Four people with radically different outlooks on the world meet on a train and start talking about what they believe. Their conversation varies from cool logical reasoning to heated personal confrontation. Each starts off convinced that he or she is right, but then doubts creep in. During February, we will be posting a series of extracts that cover the viewpoints of all four characters in Tetralogue. What follows is an extract exploring Zac’s perspective.
Why are there missionaries in America? This is a Christian country!” “We send missionaries out. We don’t bring them in.” “Missionaries in America… I’ve never heard of such a thing.” These were some of the comments I encountered as I conducted research on the phenomena of missionaries in America. Despite these protests, missionaries from outside of the west do come to the United States, seeking to revitalize and evangelize Americans.
The unbelievable story of the Roman convent of Sant’Ambrogio in Rome is about crime and murder, feigned holiness, forbidden sexuality, and the abuse of power over others. Does this controversial story, which casts high dignitaries of the 19th century Catholic Church in a less than flattering light, need to be retold for the 21st century?
Religious repression—the nonviolent suppression of civil and political rights associated with religion—is a growing and global phenomenon. Though it is most often practiced in authoritarian countries, it nevertheless varies greatly across nondemocratic regimes. In my work, I’ve collected data from more than 100 nondemocratic states to explore the varieties of repression that they impose on religious expression, association, and political activities, describing the obstacles these actions present for democratization, pluralism, and the development of an independent civil society.
Near to Salamone Rossi’s time, and working at the Mantuan court, is the harpist Abramino dall’Arpa. His story illustrates the unrelenting pressure brought on Jews to convert and, at the same time, Abramino’s refusal to do so.
Whether we like it or not, we are all children of the Reformation. It was a seismic event in history, whose consequences are still working themselves out in Europe and across the world. The protests against the marketing of indulgences staged by the German monk Martin Luther in 1517 belonged to a long-standing pattern of calls for internal reform and renewal in the Christian Church. But they rapidly took a radical and unexpected turn, engulfing first Germany and then Europe as a whole in furious arguments about how God’s will was to be discerned.
Since the attacks on Charlie Hebdo on January 7, the saying (wrongly attributed to Voltaire), “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” has become the motto against radicalism. Unfortunately, this virtuous defense of freedom of speech is not only inefficient but is backfiring.
One of the benefits of contemporary atheism is that it has brought to the forefront of modern consciousness the demand that believers offer some reason for the belief that they have. Of course, this demand is nothing new, and it even has scriptural support behind it, with St. Peter insisting that Christians ought always be prepared to give a reason for their hope (1 Peter 3:15).
Not long after the beginning, Genesis tells us that there were two brothers. One killed the other. “And the Lord said, ‘What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground’” (Gen. 4:10).
On the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi concentration and death camp at Auschwitz, I hope we can keep telling the stories of survival and miracles that the victims experienced. But never shall we forget the six million Jews that were murdered. There are many stories of the Shoah (Holocaust) that are told over and over again by survivors, witnesses, and children of survivors.
Christian and pagan symbols, obelisks, urns, broken columns and overgrown mortuary chapels in classical, Gothic and Byzantine styles record the determination that those who are buried there—the great and the good of 19th century Glasgow—will not be forgotten.
ISIS has been successful for four primary reasons. First, the group has tapped into the marginalization of the Sunni population in Iraq to gain territory and local support. Second, ISIS fighters are battle-hardened strategists fighting against an unmotivated Iraqi army.
As a Jewish musician working for the Mantuan court, and competing for the favors that its Christian musicians and composers hoped to gain, it was only inevitable for Rossi to have been considered an intruder.
Revolutions have been surprising experts for generations. After the Iranian Revolution of 1979, for example, the CIA commissioned a report into why it had predicted, 100 days before the fall of the monarchy, that the Shah’s regime would ride out the protests. During the “Arab Spring” uprisings in 2011, President Obama reportedly chastized the intelligence community for not having warned him in advance.
Today, 18 January 2015 marks World Religion Day across the globe. The day was created by the Baha’i faith in 1950 to foster dialogue and to and improve understanding of religions worldwide and is now in its 64th year. The aim of World Religion Day is to unite everyone, whatever their faith, by showing us all that there are common foundations to all religions and that together we can help humanity and live in harmony. The day often includes activities and events calling the attention of the followers of world faiths.
Given that we see yoga practically everywhere we turn, from strip-mall yoga studios to advertisements for the Gap, one might assume a blanket acceptance of yoga as an acceptable consumer choice. Yet, a growing movement courts fear of the popularization of yoga, warning that yoga is essentially Hindu.