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“Champing”, belief vs insanity, sticking up for atheists + listening to those who disagree

SNIPPETS

Saturday 13 June 2015

The links that made us think this week:

Sleepy churches: The Churches Conservation Trust in the UK is offering lovers of sandstone the chance to camp out in churches. They’re calling it “champing”. A different way of getting non-believers into church perhaps? But unfortunately most of the churches on the champing list are no longer in use as functioning worship venues. Read more…

Belief or insanity? In The Atlantic, Emma Green explores the relationship between religion and madness – one that has become much more ambiguous she believes. “Science has transformed the way many modern believers and religious institutions approach faith. For a long time, the influence of God or Satan was a sufficient explanation for all sorts of phenomena, from so-called possessions to the kinds of visions supposedly experienced by Catherine of Siena or Teresa of Avila. Now, those who decode visions and possessions are psychiatrists, not priests, and explanations are rooted in the individual mind, not the interference of God or the devil.” Read more…

Bait and switch: Writer and broadcaster Jeff Sparrow thinks parents are being tricked into sending their kids to scripture in NSW. “Certainly, it’s possible to imagine a syllabus that traces the history of the Christian faith … but studying religion in that manner entails questioning, analysing and debating … That’s an entirely different proposition than receiving dogma from someone who is there, first and foremost, because they want to save your kid’s soul.” He argues that those teaching religion in schools shouldn’t be “defenders of a particular faith”. What do you think? We think it’s worth thinking about how Christians could respond. Read the argument, here.

Sticking up for atheists: This month, Ananta Bijoy Das became the third atheist blogger to be murdered in Bangladesh this year. In this Catholic Herald article, Brendan O’Neill argues that Christians should stand up against all intolerance. “Atheists share with Christians the plight of being persecuted worldwide for their convictions. They must unite to demand the freedom to follow their beliefs – whatever they may be.” Read more…

Flip flop: US blogger and academic Tony Campolo has changed his mind on same sex marriage: “It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.” Read his statement here. Then you can read this open letter to Campolo from the moderator of the Free Church of Scotland which accuses Campolo of faking his support for traditional marriage.

Listen up: “Aware that they are seen by many as bigots, some evangelical leaders are trying to figure out how to stand firm without alienating the rising share of Americans — especially younger ones — who know gay people and support gay rights, or who may themselves come out as gay.” Read this New York Times article about how some evangelical Christians are opening up the door to listen to those who disagree with them on same sex marriage – not to change their minds – but to have “polite, heartfelt debate”. Read more…

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