CNN: Will Christianity Ever Rise Again in Iraq?

The destructive force of  the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the militant Sunni movement, is epitomized in a video released Thursday of ISIS members smashing a tomb in Mosul, Iraq.

The tomb is traditionally thought to be the burial place of the prophet Jonah, a holy site for Christians and many Muslims.

Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, is built on and adjacent to the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh, the setting for the biblical book of Jonah and once the most powerful capital of the ancient world.

Co-authored with Joel Baden of Yale Divinity School. Read the full story here

Daily Beast: ‘Persecuted’ is The Christian Right’s Paranoid Wet Dream

‘Liberal elites’ may be more contemptuous of the fervently religious these days, but it’s the hysterical rants of bad movies like ‘Persecuted’ that fuel this disdain.

Perceptive fiction has always been a venue for society to ruminate on the moral issues of the day. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein gave voice to the concern that science had parted ways with morality at the expense of the soul. The 1978 movie Coma explored deep-rooted fears about exploitation and medical advances in organ donation. And now Persecuted holds up a mirror to the perilous situation facing increasingly disenfranchised Christians in modern America.

Read the whole review here

Politico Magaze: Francis v. Benedict, the Soccer Match

It almost seems a divine referendum on the two living popes: the FIFA World Cup final comes down to a battle of skill between Argentina, home of Pope Francis, and Germany, birthplace of Pope Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.

The world’s press was quick to pick up on the unusual confluence of two living popes—itself a rarity—represented by their national football teams. Memes, cartoons and jokes followed. (My favorite: photo-shopped images of Benedict and Francis in national-team colored skullcaps.) Even though the bookish Benedict has demonstrated no interest in soccer and the Vatican has declared that the match falls after Pope Francis’s bedtime, Argentine fans are adding Pope Francis to their roster.

Read more:

Daily Beast: Pope’s Middle East Game of Shrines

Pope Francis hoped he might help bring peace to the Middle East, but set off a firestorm over a contested holy site. Maybe he should try healing the rift with the Orthodox church instead.
Pope Francis is off on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land this week in search of reconciliation and peace. His tour of the Middle East includes meetings with King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan, a visit to Bethlehem, trips to the Wailing Wall and the Holocaust museum, and meetings with both President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Read more here

Stavanger International Conference on Disability, Illness and Religion

I will be giving a keynote address at the Stavanger International Conference on Disability, Illness and Religion in Stavanger, Norway. The conference is hosted by the school of Mission and Theology and the Stavanger University Hospital. Other keynote speeches will be delivered by Professor John Swinton of Aberdeen, Dr. Micheline Kamba (Protestant University of the Congo), and organizers Dr. Anna Rebecca Solevåg and Dr. Marta Høyland Lavik.

The title of the Paper is “”Blessed are the Barren: Infertility in the New Testament and Early Church.”

 

Daily Beast: Careers Too Deadly for Christians

Conservatives claiming their careers are “threatened” by gay rights should check out St. Hippolytus, who wouldn’t have let them get those jobs in the first place.
In a recent fundraising email, the president of the American Family Association, Tim Wildmon, warned his mailing list that the number of careers available to conscientious Christians “is quickly shrinking as homosexuals pro-actively seek opportunities to wreck the personal business and career of any Christian who declines to support the gay lifestyle.” The professions now prohibited by homosexual activism? Photographer, Baker, Florist, Broadcaster, Counselor, Innkeeper, and Teacher. (Not included: Host on Bravo.)

Read more here

CNN: New Evidence Casts Doubt on ‘Gospel of Jesus’ Wife

It seemed real; it seemed fake; it seemed real again; now we’re back to fake.

“It” is the controversial little scrap of papyrus, written in Coptic, that seems to have Jesus referring to “my wife,” in contrast to the traditional stance that affirms Jesus’ perpetual bachelorhood.

The quick backstory: In 2012, a Harvard professor, Karen King, brought this papyrus to the attention of scholars and the public.

Both the material and the script looked authentically ancient at first glance, and though the notion of Jesus having a wife was remarkable, these “lost” Christian writings, such as the Gnostic Gospels, are full of unorthodoxies.

Read the full story here.

(This article was co-authored with Joel Baden of Yale Divinity School. It summarizes the work of many distinguished scholars including Mark Goodacre from whom we received permission to use the image in the piece)