Paganism returns to the Holy Land

Paganism returns to the Holy LandLike many other soldiers who took part in the Gaza operation, Omer, 20, occasionally took a few moments to pray, but he did not pray to the Lord of Israel. Omer considers himself pagan, and has sworn allegiance to three ancient gods. During combat, he says they appeared before him, giving him strength during the most arduous moments.

Omer is still in the army, and therefore refused to be interviewed for this story. Yet he did say he belongs to a religion whose goal is to revive worship of ancient gods.

Pope condemns sorcery, urges Angolans to convert

Pope condemns sorcery, urges Angolans to convertLUANDA, Angola – Pope Benedict XVI appealed to the Catholics of Angola on Saturday to reach out to and convert believers in witchcraft who feel threatened by "spirits" and "evil powers" of sorcery.

On his first pilgrimage to Africa, the pope drew on the more than 500 years of Roman Catholicism in Angola, saying that Christianity was a bridge between the local peoples and the Portuguese settlers.

"In today's Angola," the pope said in a homily at Mass, "Catholics should offer the message of Christ to the many who live in the fear of spirits, of evil powers by whom they feel threatened, disoriented, even reaching the point of condemning street children and even the most elderly because — they say — they are sorcerers."

Coalition formed to save Shaman Drum

Coalition formed to save Shaman DrumA new coalition has been formed to save Ann Arbor literary institution Shaman Drum Bookshop, according to a letter distributed Friday by University of Michigan professor Julie Ellison.

The group envisions turning the store into a nonprofit "humanities commons," possibly linked in some way to U-M through a campus/community alliance.

Peru: Hell and Back

Peru: Hell and BackFor centuries, Amazonian shamans have used ayahuasca as a window into the soul. The sacrament, they claim, can cure any illness. The author joins in this ancient ritual and finds the worlds within more terrifying—and enlightening—than ever imagined.

I will never forget what it was like. The overwhelming misery. The certainty of never-ending suffering. No one to help you, no way to escape. Everywhere I looked: darkness so thick that the idea of light seemed inconceivable.

Scientists meet to save Lascaux cave from fungus

Scientists meet to save Lascaux cave from fungusPARIS – Geologists, biologists and other scientists convened Thursday in Paris to discuss how to stop the spread of fungus stains — aggravated by global warming — that threaten France's prehistoric Lascaux cave drawings.

Black stains have spread across the cave's prehistoric murals of bulls, felines and other images, and scientists have been hard-pressed to halt the fungal creep.