Why not Christianity?

A British journalist asks why many of her countrymen are overlooking Christianity and converting to Islam instead:

So why is it that the young folk revolted by contemporary excess don’t simply make for the local CofE, or Catholic church, and rediscover the religion of their grandmothers, rather than getting their spirituality via Islam? It is, I think, something to do with the real malaise of contemporary Britain which I wrote about in a little essay in The Spectator concerning the film Eat, Pray, Love. It is the notion that what exists abroad, or what is foreign to your own background, is somehow superior to what you’ve grown up with, what’s under your nose. In the case of EPL, the heroine finds her spiritual identity in Buddhism. It would have been a good deal more interesting if she could have discovered it in her local Episcopalian church.

It may be that the British young don’t embrace Christianity because they simply don’t encounter it, at least not through the kind of religious education-as-anthropology they get in state school, which is about as opposite as it is possible to be from the Sunday School teaching which their grandmothers would have got. Actually, the death of the Sunday School pretty well marked the end of any practical instruction in Christianity for most children. No wonder they’re susceptible to the certainties of Islam, when they encounter it.

via Why don’t all these disaffected Brits convert to Christianity instead? | The Spectator.

There may be something to that, but I suspect part of the problem is that the good old C of E [Church of England] has become so liberal that it doesn’t offer the hard stuff that people who have known only materialistic nihilism crave.  There is also the mysterious fact that people, in their natural fallen state, prefer religions of Law to the free salvation of the Gospel.  Any other ideas?

List of common misconceptions

Something really interesting from Wikipedia:  An extensive List of common misconceptions in history, science, religion, sports, travel, and technology.  The list includes my pet peeve, the myth that the ancients believed that the earth is flat, as well as many similar urban legends and scholarly bloopers.

Did any of these surprise you?  Do you want to challenge any of these misconceptions to argue that they are correct conceptions?

HT: Joe Carter

Atheists’ diversity problem

Atheists are worried because nearly all atheists are white  and most of them are men:

Last year, Jules helped launch a local initiative to address what atheists regard as an international problem for their movement: a lack of racial and gender diversity.

From the smallest local meetings to the largest conferences, the vast majority of speakers and attendees are almost always white men. Leading figures of the atheist movement — Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett — are all white men.

But making atheism more diverse is proving to be no easy task.

Surveys suggest most atheists are white men. A recent survey of 4,000 members of the Freedom from Religion Foundation found that 95 percent were white, and men comprised a majority.

Among U.S. nonbelievers, 72 percent are white and 60 percent are men, according to the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey; the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that Hispanics make up 11 percent, and African-Americans just 8 percent, of “unaffiliated” Americans.

“Anytime you go to an atheist meeting, it tends to be predominantly male and white. We know that,” said Blair Scott, national affiliate director for American Atheists, which has 131 affiliate groups. “We go out of our way to encourage participation by females and minorities. The problem is getting those people out (of the closet as atheists) in the first place.” . . .

Efforts to cultivate diversity in atheism seem to be gaining some traction among African-Americans, Goddard said, but not as much among Asians or Latinos. “I’ve seen no real success in outreach, no efforts really being made to the Latino community,” Goddard said.

via Atheists’ Diversity Woes Have No Black-and-White Answers – News.

The assumption is that racial minorities fear “coming out” as atheists; that is, that they are really atheists but are just afraid to say so.  That assumption is pretty condescending, indeed, racist in itself.   Maybe the racial minorities aren’t atheists because they actually believe in God!

Why do you think that women, blacks, and (especially) Asians and Latinos are less likely to be atheists?

HT:James Kushiner

Top religious developments of 2010

What do you think were the major developments in the world of religion for 2010?  I think we can do better than the lists from religious journalists that I’ve seen.  Look not only for events but also for trends that came into view in the preceding year but that might have a longer lasting effect.

I’ll go first:

–With the election of Matthew Harrison to the presidency, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod made a U-turn in direction, from a church body that officially wanted to emulate the rest of American Christianity to a church body that other American Christians may want to emulate.  The new president stands on the Lutheran confessional distinctives without being insular, and pushing the denomination in a winsome, compassionate, internationally-engaged direction.

–Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral went bankrupt.  Other positive-thinking, prosperity gospel ministries and believers ran up against the economic collapse.   Does this herald the end of that particular heresy?  Does it herald the decline of the megachurch?

Someone I know has been martyred!

That American tourist who was murdered in Israel–I knew her!  Kristine Luken.  She worked for Patrick Henry College for awhile, helping us with accreditation issues.  (She had previously worked for the Department of Education as a liason with colleges.)  She became friends with my wife.  A Jewish convert to Christianity, Kristine began to feel a strong calling to go to England to work with a ministry there involved with evangelizing Jews.  That was surely a calling to her martyrdom.

Kristine was gentle, sensitive, and extremely devout.  One account I read said that police were investigating if she had any sinister dealings of any kind, and I can assure them that she most certainly did not.  I’d stake my life on that.

The first assumption was that she was killed by Muslim terrorists, but I’m not so sure.  Judging from the detail about the Star of David necklace, recounted by another woman who survived the attack, I’m thinking it sounds like the two assailants might have been Jewish radicals who attacked her for evangelizing Jews.  At any rate, I have no doubt that she was murdered for her Christian faith.

And I have no doubt she has joined this number:

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (Revelation 6:9-11)

American Tourist Kristine Luken Killed in Israel, No Arrests Made, Say Police – Crimesider – CBS News.

Why don’t we protect Iraqi Christians?

World editor Mindy Belz raises a good question about U.S. policy in Iraq:

Three years ago I attended a meeting outside Washington with a NATO adviser recently returned from briefings with commanders of the war in Iraq. The question had been posed to them: If there should be a targeted massacre of Christians in Iraq (the word actually used was genocide), would the U.S. military respond? The answer from the commanders: No.

It was December 2007. Gen. David Petraeus had arrived in Baghdad 10 months earlier bearing orders to carry out his new counterinsurgency strategy with a thrust of 20,000 additional troops throughout the city. Until then, U.S. forces were bogged down in Iraq’s sectarian warfare—with civilian and military casualties sometimes topping 100 a day. That year U.S. casualties hit their all-time high, 904, but fell steadily after Petraeus’ arrival to a low of 59 (over 11 months) in 2010. Decades from now historians will study Petraeus-style warfare launched in 2007 and how it catapulted the U.S. military from its post-Vietnam malaise.

So it’s always been curious to me that the successful strategy to stamp out sectarian violence somehow did not extend to protecting Iraq’s minorities, particularly a Christian population that stretched back nearly 2 millennia and numbered up to 1.5 million under Saddam Hussein. By December 2007, church leaders estimated, that population had been halved through death and displacement to somewhere under 700,000. . . .

Leaving Christians out of the counterinsurgency equation has itself proved decisive. And the result of U.S. military and civilian leaders’ unwillingness to take a vocal and visible stand against targeted violence toward religious minorities continues to unfold—not only in Iraq but across the region.

Consider recent attacks in Iraq: the Oct. 31 assault on a church in Baghdad that killed 58; the Nov. 9 bombing of Christian homes in western Baghdad; Nov. 10 Islamic hits to more than a dozen homes with mortar fire and bombs, leaving four Christians dead and dozens wounded. Some of the homes were singled out because they belonged to mourners who attended funeral services for the Oct. 31 victims. On Nov. 15 in Mosul militants stormed two adjacent homes belonging to Christians, killing two men, then bombed others. On Nov. 16 a Christian father and his 6-year-old daughter were killed by a car bomb. As Elizabeth Kendal, writing for the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin, pointed out, “This terror has led to a surge in Christians fleeing Iraq. They will join the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians struggling to survive as refugees in Syria, Turkey and Jordan. They no longer see any reason to risk their lives for a state where, even if they survive, they will be condemned to live as second class citizens (dhimmis).”

via WORLD Magazine | Left out | Mindy Belz | Dec 18, 10.

So why do we risk American lives for a state like that?


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