Categories Religion

What's the Big Deal About Other Religions? A Review of the Book by John Ankerberg & Dillon Burroughs

Have you ever wondered what the big deal is about other religions? Maybe you wanted to discover more but didn’t know where to begin. Whether you seek information about the basics or desire a starting point for research, What’s the Big Deal About Other Religions? is the perfect place to start.

Fundamentals of Sixteen Religions

Five sections take the reader through the history and beliefs of the major religions. We meet the founders of each, glimpse the holy books that guide them and compare them to Biblical Christianity.

The first section establishes a control group of sorts with an introduction to Jesus, a definition of biblical Christianity and a description of its unique nature. Six foundational areas are established and utilized throughout the book for comparison to other religions. The next chapter discusses Roman Catholicism and what makes it different from biblical Christianity. Though they “share a common origin and some overlapping beliefs,” the book states. “[T]hey are ultimately two separate faiths under the broad umbrella of Christianity.”

Section two discusses the other one-God religions, Judaism and Islam, while the third focuses on the four of the most popular alternative religions, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Wicca and Kabbalah. Next, readers learn about Eastern religions Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Shintoism. The final section discusses multi-god and anti-God religions, the New Age movement, Agnosticism and Atheism.

Clear, Concise and Understandable

The foundations used for comparison are God, holy book, sin, Jesus, salvation and afterlife. Discussion about each religion ends with a comparison to Christianity using a chart of the foundational areas. For instance: salvation from the Roman Catholicism perspective – “Justification is obtained by doing meritorious works that cooperate with God’s grace, with focus upon the seven sacraments.” In contrast, the biblical Christianity perspective is, “Justification is obtained only by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by human effort or a result of cooperating with God’s grace.”

For those who want to better understand belief systems different from their own, this book shares adequate information. While it doesn’t go in-depth, it presents the basics in clear terms.

 

Categories Religion

Pascha & Orthodox Christian Religion for Kids: Parents Can Use Eastern Orthodox Easter to Teach Children Religion

The Orthodox Christian religion’s Paschal Vigil is filled with concrete images of joy and hope that parents can use to help their children learn about God.

Kids Reaction to The Eastern Orthodox Religion’s Paschal Vigil Service

The church service usually begins at 11:30 at night. Parents should judge whether or not each child will be able to handle the lack of sleep. Most kids will embrace the opportunity to be up late at night.

Teaching Children the Religious Symbolism of Light During the Orthodox Pascha Service

The church is dimly lit at the beginning of the service as it is meant to replicate the time of sorrow over Jesus’s death. The beginning of the service is solemn.

The Priest then lights a candle to symbolize Christ’s resurrection. The parishioners start lighting their own candles from the Priest’s as the priest chants,

  • Come take light from Light / That is never overtaken by night / That we may glorify Christ / Risen from the dead.

The church goes from darkness to being illuminated by hundreds of small candle flames. The symbolism is overpowering. Kids love this part because they love to light candles.

 

How to Use the Concept of Light in Teaching Children Religion

Parents can teach children that taking their “light” from Jesus means following in his ways. That could mean loving one another, forgiving one another, or standing up for the kid in school who everyone is picking on. In so doing, kids can bring light to someone’s life, and indeed to the world. Children can learn that their actions have a ripple effect, as demonstrated by the candles in church.

The light from the candles can also be seen as the light of hope. When children are feeling down, and wallowing in it, parents can teach the skill of distraction: of finding some little flicker of hope or joy to focus on to help them get through. This could be something that children are happy about or looking forward to. Or simply the knowledge that God is with them.

Parents can remind children of the Pascha service, and how the whole church lit up from only one small candle, when each person made the effort to focus on the light.

The Eastern Orthodox Pascha Vigil Encourages Children to be Joyful

After the candles are lit, parishioners proceed around the outside of the church while singing. When the parishioners arrive back in the church the whole church has been transformed. All of the lights are on, there are flowers everywhere, candles are glowing, incense is flowing and the songs change from somber to joyous.

It is important for children to know that God’s unconditional love for them is like the bright, bright church they came back into during the Pascha service. As a result of the resurrection, they can always return to this brightness as they return to God.

Christ is Risen! Sharing the Joyful News with Children

Once the church goes from dark to light with the news of Christ’s resurrection, the priest and deacons repeatedly dart around the church shouting “Christ is Risen!” and the parishioners respond by shouting out “Truly He is risen!”

Children will get a big kick out of seeing the priest this way, particularly if the priest puts a lot of “umph” into it, as many of them do.

This reminds children of the joy that having faith in God is all about. The Eastern Orthodox religion teaches that God wants people to be joyful in their lives, with earthly things as well as spiritually.

Bringing the Joy of Pascha Home

Parents of young children can light candles at home and process around the house in the middle of the night or the next day singing one of their favorite Pascha songs.

Little kids will enjoy expressing their natural joy and love for God, and parents should encourage this. Teenagers, on the other hand, will balk. But that shouldn’t stop parents from doing it if they feel so inclined!

The Eastern Orthodox 40-day Lenten Fast

If the adults have taken advantage of the period of lent to help children pray more, go to confession, and feel the sadness of the crucifixion, the celebration of Pascha will be that much more joyful! The Lenten fast is similar to the Advent fast.

Eastern Orthodox Pascha 2009 is being celebrated on April 19 by churches following the new calendar, according to the Orthodox Church in America.

People who are not Orthodox can attend an Orthodox service, though they cannot receive communion. People can go online to find an English speaking Orthodox church in North America.

Eastern Orthodox Christianity Has a Great Deal to Offer Children

The Eastern Orthodox religion’s liturgical celebration of Pascha provides parents with wonderful opportunities to teach their children about God in ways that they can absorb and remember.

Rich in symbolism, the Orthodox rituals focus on appealing to the five senses, and recreating powerful experiences to help move people spiritually and emotionally.

Categories Religion

The Ghost-Dance Religion and Wounded Knee

James Mooney was a fascinating person, having investigated all the Indian uprisings from the time of Pontiac to the infamous massacre of Wounded Knee. Because of this unique insight he had into the many nations of the Native American Tribes, he had a fascinating story to tell when he returned from his investigation into the Massacre of Wounded Knee. He shared a messianic prophecy which had been held and foretold by many tribes and Indian nations. But the cause for the Indian uprisings was much simpler than this; it came down to forced poverty and destitution.

The Wounded Knee Massacre

Wounded Knee is a day that will live on in American History as a defining moment in the historical genocide which took place in the United States against the Native American Peoples. A seemingly unprovoked attack which led to the slaughter of men, women and children by the scores, the Wounded Knee Massacre was instigated by a fear the American Government had of a resurgence of what was then known as ‘The Ghost Dance Religion.’

The Ghost Dance Religion

A grave misunderstanding still exists today as to the origin and meaning of the Ghost Dance. Although the Ghost Dance was originated by a Native American Prophet who lived among the Paiutes named Wovoka, it was Short Bull, the Lakota Holy Man who was involved at the time of the Wounded Knee Massacre.

 

James Mooney expressed disgust with the false reports about Wovoka, and Mooney was the only one who actually sought him and out spoke to him. When he did find him after a long search and ask him about the Ghost Dance, Wovoka stated that some of the Indians had disobeyed his original instructions and a lot of trouble had come about because of it.

Mooney discovered that the Native Americans revered Wovoka as a ‘dreamer.’ The doctrine of the Ghost Dance did entail a prophecy that there would come a time when the Indian race would one day be regenerated upon the earth. They would also at this time be reunited with all of their deceased loved, thus, the name Ghost Dance. But in order for this to come to pass, the believers in these prophecies had to abandon all warlike ways and practice such things as honesty, goodwill and peace. And this was required not only amongst themselves, but among all peoples including the whites.

The Great Misunderstanding about the Ghost Dance and Wounded Knee

Short Bull, a Lakota Holy Man, had traveled along with a delegation of Lakota leaders to visit Wovoka among the Paiute’s and learn of the Ghost Dance teachings from him. When they returned to the Pine Ridge Reservation where the fateful Wounded Knee massacre was soon to take place, they began teaching the people the various sacred songs and dances of the Ghost Dance.

The Government’s authorities and the white men panicked, because Short Bull had placed a focus on a prophecy he claimed to have received indicating that a new world was coming wherein the white people would vanish, the buffalo restored and the Indians who had lost their lives would all return to life.

James Mooney would state in his extensive anthropological study that the United States Government vastly overreacted to a very common messianic belief amongst the many Native American tribes

The Messianic Prophecy amongst the Native American Tribes

In the anthropological report for the government and now book, The Ghost-Dance Religion and Wounded Knee, By James Mooney, the anthropologist and author details hundreds of visions and messianic prophecies from scores of Native American Nations. Although each of them differs in their specific contents, the general theme was simple. Each of the prophecies encouraged the Native Americans to hold onto their ways and abandon the ways of the white man. They believed that an Indian Messiah was coming and that all of the Native American people would be resurrected.

Although many of the prophecies also included the disappearance of the white man, it was commonly believed that this would come about by the hand of the Great Spirit or God, not unlike all the messianic prophecies believed throughout time.

When the Jews living under the rule of the ancient Egyptians prophesied a deliverer, he came as Moses. When the Jews were held under Roman Rule, they prophesied a Messiah who would overthrow their captors.

But when Jesus of Nazareth came, who many held and still hold to be the Messiah, he did not teach about violent overthrow, but change that would come about through the changing of hearts.

The Real Cause of the Indian Uprising at Wounded Knee

According to James Mooney and many of his very well-informed sources, the real cause of the uprising at Pine Ridge Reservation which led to the Wounded Knee Massacre was not the Ghost Dance, but rather, the continual denial of the United States Government to fulfill the promises it had given to the people when they forced them to sign treaties and took their land. The people were starving, unable to fend for themselves or receive medical aid.

In the end, the Lakota Sioux faced a similar outcome to many other groups like the Cathars who had come before them whose religious views were grossly misunderstood resulting in their violent downfall.

Categories Religion

Pope on UK Tour Must Have Mixed Aggressive Secular and Religion

Pope Benedict XVI made an impressive start to his UK visit on Thursday September 16, 2010 but his warnings about Britain falling under an aggressive secularism (BBC website news, September 17, 2010) were way off the mark, and made him seem out of touch. Maybe he has been ill-advised about Britain, and seems to know as much about Britain as Tony Blair, a devout Christian, did about Iraq!

Britain is Trying to Wean Itself Off Religious War and Inequality

Far from falling under an aggressive secularity, Britain was becoming more equal and peaceful under an increasingly benign religious order until Tony Blair stirred up a hornet’s nest with New Labour’s multicultural policy: which was imposed with an aggressive mantra that bordered on fascism.

Those who dared question it in the media, such as Robert Kilroy-Silk, were promptly removed from the circle of legitimate controversy for going against the dominant hegemonic discourse. The suppression of religious criticism gave Islamic hate preachers working in the UK a licence to spread propaganda and religious bigotry.

 

War in Kosovo and Iraq

After sending British troops into a Sierra Leone operation that was successful for troops and the people, Tony Blair’s next two wars both had a religious angle, as he became a NATO hawk in the Kosovo War, as NATO tried to protect Muslim Kosovans who’d started a war with the Christian Serbs.

After 9/11, which was a political-religious attack by Muslim terrorists on the USA that caused over 3,000 deaths, Tony Blair sent UK troops into Iraq along with American forces, under another devout Christian, President George W. Bush.

Thousands of civilians died in and after the war, although most were from intra-Islamic fighting between Sunni and Shia followers. It was then portrayed by Muslims as a religious attack by the Christian West on Islam, and the crusades of Christian history were resurrected as a metaphor.

Even Muslims have a hard time criticising the NATO war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, as the Taliban religious fundamentalists have created a hell on earth for both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Britain Attacked in the Name of Religion

The Iraq war; as well as Chechnya and Bosnia, despite Britain being more supportive of Muslims in those wars than critical; was then used as an excuse by Muslim terrorists in the UK for their 7/7 attack on the London transport system in 2003, which resulted in over 50 deaths.

This was despite New Labour ploughing millions of tax-payers’ money into Islamist organisations. Again, religion and its wars had brought death to British streets.

Britain and Ireland are of course still recovering from the intra-Christian religious wars between Catholics and Protestants that lasted for decades on the two neighbouring islands, and which caused thousands of deaths.

A new wave of violence and terrorism has been threatened by the Real IRA.

Tony Blair has Continued his Religious Mission

Tony Blair has continued his religious mission in the Middle-East, which is still in turmoil 2000 years after competitive monotheism started, and he has set up a faith foundation as a hub for his work.

His intentions may be good, but his religious mission seems to have cost more lives than it has saved so far.

Meanwhile; unlike many countries under strong religious leadership; secular Sweden is considered one of the most peaceful countries in the world, and is regularly one of the highest positioned nations in studies on equality, freedom of speech, press freedom and non-corruption.

Maybe the Pope should concentrate on getting his own Vatican state in order before criticising others.