Religion News, January 31, 2011

    Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

  • The jihadis thrive on a lack of definition: A striking factor about jihadis is that they move to a different country, where they are not challenged: they may be proscribed by their local Muslims, but there is no global jurisdiction. So they move along — whereas a priest excommunicated in Austria could not start preaching in Mexico. And the jetset jihadis claim that the madness they spout is somehow justified by the Koran. They’d be sent packing in their own countries, just as the IRA would if they tried to find Biblical support for their murderous campaign.
  • Why We Opened Our Church to Muslims: In a recent article on Christianity Today‘s website, Jason Hood raised issues about inviting Muslims to share worship space with Christians. Hood, who is a scholar in residence at Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, referred to our flock Heartsong and me. While I couldn’t tell exactly where Hood stood on the issue, it seemed that he had decided that our decision to allow Muslims from the Memphis Islamic Center (MIC) to use our Celebration Center for Ramadan prayers was made off hand and without much, if any, theological reflection. Nothing could be further from the truth. My intention is not to refute Hood but to continue this important, maybe even crucial, dialogue.
  • Heresy Is Heresy, Not the Litmus Test of Gospel Preaching: An accusation of theological heresy cannot be considered a fool-proof test of fidelity. Subjective human responses are rarely a correct measuring stick for faithfulness. I’ve also seen charges of heresy levied at other times, for instance, when studying the humanity of Jesus with laity who had been trained to see Jesus more or less exclusively in divine terms. However, I am not comfortable saying that a good test of my Christology is that I am accused of Arianism or Docetism.
  • All faiths are not the same: Religious illiteracy needs tackling, but we must not be afraid of criticising what religions say about themselves
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  • When spiritual leaders wander astray: There have been many examples of shepherds going astray from their religious vows and congregations. Notables include Ted Haggard, an evangelical pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs; Yogi Amrit Desai, a.k.a. Gurudev, former Hindu guru of Kripalu Yoga Center in Lenox, Mass.; Sheikh Muhammad Al-Gamei’a, former imam at the Islamic Cultural Center and Mosque in Manhattan, N.Y.; John Geoghan and Paul Shanley, defrocked Catholic priests from Boston, Mass.; and Rabbi Fred Neulander, of Reform Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, N.J.; among others.
  • Vicar hits out at council’s ban on lapdancing clubs: Paul Turp, a vicar who provided inspiration for a hit TV series about a maverick clergyman, has attacked a local authority ban on strippers, lap dancers and sex shops in his parish. He strongly criticised a London council for attempting to “impose a moral code” on residents and visitors. He added that the new policy will “push the business underground, resulting in more women working dangerously on the streets” and will add to the people who turn to his church for help.
  • China tourists: 1 million Bibles in 10 years : Bibles are difficult to obtain in China, but Chinese citizens are allowed to bring a Chinese Bible home with them from a trip abroad. So in 2001 Southern Baptists began handing out packets of Christian literature to Chinese tourists at three top vacation spots in Asia.
  • The funny side of a burqa: A YouTube video of Pakistani comedian Saad Haroon singing a satirical song about a mysterious woman in a burqa is taking the internet by storm — but it is also strongly dividing opinions among Muslims. The song “Burqa Woman” (a parody of Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman”) is about a man whose love for the mysterious woman grows “everytime I see your toes”. But is it OK to make fun of burqa-wearing women?

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday January 31, 2011.
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