1. Religious persecution and the Global South
Given the rise of persecution against Christians amidst the unrest in the Middle East, this is an important perspective for Western Christians from Yale missiologist and historian Lamin Sanneh, published by the Review of Faith & International Affairs in 2010:
As a post-Christian West continues to grapple with radical Islam’s ideology, it must recognize its limited capacity and embrace a long-range perspective. As it seeks the “hearts and minds” of global neighbors, the West should observe Christianity’s positive impact in China, African nations, and elsewhere. Only through avoiding narrow secularism and seeking partnerships can it effectively advocate its core ideas and values. Perhaps the emerging Christian center of gravity, with its base in the southern hemisphere, will inspire the West to reconsider its secularist habits and more sensitively and creatively contribute to positive realignments of the religio-political landscape. It is impossible to predict. The statistical changes in Christian numbers in the Global South since the end of colonial rule demonstrate an important shift of religious identity. The signs give cause for wariness, undoubtedly, but also certainly for hope.
2. Black, white, grey
This bit of news is bizarre and maybe a little bit encouraging. But mostly bizarre. Local leaders from the NAACP and the KKK recently had a meeting in a carefully guarded room at a hotel in Wyoming. As you can imagine, they didn’t see eye to eye on everything. But they had a conversation about all kinds of things, and in the end, the KKK leader paid his membership dues and joined the NAACP. Anyone know what to make of this?
They didn’t think he would come. He was a Ku Klux Klan organizer, after all, and they were local leaders of the NAACP, historic enemies. They spent months negotiating the terms of his visit to Casper. There were ground rules, topics to be discussed and guarantees of a security team. They wait in a small, low-ceiling conference room in the Parkway Plaza hotel. Four NAACP leaders. Ten mints, striped red and white, sit clustered on the table. The pitchers of ice water on the table drip sweat. “Showtime,” a security man says. He’s here.
3. The gospel of irony
In this post reflecting on the merits of the use of irony, Kyle Bennett (@KYLEDBENNETT) draws on Søren Kierkegaard to interpret not just irony’s (annoying) place among Brooklyn hipsters, but its (proper?) place in our worship:
As someone deeply in love with the church, I’ve often wondered how irony translates. What place can and should irony have in the church? I’m not talking about pop culture music or literature or the lifestyle of some Brooklyn hipsters. I mean the formal space and time that we believers carve out to worship God week after week. After being a teaching pastor for a number of years, I’ve wondered if irony can be a form of teaching as well as an instrument in teaching. I don’t know what that looks like, but I wonder. Can irony have a place in liturgy? Can it be a means to preach the gospel to the world or teach the church?
In 1993 an idealistic American priest disappears in the thick jungles of southern Mexico just as revolutionary forces gather in the region. The church, immersed in trying to negotiate a peaceful solution to the escalating conflict between wealthy landowners and poverty-stricken indigenas, remains strangely silent in the face of his disappearance… From the great pyramids of Tikal to the graceful palaces of Palenque to the shadowy guerrilla camps of the vast Lacandon, A Land Without Sin is a modern-day journey into the heart of darkness. It is a cinematic mystery grappling with the complexity of family history and relationships, faith amidst brutality, and the diversity of human response to illness, death, and evil.
[Image via copticworld.org]