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Links on R&P from around the web

N.T. Wright Asks: Have We Gotten Heaven All Wrong?

posted on May 21, 2012

At Religion News Service, John Murawski talks with N.T. Wright about his latest attempt to set Christianity straight. In How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels, Wright, a former Anglican bishop who currently teaches early Christianity and New Testament studies at the University of St. Andrews (Scotland), places Christianity’s concept of the afterlife in its original, Biblical-era environment. Wright told Murawski, “Our picture, which we get from Dante and Michelangelo, particularly of a heaven and a hell, and perhaps of a purgatory as well, simply isn’t consonant with what we find in the New Testament … A lot of these images of hellfire and damnation are actually pagan images which the Middle Ages picks up again and kind of wallows in.”

Read at Religion News Service

Church Controversy Is in Georgetown’s DNA

posted on May 21, 2012

Peter Manseau writes at Religion Dispatches about Georgetown University’s latest squabble with its own church’s officials. This time, Catholic leaders in Washington, D.C. are upset with the Jesuit university’s decision to invite U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to serve as this year’s commencement speaker. Sebelius helped establish the Obama administration’s guidelines on institutional exemptions for mandated coverage of contraception, guidelines that the Archdiocese of Washington called “the most direct challenge to religious liberty in recent history.” Manseau writes that the “religious liberty Georgetown represents, however, is not simply a matter of the right of each religious group to have its way. It is instead, like both the church and the nation of which the university is a part, a product of practical pluralism and ongoing compromise.”

Read at Religion Dispatches

Today in Jerusalem, Israel

posted on May 21, 2012

Yesterday (May 20), Israel marked the 45th “Jerusalem Day,” part of the annual commemoration of the Six-Day War, when in 1967, the Jewish State won decisive victories over combined Arab forces from Egypt, Jordan and Syria. At Commentary, Rich Richman notes that during this war, “Israel liberated the eastern part of the [Jerusalem] from Jordanian occupation.” Richman writes that while the Arabs hoped to destroy the 19-year-old Jewish state, the war actually led to the “re-unification of Israel’s capital.”

Read at Commentary

Obama and the Two Types of Marriage

posted on May 21, 2012

At The Huffington Post, Melissa Rogers, director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at Wake Forest’s Divinity School, points out that there are two types of marriages in American society: the civil marriages recognized by the state and the religious marriages sanctioned by churches. In the wake of President Obama’s declaration that he supports the civil right of same-sex couples to marry, and Mitt Romney’s public opposition to state sponsorship of gay marriage, Americans must not only “decide whether they support or oppose recognition of same-sex marriage in our civil laws,” writes Rogers. “[T]hey also must determine how religious objectors will be treated where same-sex marriages are recognized and the spirit in which these debates will be conducted.”

Read at The Huffington Post

Romney’s Faith, Silent but Deep

posted on May 21, 2012

At The New York TimesJodi Kantor profiles Mitt Romney’s transition from regional Mormon leader to regular congregation member. In 1994, during his first political campaign, then challenging Ted Kennedy for his seat in the U.S. Senate, Romney left his role as Boston Stake president and became a Sunday school teacher in his Belmont, Massachusetts ward. Still, Kantor suggests that as Romney the church leader has receded from public view, to be replaced by Romney the politician, Romney’s Mormon faith has continued to shape his politics. “Mr. Romney’s penchant for rules mirrors that of his church, where he once excommunicated adulterers and sometimes discouraged mothers from working outside the home,” writes Kantor. “He may have many reasons for abhorring debt, wanting to limit federal power, promoting self-reliance and stressing the unique destiny of the United States, but those are all traditionally Mormon traits as well.”

Read at The New York Times

Court: Colorado Day of Prayer Is Unconstitutional

posted on May 21, 2012

The Colorado Court of Appeals recently ruled that the proclamations by Colorado governors for a state “Day of Prayer” are unconstitutional. Christianity Today’s Morgan Feddes reports that the three-judge panel specified that its decision was based on the idea that “religious liberty protected by the Constitution is abridged when the State [sic] affirmatively sponsors the particular religious practice of prayer.” Feddes adds, “[t]he court did not make any judgment on the National Day of Prayer, and it was quick to point out that its decision did not affect anyone’s right to pray.”

Read at Christianity Today

Marilynne Robinson on Democracy, Reading, and Religion in America

posted on May 18, 2012

At The Atlantic, Joe Fassler interviews Marilynne Robinson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author. She talked about her views on democracy rhetoric and the divide between science and religion. Fassler notes that Robinson critiques the “passive stance” Americans take, “insisting that democracy is an ongoing negotiation that requires creativity, compassion, and vigilance.” 

Read at The Atlantic

G.O.P. “Super PAC” Weighs Hard-Line Attack on Obama

posted on May 18, 2012

Jeff Zeleny reports for The New York Times on a proposed Super PAC ad campaign attacking Obama and his connection to former pastor Jeremiah Wright. “The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way” the ad proposal stated. The proposal, which offered to spend $10 million, would “attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away from.”

Read at The New York Times

The Gospel According to Jefferson

posted on May 18, 2012

It sits on display “in a glass box in the National Museum of American History.” Written in “Greek, Latin, French & English,” it is the Jefferson Bible, or more accurately “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.” At The Wilson Quarterly, Cullen Nutt visits Jefferson’s Bible, “where scripture he deemed implausible or inaccurate fell to the cutting room floor.” The passages he kept, and more importantly the passages he cut, give readers a look into Jefferson’s beliefs, even though “Jefferson was intensely private in these beliefs” during his own time.

Read at The Wilson Quarterly

A Nation of Osteens and Obamas

posted on May 18, 2012

In his article for The Washington Post’s OnFaith section, Ross Douthat poses the question of what “if a foreign visitor … wanted to understand the state of religion in America today.” The visitor would see “Joel Osteen preach to a sold-out house” and “Obama defend his shift” on gay marriage “on explicitly religious grounds.” Douthat uses the “hypothetical foreigner” to examine religion and politics in the United States, noting that “the cultural tug-of-war between the Christian right and the secular left” is not as clear-cut as we think it is. “We’re a nation of Osteens and Obamas,” according to Douthat, neither “rigorous Richard Dawkins-style atheists” nor the “equally rigorous Pope Benedict XVI-style Catholics.” 

Read at The Washington Post