In the midst of all our preparations for our Christmas celebrations, something serious appeared on the horizon. A former Evangelical, Valerie Tarico, wrote an article on Salon called "Why rape is so intrinsic to religion." With a title like that, the week before Christmas: one can only surmise that she intended to provoke.
I feel called to respond to this article, as a Roman Catholic woman intellectual. I know that I have many non-Catholic readers among my Ruth Institute friends, but I have to speak as a Catholic for two reasons. First of all, that is what I am. Secondly, non-Catholic Christianity is not a well-defined thing. One can readily point to non-Catholic Christians who believe all sorts of things. There is no non-Catholic Christian "definitive" or "traditional" interpretation of anything. Say what you like. Believe what you like. But Catholicism has at least this virtue: one can figure out what it actually says and does not say.
Dr. Tarico cites numerous examples of rape stories in a variety of religious traditions: Zeus, Jupiter, Zoroaster and so on. Tucked away within those stories is the story of the virginal conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary. I'm reminded of the old Sesame Street song: "One of these is not like the others." more >>
Should Christian journalists expose sin and error within the Body of Christ? Or, do such reports simply discredit Christian leaders and damage the Church's witness?
I have been asked this question numerous times over my career. Many times, I suspect, believers would prefer that Christian journalists engage in public relations, not serious journalism. After all, isn't our community getting pummeled enough in the secular media? Yet, investigative journalism, which once was almost non-existent in the evangelical community, has become more prevalent in recent years. In fact, about a month ago, The New York Times printed an article highlighting the "muckraking" activities of the evangelical newsmagazine World.
As the Times noted, World's exposés have led to substantial change. For example, World's revelation that filmmaker and scholar Dinesh D'Souza attended an overnight conference with a "woman not his wife" led D'Souza to resign as president of The King's College. More recently, World reported that Mars Hill Church funds were used to promote a book by Pastor Mark Driscoll, which likely contributed to Driscoll's resignation. more >>
Church of England leader the Most Rev Justin Welby has opened up in an interview about the death of his first born child, 7-month-old daughter Johanna, who died in a tragic car accident. Welby said that he never attempts to answer why God allows suffering in the world, other than to point out that Jesus Christ was also young and unfairly killed.
The Archbishop of Canterbury told BBC Radio 4 that Johanna's death in 1983 is a "constant reminder of the uncertainty of life," and recalled the day of the tragedy, when his wife Caroline was being driven through Paris in the passenger seat, while their daughter was in a carrycot in the back.
"I was finishing off some work in Paris and Caroline set off with a friend, someone else was driving and they had a car crash," he said. more >>
(There is always an attempt to de-emphasize the true, spiritual significance of Christian holidays and place emphasis on Santa, toys, bunnies, baskets, and candy. That is a sincere cause for concern. This article assumes that is understood. I respect those who may disagree and who may have a valid pause for concern.)
Every Christmas season, I receive emails such as: "I'm sorry, but every time I tried to watch the sermon the decorated Christmas trees in the background were disturbing to my spirit. I turned it off. I am discouraged and disappointed because of the trees."
Her statement begs the question, "Can we redeem holidays?" Redeem means to recover the ownership of something. Can we, in good faith, redeem Halloween, Christmas, and Easter with their roots saturated in paganism, superstitions, and the occult? more >>
Oxford Christian apologist Vince Vitale recently released a book he co-authored with theologian Ravi Zacharias that deals with suffering, why it exists and how Christians can explain it.
Vitale recently spoke with The Christian Post about the book, titled Why Suffering?: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn't Make Sense, where he discusses how suffering can shape someone's future and identity, and the existence of evil in the world. He also addresses skeptics who might call God evil for creating people in a world where they are destined to suffer and die.
"We might be tempted to think that it's always wrong to create someone in an environment in which we know that they will suffer significantly," said Vitale. "And that might be the claim that the atheist or the person who's skeptical of God makes. They might say God has to either not exist or be evil because otherwise he would never create someone in an environment in which he knew they were going to suffer." more >>
The Church of England has for the first time in its history appointed a woman bishop, breaking centuries of tradition that had defined the position as exclusive to men. The Rev. Libby Lane was announced on Wednesday as the new Bishop of Stockport, with her consecration ceremony scheduled for January.
"I am grateful for, though somewhat daunted by, the confidence placed in me by the Diocese of Chester. This is unexpected and very exciting. On this historic day as the Church of England announces the first woman nominated to be Bishop, I am very conscious of all those who have gone before me, women and men, who for decades have looked forward to this moment. But most of all I am thankful to God," Lane said, responding to the news.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, praised the news and said that he is "delighted" that Lane was chosen for the position. more >>