28 June 2014

Revisiting Racism

Revisiting Racism, by M. Shawn Copeland (America Magazine, 7-14 July 2014)

For white people living in the United States, the entanglement of Christianity with chattel slavery and antiblack racism forms a set of deep and confusing paradoxes. As a nation, we understand ourselves in terms of freedom, but we have been unable to grapple with our depriving blacks of freedom in the name of white prosperity and with our tolerance of legalized racial segregation and discrimination. As a nation, we have been shaped by racism, habituated to its presence, indifferent to its lethal capacity to inflict lingering human damage. Too often, Christians not only failed to defy slavery and condemn tolerance of racism; they supported it and benefited from these evils and ignored the very Gospel they had pledged to preach.

Related Article: Breaking Barriers

Related Video: Dear White America, by Danez Smith

21 June 2014

Trends indicate Asian Americans should be turning Republican – but they’re not

Rising income among other factors indicate that Asian Americans should be a natural fit for the Republican Party, yet they have flocked to the other side at a stunning pace. In the 2012 presidential election, Democratic President Obama garnered 73 percent of the Asian American vote, and Asian Americans have been steadily moving to the Democratic Party over the last two decades, say three academics who are studying the issue.

“It’s puzzling because in political science, it is well-documented that income is positively correlated with the Republican Party,” said Cecilia Mo, assistant professor of political science at Vanderbilt University and one of three authors of the paper, “Why do Asian Americans Identify as Democrats? Testing Theories of Social Exclusion and Intergroup Solidarity.”

“Yet here is this group (Asian Americans) going against this trend that we’ve noticed for decades. Moreover, wealthy Asian Americans are even more likely to vote for Democrats than poorer Asian Americans.”

Keeping (and Losing) Faith, the Asian American Way

Keeping (and Losing) Faith, the Asian American Way, by Jerry Z. Park and Joshua Tom (AAPI Voices, 22 May 2014)

Are Asian Americans in a state of religious confusion? And are Asian American Protestants fleeing their religion? Consider the example of Lisa, a 20-year old second-generation Vietnamese American from Houston: “I really don’t think I have a religious preference,” she says “I believe that someone is up there, and I’m pretty much screwed up in the head,” she continued with a laugh. “You know ‘cuz I went to Catholic school until I was in 8th grade, and when my parents got divorced I went to [Buddhist] temple for like about 5 or 6 years. So I got the aspects of both religions, and I think that both of them have good aspects, and both of them have bad aspects. And I do what [my parents] ask me to do, but in my own mind I really don’t have like a set religion y’know?”

Lisa’s story isn’t often told in the writings on Asian American religion, academic or otherwise. This gap is particularly apparent when we try to understand religion among those who are the children of immigrants, sometimes called the second-generation. A quick glance at prior studies gives the impression that there is great vitality in religious affiliation and participation.

Pandharpur temple allows women, men of all castes as priests

Majhe maher Pandhari … (Pandharpur is my mother’s home …) Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s abhang (devotional song) is an ode to the Vitthal-Rukmini temple here. Mothers can now serve as priests in this temple. The 900-year-old place of worship is challenging the entrenched tradition of patriarchy and casteism in one stroke. The temple administration has already interviewed women and those from outside the Brahmin community for appointing them as priests. The Vitthal Rukmini Temple Trust (VRTT), which functions under the Maharashtra government, has made the radical move possible. “For the first time, a temple is throwing open its doors to everyone. We thought it was time now for us to set an example. No group should claim monopoly for serving as priests in the temple,” Anna Dange, chairman of the trust, told The Hindu.


Which countries still outlaw apostasy and blasphemy? (Pew Research)

Which countries still outlaw apostasy and blasphemy? (Pew Research Center, 28 May 2014)

A new Pew Research analysis finds that as of 2012, nearly a quarter of the world’s countries and territories (22%) had anti-blasphemy laws or policies, and one-in-ten (11%) had laws or policies penalizing apostasy. The legal punishments for such transgressions vary from fines to death.

We found that laws restricting apostasy and blasphemy are most common in the Middle East and North Africa, where 14 of the 20 countries (70%) criminalize blasphemy and 12 of the 20 countries (60%) criminalize apostasy. While apostasy laws exist in only two other regions of the world – Asia-Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa – blasphemy laws can be found in all regions, including Europe (in 16% of countries) and the Americas (31%).

The Case for Reparations

The Case for Reparations, by Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Atlantic, 26 May 2014)

Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

Hmong priest finds 'different vision of Christ' in Episcopal church

In June 2013, Toua Vang became the first Hmong man in the world to be ordained an Episcopal priest, and is now pastor of the only Hmong-majority Episcopal church anywhere. His roots are in Catholicism, but the Episcopal church offered an option for non-celibate priesthood. "I come from the Hmong culture, and men are expected to have a family," he said. Vang, 47, is one of hundreds of Hmong who began attending Holy Apostles Episcopal Church in St. Paul in 2005. The church was about to close, with only about 60 members remaining. Then 700-plus Hmong, making up 78 families who were searching for a new place to worship after leaving the nearby St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, found a home at Holy Apostles. They were welcomed and quickly became a part of church leadership.

Did the Southern Baptist ‘Conservative Resurgence’ Fail?

America’s largest Protestant denomination cracked down on moderates when the culture wars hit, arguing that liberalism led to decline. Now they’re hemorrhaging members just like everyone else.

20 June 2014

The Real Origins of the Religious Right

The Real Origins of the Religious Right, by Randall Balmer (Politico, 27 May 2014)

They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation.

The Arabic Bible Before Islam

The Arabic Bible Before Islam (The Marginalia Review of Books, 10 June 2014)

Non-Muslims, including Jews and Christians, have spoken Arabic since before the revelation of the Qur’an. Was there an Arabic Bible before the rise of Islam? Or, did the appearance of the Arabic Qur’an shape the Arabic Bible? These are among the questions addressed in Sidney Griffith’s masterful book, The Bible in Arabic.

Although the confessional plurality of the medieval Islamic world has been the subject of significant scholarly investigation in recent years — e.g. the works of Thomas E. Burman, David Thomas, Mark Cohen, Samir Khalil Samir, Sarah Stroumsa, and Reuven Firestone) — the Arabic Bible has yet to receive its due share of attention. In The Bible in Arabic, Sidney Griffith guides us through the complexities of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim engagements with both the divine and each other as Jews and Christians came to articulate not just theology, but also their very scriptures, in the language of the Qur’an.

Sino-Islamic Intellectual Tradition, 16th-19th C.

Sino-Islamic Intellectual Tradition, 16th-19th Centuries (Dissertation Reviews, 20 January 2014)

A review of The Great Transformation: Contours of the Sino-Islamic Intellectual Tradition, by Kristian Petersen.

Kristian Petersen’s dissertation, “The Great Transformation: Contours of the Sino-Islamic Intellectual Tradition,” tackles a moment of significant change in the Sino-Muslim community. The concept of a unique Sino-Islamic tradition is not new to scholarship, having been established by Zvi Ben-Dor Benite’s The Dao of Mohammed and the works of Sachiko Murata and William Chittick (whom Petersen cites). As such, we have known for some time that Ming-Qing-era scholars like Liu Zhi produced a corpus of scholarship (the Han Kitab) that expounded upon the Muslim worldview on various topics yet aimed exclusively at those steeped in the language and ideology of Confucian orthodoxy. Liu Zhi, Wang Daiyu, Ma Zhu and others have come to be known as “Confucian Muslims” or Hui-Ru in English-language scholarship. Petersen’s dissertation aims to ground our understanding of Confucian Muslims within the the context of the broader Muslim world and its relationship to Arabic. Petersen does this by considering the written work of Wang Daiyu, Liu Zhi and Ma Dexin, three Sino-Muslim scholars whose engagement with Arabic texts and intellectual traditions from Persia, the Middle East and elsewhere returned an Arabic authenticity to the Chinese Muslim experience. This was an authenticity partially based on an emphasis on the necessity for Chinese Muslims to perform the pilgrimage (hajj) and to reflect on its importance. The hajj is therefore one of the principal tenets that Petersen focuses on. By Petersen’s admission, the dissertation devotes more time to analyzing Ma Dexin’s works than those of Liu or Wang. He does this to show how Ma Dexin was unique in the Sino-Muslim intellectual tradition and to highlight the “nuances of his methodological and theoretical creativity” (p. 6). Moreover, Petersen observes that scholarship has paid little attention to Ma Dexin or has glibly referred to him as the religious force behind the Panthay rebellion. He does note, however, that Ma’s treatment by Chinese scholars has been more thorough.

Bartholomew: With Francis, we invite all Christians to celebrate the first synod of Nicaea in 2025

In an interview with AsiaNews , the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople reveals the future steps to strengthen unity between Catholics and Orthodox. In addition to the appointment of Nicaea, the first truly ecumenical council , in the autumn the next meeting of the Catholic-Orthodox Joint Commission will be held in Jerusalem, where everyone "must commit themselves without hypocrisy".

Remembering Yuri Kochiyama

Remembering Yuri Kochiyama

Remembering the 25th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Protests

Remembering the 25th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Protests: