Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’
Charles J. Chaput offers some straight talk on New Life in Christ: What it Looks Like, What it Demands (First Things, May 11, 2009).
Notwithstanding that Chaput is devotedly Catholic, and William Wilberforce adamantly wasn’t, this article reminds me of Wilberforce’s writings on real Christianity.
This is from March, but it seems that some Catholics in Europe are tired of attacks on churches and the Pope, etc., and are staging counterprotests. (And for their troubles they are being labeled “far right” by the press.)
… on the side of religious freedom in Bulgaria. (Should I have warned you to sit down before reading that?)
The ADF press release linked above reads:
STRASBOURG, France — A dissenting synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church that had its legal personality stripped and its property seized by the socialist government of Bulgaria has won a decisive victory at the European Court of Human Rights. Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney Latcho Popov argued that the Bulgarian government violated the European Convention of Human Rights in its treatment of the synod.
“The church should remain free of government coercion and control,” said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska, who performed most of the work on the case while serving at the European Centre for Law and Justice before recently joining ADF. “The Bulgarian government vastly overstepped its bounds in stripping the synod of its legal identity, seizing its property, and handing it over to a synod of which the government approves. We are pleased with the ruling of the ECHR, which respects the alternative synod’s freedom and independence.”|
“This victory is crucial for the American church as well,” explained ADF Chief Counsel Benjamin Bull. “Bad precedents set in other parts of the world too often find their way here. A positive decision this significant underscores the vital importance of the church operating independently of state coercion and control. When the church is not free and independent, uncompromised teaching is replaced by whatever ‘politically correct’ messages the government wants.”
Kiska explained that many governments throughout history have used the church to gain power by suppressing the free exercise of denominations that compete with a state-sanctioned church that provides very little, if any, criticism of the government.
More than 80 percent of Bulgarians identify themselves as Bulgarian Orthodox. Fifteen years ago, about 40 percent dissented from the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and its leader Patriarch Maxim, arguing that he was not validly elected under BOC canon law and that he was aligned too closely with the communist regime. They elected there [sic] own leadership and built a number of their own churches.
Five years ago, the new socialist-dominated government passed a law on religions that effectively stripped the dissenting synod of their legal personality and access to the legal system. The Bulgarian chief prosecutor issued a warrant demanding that all the synod’s properties be confiscated. In one evening, more than 100 churches were confiscated. They were kept under police control and eventually given to the state-approved Synod of Maxim.
Popov, director of the Rule of Law Institute, then filed an application to the ECHR on behalf of the dissenting synod, and the court ruled strongly in favor of the church’s religious freedom. Settlement negotiations in light of the court’s ruling are currently in progress.
If you have a child of school age, and they have a textbook that takes note of “The Mayflower Compact,” will you please compare the text presented there, to the original text? Leaving off the signatures, the original (courtesy The Avalon Project at Yale) reads:
IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience. IN WITNESS whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620.
The subject comes up because yesterday, at a The Truth Project seminar, I was informed that some current textbooks omit references to God or the promotion of the Christian faith, leaving the colonists to be only people out to “plant the first colony” in that part of the world.
If your child has a textbook more or less making Pilgrims out to be secularists out for their own ends, please fill in the gaps yourself. It is a sad thing when a child is given a false heritage. Besides, whether or not you can understand the motivation of early American settlers, can we agree that to baldly misrepresent them by sneaky omissions from their writings is both silly and unfair?
If you do have a textbook with a Dowdified text (i.e. one that uses ellipsis to change the meaning to better suit the editor’s purposes), please do me the favor of dropping into the comments here the name of the book, and what it puts forth as The Mayflower Compact. I have no reason to doubt my source, but I also haven’t got verification yet. Thanks.
Cross-posted at Suitable For Mixed Company (under a different title).
Robert at Expat Yank takes on some of those who would like to “free” us from Christianity without stopping to think what it has meant even to unbelievers.
These two posts add a bit of perspective to the rise (and fall) of current cultures and governments. They address decidedly different factors, but I think they both add to the discussion of how we got where we are, and what we have to fight to keep from losing what we’ve gained.
“Created Equal: How Christianity Shaped the West”, by Dinesh D’Souza (Imprimis, November 2008)
From Ironies of Faith: The Laughter at the Heart of Christian Literature by Anthony Esolen (ISI Books, 2007):
Critics are fond of citing, as the inspiration for The Tempest, accounts of an English shipwreck off Bermuda, and what was hailed as the providential survival of the crew. No doubt Shakespeare had that shipwreck in mind. But far more important to the play are the allusions to scripture throughout. These allusions form a consistent and ironic pattern. In short, this farewell play is also a play of expectation – a play of Advent…
The Book of Common Prayer shows that among the readings Shakespeare would have heard at the obligatory services during Advent and the octave of Christmas were the entire book of Isaiah, the Letter of Jude, the letters of Peter, the gospel passages from Matthew that refer to the Second Coming, and the account in Acts of the travels and the shipwreck of Saint Paul. Every single important motif of The Tempest is to be found in these readings (particularly in Isaiah 29); there are no exceptions. All point to ends that are beginnings, and many comment ironically upon sinners who live amidst events and, as if they were sleepwalkers, cannot understand them.
The above is from page 123, in a roughly 400 page book. So far, that’s as far as I’ve read. So far, I am having mixed feelings about the book. Much of it is excellent, and mind-stretching, and eloquent, and makes me yearn to read (or reread) books the author is referencing. But Esolen, whose articles and blogging I have long learned from and enjoyed, occasionally detours in this book into the very sorts of mind games, and academic-speak, and what I see as over-analysis, that make me avoid, like the plague, most academic books about literature – seeing strange (and usually ‘earthy’) symbolism here, and deep significance there, in passages that don’t seem to me to need twisting around like that.
On the other hand, the ‘for crying out loud!’ moments (as I call them), have been few and far between, which puts this book way ahead of the pack in that regard.
And, significantly (oh, oh, now I’m claiming to point to significance – it must be catching, do you suppose?… 🙂 ), Esolen brings an understanding of Christianity to a study of books that are built on Christian foundations. He also notes (page 12):
…In the case of Christianity, it is as Chesterton puts it. You had better be in the faith completely or out of it completely. The worst position, if you want to understand it, is to be partly in and partly out, or to have a passing, culturally based familiarity with its surface. You are neither so familiar with it as to probe its depths, nor is it so strange that you are moved to approach it with care. You take the attitude of Petronius, or of “Tertium Quid.” You’ve seen it all before.
Apply a two-dimensional Christianity to the mature allegories of Spenser and Milton, and at once you will discover discrepancies and incoherence… Many such false dilemmas arise because the critic has failed to understand the subtleties of the Christian faith.
And Christianity is the subtlest of faiths, yet of a wondrous simplicity…
Luckily for those of us who aren’t as well-read, or perhaps don’t have the right sort of memory for it, when Esolen dishes up lines like the above-quoted ‘You take the attitude of Petronius, or of “Tertium Quid”,’ he provides enough context to let us know what he’s talking about. He might expect us to swim in deep waters, but he’s not out there to watch us poor readers drown in the wake of his brilliance. (I’ve read books like that. Or, to be more clear, I’ve tossed aside books like that. Haven’t you?)
The book, as you may guess from the pull quotes, serves up an education on Christianity as well as on literature. And it is nice to read a prolonged meditation on literature written by a man who likes literature, and isn’t just using it to tear apart into little pieces to impress his colleagues. It is also nice to read a scholarly study by someone who hasn’t sold out to the materialist view. Still, there are passages devoted to strange symbolism, to which the well-mannered lady in me objects…
It’s not a book for everyone, and I can’t say it clearly passes a “suitable for mixed company” test, but C.S. Lewis fans in particular might like to give it a go.
Kelly Boggs of Baptist Press says Lay those experts end-to-end! It’s tempting, some days. Especially in election season.
A kid got sent home from school in New Jersey for wearing a Jesus costume for Halloween. He was told he had to lose the beard and the crown of thorns… The boy has a Catholic mother and a Jewish father and recently celebrated his Bar Mitzvah, and is studying Jesus as a historical and religious figure, his mother says… (hat tip: Alliance Alert)
On the upside, an AWANA club in Wisconsin finally gets to meet on school grounds without paying a fee. Non-religious clubs have been able to use the facilities for free, and so Christian lawyers stepped in to request equal treatment for the church club. The school district saw its way clear to accommodate them.
Do you use the phrase “my brother’s keeper.” Perhaps it’s time to remember the difference between brothers and keepers.
Via Bookworm Room, Ed Morrissey has some ideas on what it means when the media tries to destroy “the man Obama picked at random to ask a question.” (emphasis in original)
Bookworm provides a lesson in history to counter a friend’s wish for a more powerful government. In another post, she uses a comparison of European history and American history to explain why Sen. Obama’s “share the wealth” argument isn’t perhaps such a good idea.
Charles J. Chaput defends unborn babies, honest use of language, vigorous public debate, and proper respect for one another. He also says “If American Catholics don’t know history, and especially their own history as Catholics, then somebody else – and usually somebody not very friendly – will create their history for them.” The article is based on an address he gave to a Catholic group. Otherwise he might have pointed out that’s largely true for anyone, Catholic or not.
Speaking of Catholics, when a Texas newspaper ran an article in response to a pro-life statement made by Texas bishops, The Practicing Catholic ran the article with corrections and commentary. I think she clears things up nicely.
Anthony Esolen muses on Modernity as Confinement, and on joy versus the cocoon of “self-fulfillment”. He notes in passing that “Nothing is farther from joy than a snicker.” C.S. Lewis, if I remember correctly, had a few things to say about flippancy that were along the same lines… Now, if I could remember if it was in Mere Christianity or The Screwtape Letters, I’d be set…