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Late news, other loose ends to round out the wierd year.

Checking my 1993 clipping file, I find these news items have eluded NCR.

* Under its current director, Fr. Boyle, the Vatican Library has created what many think is the finest coffee bar in Rome. Said one researcher, "Many scholars rate libraries by whether the lunchroom is any good. On that score, the Vatican ranks very high."

* The prophet Daniel read the hand-writing on the wall, but in 1871 a French priest named Jean-Hyppolite Michon invented graphology.

* Neil Jordan, writer and director of "The Crying Game," grew up in Dublin and reminisced about his youth: "My childhood was like every other Irish kid's of my generation. I was taught by priests who beat the hell out of you."

* In the last century, in the Spanish village of Manganese de las Povorosa, a priest locked a goat it the church belfry during a famine to prevent it from being eaten. Until recently, the villagers have commemorated the event by hurling a goat from the church tower during an annual festival. In 1992, the government tried to ban the ceremony, but riots erupted when police tried to intervene. This year, threatened with a $50,000 fine, the town compromised: They lowered a goat on a rope and let it fall the last 30 feet into a canvas sheet.

* Elsewhere, a woman who was criticized for wearing a fur coat, gave this defense: "I bought it before animals had rights."

* Donald Christ was the lawyer for Basia Johnson in the "epic battle" for the Johnson and Johnson fortune. He disliked his client so much that after the trial he bought a cow, named it Basia and had it slaughtered.

* Half a millennium ago, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow was so sure the end of the world was at hand that it did not issue the usual calendar giving the date for Easter and other movable feasts in 1493.

* Avvakum, the great spokesman for the Russian Old Believers, went to the stake over his views on how many "alleluias" should be said at a certain point in the liturgy and how to hold your hands while making the sign of the cross.

* Maybe George Orwell had this kind of fanaticism in mind when he wrote: "No doubt alcohol, tobacco and so forth are things that a saint must avoid, but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid."

* A Roman taxi driver said he did not go to Mass because although catolico, as not fanatico.

* Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher is in the custody of Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches, and each jealously guards its rights. Monks sleep in the building at night, and the key to the church is traditionally held by a Muslim family because the Christian custodians do not trust each other to keep it.

* Many Muslims are named after one of the 99 attributes of Allah. But because only Allah possess the attribute perfectly, the baby is named the "servant" of that quality -- thus, Abdul Rahman means "the servant of the most gracious." Only the camel knows the 100th attribute, whence its curious smile.)

* According to the dying Yazidi faith in Iraq, Satan (whose name may not be pronounced) is actively malevolent, whereas God is only passively benevolent. So in their rituals Yazidis pay respect to S....'s agent, the peacock angel. At the shrine of their founder, Sheik Adi (who died in 1162), there is a 6-foot snake carved on the front door. The snake is blackened every day with shoe polish and venerated. The sect accepts no converts.

* During the Civil War, Walt Whitman often visited the sick and wounded as a volunteer nurse. He would read passages from the scriptures to dying soldiers, one of whom inquired whether he was a religious man. He replied: "Probably not, my dear, in the way you mean." Then he kissed the dying man.

* Asked whether the question of women's nonordination within Catholicism might be the Galileo affair of the 20th century, Westminster's Cardinal Basil Hume replied: "We do not know. I will tell you in 399 years' time."

* Believing it will reach and aid their ancestors, the Chinese burn money in huge denominations at funerals and religious festivals. A Taiwan official, Hseih Chin-Ting, thinks the tons of paper thus consumed are a waste of resources. Said he, "You can put a credit card in the coffin of a relative so he can spend as much as he desires."

* An obituary note in The New York Times praised Anne R. Zion a then added: "How old, Annie? None of your business. The Last of the Mohicans, she always dealt 'em off the top."

* This year, Denmark celebrated the 50th anniversary of the rescue of its Jews from the Nazis during World War II. Much less known is the fact that all of Bulgaria's 50,000 Jews survived, and Bulgaria became the only German-occupied country whose Jews grew in number during the war. The small Balkan nation considered the order to deport its Jews a personal insult. That, despite the fact that Bulgaria was a Nazi ally, its king was a personal friend of Hitler, a fascist party was in power and the country swarmed with German troops. King Boris Ill resisted Hitler to his face over the question of Jewish deportation and other matters. He died mysteriously a few days later.

* One of the closest Japanese have to a four-letter word is bakayaro, roughly: "you idiot!" On New Year's Eve, frustrated Japanese shouting "bakayaro" and other insults climb a 1,000-foot hill in the town of Ashikaga and enter the Saishoji temple for the celebration of Akutare Matsuri--"Naughty Festival" or "Festival of Abusive Language." After thus venting their frustrations, the celebrants toast the New Year with sake.
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Title Annotation:religious anecdotes in world news in 1993
Author:Gallagher, Joseph
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Column
Date:Dec 24, 1993
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