Pope Benedict XVI is calling for stronger business ethics and a “true world political authority” in order to address corruption, underdevelopment, and the gap between rich and poor countries. The new papal encyclical, “Charity in Truth,” highlights the need for wealthy nations to help poor nations, for example by sharing medical knowledge more freely (a veiled critique of high-priced pharmaceuticals). Profit should be a means rather than an end, Benedict writes.” Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty.” For more discussion of business ethics and Christian responsibility, see the articles in the Faith@Work Consultation.
Christians are busy this month celebrating the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth. In Boston, a Reformation 500 Celebration included dozens of reenactors, lectures on Reformation history, walking tours, and even a children’s parade. Others have chosen to parade all the way to Switzerland: a Calvin 500 conference launched Sunday in the Old Town of Geneva with a worship service conducted as it might have been in Calvin’s time.
Another anniversary this week: The 30th for the New International Version of the Bible, the most widely read English Bible. Zondervan, a Christian publishing house, celebrated with the Bible Across America, a hand-written Bible inscribed by more than 30,000 people during its nine-month journey through 124 cities across the country.
There is still much speculation in blogs over the religious faith of Michael Jackson. We know that Jackson was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. But did he join his brother Jermain Jackson in converting to Islam several years ago? Or did he become a Christian weeks before his death when praying with Gospel singers Andrae and Sandra Crouch? The memorial service evoked more questions than answers – the backdrop for “We are the World” displayed symbols of each major religion. It seems that Michael’s faith, like his race (black or white?) and maturity (child or adult?) slid into ambiguity.
On a lighter note, a new gameshow in Turkey called “Penitents Compete” matches up an imam, priest, rabbi, and Buddhist monk with ten atheists, who receive a trip to a holy city (Mecca, Jerusalem or Tibet) if they convert. A panel of eight theologians first assesses would-be contestants on the authenticity of their atheism. The show’s creators say they want to promote belief in God and understanding about the world’s religions. Critics say the show trivializes God. Some see the show itself as a critique of the secular Turkish state, which exists in tension with a devoutly Muslim population.