Category Archives: Religion

Cantata Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem glauben. BWV 102

The impressive opening chorus of ‘Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben’, performed by the Netherlands Bach Society for All of Bach, comes straight to the point: the world is full of stubborn unbelievers, and however hard God punishes them, it does not help. The sermon for this tenth Sunday after Trinity is about the expulsion of the money-changers from the temple and the imminent destruction of Jerusalem. The errant souls are called upon to convert while they still can.

Recorded for the project All of Bach on October 11th 2014 at the Grote Kerk, Naarden. If you want to help us complete All of Bach, please subscribe to our channel http://bit.ly/2vhCeFB or consider donating http://bit.ly/2uZuMj5.

For the interview with conductor Jos van Veldhoven on ‘Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben’ go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAXLu…

For the interview with flute player Marten Root and violinist Shunske Sato on BWV 102 go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsm_g… For more information on BWV 102 and this production go to http://allofbach.com/en/bwv/bwv-102/

All of Bach is a project of the Netherlands Bach Society / Nederlandse Bachvereniging, offering high-quality film recordings of the works by Johann Sebastian Bach, performed by the Netherlands Bach Society and her guest musicians. Visit our free online treasury for more videos and background material http://allofbach.com/en/. For concert dates and further information go to https://www.bachvereniging.nl/nederla…. Netherlands Bach Society Jos van Veldhoven, conductor Marjon Strijk, soprano Alex Potter, alto Thomas Hobbs, tenor Peter Kooij, bass

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Death of a Martyr

I am not sure I agree completely with the author, but he has some points that bear consideration.
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WSJ 11/26/2018 By Tunku Varadarajan

North Sentinel Island lies 500 miles to the east of India in the Bay of Bengal. It is inhabited by 50 to 150 people—no one knows how many for sure—descended from Stone Age migrants from Africa who settled there 50,000 years ago. Their way of life has changed little since those primordial times. No one in the world outside knows their language.

By anthropological accounts, the Sentinelese are the world’s most isolated and inaccessible people. But John Allen Chau, a 27-year-old missionary from Washington state, also saw them as godforsaken and took it upon himself to convert them to Christianity. “Lord, is this island Satan’s last stronghold,” he wrote in his diary, “where none have heard or even had the chance to hear your name?”

Chau paid for his evangelical foray with his life. Last week— probably on Wednesday—he was killed by Sentinelese men wielding bows and arrows while attempting to approach them on their island. His body was most likely riddled, bringing to mind St. Sebastian, who had arrows showered upon him on the order of Roman Emperor Diocletian. (“And the archers shot at him,” wrote a hagiographer, “till he was as full of arrows as a hedgehog is full of pricks.”) Given the symbolism, and the obvious tragedy of his death, there will be those who ascribe nobility to Chau, and courage. After all, he ventured into hostile territory to propagate his faith. There can be no doubt that he was a devout Christian, even a fanatical one. One suspects that an element of fanaticism has driven missionaries throughout history to venture into far-flung places where they’re not wanted (at least initially). Chau is the latest in a long line of Christian martyrs, although perhaps the first with his own Instagram account.

But go easy on the romance of Chau and his messy, martyred end. He broke Indian law by entering the country on a tourist visa while pursuing an evangelical mission. Chau’s application would have been refused if it so much as mentioned the words “North Sentinel Island.”

No one is permitted to land on the island, not because India disapproves of foreign evangelists— it most emphatically does—but because it has adopted a policy since 1947 (the year of India’s independence) of leaving the Sentinelese entirely to themselves. The policy is called, pithily, “Eyes on, hands off.” The Sentinelese are observed from a very watchful distance, but there is a resolute prohibition on any physical contact with them.

There are epidemiological reasons for this, quite apart from the aesthetic and anthropological ones that advocate the leaving alone of an isolated people whom modern civilization has bypassed. Contact with the outside world—with men like Chau—would likely kill off the Sentinelese. Think flu, measles, chickenpox.

What we had in the end, was one man’s futile—and fatal— theater. But there’s a moral aftermath: The missionary found martyrdom, the Sentinelese a new lease on life. Out of this tragedy will come a vigorous new awareness of who they are, and what they don’t need. And that includes waterproof Bibles.

Mr. Varadarajan, born in India, is executive editor at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

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The Crucifix in Every Building?

I am thinking through this one. I appreciate that a country is certainly shaped by it’s culture and religious history, but is this the best way to present it? But why should a people not want to retain their heritage? Hmm.

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BY FRANCIS X. ROCCA AND DREW HINSHAW
WSJ 9/10/2018

ROME—Lawmakers in Italy’s new parliamentary majority want a crucifix to hang in every government building as a “permanent reminder” of the country’s Christian identity.

Across Europe, nationalists and upstart politicians are promoting the use of Christian imagery as they seek to change the Continent’s established politics and define Europe as Christian in reaction to recent Muslim immigration.

Christian symbols have long been a visible part of public life in much of Europe, but the new efforts reflect a more emphatic embrace of Christianity as central to Europe’s identity.

The moves are stoking disagreement among Christian leaders and drawing criticism from allies of Pope Francis, who says that Christianity mandates generosity toward immigrants.

“The cross is a sign of protest against sin, violence, injustice and death,” the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a close adviser to the pope and editor of a Vatican-vetted magazine, La Civiltà Cattolica (Catholic Civilization), said on Twitter last month, in response to the legislative proposal by lawmakers with the League, an anti-immigration party. He called the use of the crucifix for political purposes “blasphemous.” And he warned: “Hands off!”

Many antiestablishment parties, a rising force in European politics, say preserving their countries’ Christian identity requires sealing Europe off to Muslim immigrants. They are pulling voters from mainstream parties that favor a more secular style of politics.

For decades after World War II, parties that identified as “Christian Democrats” were a mainstay of center-right politics in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. But the decline of that tradition has opened up an opportunity for nationalists and far-right parties to claim the cross as theirs.

“The Christian Democratic parties saw Christian identity as a way to unite their nations, not divide them,” said Rocco Buttiglione, a former Italian cabinet minister and lawmaker with a series of such parties. “But they weren’t strong enough in defending that identity. They watered it down in order to attract votes on the left, and that left an enormous void.”

In Eastern Europe, Catholic leaders have responded more favorably than in Western Europe to efforts by politicians to link Christian identity to nationalist ideas.

In Poland, where government offices are frequently decorated with 2-foot-tall crucifixes, many Catholic bishops openly sympathize with the ruling nationalist party’s restrictive policies on refugees. In October, church leaders supported a mass prayer called “Rosaries at the Border” that implicitly opposed Muslim immigration.

Few Hungarian bishops have objected as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán recasts Hungary as an explicitly Christian country, closed to non-Europeans and battling what he calls “Muslim invaders.”

Mr. Orbán uses the term “Christian democracy” in a new sense: to describe the “illiberal” governance he is ushering in—a model he has said was inspired by more autocratic nations like Russia and Turkey.

Many church leaders express support for Mr. Orbán’s priorities, including the anti-migration fence Mr. Orbán had built along Hungary’s southern border in 2015.

“I’m in total agreement with the prime minister,” Hungarian Bishop Laszlo Kiss-Rigo said at the height of Europe’s migration crisis in 2015, saying the pope “doesn’t know the situation….They’re not refugees. This is an invasion.”

Mr. Orbán, a Protestant, showers the Catholic Church and other denominations with millions of dollars in direct subsidies, and ends many speeches with the Latin expression “soli Deo Gloria” (“to God alone the glory”).

“It is not good, not healthy, and dangerous,” said Bishop Miklós Beer of Vác, one of the few Hungarian bishops to oppose Mr. Orbán’s adoption of Christian language for nationalist ends. “Separation of church and state is a very important basic principle.”

The picture is different in Western Europe. The leader of the southern German state of Bavaria recently mandated that all state buildings display a cross. Markus Söder, the Bavarian premier and a member of the Christian Social Union, said on Twitter in April that the requirement shows a “clear commitment to our Bavarian identity and Christian values.”

The move hasn’t reversed the CSU’s slide in opinion polls ahead of regional elections in October, or dented support for the far-right Alternative for Germany. But it has drawn fire from Germany’s leading Catholic prelate, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, another of Pope Francis’ top advisers, who accused the CSU of “expropriating the cross.”

“You don’t understand the cross if you only see it as a cultural symbol,” Cardinal Marx said.

In Italy, the idea of defining Christianity as a part of the national identity drew support from much of Italian society not so long ago. In 2009, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that crucifixes in Italian classrooms, where they have hung under legislation dating back to the 19th century, violated the “right of parents to educate their children according to their convictions.”

The ruling drew protests from the Vatican and from politicians across the spectrum who said the crucifix exemplified universal values such as human rights. The court reversed its decision two years later, reasoning that the Italian policy didn’t amount to a “process of indoctrination,” since a “crucifix on a wall is an essentially passive symbol.”

Mixing church and state has become more divisive in Italy as antiimmigration politicians advance and clash with Pope Francis.

Several of Italy’s high-profile church leaders have criticized Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigration League, for brandishing the Bible and a rosary at political events.

The bill that would mandate the display of crucifixes in Italian government buildings was introduced by lawmakers from the League in March. It would cover “all offices of public administration,” including polling places, prisons, hospitals and airports, though it isn’t specific about where in the buildings the crucifix would need to be displayed.

The League’s embrace of Christian symbols is opportunistic, said the Rev. Rocco D’Ambrosio, a professor of political philosophy at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. “It’s a kind of attempt to defend itself, to say ‘we are Christians, we want the crucifix in all public spaces, so you can’t accuse us of not being Christians.’ ” —Anita Komuves contributed to this article.

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