24 December 2015

Christmas greetings from Ramallah

Bethlehem on Christmas eve, source.
Judy and I are grateful to be with friends and educational colleagues in Ramallah for Christmas. Ramallah is a place I've missed very much since my Friends United Meeting years. It's a joy to celebrate Christmas here, but we plan to be back home before December 31. It has become impossible to imagine celebrating the arrival of the New Year anywhere but in Russia!

We hope that you have a chance to rest in the reality of the Birth of the Prince of Peace! ... and in spiritual preparation for the New Year 2016. Thank you for your companionship!

Along with many others, I've been mystified by the decision of Digital Cinema Media not to accept a brief video advertisement by the Church of England on the Lord's prayer in their movie theaters. (The censors had passed the video, but the theater network balked, citing their policy against political and religious content.) When I first heard this story, I couldn't believe the apparent implicit calculation that allows capitalism to exploit Christmas for commercial gain but prohibits mention of anything about the actual source of this profitable festival. On the other hand, I'm not fond of pious outrage about the "war on Christmas" when the outrage is really just a political dog-whistle. (See more on outrage, below.)

Concerning the British controversy, I was glad to see this statement by Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission, which precisely (if politely) takes aim at the hypocrisy of commercializing Christmas but muffling its spiritual core.

Outrage is all the rage. Michael Minor on outrage inflation (my term).

Should we worry about Christianity in the Middle East? Well, yes, but Jeremy Moodey provides some perspective.

Interpreting American evangelicalism: a reading list from George Marsden.

Does the Kremlin murder journalists? Actually, probably not. So, why the paranoia?

This item from Open Culture brought back wonderful memories of watching Bob Ross and The Joy of Painting with our young children and then meeting him in person during a public television event in Muncie, Indiana, something like twenty years ago.

Blues and the birth of the Savior: Mary's perspective.

... and from that last item above, "Bound for Glory":

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