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In 1208, an Icelandic poet named Kolbeinn Tumason wrote Heyr Himna Smiður, which would become a stalwart piece of Icelandic Christian tradition. Its imagery is dynamic to these northern peoples, using the terms “Smith of the Heavens” to convey the craftsmanship and attention that God shows to creation; “mild one” which is a play on the word that means the generous tribal leader, or king; and “King of the suns”, capturing the spiritual significance of solar seasonality to the island just south of the Arctic Circle.
Listen to the poem sung in it’s original language with an English translation, performed by Ellen Kristjánsdóttir. (more…)
The World Cup of Theologians is a blog series that coincides with the 2014 World Cup Tournament. Each team in the round of 16 has an entry with the biography of a noteworthy theologian or leader from that same country.
Augustine of Hippo was born on November 13, 354 in the Numidian city of Tagaste (present day Souk Ahras, Algeria). As a young man prone to following his passions, Augustine famously prayed, “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.”
After converting to Christianity and being baptized in 387, Augustine went on to become one of the most influential Church Fathers of the Western church. He is most well known for his spiritual memoir Confessions and his lengthy philosophical work, City of God.
In this well known quote from the Confessions, Augustine reveals how his perspective on desire has changed, having been made new by the love of God:
Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you. And see, you were within and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things which you made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The lovely things kept me far from you, though if they did not have their existence in you, they had no existence at all. You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew in my breath and now pant after you. I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.
Download the free audiobook of Confessions here.
50 years ago today, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his poignant essay “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. A watershed moment for the American Civil Rights Movement, King’s letter continues to be an entry point for understanding Christian opposition to systemic injustice. The stark realities of churches captive to cultural notions of superiority echo from its pages and should give us reason again to acknowledge our complicity in mistreatment of our neighbor (regardless their ethnicity, gender, or creed) and resolve to change ourselves and our communities.
In his address, King is writing to white pastors who were silent or resistant to the need for social justice regarding civil rights for African-Americans, and his call resounds to Christians who are ignorant of the histories and current realities of ethnically and historically marginalized groups. Continuing to ignore the reality (or the identity-creating history) perpetuates the cultural divides that subtly (and not-so-subtly) influence contemporary Christianity.
Below is the letter in it’s entirety.
16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms. (more…)
“Que mi sangre sea semilla de libertad y la señal de que la esperanza será pronto una realidad.”
(Let my blood be a seed of freedom and the sign that hope will soon be reality.)- Archbishop Óscar Romero
On March 24, 1980, Archbishop Óscar Romero of El Salvador was assassinated while he was celebrating the mass.
Romero had become an advocate and champion of the poor in El Salvador and Latin America, which brought him into opposition with the right-wing military government. Following his assassination, he has been recognized as a candidate for canonization and is currently revered as a Servant of God.
The following music video was produced as part of The Project: Martyrs Prayers. Accompanying this is a three-part podcast examining the life and message of Father Romero by Bishop Christopher Coyne of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The podcasts are available here (Part 1: Introduction, Part 2: Present Reality of Martyrdom, Part 3: Ancient/Modern Understanding of Martyrdom).
Musician- Michael Glen Bell
Film Maker- Owen Thomas
More information on The Project: Martyrs Prayers.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is best known for his accomplishments in the area of civil rights and fighting against injustice. He will always be remembered as a “drum major for justice” and as a man who had a dream of equality for all. What many do not know is that along with being an activist King was a theologian. King’s activism was rooted in a theology that was rich and deep and drew upon a variety of sources. Let’s take a look at what influenced one of the greatest Americans of all time.
Scot McKnight, a NT professor, recently published a small book, it is more like an article, regarding the subject of women in ministry. I found a very brief summary of the article this morning on his blog, and I am re-posting it here for some questions and discussion. His argument is as follows:
The complementarians [those opposed to women in ministry] like to shift their footings when it comes to Junia. They want to find some argument on which they can stand to diminish the significance of the woman [Junia].
First, they argued she wasn’t a woman (Junia) but a man (Junias). The evidence disproved them so thoroughly even they gave in (or most of them gave in) and so they shifted to another footing to stand their argument on… (more…)
In 635, a Syrian monk named Alopen arrived in the Chinese capital. A monument was placed in 781, called the Nestorian Stele was a nine-foot limestone covered with inscription. It details the teachings of the Christian community as well as describes Alopen and his students. Nearly 150 years after his arrival, it is impossible to know what was originally in Alopen’s message and what was elaborated by the Chinese who became Christians. These inscriptions present a fairly orthodox understanding of Jesus, yet express that orthodoxy in distinctive ways that would resonate with the religious plurality of Asia at this time. Besides the text, there is the imagery of a cross emerging from a lotus blossom, demonstrating how the Christian message can grow from the existence of ancient Eastern religions. (more…)
Jesus said, “I am the rock, the paper, and the scissors.” -Unvirtuous Abbey (via Twitter)
The twitter-group describe themselves as “Digital monks praying for people with first world problems. From our keyboard to God’s ears.” They take humorous (and hopeful) jabs at life and faith that can be at-times both illuminating and scathing.
The quote I pulled from my tweed (twitter feed, I have abbreviated) stood out to me as an example of using contemporary formulations to breath new life into a Biblical interpretation.
When I read the tweet, I imagined the totality of Christ– fully encompassing all aspects of creation. (Okay, that was a bit of a departure from what may have been simply an off-hand quip.)
Paul describes Christ to the Colossians saying… (more…)
There was an article published recently by John Thorton and Linda Heywood, both of Boston University, on The Root about the conversion of the king and the kingdom of Kongo to Catholicism in the 1400s. It is an excellent historical reminder of the varied cultural expressions of Christianity throughout history. Espcecially poignant to me are the implications to the Christianity expressed within the African-American community that would find its ancestry (partially) within these brothers and sisters.
About 1 in 5 Americans of African descent come from Kongolese stock, with the greatest percentages being concentrated in South Carolina and Louisiana. They carried their religion with them, as well; the Stono Rebellion in 1739, the largest slave uprising in the U.S. before independence, was led by Kongolese Catholics anxious to escape slavery in Protestant South Carolina to freedom in Catholic Florida.
In some parts of the Americas, Kongolese actually created their own missionary activity. George Christian Andreas Oldendorp, a Moravian missionary, reported that Kongolese slaves in the Virgin Islands baptized and catechized incoming slaves from non-Christian Africa; the Brazilian Inquisition examined the activities of Pedro Congo, who dressed in priestly garb and said Mass to a congregation drawn mostly from non-Christian parts of Africa.
This complex story reveals an important aspect of the African-American past: that 20 percent of African Americans descend from Africans who came to these shores from a region that had sustained its own version of Christianity for four generations before the first Africans arrived in Virginia.