The World Wide (Religious) Web for Monday, July 11, 2011

“India’s Grassroots Revival”: “With its people turning to Christ in waves, India hosts more believers now than at any time in its 4,000-year history.” Interestingly, the wave seems to be driven by conversion among the Dalit and Tribal groups, both low caste and “untouchable” in India’s “spiritually constructed social system.”


“Syria’s Christians Back Assad”: Why would Christians back a dictator? Because in the Arab Muslim world, democracy often means fundamentalist Islam, which is none too friendly to Christianity. Middle East politics are complex, to say the least.

In the central Syrian village of Qara, Mother Superior Agnès-Mariam of the Cross heads the St. Jacob’s monastic community; she has been alarmed by recent events. But she and other local Christian leaders do not blame the government for initiating the violence.

Sister Agnès and others argue that the regime has clamped down not on peaceful protesters but on armed Muslim fundamentalists and foreign instigators who have attacked security forces.

“The Christian community is very concerned about what is happening. The vast majority do not consider it to be the ‘Arab Spring,’?” she said. “Although they sound like legitimate protests to give more freedom and democracy, in reality they are a camouflage to bring back fundamentalist groups.” (In 1982, the elder Assad massacred members of the Brotherhood and other Sunni Muslims in the western town of Hama, killing an estimated 20,000 people.)

Sister Agnès said many Syrian Christians look aghast at the attacks on their co-religionists in Egypt after its revolution in February, and fear the same is heading their way. “In some cases, protests very quickly took on a confessional overture,” Sister Agnès said. “Christians were obliged to join the demonstrations or leave their homes. They also had their lives threatened.”

According to reliable reports, during a late-April public protest Muslims in Duma, a suburb of Damascus, allegedly shouted, “Alawites to the grave and Christians to Beirut.” Sister Agnès said other witnesses claimed that Sunni Muslims told Christians near the city of Homs, “Be prepared, your turn is coming.”


“Planned Parenthood’s Lawless Policies”:

Planned Parenthood claims to be a “trusted health care provider,” but the AUL Report clearly shows that there is little to trust about Planned Parenthood. Even so, the Report only scratches the surface. Congress should use its power to investigate Planned Parenthood futher and determine, once and for all, if it deserves our support, our loyalty, and our money. Until Planned Parenthood answers for its behavior, the surprise is not that the people of Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, and Texas want to take away their funding, but that Planned Parenthood has not already been stripped of taxpayer dollars throughout the nation. Slowly but surely, Americans will become aware of how little Planned Parenthood deserves our trust, our respect, and our tax dollars. It is time to consider whether you really know about Planned Parenthood.

You can read the Americans United for Life Report on Planned Parenthood here.


“Does [Economic] Competition Destroy Ethical Behavior?”

The answer, I believe, is no, for two separate reasons. First, competition is the fundamental source of technological progress and wealth creation around the world. The very same market forces that might encourage unethical conduct also motivate firms to innovate and create new products, leading to economic growth. As societies grow richer, their willingness to pay for ethical behavior, through both government enforcement and private choice, increases as well. As a consequence, both moral and regulatory sanctions work better in the richer countries, leading to more ethical behavior. Second, as

Benjamin Friedman (2004) demonstrates, as societies grow richer their views of what is ethical change as well. More universalist ethics that emphasize cooperation and inclusion replace the more tribal and parochial beliefs. As I have argued in the Introduction, the ethics of cooperation are much more likely to coincide with objective notions of efficiency. For both of these reasons, the increased willingness to pay for ethical behavior and the improving match between ethics and efficiency, competition is likely to promote ethical behavior in the long run.



“Restoring the Relevance of the Liberal Arts”:

The liberal arts lost their resonance with reality when they detached themselves from the authority of tradition and the reality of God.  Once “liberal” meant to be liberated from the burdensome slavery of selfishness; now “liberal” means that we are freed from the hegemony of institutions and all authorities and are free to serve or even worship ourselves.

For Christians this is much more pointed as an issue.  The liberal arts prepare us for our vocation, our calling.  To detach the liberal arts from the concept of vocation is to make them worthless.  And irrelevant.   Read the biographies of such persons as William Carey, Francis Bacon, and George Washington Carver to see how this sort of learning truly found expression.

Is it time to kill the liberal arts degree?  I daresay no.  But it is time to tend to its roots and to reconnect it with the pursuit of the Truth, which yields ultimate meaning and understanding, all for His glory.



“In Texas, young Hindus want to Americanize ancient faith”: I’ll believe it when I see a Hindu woman wearing a sari and bedazzled cowboy boots.


“Catholic Church explores Crystal Cathedral bid”: It helps when a cathedral has a cathedra, I suppose.

“How Romance Novels Are Like Pornography: Part 1 and Part 2”: Does this apply to Christian romance novels as well?


“Harry Potter and Christian Theology”: Well, the movie comes out on Friday, and I try to make this blog as relevant as possible.


“Did the Apostle Peter Have a Bad Hermeneutic?” D. A. Carson says, “No.”


Finally, a little inspiration from Doug Clay: “What’s Your Favorite App?”

Vodpod videos no longer available.


2 thoughts on “The World Wide (Religious) Web for Monday, July 11, 2011

  1. Howard N. Kenyon July 11, 2011 / 9:18 am

    RE your comments about the grassroots movement in India, it is among the poor and the marginal in any society that the faith finds its most fertile ground. Note, in contrast, the struggle for church growth in the USA, where the poor and marginalized have become “them” and not “us” in the church at large. Where the USA church is growing is largely among immigrants or children of immigrants. The church in China has seen its remarkable growth mostly among the poor, particularly the rural poor. While that growth continues, the Chinese church at large finds itself struggling to sustain the same growth rates among the burgeoning urban middle class.

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