One Verse at a Time

Ashley Baxstrom: There are trending topics, and then there are trending topics. Like the kind that will last 86 years rather than a week. Bonus staying power if they’re holy!

Beliefnet reported a project called “#TweetTheBible,” started by some guy named Anthony J. Thompson and his friends, who basically joked that St. Paul would totally have used Twitter to get out the Good News (all the News that’s fit to tweet, which, well we can do that!) In fact Thompson, a 30-year-old web developer, says he “has always felt called to use technology to edify the global Christian community.”

The result of his calling is @TweetTheBible86 (with a Facebook counterpart), which launched at 11:11 am on November 11 (11/11/11, 11:11 am) with the first verse of Genesis (so that’s 1-1:1?): “Genesis 1:1, In the beginning, God create the heavens and the earth. ..” Continue Reading →

Words and Deeds in Malaysia

Malaysia’s Prime Minister talks of tolerance in Rome but doesn’t “walk the talk” back home

by Natasja Sheriff

In a rare meeting in July, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Pope Benedict XVI agreed to establish diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Holy See. It was a historic meeting of national significance for Malaysia, which until this week was one of only 17 countries in the world that had not formed diplomatic ties with the Vatican.

News of the meeting was met with skepticism in Malaysia, where the Prime Minister’s actions so rarely match his words from the international stage. Thanks to Najib, Malaysia has an global reputation for openness and inter-faith dialogue, receiving praise from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for his promotion of moderate Islam.  (See here for comment by Malaysian scholar Farish Noor on the politics of the term ‘moderate.’) In a speech at the United Nations General Assembly last September, Najib urged the international community to embark on a ‘Global Movement of Moderates,’ inviting “all faiths who are committed to work together to combat and marginalize extremists who have held the world hostage with their bigotry and bias.” Some argue that it’s this type of politicking, the international face of Najib, that has contributed to a view of Malaysia that is “idealised (and outdated).”

At home the actions of the Barisan Nasional government appear to tell a different story of racial and religious politics. Relations between the government and Malaysia’s Christian community have rarely been warm, but divisions have deepened during the last 18 months. Early in 2010, a spate of firebomb attacks on churches around the country shocked Malaysians. Continue Reading →

John Paul II Beatified Today

Pope John Paul II, who’s been placed on the fast track to sainthood, was beatified in Rome today, before heads of state and hundreds of thousands of religious loyals.  Writes The Guaradian:

Beatification is the last step on the road to sainthood, though not all those who are beatified are finally canonised. Before conferring the title of “blessed”, the Roman Catholic church requires evidence of at least one miracle.

John Paul, who died in 2005, is deemed to have interceded with God to bring about the inexplicable cure of a French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand, who was dying of Parkinson’s disease, the same illness that took his own life.

From around the web, some more reading on the event:

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe is in Rome for the ceremony, says Archbishop Cranmer, emanating a “sickening stench.”  Despite an EU ban on Mugabe’s travels, the Vatican is a sovereign state.  Rome has denied specifically inviting Mugabe but claims that he’s there because they maintain diplomatic relations with him.

Angola’s vice president is in Rome for the ceremony, saying it will bring “a better world of love, peace and stability.”

A vail of JPIIs blood will be split between Italy and Poland.  A recent Vatican statement clarifies the state of the blood in a rather interesting detail:

The Vatican’s statement, presumably hoping to dispel any thoughts of supernatural explanation, noted that the blood remains in a liquid state, due to the presence of an “anticoagulant” at the time of collection.

Residents of Naples, Italy, traditionally believe that the dried blood of their patron saint, Januarius, regularly liquefies as a favorable omen for the city.

Rome looked like a Catholic Woodstock today.

Mother Teresa’s record-setting fast-track to sainthood will be shattered by Pope John Paul II by 15 days.  For both, the 5-year wait time was waived. Continue Reading →