Sunday’s Sermon: Review

Certainty is demonic. Hypocrisy is omni-present. Politics is religion. Religion is politics.

“Even the well informed tend to have very short attention spans when it comes to evangelicals. Many equate evangelicals with fundamentalists or the Christian right when only a minority belong to either group. Others dismiss them as a marginal group doomed to extinction with the process of modernization. In fact evangelicals compose nearly a quarter of the (US) population.” (p.2)

Those founding Puritans continue to have an influence on the culture and particularly the politics in the USA. The clash between fundamentalism and modernism erupted after World War I and affected all Protestant denominations. The core beliefs of the fundamentalists seem to be: what the Bible says is true and inerrant (particularly, of course, the New Testament); abortion is categorically evil; homosexuality is also evil and same sex marriage an abomination. As Fitzgerald points out “For them the first chapter of Genesis is to be interpreted literally. Even today two thirds of evangelicals say they believe that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” (p. 625) These beliefs are manifest in the opposition to the SCOTUS decision banning prayer and Bible readings in public schools, almost all of the civil rights movement, the 1960s protests against the war in Vietnam, and the Roe v. Wade decision.

Read the review.

Politics and Religion

Motivating Political Participation?

Does religion spur persons to engage in such nonviolent political activities as signing petitions, joining in boycotts, participating in demonstrations, taking part in unofficial strikes, occupying buildings and factories, or voting and membership in political parties?

A large cross-national study recently published in Religion, State, and Society examines the relationship between religion and political activity. Researchers at the University of Kansas examined data that covered over three decades in order to look at the influence that various religious factors had on political participation. The lead researcher, commenting on the new study, reckons from the data that “religious beliefs, by themselves, do not suffice to motivate individuals to act politically.” Thus: “it is incorrect to infer political behavior from religious beliefs alone.”

The study itself informs us that while religion may well influence individuals’ opinions on hot-button issues (take same-sex marriage, abortion as examples), personal religiosity doesn’t necessarily propel persons to political participation.  Rather, it interacts with secular configurations and pressures to encourage or deter individuals from engaging with the political world. The study abstract, in summarizing the research, indicates that individuals become more likely to engage in political activity of the types examined due to their affiliation with others, whether it be membership in religious organizations or belonging to other voluntary associations of a secular nature.

Read a summary and interpretation at:
https://phys.org/news/2017-10-religious-beliefs-dont-people-political.html

SS: Spirituality

 

Martin Sheen—Spirituality of Imagination

 

The renowned actor as you’ve never heard him before. He has appeared in over 100 films, including Apocalypse Now. He’s best known on television as President Bartlet in The West Wing. But Martin Sheen, born and still legally named Ramón Estévez, has had another lesser-known life as a spiritual seeker and activist. He returned to a deep and joyful Catholic faith after a crisis at the height of his fame in mid-life. He’s been arrested over 60 times in vigils and protests. “Piety is something you do alone,” he says. “True freedom, spirituality, can only be achieved in community.”

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Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin.

Why Darwin?

Pterocnemia pennata (Original description: Rhe...
Pterocnemia pennata (Original description: Rhea darwinii) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stephen Jay Gould

April 4, 1996 Issue

Charles Darwin: Voyaging

by Janet Browne

Knopf, 605 pp., $35.00

 

Most young men of the time could only fantasize, but Charles Darwin experienced the overt drama of his century’s archetypal episode in the personal story we now call “coming of age”: a five-year voyage of pure adventure (and much science) circumnavigating the globe on H.M.S. Beagle. Returning to England at age twenty-seven, Darwin became a homebody and never again left his native land, not even to cross the English Channel. Nonetheless, his subsequent life included two internal dramas for more intense, far more portentous, and (for anyone who can move beyond the equation of swashbuckling with excitement) far more interesting than anything he had experienced as a world traveler: first, the intellectual drama of discovering both the factuality and mechanism of evolution; and second, the emotional drama of recognizing (and relishing) the revolutionary implications of evolution, while fearing the pain that revelation would impose upon both his immediate family and the surrounding society.

Read the review

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) at age 7. The paint...
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) at age 7. The painting is the earliest picture known, of Charles Darwin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Sunday’s Sermon

Bible Book

rtb.jpg

  Listen to a CBC Interview with the author.

Comments on the book.

Featured on The Brights’ List

Preview

Click on cover to purchase.

Brief Reviews of RTB

from Dr. John A. Black:
“Lucid and provocative…Reading the Bible will appeal to both the religious and the secular: the first will be challenged, the second enlightened, by this erudite presentation of a fresh view of ancient tradition.”

READING THE BIBLE: Intention, Text, Interpretation was exactly the text I wanted to bridge the ever-widening gap between the ancient stories and contemporary students. I used the book in a second-year university course which studied the influence of the King James Bible on two 20th-century fiction writers: Howard O’Hagan (Western Canada) and Flannery O’Connor (Southern U.S.). Robert Lane has a unique gift for both interpreting key passages/motifs, and putting them into 21st-century perspective. Virtually every student in the class at some point remarked that this book made it possible to finally understand where much of our modern literature comes from. Lane’s style—a combination of meticulous scholarship and humourous personal anecdote—makes it accessible to all students and does much to correct the woeful ignorance in our society about this critical topic.  I highly recommend this text for any university course, including graduate level, which is concerned with the literary, cultural, and mythological aspects of the Bible.

Reviewed by Richard Arnold, Ph.D., Professor of English, Vancouver Island University