Caf-Pow! NCIS’ Goth Grrrrl on Prayer and God

Here’s yet another reason we love NCIS‘ punk-forensic-grrrrl Abby. She’s Methodist.

NCIS is a classic American “police procedural.” The JAG spin-off is now one of America’s most watched dramas. NCIS’ winning formula involves comic elements, ensemble acting, and character-driven plots.

Like the best detective novels or murder mysteries, it assumes a world of high moral standards and in each episode that world is disrupted by crime and the team works to restore the balance of justice.

Integral to the team is goth, tattooed and pierced Forensic Specialist Abigail “Abby” Sciuto, played by Pauley Perrette. Her skillful acting in this delightful, wicked smart, funny, and powerful role has singlehandedly empowered girls to pursue careers in science. It’s even got a name: The Abby Effect.

“Part of ‘The Abby Effect’ has been this incredible role model for young girls,” she says. “I hear from them or their parents and their grandparents all the time. Some of them started watching the show when they were 12 and now they’re going to college. ‘Abby’ has made it a viable opportunity for them. You can go into science and math. That’s amazing. Women were never encouraged to go into hard science or math. Now there have been girls going into science and math because of a television character,” she says.

Perrette has degrees in sociology, psychology and criminal science. She’s also regularly attends Hollywood United Methodist Church. More recently she’s joined the UMC’s Imagine No Malaria campaign.

Check out the short video below to hear Perrette talk about her relationship with God, how she prays, and what her church community means to her. (A shout-out to Julie for sending this video.)

Pauley Perrette is the narrator of a TV special called Killer in the Dark: An Extraordinary Effort to Combat Malaria. The program documents the daily struggle in Africa against malaria and highlights the work of Imagine No Malaria to wipe out the disease. The program is presented by the National Council of Churches under the auspices of the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission and produced by United Methodist Communications.

News Flash:Palestinians Allowed to Travel to Jerusalem for Easter

Freedom march from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, 27.03.2010The Israeli Embassy has confirmed this afternoon with Sojourners that travel restrictions preventing Palestinian Christians from entering Jerusalem for Holy Week and Easter have been lifted.

[UPDATE since this story was first posted at 5pm 3/31/2010 : According to representatives from Holy Land Trust, two staff members of which are still in prison after a nonviolent demonstration against such restrictions: By “lifting” travel restrictions from the West Bank to Jerusalem, Israeli officials are merely referring to ending a total curfew imposed a few days ago on access even to people previously granted selective permission to get into Jerusalem. This does not mean that all Palestinian Christians are now allowed entry into Jerusalem to freely celebrate Easter. This only means that Christians who applied for a permission (not all did or could) and who got one (not all did or could) can now take advantage of the permission (if they got it) that “allows” them to enter from one occupied territory into another through the long and humiliating process of going through the checkpoints. Even then, restrictions have already been put in place on access to the Old City for the Holy Fire service on Holy Saturday, which is the most important ceremony for the Greek Orthodox and the Eastern rite communities. Israeli army radio reported 10,000 permits were granted this year; not even a quarter of the Christians in the West Bank. ]

This afternoon, Rev. Michael Kinnamon, the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, received a telephone call from Dr. Michael Oren, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, stating that travel restrictions that prevented Palestinian Christians from visiting Christian sacred sites in Jerusalem were at least temporarily lifted.

“I received a call from (Oren) indicating he had been in touch with Israeli officials,” said Kinnamon in a press release, “and that they have now assured him that travel restrictions on Palestinian Christians from the West Bank have been lifted for Easter — and that we should notify him directly if there are reports from check points that these orders are not being followed.”

NCC press secretary Philip Jenks told Sojourners that Rev. Kinnamon had sent a letter to the Middle East Council of Churches notifying them of the phone call. The letter stated:

“The National Council of Churches in the USA has been deeply disturbed with reports of travel restrictions on Christians from the West Bank who may try to reach Jerusalem for Easter-related events and services. In that regard we enlisted the help of Jewish leaders in the United States, and they urged the Israeli government to rethink this policy.

On Wednesday morning I received a call from Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, indicating that he had been in touch with Israeli officials and that they have now assured him that travel restrictions on Palestinian Christians from the West Bank have been lifted for Easter — and that we should notify him directly if there are reports from check points that these new orders are not being followed.”

Joshua Silverberg, press secretary for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., confirmed that the facts of this announcement were true and consistent with what the Ambassador had conveyed. Sojourners has not yet been able to confirm with Palestinian Christians or the Ecumenical Accompaniment Teams if the checkpoints are open.–by Rose Marie Berger

Rose Marie Berger, an associate editor at Sojourners, blogs at www.rosemarieberger.com. She’s the author of the forthcoming book Who Killed Donte Manning?: The Story of an American Neighborhood (Apprentice House, April 2010).

Richard Killmer: Why Torture is Wrong

blackwater1Torture is an assault on human dignity — both the dignity of the victim and the inflicter. While the Obama administration has worked hard to try to reverse the abhorrent policies of the Bush administration on torture, there’s still a long way to go. The Guantanamo detention camp is still functioning. The “black sites” are still hidden and functioning around the world under shadowy CIA-leadership. Rogue dictators and militias still brutalize the innocent. In other words, the insidious underside of human sin is still dismembering people and their families in hidden cells around the world.

Richard Killmer, former head of the National Council of Churches, was profiled in the digital edition of U.S. News and World Report this week. Killmer now heads up the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, a leading coalition of faith groups in the U.S. trying to dismantle the torture policies. Killmer was interviewed by Alex Kingsbury in the article The Morality of Torture. This is a great piece to distribute in your church bulletins. It’s short and to the point. It appeals to political conservatives and liberals – and has Bible. Here’s a quote:

Before 9/11, there was national consensus on the illegitimacy of torture. After all, it was President Reagan who made the country a signatory in 1984 to the United Nations Conventions Against Torture, which both banned the practice and called for universal jurisdiction for its prosecution. But the events of the intervening years have changed the nation to the point where Killmer’s message is now that of a radical. “I don’t know what has gone so wrong,” says Killmer, sitting in his modest office across the street from the Supreme Court. “Whatever the political or security issues are, they don’t change the basic moral fact that some things are always, always, always wrong.”

Read the whole article here.