Today this country is a labyrinth of Christian leaders, churches, movements and missions which would keep a researcher occupied for months just to locate and identify.
Spiritual movements produce bizarre and often cult-like offshoots. Nowhere is this truer than in Brazil.
If you think you have grasped the history of Argentina by seeing Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita, or having heard "Don't cry for me, Argentina," at least do a Google search.
We wound our way through shouts of insults, as we worked our way to the Congress to meet with members. Streets were clogged. Business, even the Supreme Court shut down. Police in battle gear, and not just for show. It felt very much like my experience in Cairo in the 2011 "Spring" revolution.
Just because William Wilberforce brought British slavery laws crashing down in the early 1800s, we assume slavery has ended. Not so.
When we dismiss pluralism as nothing more than moral relativism, we make a huge mistake. Failing to understand what it is – a forum for debate, influence and decision making – we forgo its ability to influence and lose opportunities for witness.
Along comes Hollywood and casts its film-making aura shadowing the facts, insuring the CIA gets the credit. So instead of Ken Taylor and his staff being in the script as those who protected the hostages, the CIA ends up as hero – although Ben Affleck, director and main character, did acknowledge the Canadian role in his Oscar acceptance speech
Sectarian domination was not what Egyptian protesters and self-described revolutionaries had in mind when they drove President Hosni Mubarak from office during Egypt's Arab Spring in 2011. But to underestimate religious sectarianism in the Middle East is to misunderstand one of its core realities.
The establishing of the State of Israel, I have and do support. Finding a place for Jews in the 20th Century was the right thing to do. As well, God's covenant with the Jews stands and their place in the eschaton (the days of Christ's return) is assured. There is no equivocation in my mind of their critical place in the economy and agenda of the Lord. However there are conflicting messages I find impossible to ignore.
To radical Islamists, the church's pastor Dr. Sameh Maurice spoke wise words, and to the bereaved, he spoke words of comfort. Maurice, an evangelical pastor in Cairo, sat down with Brian Stiller, the global ambassador of the World Evangelical Alliance and a senior editorial advisor to The Christian Post, in late January in a conference center outside of Cairo, for a conversation about his church's active role in the recent revolution in Egypt, the improved relationship between the Coptic Church and evangelicals since the revolution, and the respect Muslims now have for the Church.
Our attitudes as Canadians accumulate, fester and harden. I understand that too well in observing the aboriginal and First Nations' Idle No More movement. Fed up with a double standard of aboriginal leaders who want more funds yet seem incompetent and irresponsible in their own management, many simply shut down listening.
The Rev. Louie Giglio was pressured to withdraw because his views on a particular sexual practice were not in line; he was seen not to be "fair-minded," a not surprising comment when pluralism is set aside as the functioning model of public life.
Retold by Christmas pageants, reminded by carols and pictures replenish what we think happened at Jesus' birth. I know it so well I hardly need a sermon, picture, movie or song to remind me of a pregnant Mary riding a donkey, about to deliver; a village with inns filled to capacity; a kindly innkeeper finding a stable for rest; shepherds arriving at a barn to welcome the Christ-child. The overall narrative has it right, but the core assumption is so wrong as to miss an essential part of the story.
A framework for discussion (called theodicy – why God allows evil and suffering) matters for those in Newtown and us on the sidelines, as we grieve and wonder. Why doesn't God who is loving and all powerful eliminate evil?
While the excruciating ache of parents and family in the Connecticut town is beyond words, most come to a breathless, gut-wrenching moment somewhere along the way. What does the Christmas story have to say to us then? Its very beginning was shaped by the massacre of little children.
Months ago, we watched in amazement as Islamic believers killed Christians after "Pastor" Jones in Florida had his own burning of the Qur'an. More recently, explosive-filled trucks, suicide bombers, gun-firing civilians and Afghani soldiers have led murderous charges based on reports that soldiers burned Qur'ans. We are incredulous. Why this intense rage?
How is it that Evangelicals figure so prominently in the current Republican race for its presidential candidate? That question both intrigues and troubles Evangelicals outside the United States. In their drive to secure votes, have Republican politicians turned Evangelicals into just another political subgroup, alongside seniors or gun owners?