissatisfied with the here and now. Right up to the 18th century, people speculated about Eden and tried to find it. But the theme that ran through most of these ideals was one of exclusion. Only the righteous gained entry - and the definition of righteousness tended to be narrow.
(...)

The English humanist Sir Thomas More coined the term ''utopia'' in 1516 - a pun on the Greek, meaning both ''good place'' and ''no place'' - and with his book helped shift this focus of an unattainable ideal place to one constructed by ordinary people. Not just the righteous, just, and blessed got to experience this earthly paradise. Nor was death a passport.

More set his utopia in the Americas, which at that period represented a blank slate for Europeans to project their earthly paradise onto. The darker side, of course, was that the native peoples of those lands had to be eliminated in order for this ideal society to be established.
(...)

With the Shakers and Mormons came more experiments with religious communities. The 19th century was a fertile time to explore. Then in 1848, Karl Marx and Frederick Engel published the ''Communist Manifesto,'' claiming that history is essentially a series of class struggles. This is the precursor to the final part of the exhibition, ''Dreams and Nightmares: Utopias and Dystopias in the Twentieth Century.''

This section looks with a steady eye at utopian experiments that went horribly wrong. One case displays the Nazi German equivalent of bubble gum cards with pictures of Aryan children and adults. Eugenics offered a nasty new twist on creating the ideal: A society with the perfect race would dominate the world, the argument went.
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36.. Motivational speakers
CNN, Oct. 17, 2000
http://www.cnn.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(CNN) -- ''I think a lot of these motivational speakers are vendors, they're snake oil salesmen.''

Al Gini has written a play called ''Working Ourselves to Death.'' He's a lecturer on business ethics with the philosophy faculty at Loyola University Chicago and author of ''My Job, My Self: Work and the Creation of the Modern Individual.''

And when it comes to motivating that modern individual, Gini says he's not always impressed with the career sermons he's hearing on the speaking circuit. ''They're very often just delivery and presentation,'' he says -- lots of fire, little brimstone.

Frequently with evangelical fervor, many motivational speakers preach to congregations of careerists, spreading the gospel of positive thinking and self-improvement. The goal -- what causes many corporations to hire them -- is higher morale and performance.

Many of these speakers write their own bibles, self-help books full of fixed formulas and fancy phrases. But do they provide a lasting benefit? -- a more efficient and happy work force? Or do they just give workers a rush that dissipates faster than a two-drink buzz?
(...)

Gallup's Emond says his organization's researchers have discerned about a dozen factors that have the greatest influence on workers' levels of productivity and contentment. Among them: a supportive supervisor; knowing what is expected of employees; getting a chance to do what they do best every day; having a best friend at work.

Here's Gini again, talking about the corporate use of motivational speakers: ''It's a pep rally. Pep talks do work. Napoleon was wonderfully insightful when he said you don't need plans to create heroes in your soldiers -- you just have to promise them medals and little rewards. The magic of the moment does sometimes work.''

But, Gini says, ''The long-term effects of these things are really very low.''
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* Includes various informative sidebars


=== Books, Film, Internet

37.. Watch Out Harry Potter -- the Hobbit Is Back
Reuters, Oct. 19, 2000
http://my.aol.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Teenage wizard Harry Potter will get a chance to test his magic against the enduring appeal of the Hobbit next year when film versions of both JK Rowling's bestseller and JRR Tolkien's classic hit the silver screen.

''These two films will be going head to head,'' Adrian Bourne, managing director of the trade division of HarperCollins Publishers, told Reuters at the Frankfurt book fair Thursday.

Bourne said HarperCollins, which has world rights to Tolkien's works and has just secured the tie rights for any books that appear with the film, hopes for a major boost to sales of the ''Lord of the Rings'' trilogy.
(...)

The first film, ''The Fellowship of the Ring,'' is due for release ahead of Christmas next year and includes Ian McKellen playing Gandalf and Hollywood teen star Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins. Two more will follow in subsequent years.

''Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,'' widely seen as the most eagerly awaited children's film in a decade, is also due on screens late next year.
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38.. Religious themes dominate 'Second Coming'
UpsideToday, Oct. 10, 2000
http://www.upside.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
''The Second Coming of Steve JobsOff-site Link''
Broadway Books
Pub. Date: Oct. 10
$26.00
305 pages
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Alan Deutschman, you could say, is a believer in the technology occult.

While Deutschman seems to admire the early founders of the high-tech era, he says Silicon Valley business culture has grown to resemble a religious cult.

He has even gone so far as documenting the career of its ''savior,'' Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple (AAPL) and one of the fathers of the desktop computer movement, in his new book ''The Second Coming of Steve Jobs.'' (See ''Unauthorized biography takes on Steve Jobs'')

The book, in stores beginning today, offers a telling account of a 15-year lapse in Jobs' business and social life, and likens the technology guru's return to the helm of Apple to a ''holy resurrection.''

As blasphemous as it may seem -- comparing the methods of a CEO to the man (or woman) upstairs -- Deutschman raises a poignant issue in today's tech-driven society where Sunday is no longer a church day but a workday.

Technologists, not theologians
In his book, Deutschman makes a point of portraying Jobs, in his overbearing leadership roles at Apple, Next and his entertainment company Pixar (PIXR), as a charismatic thinker with qualities of a cult leader.

In one instance, Deutschman makes several parallels between Jobs' role as chief executive and Werner Erhard's leadership of the controversial Est movement in the 1970s.

''It is easy just as a joke to refer to Steve Jobs' companies as a cult, but in doing research for the book I actually found many similarities to actual cults such as Est [Erhard Seminars Training] and elements of the 1970s human potential movements,'' Deutschman says while being interviewed in a San Francisco cafe.

Like the technology movement, Est was born among a class of progressive thinkers living in the San Francisco Bay Area, Deutschman explains. The movement attracted well-educated, high-achieving people who he notes were nonetheless very emotionally insecure and neurotic.

Comparison to Est
Erhard and his followers would spend marathon sessions locked away in windowless hotel rooms as the charismatic leader berated participants, verbally abused them and subjected them to both physical and emotional pain.

''It's not too many steps to look at Apple or Next or today's typical Internet startup as having that sort of similar situation,'' Deutschman says.
(...)

Don't call it Waco yet
One former employee even compares Jobs' influence to the power Jim Jones had over his followers.

'''When you meet Steve Jobs, he'll make you drink the Kool-Aid,' alluding to the massacre in Guyana of the People's Temple followers by the San Francisco demagogue Jim Jones,'' Deutschman writes in his book.
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* See also:
Corporate Cults: The Insidious Lure of the All-Consuming OrganizationOff-site Link
by Dave Arnott


39.. Anonymous Net Posting Not Protected
The Associated Press, Oct. 16, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
MIAMI (AP) - In a ruling that challenges online anonymity, a Florida appeals court declared Monday that Internet service providers must divulge the identities of people who post defamatory messages on the Internet.

Critics of the ruling say it could have a chilling effect on free expression in Internet chat rooms.

The ruling comes against the efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union to protect the identity of eight individuals who posted anonymous missives on a Yahoo! financial chat room about Erik Hvide, the former CEO of Hvide Marine Inc.

Hvide alleges that personal attacks against him also caused damage to the company's image.

Hvide's attorney Bruce Fischman hailed the ruling, saying it would force Internet users to ``think a bit before they speak.''

The ACLU had wanted the court first to rule on whether Hyde had actually been defamed before identifying the defendants, named in court papers only as John Doe. If there was no showing of defamation, the ACLU reasoned, the critics should remain anonymous.

However, on Thursday, the court dissolved a stay freezing subpoenas for the records of Yahoo! Inc. and America Online Inc., whose service was used by one of the defendants in the defamation case.

Lauren Gelman, public policy director with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is concerned that other courts could follow the lead of the 3rd District Court of Appeals in approving subpoenas.
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=== The Bishop Around The Corner

40.. Bishop attacks floral tributes
The Guardian (England), Oct. 19, 2000
http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Off-site Link
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The Bishop of Lincoln has warned that the growing modern custom of people leaving tributes at the sites of accidents or to mark the death of public figures risks creating a superficial response to death.

The Right Rev Robert Hardy questioned the long-term value of flowers, poetry and soft toys, laid most notably after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, three years ago.

He was criticised, however, by the former agony aunt Claire Rayner for being condescending and insulting.

Bishop Hardy, 54, a veteran survivor of controversy during his 15 years at Lincoln, suggested that such mourners needed help to understand death as well as continuing life for the bereaved. He asked parishioners in the November edition of the Lincoln Bulletin diocesan newsletter: ''How can we help them move on from there, from a simple gesture, however sincerely or deeply expressed? How can we begin to open for them the way to deeper and more permanent belief?'' The bishop warned that the instant comfort of leaving a teddy bear risked a superficial response to death which was ''confused and hardly sustained by Christian belief''.
(...)

The bishop said the developing trend was a matter of concern because of the way that new ways of mourning were spreading, often with support from churches.
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