“In the post-Arab Spring Egypt, Muslim attacks on Christians are rising” (Zuhuma Ainiwaer, March 30th-April 5th)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/in-post-arab-spring-egypt-muslim-attacks-on-christians-are-rising/2016/11/13/f50a18e2-84fc-11e6-b57d-dd49277af02f_story.html?utm_term=.e44c0a9abcf9

The article “In the post-Arab Spring Egypt, Muslim attacks on Christians are rising” by  Sudarsan Raghavan from Washington Post, talks about the relationship between Muslim and Christian who are living in Muslim countries. There is a village in Egypt where Christians and Muslims live together and get along, but recently because of the political change in the country, the relationship between Christians and Muslims in the village became bad and violent, and Muslims in the village attacked a christian farmer, who was trying to protect his children from the melee.

Another example was in Iraq and Syria, Islamic State militants have destroyed churches, abducted Christians and carried out forced conversions. The main reason of Muslim and Christian citizens turning against each other was the religion of the politician power-holder. Christians as minorities in the country eager for get a power-holder and not be discriminated by Muslims. As written in Vatican II, the churches look upon Muslims with respect, because they venerate Jesus as a prophet, even though they don’t acknowledge him as God, and honor his mother Mary (Nostra Aetate pg.325). The bigger idea in Vatican II is “All nations are one community and have one origin, because God caused the whole human race to dwell on the whole face of the earth.”(Nostra Aetate pg.323). Personally, I lived in my country as minority and discriminated by majorities, then finally moved to the U.S. where everyone has religious freedom, here I respect people from different religions and they respect me, also we don’t force each other to believe in our religion.

Discussion Question

The Second Vatican Council says the Church respects Muslims. Why do you think Muslims and Christians fight each other? Why are Muslims stereotyped in our society today? Would the relationship get better between Muslims and Christians if we change our opinion about Muslims?

Work Cited

Raghavan, Sudarsan. “In post-Arab Spring Egypt, Muslim attacks on Christians are rising.” The        Washington Post. WP Company, 13 Nov. 2016. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.

Benedict, James Carroll, and Edward P. Hahnenberg. Vatican II: the essential texts. New York:        Image, 2012. Print.

 

“This is The End” The end of the world (DeAndre’ Robertson, March 29th-April 5th Discussion)

Summary: I’ve seen the movie “This Is the End” so many times. It’s a fantasy/action/comedy/religious film that starts off with a group of celebrities at a party. James Franco throws a party with his friends Jonah Hill, Seth Rogan, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson, along with many other celebrities. All of a sudden an apocalypse of biblical proportions erupts; this causes everyone at Franco’s party to be trapped inside the home. Eventually everyone gets out and they run outside into a big hole as the world disintegrates before their eyes. More than 90% of the party members die, and the world is left with a few people and the six friends. This unexpected situation leaves the friends on the edge of getting torn apart, with the new responsibility of trying to keep each other alive.

Video link to trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmC34g6tIAI

The movie continues with the six friends trying to fight for their lives and eventually coming face to face with the devil. Towards the end, the devil comes and tries to take their lives, but as it reaches for one of the friends, a blue light/ring appears around him and lifts him up into heaven, along with his other friends, God took them one by one.

This shows that as the world was ending, and this terrible situation took place, each friend was able to focus on each other and put their differences aside which allowed them to be taken by God and enter the gates of heaven.

Theological Issue/Question: The theological issue is the question as to when the world is actually going to end. Although no one knows this answer except for God himself, some people wish they knew. The bible does discuss and talk about the end of the world, but there is no actual date that states the specifics and details.
Relation to class: Although we haven’t really discussed “the end of the world” in class yet, I would like to reference some scriptures from the bible that talk about the end. In 1 John 2:17 it states that “The world is passing away and so is its desire.” This describes the world will come to an end soon because it’s slowly degrading away. Also the bible states that “The one who does the will of God remains forever” (1 John 2:17). This quote is discussing one prospect of everlasting life right here on earth. “The righteous will possess the earth, and they will live forever on it” (Psalm 37:29). Although this is stated in the bible, it is not meant to be taken literally. It means that those who were good on earth will go to heaven and live there forever. These quotes explain that if you are righteous, that you will live forever on it. In the movie I don’t believe that the characters knew when the world was going to end which is why throughout the time that they were alive, they started to pray and ask God for forgiveness for any of their sins they had.

Question for discussion: If you were still alive during the time of the end of the world, how would you react? Would you ask God for forgiveness? Do you feel that God should’ve stated a date where it tells us in the bible when that time will come?

Works Cited
Video: Youtube. 2013. Web.
1st picture: Image. 2013. Web.
2nd picture: Image. 2013. Web.

“Evan Almighty” God’s Calling (Ryan Albert, March 23 – March 29th)

A movie that I have seen many times since its release is “Evan Almighty.” The movie is about Evan Baxter who is a newly elected Congressman that wants to change the world. Evan and his wife, Joan, are religious people that both pray to God, but for different things. Evan prays for the opportunity to become the Congressman and change the world, his wife prays for the family to become closer together.

On Evan’s first day at work he is given a prime office space and is asked to co-sponsor the Public Land Act bill (which God is not in favor of). After his first day Evan starts to experience strange events. The number 614 starts showing up everywhere (614 for Genesis 6:14), ancient tools and gopher wood are being sent to his house, God appears to him everywhere he goes, animals start following him, his beard starts growing out and even if he shaves it grows back instantly, and eight vacant lots in his neighborhood are bought under his name to have room to build the ARK.

Even after these things happen, Evan still tries to deny that God is truly appearing to him and asking him to do this. After some time, though, he finally agrees to build the ARK. Evan is fired from his job as a congressman and his family moves out of the house because Evan is acting weird and Joan thinks he is going crazy. With all this extra time Evan finally starts building the ARK with the help of animals and later his family who forgives him.

Here is a link to a short clip (3 minutes) from the movie:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1QArbkQsVw

The main part in this movie is when Evan asks God to help him change the world and God gave him the chance and guidance to do just that. God’s calling to Evan led to him being able to change the world and finish the ARK to save people, animals, and stop the passing of the bill.

Throughout my lifetime, I have prayed many times to God to help me in certain situations, to gain something, or help me fight through something, etc. From these experiences, I sometimes cannot see how God is helping if at all, but sometimes I can see that God will propose an opportunity to make something better which is exactly what he did in this movie with Evan. Evan wanted to change the world and God gave him the chance with giving him supplies to build an ARK.

In our class, we had to read 1 Corinthians which discussed how people should accept and consider God’s calling. In the first chapters of 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul writes a letter to Corinth to help the people understand God and to keep having faith. In the beginning of the letter Paul starts by telling Corinth how God invited them to be his people and that whoever calls upon him God will give you all of his blessings, and great peace of heart and mind. (1:2-3). Later in the letter, Paul asks the people of Corinth to consider their calling from God and that God has chosen each of them for a specific reason. (1 Corinthians 1-4). With this being said the main point in 1 Corinthians is that the people of Corinth need to consider their calling from God such as Evan had to in order to reach salvation or in Evan’s case change the world.

Discussion Questions:
In today’s society if God was to answer someone’s prayer just as he did with Evan’s, how would we respond? What would God’s calling to us look like? Do you think that if a person stops praying to God they will lose their faith in him?
Have you ever experienced any callings or answers to your prayers from God? If not, why do you think this is?

Works Cited:
“Evan Almighty.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Mar. 2017. Web. 19 Mar. 2017.
IMDb. “Evan Almighty (2007).” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2017.
Tyndale. Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2013. Print.

Where is the Ark of the Covenant? (Bontu Workineh, March 23 – March 29th)

Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oqb6ikF6Is

The Ark of the Covenant was an Ark that was used in the desert and in Israel proper for a number of spiritual and pragmatic purposes. Practically, God used the Ark as an indicator of when he wanted the nation to travel, and when to stop. When the Israelites went to war in the desert and during the conquering of Canaan, the Ark accompanied them; whether its presence was symbolic, to provide motivation for the Jews, or whether it actually aided them in fighting, is debated by commentators. When the Jews crossed into the land of Canaan, the waters of Jordan River split and the Ark led them to their destination (Josh 3). The Ark of the Covenant holds a special place in the beliefs of Christians as it contains the 10 commandments.
The Ark of the Covenant remained in the Temple until its destruction at the hand of the Babylonian empire, led by Nebuchadnezzar. What happened afterward is unknown, and has been debated and pondered for centuries. Many belief Solomon foresaw the eventual destruction of the temple, and set aside a cave near the Dead Sea, in which Josiah eventually hid the Ark.

One fascinating fact that is believed by many Christians is, the Ark is being held in Axum, Ethiopia. According to Axum Christian community, during the reign of Solomon, when his son Menelik, whose mother was the queen of Sheba, stole the Ark after a visit of Jerusalem. The claim has been impossible to verify, for no one but the monk is allowed into the tent.

Discussion question:
Do you believe the Ark is in Ethiopia? If not why?

Citations:
“Ethiopia: The First Christian Nation?”. International Business Times. N.p., 2017. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.
Hoffman, Richard. “Ark Of The Covenant — National Geographic”. National Geographic. N.p., 2017. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.

Fish on Fridays (Miranda Cooksey, March 23 – March 29th)

Dan Boudreaux provides us with an article titled “Fish on Fridays: The Origin and Reason” to give us the insight of why Christians eat fish on Fridays and avoid meat/ fast on Wednesdays and Fridays and connects it to the period of Lent. Fish on fridays was started mainly because you are suppose to fast or avoid meat on fridays and wednesdays, the “practice changed and fasting during Lent occurred on Wednesdays and Fridays. Wednesdays were significant because it was the day Jesus Christ was betrayed by Judas, and Fridays because he was crucified on a Friday just before the Sabbath began at sunset.”

The Theological issue being addressed is “the Jewish people would fast on Tuesdays and the Sabbath, or Friday evening to Saturday evening, and many early Christians were Jewish converts”, this tells us that it is not as common to see this, people have now chosen to only fast and eat fish during lent, which can tell us that maybe some Christians have stopped carrying out the tradition.

Relating this topic to class we can compare it to claims about God wanting mercy and not sacrifice in the New Testament, so we can say God is pleased by us recognizing it is Lent but not holding us accountable to us fasting and eliminating meat on certain days.  At this point in time during our class we are in the time period of Lent.

The question I have, is do people still practice fasting and eating fish on Wednesdays and Fridays or do you only carry out this tradition during lent because it is the time Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert? Or do Christians even carry out this tradition? Do you consciously avoid meat on Fridays every week or only during lent? For people who do not, is it frowned upon or is it just a tradition a lot of christians have forgotten about? If it is forgotten about should we leave it as is or spread word that this tradition should be brought into the light again? Why? Is a reason for Christians to slowly stop this tradition due to long work days, rushed times and mainly just not being observant to the period of time? Is this us following the New Testament and slowly letting go of the Old Testament? 

Growing up without religion (Zeyna Mcllvain, March 16-22)

One of my favorite books of all time is “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” by Judy Blume. This book is about a 12-year-old girl, Margaret, who has grown up without a religious affiliation because of her parent’s interfaith marriage. Her mother is Christian and her father is Jewish. When she was born her parents decided not to raise her with either religion. They wanted her to find her God on her own.

Margaret’s maternal grandparents didn’t approve of this and cut off communication with their daughter (Margaret’s mother) unless Margaret converted to Christianity. Her paternal grandma did not care until Margaret went to a synagogue to see what the Jewish faith entails. After this, her paternal grandma pushes her to accept Judaism.

This is just a small portion of the book, but in my opinion it is the most important. The rest of the book is about Margret praying to God to help her transform into a woman and to help her know what religion she should be part of. In the end Margret start menstruating and thanks God with a prayer, officially accepting Christ into her life.

I was also raised with no religious affiliation in an interfaith household. I liked this because then there was no pressure to choose mom or dad’s religion. As a result of this though my sister and I never had a God to pray to or talk to so is it better for parents to choose a religion for their children so they have that? The theological issue is if parents should devote their children to Christianity (or any religion) from birth or if kids should have the freedom to choose.

This relates to the Gospel of Mark that we read from the bible. In class we read Mark and at one point Jesus told his disciples to spread the word that everyone must be baptized (including children) he said, “whoever believes and baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”. Parents of Christian faith are to do the ‘godly’ thing by raising their children Christian and baptize them.  “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Says proverbs 22:6.

Discussion:
Should parents raise their kids with no faith and let them decide when they are older whom they choose to follow? Should children grow up with more than one religion in the household?

Immigration: Then and Now (Paula Morales, March 16-22nd)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/08/31/heres-what-donald-trump-said-in-his-big-immigration-speech-annotated/?utm_term=.cae6d0c55871

The link above includes a video of the immigration speech President Trump gave in Phoenix, Arizona while campaigning back in August and there the transcript of what he said; it is also annotated.

Immigration has always been a hot topic for presidential candidates. In the most recent election, Hillary Clinton’s position was to have open borders, while Donald Trump wants to build a wall along the border with Mexico. For many immigrant families, the hope was on Clinton. Now that President Trump is in charge, many immigrant families are fearful. A wall would mean a less permeable yet larger separation for families who chose to cross over from where they travel from.

In his speech, Trump says: “Hillary Clinton, for instance, talks constantly about her fears that families will be separated,” and this is true. There is a real fear from both sides of immigration; there is a fear of the immigrant who had to travel for days, weeks or even months to maybe reach the border, and alive too. There is also the fear of immigrant families who are here illegally; they can be deported at any time and are forced to leave their children (if American born) behind.

Using the Bible as a reference, immigration has been going on since Adam and Eve were asked to leave the garden (Genesis 2: 23-24). Adam and Eve left and started anew. Just as many immigrant families do. Genesis chapter 12 is also a great example; respectively named ‘Abram’s Call and Migration’. Everyone is called to migrate. Whether it be to a school in a different state, be transferred to another city for a job or to escape violence in a home. Everyone has been a stranger somewhere in some point in their life.

In Leviticus 19: 33-34, it reads: “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” This can be summed up as the “Golden Rule: Treat others the way you would like to be treated.”

For those who are against illegal immigration, put yourself in their shoes…
Exodus 22: 20-23 says, “You shall not oppress or afflict a resident alien, for you were once aliens residing in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely listen to their cry. My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword; then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans.” My interpretation of this is to not discriminate against the immigrants of this country. Who are we to judge these people for making to come to the land of opportunity. God is the ultimate judge and He knows how to take care of his children.

Both verses of Leviticus and Exodus present the argument of: America is a country that was built from immigrants. The only “true” owners of the land of those Native Americans who cultivated in years ago.

In conclusion, I invite you all to read Matthew 25: 31-45. Probably the most important verse is 35 and it reads: “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Jesus Christ, once on this Earth, was a stranger. To many, he was looked upon as a false prophet, who claimed to be the Messiah. While others followed him, listened to his teachings and witnessed his miracles on Earth. Think about this: Jesus—The Son of Man—was once a stranger just as we all once were at some point in our lives.

Discussion: What is your opinion on immigration? Through the eyes of God, is the way our government is dealing with immigration correct? Are the migration stories in the Bible relevant to what is happening now in modern times? Why or why not? Should or could politicians look at the Bible for enlightenment on how to go about fixing America’s immigration issue/policies? If so, how? If someone is a follower of Christ, yet is opposed to illegal immigration, are they hypocrites? Are they being bad Christians or should religion and politics not mix?

Work Cited:
Bump, Philip. “Here’s What Donald Trump Said in His Big Immigration Speech,
Annotated.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 31 Aug. 2016. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.