For the last several years, I’ve been following with great interest the astonishing success that Father Zakaria Botros, a Coptic priest, has had in evangelizing the Muslim world — in Arabic, using the Koran. As an Arab, he understands the mindset that so many Muslims have toward Christianity, and he exploits that knowledge quite effectively, not by simply presenting the claims for the divinity of Christ, as an example. Rather, he firmly turns the tables on Muslim apologists by relentlessly critiquing and refuting their own claims, using mainly the Koran as his tool. The reports are, he is successfully converting large numbers of Muslims (albeit secretly, for fear of deadly reprisals from their erstwhile co-religionists), and this is causing a lot of consternation among many Muslims who see Father Z as a real threat to Muslim hegemony.
There are plenty of creative and effective things Catholics and other Christians can do to push back against militant secularism, and this new button campaign is a good example. It’s an overt way of publicly making an important point — i.e., Christmas is about Christmas, not some generic “holidays” — and you don’t even have to open your mouth to do it. To be sure, wearing one of these buttons will likely lead to opportunities to speak verbally about this message, but even if no one queries (or challenges) you about it, they will read the message, and it will stick with them.
With over 200,000 buttons on the streets and in stores this year, local store associates are likely to be presented with the opportunity to deviate from the corporate holiday wishing policy of top retailers like the Gap and Best Buy, and stealthily wish their customer “Merry Christmas” instead of the generic “Happy Holidays”. But since 96% of Americans celebrate Christmas (Gallup Poll, 2004), it’s likely that the store cashiers would prefer to wish their customers “Merry Christmas” as well. In fact 88% of Americans state that “It’s okay to wish ‘Merry Christmas’.” (Gallup Poll). . . . (source)
Over 200,000 shoppers are wearing buttons this Christmas season that proclaim a straightforward message to retailers: “It’s OK, Wish Me A Merry Christmas(tm).” Individuals and churches around the country are partnering with the Wish Me A Merry Christmas Campaign mobilizing advocates energized for a return to the traditional, convivial greeting, bearing buttons that make a clear statement – “It’s OK, Wish Me A Merry Christmas(tm) (www.wmamc.com)”. Over 200,000 of these buttons have been distributed nationally.
This time around, students aren’t agitating on campus for a cause like civil-rights or anti-war. These UCLA students are hacked off because of money. Specifically, they don’t like the fact that the school is planning to bump up their tuition rates by 32%.
The archbishop of Canterbury today pleaded with Roman Catholics to set aside their differences with Anglicans over the issue of female bishops, insisting there was more uniting the denominations than dividing them.Rowan Williams was giving a lecture in Rome before Sunday’s meeting with the pope, their first encounter since the Vatican’s surprise announcement of a special institution for traditionalist Anglicans wanting to convert to Catholicism.In his address at the Gregorian University, Williams said the Anglican communion was proof that churches could stay together in spite of their differences.The communion has teetered on the edge of schism for nearly a decade over the issue of gay clergy but has retained a sliver of fellowship. Williams urged Roman Catholics to continue their 35-year dialogue with Anglicans in spite of theological and ideological divisions.He said: “The various agreed statements of the churches stress that the church is a community, in which human beings are made sons and daughters of God.“When so much agreement has been established in first-order matters about the identity and mission of the church, is it justifiable to treat other issues as equally vital for its health and integrity?”Those issues included papal primacy, female clergy and the relations between the local and universal church in making decisions. “Is there a level of mutual recognition which allows a shared theological understandingof primacy alongside a diversity of canonical and juridical arrangements?” he wonderedWilliams challenged Roman Catholic thinking on female bishops, saying there was no proof that their ordination damaged the church.For his part the “ecumenical glass” was “genuinely half-full”. Catholics and Anglicans had achieved “striking” agreement on the broader questions. All that stood between them now were the “second order” issues of church organisation.In an explicit but fleeting reference to the pope’s move last month, Williams said it was an “imaginative pastoral response, but did not break any new ecclesiological ground.” His speech was aimed at reviving dialogue between Anglicans and Catholics. But it also carried an implicit threat that there would be little point in continuing if the Catholic side continued to insist that the obstacles were insuperable.Williams said: “The question is whether this unfinished business is quite as fundamental as our Roman Catholic friends believe.”He seemed tense, biting the sides of his fingers while he listened to the speaker who followed. His anxiety is understandable. . . . (continue reading)