Stonehenge is believed to have been built around 3100 B.C. The Great Pyramids of Egypt are dated 2560 B.C.
Those two renowned examples of monumental architecture may soon be eclipsed by a series of stone pillars being unearthed in southern Turkey.
National Geographic reported in its June issue that Göbekli Tepe (pronounced Guh-behk-LEE TEH-PEH) is the world's oldest known architectural monument, built about 11,600 years ago by hunter-gatherers in southeastern Turkey.
The site is near the Syrian border and by the city of Sanhurfa, where the Prophet Abraham is believed to have been born.
The T-shaped pillars are up to 18 feet tall, weigh as much as 16 tons, and are decorated with ornate bas relief animals. The pillars were carved from limestone quarries in neighboring valleys and lugged, without the aid of wheels or draft animals, to a remote site where they were arranged in circles. Up to 20 such rings have been discovered.
Much is yet to be learned about the people who built these pillars and their intentions. But the monuments, discovered in 1994 by Klaus Schmidt of the German Archaeological Institute, have caused anthropologists to rethink prevailing theories on the origins of religion.
"Anthropologists have assumed that organized religion began as a way of salving the tensions that inevitably arose when hunter-gatherers settled down, became farmers, and developed large societies," Charles C. Mann wrote in the National Geographic article. But with Göbekli Tepe believed to have been built by nomads, it suggests "the human impulse to gather for sacred rituals" predated the rise of villages and agriculture.
More information is available online at nationalgeographic.com.
Priest interview: The Rev. Patrick Rohen, a Toledo diocesan priest, retired U.S. Army captain, and former chaplain at the Ohio Veterans' Home in Sandusky, will be featured in an interview on Marcus Grodi's show, The Journey Home, set for broadcast at 8 p.m. Monday on the EWTN cable network.
This will be the third appearance on Mr. Grodi's program for Father Rohen. The show will be rebroadcast at 1 a.m. Tuesday; 2 p.m. Thursday, and 11 p.m. July 9.
Need a blessing? Almost everyone is looking for blessings of some kind, according to Christian singer-songwriter Michael W. Smith.
Some are looking for better jobs, or more income, or less stress, or maybe a better church. Others are seeking divine help to cope with cheating spouses, children on drugs, or addictions to alcohol or gambling.
In his travels across the country, Mr. Smith found "pain in the midst of our land of plenty. And I really hurt for these people," he writes in his latest book, What I Learned from a Simple Blessing: The Extroardinary Power of an Ordinary Prayer (Zondervan).
Mr. Smith said he wrote a blessing by researching the subject and composing verses "from my own heart."
He began speaking it aloud to his audiences at the end of his concerts and the responses, he said, have been "overwhelming."
Mr. Smith said he decided to write a book about the blessing in hopes of reaching a broader audience, one not limited to his concert crowds.
Each of the book's six chapters addresses a specific area of the blessing: praying for others, spiritual health, a pure mind, personal holiness, backyard blessings, and spiritual victory.
Leaving the priesthood: The Rev. John Corapi, a popular Catholic priest and best-selling author, is leaving the priesthood and beginning a new ministry outside church control called the Black Sheep Dog, according to the National Catholic Register.
The newspaper reports in its July 3-16 edition that Father Corapi that he resigned from the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, or SOLT, because "the physical, emotional, and spiritual distress" he has endured over the last few years made it impossible to continue functioning as a priest in the religious order.
Father Corapi had been removed from public ministry by SOLT as it conducted an investigation into alleged misconduct claimed by one of the priest's former employees.
The order said in a statement that it had reached "no conclusion as to the credibility of the allegations under investigation" and that "Father Corapi had not been determined guilty of any canonical or civil crimes."
David Yonke is The Blade's religion editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6154.