Prep Post #23: McKnight Article

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The Emerging Church is a movement that is meant to encompass most -if not all- denominations. However, some of the complaints that people have towards this movement is that they say it seems to be only there to please everyone. Basically, it’s accused of being a ‘hippie movement’, which isn’t necessarily true. I feel like this is mostly linked with the idea of ‘post modernity’, which does not deal with Scripture or the Bible in a ‘traditional’ manner. So it’s not really the denial of truth, or ‘sugarcoating’ it, as it is a new way of looking at it.

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Much of what the emerging church is based on is on the idea of change, that the church as it is now is not acceptable. According to the article, however, many Christians who are part of the movement act as if the change has already occurred, which is problematic in itself.

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A lot of criticism towards the emerging church is in its emphasis on ritualistic worship, and on right living rather than on solely beliefs, that there is so much emphasis placed on works that there isn’t enough placed on faith. The fact that the emerging church seems to resemble Catholic and Orthodox ways of worship more than anything seems to be something of concern. However, participants of the emerging church will often argue that “faith without good works is dead”.

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Prep Post #22: Religion & Politics

I found the articles that we read to be very interesting, because while these articles do raise up the awareness of how much religion and politics can and have been muddied into each other, and showcase the idea that America and its government is still very Christocentric, they also bring up the fact that there is a very slow but steady move away from traditional religious relationships between both the church and state and within the church itself. The article on Billy Graham is interesting because it does highlight how politics can very much be a part of religious decisions, but it also helps to show how the weight of his influence, and of the religious right as a whole, are in danger of becoming weakened due to an unwillingness to change or accept change. In fact, I feel as if there is a common theme of people not willing to accept something/someone because it differs from what they already know. The reception of Obama among the religious right is interesting because many conservatives claim that he is “not truly Christian” because he does not act by their definition of Christianity; he represents, according to some arguments, a more libertarian approach to Christianity, which is perhaps not as common in more conservative churches. This general shift in religion can also be seen in how the amount of Protestants in the Congress is shrinking, and how it is become more religiously diverse as a whole. All of this seems to show how there is a shift in the relationship between religion and government in the country; while the nation still is a very much Christian nation in terms of society and culture, there seems to be a loosening of the strong ties, if even a little. This sort of shift definitely shows how much power religion holds in politics; when you start trying to separate the two, or when there is a change that may go against the favor of the predominant religion, there seems to be always a backlash. At the same time, though, there are also instances like those in North Carolina, where they are trying to declare a state religion. Which is interesting to me, and I feel like is very much a retaliation and, in a way, an attempt to regain control.

 

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Response Post #10: The Wizard of Oz

To me, what really grabbed my attention was the religious imagery in The Wizard of Oz; or, as I should say, the rather humanistic approach towards religion that the movie conveyed. First of all, the roles that each witch, The Wicked Witch and Glinda, played was really interesting in that at first glance, they do seem embody the traditional roles of good and evil. However, when given a closer look, the distinctions don’t seem to be as clear. The Wicked Witch of the West promises vengeance against Dorothy because she not only killed her sister (albeit by accident), but she also had the gall to put on her ruby slippers. The Wicked Witch of the West is, therefore, rightly angry at Dorothy; however, because of her antagonism towards Dorothy (the protagonist) and because of how she is initially portrayed by Glinda, she is seen as the villain. Glinda may seem to be the epitome of purity and good due to her looks, manners, and kindness towards Dorothy; however, it seems to me that Glinda is actually rather manipulative and takes advantage of Dorothy’s ignorance of the world she is in. Let us remember that she is the one who coaxed Dorothy into wearing the slippers, and encouraged her to go on the journey to see the Wizard even though she knew how Dorothy could have gotten home the entire time. In fact, I feel as if it is implied throughout the narrative that she planned on Dorothy being ordered to kill the Witch; if this is true, Glinda did not act from the kindness of her heart, but out of taking advantage of a political move that was now open.

 I say all this because in class, we had classified the Wicked Witch as the Satan-like figure in the movie and the Wizard as God, which I feel inclined to agree with. We also classified Glinda as an atheistic figure, and while I do see where that comes from, I would be more inclined to say that Glinda occupies the role of a social institution more than anything. She sends Dorothy on a journey to the Wizard with, it seems to me, her own agendas and intentions, and she is the one who places Dorothy in a rather antagonistic relationship with the Wicked Witch in the first place. Taking all this into account, I feel as though Glinda is a critique of the social institution of Christianity; placing a person in a place where they feel they must rely on a higher power to escape a plight, allowing one to acknowledge their humanity (the ruby shoes), but only as a burden and not as a positive and potentially helpful thing; immediately shaping that which seems different (and angry woman with green skin) to be dangerous. Dorothy is the protagonist of the story, the Wizard the goal, and the Witch the antagonist, but Glinda is the axis on which both the narration and series of events seems to turn.

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Response Post #9: “Religulous”

The instances of religion in popular culture that we saw in today’s mockumentary are interesting in that they are not like the instances of religious subtext in popular media that we are examining in our projects. Which I suppose is a good contrast between how religious roots in a culture influences a work whether or not it is meant to be religiously affiliated, and with how people can use a culture in order to promote their religion. In fact, I would say it’s a good example of how religion and culture can really influence each other, and can be used to promote the other’s message; though the instances we saw were maybe a bit different from what we’ve studied in class, I feel as if the point remains the same. Which is part of why I find Bill Maher’s mockumentary so hypocritical as well as offensive.


As I think most people agreed in class, the mockumentary that we watched was pretty offensive, no matter how much “humorous intent” there was behind the proceedings. His criticizing of Christianity for imposing its values on others comes off as hypocritical considering that he was doing the exact same thing. But one of the more interesting things, I think, is the fact that he used popular media to prove his point in a way that is very similar to what he was supposedly against; it is clear that in the situation with the interviewees, he was the one with the advantage. And he manipulated those interviews in order to present his own set of biased propaganda. Either way, he is definitely off putting in his belittling of individual people because of their beliefs. There’s a difference between being critical of an institution, of pointing out the flaws in a system, and being an outright dick to people because they believe in something different.

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(x)

The Prophet Muhammad is the founder of Islam. Though Sunni and Shi’a disagree on how Muhammad’s revelation occurred, one of the most interesting things about his teachings was that it was explicitly against polytheism in a polytheistic society. Not only that, but his teachings tended to address socio-economic issues as well.

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Islam has two major denominations: Sunni and Shi’a. The Sunni believed that the right way of determining leadership was by following the practices of the Prophet and his followers. The Shi’a way of thinking, however, determined that leadership could only be determined by Allah alone.

Abbasids Dynasty

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The Abbasid Dynasty is known as the Islamic Golden Age. It occurred in what we now know as Spain; there was much progression in the fields of medicine, art, and literature. The ruling people were Muslim, but other religions and practices were rather tolerated.

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Response Post #8: Religion in Matrix, Star Wars, and Narnia

Anakin Skywalker

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One of the instances of religion in popular culture that we talked about in class was that in the Star Wars franchise. The fact that Anakin was a character with Messianic aspects is interesting, because he goes against his Christlike qualities in order to actually fulfill a more Lucifer-like role. However, Anakin later redeems himself in order to save his son. So really, the fact that Darth Vader was a “dark father” is interesting because one could easily read it as a dark inversion of the Messiah-figure.

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In “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”, the character of Edmund encounters a situation that is very much like that of Christ’s temptation in the desert. The way Queen Jadis tempts Edmund with Turkish Delights and gestures to her kingdom is interesting because it not only resembles the story of Christ in the desert in narrative, but also in the cinematography. Taking that into account, the fact that the scene has the Queen trying to ‘seduce’ Edmund into listening to her is interesting in that it establishes a clear distinction of good and evil in the scene.

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While talking about the Matrix, there was an emphasis placed on Neo’s role as a Christlike figure, and I think his death scene really emphasizes that aspect. The way his body is positioned is like a cross, and there’s bleeding around his head (though instead of a crown of thorns, it’s a bloodied blindfold around his eyes).

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Stcyprian.jpg

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In the third century, Cyprian, the Bishop of Carthage, said that “there was no salvation outside the Church”. However, he was more referring to threats against the unity of the church rather than condemning those outside of it.

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As we learned earlier this year, Christianity had many outside influences that helped shaped the way we go about it in the present. Clement of Alexandria, a Christian philosopher, cited Greek philosophy as a way to pave the way for the gospel in a Greco-Roman society. This philosophy would later be seen as an basis for Christian doctrine.

Saint Robert Bellarmine.png

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Robert Bellarmine came up with the idea of people having an implicit desire. Meaning that even if the Christian religion encountered a culture that had never heard the name of Christ (which according to this interpretation meant that they were going to hell), the attempt of the non-Christian to live a moral life meant that they had a subconscious desire to join the Church, which meant that they had access to heaven.

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