July 2012

Is there a future for Christianity? The shape of things to come – Opinion – ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Got to save this for future classes. Great for religion and peace?

The man who coined the term “mere Christianity” also warned against its misapplication and abuse:

  • “I hope no reader will suppose the “mere” Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions-as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else. It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in.”

Similarly, believers who inhabit the various rooms can enter the hall for the sake of dialogue and mutual support. But they cannot afford to remain there, chatting and cooperating and maybe even throwing up some tents, while their own rooms fall into neglect. A conversation has to reach conclusions in order to actually stand for something; a community has to define itself theologically in order to be able to sustain itself across the generations.


…a renewed Christianity should be oriented toward sanctity and beauty. In every crisis in the Christian past, it has been saints and artists – from Saint Francis down to John Wesley, Dante to Dostoevsky – who resurrected the faith from one of its many deaths. The example of a single extraordinary woman, Mother Teresa, did more for Christian witness in the twentieth century than every theology department and political action committee put together.

I think I would like to read his book!

In my book Bad Religion, I often tried to make a more instrumental case for Christian orthodoxy – defending its exacting moralism as a curb against worldly excess and corruption, praising its paradoxes and mysteries for respecting the complexities of human affairs in ways that more streamlined theologies do not, celebrating the role of its institutions in assimilating immigrants, sustaining families, and forging strong communities. My hope was to persuade even the most sceptical reader that traditional Christian faith might have more to offer than either its flawed defenders or its fashionable enemies would lead one to believe.

But neither religions nor cultures can live on instrumentality alone. To make any difference in our common life, Christianity must be lived – not as a means to social cohesion or national renewal, but as an end unto itself.

Anyone who seeks a more perfect union should begin by seeking the perfection of their own soul. Anyone who would save their country should first look to save themselves. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all of these things will be added to you.”

Simply superb

A Teacher’s Guide to Social Media
From: OnlineColleges.net

Bridget Kelly and Eric Strauss – Vows – NYTimes.com.

This is a pretty long bow: I thought it was a good article about courageous survival and the evils of guns and violence and worth saving for something, and then I got to the end. I don’t know if you could use it for a unit on theodicy, but it gave me goosebumps. Read right to the end:

Ten years ago, bleeding and alone in the field where she had been left to die at 24, my daughter got up and stumbled to a house in the dead of night. She said later that she felt as if she had been “lifted up by God.” I asked somewhat bitterly where God had been 10 minutes earlier.

In the greatest testament of faith I have ever heard, she calmly replied, “He was there holding my hand.”

Now Eric has taken her hand in marriage, a union that is surely blessed by God.

Coalition to dump Gonski reforms: Pyne.

Just appalling: any short term gain for independent schools will be swamped by the justifiable outrage from the whole educate  community about the failure to properly fund the entire system. Where does Pine get the wisdom to ignore two years of work by an expert committee and the support of the entire education sector? Coalition = vandals.

THE federal Coalition has revealed it will repeal any legislation passed to introduce the Gonski reforms to the school funding system if elected to government next year.

However, opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne, who believes the reforms would lead to higher private school fees, said the Coalition would support legislation extending the existing funding model for two years to allow the public to decide at the federal election which party’s policy it supported.

”Anything the government did that undermined non-government school funding and was forced on parents we will dismantle,” Mr Pyne told The Age.

”The public should be allowed to choose at the next election between the certainty of the Coalition and the uncertainty of the government.”


The Coalition has pledged to retain the existing funding model, even though the Gonski report said it was ”unnecessarily complex” and lacked ”coherence and transparency”.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/coalition-to-dump-gonski-reforms-pyne-20120725-22qy6.html#ixzz21gBfd6Qw

This article just gives me the willies. As for this extract –

Republican congressman Louie Gohmert said he thought the problem was more about lack of access to God rather than the availability of guns.

”What really gets me as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs and then a senseless crazy act of terror like this takes place,” he said.

”It does make me wonder, you know, with all those people in the theatre, was there nobody that was carrying.”

Words fail me.

Little comfort for gun victims as wannabe-presidents shoot for goals

Nick O’Malley 
Published: July 23, 2012 – 7:43AM

Before the dead had even been carried from the cinema in Colorado on Friday afternoon a CBS broadcaster said in a solemn radio editorial:

”We’ll eventually find out who James Holmes is, but he’s not a terrorist, we’re told, and thousands of other showings were peaceful, so really we have to start seeing these things as natural disasters, like an earthquake or a tornado.”

That this view was swept away in the deluge of sad commentary on Friday was surprising to me, an outsider.

By this standard James Holmes was not a young man armed more heavily than the soldiers the US fields in Afghanistan, but an event, an act of god, to be weathered rather than countered.

This, even though he was carrying two semi-automatic pistols, a shotgun and an assault rifle with a clip that let him fire 100 rounds without reloading, and though he was wearing body armour from head to toe, and a gas mask, and though he carried a tear gas grenade to disorient his victims, and though he bought all this equipment – plus 6000 rounds of ammunition – legally from discount stores and websites.

After mass killings in schools, universities, offices, restaurants and even a military base there is no real debate, let alone political action, to restrict the free sale of any guns – even military weapons – in America.

It is difficult to understand how a country that so truly values its citizens’ rights to life – and uniquely to their pursuit of happiness – can tolerate such a situation.

If you can’t grasp the geography you look to the landmarks. In 1994, Congress approved a 10-year ban on 19 types of military-style assault weapons, a few months later some Democrats blamed the laws on their loss of the House of Representatives.

Five years later, Al Gore, then the vice-president, cast a tie-breaking Senate vote on legislation to restrict sales at gun shows.

Gore lost the 2000 election. Still, since then both Obama and Romney have shown some resolution on guns.

Before the last election Obama advocated closing the loophole that allows for gun purchases without background checks at gun shows, and for reinstating the assault weapons ban.

In April 2008 he described some angry voters of small town America as people who ”cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them as a way to explain their frustrations”.

Bad move, it confirmed the worst for his gun-advocate opponents.

As governor of Massachusetts Romney banned assault rifles in his state. But he has had a change of heart since.

As he prepared for his first presidential run in 2006 Romney became a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, and this year he told the NRA national convention: ”We need a president who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners.”

So what changed?

Perhaps realpolitik.

The NRA boasts only 4 million fee-paying members. But its reach is far further. Its members and surrogates have convinced a wider constituency that the right to keep and bear arms is not a singular right, but is freedom from tyranny itself.

This organised minority can be relied upon to vote on guns alone, while liberal voters will consider other issues like healthcare or the economy.

The NRA is aware of the power of single-issue voting and directs its propaganda to support it.

On Friday at the association’s headquarters in Virginia, the flags were at half-mast. In the lobby there was a stack of the group’s most recent journal. On page 5 there was a full-page ad for an AR-15, the assault rifle used in the killings in Colorado.

There was also a two-page editorial about the Obama administration’s ”arrogant disregard for the law” in suggesting the Justice Department should gather information on people who purchased two assault rifles in a five-business-day period, a feature claiming the Obama administration was risking the lives of servicemen in the wake of the assault that killed Osama bin Laden and an eight-page feature railing against a United Nations treaty against small arms.

These are not issues that would resonate among swing voters.

There are politicians who brave the message.

”Soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they’re going to do about it,” the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, said.

But he is a rich man with a liberal constituency.

On the other side of the country Republican congressman Louie Gohmert said he thought the problem was more about lack of access to God rather than the availability of guns.

”What really gets me as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs and then a senseless crazy act of terror like this takes place,” he said.

”It does make me wonder, you know, with all those people in the theatre, was there nobody that was carrying.”

In good times an American president can hope to shoot for one or two goals in a term.

In hard times they hope to nail one.

Obama’s options are limited.

If he wins a second term he will defend his healthcare reform and perhaps tackle another issue – probably nuclear arms reduction.

It is an admirable goal, but little comfort to the 100,000 odd people killed or injured by guns in America each year.

Nick O’Malley is the US correspondent.

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This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/little-comfort-for-gun-victims-as-wannabepresidents-shoot-for-goals-20120722-22i6o.html

Love it when the media does your lesson planning for you!

Owen Jones: Islamophobia – for Muslims, read Jews. And be shocked – Commentators – Opinion – The Independent.

A tide of Islamophobia has swept Europe for many years, and – shamefully – all too few have taken a stand. Even many who regard themselves as “progressives” have either remained silent or even indulged anti-Muslim prejudice. It’s time for Muslims and non-Muslims alike to join forces against the most widespread – and most acceptable – form of bigotry of our times.

Nice timing: we start Islam as soon as we go back!

Circumcision ban is the ‘worst attack on Jews since Holocaust’ – Europe – World – The Independent.

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