Daily Archives: December 24, 2015

(FT) Elif Shafak–Turkey’s vote against Christmas

Today religion is solid and that hybridity is lost. We are divided into mutually exclusive cultural zones. In Istanbul, as we near the new year, different neighbourhoods have adopted visibly different attitudes towards Christmas. As one drives from one area to another it is easy to tell which municipalities are run by the CHP, the main opposition party, and which by the AK party, the government. The glittery decorations and lights are almost always in the CHP areas. The only exception are the shopping malls, of which Istanbul has too many. Inside these are gigantic Christmas trees; and, in front of those trees, nowadays, angry protesters.

“We are not obeying a toy-distributing Santa, we are the followers of Prophet Mohammad,” reads one of the signs held by protesters. Another displays a verse from the Koran, plucked out of context and deployed for particular political ends. The protesters claim they are delivering God’s words to the ignorant.

Early in the year the Saadet (Felicity) party ”” a religious-based political party ”” called Santa Claus “a sinister and dirty project”, adding that “western colonialism tries to invade culturally what it cannot invade militarily.”

Through articles and distorted images, Santa Claus is vilified in Islamist newspapers. The situation is highly ironic given that the original St Nicholas was born in the town of Patara in Turkey in 260AD and to this day is regarded as part of Turkish history and culture.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Globalization, History, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology, Turkey

Christmas on T19


ON NOW: Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge
– Live broadcast at 10 am EST [3 pm London time] and available to listen to thereafter
– Listen here on BBC Radio 4 or here on BBC World Service
Service Booklet and other broadcast links

COMING UP: Listen live to Christmas Eve Services from St Helena’s Church, Beaufort, SC at 7:30 pm and 11 pm EST [add 5 hours for London GMT]
Listen here

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

Four Kinds of Christmas

More from Glen Scrivener and Four Kinds of Christmas

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

The Year Christmas Died–New York’s 5th Avenue is a celebration of pretty much nothing””or worse

Forget public Nativity scenes, as court fiat commanded us to do years ago. On Fifth Avenue this year you can’t even find dear old Santa Claus. Or his elves. Christmas past has become Christmas gone.

The scenes inside Saks Fifth Avenue’s many windows aren’t easy to describe. Saks calls it “The Winter Palace.” I would call it Prelude to an Orgy done in vampire white and amphetamine blue.

A luxuriating woman lies on a table, her legs in the air. Saks’ executives, who bear responsibility for this travesty, did have the good taste to confine to a side street the display of a passed-out man on his back (at least he’s wearing a tux), spilling his martini, beneath a moose head dripping with pearls. Adeste Gomorrah.

But you haven’t seen the anti-Christmas yet. It’s up at 59th Street in the “holiday” windows of Bergdorf Goodman. In place of anything Christmas, Bergdorf offers “The Frosty Taj Mahal,” a palm-reading fortune teller””and King Neptune, the pagan Roman god, seated with his concubine. (One Saks window features the Roman Colosseum, the historic site of Christian annihilation.)

Read it all from daniel henninger of the WSJ.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Wicca / paganism

(GR) 'Happy Holidays Charlie Brown'? So what happened in that Kentucky play?

So what happened? What did Linus van Pelt say?

I am referring, of course, to the controversy that unfolded this past week in Johnson County, Ken., where school officials ”“ after receiving complaints from some in their community ”“ removed the speech by Linus at the pivotal moment in an elementary school production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Click here for the previous GetReligion post focusing on the Lexington Herald-Leader coverage of this Christmas wars showdown.

Here was my main point in my previous post: If Linus could not recite the key lines from the Gospel of St. Luke ”“ in response to Charlie Brown’s anguished cry of “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” ”“ then what was Linus going to say? It appeared, in previous coverage, that no one asked that question.

Read it all and follow the links.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Theology

Mark Hendrickson-Good Grief, Charlie Brown! Militant Secularism Takes on Linus at Christmas

You may have heard about the Kentucky school district that ordered its administrators to scrub any religious references from its various Christmas productions. Most infamously, an elementary school in the Johnson County School District removed the lines from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” where Linus recites the Gospel of Luke’s account of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. This censorship was colossally silly””both because Linus’ speech is the dramatic center of the play, and because of the self-evident absurdity of staging a play with “Christmas” in its title and then deleting the key lines that explain what Christmas celebrates.

According to reports, the district’s attorneys had received a complaint about the planned production and, apparently fearing a lawsuit, they advised administrators to remove all “religious” (i.e., Christian) references from the Christmas-related productions being planned in their schools. According to the district’s website, “The U.S. Supreme Court and the 6th Circuit are very clear that public school staff may not endorse any religion when acting in their official capacities and during school activities.”

Hello! Staging a play about Christmas doesn’t “endorse” the Christian religion, any more than staging “Big River” (the musical version of the Huckleberry Finn story) constitutes an endorsement of slavery or a production of “Sweeney Todd” endorses cannibalism.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Theology

Nativity advert featuring Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus follows Lord’s prayer advert with cinema ban

Plans to show a short video promoting the message of Christmas, and featuring a nativity scene, around the festive season have been rejected as too “religious” for the big screen.

An alliance of churches and Christian charities funded and made the 45-second film as part of its annual “Christmas Starts with Christ” campaign.

It was launched online last Christmas and has been viewed 250,000 times and the organisers had hoped to take it to cinema screens this year.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(JE) Vicar of Baghdad Witnesses Christ Amid Danger

A child of London’s East End, White explained to his listeners from theological, journalistic, and policymaking circles how years in Iraq and the wider Middle East had made him happy in the face of unspeakable horror.

“There are the days when you are crying, saying ”˜why Lord and there are days of immense joy,” the nattily-dressed, pink and blue bowtie-wearing White stated. His cane, indicating White’s multiple sclerosis, and his cross made of nails taken from the cathedral in Coventry, England, destroyed by German bombing in World War II, signified life’s harsher realities..

A singing White explained that he is even happier now than when he was resuscitating the dead from cardiac arrest as a London doctor before he joined the clergy. For “I know that I have got the love of Jesus with me all the time,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(NYT) Church With Ties to Famed Christmas Poem Is in Need of Repair

What was stirring were not creatures.

It was worse. Much worse. The soft patting sounds that the Rev. Stephen Harding and I heard inside St. Peter’s Church Chelsea ”” the “Christmas Church” that owes its existence to Clement Clarke Moore ”” came from rainwater. It percolated through the tin-and-timber roof and the lath-and-plaster Gothic ceiling vaults, dripping down to the balcony floor.

St. Peter’s needs a lot of help, about $15 million worth, Father Harding estimates.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), History, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Parishes, Urban/City Life and Issues

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Lancelot Andrewes

Thou who with thine own mouth hast avouched that at midnight, at an hour when we are not aware, the Bridegroom shall come: Grant that the cry, The Bridegroom cometh, may sound evermore in our ears, that so we be never unprepared to meet him, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

And his father Zechari’ah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, when the day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

–Luke 1:67-80

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Church of England and Church of Scotland forge pact

The Church of England and Church of Scotland are preparing a landmark pact committing the UK’s two official “national” churches to work closely together for the first time.

Leading clerics hope the move could help forge new ties between the people of England and Scotland in the wake of last year’s independence referendum and the 2015 General Election.

The Daily Telegraph has learnt that a formal agreement between the two churches ”“ which emerged separately from the Reformation in the 16th Century ”“ is set be put before their two governing bodies, the General Synod and General Assembly, early next year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Scotland

([London Times) Front Page–"Faith leaders unite against persecution of Christians"

Faith leaders from across Britain have condemned a growing crackdown on Christmas in Muslim countries.

Brunei threatened yesterday to imprison for up to five years anyone who celebrates the Christian festival in public. The former British colony’s new penal code could also hand out $20,000 fines for any ceremony contrary to Sharia, including singing religious songs, sending festive greetings or putting up Christmas trees, crosses or candles.

Somalia’s leading clerics issued a similar edict in 2013, which they reiterated yesterday. Sheikh Mohamed Khayrow, the religious affairs minister, said that “all events related to Christmas and new year celebrations are contrary to Islamic culture”. They could “damage the faith of the Muslim community” and risk attracting terrorist attacks from Al Shabaab, he added.

In China, which has 70 million Christians and is set to overtake America as the world’s largest Christian country within a decade, large outdoor crosses on hundreds of churches have been dismantled by officials from the atheist Communist party. Some churches have been demolished in the eastern city of Wenzhou, dubbed the “Jerusalem of China”.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Terrorism, Violence

(C of E) the Church is at heart of help for the homeless, a report finds

More than 2,000 people are expected to be welcomed into church-run night shelters across the UK this winter, according to a new report.

A study of Church and Community Night Shelters by the Christian homelessness charity Housing Justice showed 2,171 homeless guests were accommodated in 500 venues last winter with a similar number or more expected to be accommodated this season.

Volunteers invested 231,000 hours of time to help run the shelters, which if given a financial value, would amount to more than £3 million, with 39% of guests receiving help to make a move into their own accommodation.

Welcoming the report the Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester and Chair of Housing Justice said: “The overwhelming majority, more than 80%, of these projects have at least one Church of England church taking part working alongside others to provide warmth and welcome to those in need. I am deeply grateful to those volunteers who give of themselves providing not only food and shelter but a love of the neighbour. The role of Churches at the heart of the projects shows the quiet, committed service, offered to the vulnerable, as an expression of love and discipleship.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theology

One minister's family in South Carolina left for China today to pick up their new child

“We’ve been praying for this little guy since October when we were matched with him for adoption from China. Since that time, the adoption process has been steamrolling along and we are now all set to travel and pick him up”¦on December 23!

It has been a blur these past few week, but we are ready and excited to make the trip across the globe and pick up the newest member of our family. And, yes, we are all going ”“ Tyler, Lanier, and all the kids, along with Tyler’s parents ”“ for the two week trek to China!…”

You can read the rest here and there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Asia, Children, China, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Photos/Photography, Travel