The latest episode of Podcast Appalachia is now available! In this episode I discuss the role of religion in shaping Appalachian culture and examine some of the most prominent churches in Appalachia. You can listen here or view a transcript here.
Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category
If the Archbishop of Canterbury gets his way, it could happen:
The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK “seems unavoidable”.
Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4’s World at One that the UK has to “face up to the fact” that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.
Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.
Scary stuff indeed. The idea that Britain should adopt Sharia law because some of its citizens don’t relate to its legal system is insane. If someone doesn’t relate to the British legal system, maybe they shouldn’t be in Britain. Britain is a free country; people may migrate elsewhere if they want.
Dr. Williams is probably correct that Sharia law would “help maintain social cohesion” but it probably wouldn’t be the kind of social cohesion he or his countrymen want. As leader of the Anglican Church, perhaps he should be working harder to reestablish Christianity in his nation instead of welcoming an Islamic theocracy (which aren’t usually very good for Christians). It’s hard to think of a more clear example of a quisling since, well, Quisling himself.
Merry Christmas to you and your kin!
And if you need help getting into the Christmas spirit, this is always worth a read:
EDITOR’S NOTE: Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church, according to the Web site for the Newseum, located in Washington, D.C., has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth – Is there a Santa Claus?
115 West Ninety-Fifth Street
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.
They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measure by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.
Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest man that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
This is disappointing:
Huckabee was asked if he considered Mormonism a cult or a religion. “I think it’s a religion,” he said in the interview, published on the newspaper’s Web site on Wednesday. “I really don’t know much about it.”Then he asked: “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”
It sounds like Huckabee is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He’s saying the right things about Mormonism while giving a wink and nod to its critics, many of whom are religious bigots, pure and simple. Huckabee has a chance to show some leadership and state clearly and unequivocally that Mormonism is not a cult and that attacks on it should be out of bounds in American politics. But it doesn’t look like he’s going to take the high road. That is unfortunate.
UPDATE: Huckabee apologized to Romney. Hopefully he’ll steer clear of this type of thing in the future.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a speech today addressing concerns about his Mormonism. I don’t have much reaction except to say that it’s a shame that, in 2007, he had to give it. Bigotry is still alive and well in America.
“Isn’t Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won’t talk at all about what he believes, and can’t speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?” Dobson wrote.
“He has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent ‘want to.’ And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!”
Dobson has also ruled out support for Rudy Giulani or John McCain, and has expressed concerns about Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith. Thus, it would seem none of the Big Four can count on Dobson’s support. I have no evidence of this, but it seems most likely at this point that Dobson, if he endorses anyone, will tap former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, who seems to be the only other candidate with any chance of winning the nomination, and whose social views tend to match up with Dobson’s fairly well.
It is worth noting that Fred Thompson has been well received by Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Religious and Ethics Liberty Commission, which could provide him with a boost. But with Jerry Falwell gone and Pat Robertson, well, Pat Robertson, James Dobson may well be the single most influential evangelical leader strongly involved in politics, and should any of the Big Four win the GOP nomination, it would suggest the influence of the Religious Right might be eroding.
Glen Dean has a great post about the unlikely friendship that developed between the Rev. Jerry Falwell and Larry Flynt:
I really don’t understand why people think it is healthy to hate people that they “consider” to be hateful. Do you think that you are hurting the people that you are hating? No, you are only hurting yourself with that poison. You are only making yourself miserable. Last week, when Falwell died, I abstained from shaming the people who said nasty things about Dr. Falwell. If anything, I felt compassion for them. To have that much hate inside must be a miserable existence.
James Dobson questions Fred Thompson’s faith:
“Everyone knows he’s conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for,” Dobson said of Thompson. “[But] I don’t think he’s a Christian; at least that’s my impression,” Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party’s conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.
Thompson is a Christian, having been baptized into the Church of Christ. I’m not sure what makes Dobson say this. A few have claimed that, despite Thompson’s statements to the contrary, he is pro-choice. Now that doesn’t make him a non-Christian, but maybe in the Dobsonian mind it does. I don’t know.
A Dobson spokesperson elaborates for us:
In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson’s claim. He said that, while Dobson didn’t believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless “has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith.”
“We use that word—Christian—to refer to people who are evangelical Christians,” Schneeberger added. “Dr. Dobson wasn’t expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy; he was trying to ‘read the tea leaves’ about such a possibility.”
Well then Dobson should have said “I don’t think he’s an evangelical Christian” instead of saying Thompson isn’t a Christian. One doesn’t have to be an evangelical or speak openly about one’s faith to be a Christian.
But this does bring up an interesting question: What role will Dobson play in the 2008 elections. Although he stopped short of endorsing Newt Gingrich, Dobson did say he is “brightest guy out there” and “the most articulate politician on the scene today.” What impact this will have remains to be seen.
UPDATE: Speaking of Newt Gingrich, A.C. ponders why he is a “better” Christian than Thompson in Dobson’s view:
Now, I’m no one to judge someone’s morality and both Thompson and Gingrich would likely benefit by increasing their church-going and/or bible study but differentiating between the two and putting Gingrich on top? That’s more than a tad wacky.
Is it because Gingrich came on Dobson’s show and kissed the ring and apologized? Is that what excuses his sins and grants his special dispensation for conducting his own extracurricular affair while conducting an impeachment of a President over the same thing?
Gingrich is a thrice married, admitted adulterer who discussed divorce with his first wife while she was undergoing cancer treatments.
I don’t get it either. I like Newt. I think he’s a much better man than he gets credit for and is one of the smartest, most savvy House speakers ever. He clearly was demonized by the mainstream media. But geez, his personal life would suggest that he’s something of a jerk. Now that doesn’t disqualify him from getting my support. Far from it. My favorite candidate in the race right now is Rudy Giuliani, after all.
Thompson’s personal life story probably includes some less-than-saintly details as well. Indeed, I had a few laughs about it yesterday. But it isn’t nearly as scandalous, at least as far as I know, as Gingrich’s.
I like both Newt and Thompson, and I would have no problem voting for either (although I doubt very seriously that Newt could ever get elected). But when Dobson bashes Thompson for not being Christian enough and then sings the praises of Newt Gingrich, he does sound somewhat divorced from reality.