Pope asks for forgiveness
The big religion story today is Pope John Paul II's "unprecedented" apology. "The church, strengthened by the holiness that she receives from her Lord, kneels before God and begs for forgiveness for past and present sins of her sons," he said in yesterday's homily. Sins mentioned included religious intolerance, persecution of Jews, women, various races, immigrants, the poor, and the unborn. The story makes the front page of almost every newspaper in America, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and The Houston Chronicle.
David Plotz, Washington bureau chief for the online magazine Slate, takes an admiring look at "America's greatest Christian conservative" but suggests he's "changing as his popularity increases." His criticism of self-righteousness in Christian political action is subsiding, he seems angrier and angrier, "he seems angrier and angrier, and he is more and more willing to wade into politics." Plotz ends his "Assessment" article with this observation: "Through decades of service to the needy, Colson has made himself one of America's greatest Christian leaders. Why would he tarnish that by becoming just another Gary Bauer?"
Another article in Slate tries to explain to its readers the differences among Christians. Though a noble goal, the article is very, very faulty. It says that "faith in charismatic leaders" is a key attribute of fundamentalists, that evangelicals don't believe in biblical inerrancy, that Presbyterians don't believe in being "born again," and lists the Moral Majority as if it's a theological category. Not to mention the fact that Catholics, Orthodox, the African-American church, and others aren't even mentioned. Actually, there's very little the article gets right.
The December 13, 1999 issue of The New Yorker contained a fascinating article by award-winning science writer Robert Wright titled "The Accidental Creationist | Why Stephen Jay Gould is bad for evolution." Because The New Yorker's articles are not published online, we assumed it was not available online. However, Wright has published it on a Web site promoting his book, Nonzero (from which The New Yorker article was adapted). An related article in New York magazine says Wright is obsessed, and is " stalking" Gould.
Criticizing both "post-Christian" feminists and "the radical right," Dorothy Lee, an ordained minister in Australia's Uniting Church and a professor of New Testament says feminism is compatible with Christianity. "Of course," she concludes, "you could argue that such feminists are simply suffering from a split-personality disorder. On the other hand, you could give them the credit for being aware, for knowing the tensions, for thinking through the positions they hold, for integrity, for living bravely within the difficult yet vibrant complexity of the world God has made." A related article in Australia's The Age newspaper looks at Rowena Curtis, a pastor in a Sydney Baptist church.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an India-based organization of Hindu leaders, called upon other Hindu organizations to stop "rampant conversions" and reconvert those who've become Christians by "force, fraud or allurement".
"Say the word fundamentalism and many Americans think Islamic," writes Joseph S. Nye Jr in Sunday's Washington Post "Book World" section. In his review of Vincent Crapanzano's Serving The Word: Literalism in America from the Pulpit to the Bench, Nye says Crapanzano "convincingly demonstrates that fundamentalism is an important strand of American culture," and that it's not that bad—though it does pose some hard issues for democracy.
The article in Sunday's Chicago Tribune offers little new information, but it's a fine backgrounder if you haven't read anything on the controversy yet.
Friday's ChristianityToday.com Christian History Corner looked at William Jennings Bryan as part of a series on the most controversial Christians of the century. Sunday's Los Angeles Times also looks at Bryan and attempts to compare him to former presidential candidate John McCain.
"Institutional Catholicism has become a comfortable faith—or well-adapted to things of this world, and easy to profess," writes Juan T. Gatbonton. The Philippines, he says, are in danger of becoming like secular Europe. He also laments the increase in evangelical Protestantism, which he says offers easy salvation. As St. Patrick's Day, Lent meet, Washington Post looks at intersection …
The Washington Posts's Bill Broadway retells the story of how, one Lent 1,559 years ago, Patrick climbed an Irish mountain to ask God for blessings on the Irish people. … while the Associated Press looks at collision.
Here are three facts: 1) Roman Catholics are encouraged to abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. 2) Corned beef and cabbage are the traditional foods for St. Patrick's Day. 3) This year, St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday during Lent. What to do? Catholics in Boston and New York need not worry—their bishops have already granted them special dispensation. No one tell Juan T. Gatbonton over at The Manila Times—he'll be furious.
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