30 August 2006

More light on the emerging church?

Preparing for the Post-Christendom Era -- a little more light on this "emerging church" thing?

Father Jake takes a look at "Post-Christendom", and refers to the Christian tradition in the Western world. It's an important qualification, but I'm not sure that the qualification is made clearly enough. Is "post-Christendom" the same as "postmodernity", or is it merely a part of it?

I feel the same unease as I felt when discussing Lesslie Newbigin's "The gospel and our culture" idea a few years ago at a missiological conference. What is "our" culture, and who are "we"? The proponents of the "gospel and our culture" movement seemed to be making a lot of assumptions that they were reluctant to state or examine at all. And there seems to be the same thing in this "emerging church" discussion -- perhaps it is just a new term for the Lesslie Newbigin thing, which "emerged" while I wasn't looking.

The first question it raises is "What is the Western world?"

Is it the geographical region of Western Europe and North America?

Or is it cultural, rather than geographical?

And since much of the world is multicultural nowadays, perhaps it might be better to speak in terms of postmodernity rather than postchristendom.

Or it might be better to talk in terms of Huntington's "civilizations", though deven there I can identify with at least three -- Orthodox, African and Western.

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29 August 2006

Christianists and Otisolatry again

I've nicked this list from Eclectic Itchings and it was in turn nicked from somewhere else, but I refer to the Eclectic Itchings source because it also has a marvellous picture.

But here's the list:

Top Ten Signs That You Are OBSESSED With Bible Prophecy

10. You use the Left Behind books as devotional reading.

9. You get goose bumps when you hear a trumpet.

8. You believe the term "Church Fathers" refers to Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye.

7. You believe there is an original Greek and Hebrew text with Scofield's notes.

6. You can name more signs of the times than Commandments.

5. You refuse a tax refund check because the amount comes to $666.

4. Barcode scanners make you nervous.

3. You talk your church into adapting the '60s pop song, "Up, Up, and Away" as a Christian hymn.

2. You never buy green bananas.

1. You always leave the top down on your convertible (or your sunroof open) in case the rapture happens.

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25 August 2006

Jewish Conscience: NYC Die-In Press Release: 08-22-06

It's good to know that the Jewish conscience in the USA is alive and well and demanding that Israel pay reparations to Lebanon: Jewish Conscience: NYC Die-In Press Release: 08-22-06

... unlike the Christianists who are trying to jumpstart the Battle of Armageddon.

17 August 2006

Kim gets religion - Orthodox Church in North Korea

According to Der Spiegel (August 11, 2006) a Russian Orthodox Church has been opened in North Korea.

There's also a blog comment: Russian Orthodox Find Support from Kim Jong-Il

This raises a number of questions -- is Kim Jong Il emulating St Prince Vladimir? If so, will he likewise show a change in his manner of ruling? Will he be baptised? Will he allow his subjects to be baptised? Or will it just be a kind of showpiece?

There are other precedents too -- we can but pray.

More reports:

Pravda has a brief report.

The Guardian has a longer report, quoting North Korean official sources.

The Raw Story suggests that the church will be primarily for the use of Russian diplomats and other visiting Russians, but in that case, why go to the length of training Korean clergy??

But this is also the tenor of a somewhat older report from Keston College when the church was first mooted.

None of the reports say what language will be used in the services, though from the last two it seems they will probably be in Slavonic or Russian, and would not be of much help to locals who attend.



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16 August 2006

15 August 2006

Be sceptical. Be very, very sceptical

Well, I was somewhat sceptical about all the police hype of "mass murder on an unimaginable scale", with the arres of people said to be plotting to blow up passenger aircraft. I don't find it hard to believe that people might be doing such a thing, but when the police start using journalistic hype, I suspect spin.

But when British foreign policy fundis like Craig Murray warn us to be sceptical, I'm even more on my guard.

I found this in a newgroup, and the guy who posted it wrote:
Mr. Craig Murray is the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan. He was dismissed from his job after he exposed the fact that there were no actual Islamic terrorists in Uzbekistan. His investigations showed that the alleged terrorists were merely innocent local Muslim people who were being systematically tortured into signing false confessions. These confessions were then gleefully received by the US and the UK despite the fact they knew them to be false. For these and other favours from the Uzbek dictatorship
the US paid a lot of money and supported this tyrannical regime.

14 August 2006

Cyprianic vs Augustinian understandings of holy orders outside the church

In A conservative blog for peace Young Fogey gives one of the best summaries of the differences between Orthodox and Roman Catholic ecclesiology I have seen, at least on the question of "validity of orders".

This is linked to Ad Orientem: Once a Priest , Always a Priest?, which points to a discussion on the question.

13 August 2006

Sanity at last!

On Thursday I was sitting working and the TV was tuned to Sky News, with the sound turned down, and occasionally I turned up the sound to hear if there was anything new. There wasn't.

The whole broadcast, the whole day long, was about an alleged plot to blow up aeroplanes flying between Britain and the US, and the chaos at airports caused by the stricter security measures.

My son came in and glanced at it occasionally, and then remarked that it looked like a film called V for vendetta, which he said was an old one that predicted the kind of place Britain seemed to be becoming. To me it seemed like one of the "Hate weeks" out of George Orwell's 1984. Every now and then they would switch to American commentators who would go on about the "evil people out there who spend all their time planning to destroy us". And the message was clear: Sky News wanted their viewers to spend all day thinking about the evil people who spend all day thinking how to destroy us. So this is the New World Order. This is the post-Cold War world.

I am reminded of the Cold War hymn:

The day God gave thee, Man, is ending
the darkness falls at thy behest
who spent thy little life defending
from conquest by the East, the West

The sun that bids us live is waking
behind the cloud that bids us die
and in the murk fresh minds are making
new plans to blow us all sky high.

And into all this paranoia comes a voice of sanity from, of all places, the Financial Times.
The first response must be to adopt a foreign policy that saps terrorists of support without pandering to their demands. It should not be necessary to remind either the US or the British government that it is not possible simply to kill or catch all the terrorists until there are none left - a pointless strategy based on what one might call the "lump of terror" fallacy.

The second response must be a sense of proportion. More than 3,000 people died last year on our roads, but the roads stay open. Even the worst acts of terrorism reap their largest toll in hysterical responses. Scotland Yard's statement that they had disrupted a plot to cause "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" was alarmist even if it is true. Journalists - and terrorists - are perfectly capable of spreading hyperbole without any help from the police. The most powerful answer to terrorism is not to be terrified.

Not that it's nice that some people were allegedly plotting to blow up aeroplanes. It's a good thing that the British police are taking such potential threats seriously and trying to neutralise them, though preferably not by comitting mayhem on the Underground and murdering Brazilian electricians.

But it's the media hype that is even more disturbing than the alleged plot. When a police spokesman talks about "mass murder on an unimaginable scale", he's dead wrong. It is quite imaginable. We've seen it on TV in the Near East for the last 6 weeks. And during that time it hasn't stopped in the Middle East either. Thirty-five people actually died in a car bomb explosion in Iraq on Thursday, in case anyone noticed. Not Sky News, though.

It looks as though Big Brother in the UK was thinking that the public was getting too sympathetic towards the wogs who were dying in places like Lebanon, and needed to be brought back on side.


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07 August 2006

Christian rune stones and Christian/pagan relations

Matt Stone writes about Christian rune stones in Scandinavia, and the implication that Christians and pagans coexisted quite happily.

I have written elsewhere about the hostility between Christians and pagans that has developed in the West over the last 30 years or so, so that people find it difficult to understand some things written not much longer ago than that, such as some of the references to pagan deities and demigods in C.S. Lewis's Narnia stories. How much more difficult, then, to understand things written a thousand years earlier.

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04 August 2006

This is bizarre!

"If you have the temerity to get in the way of one of our bombs, please have the decency to be our enemy. Thank you. Have a nice day."

Who's calling?

The Israeli Defence Force, that's who.

03 August 2006

Morality and obscenity

The obscene score-card for death in this latest war now stands as follows: 508 Lebanese civilians, 46 Hizbollah guerrillas, 26 Lebanese soldiers, 36 Israeli soldiers and 19 Israeli civilians.

In other words, Hizbollah is killing more Israeli soldiers than civilians and the Israelis are killing far more Lebanese civilians than they are guerrillas. The Lebanese Red Cross has found 40 more civilian dead in the south of the country in the past two days, many of them with wounds suggesting they might have survived had medical help been available.

from The Independent, 3 August 2006

And from an Israeli point of view (a minority view)
This war is not a just war. Israel is using excessive force without distinguishing between civilian population and enemy, whose sole purpose is extortion. That is not to say that morality and justice are on Hezbollah's side. Most certainly not. But the fact that Hezbollah "started it" when it kidnapped soldiers from across an international border does not even begin to tilt the scales of justice toward our side.

'Nuff said.

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