Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The man who shot up a training center for missionaries and a church in suburban Denver, killing four people and wounding a number of others, has been identified:
A law enforcement official says the deadly rampages at a megachurch and a missionary training school were believed to have been carried out by the same person—Matthew Murray, a 24-year-old suburban Denver man who "hated Christians."
It is perhaps worth noting that the toll in Sunday's shootings exceeded the combined total in all "hate crimes" against Muslims in the six years since September 11.
The heroine who stopped the anti-Christian was from Sioux Falls.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Macartney, J. (2007). The book they used to burn now fires new revolution of faith in China. Times Online. December 8, 2007. Available online: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article3019026.ece.
Amity Printing, which has a monopoly on legal printing of the Bible in China, is expanding its facilities to keep up with increased purchases:
Demand for the Bible is soaring in China, at a time when meteoric economic growth is testing the country’s allegiance to Communist doctrine. Today the 50 millionth Bible will roll off the presses of China’s only authorised publisher, Amity Printing, amid public fanfare and celebration.
In the past, foreign visitors were discouraged from bringing Bibles into the country in case they received some heavy-handed treatment from zealous Customs officials.
Such is the demand in China for Bibles that Amity Printing can scarcely keep pace. Early next year it will move into a new, much larger factory on the edge of the eastern city of Nanjing to become the world’s single-biggest producer of Bibles.
Most Bibles are for the internal domestic marketing, and are printed both in Chinese characters and minority languages. The hottest selling bibles are small-print, and thus target young adults
New Zealander Peter Dean, of the United Bible Societies, bustles between the humming state-of-the-art presses. Mr Dean, who has been in China at Amity since 1991, said: “This platform has been built as a blessing to the nation. It will print Bibles for China for as long as it takes to do it.” Authorities at the officially approved Protestant and Catholic churches put the size of China’s Christian population at about 30 million. But that does not include the tens of millions more who worship in private at underground churches loyal to the Vatican or to various Protestant churches.
Of the 50 million Bibles Amity has printed, 41 million were for the faithful in Chinese and eight minority languages. The rest have been for export to Russia and Africa. Sales surged from 505,000 in 1988 to a high of 6.5 million in 2005. Output last year was 3.5 million and is expected to rise in 2007.
One of Mr Dean’s bestsellers is a pocket Bible, a version not suitable for the older generation to read and which may indicate a rapid expansion in the number of new, younger believers. He cited a surge in demand during the Sars crisis in 2003, but refrained from commenting. The enterprise has clearly flourished through its discretion and careful adherence to China’s laws that prohibit evangelizing.
Religious freedom is still lacking in China, and the rest of the article describes some of the obstacles Christians face in the country. Yet a paragrpah later in the article provides hope for the faith, too:
Then they are finding that they need to satisfy their spiritual needs, to look for happiness for the soul. In addition, they are seeing a breakdown in the moral order as money takes over. Thus, more and more people are turning to Christianity.”
Christianity is old in China -- one of the patriarchs of the Assyrian Church of the East (Mar Yaballaha III) was even a Beijinger. Yet for the first time, Chinese christians can easily communicate with the rest of the faith, and the Chinese people are no longer forced between emperor worship and local superstitions.
If the 21st century becomes a Christian Century, a big part of the reason why will be because of China.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Cohen, R. (2007). Un-Mormon and unchristian. Washington Post. December 4, 2007. Available online: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/03/AR2007120301620.html (from The Corner).
Mormonism is as close to/far from Christianity as is Islam or Judaism. The main difference is one of emphasize: in spite of fundamental theological differences, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints writes the middle part of their name very large. The religion of submission, in spite of its origin as a variant of Arian Christianity, downplays its historical roots with the carpenter.
Broadly, Christians believe in the existence of two general natures, a created nature and a divine nature. God has a divine nature, man has a created nature. Uniquely, Jesus Christ has both natures residing in one person: hence the titles Son of Man and Son of God. Christ himself is one person of the Trinity, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
In Islam, man has a created nature and God has a divine nature. There is no "confusion" of these natures, no co-residing natures in any one person. Judaism is similar: Judaism differs from Islam not in its basic theology, but a more technical question of what was said when, where, and to whom.
Mormonism disagrees with Islam and Judaism, but with Christianity too. In Mormon theology, there is only one nature, which man and God shares. Mormonism, like Scientology, makes factual claims about the real world without pleading in the existence of a separate, divine realm. The difference between God and Man in Mormonism is essentially one of technology, wisdom, and power.
(While Mormonism is sharply different from most forms of Christianity, it probably approximates the beliefs of those early monolaters who spoke of El, Yahweh, etc. better than either Christianity, Judaism, Islam. Christianity, Islam, and Rabbinic Judaism emerged after exposure to Greek philosophy that dwelt on forms, nature, and persons. Mormonism, by contrast, was heavily influenced by the rise of science and a rejection of the natural-supernatural dichotomy.)
That said, the answer is not as simple as a "no."
Christ taught that the servant who says "no" and obeys his master's will is a better servant than that which says "yes" and disobeys. Christianity, in the end, boils down to hope, faith, and love (love most of all). Putting faith before love is putting the cart before the horse!
Secondly, there's the question of self-identification. While watching Amazing Race: Asia, I was surprised to see a team-mate speaking about how she is good friends with her partner in the game, "even though she is Catholic and I am Christian." By contrast, socioculturally Mormons in the United States are essentially indistinguishable from Christians.
Ultimately, the question shouldn't matter. Mitt Romney is a flip flopper to make John Kerry proud, has run away from the one thing he did right (health care reform), and now embraces an extreme position that he was rightly above as governor (immigration). Romney should lose fair and square.
Not because he (is? is not?) a Christian.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Not stopping there, he posted a bizarre pueudo-summary of an article previously written by Jindal for the New Oxford Review.
Much of the nonsense about the relationship between Church and State comes from the late 19th century, when anti-immigrant nativists targeted Catholics (Irish, Italians, Poles, etc.) as un-American and un-Christian. It's no surprising that Louisiana's Democratic Party, facing a second-generation American and first-generation Catholic, decided to play the faith card again.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Monday, July 23, 2007
I read The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Become the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries based on the recommendations from blog friends. I am not disappointed. Rise is an excellent sociological history of the first Christian centuries, beginning roughly with the martyrdoms of James, Paul, and Peter and ending with the conversion of the Emperor Constantine. A must read for those interested in rising religious movements in general, Stark's brilliant application of "rational choice" economics to the field of religion is a must-read.
Rodney Stark is a rational-choice sociologist, who views belonging as a good that people attempt to maximize. Belonging-providers can either be public or private. Examples of private providers are magicians, wizards, heelers, and pagan cults, while public providers tend to demand exclusive committment and accept some degree of alienation from society. Most of Rise of Christianity is an extremely readible exploration of this delving into many aspects of city life.
I first heard of The Rise of Christianity after a commentator noted its similarity with my blog series, Jesusism-Paulism. Because this has been mentioned before, I will now address how his 1997 book relates to 2000s series.The similar is clear, and the posts that overlap most with Stark's book (in particular, "Love Your Enemy As You Would Have Him Love You," "Caiaphas and Diocletian Did Know Better," and "the Fall of Rome") clearly share a similar orientation, though Stark's methods and focus are different. As Rise ends with Constantine, the claims of my last two posts, "The People of the Book" and "Embrace and Extend," are not addressed at all. Finally, while both Dr. Stark and I view women as vital to the success of Christianity, my focus on harmonious deconfliction contrasts with his more feminist interpretation.
The Rise of Christianity is an excellent book. Strongly recommended.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
The Miami Herald notes an interest question: why, when America is a greater enemy of al Qaeda than Britain, do most al Qaeda attacks target the Crown and not the Constitution?
Some reasons are straight-forward:
The United States is geographically more separate from the Middle East, the home of Islamic fundamentalism. Beyond that, especially since 9/11, the nation has cracked down on both travel and new-resident visas, making it harder for terrorists from outside to get into the country.
But there's this important one too:
''The Islamic population in the United States is better assimilated into the general population, whereas here, in Germany, in France, they're very much on the outside looking in,'' he said. ``When people get disaffected, sadly, there's not much loyalty to country in that sort of situation.''
Sadly, a fifth column of multiculturalists will do their best to roll back the integration of American Muslims.
When al Qaeda becomes fashionable on college campuses, the multiculturalists will be to blame many times over.
For some time I have been using this Chi-Rho emblem:
to symbolize the Christian 4GW. The original design was by James Greece of Catholic and Loving It, with a minor change by Lexington Green of Chicago Boyz.
I found the original graphic on a now-defunkt clipart page, so I am grateful to James for letting me know of the image's original location, and its use as part of his wedding services company. (As a newlywed myself, I can appreciate his work!)
As long as the subject is Christian symbolism, I also wanted to point out "It's Christmas! Let's be glad!" by Sufjan Stevens. Sufjan describes his church as "kind of Anglo-Catholic," so the Christian and Marian themes shouldn't be surprising.
Sing a carol to your mom
Because she knows what's going on
And she knows if you've been bad or good
And if you get what you deserve
To be graded on the curve
Oh, you got a lot of nerve
Listen to the song on last.fm, download from podbop, or purchase from Amazon.
True Sufjan fans may appreciate the animated YouTube video of 'Put the Lights on the Tree'.
Monday, July 02, 2007
No one should be surprised that several of the (latest) British terrorists are highly educated Muslims. Two years ago, a respected special ed teacher was one of the 7-7 bombers.
While we disagree with Osama bin Laden's goal of "civilizational apartheid," it nonetheless may be wise to minimize the globe's commerce with the Arab world while pushing as much humiliating feedback to her as possible.
"Modern Islam is Radical Islam," indeed. This is the fault of a deeply sick Arab world that we must do our best to transform into something human.