A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘christianity

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • blogTO notes that the cash-strapped CBC may be forced to sell its iconic downtown Toronto headquarters.
  • James Bow reflects on winter in Kitchener-Waterloo.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper studying the relationship between exoplanets and circumstellar dust discs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a simulation of the polar atmosphere of Venus and notes concerns that India’s Hindustan Aeronautics might not be able to manufacture French Rafale fighters under contract.
  • Far Outliers notes Madeleine Albright’s incomprehension of Cambodia’s late 1990s struggles and looks at the way the country lags its neighbours.
  • The Frailest Thing notes how human traffic errors reveal we’re not quite up to some of the tasks we’d like.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Finland’s president has signed a marriage bill into existence.
  • Languages of the World notes the problem of where the homeland of the Indo-Europeans was located.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the often-ignored pattern of lynching Mexicans in the United States.
  • Marginal Revolution notes (1, 2) the problems of human beings with algorithmic, computer-driven planning.
  • Otto Pohl notes how Germans in Kyrgyzstan were forced into labour battalions.
  • pollotenchegg looks at demographic indicators in Ukraine over the past year, noting a collapse in the east.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at deep history, looking at the involvement of war in state-building in Africa and noting the historically recent rise of inequality in Latin America.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at one Russian’s proposal to give a Ukrainian church self-government, notes Russia’s inability to serve as a mentor to China, and looks at rural depopulation in the North Caucasus and South Russia.

[LINK] “Why are Christian movies so painfully bad?”

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Vox‘s Brandon Ambrosino makes an argument that a tendency in American Christian culture to prefer didacticism over art and craft is responsible for a general failure of this culture to produce compelling art.

Any person even vaguely familiar with Evangelical subcultures will recognize the trend of copying and sanitizing whatever pop culture is doing. This trend belies a certain impulse within Evangelical Christians to separate the entire world into two categories: sheep and goats, wheat and chaff.

A good deal of contemporary Christian art is predicated on the sacred/secular divide: As Christian film critic Alissa Wilkinson noted, “Christians, and evangelicals in particular, have been really, really prolific in making pop culture products that parallel what’s going on in mainstream cultural production.”

To illustrate this point, Wilkinson references a poster many ’90s Evangelicals will remember quite well: the “If you like that you’ll love this” chart. The chart features two columns. The first reads, “If you like that.” It contains the names of secular bands. The second reads, “You’ll love this.” It contains — you guessed it — Christian bands with similar, if sanitized, sounds.

If the chart were around today, it might say “If you like YouTube, you’ll love GodTube,” or “If you like Twitter, you’ll love Gospelr.” Or “If you like — and/or abhor — S&M sex, then you’ll love this movie about chastity.” These artistic replacements are intended to satisfy the Christian’s cravings for the secular, harmful version.

The end result is that the Christian product seems like a knock-off, a cheap alternative.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 18, 2015 at 11:24 pm

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • blogTO notes plans for building a new condo complex at Front and Spadina.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper simulating the emission spectra of super-Earths.
  • The Dragon’s Tales suggests that the emergence of continents was crucial for the Great Oxidation Event and claims Mars took longer to lose its atmosphere than many people think.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the Archbishop of San Francisco is, among other things, strongly anti-masturbation.
  • Language Log notes the death of feminist, linguist and science fiction writer Suzette Haden Elgin.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money makes a case somewhat in defense of Brian Williams.
  • Spacing Toronto makes the case that lovers should buy Valentine’s Day gifts at its store.
  • The Tin Man considers his complicated relationship with the musical Falsettos.
  • Torontoist looks at the evolution of CAMH over the years.
  • Towleroad notes the active support of Pope Francis for an anti-gay referendum in Slovakia.
  • Transit Toronto notes the steady expansion of the TTC’s WiFi network throughout the subway system.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers the challenges facing a Lohan family lawsuit against Fox News.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that Ukraine can’t accept Russian demands because they’ll keep coming, argues that Russians are noticing domestic incompetence, and notes internal border changes in Russia.

[LINK] “Crimea’s Vanishing Religious Communities”

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Writing for Transitions Online, Felix Corley suggests that many religious communities in Russian-occupied Crimea–particularly ones with Ukrainian or Western links–are facing quiet repression.

Almost 18 years after it was founded, a small Catholic convent in Crimea’s capital, Simferopol, was forced to close down in November when its three Franciscan nuns had to leave. They were refused the possibility of extending their residence permits in Crimea, the chancellor of the Odessa and Simferopol Catholic diocese, Krzysztof Kontek, told Forum 18 News Service from the Ukrainian city of Odessa on 15 January. The sisters, who are from elsewhere in Ukraine and Poland, had been helping in pastoral work in the city’s Catholic parish. Their enforced departure came a month after the parish’s main priest was similarly forced to leave.

In addition, December saw the enforced departure of the last of Crimea’s 23 imams and Muslim teachers from Turkey, a spokesperson for the Muslim Board told Forum 18 from Simferopol on 20 January.

Officials from the Crimean branch of Russia’s Federal Migration Service said in October that only registered religious communities are able to invite foreign citizens. No religious community in Crimea or Sevastopol (an administratively separate city) has state registration recognized by the Russian authorities.

A Russian law from 31 December extended the deadline for re-registering religious communities (and other entities) in Crimea until 1 March.

Fines for religious books the Russian authorities regard as “extremist” seem to have reduced in recent months, though they did not stop. However, as a moratorium on raids, seizures of literature, and prosecutions in such cases ended, it remains unclear if such raids, fines, and confiscations will resume. Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and librarians have been particular targets.

The moratorium was announced by the head of Crimea’s Russian-backed government, Sergei Aksyonov, in mid-October.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 5, 2015 at 10:56 pm

[LINK] “Tending the ‘Stolen’ Sheep in Latin America’s Booming Bible Belt”

An interesting Christianity Today article by Morgan Lee reports on the diversity of Protestantism in Central America, where different countries seem to have different traditions.

For most of the past century, almost all (more than 90%) of Latin Americans were Catholics. But decades of attrition have resulted in a record 1 in 5 Latinos now identifying as Protestants.

Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua lead the way, where Protestants constitute 4 in 10 residents of each nation. But Protestants in those 3 countries diverge on many measures of orthodox belief and practice, according to a detailed survey of 19 Latin American countries and territories by the Pew Research Center.

Guatemala’s Protestants arguably seem the most mature. They are the most likely of all 19 surveyed groups to evangelize weekly (53%), to believe only Christ leads to eternal life (74%), and to exhibit high commitment (75% pray daily, attend services weekly, and consider faith very important). Even their millennials are the most religious (71% are highly committed).

Protestants in Nicaragua and Honduras are more varied. Only 1 in 3 share their faith on a weekly basis. About 6 in 10 are highly committed to church attendance and prayer. On Christianity’s exclusive access to eternal life, only two-thirds of Hondurans and half of Nicaraguans agree. And only 45 percent of Nicaragua’s millennials are highly committed to their faith.

Further, Honduran Protestants are among Latin America’s most syncretistic, with 42 percent exhibiting medium to high engagement with indigenous beliefs and practices (a figure that’s higher than Catholics in most Latin American countries). Nicaraguan Protestants exhibited similarly high levels (35%), but only 24 percent of Guatemalan Protestants are similarly syncretistic.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 28, 2015 at 11:28 pm

[LINK] “Saskatoon gay couple 1st to be married in Mennonite church”

CBC Saskatoon noted the wedding of a same-sex couple in a Mennonite church in Saskatchewan, the first of its kind in Canada.

New Year’s Eve is a special time for many, and for Craig Friesen and Matt Wiens, it was especially meaningful.

The Saskatoon couple was married on Dec. 31 in Osler, Sask., in the presence of family, friends and the church community.

The men’s wedding marks a point in history for the Mennonite denomination in Canada. Friesen and Wiens are the first same-sex couple publicly married in a Canadian Mennonite church.

“Our relationship doesn’t feel different, but our relationship with our community and with our faith has changed at least a little bit. It was really beautiful and freeing,” Friesen said.

[. . .]

Mennonite Church Canada as a denomination isn’t publicly welcoming of LGBT people or affirming of same-sex marriage. The denomination’s confession of faith states that marriage is between a man and a woman for life.

Last year, however, the governing body in Saskatchewan announced that congregations could decide on their own whether or not they would be welcoming and the church would not take action against it. This was decided, in part, to keep some congregations from leaving the denomination.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 23, 2015 at 9:57 pm

[LINK] “Catholic Church ‘Allah’ appeal shot down in Malaysia”

As reported by Al Jazeera’s Kate Mayberry, this court decision has more to do with a religiously-tinged ethnic conflict specific to Malaysia than with religious conflict, as such.

Malaysia’s highest court has rejected the Catholic Church’s application to appeal a ban on its use of the word “Allah” in the Malay-language section of its newspaper, the Catholic Herald, bringing to an end a protracted legal battle over constitutional rights.

The five-man panel, headed by Federal Court Judge Abdul Hamid Embong, on Wednesday dismissed unanimously the application, the second by the Church.

The bench said there was no indication of any “procedural unfairness” in the court’s earlier decision not to allow the Church’s appeal.

[. . .]

Malay-speaking Malaysians, mostly indigenous people from the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak, have long used “Allah” as the Malay translation for “God”, but in 2008 the government threatened to withdraw the paper’s permit if it continued using the word.

The Catholic Church sought a judicial review and the High Court ruled in 2009 that it was Malay-speaking Christians’ constitutional right to use the word, which is widely used by Christians in Indonesia and much of the Middle East.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 22, 2015 at 11:37 pm

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