Ahoy there, religion news mateys! I have been a bit scarce around these precincts on account of some asbestos abatement going on up in my domicile, but fear not, I have been thinking a lot about religious topics like theodicy (why does asbestos happen to good basements?) as well as eschatology (at the end of time, my asbestos abatement issues will surely be resolved). In the meantime, what’s happening in the world of religion?
* Weighty thoughts on Pope Francis’ ties to the Communion and Liberation movement: “The fundamental idea is that the Catholic faith has a cultural dimension and is not merely an intellectual framework. Beauty matters, along with truth and goodness, but what matters more than anything is the personal encounter with Christ. There is a Marxist cosmology and epistemology, there is a Marxist morality and there is even a Marxist aesthetic, but there is no analogue in the Marxist tradition for the personal encounter with Christ.”
* The Chinese government’s plan to eradicate all Christian “house churches” in the country, announced last month, is apparently going forward: “The ruling Chinese Communist Party’s ideological agency in Jiaozhou city called on township Party committees and neighborhood panels to investigate fully all unofficial venues of worship on their territory,” according to a report from Radio Free Asia.
* Rob Bell, no stranger to controversy, has recently endorsed same-sex marriage, and is now poised between the evangelical world of his youth and the Christian Left: “To use a slightly different biological metaphor, they’re saying that Bell looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck. He’s no longer one of them. He’s a progressive Christian. Or, worse yet, a liberal.”
* Evangelical Christians are starting to give their kids b’nai mitzvahs: “Many evangelicals have traded contempt of the past for a respectful, almost fetishistic view of Jews and, now, Jewish tradition. What this means in practice is extremely complicated. There’s a big difference between building bridges across cultures to foster understanding and building bridges so you can run across and ransack the other side.”
* And finally, Republicans are scrambling to counter President Obama’s huge lead among Latinos on the issue of immigration, which persists despite, you know, things like this: “On any given day, about 300 immigrants are held in solitary confinement at the 50 largest detention facilities that make up the sprawling patchwork of holding centers nationwide overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, according to new federal data. Nearly half are isolated for 15 days or more, the point at which psychiatric experts say they are at risk for severe mental harm, with about 35 detainees kept for more than 75 days.”