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.
26 September 2012
What is so uncool about cool churches? By Matt Marino (23 September 2012)
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.