How transformative is your God?

How people view God is often influenced by their experience of authority, especially parental authority.

Some parents can be quite harsh and tyrannical, always pushing and rarely encouraging. Some parents can be quite the opposite, permissive but not providing much in the way of structure or support. Other parents can be altogether absent. The best parents however tend to challenge their kids but in the context of a loving, nurturing relationship.

The picture the bible paints of God (and the Messiah) is of one who is both loving and challenging, of a God who sets high standards but is actively engaged in our lives, seeking to transform society and ourselves for the better.

I think it’s important to challenge versions of God that reflect dysfunctional authority experiences more than a Christ centred reading of the Bible.

Help your council to rediscover Christmas this year

Parramatta-city-council-logo Parramatta Councillor Michael McDermott emailed me earlier today with the news that Parramatta City Council yesterday approved new banners for Christmas that actually reference Christmas! He's now asking you and me for help in sharing the news.

It demonstrates that reverse discrimination against Christianity, in the name of political correctness, can be successfully challenged if we're reasonable in the way we go about it. McDermott says he wants to encourage other cities "to look long and hard at how they are celebrating Christmas."

Have a look for yourselves.

These are the banners from previous years

Parramatta-christmas-banners

These are the banners for this year

Parramatta-christmas-banners2

Spot the difference? The first lot remind me of the "Mr Hankie" episode from Southpark crossed with War of the Worlds. Are the second lot really so horrible in comparison?

McDermott says, "No one is offended by you doing this and your residents will love it." Even if they don't, I say, if we can celebrate Dwali as a community why not Christmas?

For more articles on Parramatta and Christmas

PDF article – Parramatta the First City of Christmas

Easter in Parramatta

Parramatta Council dumps Seasons Greetings signs

Raptor Jesus went extinct for your sins?

Okay, so only a few of you have heard of Raptor Jesus? Let me enlighten you then. Raptor Jesus is a 4chan meme that involves crudely photoshopping raptor heads onto Jesus bodies. The meme is popular amongst New Atheists and other critics of Christianity.

Here’s one example: 

Raptor-Jesus-away-in-a-manger

For more examples see  Raptor Jesus Art. I suspect the meme evolved from a similar meme involving Jesus and dinosaurs.

Jesus-and-dinosaur As you’d expect, or maybe not, a mock-mythology has arisen around this, about the long-prophesied Second Coming of Raptor Jesus and of his adversary Satanasaurus Rex. The prophets of Raptor Jesus cry, “Repent, sinners and slow-moving herbivores, for the Velocirapture is upon you.”

Of course, the velocirapture should not be confused with Catnarok, which is more of a lolcat thing.

Catnarok-Challenge

Mythology, Media and the Future of Hinduism

HINDU-MYTHS Huffington Post launched an interesting article on Mythology, Media and the Future of Hinduism yesterday. Here's an extract:

"At present, Hindu mythology is under strain from two opposite tendencies that are not entirely unrelated to broader debates about religion and politics in India and the diaspora. There seems to be a "didactic" extreme and an "experimental" extreme in present approaches to the tales of the gods. The didactic tendency views mythology as a litany of facts about history and geography. It shows up in some of the recent animated mythological movies. The gods are depicted like pop culture superhero figures while a pedantic voice lists facts about them. The experimental tendency, on the other hand, sees mythology as open to virtually any sort of reinterpretation without regard to virtue or intent. Some artists and intellectuals espouse this view, and end up assuming that any imputation of sanctity to mythology is inherently fundamentalist."

Remind you of anything?

Related articles on Hinduism

The Spirit of Hinduism
Folk Hinduism and Philosophical Hinduism

Sixty-Six Clouds

Mark2-221x300 This evening I stumbled across the blog of Brad Thomasan, a graphic designer who's put together Sixty-Six Clouds, a  visual exploration of word frequency in the Bible.

Brad describes it thus: "Each book of the Bible was individually imported into www.wordle.net to create a unique word cloud for all sixty-six books. The significance of word clouds is that they quickly present the gist of large bodies of written materials at a glance."

I think it's great. This one to the left here is from the Gospel of Mark, one of my favourite books of the Bible. Funny enough, Jesus, discipleship and movement words feature prominantly. Who would have thought 🙂

The most unique book was of course Song of Songs. Much to ponder there. In any case, check it out.

Do the Hindu roots of yoga matter?

Deepak_chopra If you are interested in yoga, I highly recommend you check out Lisa Miller's article on The Clash of the Yogis. It seems secular spirituality author Deepak Chopra has been clashing with others on the Hindu roots of yoga and Miller makes some interesting observations about American culture in the process.

Personally, I think Chopra is being disingeneous. It's long been my observation that the hardest core of Hindu teaching is dharma, karma and reincarnation, not the gods of its pantheon, and since Deepak Chopra teaches dharma, karma and reincarnation his approach hardly qualifies as religiously neutral.

Christian Art – the book of Isaiah

Isaiah_Lips_Anointed_with_Fire Two months ago I began a project aimed at pulling together art from around the world and across history for different books of the Bible. My latest collection is the book of Isaiah.

It's a bit of a leap from Genesis and Exodus I know, but Leviticus and Numbers are proving challenging (surprise, surprise) so I decided to abandon strict biblical order and launch the different books as I gather sufficient material.

And I must say as I reseach Christian art this way I am finding it fascinating to observe which books and events different cultures focus on, or alternatively ignore.

Anyway, feel free to explore and share.

So much for ahimsa

Bichchingychakma Compass Direct News is reporting that Christian families have been driven from their village in Bangladesh by Buddhist extremists presurring them to give up their faith in Christ.

"On Saturday, the Buddhist extremists captured four men and beat one woman who had gathered in a home, threatening to kill them if they did not become Buddhists within 24 hours."

I have an intrinsic distaste for forced conversion whatever the circumstances.