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How well do you know religion, the biblical influence of gossip in storytelling + polite conversation between atheist and Christian

How well do you know religion? This quiz, from New York Times contributor Nicholas Kristof, takes some texts from Islamic and Christian holy texts, and asks you whether you can tell where they come from. His point: “faith is complicated, and that we’re more likely to perceive peril and incitement in someone else’s scripture than in our own.” Did you pass?


Polite conversation: Atheist and comedian, Tom Ballard welcomed the Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton to his podcast this week for a Christmas chat. We don’t often hear about atheists inviting Christians to have a chat, so we thought it’s certainly worth a mention here. Tom Ballard writes, “In the first part of this polite but passionate conversation, Lyle and I discussed the role faith should play in politics, evidence, reason, marriage, parenting and gender.” Listen to the full podcast, here.

This Christian family is helplessly watching on as their hometown is destroyed by Islamic State. Samira Elia, a refugee who fled Tal Hames at the start of the Syrian civil war says, “We thought: things will settle in six months and we’ll come back to our properties, our houses, our land. We left everything behind. All is gone.”

Christians in Iran: Persecution of Christians around the world is escalating, and after a gruelling three years research, now we know how different Christian communities respond. In Iran, those who stay frame their suffering theologically. “These Christians take consolation in Christ’s words: ‘I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ (Matthew 16:18, ESV),” he wrote. “They have no other choice but to rely on prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit.”

All gossip: “When the world was just new, Story came into being, and it came with the beguilements of gossip, and talebearing, and rumor.” So says the New York Times this week as author Cynthia Ozick explores the novel’s evil tongue. There’s many a biblical reference to be had in the origins of storytelling, so in any analysis of where our love and desire for gossip has come from, the Bible is a good source, too. “Under the influence of the evil tongue, 10,000 stories and novels, before and since, have insinuated themselves into our sin-seeking world. They proliferate in their scores of languages, out of continents leafy or arid, out of furious histories and agitated moral persuasions. They are made by go-betweens, by whisperers and tattletales, by ironists and miscreants, by jesters and mourners, and always by the fevered bearers of false witness.” Read more here.

Visual theology: Popular Christian blogger Tim Challies has a series of theological infographics, for those who are visually-inclined. He’s been refining and creating new infographics this year, and has released some on his website. Here’s an example, “Awaiting the Messiah is a theological infographic that explores the genealogies of Jesus as recorded in Matthew and Luke. Each author recorded a very specific list for their respective audiences. Luke writes to show the humanity of Jesus while Matthew wants to portray Jesus as a king. Along with the both genealogies we have included multiple scripture passages that prophecy the coming birth of Jesus and what his coming means.” Click here, or the image below to see the full infographics. 

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