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Spiritual yearning

London, Nov. 12 (AP): The success of fantasy films such as Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series reveals a widespread yearning for spiritual experience, a retired church of England bishop said today.

Jim Thompson, the former bishop of Bath and Wells, said the films’ success was partly due to “the re-creation of what has been lost to so many modern minds, namely the eternal dimension central to most religions, especially the Christian faith.”

Religious reaction to Harry Potter has been mixed. Evangelical groups have condemned the boy wizard for glamorising the occult, but last month an ecumenical group, churches together in Britain and Ireland, cited J.K. Rowling’s best-selling books as a good way of illustrating important themes like the battle between good and evil.

Fur foxed

n London (Reuters): Glamorous British pop star Sophie Ellis Bextor is fronting a new anti-fur campaign which features her holding up the bloody carcass of a skinned fox. The singer, whose hits include Murder on the Dancefloor and Take Me Home, is the latest in a line of celebrities to appear in campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), the group said on Tuesday. Ellis Bextor was photographed wearing a black evening dress and holding up the carcass with the caption: “Would you like the rest of your fur coat'” She said in a statement: “I think fur is really pathetic when there are so many alternatives.”

Spanish sun

Madrid (Reuters): Spain has chosen a movie about shipbuilders left unemployed when their shipyards shut down as its candidate for an Oscar nomination in the “best foreign language film” category, Spain’s Cinema Academy said on Monday. Mondays in the Sun, a grim feature film about life in northwestern Spain after the main source of income and pride leaves the town, beat out Oscar-winning director Pedro Almodovar’s Talk to Her as the selection.

Opera rise

n Rome (Reuters): Venice’s legendary La Fenice opera house, which burnt down in 1996, will rise from the ashes at the end of 2003 after repeated rebuilding delays, the city’s mayor said on Monday. The curtain will rise at La Fenice — Phoenix in English — on December 14 next year with a programme of concerts and a ballet.


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