Was Zwingli Catholic?

PerpetualIndulgenceSo a radical, anti-Roman Catholic, gay activist group called, charmingly, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence gravely disrespected the church. Two men from the activist group — dressed in white face, garish makeup and nuns’ habits — received the sacrament of Holy Communion a few weeks ago from San Francisco’s top Catholic official.

Julian Guthrie, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter, wrote up the event in a somewhat flippant manner, highlighting their hilarious mottoes “go forth and sin some more” and “It is not wise to say no to free drinks, cheap jewelry, discount cosmetics or pretty boys.” And let’s not forget their hilarious names — Sister Chastity Boner and Sister Constance Craving of the Holey Desire:

Sister Barbi Mitzvah, who serves as “Board Chairnun” and “Sexytary,” said Tuesday that the group is “not offering a comment.

“These people are always after us,” Sister Mitzvah said, referring to conservative pundits and Catholic leaders.

The group did not identify the two members who took the wafers. One of the men, however, sent an e-mail to the church after the Mass and gave the name “Sister Delta Goodhand.”

Ha ha! So funny! Such a harmless group! Guthrie first mentioned notorious theological heavyweight Bill O’Reilly and his outrage before getting to more substantive criticism. Of course, he went on to quote a Jesuit professor and a parishioner at the church who thought the makeup and dress were all rather funny. Here’s the substantive criticism:

Some local Catholics, however, said they were hurt by what they said was a mockery of their most holy ritual.

“It’s been all the news in Catholic circles,” said Bill May, chairman of the San Francisco-based Catholics for the Common Good. “Catholics are hurt, frustrated and a bit angry because nobody is standing up and saying this is not right. This is a desecration of the Eucharist. They were there to make a statement and embarrass the archbishop and, in doing so, they desecrated what is most sacred and dear to every Catholic in the world.”

eucharistSo I’m glad that he mentioned how devout Catholics might feel about this stunt. Much better than reporter Meredith May’s hard-hitting story published the same day in the same paper, headlined “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have history of charity, activism.” My favorite line:

Easter Sunday is a high holy day for the Sisters, but their celebration, which includes a “Hunky Jesus Contest” in Dolores Park, has been called blasphemous by some Catholics.

Ya think? Way to ask the tough questions, Meredith! And the use of the phrase high holy day? Let’s go to Frank Lockwood, the religion editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and proprietor of the fantastic Bible Belt Blogger blog (say that four times fast). Would the media laugh at a nude chocolate Mohammed?, he asks:

I’m also disappointed by U.S. news organizations that have a double standard when it comes to religion: They’re more than happy to mock evangelical or Catholic Christianity, but they’re somewhat leery of offending Judaism and they’re down-right terrified of offending Islam. Muslims absolutely deserve respect as do Jews and people of all faiths — even Christians.

Here’s the lead of a story that moved on the AP wire today (along with a photo):

“Chocolate Jesus is resurrected.

‘My Sweet Lord,’ an anatomically correct milk chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ that infuriated Catholics before its April unveiling was canceled, returns Oct. 27 to a Chelsea [New York City] art gallery, its creator said Tuesday.

If the story sounds familiar to you, it’s because the national media pounced on it during Easter week — the first time Chocolate Jesus was unveiled. Now it’s back for round two.

In the latest story, the sacred cornerstone of Christianity, the Resurrection, has been reduced to a journalistic punchline ["chocolate Jesus is resurrected ..."]. Isn’t that witty and urbane? And people wonder why newspapers can’t hold onto readers.

Artists with scant talent (and even less originality) have figured out that blasphemy is an easy (and safe) ticket to national notoriety — as long as it’s lowly Jesus of Nazareth who is ridiculed. Newspapers in this overwhelmingly Christian nation gobble it up. They shouldn’t.

Can you imagine the national media laughing it up about an anatomically-correct chocolate Mohammed in Manhattan with his genitals on display? They’d be too afraid to print the pictures. [They don’t have the nerve to print artistic renderings of the Prophet with his clothes on!

zwingliFrequently when this topic comes up, a few readers argue that the disparity between the way the mainstream media treat blasphemy of Jesus and blasphemy of Mohammed is okay because Jesus “can take it.” Some argue that the disparity is okay because Christians don’t kill people who blaspheme Jesus. I can’t really imagine two worse justifications for a supposedly objective media.

But here is my favorite part of Guthrie’s article:

Holy Communion is a centuries-old tradition in which the celebrant receives from a priest the consecrated bread and wine representing the “Body of Christ” and the “Blood of Christ.”

Okay, exactly how many errors or problems are there in that sentence? The worst problem is confusing the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation and real presence with the Zwinglian approach to communion. Zwingli (pictured) argued that Jesus meant “represents” when he said, “This is my body.” Who doesn’t know that Catholics believe that the bread and wine become the very body and blood of Christ in Communion? Did this reporter graduate from college? And what in the world is up with the scare quotes? They wouldn’t be so offensive if the Catholic belief weren’t so horribly mangled. And what about the word celebrant? Is not the religious definition of that word “the officiating priest in the celebration of the Eucharist“? And in an article explaining Catholic outrage at a blasphemous act, is “centuries-old tradition” the best way to describe the sacredness and holiness of the sacrament of Communion? Centuries? Gosh, it’s almost enough centuries that we could use a more precise word, say, millennia.

Photo of Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence via Wikimedia.

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Brownback gets his media attention

sam brownback waving goodbyeMost second- and third-tier presidential candidates fuss about a lack of media attention and the mainstream media’s general tendency to treat their campaigns as equaling the significance of a stalk of corn in an Iowa cornfield. The social conservative Sen. Sam Brownback wouldn’t hesitate to blame his lack of political traction on the media’s failures to take his candidacy seriously.

Well, Brownback is getting some attention, but it’s not quite the coverage a candidate wants. According to the Associated Press, the candidate who was supposed to be ideal for Christian Republicans will drop out of the 2008 presidential campaign on Friday. Money is the big issue (only about $4 million overall), and it seems that Brownback is angling toward a 2010 Kansas governor’s race since his promise to serve only two terms in the Senate is about to come due:

Besides money, Brownback’s support for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants hurt him in Iowa, an early-voting state that has struggled to provide education, medical care and other services as the number of immigrants has more than doubled since 1990.

Brownback spent a good chunk of his money on the Iowa straw poll, an early test of strength whose significance diminished after Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani decided not to compete. He finished third behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

The next question for Brownback is which of the many Republican candidates will receive his endorsement or his Iowa organization. McCain? Giuliani? Why not the most ideologically compatible Huckabee? Remember that squabble Brownback and Huckabee had a few months ago? Who benefits the most and could get a bump in support, if anyone?

In a Christianity Today Q&A posted this morning, Brownback says a combination of factors have kept evangelicals from rallying behind him:

One is that I am not as highly visible as some of the other candidates. Second, we haven’t raised the amount of funds that some of other candidates have. I think there is a general position on our side that people are watching and waiting. They’re waiting to see the candidates run for a while before [they] decide. It is very early. Some people are tired, just of politics, saying, “I’m just weary.”

CBN News Senior National Correspondent David Brody chalks it up to another factor: personality:

Listen, let’s be real and honest here. From a social conservative perspective, Brownback had the resume. Pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, against embryonic stem cell research, the list goes on and on. I mean he was even head of the Values Action Team on Capitol Hill and was very close to many of the Evangelical leaders who never endorsed him. Looking back, if they had gotten behind him early, maybe things would have been different. I know from talking to the Brownback campaign that there’s a certain amount of disappointment that conservative groups never rallied around him. But the rap against Senator Brownback was that he lacked charisma. Put another way: he was a little boring and not all that inspiring. When you have that plus you can’t raise much money, that’s called game, set, match.

The demise of Brownback’s candidacy is part of a larger story about the conservative Christians who helped propel the Republican Party to power over the last decade or so. It would be wrong for the media to portray this as any key moment in the decline of the movement. In a sense, the story about the decline of the movement has been in the works and in publication since the 2006 congressional elections.

A candidate for this bloc of voters still exists in Huckabee, and both McCain and Romney are trying to bring the group into their tent, making it too early to use Brownback’s exit as an obituary on the religious right. But even with Brownback gone from the field, is there any realistic chance that the conservative Christians voters will consolidate around a candidate in a significant fashion in an effort to make a difference in 13 months?

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Hannah, why do you weep?

rachleahAnn Rodgers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is a prolific religion writer. Using the hook of a seminar scheduled at a Roman Catholic seminary, Rodgers looks at the pain endured by religious adherents suffering from infertility.

This is precisely the type of story I wish more media outlets would cover. Even from a secular perspective, the lack of understanding about in vitro fertilization is problematic. How many people understand that couples create a number of embryos and discard the ones they don’t, uh, need? For many years it was impossible to find that fact in mainstream media reports. I wonder why churches don’t talk about the ethics of infertility treatments more, too, but I suspect many religious leaders find it too difficult, considering their prevalence. Rodgers begins her story by mentioning that various religious traditions object to some infertility treatments:

For Catholics, whose church raises the widest array of concerns, it can be especially daunting, said Eileen Kummant, a family practice physician in White Oak who helps Catholics treat infertility without violating church teaching.

Even the most faithful, who often seek her practice because of her values, are tempted to ignore moral concerns when their own efforts to conceive have failed, she said.

“A lot of people are really hurting when they have infertility problems. Sometimes they just don’t want to think about anything that might say they can’t do whatever is necessary to have a baby — especially when it seems that other people have no problem with it,” she said.

“It seems like a hope that they are told they can’t have.”

Rodgers looks at the aforementioned objections to embryo destruction, which is frequently the case with IVF. Others, such as Orthodox Jews, object to masturbation to collect semen, she writes. The most widespread qualms concern the use of surrogate mothers, she adds. Here she looks at the local conference:

At Saturday’s workshop, church teaching will be explained, but so will medical solutions that the church accepts, said Susan Rauscher, head of the diocesan Social Awareness Office.

One example is lower tubal ovum transfer, where a blocked egg is moved from the upper to the lower part of the fallopian tube and fertilized there.

The article is very thorough, looking at the stress infertility — and infertility treatments — can cause in a marriage. I particularly liked the ending:

The Bible has many stories about infertility. The story of Rachel and Leah illustrates the great jealousy that can arise when an infertile woman’s sister has children, he said. But one problem for those who turn to the Bible for comfort is that its infertility stories often end with a miracle baby. This can make couples feel that their infertility is due to a lack of faith or that God doesn’t love them.

It’s important to remember that the stories aren’t trying to explain infertility, but to show God’s power, [Karl] Schultz[, a Catholic writer from the North Side with a background in pastoral psychology] said.

“The biblical authors knew that things did not always turn out well [for infertile couples]. They are pointing in the long term to God’s plan of salvation,” he said.

There are so many religion stories like this one that affect countless readers and viewers. I hope for fewer stories about who various religious groups are thinking about voting for and more stories about the real drama in the lives of religious adherents.

Art: Michelangelo’s Rachel and Leah

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MTV: Rowling answers God question

JK RowlingMany theories have been tossed around for why Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling avoided discussing religion and her books. One of the more popular theories was that she didn’t want to be typecast or shunned for any personal views that could affect books sales.

The answer, it seems, is a lot simpler. Rowling, according to an article by MTV.com’s Shawn Adler, wanted to avoid giving away the book’s ending to perceptive fans who, if they knew for sure the book had intentional religious parallels, would spot certain themes and trends and ruin all the fun.

Of course the book has Christian images, “almost epitomize the whole series,” Rowling now says. Like, duh!

What’s most interesting about the story, though, is what Rowling reveals about herself:

But if she was worried about tipping her hand narratively in the earlier books, she clearly wasn’t by the time Harry visits his parents’ graves in Chapter 16 of “Deathly Hallows,” titled “Godric’s Hollow.” On his parents’ tombstone he reads the quote “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death,” while on another tombstone (that of Dumbledore’s mother and sister) he reads, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

While Rowling said that “Hogwarts is a multifaith school,” these quotes, of course, are distinctly Christian. The second is a direct quote of Jesus from Matthew 6:19, the first from 1 Corinthians 15:26. As Hermione tells Harry shortly after he sees the graves, his parents’ message means “living beyond death. Living after death.” It is one of the central foundations of resurrection theology. …

But while the book begins with a quote on the immortal soul — and though Harry finds peace with his own death at the end of his journey — it is the struggle itself which mirrors Rowling’s own, the author said.

“The truth is that, like Graham Greene, my faith is sometimes that my faith will return. It’s something I struggle with a lot,” she revealed. “On any given moment if you asked me [if] I believe in life after death, I think if you polled me regularly through the week, I think I would come down on the side of yes — that I do believe in life after death. [But] it’s something that I wrestle with a lot. It preoccupies me a lot, and I think that’s very obvious within the books.”

Will other media outlets pick this story up? Rowling, is after all, on a publicity tour. The general idea of those is to pick up media attention, and the big media outlets are not always jumping to publish the latest celebrity gossip. Oh wait — never mind.

In all seriousness, the media coverage this story gets in the next couple of days will be telling. How many times has a Harry Potter book made the front page of USA Today or the cover of one of the big three news magazines? Local newspapers eat the story up when the books come out, often assigning a features writer to get an embargoed copy of the book, read it in one night, and write a review for the day the book goes on sale. Will Rowling’s resolving the religion issue make it beyond the celebrity-entertainment sections of the papers?

The MTV.com story isn’t without its own barbs. See the final few paragraphs, which are more than likely to get a certain number of people excited:

That, by the author’s own acknowledgement, “Harry Potter” deals extensively with Christian themes may be somewhat ironic, considering that many Christian leaders have denounced the series for glamorizing witchcraft. When he was known simply as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Pope himself condemned the books, writing that their “subtle seductions, which act unnoticed … deeply distort Christianity in the soul before it can grow properly.”

For her part, Rowling said she’s proud to be on numerous banned-book lists. As for the protests of some believers? Well, she doesn’t take them as gospel.

“I go to church myself,” she declared. “I don’t take any responsibility for the lunatic fringes of my own religion.”

Terry has been saying for years that the books are shaped by “a Church of Scotland communicant whose faith has helped shape her work.” In fact if you look at portions of his August 1 column, you’ll see that Rowling confirms some of his predictions in a somewhat eerie fashion.

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The hermit does what with what?

EucharistI have been puzzled about this story for a week or more. It’s time to share the mystery.

This Contra Costa Times article by Rebecca Rosen Lum is not all that bad. It’s about a hermit nun named Sister Lauren O’Neal, and the nicest thing about the story is that this sister comes off as a rather complete, balanced person. There are lots of nice details about her life and her calling. Take this glimpse into her living quarters and life:

Shelves full of books bank the living room. A print of Rembrandt’s “The Return of the Prodigal Son” hangs beneath a crucifix. “Bach Works for the Violin” waits on a music stand. A shelf holds DVDs — “The Hobbit” series, “The Green Mile” — a television and other gadgets. And she loves “Harry Potter.”

She embraces solitude, not isolation, she says: A hermit’s life is not for those trying to hide from society.

“Probably one of the biggest misconceptions is that (hermits) live in silence,” said the Rev. Mark Weisner, spokesman for the Oakland Diocese. “We have the image of hermits being unhappy and unable to fit into society. Sister O’Neal is a very normal person. Can you imagine having constant contact with the Lord and not being joyful?”

Canon law describes a hermit’s life as one of solitude and penance, “but there is nothing in church law about how much silence to keep,” said Sister Marlene Wiesenbeck, who wrote a guidebook for aspiring hermits and the vicars and bishops who assess their applications.

Alas, it is the reference just ahead of this piece of the story that has me so baffled. I have been around Catholic worship, and the language of Catholic worship, for a long, long time, and this passage contains words that are either (a) clueless or (b) so obscure that there is no way they should have been used in a mainstream newspaper story without explanation.

So here goes:

Quiet feels natural in these rooms. A chapel in her room holds a tabernacle, and within it the instruments of the Eucharist, which she performs here and for other residents in the complex.

“Bishops allow hermits to do that,” she said.

I am not, it seems, alone in my confusion. If one Googles the phrase “instruments of the Eucharist,” one gets a variety of references that only make the situation more confusing.

Is the sister allowed to keep the reserved Sacrament in her quarters, to share with the sick and those who cannot get to Mass? But other references you can find online suggest that these “instruments” are the chalice and paten. That makes it sound like she has been given permission to celebrate the Mass. It’s a page one story around the world if a Roman Catholic bishop has approved that. So I think that is unlikely.

So what did the reporter hear? What did the sister actually say?

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Jesus and fermented grapes

The Grapes of GalileeThe business section of any newspaper should contain a religion story every now and then. An ad for Grapes of Galilee Wine in Catholic Digest caught the attention of Los Angeles Times staff writer Alana Semuels, who put together a short, quippy article that covers all the necessary bases when one is writing about Christians and alcohol:

Some denominations might think that the Grapes of Galilee isn’t kosher. “Jesus chased people out of the temple for selling products in God’s name,” said Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research, an arm of the teetotaling Southern Baptist Convention. “He did not put his name on the label to pump up sales.”

Beyond that, by marketing wine with Jesus’ image, “you’re associating Jesus with getting drunk and people don’t necessarily want to be doing that,” said Mara Einstein, author of “Brands of Faith: Marketing Religion in a Commercial Age.”

And appropriately for the sake of thoroughness, the article concludes with this point, quoting Pini Haroz, a Georgia-based wine importer:

“If he ate grapes or made wine,” Haroz said, “it must have been from these vines.”

After all, Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine.

This is a nice little story that shows an awareness of religious issues and a willingness to step out and explore ideas on both sides.

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Exchanging one caricature for another

WillsCoverIn the Oct. 8 New Republic, Alan Wolfe of Boston College reviews Head and Heart: American Christianities, the latest book by Garry Wills. The argument of Head and Heart, as condensed by Wolfe, should gladden the heart of anyone who has night sweats because of the Religious Right:

American Christianity in general, and American Protestantism more specifically, has always contained two currents, two wings — one that appeals to logic and reason, and another that appeals to emotion and belonging.

Wills gives these two movements the shorthand labels of Enlightened and Evangelical, and predictable generalizations ensue:

In one corner stands biblical literalism, pre-Millennialism, male chauvinism, American exceptionalism, anti-Catholicism, and political conservatism. In the other: biblical scholarship, post-Millennialism, internationalism, religious toleration, gender equality, and political liberalism.

Golly, the categories are that clear? Someone should send a cease and desist order to all those evangelicals who know their way around biblical interpretation; disagree with each other about Millennialism and gender roles; and celebrate their shared beliefs with Catholics.

Trampling on his own stick-figure argument, Wills assures readers that such a strict separation of head and heart is unnecessary. Wolfe points out the flaws in Wills’ assumption that such a separation has ever existed:

Consider a few of the figures and movements that Wills discusses. Some of them belong to neither the Enlightened nor the Evangelical camp — including Tom Paine, who, contrary to Wills, was about as irreligious as a prominent eighteenth-century writer could be. And others belong to both camps: Jonathan Edwards, to cite only the most prominent example, was an avid reader of both John Locke and Isaac Newton, and at the same time a sympathizer with the Great Awakening. … If what we really should want is a balance between these poles, well, that is to a considerable extent what we always have had.

Toward the end of his 4,200-word essay, however, Wolfe unloads this comparable whopper of dismissing entire swaths of religious culture:

It is true that evangelicals and mainline Protestants disagree politically, but if serious theological differences between them exist, they are hard to spot. Neither camp has produced a serious work of religious thought in decades.

Who cares about Ellen Charry, William Countryman, Marva Dawn, Peter Gomes, Stanley Hauerwas, Alister McGrath, Nancey Murphy, Clark Pinnock and Miroslav Volf? Their theological differences, which are readily apparent to most readers, elude Alan Wolfe.

I am reminded of the hubristic Vizzini in The Princess Bride, who said to Westley, “Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons.” Wolfe writes in his essay that he has spent “lots of time visiting evangelical colleges and seminaries and attending megachurch services.” I’m glad he announces this, because it’s not evident in his writing.

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Listening to the African Anglicans

Akinola MinnsDon’t get me started on the state of air travel these days. My wife and I had lots (and lots) of extra time yesterday in Logan International Airport during a trip north for parents day at Gordon College, and I spent much of that time digging really deep into the new issue of The New Republic.

By all means, take the time to check out Jeffrey Goldberg’s lengthy cover story review of the controversial book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt. The headline says it all: “The Usual Suspect.”

But the mini-essay that really caught my attention was “The African War Over Homosexuality.” It is, as you would expect, a commentary on the warfare inside the global Anglican Communion.

The byline was at the end of the piece and, thus, I was well into reading it before I said to myself, “Wait a minute. This writer has the ability to stay calm about a subject that is driving almost everyone else into journalistic craziness. Who is this guy?” I also wondered what the piece was doing in The New Republic, only that wouldn’t really be a fair statement since the magazines runs a wide variety of excellent work on religious topics.

The goal is to try to understand why African Anglicans say the things they say, while defending centuries of Christian tradition about sexual morality. Here is one of the long, logical passages that caught my attention:

Why, then, did opposition to gay rights become so critical for many African Christians? The answer has a lot to do with the rapid spread of Christianity on the continent in a relatively short time. In 1900, Africa had 10 million Christians, representing around 10 percent of the population. By 2000, that figure had grown to 360 million, or 46 percent. As a result, most African Christians today are first- or second-generation members of the faith, and many are adult converts. Sociologists generally agree that newer religious groups tend to have more literal approaches to scripture. In practice, of course, literalism still leaves plenty of room for debate and interpretation; but, when the Bible specifically condemns a particular sin — and same-sex interaction is repeatedly denounced in both the Old and New Testaments — that makes it difficult for literalists to find wiggle room.

In other ways, too, the rapid expansion of Christianity has conditioned African views on homosexuality. African churches exist in a ferociously competitive environment, one where traditional groups — like Anglicans and Catholics — must fight to maintain their market share against newer Pentecostal denominations, with their enticing promises of miracles and healings. The last thing the older churches need is a suggestion that their commitment to scriptural truth is anything less than absolute or that they are any less rigorous than their rivals in condemning sin.

The other key rival — and another factor shaping moral attitudes — is Islam. Over the past century, African Christianity has grown much more rapidly than Islam, a fact that puzzles and infuriates Muslims who regard the continent as naturally theirs. In 1900, for instance,
Christians accounted for just 1 percent of the people of what would become the state of Nigeria; Muslims made up 26 percent. By 1970, however, the religions had achieved parity, each having around 45 percent of the population. And some recent polls suggest that, today, the nation has a Christian plurality. Against this background of rivalry and potential violence, Christians cannot be seen to concede anything to Muslims in terms of their commitment to strict morality.

This writer is clearly not a conservative hardliner, yet he has paid close attention to what is actually happening in Africa. He notes, for example, that the harsh Nigerian laws on homosexuality that have been endorsed by African Anglicans are — when seen in this context — far milder than the other alternative, which is Muslim sharia law.

There is another factor that is often overlooked: Africans do not want to be seen as bowing to pressures from the all-powerful West and, especially, the United States of America. They cannot afford to be seen as American puppets, forcing changes that offend Africans.

And finally, there is this:

In the region later known as Uganda, Christianity first arrived in the 1870s, when the area was already under Muslim influence and a hunting ground for Arab slave-raiders. The king of Buganda had adopted Arab customs of pederasty, and he expected the young men of his court to submit to his demands. But a growing number of Christian courtiers and pages refused to participate, despite his threats, and an enraged king launched a persecution that resulted in hundreds of martyrdoms: On a single day, some 30 Bugandans were burned alive. Yet the area’s churches flourished, and, eventually, the British expelled the Arab slavers. That foundation story remains well-known in the region, and it intertwines Christianity with resistance to tyranny and Muslim imperialism — both symbolized by sexual deviance. Reinforcing such memories are more recent experiences with Muslim tyrants, such as Idi Amin, whose victims included the head of his country’s Anglican Church. For many Africans, then, sexual unorthodoxy has implications that are at once un-Christian, anti-national, and oppressive.

So who is this writer, who is this man of the West who can hold two or more ideas in tension in his own mind?

It is, of course, historian Philip Jenkins — author of God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam and Europe’s Religious Crisis. Reporters need to follow this man’s work, if they want to know what is happening in the Global South. One of the quickest ways to dip into his scholarship is to read his famous cover article from The Atlantic Monthly, the one titled “The Next Christianity.”

So read his stuff. And try to stay calm.

Photo: Nigerian Archbishop Archbishop Peter Akinola, with missionary Bishop Martyn Minns of Virginia.

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