In the News 12/97

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Anything on Ebenezer?

Excerpt from: Time 12/15/97

Click for Time MagazineThe religious aspect of Christmas has never fit very well with television, so every year at this time, when the holiday specials and Christmas-themed episodes of regular shows crowd the schedule, it's almost impossible to find programs that actually treat the event supposedly being celebrated -- the birth of Jesus Christ. Of course, the secularization of Christmas is a process that is already far along... Yes, many Christmas customs are pagan in origin, but does that justify a special Christmas episode of Melrose Place in which Jennifer tries to blackmail Lexi, who ODs? ...

Even when a Christmas program is really supposed to be about Christmas, the Christ part gets downplayed. The Soul of Christmas, a special on PBS features Thomas More, the author of Care of the Soul, and a group of Celtic musicians. With this show, Moore wants us to see Christmas as an occasion that can be celebrated by "people of all faiths or no faith." No one wants to be a spoilsport and criticize such ecumenism, but you wonder at what point a religion's symbols become so generalized that they lose all meaning.

Music can Influence

Based on a report in Canadian On Line News (Canoe), AP 11/12/97

Click for CanoeWhen psychologists hosted an experiment to see if music could influence purchases they were surprised to find out that it -- overwhelmingly -- did. By varying the style of music along nationalistic lines, they could influence people to buy alcoholic beverages of the corresponding nation. The effect was not a minimal change either. For example, German music caused people to prefer German beverages on a 2 to 1 basis. Of the people surveyed, after their purchase, less than 14% felt their purchase had been knowingly influenced by the type of music being played. Obviously many other were influenced without knowing why. All this confirms what many researchers have known for years, music is a powerful tool with the ability to influence. So much for most teens common claim, "it's only music, it doesn't influence me."


Excerpts from Religion Today, 11/24 & 25/97

Click for Religion TodayChristians in Nepal face loss of work and legal persecution for telling people about Christ. Hinduism is the state religion in the Himalayan country, and Christian proselytism is forbidden. ... four Army officers converted to Christianity and were promptly removed from the service for leaving the Hindu faith... one of the men opened a small shop ... but local Hindus filed a legal action against him because he was preaching about Christ and had converted several people. Police close the man's shop... Other Hindus are using the man as an example to threaten other Christians.

State and national authorities in India are cracking down on Hindus who become Christians. In Orissa, where conversions are illegal, the government has directed revenue inspectors to visit homes. If the inspectors see a cross, Bible, or picture of Jesus they are to immediately cancel basic citizenship privileges... (and it has already happened). A member of the Indian parliament has introduced a bill requiring people who convert to register with the government. The Compulsory Registration of Religious Conversion Bill says that a person "desirous of conversion will be required to register 60 days before public affirmation of the conversion." (And must provide all details of who will participate, plus when and where.)

In our cozy western world it is good to be reminded that believers are suffering for their faith around the world. Just imagine for a moment what persecution would do to (or for) the church in North America. How many would be quick to call themselves Christians if it could cost them their livelihoods and even their life? "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." (2 Timothy 3:12)

Abortion Stats

Excerpts from Religion Today, 12/05/97

Click for Religion TodayThere were (in the U.S.) 1,210,883 abortions in 1995, the last year that nationwide figures are available... But state figures for 1996 show that numbers are increasing (after a few years of moderate declines).

Written by Brent MacDonald of Lion Tracks Ministries. (c) 1997.
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