The War on Terror has radicalised Muslims around the world to unprecedented levels of anti-American feeling, according to the largest survey of Muslims ever to be conducted.
Seven per cent believe that the events of 9/11 were "completely justified". In Saudi Arabia, 79 per cent had an "unfavourable view" of the US.
Gallup's Centre for Muslim Studies in New York carried out surveys of 10,000 Muslims in ten predominantly Muslim countries. One finding was that the wealthier and better-educated the Muslim was, the more likely he was to be radicalised.
The Gallup findings indicate that, in terms of spiritual values and the emphasis on the family and the future, Americans have more in common with Muslims than they do with their Western counterparts in Europe.
While there was widespread support for Sharia, or Islamic law, only a minority wanted religious leaders to be making laws. Most women in the predominantly Muslim countries believed that Sharia should be the source of a nation's laws, but they strongly believed in equal rights for women.
This finding indicates the complexity of the struggle ahead for Western understanding. Few Western commentators can see how women could embrace the veil, Sharia and equal rights at the same time.
This just in...Anti-muslim feelings soar among Americans.
In a recent post on his blog, Fred Peatross wrote the following before making a specific proposal for an alternative way to spend Sunday school time:
The original purpose of the Sunday School in America was evangelistic. (1800s) Take illiterate people give them a Bible and a formal education on the one day of the week when they didn't work-Sunday (hence the name Sunday school) and teach them. At that time, Sunday school was a brilliant idea to get people into the church while meeting a social need.
But how effective is the two hundred year old Sunday school in the third millennium? Does the original purpose of the Sunday school remain relevant today? Can it still be considered an evangelistic tool? If not, what is the purpose of the Sunday School/Bible class today? Is it knowledge? (Frost & Hirsch believe learning is more effective when a faith community is involved in active mission) Is the ten o'clock Sunday school/a.k.a. bible class the most effective use of biblical space in the third millennium? Or would change better accommodate a biblical purpose?
I have an idea why not dump the two hundred year old Sunday School for adults for missional training.
I think these are interesting questions that we should consider. Just because we've always done what we now do on Sunday mornings, it doesn't mean that we always have to do the same in the future. Are there different ways that we could spend that would be more beneficial or more effectively mesh with our mission?
After becoming pregnant following her attempts to cure her boyfriend of his homosexuality, a teen finds her fundamentalist beliefs tested.
My favorite scene was when Hillary Faye yells "I am filled with Christ's love" while throwing her Bible at Mary and striking her in the back. What a great metaphor for how Christians often throw the Bible at other sinners without love while at the same time implicitly claiming to be filled with Christ's love.
Another interesting tidbit from Wikipedia:
During a scene where Cassandra fakes speaking in tongues, the original script called for Hilary Faye and Mary to speak in tongues as well. In the commentary, Moore reveals that the woman who was training her and Eva Amurri to speak tongues gave them phrases to repeat, including "she bought a Hyundai" and "untie my bowtie."
And what Mary said looking at her newborn baby:
Life is too amazing to be this random and meaningless consequence of the universe. There had to be a God out there or something. Something inside. You just had to feel it...and when you think about it, what would Jesus do? I don't know, we'll be trying to figure it out together.
And The Replacements' songs at the prom.
I give it 4 out of 5.
Who remembers the message of Obadiah? I've been studying it recently for our Sunday AM class. The message is the impending destruction of Edom (the descendants of Esau). What was Edom's transgression? One of the big ones was pride.
In his commentary The Minor Prophets, James Montgomery Boice writes:
According to Obadiah, the pride of Edom deceived the people into trusting in their natural defenses, their numerous allies and their acknowledged wisdom, rather than in God. Obadiah says that their wisdom will fail, their allies will prove treacherous and their defenses will be overcome. This is quite general and may easily be applied to any nation at any time in history.
What was it about which Edom was proud? The first answer is: her defenses. Due to her unique geographical situation, Edom was almost impregnable.
Was God being particularly harsh with Edom? No, this is His way with all nations. God God exalts a nation. Those in power see it as a cause for personal pride. They boast that they are better than others and can even do without God. Then God brings the nation down. This has been the case with all the great kingdoms of the world. Historians tell us that the world has seen twenty-one great civilizations. But each has passed away in time to make room for the next. Once there was Egypt, but ancient was destroyed and that which is now Egypt is no world power. Once there was Babylon, but it too passed away. So with Greece and Rome. So it will be with the great powers of our own day: the Soviet Union and the United States.
Is the United States destined for destruction? We cannot say. She may recover her godly heritage. She may last until the Lord returns. But we should be warned by God's judgment on Edom. Do we boast that we are strong? That we have the largest army, the most missiles, the more effective navy? Do we boast that our technology is superior to that of the rest of the world? If so, we must watch out! God says that He can bring even our nation down.
This got me thinking about the pride of our nation, the superiority we often feel relative to the rest of the world. As I mentioned recently, I have a new appreciation based on the minor prophets that there is precedent for God to use disasters (e.g. by an enemy attack or natural disaster) to punish a nation but that I'm also bothered when folks use the occasion disaster to point fingers at another group as the cause of disfavor rather than looking in the mirror. Maybe next time Falwell and Robertson pronounce judgment they should consider whether or not our national pride be an issue.
We've been studying the minor prophets recently. One thing that was definitely on their minds was judgment from God and accompanying disaster. For example, this verse from Amos:
When a trumpet sounds in a city,
do not the people tremble?
When disaster comes to a city,
has not the LORD caused it?
In his commentary on the minor prophets, James Montgomery Boice has this to say about Joel's prophecy of impending disaster:
The most important thing about Joel's handling of disaster is that he sees God as responsible for it. This does not mean that God is the author of sin, as if He were directly responsible for the rebellion of Satan or the original transgression of Adam and Eve. But it does mean that, given the sin-sick, evil world in which we live, God Himself does not hesitate to take responsibility for the occurrence of natural disasters and the resultant suffering.
This is something that has challenged me about the minor prophets. I'm the kind of guy who cringes, for example, when Christians try to draw a connection between disasters (e.g. 9/11 or Katrina) and their favorite example(s) of our moral decline, drawing for example from Old Testament texts and the disobedience-punishment-repentance dance that Yahweh and Israel performed in the OT. Typically, I would dismiss this, saying those OT texts don't apply because the US of A isn't God's chosen nation like Israel was. Problem is, the minor prophets don't reserve this kind of judgment for Israel alone. The other pagan nations get it too. And, generally I would have to agree with Boice...in the minor prophets Yahweh doesn't hesitate to use disasters (natural or from an enemy) as punishment. I don't think I'll be so quick to dismiss this sort of reasoning in the future.
That said, I'll still have a bone to pick with anyone who:
- Tries to make a specific disaster-punishment connection without sufficient "maybe"s and "I wonder"s thrown in...unless of course he/she is claiming to be a prophet
- Tries to make a specific disaster-punishment connection by picking on someone else's sin. Take a look at yourself in the mirror first.
From an article of the same title in today's Washington Post:
Experiments have found that ordinary people tell about two lies every 10 minutes, with some people getting in as many as a dozen falsehoods in that period. More interestingly...Feldman also found that liars tend to be more popular than honest people.
"It is not that lying makes you popular, but knowing when to say something and not be completely blunt is in fact a social skill," Feldman said. "We don't want to hear hurtful things, so a person who is totally honest may not be as popular as someone who lies. This is not to say lying is a good thing, but it is the way the social world operates."
Everyone would agree that telling a Nazi knocking at your door that you are not harboring Jews is a lie worth telling -- a heroic, necessary lie. What is harder to understand is that many people who lie for what we feel are contemptible reasons see themselves in the same heroic light.
"We want everyone to be honest, but it is not clear what to do when honesty bumps up against other values -- caring about another person, their feelings," said Bella DePaulo, a social psychologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara. "People say they want to hear the truth, but that is in the abstract. Would you tell someone, 'Tell me all the things about me you don't like, all the things that annoy you'?"
It's supposed to be simple, right? Honesty is the best policy. It's wrong to lie. But then there's those little white lies and the classic Nazi knocking on the door dilemma. Honesty is sometimes called brutal for a reason. I don't know what I think about rationalization of dishonesty.
Today Greg Fielder discusses David Kuo's book Tempting Faith : An Inside Story of Political Seduction including a lengthy quote from the book evaluating the fruit of the political engagement of evangelical Christians. This line that Kuo quotes from a pastor jumped out at me:
What we've done is turn a mission field into a battlefield.
I've seen the moniker "Red Letter Christians" a few times recently (particularly in reference to Shane Claiborne) and wondered about it. Obviously, it's not too hard to guess what it's generally about, but I hadn't seen it defined until I read an article by Tony Campolo from yesterday. An excerpt:
In my book, Letters to a Young Evangelical, I point out that there is an emerging new generation of young evangelicals who are still conservative on their views on homosexual behavior, but refuse to make gay marriage the defining issue that it has become for older Christians. Instead, these young people are more concerned with such issues as poverty, the AIDS crisis, the environment, and war. It is no surprise, therefore, that they take Bono as their model for Christian activism. This rock singer who has raised their consciousness about the crisis in Africa is working hard to eliminate Third World debts. Bono is committed to the causes that young evangelicals deem significant and they are joining with enthusiasm in his crusade to "Make Poverty History."
In many instances, those in this new generation are even reluctant to accept being called evangelicals. They sense that the label "evangelical" is commonly thought to be synonymous with right-wing politics and suggests a gay-bashing, anti-environmentalist, anti-feminist, and pro-war mindset. Instead, they are increasingly calling themselves Red Letter Christians. This name, of course, associates them with those verses in scripture that record the words that Jesus spoke, which in many Bibles are printed in red. That I affirm this designation and promote this new label in my book often greatly disturbs my interviewers. They quickly remind me that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality. "That's right!" I respond. "He most likely maintained ancient Jewish laws on the matter, but condemning gays was not on His big-ten hit list, while attacking judgmental religious people was."
In his commentary on The Minor Prophets, James Montgomery Boice summarizes a book by Robert Anderson
Robert Anderson wrote one of the most original and stimulating books have read. It is called The Silence of God. It asked why in our time, if God is as omnipresent, omniscient, and caring for us as we imagine Him to be, He does not speak. He spoke in the past through prophets. From time to time there was even a voice from heaven. Certainly we would like to hear God speak today. In a number of penetrating chapters Anderson presents how even strong believers would like a whisper of explanation in moments of personal suffering, a pointed, directing word in crisis, a shout of vindication when non-Christians seem to have the upper hand. Yet God does not speak. We refer to the four hundred silent years that intervened between the words of God through Malachi and the coming of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. But since the time of Jesus nearly two thousand years (five times the other silent period) have gone by.
Why is God silent? Why does God of all the universe not speak? Anderson answers that God has already spoken everything that can probably be spoken graciously. Jesus is the ultimate, final word of God in that area. Not a syllable can be added. The only words that remain to be spoken are the final words of judgment. And God is silent now because, when He speaks audibly again, that judgment will come.
Is that a convincing explanation? Why is God silent? Or maybe you don't think he's silent, but whispering instead. If so, why doesn't he speak louder?