Religion News Roundup – February 19, 2011

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    Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

  • Born which way? What’s Lady Gaga saying about God?: Lady Gaga’s Grammy launch of Born this Way — an anthem for every outsider claiming center stage with flamboyant self-celebration — has theology-thinkers going opposite directions. Is it a glorification of Christ’s love for all or is Gaga throwing original sin to the winds?
  • God in Gaga: Gaga is spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, whether intentionally or not. Her views on celibacy, personal strength and individuality are certainly laudable; and far more compelling is what she has to say about human nature and human suffering. Unlike Madonna, to whom she is often compared, Lady Gaga seems to understand that human nature is not reducible to sex. Humans are complicated, and Gaga gets that. We can be ugly — that’s true — but Gaga understands that human beauty is only meaningful in contrast to human ugliness. So yes, we are monsters (fallen), but as the song says, we were “born to survive,” (born for eternal life).
  • The definitive work on Scientology’s cult: In my experience Scientologists yearn to be intellectuals but never get around to acquiring anything resembling a critical mind. They are often talented but seldom educated. They rarely show much interest in reading. They swallow from their instructors unlimited amounts of claptrap. Members of cults often take refuge in a willed ignorance. This was another shared characteristic of the Scientologists I’ve met: They avoided learning what they didn’t want to find out. They decided that their best chance of quietening their turbulent souls was to embrace the doctrines of a science-fiction novelist who invented his own religion and appointed himself pope.
  • Apple Store employee: Working for company can feel like a cult: In “Confessions of an Apple Store Employee,” we learn that “sometimes the company can feel like a cult. Like, they give us all this little paper pamphlet, and it says things like — and I’m paraphrasing here —’Apple is our soul, our people are our soul.’ Or ‘We aim to provide technological greatness.’ And there was this one training session in which they started telling us how to work on our personality, and separating people into those with an external focus and an internal focus. It was just weird.” See also:
    Apple is the new religion, say several academics
    Corporate Cults
  • Learning to Count to One: Some evangelicals defend the paradigm (“We’re growing, so we must be right”) by shifting their eyes overseas to marvel at the exploding numbers of Christians in the developing world. It’s not a stretch to see that nearly all of that growth is coming through evangelical and Pentecostal efforts. But when we look beneath the numbers, we see troubling signs. Lots of strong, mature, orthodox churches, to be sure. But also a lot of disciples of the prosperity gospel, those who practice syncretism, and those who pander after religious experience rather than the narrow road of discipleship. Overseas church growth does not automatically signal orthodoxy or church health, by any account.
  • Christian arguments against God: Some Christian theologians know better than atheists that the existence of suffering casts into question God’s existence

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This post was last updated: Aug. 27, 2013