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Symbols of Christianity

Image by JL Outdoor Photography via Flickr

Via CNN:

Baptist TV preacher, Eddie Long, finally addressed the sexual allegations by four young men today on his TV show. I have followed this through CNN by default since CNN is my default homepage. I’ve also followed it because I do stop by TBN and watch snippets of many of these shows and it just so happened that I caught Bishop Long a few weeks ago. I have watched his work for a while and was impressed with the social aspect of his ministry, but the flashiness always bothered me–tight shirts, the buffiness, ultra cool wardrobe and I’ve even seen him in a matrix-like trench coat. So I was very, very curious to hear his response.

Somehow I forgot to turn to his show at 8:30 but I caught an excerpt on CNN.

Lithonia, Georgia (CNN) — Baptist televangelist Eddie Long said Sunday he will fight allegations that he coerced young male church members into having sex with him.

“I am not the man that has been portrayed on television,” he told his congregation.

Speaking publicly about the accusations for the first time, Long did not address the specific allegations contained in four lawsuits filed against him earlier this week.

“I’ve been accused, I’m under attack,” he said, lowering his head and softening his voice behind the pulpit at the New Birth Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta.

“I want you to know, as I said earlier, that I am not a perfect man. But this thing, I’m going to fight,” he said. “I feel like David against Goliath, but I’ve got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet.”

With that, the 57-year-old pastor put down his microphone and walked off stage, receiving deafening applause from the thousands who had come to hear him.

To be honest, I did not hear what I needed to hear. I needed to hear a clear-cut denial. Something to the effect of “I categorically deny . . ..” or “I never engaged in any of the alleged acts . . .” or “I have been faithful to my wife and never  . . .” something along that line. In effect, what we got was that he is not the man portrayed in the media. That could be and in fact probably is very true, but not to the point at all. The media does paint televangelists in a certain light and he is saying he is not what he has been made out to be. But, he still has not addressed the specific allegations.

While Eddie Long is not T. D. Jakes, if this thing drags out and it does turn out that there is merit to the allegations, it could do some damage in the community.

Vatican City

Image via Wikipedia

 

Via BBC

The head of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, is under investigation as part of a money-laundering inquiry, police sources say. 

Prosecutors also seized 23m euros ($30m; £19m) from the bank’s accounts with another smaller institution. 

The inquiry was launched after two suspicious transactions were reported to tax police in Rome. 

The Vatican said it was “perplexed and astonished”, and expressed full confidence in Mr Tedeschi. 

The Vatican Bank, known officially as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), was created during World War II to administer accounts held by religious orders, cardinals, bishops and priests. 

Evil Advert

Image by Jason Cartwright via Flickr

Via CNN:

London, England (CNN) — Britain’s advertising watchdog has censured an Italian ice cream manufacturer over an advertisement depicting a heavily pregnant nun that appeared ahead of a papal visit to the UK.

The ad featuring the strapline “immaculately conceived” over an image of the expectant sister spooning from a tub of Antonio Federici ice cream was “likely to cause widespread offense,” the Advertising Standards Authority ruled.

The ASA said the publishers of Lady magazine, which carried the ad, had received several complaints from readers.

The watchdog rejected the manufacturer’s claims that it was “using gentle humor” to convey the message that “ice cream is our religion.”

“We considered the use of a nun pregnant through immaculate conception was likely to be seen as a distortion and mockery of the beliefs of Roman Catholics,” the ASA ruling said.

Via NBC:

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Sunday raised the possibility of using behind-the-scenes diplomacy to try to spare the life of an Iranian widow sentenced to be stoned for adultery.

In its first public statement on the case, which has attracted worldwide attention, the Vatican also decried stoning as a particularly “brutal” form of capital punishment.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the Catholic church opposes the death penalty in general.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was convicted in 2006 of adultery. In July, Iranian authorities said they would not carry out the stoning sentence for the time being, but the mother of two could still face execution by hanging for adultery and other offenses.

One of the most important lessons of Jesus’ teaching, 2,000 years ago was on the occasion of a possible stoning of a woman for adultery. “He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

Adultery, among most of the major religions is a sin, and one can make a good case for it being detrimental to society. But whatever it’s demerits, it does warrant stoning to death.

Update: Via BBC–the woman is to be whipped

Via CNN: More Teens Becoming Fake Christians.

So Wapo has an article on Opus Dei, the type of soft, fluff piece meant to humanize Opus Dei. I think it was largely successful with the exception of this very strange bit:

There is corporal mortification, though not as portrayed in “The Da Vinci Code,” they say. “It’s not a bloody whipping of oneself,” Coverdale said. “It’s more an annoyance.” He wears a leg chain with dull spikes — called a cilice — around his upper thigh for a couple of hours a day while praying. It’s designed to be uncomfortable but not to draw blood. And once or twice a week, during a prayer, he whips himself on his buttocks with a type of rope referred to as “the disciplines.”

“It doesn’t particularly hurt; maybe it stings a bit,” Coverdale said.

Yikes! There is no way to make this come across as normal and everyday-Joe like.

Josh Marshall at TPM thinks James Dobson has been pushed out of the Focus on Family family.

by Michael Satlow of Brown University. This is a series of podcasts on the history of the Israelites to the end of the first century C.E. It is very, very, very, well done. One example is the handling of the Ezra-Nehemiah story. It is a complicated story and I have listed to another Ph.D. butcher it. Satlow does his home work and his explanations are very clear.

This artist at Christian Art: Biblical Scenes for Talks and Discussions draws great biblical images and is offering them freely.

Time has a story on Sunday morning and race called Can Megachurches Heal the Racial Divide? They seem to be making the case that it can.

One Sunday last fall, Bill Hybels, founder and senior pastor at the Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, was preaching on the logic and power of Jesus’ words “Love thine enemy.” As is his custom, Hybels was working a small semicircle of easels arrayed behind his lectern, reinforcing key phrases. Hybels’ preaching is economical, precise of tone and gesture. Again by custom, he was dressed in black, which accentuated his pale complexion, blue eyes and hair, once Dutch-boy blond but now white. Indeed, if there is a whiter preacher currently running a megachurch, that man must glow.

Yet neither Hybels’ sermon, nor his 23,400-person congregation, is as white as he is. Along with Jesus, he invoked Martin Luther King Jr. Then he introduced Shawn Christopher, a former backup singer for Chaka Khan, who offered a powerhouse rendition of “We Shall Overcome.” As the music swelled, Larry and Renetta Butler, an African-American couple in their usual section in the 7,800-seat sanctuary, exchanged glances. Since Hybels decided 10 years ago to aggressively welcome minorities to his lily-white congregation, Renetta says, few sermons pass without a cue that he is still at it. “He always throws in something,” she says. She’s been around long enough to recall when this wasn’t the case.

On occasion I flip to TBN which is the Trinity Broadcasting Network, a Christian channel. I do get to see megachurches in action and I take particular interest when they pan across the congregation. With pastor Hybel and also with folks like Joel Osteen, who is white, you do have to commend them for the aggresive steps they’ve taken to make their congregations look more like what the body of Christ should be.

Where I would take issue with the thrust of this article is that they are considering Megachurches with white pastors and leadership that have taken steps to incorporate black, latino, and asian members and cultures. When I scan audiences in Megachurches like a T. D. Jakes, I don’t see any significant diversity. There are a sprinkling of non-blacks here and there, but no significant percentages.

Now, my hunch is that a T D Jakes and similar black megachurch leaders do not see it as a major priority to diversify in the face of many other issues that face their churches and the local communities. It would be interesting, very fascinating in fact, if black Megachurch leaders made a concerted effort to diversify their congregations–just to see what the results would be. I suppose the question would be “to what end?” Maybe diversity can be an end in itself. The perception of the unity of faith is as powerful an evangelistic tool as anything.