Monday, December 26, 2011

The World and Religion

Briefing - News and Notes of Interest! 


Even Christians are taking Christ out of Christmas

Christmas in America is a season of time-honored traditions – the sacred performance of the annual ACLU lawsuit over the presence of an insufficiently secular “holiday” tree; the ritual provocations of the atheist displays licensed by pitifully appeasing municipalities to sit between the menorah and the giant Frosty the Snowman; the familiar strains of every hack columnist’s “war on Christmas” column rolling off the keyboard as easily as Richard Clayderman playing “Winter Wonderland”…

This year has been a choice year. A crucified skeleton Santa Claus was erected as part of the “holiday” display outside the Loudoun County courthouse in Virginia – because, let’s face it, nothing cheers the hearts of moppets in the Old Dominion like telling them, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus – and he’s hanging lifeless in the town square.”

Alas, a week ago, some local burghers failed to get into the ecumenical spirit and decapitated him. Who are these killjoys? Christians intolerant of the First Amendment (as some have suggested)? Or perhaps a passing Saudi? Our friends in Riyadh only the other day beheaded for Amina bin Salem (so to speak) Nasser for “sorcery,” and it would surely be grossly discriminatory not to have some Wahhabist holiday traditions on display in Loudoun County. (The Islamic Saudi Academy, after all, is one of the most prestigious educational institutions of neighboring Fairfax County.)

Across the fruitcaked plain in California, the city of Santa Monica allocated permits for “holiday” displays in Palisades Park by means of lottery. Eighteen of the 21 slots went to atheists – for example, the slogan “37 million Americans know a myth when they see one” over portraits of Jesus, Santa, and Satan.


Arab-American charities refuse donations from Lowe’s

A network of 22 Arab-American nonprofits says its members will no longer accept donations from Lowe’s.

Wednesday’s announcement comes after the home improvement chain stopped advertising during a reality TV show about U.S. Muslims.

The National Network for Arab American Communities and its Dearborn-based parent ACCESS said the retailer’s decision contradicts their values.

Lowe’s Cos. executives say TLC’s “All-American Muslim” became a “lightning rod for people to voice complaints.” The Mooresville, N.C.-based company’s decision followed an email campaign by the conservative Christian group Florida Family Association.

Keep Christ in Christmas sign stirs a controversy

pitmansignShoppers perusing the curiosity and gift shops in downtown Pitman might miss the sign hanging overhead that reads, “Keep Christ in Christmas.”

But the white plastic banner has caught the attention of a national group advocating the separation of church and state, which maintains that by allowing the sign on public property, the borough is promoting Christmas and Christianity and thus violating the Constitution.

The use of the term Christmas can be controversial when it comes to public life. Last winter, the establishment and subsequent name change of a “Christmas Village” outside Philadelphia’s City Hall riled observers of various religious persuasions.

The Christmas Truce of WWI

xmastruceThe peace that had existed for decades in Europe – since the Franco-Prussian War 40-plus years earlier – had resulted in tremendous progress in culture, infrastructure investment, commerce and international relations. Europeans of all stripes crossed borders relatively freely.

Before World War I, European Jews and Christians intermingled and intermarried with few eyebrows being raised and, although covert Christian anti-Semitism definitely existed, overt persecution of Jews was not a major problem. Jews were welcomed in the militaries and served with distinction.

When Archduke Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire, was assassinated in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, European peace rapidly unraveled and – by a series of errors of judgment, bureaucratic inefficiencies, ineptitude, lack of communication skills – all the nations seemed to declare war on each other.

It was mostly a case of “death (and killing) before dishonor” in which, no matter how worthy or unworthy the war aims might be, negotiation toward a peaceful settlement was considered to be a  dishonorable way out of a conflict.

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Missionaries:
In the unevangelized world, there are 20,500 full-time Christian workers and 10,200 foreign missionaries. In the evangelized non-Christian world, there are 1.31 million full-time Christian workers.

In the Christian world, there are 306,000 foreign missionaries to other Christian lands. Also in the Christian world, 4.19 million full-time Christian workers (95%) work within the Christian world. 
Frontier Harvest Ministries

Number of Christian Books in Print:
There are approximately 6 million books about Christianity in print today. 
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (2006)
 Number of Christian Martyrs Worldwide:
An average of 171,000 Christians worldwide are martyred for their faith per year.
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (2006)

2 comments:

welcome to my world of poetry said...

It was lovely to read of the American's traditions at Christmas.

Hope you've recovered from your Christmas lunch.
Have a great day,
Yvonne.

Judy said...

Merry Christmas Pastor Gregg!

It's been a long time since I've visited your blog or anyone else's blog of late. Life got very busy for me. But I'm taking the time now to visit my old blogger friends to say hello and to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season. If you have time come on over and visit me. Take care.

Blessings,
Judy