This article analyzes contemporary American evangelical children’s fiction with respect to the portrayal of Jews and Judaism. Some of the themes that appear in these novels for children include Jewish religiosity, anti-Semitism, Christian proselytizing, the Holocaust, the Jewishness of Jesus, Jews converting to Christianity, and the implicit emptiness of Jewish spirituality. The author argues that these books, many of which contain conversion narratives, reflect the ambivalence of modern Protestant evangelical Christianity concerning Jews and Judaism. On the one hand, evangelicals respect Jews and condemn all forms of anti-Semitism. On the other hand, evangelicals promote and encourage the conversion of Jews to Christianity through evangelism, which seems to imply a lack of respect or even a subtle contempt for Jewish faith and practice.
The relationship between sport and Christianity during the last one hundred and fifty years has been largely driven by the Victorian concept of Muscular Christianity. This article examines the historical and theological roots of the movement, and how this has contributed to the relationship between sport and Christianity today. Discussion includes an analysis of social and cultural movements that have evolved as a result of the Muscular Christian philosophy. We conclude that Muscular Christianity has had a widespread influence on the development of modern sport and suggest that a revival of many of its ideals could act as an important corrective to the negative influences so pervasive in sport today.
This paper is at once adefenseof the papacy, ananalysisof the political dynamics that have made it so difficult for the papacy to fulfill its vocation, and aprogramfor the long-term future of the institution. Specifically, I will argue that not only the Roman Catholic Church but also humanity in general desperately need an institution which can hold the public authorities accountable before the court of natural law, and that the imperfections of the papacy result from the extraordinary difficulty of maintaining both the autonomy necessary both to stand up to unjust social structures and the political power to act effectively in the global political arena. The Church has relied too narrowly on the papacy as a guarantor of the Church’s autonomy and political power. Only an institution strong in head and members can successfully stand up to the combined forces of unjust social structures and the ruling classes that benefit from them.
In a recent paper, Greg Dawes has argued for what he calls the “presumption of naturalism” in religious studies, and by implication in academia in general. He argues that theological assumptions may not be brought into academic study to the extent that they are not grounded in publicly accessible knowledge. Here I argue that Christians can and must bring their theological assumptions with them into public academia. I will try to show that Dawes’ proposal entails a denial of certain elements of Christian thought, and that his methodology thus fails to be neutral, as well as having other noticeable problems.
One way theologians can help make Christian theology more relevant is to illustrate important Christian themes using examples drawn from contemporary culture. In this paper, I offer one example of such an analysis. Using J.R.R. Tolkien’sLord of the Ringsand J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter stories, I demonstrate how the vivid and creative portrayals of evil in the former and sacrificial love in the latter enhance our understanding of these two central Christian themes. Through this explication, I hope to show how contemporary books and movies can serve as an excellent resource for Christian theology.
Anti-Catholicism in mid-Victorian Britain has had numerous historians, but none have posited a theory of religious prejudice to help explain it. This article argues that anti-Catholicism in mid-Victorian Britain can be interpreted as an example of prejudice rather than as a problem of differences over competing theologies on true religion. It suggests ways in which behavioral theory can help explain the nature of religious prejudice in an interdisciplinary framework, and posits a theory of religious prejudice in society. The chronological limits are 1850-53, a time of critical importance in Catholic/Protestant relations in Britain.
Although the power of rituals to provide societal meaning and structure has been on the decline for sometime in the U.S., on February 26, 2004 at a popular Chicago restaurant, an infamous baseball was ceremoniously destroyed in the fashion of a classic sacrifice ritual. Lacking the kind of surrounding society that traditionally produces such rituals, this event seems anomalous. Yet, I will argue, with the aid of certain ritual sacrifice theories, that this event performed a classic sacrificial function - that of reestablishing the proper relationship between the Cubs' fans and its players - and thus is continuous with certain sacrifice rituals of pre-modern societies. At the same time, an underlying intention of those staging the ritual, to receive publicity for their restaurant, served to circumscribe the power of the ritual thus impressing a “modern” stamp on it thereby distinguishing this sacrifice from its predecessors.
When antebellum anti-Mormons took up their pens to thwart the Mormon “menace,” they not only rehearsed various critiques of Mormonism, they participated in a larger conversation about the place of religion in the nation and the ways citizens might separate “real” religion from the religiously inauthentic. While Protestants of the period assumed “objective” descriptions of various religious groups might calm a vexed post-disestablishment religious scene, their incorporation of a long-standing polemical strategy that sought to expose religious impostors illuminated an array of conflicting attachments and various cultural tensions that attended the new republic’s “free market” in churches.
This study examines the reaction of the Methodist Episcopal Church through its Detroit Annual Conference (comprising the Eastern half of the state of Michigan and the entire Upper Peninsula) to the American occupation of the Philippines following the conclusion of the Spanish-American War in 1898. The ME Church, like its sibling Protestant Churches, championed the US occupation that opened up the island to the spread of Protestant evangelism. Protestant missionaries were viewed as spiritual warriors combating Catholicism, complementing the American soldiers battling the Filipino insurgency. The emphasis on missionary expansion fused with American imperialism to form a potent combination of “Bible and gun.” A theology of aggression emerged to sanction American foreign policy as seen in DAC sermons, newspapers, and prayers.
Large-scale surveys show dramatic declines in religiosity in favor of secularization in the developed democracies. Popular acceptance of evolutionary science correlates negatively with levels of religiosity, and the United States is the only prosperous nation where the majority absolutely believes in a creator and evolutionary science is unpopular. Abundant data is available on rates of societal dysfunction and health in the first world. Cross-national comparisons of highly differing rates of religiosity and societal conditions form a mass epidemiological experiment that can be used to test whether high rates of belief in and worship of a creator are necessary for high levels of social health. Data correlations show that in almost all regards the highly secular democracies consistently enjoy low rates of societal dysfunction, while pro-religious and anti-evolution America performs poorly.