What happens when an anthropologist who happens to be a Pakistani, a former diplomat and a member of the Incident Management Team of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security shows up at 100 American mosques armed with questionnaires and a few white student research assistants? For the most part, nothing very controversial.
In recent conversations with my seminary classmates, we've
been lamenting the state of Christian education. In many churches it is evident
that the average member hasn't grown in religious or biblical knowledge since he
or she heard moralistic tales of Noah, Esther or Daniel as a child. Some even resist
pastoral attempts to expand their Christian knowledge, and they simply refuse
to learn about other
religions. As seminarians, we are struggling with how to respond to this.
Youth are not the future of the church—they already are the church." That claim is often made by those with a heart for youth ministry. People who work with youth resist the idea that their ministry is a training ground for future ministers, because they know it is more than that: it's the real deal.
Reign of Christ Sunday is not
the most approachable lectionary theme. Should the focus be on the reign or the
one reigning? Should preachers assume each year that most people have no idea
why the feast exists? Is there a case for just glossing over it, preaching on
whatever suits you, and getting on with Advent?
European countries are asking how to deal with hundreds of young Muslims who went to Syria to fight and then returned home. Denmark is experimenting with rehabilitation rather than incarceration. Returning fighters are treated not as criminals but as troubled youth who lost their way and need a second chance. The program, first used with neo-Nazi youth, is voluntary and includes counseling, mentoring, opportunities for more schooling, and meetings with parents. So far the program seems to be working. Denmark has the second highest number of foreign fighters per capita. They “only become ticking bombs if we don’t integrate them” back into society, said a Danish psychologist (New York Times, December 13).