Stories I’ve Found 9/21/2012

Interesting stories I’ve found lately:

The status of native Christians in the Middle East is very bad. Pope Benedict XVI addresses the situation, and John Allen summarizes it very well.  I’ve been in the Middle East, I believe the stories about the exodus of Christians from there.

Bill Tammeus led me to this article  about the Pope’s visit to Lebanon where he made an important point: if there are families that can live in peace with both Christian and Muslim members, why can’t societies? A good question, and from the experience of my family, the answer would have to be Yes.

Who Profits From Anger?  This perceptive summary on Deutsche Welle reports how extremists groups are using the anger over the Innocence of Muslims for their own purposes. I think this is a good question for anyone trying to make us angry about anything: what do you get out of this?

Omid Safi asks a very pertinent question How Would the Prophet Muhammad Respond to the Anti-Muhammad Film to the Innocence of Muslims, although calling that project a film is somewhat derogatory to the genre.  He makes a great point about the practice of mercy from his tradition, one we could all learn from. What would Christ do with this kind of insult? He received exactly this kind of insult during His Passion, of which there is ample description in Second Isaiah and the Gospels. His response is well documented as well.

Once again, Bill Tammeus finds something good for us: remembering a document from 1988 called the Williamsburg Charter, a joint statement by many representatives of many parts of American society on the anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. A casual glance at this document tells me I need to read it more thoroughly, and as Bill points out, the most impressive part of the document is the different people representing different denomination, faiths and points of view who signed it.

There’s a lot of play about the newly discovered fragment implying Jesus may have been married. This story  from Huffington post provides the most detail, including a complete translation of the fragment and some specifics of the debate in the Church Fathers over time. Religion News Service presents 5 Big Questions  that help clarify things as well. I’m willing to have a conversation about whether Jesus had a wife or not, but the recent discoveries don’t contribute anything valuable to them in my book.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will be addressing a Roman synod (sponsored by the Catholic Church) on when divided Christians can preach together.  Ain’t a that Good News?

Lauren Markoe writes a short piece on the use of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah. I love a good combination of theology and music anytime.

On that topic, Frederick Schmidt offers an excellent reflection on the spiritual dimension of music.  A good start for conversation.

For those of you who doubt there is such a thing as Muslim humor, this RNS story proves otherwise.

A Chicago fraternity tries to claim it’s a religious order to get a housing exemption. I didn’t know monasteries were hip again. That’s surely a set up for some interesting commentary.

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