Saturday 12 December 2015
Goodwill to men: Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams writing for the UK’s Evening Standard reflects on the recent ban of a cinema ad about the Lord’s Prayer, saying too many of us forget that religion is about peace and goodwill:
“We are so easily persuaded to panic about religion and to expect the worst. Because religious fanaticism is so much more visible now than it has been for a long time, we can assume that any and every expression of religion in the public sphere is a cause for anxiety… This is asinine. Fanaticism is real and nightmarish, and if we can’t tell the difference between sane and mad religion, we have lost a significant skill. Equally, if we treat one another as infants who can’t cope with actual disagreement about cultural and moral matters, we do no one any favours.” Read more here.
“No net ensnares”: Regular Eternity contributor Michael Jensen writes on his first and recent encounter with Jane Eyre over at The Gospel Coalition Australia site this week, and reflects on what it teaches about ministry marriages in the relationship between Jane and St. John Rivers.
“She [Jane Eyre] is smart enough to see through his spiritual bullying, since that is what it is. He wishes to possess her, not work with her. She exposes him as, frankly, a spiritual abuser. Only, he doesn’t like being denied of course:
It is what I want… it is just what I want. And there are obstacles in the way: they must be hewn down. Jane, you would not repent of marrying me; be certain of that; we must be married… Refuse to be my wife, and you limit yourself for ever to a track of selfish ease and barren obscurity…
The violence of his language here is alarming. He won’t be denied, he imagines. His sheer force of ambition will overwhelm her in the end, and she will submit.”
Lewis the spy?: “Until now, the general public and the world of scholarship had no idea that C. S. Lewis began his wartime service by undertaking a mission for MI6.” A surprising report from Christianity Today. Read more here.
Whitewash: A man is reportedly suing the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for exhibiting paintings portraying Jesus Christ as a blond-haired white man.
Justin Renel Joseph, 33, filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court alleging that four masterpieces exhibited in the museum are the product of “offensive aesthetic whitewashing” in their portrayals of Christ. Read more here.
Address to the nation: In US President Barack Obama’s address to the nation this week on the threat of terrorism to the United States and around the world, the President reminded Americans that hate and division is exactly what ISIS wants.
“But just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans — of every faith — to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose. That kind of divisiveness, that betrayal of our values plays into the hands of groups like ISIL. Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes — and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that.” Read the full speech, here.
Religious difference: A new report in the UK from the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life has suggested that putting faith at the heart of schools and the state may be a way of combatting extremism.
“At the heart of its argument is the case for what it calls religious literacy. It wants religious education (which is not the same as religious instruction) to be a compulsory subject taught from a nationally determined curriculum. The purpose of it would be to help children of all religions, and more likely of none, to become familiar with religious ideas and able to think critically about them. They should be more aware of what they share with fellow citizens, as well as how and why they disagree. Difference should not be a reason to be fearful, but respected as a core national value. Religion should be the handmaid of social cohesion, not a wedge that drives communities apart; not a potentially infectious agent, but an inoculation against extremism.” Read The Guardian’s editorial on the issue, here.
And now for something completely different.
A series of videos from the Swedish arm of charitable organisation, Action Aid are making the social media rounds this week, showcasing goats singing Christmas carols. Now, you think that you know what to expect with that set up. But we dare you not to laugh anyway: