Posts Tagged ‘Jim Denison’

The Magi learned about Jesus on Facebook

Posted by    |    December 23rd, 2011 at 6:45 am

The Magi Journeying (Les rois mages en voyage) by James Joseph Jacques Tissot (1836-1902) at Brooklyn MuseumThat’s what 30% of children surveyed in Great Britain think.  According to a poll of 1,000 school children between five and seven years of age, 36% have no idea whose birthday we will celebrate Sunday.  It gets worse: nearly 25% believe the answer is Simon Cowell.  Some 25% believe that Jesus was born at Buckingham Palace or 10 Downing Street; only 28% know he was born in Bethlehem.

Could such biblical ignorance happen in America?  As a child growing up in Houston, Texas, I didn’t know who was born on Christmas day.  When I eventually learned that Christmas observes the birth of Jesus, I remember being confused: what does he have to do with Santa Claus?  And why do we celebrate his birth, anyway?

Is America a Christian nation?

Posted by    |    December 21st, 2011 at 6:24 am

“We are a Christian country.  And we should not be afraid to say so.”  With these words, British prime minister David Cameron marked the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible and sparked a national controversy that is making news this morning.

Did he mean that all British citizens are Christians?  In a nation where four times as many Muslims go to mosque on Friday as Christians go to church on Sunday, such a claim would be hard to defend.  Cameron clarified: “I know and fully respect that many people in this country do not have a religion.  And I am also incredibly proud that Britain is home to many different faith communities, who do so much to make our country stronger.”

Leprechauns and hula hoops

Posted by    |    November 20th, 2011 at 5:40 am

A crowd of 262 people dressed as Leprechauns gather at the Canal Theatre to break the Guinness World Record in Dublin November 16, 2011 (Credit: Guinness World Records/handout)Here’s news you can use: 262 people in Dublin, Ireland dressed in leprechaun costumes yesterday, setting a new world record.  On Guinness World Records Day 2011, other record attempts included the most arrows caught by hand while blindfolded, the most people whistling at one time, and the largest hula hoop workout.

I’d rather read about leprechauns than the deadlocked deficit-reduction supercommittee in Washington, protesters who tried to shut down a New York City subway, or losses in the stock market.  Peace is fleeting these days, at home and abroad.  Monk and theologian Thomas Merton was right: “We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.”

Three lessons from the Oklahoma quakes

Posted by    |    November 7th, 2011 at 5:45 am

An eathquake late Saturday night caused extensive damage to the towers (turrets) atop Benedictine Hall, the most prominent structure on the campus of St. Gregory's University in Shawnee (Credit: The Oklahoman/Jim Beckel)“We have not a clue.”  That’s how Austin Holland, a research seismologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey, explained the earthquakes that shook his state over the weekend.  At least 23 quakes struck Oklahoma, beginning early Saturday morning and continuing intermittently through Sunday.  Since 2009, the state has experienced 10 times more earthquakes than normal.  Seismologists don’t know if this is part of a natural cycle or something more ominous.

It’s a helpless feeling to face a threat you can’t prevent.  Sometimes the enemy is the weather, such as the floods that have claimed more than 500 lives in Thailand.  Advancing pools of water are now threatening Bangkok’s subway system.  Ironically, they are also surrounding the emergency headquarters set up to deal with the crisis.

Why oil is bad for democracy

Posted by    |    September 16th, 2011 at 6:15 am

Pumpjack located south of Midland, TX (Credit: Eric Kounce via en.wikipedia.org)My wife balances our checkbook so I don’t go to jail.  Perhaps she should do the same for the entire banking industry.  Swiss banking giant UBS announced yesterday that a rogue trader has caused it an estimated $2 billion in losses.  Police in London arrested a 31-year-old UBS trader named Kweku Adoboli in the alleged fraud.

I have long maintained that democracy requires morality.  Now it is becoming clearer that a free market economy requires the same.  As another example, a fascinating article in the current edition of Foreign Affairs journal argues that oil revenues are a direct enemy of democracy.  In the last three decades, countries that produce $100 per capita of oil or less per year were three times more likely to democratize as countries that produced more than that.

What God thinks about the economy

Posted by    |    September 14th, 2011 at 6:15 am

1 Timothy 6:9-10 (Credit: Frank Jr via Fotolia)Republican presidential candidates sparred last Monday night over competing plans to create jobs and stimulate our struggling economy.  The previous Thursday, President Obama announced a new plan to do the same.

Yesterday the issue became even more urgent.  A Census Bureau report released Tuesday states that 46.2 million Americans are impoverished, more than ever before.  The Great Recession and its aftermath have left nearly one in six Americans living below the poverty line, defined as an annual income of $22,314 for a family of four.

The current financial crisis is the most recent of 12 such setbacks over the last 40 years, according to a recent editorial in Forbes magazine.  The article states that the dollar has fallen in value over the last four decades by more than 70% against the euro/German mark and the Japanese yen.  U.S. net exports have fallen from a modest surplus 40 years ago to a $400 billion-plus deficit today.

A letter to America

Posted by    |    September 12th, 2011 at 6:15 am

In God We Trust 4 cent stamp (Credit: air via Fotolia)I had already written today’s essay when the thought gripped me: If God could write a letter to our grieving nation, what might he say?  I feel compelled to answer that question this morning.  I believe his letter could read as follows:

“I love you.  I formed your continent in my heart long before I fashioned it from the seas.  Its majestic peaks and fertile plains were painted by my Spirit on the canvas of its vast beauty.  I have given you resources unsurpassed by any other nation.  Then I called Pilgrims and Puritans to your shores, courageous pioneers who would bring my word to your great continent.  I sparked a hunger for liberty that led farmers and merchants to risk their lives in its pursuit.  When they declared that ‘all men are created equal,’ they spoke truth I inspired in their souls.

Good news on 9-11

Posted by    |    September 11th, 2011 at 5:40 am

The 9/11 Memorial displays the names of the 2,982 men, women and children killed in the 9/11 attacks—in New York, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon—and in the February 26, 1993 World Trade Center bombing.  Visualization by Squared Design Lab“The cockpit’s not answering.  Someone’s stabbed in business class, and um I think there is Mace that we can’t breathe.  I don’t know, I think we’re getting hijacked.”  With these words, American Airlines flight attendant Betty Ong calmly alerted reservations agents to the hijacking of Flight 11.  Her call came at 8:19 A.M.  Her airplane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center 26 minutes later.

Seventeen minutes after, United Airlines Flight 175 hit the South Tower.  American Airlines Flight 77 flew into the Pentagon at 9:37 A.M.  United Airlines Flight 93 then crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:03 local time.  The attacks cost 2,977 civilians from 90 countries their lives–more than died at Pearl Harbor or D-Day.

Are American Muslims a threat to us?

Posted by    |    September 8th, 2011 at 6:15 am

Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in the United States, located in Dearborn Michigan (Credit: Dane Hillard via Flickr)As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 draws near, more and more people are asking if American Muslims are a threat to our nation.  According to a new study, 30% of Americans believe that Muslims in our country ultimately want to establish Shari’a (Islamic holy law) as the law of the land.  The number agreeing with this statement has grown by a third over the last eight months.  And we are evenly divided over whether the values of Islam are at odds with American values and our way of life (47% agree; 48% disagree, including nearly 60% of white evangelical Protestants).

Since the release of my latest book, Radical Islam: What You Need to Know, I have been interviewed by 17 radio stations on the subject.  Every one, without fail, has asked me if the 9/11 terrorists were following the true tenets of Islam.

9-11 without religion: a call to action

Posted by    |    September 6th, 2011 at 6:15 am

The cross installed on a pedestal at Ground Zero (Credit: Samuel Li via en.wikipedia.org)No religious elements will be included in New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 9/11 commemoration service this Sunday.  Quotations and poems will be read by a variety of leaders, and the list of 9/11 victims will be read in its entirety.  Unfortunately, not a single prayer will be offered for the survivors of this tragedy, for our leaders, or for our nation.  Nor will a single religious leader be included in the event.

The mayor’s decision is surprising, given his support for including the so-called Ground Zero Cross in the 9/11 Memorial and his defense of those who want to build a mosque and Muslim community center nearby.  It might be difficult to decide who should be included, as is the case for most public events.  But it is a mistake to allow no one to offer prayers or represent faith traditions at a ceremony for so many grieving families.