Amid wishes for a merry Christmas, Bishop Emilio...

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December 20, 1991

FOR SALE: Amid wishes for a merry Christmas, Bishop Emilio de Carvalho of Luanda, Angola, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, said such sentiments seem odd in the world's trouble spots.

"Let us not fool one another with superficial messages of Christmas that only touch the surface of human life," he said, citing pains of war and uncertainty in Angola, Zaire, Liberia and Yugoslavia.

He said, "For many of us who have lived 'on the spot,' Christmas means that the Savior . . . came to identify himself with those

who suffer, to make them wish for a new life."

"No matter in what circumstances people live, the joy of having a Savior is far more embracing than the joy that comes from comfort, from wealth and from a good life. . . .

"It is the knowledge of a redeeming Christ, which makes men and women rejoice and feel happy. Have, then, a merry Christmas."

Scrolls arrive:

Princeton Theological Seminary says it has received a full set of photographs of the Dead Sea Scrolls from the Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif.

That institution previously had opened its photographs of the scrolls to scholars, breaking a monopoly a small group of translators have had for 40 years.

Genetics and theology:Genetics and theology: Concerned that genetic engineers may soon be "playing God," the federal government has hired a group of theologians to ponder the philosophic fallout from the largest research project in the history of biology.

Diving into the bio-ethical quagmire is the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley, Calif., which last month landed a $300,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the specter of genetic engineering.

Rapid advances in the understanding of human genes have already begun producing new treatments and potential cures to some of the 4,000 diseases where heredity plays a role. At the same time, however, theologians warn that knowledge gained from this research could put genetic engineers in the position of "playing God."

At issue are the religious and ethical questions raised by the Human Genome Project, a multibillion-dollar study that could unlock some of the deepest mysteries of human existence.

The project is an international effort to spend at least 15 years and $3 billion mapping the location of some 100,000 genes hidden within the molecules of the chemical DNA. These molecules of genetic material in every cell of the body contain the story of human heredity.

Attitudes harden:

Attitudes of American Jews toward the Arab-Israeli conflict have hardened considerably since the Gulf War, says a study made for the American Jewish Committee.

It says U.S. Jews exhibit a stable and increasingly strong attachment to Israel, and hold less flexible views on the Palestinian problem, perception of Arab intentions and the land-for-peace issue.

Briefly noted:

The Vision Interfaith Satellite Network is to mark Christmas with 48 hours of non-stop holiday fare from Christmas Eve through the morning of Dec. 26, featuring an international lineup of music, worship, documentary, drama and children's

programming.

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