Okay Patrol readers, let’s see just how much you know about religion. And we’re not talking about just evangelical Christianity here. We’re not asking if you can name Amy Grant’s first record or provide the date of the first Billy Graham crusade (can you, incidentally?).
No, this is serious business. Click here to take the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s Religious Knowledge Quiz. Your reward for completing the 15 questions is a few pages full of statistics comparing you to the general public and members of different religions.
Just as a bit of a taunt/challenge: I scored 15/15. Just saying.
Go ahead and take the quiz, and then come on back here to let us know how you did!
Andy Whitman at Image:
In the past few years, authors as controversial and varied as Salman Rushdie, Joyce Carol Oates, and Dr. Cornel West have spoken at Calvin, and the concert offerings have featured Muslim hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco, atheist singer/songwriter Vic Chesnutt, barstool poets The Hold Steady, and transgendered singer/songwriter Baby Dee.
By comparison, The New Pornographers, with their bright pop music and innocuous lyrics, are relatively tame.
But there’s that pesky name again. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s that pesky name, of all the trite things in the complex and gritty and death-dealing universe, that has gotten Calvin College in trouble.
Hanna Rosin, unpacking Christine O’Donnell’s “constitutional repentance” trope:
We have come to this strange moment in American political history where the Constitution is being talked of not as inspired by the Bible or imbued with Biblical principles but as a kind of Bible itself, a holy text to be interpreted literally and treated with absolute reverence. Any kind of skepticism or critical judgment about it—or at least, the Tea Party-approved parts—is viewed as a sin.
Hanna should be familiar with this holy reverence for the constitution. It’s been decades in the making, and now it is surfacing in political candidates who are coming alarmingly close to national office. It’s just another example of how seamlessly the Tea Party blends with evangelicalism, and, in my opinion, more evidence that the former owes a great deal of its energy and groundwork to the latter.
Since Christopher Hitchens, renowned atheist and author, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer this summer, it seems everyone has started praying. Some are praying for his salvation, some that he will burn in hell, some pray that he will recover, and others pray that the spirit in which he lives his life – the wine-loving, controversy-inciting, love-to-hate him atheist – will continue in his life and his death.
Hitchens’ father died of esophageal cancer at the age of 79. It happened quickly in a time when medicine offered few treatment options. The junior Hitchens is 61, and while doctors have prescribed a rigorous regimen of what Hitchens calls chemo-poison, for the most part, effective detection and treatment of esophageal cancer remains a mystery. The odds are not good…
A few things to catch up on over the weekend:
— Timothy Dalrymple, manager of the Evangelical Portal on Patheos.com, challenges Patrol to expound on our frequent charge that evangelicals worship America. If all goes as planned, Fitz and I will have responses on Patheos next week.
— Moe Tkacik’s a long-winded, hilarious takedown of Jonathan Franzen’s critics, from David Brooks to the wretched, snobbish B.R. Meyers review of Freedom in the Atlantic. Summary: these guys either a) have hardly spent any time in America, b) do not appear to have read the book, or c) both. (P.S. Best review of Freedom thus far here.)
— Jonathan Merritt writes that criticism of consumerism probably won’t make much of a dent in mainstream Christianity.
— Speaking of masturbation, I don’t typically find Joel Stein funny, but: ha.
I don’t know how this happened, but somehow Stephen Colbert ended up testifying before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law. I first became aware of this breaking news while on the elliptical machine at Planet Fitness. Unfortunately, the TV was on mute, so I Googled it.
After spending a day working with migrant field workers in Upstate New York as part of a segment for his daily program, Colbert testified in character, saying his experience was “really hard” and gave him a small understanding of “why so few Americans are clamoring to begin an exciting career as Seasonal Migrant Field Workers.”
This may be a fake-news bit for his show taken a little too far, or it may be a lead up to Colbert ’s October ‘March to Keep Fear Alive,’ which I will be attending. Some protested that Colbert’s appearance made a mockery of our Legislative system as he literally mocked our legislative system. But lighten up. We all know the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law has always been a rascally bunch.
Will Wilkinson and Ross Douthat are tag-teaming on the subject of the left’s role in the culture war, and it’s worth a read. Wilkinson calls on Douthat to explain to Slate‘s Will Saletan, a writer I admire endlessly, that Saletan’s piece on Christine O’Donnell’s masturbation views didn’t make much sense. Douthat replies, chiding liberals for making such a circus of her views on sexuality while claiming the culture wars are all conservatives’ fault.
Today, Wilkinson has another entry that I think anyone who reads this website (not to mention those who write it) would do well to consider:
Cultural politics is, among other things, conflict over which beliefs our common culture will celebrate and which it will stigmatise, and the outcome of this conflict in part determines the relative status of various factions within society. It feels like war because we tend to be dead serious about advancing or at least maintaining the level of status accorded to members of our groups. I think it is easy for some liberals to miss just how antagonising flip mockery of absurd religious beliefs can be, though it’s hard to believe they don’t, at some level, grasp what’s at stake. To laugh at someone’s views on the evils of masturbation or witchcraft or gay marriage is clearly to imply that these views, and the people who hold them, deserve to be laughed at and, thereby, diminished.
More after the jump.
Justin Taylor, one of the bloggers mentioned in our editorial today, posted this quote from blogger Paul Ireland, which I think goes a long way to correcting the course of the “Glenn Beck is not a real Christian” discussion we found disheartening:
In the whole discussion about Mormonism, I think we’re missing a big part of what is going on with Glenn Beck. The problem is not simply Mormonism. The problem is idolatry.
People who follow Glenn Beck may not become Mormon and reject the Trinity, but they will likely follow his Americolatry—his worship of our nation. His view of life rises and falls on the state of our country. Christians I know who follow Beck quickly get pulled into his idolatrous fervor that declares that our nation can be our savior.
I call it “Christianism,” but “Americolatry” works, too. Binding up U.S. politics with religion is bound to corrupt faith regardless of whether a Mormon or an evangelical Christian is doing it. Evangelicals, who still don’t really get this, should be far more worried about their own America-worship than they are about Glenn Beck’s theological errors.
Credit to Taylor for setting the record straight on that point.
To prove a religious point, Moses turned his staff into a serpent before Pharaoh. On another occasion he drew water from a rock when he struck it. To the same end, Muhammad had a winged steed that flew him to the furthest mosque, to heaven and hell, and then back to earth. Then there is Jonah and the big fish, and Jesus and the fig tree; both signs to make a point. More contemporary (and less supernatural) signs include the work of Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary who began a campaign to send Bibles to Glenn Beck, and Terry Jones, pastor of the Gainesville, Florida church that threatened to burn copies of the Quran on September 11, they have the holy books themselves.
What’s the point of these signs, mythical or otherwise? Done well, grand demonstrations primarily help to affirm the faith of believers and are meant to convince non-believers to believe. It’s not the motive that’s important, but the sign itself…
Pence has been married for 25 years, has three children, and has served in the House for 7 years. According to Wikipedia’s summary of his political views, he appears to be a real, Tea Party-style conservative: He always votes for tax cuts, he opposed several Bush administration programs, including No Child Left Behind, opposed TARP, and of course, Obamacare. He supports unlimited engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan, opposes closing Guantanamo Bay, and opposes trying detainees in civilian court. He opposes hate crimes legislation.
- No public Twitter messages.
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