Oh, this is actually really touching and very profound to me? (x)
The Pew Report on Global Christianity is a few months old, but it’s worth your time. We’re all guilty of failing to imagine large parts of the world’s population complexly, and this is an easy way to fix that. The website includes sexy sexy interactive maps, sortable data tables, and best of all, a quiz where you can see just how little you know about Christians worldwide. Are y’all as enthusiastic about this as we are?
Ivan sees this as his wonky way of participating in Orthodox Awareness Month, which is a real thing. Pew gives Orthodoxy its own tab! Amanda never knew that there were so many Catholics in the Philippines.
Note: the map above is of percentage of Christians per population, and the study at hand deals with worldwide distribution of Christians. A small but important point.
Have we mentioned GetReligion to you yet, and how much we love it? It’s a blog that analyzes media coverage of religion — often showing how mediocre even the best journalistic outlets can be at providing good, unbiased, and factually informative stories about religious issues.
Take this piece from last week (“Endangered species: abstinent New Yorkers,” August 23). At the top, Bobby Ross, Jr. writes:
On this week’s episode of Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom,” we’ll take you inside the world of an endangered species: young humans “living the abstinent lifestyle in New York.”
I kid. I kid.
But a New York Times feature on conservative religious types waiting on sex until marriage (a la Tim Tebow) has a safari-type feel — as if the newspaper is introducing readers to zoo animals. The largely clinical portrayal of “chaste Christians” lacks any real spiritual or religious depth.
And so on.
If you think your religious literacy isn’t up-to-speed, or you like finding room for improvement in journalistic writing, GetReligion is the blog for you.
New episode of Wonkistan coming at you in just a few hours! In the meantime, check one of our favorite journalism sites.
Give it me
What is implied in the conventional wisdom that religion is prone to violence is that Christianity, Islam, and other faiths are more inclined toward violence than ideologies and institutions that are identified as “secular.” It is this story that I will challenge here. I will do so in two steps. First, I will show that the division of ideologies and institutions into the categories “religious” and “secular” is an arbitrary and incoherent division. When we examine academic arguments that religion causes violence, we find that what does or does not count as religion is based on subjective and indefensible assumptions. As a result certain kinds of violence are condemned, and others are ignored. Second, I ask, “If the idea that there is something called ‘religion’ that is more violent than so-called ‘secular’ phenomena is so incoherent, why is the idea so pervasive?” The answer, I think, is that we in the West find it comforting and ideologically useful.
The myth of religious violence helps create a blind spot about the violence of the putatively secular nation-state. We like to believe that the liberal state arose to make peace between warring religious factions. Today, the Western liberal state is charged with the burden of creating peace in the face of the cruel religious fanaticism of the Muslim world. The myth of religious violence promotes a dichotomy between us in the secular West who are rational and peacemaking, and them, the hordes of violent religious fanatics in the Muslim world. Their violence is religious, and therefore irrational and divisive. Our violence, on the other hand, is rational, peacemaking, and necessary. Regrettably, we find ourselves forced to bomb them into the higher rationality."
Does Religion Cause Violence? | Harvard Divinity School. If I could make America’s journalists and pundits read just one book, it would be William Cavanaugh’s The Myth of Religious Violence. (via ayjay)
Yes, read The Myth of Religious Violence. If you want to read the rest of Cavanaugh’s writing, I liked Migrations of the Holy the best.
A year and a day ago
One year and one day ago I stepped off the ferry and arrived on Iona for the first time. I came to volunteer with the Iona Community, the folk who I now work for for full-time. When people think of the Iona Community today they think of Iona Abbey, a building that stands on the site of the original Iona Abbey which was founded by St Columba. Columba is barely remembered as a man but only as a saint, whose experience is elevated high above any of our own; but from what we can piece together historically he was (despite his noble background) an ordinary man. In his life he made some big mistakes, and because of them he was driven from his home.
He founded a community here which grew into a centre of art and devotion, an envoy to the Pictish kings and the crux of Christian life in the British Isles.
So it is easy to romanticise this place. George MacLeod, who founded the Iona Community in Glasgow said Iona is a ‘thin place’, where the veil between the spiritual and physical is drawn thin. People come as pilgrims from all over the world because they experience God here. This place is elevated, much like the life of Columba. To them it is sacred because for a day or a week they have come to this special place where God resides, with its sacred hills and holy buildings, where their everyday life stops and the transcendent becomes apparent to them.
But for me this is my home. This is where I live and work. My ordinary life is spent here, typing, praying, eating and sleeping. But the guests are right: this place is sacred. Not because of its specialness, but because this is the place of my life and work. It is the place I have laughed with people, I have argued and been hurt, been understood and embraced, been overlooked and ignored, been cared for and nursed - all here.
It is on this island I grew in confidence that I could do a job well, that I could adapt to new situations and that I could follow through on my word and use my initiative. I’ve eaten toast here with friends. It is here I came out, telling my parents and friends about my sexuality. I drank wiskey for the first time here, and it is here that I’ve come home from a good, uplifting day at work knowing that if I don’t take a holiday soon I won’t make it another month.
There is nothing holy or magical about any of this, but it has been exceptional in its ordinariness. I have been frustrated by the organisational decision making at my work and on the same day been inspired by and ministered to by those same people. They have noticed when I am upset or exasperated, they have celebrated with me and made fun of me with me, laughing alongside me. All that is experienced by people every day in all sorts of places and that is where I have felt God draw near.
This island is an ordinary place where people come and look for God, and so God is among us, always ever just below the surface, should we only dig a little deeper.
Dan Savage is so fucking badass… and the idiot kids who walk out during his talk are basically:
Again, this is a yes-and-no type thing. Dan Savage’s Biblical hermeneutics in this video are actually really simplistic and terrible. Also, his Church history is woefully myopic - William Wilberforce, the champion for Abolition in Britain, was an evangelical Christian. The debate about slavery wasn’t (as Savage implies) a debate between pro-slavery religious folk and secular anti-slavery groups, it was an intra-religious debate with religious people on both sides.
If you want to talk constructively with Christians about LGBT issues using the Bible and Church history as examples you’ve got to use language they can/will respond to. This kind of talk doesn’t do the Church or LGBT people any favours - it only entrenches an already unworkable ideological deadlock. Give me Alison & Becky, Brent Bailey or Justin Lee over Dan Savage any time. Hell, even Tony Campolo and Andrew Marin are doing more for LGBT rights and promoting LGBT-positive messages amongst Christians than Dan Savage and they believe same-sex activity is sinful.
TL;DR, There is a better way to have this discussion and it doesn’t involve people walking out on speeches.
With fake outrage over the fake slander of working mothers by Hilary Rosen, Republicans now enjoy the appearance of a balanced counterweight to the liberal charge of being anti-woman. Not only that, Republicans have, because Democrats gave it to them, the moral high ground. The Democrats are anti-mother as well as anti-religion.
It didn’t have to be this way. Democrats could have argued in the name of the Sermon on the Mount, an unimpeachable source of biblical authority in keeping with the egalitarian spirit of Obama’s health care legislation that may have gained wide appeal among women voters who already express more concern about health care than they do balanced budgets.
But they didn’t..
Well, yes and no. Political liberals may not be too crash-hot on religion (especially Christianity) but Christian liberals are also not crash-hot on politics.