Notre Dame ReSources

Author: Dennis Brown

p. *Notre Dame ReSources
March 30 – April 5, 1997

  • p. Please feel free to call the following Notre Dame faculty for additional comment on these people and events in the news: <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />

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Heaven’s Gate: The fact that members of the Heaven’s Gate cult who killed themselves last week also were computer experts who designed home pages on the World Wide Web “makes a certain kind of sense,” says R. Scott Appleby , associate professor of history at Notre Dame and codirector of The Fundamentalism Project. “Cyberspace is the best ‘place’ in the world to shed an old identity and create a new one – precisely because it is not really ‘in the world’ at all. In faceless, disembodied cyberspace, one can readily escape one’s past and project an image that becomes a new reality. One need only consult the Yahoo site to see how readily Internet junkies manipulate their identities on a day-to-day basis. Cyberspace is thus a naturally – or unnaturally – effective recruiting tool for new religious movements. The new identity of the cult member is itself the result of the mixing and matching of disparate elements – in Heaven Gate’s case, an amalgam of comets, UFOs, apocalyptic images, and bits of traditional Christianity. The result is ‘bricolage religion,’ perhaps the most prevalent form of spirituality in America today.” (219) 631-5441; appleby.3@nd.edu * .p. *Middle East tensions: While of concern, current conflicts in the Middle East must be kept in perspective, says Alan Dowty, professor of government and international relations at Notre Dame. “Memories are short and hyperbole is ever with us,” he notes. “At the time of the tunnel affair last fall, and at several other points in the recent past – after terror incidents or breakdowns in negotiation – there have been proclamations of a low point in the peace process. This is not to minimize the current situation, but merely to put it in perspective. In order to reach the Hebron agreement (Israeli prime minister Benjamin) Netanyahu had to desert many of his own right-wing supporters, and it was predictable that afterward he would move in their direction. On the other side, now that the final status issues are next on the table, the Palestinians will react very vociferously to any move that tends to predetermine the outcome, such as a new Jewish neighborhood across the former line in Jerusalem. In a sense we have entered the end-game, and there are going to be very bumpy ups and downs as both sides posture and foment to shape the final outcome. This may occasionally derail the process for a time, but not permanently. We have come a long way since 1993, when no Israeli government would speak openly with the PLO; now even a right-wing government consults daily with (PLO chairman Yasir) Arafat and hints that a Palestinian state is inevitable.” (219) 631-5098; dowty.1@nd.edu * .p. *Secrets: Psychologists have maintained that it is healthy to share traumatic personal secrets. But a new study by Anita Kelly , assistant professor of psychology at Notre Dame, runs counter to that long-held assumption. “Although there are physical and psychological symptoms associated with carrying the traumatic burden alone, revealing secrets involves risks, such as the possibility of being rejected by and alienated from the listener,” Kelly and her colleague, Kevin McKilley, write in their study. “Revealing a secret may cause increased discomfort for both the secret-keeper and the confidant.” Kelly suggests “judicious revelation.” (219) 631-7048 .p. OKC trial: Recent reports of problems in the FBI’s laboratories could affect the trials of Oklahoma City bombing suspects Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, says Jimmy Gurule , professor of law at Notre Dame and author of the recently published “Complex Criminal Litigation.” “The case will rise or fall on the forensic evidence and whether the reports of contamination in the FBI lab raise reasonable doubt,” says Gurule. “That issue could be a real wild card in the case.” (219) 631-5917 .p. Dead Sea Scrolls: The discovery 50 years ago of the Dead Sea Scrolls has been justifiably “hailed as the greatest archeological discovery of the 20th century,” says James VanderKam, professor of theology at Notre Dame and an editor on the scrolls translation team. Notre Dame and Hebrew University in Jerusalem are the two primary sites for the editing of the scrolls. “These 800-plus Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts, which date from the last centuries BC and the first century AD, give us our earliest copies of biblical books and more than 600 other works, many of them unknown before,” VanderKam adds. “They provide a window on Judaism of the time and invaluable background information for the beginnings of Christianity. Now, 50 years after the discovery, publication is moving more rapidly than ever and we’re pleased to be playing a part in that process.” (219) 631-5162; vanderkam.1@nd.edu * .p. *President’s Summit: The President’s Summit for America’s Future, April 27-29 in Philadelphia, promises to be an “exciting event in which those of us in higher education can work together with business, government, religious groups, service agencies and other sectors of society to coordinate community service opportunities nationwide,” says Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C. , president of Notre Dame. “I know personally the value of community service; that it can, in fact, be a life-changing experience,” says Father Malloy, whose participation as a student at Notre Dame in a summer service program led to his decision to become a priest. “The President’s Summit is an ideal opportunity for all of us who share concern for the less fortunate in this country to bring our collective energy together for the common good.” (219) 631-6755 .p. Note: Six organizations at Notre Dame — the Alumni Association Community Service Program, Community Relations, the Alliance for Catholic Education, Holy Cross Associates, the Center for Social Concerns and the athletic department’s Life Skills Program — have made specific service and programming commitments to the summit. For more information, call (219) 631-7367 .p. Jackie Robinson: While marking the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color barrier in major league baseball, fans also should take a moment to remember where Robinson and other African-American baseball stars came from, Notre Dame historian Richard Pierce says. “Robinson’s destruction of the ‘color line’ also was the beginning of the end for the Negro Leagues,” says Pierce, a specialist in African-American history. “Robinson not only took the hopes and aspirations of his race, he also took the fans and black media with him to the major leagues and away from the Negro National and American Leagues. It is no coincidence that the Dodgers set National League home and road attendance records for the 1947 season. Attendance by blacks at Ebbets Field rose 400 percent in Robinson’s first season. It is impossible to overestimate the pride African-Americans have for Jackie Robinson. But the ultimate demise of the Negro Leagues was a loss of one of the most visible cultural elements of black communities.” *(219) 631-7191; pierce.15@nd.edu * .

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