Faith in the World Today, and in History

I’m catching up a bit today, while none of these articles is especially time sensitive, I find them both important and uplifting. And, in truth, I got sidetracked with Easter and Cliven Bundy’s confrontation

Over at the Newman site, John Charmley tells us in Cardinal Newman’s words why sometimes we don’t believe what is written (or told) us plainly.

We have in the Gospel for this day what, I suppose, has raised the wonder of most readers of the New Testament. I mean the slowness of the disciples to take in the notion that our Lord was to suffer on the Cross. It can only be accounted for by the circumstance that a contrary opinion had strong possession of their minds—what we call a strong prejudice against the truth, in their cases an honest religious prejudice, the prejudice of honest religious minds, but still a deep and violent prejudice. When our Lord first declared it, St. Peter said, “Be it far from thee, Lord, this shall not happen to Thee.” He spoke so strongly that the holy Evangelist says that he “took our Lord and began to rebuke Him.” He did it out of reverence and love, as the occasion of it shows, but still that he spoke with warmth, with vehemence, is evident from the expression. Think then how deep his prejudice must have been.

This same prejudice accounts for what we find in today’s gospel. Our Lord said, “Behold we go to Jerusalem, and all that is written of the Son of man shall be accomplished. For He shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked and scourged and spat upon; and after they have scourged Him, they will put Him to death, and the third day He shall rise again.” Could words be plainer? Yet what effect had they on the disciples? “They understood none of these things, and this was hid from them, and they understood not the things that were said.” Why hid? Because they had not eyes to see

via Faith and Prejudice — NEWMAN LECTURES.

Archbishop Cranmer asks us to calm down and listen to what Prime Minister David Cameron said the other day about Britain being a Christian country. His Grace also thinks that we might make allowances for the PM to be growing in his faith. It wouldn’t be the first time that a visit to the Holy Land/or the death of a child had that effect. I think there may well be much truth in that, and if there is here, Thank God.

Apparently, No10 had no intention of releasing a transcript of the Prime Minister’s speech to Christian leaders last week: unlike other faith gatherings, it was an impromptu declamation, spoken spontaneously from the heart, and some there felt that the content didn’t merit courtly promulgation, not least because it wasn’t honed, crafted or filtered by aides to extinguish any hint of offence.

But His Grace agitated and agitated, and the oration was made public. And it was seen that the Prime Minister spoke intimately of the loss of his son, Ivan; and of his recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land; and of his quiet times in church; and of the need for Christians to do more “evangelism”. He is a politician; not a theologian: his words were those of a layman, but no less sincere for that.   

And then he released an article in the Church Times - My Faith in the Church of England - in which he demanded the right to speak about his faith “in this ever more secular age”. And he dared to refer to the United Kingdom as a “Christian country”, and again called for Christians to be “more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people’s lives”.

via Don’t condemn Cameron’s claim to Christianity–Cranmer

In Jerusalem, some Lutheran nuns who have provided a guesthouse for Holocaust survivors since 1961 are wrapping up their mission because there are so few survivors left. It reminds me that it is up to our generations now to make sure the Holocaust is never forgotten and especially never repeated. Well done, sisters.

Residents of the Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood who have watched nuns in their white habits go in and out of a house at 10 Ein Gedi Street for the past half century will soon notice their absence. Beit Avraham (House of Abraham), as the sisters of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary call their home, is closing down.

Since 1961 it has served as a guesthouse for Holocaust survivors. But with so few survivors still alive — and those still living too frail to come visit — the nuns have decided their work has come to an end.

“We received our mission from the Almighty. The Almighty gives and the Almighty takes away. Our job has ended,” says Sister Gratia in a conversation with The Times of Israel in Beit Avraham’s reception room. Sister Gratia, 71, arrived in 1975 from Austria to help run the guesthouse.

[...]

The Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary is a Lutheran-based order, but operates independently. It began as a Christian organization founded in 1947 by German theologian and intellectual Dr. Klara Schlink, along with Erika Madauss. As president of the Women’s Division of the German Student Christian Movement from 1933 to 1935, Schlink refused to comply with Nazi policy barring Jewish-born students from meetings. During WWII, Schlink was summoned twice by the Gestapo because of her uncompromising stance in defense of Jews.

via Lutheran nuns end Jerusalem mission to Shoah survivor–The Jerusalem Connection, hat tip to Irishanglican

And Gene Veith told us the other day how atheism is built on the foundation of Christianity

Theo Hobson, in the British Spectator, critiques the New Atheist insistence that we can have morality–indeed, a better morality–apart from religion.  In doing so, he shows that even today’s secular humanist morality, which the atheists take as axiomatic, actually derives from Christianity.

A truly atheist, Darwinistic morality would look more like Nietzsche’s nihilistic will to power.  In contrast, today’s egalitarian benevolence would be impossible without the Christian teachings of creation and grace.

From Theo Hobson, The return of God: atheism’s crisis of faith » The Spectator:

The problem that confronts them [the new atheists] is as stark as it is simple: our morality has religious roots. Put another way: when God is rejected, the stakes are gulpingly high; the entire moral tradition of the West is put in question.

This was the insight of Friedrich Nietzsche — and for all the different atheist thinkers and philosophers since, it remains just as true today. It’s all very well to say that blind faith is a bad idea, and that we should move beyond it to a more enlightened ethical system, but this raises the question of what we mean by good and bad, and those ideas are irrevocably rooted in Christianity. Nietzsche saw this, and had the courage to seek a new ethos amid the collapse of all modern systems of meaning. Did he find one? Yes, in pagan power-worship — the sort that eventually led to fascism. We think of him as mad and bad — but he was brave. Imagine Ed Miliband trying to follow in this tradition, gazing into the abyss of all meaning, the dark crucible of nihilism.

via Even secular humanism depends on Christianity

And there, in four articles, a cross-section of how our faith operates in the world today, usually well, and a warning to be more discerning in our reading and listening.

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