Posts tagged with: Religion/Belief

While some environmentalists claim that Judaism and Christianity have been neglectful of environmental concerns, the history of these faith traditions shows otherwise. Matthea Brandenburg looks at the patristic witness, using the recent work of an Eastern Catholic scholar who argues that prayer and a healthy, every-day asceticism can keep relations between Creation and Creator on solid footing. What’s more, we should also be cautious about secularized views of nature offered by contemporary Gnostics—technocrats with “special” knowledge. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.
(more…)

Questions about poverty and social teaching are on the forefront of Pope Francis’ mind, as he’s made convincingly clear in his young papacy. This calls for cogent thinking on the topic, according to Fr. John Flynn, LC in “Francis and Catholic Social Teaching: Debates About Economy, Equality and Poverty Sure to Continue.”

Flynn cites Jerry Z. Muller, professor of History at the Catholic University of America, who gives credit to the astonishing “leap in human progress” that capitalism has brought about, but cautions that some find the disparity between rich and poor, the powerful and the dispossessed, to be grounds for anti-capitalist sentiment. Muller points out that this type of inequality seems to be growing internationally. (more…)

tworoadsOver at Fare Forward, Cole Carnesecca provides some great insights into how we should think about calling, offering some similar sentiments to those expressed in my recent post on family and vocation. “Whatever else you may think you are called to,” Carnesecca writes, “if you have a spouse and children, you are called to your family.”

Focusing on the troubled marriages of Methodism founder John Wesley and Chinese evangelist John Sung, Carnesecca explains how a misaligned and over-spiritualized concept of calling can lead us to neglect our basic responsibilities:

We often can over-spiritualize [calling], defining it as a single God-ordained path or the type of thing that comes to the missionary or pastor but not to the lay member. Or we under-spiritualize it, thinking of it as more and no less than a “career.” Both of these approaches miss two crucial points about calling.

I like to describe calling (in my other life as a youth pastor) as the meeting point of opportunity and obligation—what we are capable of doing and what we are responsible for. I mean this to apply to more “everyday” forms of calling— the way that God leads and guides individuals into life choices and experiences—and not the more “Damascus Road” forms of calling that are less difficult to understand. But for any form of calling, both opportunity and obligation must be taken into account and both can be misunderstood.

Indeed, through an orientation of ultimate obedience to God — “thy will be done” — it seems impossible to separate the two. God will not call us to areas that will involve a breaching of basic obligations and responsibilities, whether to the family or otherwise. Likewise, he will not call us to something like family if it will mean the destruction of our God-ordained purpose in this life. (more…)

This past weekend, I had the privilege to attend and present a paper at the 2013 Kuyper Center for Public Theology conference at Princeton Seminary. The conference was on the subject of “Church and Academy” and focused not only on the relationship between the institutions of the Church and the university, but also on questions such as whether theology still has a place in the academy and what place that might be. The discussion raised a number of important questions that I would like to reflect on briefly here.

In the first place, I was impressed by Dr. Gordon Graham’s lecture on the idea of the Christian scholar. He began by exploring a distinction made by Abraham Kuyper in his work Wisdom & Wonder. Kuyper writes (in 1905),
(more…)

There is a saying that going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car. Apparently, the good folks of Freedom From Religion Foundation and the 7th US District Court aren’t clear on this…and they are making a federal case of it.mustang_gt_fastback-1965

According to Robert P. George in The Washington Times, the Freedom From Religion Foundation can’t bear the thought of a public high school graduation being held in a church, even though the only reason it’s being held there is for convenience sake:

The case began in 2009, when a secularist organization sued the Elmbrook School District in Wisconsin for its decade long practice of renting a church auditorium for graduation. The district chose the church auditorium at the request of its students, who complained that the prior venue the school gymnasium was cramped and uncomfortable, and lacked adequate parking, air conditioning and seating. It is undisputed that the district selected the auditorium for purely secular reasons namely, the convenient location, ample seating, free parking, air conditioning and low cost and that the graduation events were devoid of prayer or any other religious references.

(more…)

I recently argued that although vocation is important, there is a certain something that goes before and beyond it. As Lester DeKoster puts it, “The meaning we seek has to be in work itself.”

Over at Think Christian, John Van Sloten puts forth something similar, focusing on our efforts to work for the common good— something not altogether separate from vocation:

There’s a lot of talk in faith/work circles about the idea of working for the common good – for the good of your neighbor, city, company, classmate, family member, environment and world.

It’s a good idea and an integral part of a balanced vocational worldview. But I think it falls short. And it’s not all that work is meant to be. In fact, sometimes it gets in the way.

Sometimes working for the common good is an impediment to what is work’s primary purpose: a real-time knowing and experience of God. Sometimes working for the common good becomes a works-based means of vocational salvation. And life with God becomes something that’s based on what we do for God as opposed to who we are before Him…

…Work must first be a gratitude-based response to a grace-filled encounter with our co-working God. It must be a place where we experience the presence of, are swept away by the creativity of, are enthralled by the beauty of, are humbled by the service of and are blown away by the mind of … God. (more…)

Leading religion commentator, Terry Mattingly looks back on Easter in an article about Catholics attending services despite the overcrowding from “Poinsettia and Lily Catholics,” those who only attend a Mass on Christmas and Easter.

He describes how the influx of those attending mass affects Catholics who faithfully attend church every Sunday. He says:

“I really am glad that they’re there,” wrote Fisher. “It’s got to be better than never going to Mass, and I do believe that the Holy Spirit could easily use that opportunity to send a powerful word, a lingering image, a stray idea into the mind or heart of a fallen-away Catholic, and a casual visit that was made just out of habit, or to please someone’s grandma, might be the first step to coming back home to the faith. And yeah, they’re not being reverent. Neither am I, by going through the motions while grumbling in my heart. (more…)

Nobody can know everything about everything, but in the age of the internet, fact-checking isn’t too tough. It’s one thing for a high-school student to attempt to slide by on “facts” in a research paper for sophomore social studies, but another when professional journalists make errors about easily investigated pieces of knowledge.

Lately, the media has been getting blasted for getting the facts wrong about religion. Carl M. Cannon:

The upshot during Holy Week this year was a spate of news reports so inaccurate and off-key that they comprised a kind of impromptu “Gong Show.” (more…)

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has been studying the steady rise of hostility towards religious expression and religious liberty worldwide. In fact, they found that restrictions on religion rose in every major area of the world, including the United States, since the study began in 2009.

Citing what the Pew Forum calls “social hostilities” (as opposed to government hostilities), the study found that Pakistan, India and Iraq were the most hostile countries to religious freedom.

The Social Hostilities Index (SHI) measures acts of religious hostility by private individuals, organizations and social groups. This includes mob or sectarian violence, harassment over attire for religious reasons and other religion-related intimidation or abuse.

(more…)

President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships has released its recommendations to the president on Building Partnership to Eradicate Modern-Day Slavery. Here are some things you need to know.

  1. The Council recommends that the Department of Health and Human Services oversee the Administration’s work against human trafficking. This is the same agency that brought you the HHS Mandate.
  2. They would like to use religious organizations to raise awareness regarding human trafficking, support survivors and curb demand for products produced by slave labor. This comes after the Obama Administration cut over $5 million dollars from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ efforts to help human trafficking victims.
  3. The Council includes Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori. Also serving is Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, president of the Leadership Conference of Catholic Women. The Council’s make-up leans heavily towards liberal religious leaders whose ideas regarding morality run afoul of traditional Biblical values.
  4. It is estimated that human traffickers make a profit of at least $32 billion annually.
  5. Those who are trafficked can be from any nation or ethnicity. Women and children are most at risk. The greatest indicator that one will be trafficked: living in poverty.