Archive for the ‘christianity’ tag
Really interesting story of how since deciding that technology wasn’t a sinful temptation, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has found it much more effective as a way to use the young people engaging in its famous missionary period:
Even within a church legendary for adding converts with machine-like efficiency, the Internet-only mission has been an outlier. Whereas traditional Mormon missionaries convert, on average, six people during their 18- to 24-month service, the online apostles in Provo have averaged around 30 converts per missionary per year, says Burton. And these people stick around. Ninety-five percent of the Internet converts have kept active, a retention rate more than triple the norm.
(via The Browser)
Striking photographs accompanied by an interesting story well told. Its start:
Paul Koudounaris is not a man who shies away from the macabre. Though the Los Angeles-based art historian, author and photographer claims that his fascination with death is no greater than anyone else’s, he devotes his career to investigating and documenting phenomena such as church ossuaries, charnel houses and bone-adorned shrines. Which is why, when a man in a German village approached him during a 2008 research trip and asked something along the lines of, “Are you interested in seeing a dilapidated old church in the forest with a skeleton standing there covered in jewels and holding a cup of blood in his left hand like he’s offering you a toast?” Koudounaris’ answer was, “Yes, of course.”
The story of how Martin Luther’s ideas went from a small bulletin-board post at a university to a religion-changing, war-causing force.
Tetzel, the indulgence-seller, was one of the first to respond to him in print, firing back with his own collection of theses. Others embraced the new pamphlet format to weigh in on the merits of Luther’s arguments, both for and against, like argumentative bloggers. Sylvester Mazzolini defended the pope against Luther in his “Dialogue Against the Presumptuous Theses of Martin Luther”. He called Luther “a leper with a brain of brass and a nose of iron” and dismissed his arguments on the basis of papal infallibility.
It feels a little silly, but I’d never thought much about the similarity between the current heat surrounding images of Muhammad and the idol breaking that played a role both in the “Great schism” and reformation. The logic of the offended believers is similar:
“The prohibition is intended to protect the faithful from that sin [of polytheism]. The fear was that intense reverence for the prophet might if unrestrained cross over into worship. In the 8th and the 9th centuries a general consensus banning such depictions arose among the clerics, but not all Muslims knew of it, paid attention, or obeyed.”
The question had never really occured to me, but the name certainly wasn’t rare:
Christ’s given name, commonly Romanized as Yeshua, was quite common in first-century Galilee. (Jesus comes from the transliteration of Yeshua into Greek and then English.) Archaeologists have unearthed the tombs of 71 Yeshuas from the period of Jesus’ death. The name also appears 30 times in the Old Testament in reference to four separate characters—including a descendent of Aaron who helped to distribute offerings of grain (2 Chronicles 31:15) and a man who accompanied former captives of Nebuchadnezzar back to Jerusalem (Ezra 2:2).
The fact that there are differing opinions on the ten commandments was something I’d heard multiple times, but never really understood. Until I saw this chart. Now I know for sure that I’m not the only one who thinks “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” should not stand alone. (I was raised Catholic.)
I strongly suspect this is months old, but it’s none the less fascinating. The USA Today offers a great Flash presentation of some data from the latest Pew Religion Survey. A few things that really struck me (unfortunately, it being Flash, I can’t link straight to the relevant charts):
- Jehovah’s Witnesses are truly exceptional. They seem to be outliers on just about every question in the set.
- Catholic’s acceptance of homosexuality is much higher than I’d expected. (58%, higher than the general population, which is at 50%. Still nowhere near the 80ish scores for Buddhists, Jews, and “Other Faiths.”)
- Belief in heaven is most common among Mormons and historically black churches. Who knew the two would have so much in common?
- Jews pray about as much as the unaffiliated.
(via Robin, who offers other portraits of the United States)
The Boston Globe ideas section has some interesting details about Americans’ beliefs about heaven and hell. For myself, I’d always thought each necessary for the existence of the other.
The Pew survey, significant for the breadth and depth made possible by its unusually large 35,000-person sample, found that 74 percent of Americans say they think there is a heaven, “where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded,” while just 59 percent think there is a hell, “where people who have led bad lives, and die without being sorry, are eternally punished.”
…there are peculiarly American characteristics to this emerging hell gap: an insistent optimism, perhaps a kind of cultural self-contentedness, and a tolerance born of diversity that makes damning the other more problematic.
… Mormons are the most likely to believe in heaven, but just average in their belief in hell. The biggest believers in hell are evangelical Protestants, African-American Protestants, and Muslims.
For some reason, I’ve watched this video every time it’s shown up in my feedreader (which has been a lot). There’s something great about it.
(originally via Kottke)
Think of it as a post-Rapture Christian gloating service. As Threat Level snarkily points out:
The e-mails will be triggered when three of the site’s five Christian staffers “scattered around the U.S.” fail to log in for six days in a row — a system that incorporates a nice margin of safety, should two of the proprietors turn out to be unrepentant sinners or atheists.