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NHNE News Brief 41
Friday, December 20, 1996
Merry Christmas to All!

"A thought-provoking exploration
of the extraordinary times in which we live."

Millennium Countdown:
1,100 days until January 1, 2000

As of January 1, 1997 this News Brief will only be sent to paid subscribers. Subscribe now and continue to count yourself among some of the most well-informed people on the planet!


Life is a Gift

All Is Calm
Mystery Object Flashes Through Atmosphere
Update on TWA Crash
Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh
Reindeer Starve in Ice Storm

Online 6, Offline 0, Total List 758

Spirit of Sedona: Experience of a Lifetime

You Deserve to Reach Your Dreams
Some Good Suggestions
My Phone is Still Ringing

Hale-Bopp Controversy Simmers

Remote Viewing

The Mystery of Mary

What is God?

Shine Back on Big Apple




"Life is a gift.
Live in the present!"



(Source: NEWSWEEK, 12/23/96)

Headphones may become standard issue at CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF WISCONSIN, which plans to test noise-canceling technology in its intensive-care nursery. Made by KOSS, the headphones use a small microphone to detect the low-frequency noise of respirators, ventilators and pumps and eliminate it by generating "anti-waves." Hospital noise can alter infants' breathing, upset sleep patterns, and increase blood pressure. Dr. Richard Berens points out that by decreasing the noise, "we can decrease the stress and maybe medicate less often." (JG)


(Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS, 12/17/96 via Philip R. Henika)

Scientists observing thunderstorm activity in western Kansas have captured on their high-speed cameras a strange glowing ball moving at a speed approaching that of light. Brief footage of the image, which appeared for 3/100th of a second at an estimated height of 80 kilometers (257,664 feet), was presented publicly for the first time at a recent meeting of the AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION. In the six-frame sequence, the object can clearly be seen crossing the field of view, while retaining its shape and intense glow. "To my knowledge, it's the first and only event of this kind [ever to be] photographed," said Dr. Dean A. Morss, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at CREIGHTON UNIVERSITY in Nebraska. Morss heads a research project designed to videotape luminous electrical phenomena in the upper atmosphere called "sprites." Morss and his colleagues maintain the ball's tremendous speed and apparent lack of mass eliminate many commonly proffered explanations for unknown objects sighted in the atmosphere. "People are seeing new forms, new shapes, all sorts of new phenomena," Morss said. "It's not traditional meteorology." The object was clocked moving at a speed of 18,600 miles PER SECOND! (JG)


(Source: REUTERS, 12/13/96)

The NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD now says that evidence from the wreckage of TWA flight 800 is "consistent" with a fuel tank explosion, and it proposes new steps to prevent fuel from reaching flash point. In the five months since the crash, investigators debated whether mechanical failure, a bomb or a missile from a ship or plane may have destroyed the plane. But as they salvaged more and more of the plane's remains from the ocean's bottom and found no bomb evidence, they began to lean toward mechanical failure. These findings are consistent with information gathered by Ed Dames and his remote viewers of PSI TECH, but in direct contradiction to Courtney Brown and the remote viewers of the FARSIGHT INSTITUTE. (JG)


(Source: Richard Carufel, YOGA JOURNAL, Nov-Dec/96)

The Bible tells us that when the three magi paid homage to the newly-born Messiah, they presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. While the symbolism and importance of gold is straightforward (it stood for loyalty), the significance of the other two gifts is obscure. According to the AMERICAN BOTANICAL COUNCIL, the two are rather similar, both being resins harvested from trees native to northeast Africa and Arabia. Frankincense's name comes from "frank" (bold) and "incense" (odor provider) and it represented divinity. Its fragrance is balsamic with a diffusive note of unripe apple peel. The ancients used frankincense in religious ceremonies as an incense and as part of the embalming process, and considered it more precious than gold. It is now used in perfumes. Myrrh represented suffering in the holy gift trilogy. Its fragrance is spicy and pungent. The ancients used it as a medical potion to treat indigestion and in a salve to treat wounds. Today myrrh is widely used in aromatherapy and toothpaste because of its clean, aromatic flavor. (JG)



More than 6,000 reindeer have died of starvation in northeast Russia. After heavy November rains, the frigid temperatures quickly encased the area of the Chukotka Peninsula in ice, rendering the reindeers' pastureland inaccessible. The Chukchi, the native inhabitants who depend on the reindeer for sustenance, are attempting to save the herd by driving the animals to more distant pastures. Losses from the reindeer herd have been estimated at more than one million dollars. Yuri Zhulin, Civil Defense Chief, said that the region had never before experienced such a devastating ice storm. Fortunately Santa's tiny herd, which grazes on a different pasture, has been unaffected. (KAB)


NHNE is sponsoring a 7-day, all-expense-paid trip to Sedona, Arizona, USA, for two people from anywhere in North America. Activities include sacred hikes, tours, vision quests, body and healing work, massages, hot air balloon rides, and a special banquet with some of Sedona's movers and shakers (including David Sunfellow, the founder and publisher of NHNE, and James Gregory the Editor-in-Chief of the NHNE News Brief). All you have to do is write an essay about why you want to come to Sedona and include a donation ($50.00 is suggested). The contest ends March 1, 1997. Winners will be announced March 15, 1997. Seven runners up will also receive prizes.

Via regular mail, send your essays and donations to:

P.O. Box 2242
Sedona, AZ 86339

Via email, send your essays and a credit card number indicating what size of donation you would like to make to NHNE to:

For more information, including a growing list of participating individuals and business, visit our Web site:



Here is our financial report for the week of December 20:

New Online Subscribers this week: 7
New Offline Subscribers this week: 0
Total Paid Online Subscriptions: 65
Total Paid Offline Subscriptions: 10
Total Online Mailing List: 758

Subscriptions: $260.00
NHNE Video Donations: $0.00
Total Video Orders: 3
Sponsors & Donations: $150.00
Total Income: $410.00

This Week's Expenses: $510.37
This Week's Deficit: $484.37

"Spirit of Sedona" entries: 3
Amount of Money Raised from Contest: $130.00

Money Needed To Upgrade Computer System: $2500.00
Money Received To Upgrade Computer System: $100.00



"Thanks for sending me the NHNE News Brief -- even though I have not paid for a subscription! I cannot begin to tell you how much I value your work and I personally look forward to receiving each issue. You are right to charge for your service - you deserve to make a living and reach your dreams! Thanks for your dedication. I am sending you a check tomorrow for my subscription."

---Mary Dodd, Overton, Texas



"I appreciated your candor about finances and I although I don't have any pat answers, I do have some ideas to help with your financial woes. Quality is not your problem. The whole Internet paradigm -- that it's all free -- obviously needs to shift before many make a living from it. Your chosen niche seems to be as a grounding, analytical and yet 'heartful' critic of the New Age. With the fame David Sunfellow has garnered over the Scallion-TV thing, he should be able to land a column in one of the New Age magazines, or better yet, syndicated to several publications. Maybe NHNE should be a print publication. I think supplementing electronic publishing with print or TV could be your ticket. May you find a way to sustain yourself in your work."

---Mike M., Lafayette, Colorado

[The NHNE NEWS BRIEF is available offline (check out the information at the end of this News Brief). We are also putting the finishing touches on our first NHNE video, which includes the entire Special Report on Gordon-Michael Scallion, plus some additional footage that was shot in Sedona while KHOU-TV reporter Jim Moore was interviewing David Sunfellow. It is available from NHNE; a donation of $20 is suggested. Your suggestion concerning a regular syndicated column by David Sunfellow is intriguing. Do any readers have suggestions as to how we can follow up on this?]



[In a recent letter to Jim Moore, the producer of the nationally-syndicated three-part Special Report on Gordon-Michael Scallion, David Sunfellow responded to reports that local television stations were being inundated with calls from people asking for Scallion's address by saying, "My only lament is that Scallion is being taken so seriously by so many people. The next time I do an interview, I will be more direct with my comments." Moore answered David's letter with the following: ]

"I thought you were 'direct' in your comments about Scallion. The reason for the appeal in those reports is that people want to believe certain things these days and no amount of honest research and skepticism is going to distract them from grasping at what their own logic tells them is untrue. It is not judgmental of Scallion... but of those who are compelled to believe him no matter how many times he gets things wrong. My phone is still ringing on this Scallion stuff. I'm beginning to wish I had never done it."

---Jim Moore, Bureau Chief, KHOU-TV, Austin, Texas


(Source: Michael Lindemann, CNI NEWS, 12/16/96)

It has now been a month since Houston astronomer Chuck Shramek announced his controversial discovery of a possible second object near Comet Hale-Bopp. Recently, a new photo, alleged to have been made by the Hubble telescope, began circulating. This new image can be seen at Whitley Strieber's Web site (, alongside Shramek's shot and several others. The alleged Hubble shot looks almost exactly like Shramek's; in both cases, the object is very bright and displays a single pair of what some have called "diffraction spikes," resulting in the appellation, "Saturn-like object." Against a field of stars elongated by time exposure, the "companion" and comet in both shots seem undistorted, lending credence to the claim that both objects are travelling together at the same speed.

During the last four weeks, the squabbles on late night radio and the Internet have not helped to create a definitive picture of the Hale-Bopp situation; however, the field seems to have been reduced to three main possibilities:

1) The first is that there is no companion at all. This is the position taken by astronomer Alan Hale and at least eight other astronomers interviewed by researcher Linda Moulton Howe in the last four weeks. All have spent considerable time viewing the comet and are also aware of the controversial photos. Without exception, these experts say that the comet shows no sign of a companion, and the photos show normal celestial objects which can be identified from star charts.

2) The second possibility is that there is a companion, or perhaps even more than one, but it is of entirely natural origins. As we saw in 1994 with Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, large comets can break up into several pieces as they pass near planets or approach the Sun. If Hale-Bopp was in more than one piece, we might catch occasional glimpses of the trailing pieces, but there is a slight problem with this theory. If indeed a piece of the comet, the "companion" should behave like a comet, and that means by now it should have a substantial corona of its own -- but it doesn't. All this is hypothetical, because according to the astronomers Linda Howe has talked to, Hale-Bopp shows no indication of breaking up.

Perhaps there is a companion, and while not a piece of the comet, it is some other kind of natural object. That creates even more problems. Comets are basically globs of ice and dust -- asteroids and meteors, on the other hand, are made largely of rock and/or iron. Comets glow as they near the sun -- asteroids and meteors do not. To our knowledge, there is no known instance of an asteroid or meteor traveling along with a comet -- but even if there were, it is hard to imagine why such an object would have the luminosity exhibited in the photos.

3) The final possibility is that there is a companion of "unnatural" origin -- in short, the spacecraft theory. This is wildly improbable, but if something is really there, and that something cannot be easily explained as natural, then we are left with this as the only other explanation, as stridently claimed by author Whitley Strieber and remote viewer Courtney Brown of the FARSIGHT INSTITUTE. According to the FARSIGHT INSTITUTE, top scientists have privately confessed their awareness of the object, even alluding to its possible artificial nature. At the beginning of December hopes of a breakthrough were raised when FARSIGHT's Courtney Brown announced on Art Bell's "Coast to Coast" radio show that a "world-class" astronomer at a "top 10 university" was on the verge of coming forward with hard proof of the companion. He even provided photos to the FARSIGHT INSTITUTE, copies of which were passed along to Art Bell and Whitley Strieber. However, to date, (December 20) this person remains nameless. Similarly, rumors have circulated that astronomers at the GREENWICH, KIT PEAK and LICK OBSERVATORIES, among others, are all aware of the companion, but they too have yet to come forward.

To add fuel to the fire, Art Bell recently read a letter on the air sent by a person who identified himself as a priest formerly employed by the Vatican -- in ecclesiastical "Black Ops" no less -- who says he hacked into the Papal mainframe to discover files labeled "Wormwood" referencing the coming comet as a harbinger of the Great Tribulation. This letter, posted on Art Bell's Web site (, reads like a dime store thriller but provides no solid sources. It is only the latest in a flood of dubious "information" from psychic readings, remote viewers, and mystery astronomers -- none of which inspire much confidence.

Claiming a massive coverup by NASA, JPL and other agencies, IN SEARCH OF is circulating a petition asking government leaders for full disclosure of information about Comet Hale-Bopp. The petition makes some interesting allegations about the supposed discovery of Hale-Bopp in 1992, long before it was publicly announced in 1995 by Hale and Bopp. The full text of the petition can be found on the Web site at <>

And so the controversy simmers. It must be pointed out that not one single reputable scientist has spoken out publicly in favor of the companion. With the Hale-Bopp Comet disappearing behind the Sun for the next month, all we can do is hold our collective breaths in anticipation to what revelations the new year will bring. (JG)


By James Gregory

[This is a summary of a 25-page Special Report on Remote Viewing that was sent to all paid NHNE subscribers on November 27.]

Up until a year or so ago, the idea that a person could sit quietly in a darkened room and, using a simple mental discipline, be able to see things anywhere in the universe, past, present or future, would have been considered ridiculous. Then came the news that for 25 years the U.S. government has funded and operated a secret "psychic spy network" that, amongst other things, trained military personnel in the practice of remote viewing, supposedly permitting American operatives to delve unimpeded into the restricted secrets of foreign powers. The American government says it has now terminated its psychic spy network due to lack of success, but many people are coming forward with a different story.

The material on remote viewing is vast, so for the purposes of this article we focus primarily on two remote viewers who have been in the public eye recently -- Major Ed Dames, President of PSI TECH and Courtney Brown, President of the FARSIGHT INSTITUTE.

First of all, some basic information. Remote Viewing (RV) is a very systematic, controlled method of accessing information that is not normally available by any other source. It is independent of time, location, and space. Advocates claim there is a huge data bank that exists in the collective unconscious that can be accessed by anyone who has been properly trained. The technique was developed in 1983 with funding from the DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, and protocols derived by Ingo Swann, a natural psychic.

RV provides detailed information, but it needs to be taken and correlated with all other data about a subject in order to have a complete picture. RV does not do numbers well, nor does it do words or letters well. For instance, an Rver could not read a report that is in someone's safe, although they might be able to get the essence of it.

Unlike natural psychic ability, RV does not require any special abilities but it does require extensive training. The training is a carefully monitored and controlled process. Remote viewers who work for PSI TECH, for example, have all been through a one-year six-stage training program. There is also a carefully established methodology through which remote viewers are given their tasks, perform their RV, and write their reports.

In most cases, when a person remote views a subject, their monitor (a neutral observer) does not tell them the target. They are only given a number that corresponds to the target, which is usually sealed in an envelope. Sometimes the exercise is double blind, with the monitor not knowing the target either. Sessions last about 45 minutes because after that energy lags and the quality of the information suffers. At the end of the session, the viewer writes out a report and hands it over to the controller, who usually receives reports from other RVers as well. The controller analyzes the reports for similarities and differences and may send viewers back to the target to get additional data. Once the controller is satisfied with the information gathered, a final report is written. Ed Dames has claimed publicly that when his remote viewers gather data in the manner stated above, the pooled information is 100 percent accurate.

According to Dames, RV allows you to be able to stick your head up above the clouds into the collective unconscious and see where you have been, where you are going, and how you relate to the people and things around you in space and time. It is a stepping stone to an evolution of mind. Here are a few highlights of predictions gathered from PSI TECH remote-viewing sessions, as stated by Dames in two recent interviews on the Art Bell Show:

-- TWA Flight 800 was NOT shot down by a missile. The crash was due to the failure of an hydraulic pump on the Number 3 engine which ruptured a fuel line to the fuel tank. The result was a fuel-air explosion that tore the right wing off the jet.

-- Mars was inhabited long ago. The Martian environment was destroyed by a cosmic event that caused the planet to lose its atmosphere. The Greys (aliens from another star system) transplanted the genetic stock of the residents of Mars to Earth. This is reflected to a certain degree in the Mayan people, who also have some Martian cultural memories. There are still 15,000 to 20,000 Martians living under the surface of Mars.

-- There is something about the Hale-Bopp Comet that is not right -- it is as if it is under intelligent control.

-- The Earth's atmosphere is damaged beyond repair. This is more than just a big ozone hole -- there is a deterioration like a cancer of the upper levels of the troposphere and it's spreading fast. Single celled organisms are going to be hit the hardest, including the plankton in the ocean which provides most of the oxygen we breathe.

-- Within the next three and a half years a number of critical events -- famines, weather disruptions, disease, war, economic upheaval -- are going to occur. By the time of the "Out Years" 20 years from now, there could be a loss of as much as 80 percent of human life. Also during the next three and half years there is going to be something dramatic happen to human beings as a species. It will affect everybody on the planet and change us all.

PSI TECH has now placed a top priority on the gathering of information that will assist in survival. Dames recommends moving north to a colder climate. The lower temperatures will stay the introduction of tropical viruses, snow will provide fresh water, and the northern latitudes will miss most of the destructive winds. Food will be a very serious problem.

According to Courtney Brown, author of "Cosmic Voyage: A Scientific Discovery of Extraterrestrials Visiting Earth," there is no experiential difference when you remote view something in the past, present, or the future. It is as if all is here and now. Imagine looking out the window of a fast-moving train. A tree passes and in a moment it is gone, but just because you can't see it any more, it doesn't mean that the tree has ceased to exist. It is time which in fact does not exist. Here are a few highlights of predictions gathered from FARSIGHT remote-viewing sessions as stated by BROWN in two recent interviews on the Art Bell Show:

-- There are definitely changes coming. The fundamental driver will be the incredible number of people on the planet. By 2075, there are roving gangs on the surface. 300 years in the future, the Earth is being terraformed again by humans slowly coming out of the bunkers. However, the changes that are going to be gradual, and the near future for humans is one of the most exciting times to be alive on the planet.

-- Hundreds of millions of years ago, there was a civilization on Mars whose technology was similar to the Egyptians of 3,000 years ago. What Richard Hoagland and others have been saying about the Martian Cydonia complex is true -- it is clearly the ruins of an ancient Martian city. A large asteroid caused a planetary holocaust. Before the Martians were wiped out, something called the Galactic Federation ordered a group of aliens called Greys to rescue them. The Greys have the technical ability to move their ships through time as easily as space. They brought lots of those Martians up to the present time period and returned them to Mars. The Martians have to leave Mars now and they want to settle peacefully with us on Earth, but our planet is populated with hostile inhabitants who have movies about wiping out invasions from Mars. There are already some Martians on Earth. They have the technology to change the vibration of matter, so that their spaceships go right through solid rock. One of their bases is inside a mountain called Santa Fe Baldy in New Mexico. There are also villages of Martians on the surface of the Earth where they are mistaken for Native Americans. The rest of the galaxy is watching to find out what humans are going to do when we finally say, "We admit that you exist -- let's talk." Are humans going to send missiles or reach out with compassion? The situation on Mars is going to be coming to a head very soon because of the new probes we are sending up. Something will happen before the year 2000. Brown is so certain of the existence of Martians that he is risking his professional career on it.

-- The Greys, unlike the Martians, destroyed their own homeworld through wanton abuse of their environment, greed, and selfishness. Over the years they genetically-engineered emotion out of their society. Now they want to restore what they lost, by sharing in all the good stuff of our gene pool. They do this through abductions, but they only abduct people who have previously given them permission. In the future, the Greys will have their own planet again. This race will literally be our offspring, since they will be half us.

-- The crash of TWA Flight 800 was the result of a terrorist attack. The explosion was caused by a bomb or a missile.

-- The President of the U.S. will soon address the nation, telling us that extraterrestrial life exists -- not merely as bacteria from Mars, but living, sentient beings. The aliens will make themselves known and will fly openly in our skies for the whole world to see.

On November 15, 1996, one day after astronomer Chuck Shramek of Houston announced that he had discovered a ringed object four times the size of Earth moving near the Hale-Bopp Comet, Courtney Brown appeared on the Art Bell Radio Show to provide a detailed description of the astronomical anomaly based upon information gathered by his team of remote viewers: it is an artificial, hollow ET craft moving very fast; the government knows about it but is keeping it a secret; radio signals are coming from it but they have not been translated yet; it is a joint project of Greys, humans, Martians, and others; it will provide information to help ease humans through the coming transition and will help bring about a new era for humanity; there are more of them coming. The next day, Alan Hale, co-discoverer of the Hale-Bopp Comet refuted these claims by stating: "Shramek's 'mysterious object' is nothing more than a bright 9th-magnitude star and the 'Saturn-like rings' are a diffraction effect, a phenomenon which has been known and understood for centuries." One possible explanation of this apparent discrepancy is that the SLO ("Saturn-like object") pictured by Mr. Shramek was not the "anomalous object" targeted by the remote viewers; the other is that they are dead wrong. The remote viewers were not instructed to "view" specifically the SLO in Mr. Shramek's photo but rather any "anomalous objects near Hale-Bopp."

In summary, Ed Dames and Courtney Brown seem to be in agreement over the remarkable accounts about Martians and Greys. Despite evidence that the mysterious object seen near the Hale-Bopp Comet was a faint star, Brown still stands by his story that there is an ET spaceship. Dames and Brown are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the cause of the crash of PAN AM Flight 800. One of them has to be wrong, and at the moment the evidence seems to support Dames' view. Brown and Dames are far apart when it comes to looking at the future of the human race. Dames feels that the next three years are going to be traumatic and followed by a tremendous world-wide calamity; Brown sees the next few years as being rosy, and future changes being gradual. One of them is wrong. Ed Dames' company PSI TECH promises that the information provided by their remote viewers to their paying clients is 100 percent accurate. Courtney Brown was trained by Ed Dames, but Dames says that Brown has since strayed from the methodologies he was taught. All the remote viewers have had some spectacular hits. Some make ridiculous claims that cannot be verified. All have made mistakes. What to believe?

Remote viewing results have been consistently produced at STANFORD RESEARCH INSTITUTE, and replicated at the PRINCETON ENGINEERING ANOMALIES RESEARCH LABORATORY. So the issue is not so much does RV work, as HOW does it work? If remote viewing is valid, the repercussions are so great that they are difficult to grasp -- it upsets the paradigm upon which our scientific model of reality is based. There are no more secrets. Absolute truth is available to all. There are no boundaries between past, present, and future. Privacy becomes non-existent. And the implications of remote influencing (remote viewers interacting with the scene they are viewing) are too chilling to dwell on. Remote viewing also raises some troubling questions. What of the ethics of remote viewing? Are there some things that we are better off not knowing? What are the dangers of playing God? If, instead of spending their abilities on espionage, RVers put their energies towards healing and the gathering of knowledge, they might help us deepen and broaden our collective understanding of reality. The greatest implication of remote viewing is the possibility of a quantum leap in consciousness that would be nothing short of the birth of a new species of human being. This is powerful stuff. Caution and discernment are advised.

[NHNE is grateful to Rebecca Lee for her encouragement and support in the research for this report.] (Sources: Major General Stubblebine in a lecture to the INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON UFO RESEARCH in Denver, Colorado, 5/22-25/92; the ART BELL SHOW, 5/31/96, 6/14/96, 7/19/96, 9/14/96, 9/15/96; PSI TECH Web Site: <>; FARSIGHT INSTITUTE Web Site: <>; Michael Lindemann, CNI NEWS, 11/16/96; Russell Sipes, Alan Hale, Hale-Bopp Web Site: <>; Goro Adachi; INTUITION, Sept-Oct/96)


By James Gregory

"Everything there is to know about Mary in the New Testament you could copy on an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet," says Jaroslav Pelikan, author of "Mary Through the Centuries." He continues, "To go from such skimpy evidence to what she has become is an astonishing example of how an idea can develop out of small beginnings."

Two billion Hail Marys are said daily; five million pilgrims, many non-Christian, visited the Marian shrine at Lourdes this year; more girls have been named for Mary than any other historical figure; apparitions of Mary are increasing around the world, she is mentioned 34 times in the Koran; and references to Mary are even creeping back into Methodist hymnals. How has such an unknown figure grown to become such an immense personality?

The cultus of Mary started with a Second Century document called "The Book of James," which provided details about Mary's birth, marriage, and annunciation by the Angel Gabriel. In the year 431, against much opposition, the Council of Ephesus accorded her the title, "Mother of God." Historian Karen Armstrong is of the opinion that this action boosted Mary towards "celebrity" status. Author of "A History of God," Armstrong comments, "In each age, people have changed their definition of Mary to fit their own circumstances." As a result, Mary has many different faces: human; docile and handmaidenly; smart and strong; saintly and capable of supernatural appearances; and even a military figure -- the fleet of Constantinople went off to battle with the image of the Virgin on the sails of their warships.

Mary was one of the reasons Protestant reformers like Luther and Calvin split with the Catholic Church. While the reformers preferred the simple biblical view of Mary, the Catholic Church chose a more ethereal image with new details being constantly revealed. For example, the Council of Trent (1545-1563) promoted Marian devotion, the Feast of the Holy Rosary was instituted in 1573, and in the last 150 years the Vatican issued two dogmas concerning Mary -- absolute belief in the Immaculate Conception (that Mary was born without original sin) and the Assumption (that Mary was taken bodily up Heaven upon her death).

The tide seemed to change when the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) narrowly approved a motion to downplay the role of Mary. However in 1969, Pope Paul VI lifted the canonical requirement for religious books, opening a floodgate of books on Marian apparitions. Then in 1974, Pope Paul sought to establish Mary as a woman of action and the champion of the oppressed, much to the delight of feminists everywhere. In 1978, Pope John Paul II ascended the papal throne. The Polish pope became the standard bearer for the world's classical Marians. His motto became "Totus Tui" (All Yours) in reference to Mary. When he managed to survive an assassination attempt on May 13, 1981, he noted that it was the anniversary of Church-approved apparition at Fatima, and attributed his good fortune to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. He also attributed the fall of communism to Mary.

However, John Paul's view of the Virgin is so traditional that it has created division within the Church. He venerates the Holy Mother, but says that women can't be priests, charges author Fr. Andrew Greely. Feminist theologian and author of "Hail Mary?" Maurice Hamington counters, "If archaeologists were to come back 2,000 years from now and find all these images of Mary in churches, they'd say, 'Wow, that must have been a very feminist, woman-oriented society!'"

The Virgin is now even on the Internet. "Interlupe" (, the Web site of the Virgin of Guadalupe, was unveiled in November at the 21st NATIONAL GUADALUPE CONGRESS in Mexico City. Millions of Latin Americans believe the dark-skinned Blessed Virgin made her appearance before a poor Indian named Juan Diego on a hill outside modern Mexico City in 1531; in 1995 alone, 10 million devotees visited the cathedral built in her honor on the spot. For the natives, the Virgin of Guadalupe offered the strength to endure life's hardships. But she has become more for present day Latino America. She symbolizes the Latino struggle for justice and the strength not only to persevere but to overcome. For the Latinos she has also become a pop icon. A San Antonio artist combined her image with that of the famous painting of da Vinci and called it "Mona Lupe." Art galleries have devoted whole shows to her. Some Latina women have adopted her as a feminist goddess, basing their belief on the claim that the Virgin was the result of Spanish invaders co-opting the powerful Aztec goddess Tonantzin, the symbol of life, wisdom, and regeneration in their efforts to tame the Indians into submission. "Traditionally, the Catholic Church has been interested in spreading its message in all the media," said Arturo Garza, Computer Systems Director for the Archbishop of Mexico City. "The first printed book was the Bible. So it shouldn't be astonishing that now we're on the Internet."

There seems to be an emotional need for Mary in this troubled world, so much so that even people without an obvious link to the Virgin are being drawn to her. Forrest Church, a former Catholic, now Unitarian minister comments, "I envy Catholicism its Mary. She lends the idea of God a feminine face and makes the idea more available. I would like to think that... someday, a human Mary who represents our mothers could be a bridge between religions. We [could all] come together through Mary." (Sources: Jaun Palomo, USA TODAY, 12/10/96; Robert Sullivan & Cynthia Fox, LIFE, 12/96; REUTERS, 12/2/96)

[See News Briefs 1, 9, 10 & 25 for more information on Mary and Marian appearances around the world.]



A Third Grade teacher in Chula Vista asked her students to explain "God." Danny Dutton, an eight year old who attends the FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH of Chula Vista, had this to say:

"One of God's main jobs is making people. He makes these to put in place of the ones that die so there will be enough people to take care of things here on Earth. He doesn't make grownups -- just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way He doesn't have to take up His valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that up to the mothers and fathers. I think it works out pretty good.

"God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, as some people, like preachers and things, pray other times besides bedtime. God doesn't have time to listen to the radio or TV on account of this. As He hears everything, not only prayers, there must be a terrible lot of noise going into His ears unless He has thought of a way to turn it off.

"God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere, which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn't go wasting His time by going over your parent's head and ask for something they said you couldn't have.

"Jesus is God's Son. He used to do all the hard work like walking on water and doing miracles and trying to teach people about God who didn't want to learn. They finally got tired of Him preaching to them and they crucified Him. But He was good and kind like His Father and He told His Father that they didn't know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said "OK." His Dad appreciated everything He had done and all His hard work on earth, so He told Him He didn't have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So He did. An now He helps His Dad out by listening to prayers and seeing which things are important for God to take care of and which ones He can take care of Himself without having to bother God with. Like a secretary, only more important. You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to hear you because they've got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time.

"You should always go to Sunday School because it makes God happy, and if there's anybody you want to make happy, it's God. Don't skip Sunday School to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. That is wrong. And besides the sun doesn't come out at the beach until noon anyway.

"If you don't believe in God, you will be very lonely, because your parents can't go everywhere with you like to camp, but God can. It's good to know He's around when you're scared of the dark or when you can't swim very good and you get thrown in real deep water by big kids. I figure God put me here and He can take me back anytime He pleases.

"And that's why I believe in God."

[Our thanks to Allison Craig for passing this story on to us.]


(Source: John Leo, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT, 1/4/96)

The crime rate in New York City has dropped in all five of the city's boroughs. This year it is estimated that there will be about 1,000 murders, down considerably from the 2,245 in 1992. Incidences of assault, robbery, and rape are plummeting as well. Subways are safer and cleaner too. No train is allowed to leave the yards with a single mark of graffiti on it. Journalist Pete Hammill observes, "It's like a siege has been lifted."

There are many theories as to why this is happening now: prison building paying off, turf wars declining because most of the hard-core gang members have been killed, police department beefing up, a wave of Asian immigrants breathing new life and hope into the city. While all these may be factors, reporter John Leo thinks the main reason the crime rate in New York City has fallen is because of a very deliberate attempt by city authorities to fight the disorder that weakens neighborhoods -- panhandling, graffiti, drunks sleeping on sidewalks, wrecked cars, and street people taking over parks.

This "broken windows" theory, first described in 1982 by political scientist James Q. Wilson and criminologist George Kelling, seems to fly in the face the "root causes" theory -- that crime rates won't fall until poverty and despair are eliminated. Whatever the reason, the good news is that it is happening, and not only in New York City, but Los Angeles and Houston as well. (JG)


David Sunfellow (DS)

James Gregory (JG)

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Lea Harwood (LH)
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Cynthia Stringer (CS)
Kathleen-Blake Frankel (KBF)
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Deb Jamerson (DJ)
Mary Koch (MK)

NHNE Web Page Programming:
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