It is time to retire the phrase "the Muslim world" from the Western media. Using the phrase in the manner above disregards not only history and politics, but accurate reporting of contemporary events. The protests that took place around the world ranged in scale and intensity, in the participants' willingness to use violence, and in their rationales. The majority of the "Muslim world" did not participate in these protests, nor did all of the Muslims who protested the video advocate the bloodshed that took place in Libya. By reducing a complex set of causes and conflicts to the rage of an amorphous mass, the Western media reinforce the very stereotype of a united, violent "Muslim world" that both the makers of the anti-Islam video and the Islamist instigators of the violence perpetuate.
01 October 2012
The fallacy of the phrase, 'the Muslim world' By Sarah Kendzior (Al Jazeera, 16 September 2012)
26 September 2012
What is so uncool about cool churches? By Matt Marino (23 September 2012)
Once upon a time our faith thrived in a non-Christian empire. It took less than 300 years for 11 scared dudes to take over the most powerful empire the world had ever seen. How did they do it? Where we have opted for a relevant, homogenously grouped, segregated, attractional professionalized model; the early church did it with a multi-ethnic, multi-social class, seeker INsensitive church. Worship was filled with sacrament and symbol. It engaged the believing community in the Christian narrative. This worship was so God-directed and insider-shaping that in the early church non-Christians were asked to leave the building before communion! With what effect? From that fellowship of the transformed, the church went out to the highways and byways loving and serving the least, last and lost. In that body of Christ, Christians shared their faith with Romans 1:16 boldness, served the poor with abandon, fed widows and took orphans into their homes. The world noticed. We went to them in love rather than invited them to our event.
23 September 2012
Disunity, not anger, is the Muslim dilemma, by Kelly Burke (Sydney Morning Herald, 22 September 2012)
For the better part of a decade, three bodies claiming to represent the interests of all Muslims in the state have vied for supremacy: The Lebanese Muslim Association, the Islamic Council of NSW and the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (recently renamed Muslims Australia). What made Tuesday's joint condemnation of last weekend's violence so significant was the fact that 25 Muslim organisations managed to join forces and agree on a position. But of equal significance was who was absent from that list of 25 signatories calling for an end to the violence.Although Shiites make up about 15 per cent of Australian's Muslim community, there were no Shiite organisations on the list.An even more glaring omission was the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, which remained aloof from the collective condemnation and issued its own directive. The inclusion in the group of the Islamic Council of NSW was not unrelated to the federation's absence, so deep is the animosity that runs between the two.
Link: Disunity, not anger, is the Muslim dilemma
Related Link: Police baited anti-Islamic protesters, said bookshop staff (Sydney Morning Herald, 24 September 2012)
Related Link: Police baited anti-Islamic protesters, said bookshop staff (Sydney Morning Herald, 24 September 2012)
20 September 2012
Eco-Muslims That Are Greening the Earth (The Eco-Muslim, 13 September 2012)
As khalifas, we Muslims are also responsible for our natural resources. Laila Achmad from Aquila Asia magazine spoke to various Muslim groups that work tirelessly to take care of and promote respect for our Earth.
18 September 2012
For Young Jews, a Service Says, ‘Please, Do Text’ By Lizette Alvarez (New York Times, 17 September 2012)
Settling into their seats for Rosh Hashana service, the twentysomethings instinctively reached for their cellphones to turn them off, anticipating an admonition they hear often at synagogue.Then they looked up at the white screen behind the rabbi: Pray. Write. Text.And text they did for nearly 90 minutes, sending out regrets, goals, musings and blissful thoughts, all anonymously for everyone to see.“Let’s see some texting, guys,” Rabbi Amy L. Morrison told the group. “Take those phones out.” What do you need to let go of, she asked the congregants, in order to be “fully present”?Hunched over their phones, they let loose their words and watched them scroll into view: Past mistakes. Shyness. Anger. Fear of failure. Self-pity. Ego. Doubt. Control.
Four words on a previously unknown papyrus fragment provide the first evidence that some early Christians believed Jesus had been married, Harvard Professor Karen King told the 10th International Congress of Coptic Studies today. King, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, announced the existence of the ancient text at the Congress's meeting, held every four years and hosted this year by the Vatican's Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum in Rome. The four words that appear on the fragment translate to, "Jesus said to them, my wife." The words, written in Coptic, a language of ancient Egyptian Christians, are on a papyrus fragment of about one and a half inches by three inches.
- Images and Translation: The Gospel of Jesus's Wife: A New Coptic Gospel Papyrus
- Harvard Divinity School Press Release: HDS Scholar Announces Existence of a New Early Christian Gospel from Egypt
- Scholarly Essay: Karen L. King, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife...': A New Coptic Gospel Papyrus" (Harvard Theological Review) [PDF]
For Further Reading:
- The Inside Story of a Controversial New Text about Jesus By Ariel Sabar (Smithsonian, 18 September 2012)
- Reality Check: The "Jesus Wife" Coptic Fragment By Daniel Wallace
- On the "Jesus' Wife" Fragment. By Deirdre Good (Daily Episcopalian)
- "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife: Questions and Conversations." By Katherine Shaner [PDF]
- New Testament Professrs at GTS Teach About the "Jesus' Wife" Papyrus Fragments (GTS Press Statement)
- Coptic Scholars Doubt and Hail a Reference to Jesus’ Wife (New York Times, 20 September 2012)
- Doubts over Harvard Claim of 'Jesus Wife' Papyrus (Associated Press, 19 September 2012)
- A Faded Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus' Wife (New York Times, 18 September 2012)
- Harvard professor identifies scrap of papyrus suggesting some early Christians believed Jesus was married (Boston Globe, 18 September 2012)
- "The Gospel Of Jesus' Wife," New Early Christian Text, Indicates Jesus May Have Been Married (Huffington Post, 18 September 2012)
13 September 2012
The Digital Nestle-Aland is the forthcoming electronic version of the standard scholarly edition of the Greek New Testament. It offers two major features not available in the printed book: Transcripts of important Greek manuscripts of the New Testament New complete apparatus based on these transcripts The Digital Nestle-Aland is a project of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research at the University of Münster, Westphalia, Germany. It is being prepared in collaboration with Scholarly Digital Editions (Birmingham, UK) and the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (Stuttgart, Germany). It is funded in part by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Bonn, Germany).
Link: Digital Nestle-Aland
12 Essential points about the offensive film on the Prophet Muhammad, and the subsequent reactions in Libya & Egypt
12 Essential points about the offensive film on the Prophet Muhammad, and the subsequent reactions in Libya & Egypt, by Omid Safi (Religion News Service, 12 September 2012)
The hateful piece of propaganda about the Prophet Muhammad, known as “Innocence of Muslims” continues to have repercussions around the world, due to the attacks on the US Embassy in Libya and Egypt. There is no mistaking the offensive nature of the film, as it accusing the Prophet of having been a womanizer, a fool, a sexual pervert, and a homosexual (though that last “insult” plays into homophobia). There is also no mistaking the fact that the murder of the four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens is cruel and barbaric by any measure. What follows are twelve points to keep in mind, in an attempt to bring some sanity to a controversy that has already generated far more heat than light.
Link: 12 Essential points about the offensive film on the Prophet Muhammad, and the subsequent reactions in Libya & Egypt
11 September 2012
Episcopal Church Woos Latinos To Congregations (NPR Morning Edition, 11 September 2012)
Latinos are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, but only 5 percent of all Hispanics attend a mainline Protestant church. The vast majority are Roman Catholic. For the Episcopal Church, those numbers are an opportunity.The denomination is seeing fast-growing pockets of new Latino congregants. Episcopal churches in Nevada and Washington, D.C., are seeing considerably higher attendance from Latinos. In Oregon, there were only 150 Latino Episcopalians 20 years ago. Now, there are more than 800.
09 September 2012
Jews complain gay weddings are more fair than straight ones, by Mayrav Saar (New York Post, 9 September 2012)
Across the country, gay couples are fighting for the same marriage rights as straight couples. But in the Conservative Jewish movement, heterosexual couples may soon clamor for the kind of partnerships now reserved only for lesbians and gays.
Gay Black Church: An Interview with Bishop Yvette Flunder, by Lisa Webster (Religious Dispatches, 30 September 2010)
It’s Sunday afternoon in the sanctuary of City of Refuge, a linoleum-floored auditorium with folding chairs, at a particularly sketchy downtown San Francisco intersection. Yvette Flunder, founding pastor, is preaching at the podium, a fine wooden pedestal that gives the altar a hint of traditional “church.” It was her grandfather’s pulpit, and now she’s raising the roof amidst shouts from the congregation: Say it, Bishop! Tell it! Possessing a world-class gospel voice she punctuates her preaching with spontaneous singing as she preaches about what it means to be a “radically inclusive” congregation—to be a church for everyone. It’s the kind of thing you might not notice right away. Just another black church in a down-and-out urban neighborhood. But then you look to your left, at the gangly transgender woman with tattoos; or at the band, up by the stage, with a drummer who looks like singer Nona Hendryx; or at the choir director, in shiny satin, and it begins to dawn on you: radically inclusive. Not just words.
Understanding Evangelical Christianity in Malaysia, by Ahmad Fuad Rahmat (Islamic & Renaissance Front, 7 September 2012)
An interview with Chris Chong by Ahmad Fuad Rahmat. Much controversy has erupted over the past year regarding the purported threat of Christianization in Malaysia. In the spirit of dialogue towards better understanding, IRF sits down with Chris Chong to discuss the issue in more depth from his perspective as a scholar and critical Evangelical Christian. Chris Chong holds a PhD in political science from Universiti Sains Malaysia. His doctorate, entitled ”Modernity, State-led Islamisation and the non-Muslim response”, studied the socio-political reaction of Malaysian Christians towards the longstanding Islamization of the Malaysian state. He is a member of the Wesleyan Community Church and Friends in Conversation, a Christian forum “committed to creating a space for reflective and constructive conversations on faith, spirituality, community and society.”
03 September 2012
Buddha on the Rio Grande (Tricycle, Summer 1997)
The people of Jemez Pueblo have recognized the transformational qualities since time immemorial. Twelve miles up the winding red-rock canyon from the present-day village, their ancestors bathed in geothermal hot springs and built a sprawling mesa-top settlement. On the mesa ledge above, an extensive complex of dirt and stone ruins once occupied by the Anasazi lies abandoned except for the ritual visits of their modern-day descendants, the Jemez.
Later, Spanish priests, tempered by the fires of a 750-year struggle to evict the Moors from their homeland, brought their austere Catholicism to this holy place. Now the adobe ruin of their mission church lies crumbling on one side of the winding mountain highway; a modern convent sits on the other. Spreading across the narrow canyon neck is Bodhi Mandala Zen Center.
In 1973 the first Buddhist practice center was established in the region when students of Rinzai Zen teacher Joshu Sasaki Roshi bought a Catholic retreat house in the village of Jemez Springs. Bodhi Manda had a zendo building, dormitories, and a dining hall set along the icy Jemez River. Best of all, the land had a natural hot spring, the same geothermal warming waters used by the early Pueblo people. When this was reported back to Sasaki Roshi, he supposedly said, “If you find hot spring, I come.”
Link: Buddha on the Rio Grande
WCC statement invokes new understanding of mission (30 August 2012)
The first ecumenical affirmation of mission since 1982, invoking a new understanding of mission and evangelism amidst a changing world and ecclesial landscape, has been presented to the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The statement, titled “Together towards life: Mission and Evangelism in changing landscapes”, was prepared by the WCC's Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME). It was presented to the WCC Central Committee on Thursday, 30 August. The WCC Central Committee is a governing body representing the 349 member churches. It is currently meeting at the Orthodox Academy of Crete in Greece. The statement draws on insights from Protestant, Evangelical, Orthodox and Roman Catholic mission theologies, and will be presented at the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea in 2013. “The significance of the statement lies in its concept of 'mission from the margins', which emphasizes the universality of working for all Gods' people, as well as the creation, despite divisions and divides,” said Dr Agnes Abuom, WCC Executive Committee member from Kenya.
30 August 2012
Marriage vows problematical, by Dorothy Lee (Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, 30 August 2012)
To replace ‘obey’ with ‘submit to’ in a proposed change to the wedding vows by a Sydney diocesan panel is to misunderstand the context of submission in the ancient world of the Bible, argues New Testament scholar Dorothy Lee. In a recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald (‘To love and to submit: a marriage made in 2012,’ 25/8), the liturgical panel of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney is reported as proposing a new form of the marriage vows that would ask brides to “honour and submit to” their husbands, “as the Church submits to Christ”.
27 August 2012
Bishop's Extravagant Behavior Triggers Uproar, by Martin U. Müller and Peter Wensierski (Spiegel Online, 23 August 2012)
He extols the virtues of poverty and humility, but the German bishop of Limburg enjoys first-class flights and a luxurious new living complex. As the truth comes out about their secretive shepherd, local Catholics are threatening to abandon the fold en masse.
24 August 2012
Growing number of Latinos have no religious affiliation, by Jacqueline Mejia (NBC Latino, 23 August 2012)
It’s been three years since Alicia Martinez, a Los Angeles college graduate, left the Catholic Church and still is on the search for a church that will “complete her”. “I have been going to Catholic churches my entire life but it never clicked with me. Time is too short to just go through the motions and not feel connected to the religion you’re attached to. Now that I’m older, I choose not to be associated with a religion until I know it’s right in my heart,” says Martinez. Martinez is one of the growing thousands of Latinos not choosing to identify with a specific religion.
A Pew Hispanic Center’s National Survey in April 2012 shows Latinos have become increasingly less religious with newer generations. The survey explains while only about one in ten foreign-born Latinos are religiously unaffiliated (9 percent), twice as many native-born Latinos are unaffiliated (20 percent). The trend continues to increase in third-generation Latinos, with 24 percent saying they are unaffiliated.
16 August 2012
The Catholic church in America: Earthly concerns (The Economist, 18 August 2012)
Of All the organisations that serve America’s poor, few do more good work than the Catholic church: its schools and hospitals provide a lifeline for millions. Yet even taking these virtues into account, the finances of the Catholic church in America are an unholy mess. The sins involved in its book-keeping are not as vivid or grotesque as those on display in the various sexual-abuse cases that have cost the American church more than $3 billion so far; but the financial mismanagement and questionable business practices would have seen widespread resignations at the top of any other public institution.The sexual-abuse scandals of the past 20 years have brought shame to the church around the world. In America they have also brought financial strains. By studying court documents in bankruptcy cases, examining public records, requesting documents from local, state and federal governments, as well as talking to priests and bishops confidentially, The Economist has sought to quantify the damage.
15 August 2012
Why the Reaction Is Different When the Terrorist Is White, by Conor Friedersdorf (The Atlantic, 8 August 2012)
Hold the victims constant and give the perpetrator the last name Mohammed. Does anyone think for a moment that such an attack wouldn't still be the most discussed story at Fox News and National Review? And at various network news shows and unaffiliated newspapers for that matter? Instead Wade Michael Page was the gunman. Attacks like his are disconcerting to some white Americans for a seldom acknowledged reason. Since 9/11, many Americans have conflated terrorism with Muslims; and having done so, they've tolerated or supported counterterrorism policies safe in the presumption that people unlike them would bear their brunt. (If Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD sent officers beyond the boundaries of New York City to secretly spy on evangelical Christian students or Israeli students or students who own handguns the national backlash would be swift, brutal, and decisive. The revelation of secret spying on Muslim American students was mostly defended or ignored.)
09 August 2012
Profile Me: The Confederate Flag, Shame, and White Male Terror, by Donovan Schaefer (Bulletin for the Study of Religion, 7 August 2012)
In spring of 2011, Asra Nomani suggested that ethnic profiling of Muslim Americans was a legal and moral imperative given her community’s failure to adequately police itself. A year later, she stepped forward and called for expanded surveillance inside her own community. In the same spirit of enlightened self-critique, let me make a similar call: it is time for racial profiling of white men.This call is half flippant–a sardonic parody of the kneejerk self-righteousness of Islamophobic discourse–and half serious critique of the disturbed crossing point between whiteness and masculinity in the US.White men, such as myself, have proven ourselves to be one of the most dangerous groups in the country. We are the most likely demographic to be responsible for killing sprees, leading dangerous cults, or plotting acts of violent treason–what we might call White Male Terror. At the same time, white men show a sneering disregard for other groups that are not us, insisting on lax gun laws that lead to spillover violence in Latin America, rejecting the “redistribution of wealth” after generations of benefiting from a rigged economic system, and jealously preserving the legal institution of male privilege by obstructing a constitutional amendment that would make women equal in the eyes of the law. White men have proven themselves unwilling to integrate into American society–even after 500 years of residency. White men cultivate insular subcultures, breeding grounds for the white male’s predominant currency: a sense of invincibility. And it is when this armor of invulnerability is winched apart–as it always will be–that WMT seeps out into the open.
Martha Nussbaum and the new religious intolerance, by (Guardian, 29 June 2012)
Martha Nussbaum's latest book, The New Religious Intolerance, is a vigorous defence of the religious freedom of minorities in the face of post-9/11 Islamophobia. And by minorities she mostly means Muslims. "We see unreasoning fear driving a certain amount of public policy, perhaps more in Europe than in the US," she explains. And Europe has historical form on all this. "The laws that made it illegal to speak Latin in a church but left it legal to speak Latin in universities were covert forms of persecution – and not very covert at all. And you get that all over Europe. You get that in the Swiss minaret case, where a building that expresses the wish of a religious minority is suddenly illegal; you get it in Germany in those cases where nuns can teach in full habit but a teacher can't wear a headscarf."
The World's Muslims: Unity and Diversity (Pew Forum, 9 August 2012)
The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are united in their belief in God and the Prophet Muhammad and are bound together by such religious practices as fasting during the holy month of Ramadan and almsgiving to assist people in need. But they have widely differing views about many other aspects of their faith, including how important religion is to their lives, who counts as a Muslim and what practices are acceptable in Islam, according to a worldwide survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.
26 July 2012
Catholic dynamic shifts in China, by Francesco Sisci (Asia Times, 26 July 2012)
Ties between China and the Vatican are at a crossroads. The ordination on July 7 of Ma Daqin as the Vatican's bishop of Shanghai and his public announcement that he would renounce his membership in the official Catholic Patriotic Association have the potential to create a huge change in ties between Beijing and Rome.
The first reaction in Rome to this announcement was of surprise, meaning that the Holy See didn't command the bishop to give up his membership and didn't encourage him to do so. Evidence of this is the fact that many bishops in China are members of the Catholic Patriotic Association, and Rome has not demanded they give up their memberships.