Category: Pluralism

Gender - Male and Female Gummy

Niqabs in Canada

Muslim woman in niqabRecently here in Canada, the Court struck down a move by our Conservative government that would require women to have their faces uncovered during citizenship ceremonies. Our Prime Minister referred to niqabs as un-Canadian. The Court disagreed and said she had the right to wear what she wanted under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, given there was no security risk or other argument against it. Now the government plans to appeal and it has become a bit of an election issue.

Islam and Niqabs

It is true that Islam as a whole does not require niqabs. I don’t think the Qu’ran requires any particular way of dress for women. It just says that both men and women should be modest. I haven’t read the Qu’ran, so I could be wrong on this, but I have seen Muslims saying the same thing. It is much more of a cultural thing for certain nations. Some of these were actually very open with how men and women dressed within the last generation or two. They were often very Westernized. Several wars later, understandably they wanted to distance themselves from Western culture. One way to do that was with clothing requirements for women.

Muslim Girl

Islamophobia is Stupid

Recently, fellow MennoNerd Micael blogged about why Deport All Muslims Now is Stupid, Evil, and Unchristian. The last two really should be obvious if you’ve ever actually listened to Jesus’ teaching ideas like loving your enemy and doing good to those who hurt you. Many admit this but then fall back on “the only way to stop the tiny fraction of Muslims who are extremists is to just kill everybody.” In other words, they think it is smart even if they sort of acknowledge it is evil and unChristian.

Fighting Fire with Fire

N.T. Wright says this:

the real battle is against violence itself, against the normal human wickedness that shows itself in the desire for brute force to win the day. If you fight fire with fire, fire still wins. And Jesus has come to win the victory over fire itself, over the rule of the bullies and the power-brokers, in favour of the poor, the meek, the mourners, the pure in heart.

(Longer quote in this old blog post)

Why are you a Christian?

 Large Question MarkA few weeks ago, we had a group of Christians in our apartment who are involved in different churches with different background stories. We spent time simply sharing our testimonies, then one followed up by asking everyone why they are a Christian. We got an interesting range of answers:

The Power of Grace

One was clearly of the more evangelical variety. His answer was that he knows he needs grace to be saved. We all know instinctively we are not perfect. The concept of grace at the centre of Christianity is huge and unique. We aren’t ignoring our imperfections, but our acceptance is not based on being the right kind of person or going to the right church or following the right ethical guidelines. We just are accepted. Always. That’s powerful.

23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19

#ChapelHillShooting and Islamophobic Narrative

This is another example where I am glad to be a regular Twitter user. If not for Twitter, I may not have even heard about the shooting at Chapel Hill in North Carolina. Three young Muslim students (1 male, 2 female) were killed by a middle-aged, white, atheist man named Craig Stephen Hicks. The mainstream media (MSM) has been pretty much silent on it so far.

Do you remember the events of Charlie Hebdo in France? Muslim kills people. Story dominates the media for weeks. Reports constantly emphasized how the killer was Muslim and there was a lot of hype around rights of free speech even when that speech belittles others – a right I agree with, in case somebody misreads that. There were analyses about whether Islam is inherently dangerous (correct answer is a resounding “NO”). Everyone simply assumed motives, projecting their fears and thereby reinforcing that fear. World leaders were shunned if they didn’t drop everything to join France in mourning. We could do similar comparisons with the shooting in Ottawa or the siege in Sydney.

Atheist Fundamentalism

Contrary to those who defend it, atheist fundamentalism exists. It does seem to be on the decline the last few years – at least in the media – but it does clearly exist. The characteristics that we usually claim define Christian fundamentalism, Islamic fundamentalism, or any other religious fundamentalism, are alive and well in some atheist circles: unwillingness to consider that they could be wrong, strict lines drawn between the in-crown and the outsiders, judgement even against the more moderate (ie less aggressive) forms of the same worldview, assuming a few very precise beliefs to be true and then extrapolating from there, etc. It is this attitude that I refer to as fundamentalism in this article. I know there are some more technical definitions for Christian fundamentalism but that isn’t my point here.

I Don’t Think That Verse Means What You Think It Means: John 14:6

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Nobody comes to the Father except through me.

How It Is Usually Used

You’ve probably heard this verse. It is brought up a lot, particularly within the context of one particular conversation: the place of other religions in relation to Christianity. In our increasingly-pluralistic world, this is a really big question. Since inevitably people will ask the question even though my entire point of this post is that this verse is not about that, here’s a sampling of Christian understandings of the place for other religions. In that post I do touch on one element of John 14:6, but I’m going to touch on a couple of different ones here as well as revisit that one.

What’s interesting is that no matter which view you take, you probably think of this verse as an answer to that question about other religions. It’s just become a part of that conversation. But it shouldn’t be a part of that conversation. This isn’t to claim any particular answer to the questions about other religions – I did present my theory in the linked post above but there is lots of room for discussion. This is just to show that within its context John 14:6 is very clearly not talking about salvation for practitioners of other religions.

10 Things Christians and Atheists Agree On

This is a great article via cracked.com called 10 Things Christians and Atheists Agree On. As the title implies, it goes through a list of things that Christians and Atheists agree on, arguing that we have a lot more common ground than we think. Most of the things we disagree on are cases of committing the same indecency to the other that we’re accusing them of committing to us. I completely agree with the general idea behind each of the 10 points. I may argue with some of the smaller things he says – even for the Christians he tends to portray that our faith is about moralism and going to Heaven when we die, which I wouldn’t accept – but for the most part I’m completely with him. The actual article is lengthy and is complete with funny photos mocking both sides, which is something we both need to be able to handle. Here are the 10 points, with minimal commentary from me, mostly summarizing or quotes:

Missing the Point: Atheist Response to the Moral Argument

I just encountered this again going through a New Atheist book, and I have to admit it’s becoming a pet peeve for me in atheist-theist debates. It goes like this. The theist presents the moral argument. If you aren’t familiar with that argument, in a nutshell it is this:

  1. Objective moral reality exists
  2. Objective moral reality requires a source
  3. Therefore there is a source of objective moral reality which we call God
Spiritual Disciplines - Prayer

Christian Yoga

I got sent this article by Mark Driscoll with the question of what I thought of Christian yoga. My response, tweaked up to be nicer for the general public, is below.

First, some introduction on Driscoll for those who don’t know him. I’m immediately skeptical whenever I am linked to teaching of Mark Driscoll. He tends to be very black-and-white, and that seems to be the case again here. He says he’s not a fundamentalist right in the article, but I suppose it depends how you use the term fundamentalist. His basic style of teaching is yelling “God hates you! you’re a miserable human being! how can you be so selfish?” and then calling it the good news. He also would definitely accept the 5 fundamentals from which the term fundamentalism comes. But with my Driscoll bias out of the way, this time he does say some things I don’t mind and not just some things that make absolutely no sense to me.

There’s Probably No Dawkins

I think this is a great campaign personally. For the upcoming Reasonable Faith Tour in the UK which features William Lane Craig among other notable names, the ad pictured to below is one of the ways of promoting it. There’s obviously some backstory for those who don’t know it.

Important background information number 1: not too long ago, the British Humanist Society ran ads on UK buses saying “there’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy the rest of your life.” So this is obviously a play on that with its words “There’s probably no Dawkins. Now stop worrying and enjoy October 25th at the Sheldonian Theatre”. No, it is not actually saying there is probably no Dawkins. They know that there is a Dawkins. I’ve heard some atheists argue that this ad is stupid because unlike God it is easy to prove Dawkins. Simply put, they are completely missing the point.