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The Miracle

Wed, 29 Jul 2009 00:57:00 +0000


In these times of rising unemployment, spare a thought for Father Tomislav Vladic, of Medjugorje in Bosnia, who's just been defrocked by the Pope for being the chief promoter of his town's holy shrine, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared over 40,000 times since 1981 – which by my humble atheistic calculations works out an impressive 3 or 4 times a day.

Of course, normally you'd expect promoting a holy shrine to attract the Holy Father's favour, but unfortunately for Vladic Mary's appearances at Medjugorje have not been verified by the Catholic Church – in the words of the Daily Mail, "three commissions failed to find evidence to support the visionaries' claims".

We all know the Pope loves a good supernatural miracle, but only when it's a real supernatural miracle. With this in mind, the people of Rathkeale in Limerick ought to be careful – as we reported earlier this month, pilgrims have been flocking to a Mary-shaped tree trunk there, but the apparition has not received the approval of the local priest, who told the press:
"The Church's response to phenomena of this type is one of great scepticism. While we do not wish in any way to detract from devotion to Our Lady, we would also wish to avoid anything which might lead to superstition."
Now it's one thing getting a ticking off from a priest, but if the good folk of Limerick aren't careful they'll have the Pope weighing in as he has by defrocking Father Vladic. Although it has taken him 28 years to do anything about that...

Is this What God Wants for us?

Tue, 28 Jul 2009 06:17:00 +0000

Demand for an Afrikaans sex magazine that targets married, Christian women and shatters prissy Calvinistic stereotypes has increased so much that an English version will hit the shelves next month.

The launch edition of Intimacy - which features lap-dancing, submission and a tricky question about parental sex on the cover - follows a 300 percent growth in demand for Intiem magazine, which was launched in 2006.

“We strive to empower Christian women not to feel guilty for enjoying this God-given pleasure which is sex, but rather to embrace it,” said managing editor Liezel van der Merwe.

Writing on sex from a Christian perspective had been a difficult challenge, with sex and religion both highly sensitive topics and few guidelines in the Bible, said Van der Merwe.

“You won’t find any information on, say, masturbation, oral sex or how to spice up your sex life in the Bible. So the only thing one can do is to take the general guidelines that were given to us and apply it to the best of our knowledge and with guidance from the Holy Spirit.”

Readers reacted positively from the start despite the team having braced itself for criticism from religious sources. Some of the most loyal readers were ministers, sexologists and conservative readers and more than a third were men.

An online sex shop ( had also been very successful. Each magazine issue also offered a choice of “mild to hot” toys to spice up readers’ sex lives, which are encouraged for use with partners.

“Sex shops are not women-friendly places and lots of women still see them as sleazy and ‘dark’. We aimed to provide a friendly place from where women could order toys without having to pluck up the courage to visit one of these places,” Van der Merwe said.

The quarterly Afrikaans version, which has a 30 000 distribution run and a LSM 8-10 readership, will be translated and adapted for English-speakers to appeal to a multicultural audience. The original target market’s readiness for a controversial, niche publication had been underestimated, she said

“While we believed that it was only Afrikaans women from a Calvinistic upbringing who had a need for a magazine which speaks openly and freely about sex, we soon came to realise that this was not the case. This was the obvious next step.”

The magazines were not Christian publications, but written from a Christian perspective, she clarified.

This meant monogamy was endorsed and marital affairs condemned. And while experiments with oral sex might be encouraged, no articles written for gay couples would ever be found.

Readers were left to choose what they felt comfortable with, from their religious perspectives, in the covering of topics such as submission in marriage.

“We believe that if a sex act stays within a marriage, is shared by only husband and wife, and both of them are comfortable with and enthusiastic about doing whatever they are doing, it can only be beneficial to the marriage.

“And this is what God wants for us.”

Are Christian Magazines Obsolete

Tue, 28 Jul 2009 01:05:00 +0000


At one time, Christ Community Music or CCM Magazine was the top selling item at Ingram Periodicals. Last year, Christ Community Music published its final print issue. Then, a month ago, Ignite Your Faith, the updated version of Campus Life ceased print publication. This week, we learn that Discipleship Journal (DJ) has ceased publication with nine staff members laid off immediately.

In each case, the decision makers were different: Salem Communications, Christianity Today, Inc., and NavPress respectively. A number of Focus on the Family magazines changed ownership last month as well.

Magazines were once a Christian bookstore owner’s best friend. Newsstand readers (non-subscribers) meant additional store traffic. Or, placed by the checkout, could be a valuable add-on sale. Magazines could be a profitable commodity, yet many contained advertising, reviews and author/artist information that would boost sales in other departments.

For many frazzled store owners and managers, the monthly deadlines for strip-cover returns also meant another headache. It was impossible not to have ambivalent feelings for the magazine section of the store.

Everything, from the above mentioned mainstream magazines to niche publications like the satirical Wittenberg Door magazine continue to have a presence online, however. Given that online magazines can offer benefits now without costs, referring customers to them might seem like a good idea.

However, many magazines are forming or have formed partnerships with online vendors which — having a captive online audience — could take business away from your store with just the click of the mouse. So, do you think christian magazines are really obsolete? Do people still want or read these publications?