I’ve written a short piece on “prayer shaming” and the controversy surrounding public “prayer” made by politicians after the San Bernardino shooting. You can find it on Huffington Post and I’ve also reposted the piece here:
Once again a mass shooting that left 14 dead and 21 wounded on Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif. is sparking public outcry against gun violence in this country. Within hours of the shooting, the perennial debate over guns in American society began to circulate on news outlets and social media. This discourse varied widely, ranging from comparisons of gun control between the United States and other industrialized nations to an accounting of the number of mass shootings that have occurred in the U.S. in 2015.
Common to this discourse is the persistent public frustration over increasing gun violence and the lack of political action on gun control. This frustration was encapsulated and embodied on the front page of the New York Daily News rebuking politicians who offered “meaningless platitudes” in the form of prayer after the shooting. For the tabloid, “thoughts and prayers” aren’t enough and political inaction is equated with “God isn’t fixing it.” By day’s end on Wednesday, the Daily News cover became viral and was shared over 22,000 times on Twitter. For many Americans, the front page precisely expressed how they felt about gun control as well as the need for a national dialog on gun violence. Sharing the Daily News cover via social media became the public’s way of venting outrage and exasperation at this intractable issue. [….]
Occupy Central, the revolution that’s brewing for almost a week now in Hong Kong, has been front and center in major news outlets. For those unfamiliar with what’s been happening in Hong Kong, this massive protest boils down to the demand for universal suffrage, a right that Beijing has wrested away from voters in this tiny territory that was returned to China in 1997. To get up-to-speed, see this nice summary by the South China Morning Post.
While most media reports have focused on the political aspects of this movement, few have noted the involvement of religion in Occupy Central (originally called Occupy Central with Love and Peace). Many of the movement’s key leaders are Christians, both Catholic and Protestant. In Beijing’s eyes, these Christians are seen as “troublesome gangsters of Hong Kong”. On the streets, churches have opened up their space to accommodate protesters, allowing them to use their facilities. Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun said every Catholic in Hong Kong “has the right and duty to get involved” in politics. Joshua Wong, a 17-year-old Protestant and founder of Scholarism, has been organizing social movements since he was 15. Christians in China are now the thorn in the side of the Chinese government.
There’s an alarming story floating around the blogsphere for the past week about the death of evangelicalism. This story first originated on Michael Spencer’s blog and then was picked up by The Christian Science Monitor. Spencer’s predictions are dire and portentous. Simply put, evangelicalism, as we know it here in the West, is “on the verge… of a major collapse” and will cease to exist within 10 years. This doomsday prediction is partly based on the simple premise that evangelicals are slow to understand, exegete, and adapt to the changing social and cultural landscape and have failed to pass on the fundamentals of Christian faith and spirituality to the next generation. Added to this mix is the encroaching pressure of secularism, and evangelicalism, in Spencer’s view, will not survive such onslaught. In its place, Pentecostal, Catholic, and Orthodox churches will thrive, and Western evangelism would benefit to receive missions from Global South churches. [….]
I picked up this little book at the 2008 annual Evangelical Theological Society meeting last November in Providence, Rhode Island. Francis Beckwith, who was the former ETS president in 2007, narrates his return to the Roman Catholic church. This fine book is divided into two parts: personal narrative and theological reflection. I found the latter part to be quite insightful since Beckwith provides his raison d’être for becoming a Catholic again (he was baptized as an infant in the Catholic church). Beckwith’s reflection focuses on the Reformers’ notion of imputation versus Catholic’s infusion of righteousness and grace. This reflection, not surprisingly, is based on several Patristic readings, which, I believe, today’s evangelicals could greatly benefit from. I’ve always found the idea of “forensic” imputation to be arbitrary and stilted. [….]
So it begins: this blog was set to launch at the start of 2009 when procrastination took over the better of me. Although this first post dates back to January, it took some three months to get this project off the ground. I’m still putting this blog through its paces — there are a number of content and technical issues being worked out. Instead of having semaphoric launch in entire completeness, I’m planning to fill in the space as the blog progresses. For the most part, semaphoric is off and running.
What is semaphoric? From the Greek word sema for signs, semaphoric simply refers to semaphores, a system of visual signs designed to convey a message. Used primarily on ships and railroads, semaphore is the simplest way to signal and transmit messages.
Why semaphoric? From the obvious — billboards, traffic lights, spam ads, trademarks, to the less obvious — maps, metaphors, hip-hop artists, a peacock’s plumes, signs are all around us. We make and utilize signs to interact with the world, and in turn, signs influence how we see and understand the world.
semaphoric examines signs of culture and faith and considers how both influence the way we understand ourselves, shape our theology, and how we perceive the world. For the most part, semaphoric is like any blog with its contents reflecting the thoughts and musings of its author.
Who is semaphoric? Entirely conceived by me and one else. I hope you enjoy the great-taste-and-no-filling flavor of semaphoric!
I’ve done my part, and now you can do yours:
- • Read this blog and comment regularly
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- • Tell your friends about semaphoric.org
- • Tell your friends to tell their friends about semaphoric.org!