Prayer and Politics in Congress

How prayer meetings on Capitol Hill inspire fellowship and foster bipartisan lawmaking, though some argue it is too much religion under the rotunda.

CHR Comment: About one fourth of the Senate gathers for this weekly prayer breakfast with their chaplain each week. The article also gives some history of chaplaincy in the Senate.

Source: Prayer and politics in Congress – CSMonitor.com

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PCUSA Assembly Lifts Up Muslim Prayers to Allah

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) offered prayers to the Islamic deity, Allah. The prayer was led by a representative of the Muslim community on behalf of the Presbyterian Assem…

CHR Comment: The Arabic word “Allah” is a general word for a divine being. It is not necessarily specific to Islam. However, the prayer’s references to Muhammad as a prophet and Islamophobia make clear that those praying were equating the Christian God with Allah of Islam. This is another example of how liberal or progressive Christians are moving from inter-Christian efforts for unity and into inter-religious efforts.

Source: PCUSA Assembly Lifts Up Muslim Prayers to Allah – Polemics Report

The Tory Party at Prayer

All five candidates for Conservative Party leadership have some form of Christian faith.

CHR Comment: The article describes the Christian beliefs of potential candidates, noting that the openness they express about faith is a new development in recent British politics. At they same time, the Church of England is facing decline.

Source: The Tory party at prayer: The faith of the 5 leadership candidates | Christian News on Christian Today

Mud-Splattered Filipinos Pray to Saint John the Baptist

Hundreds of Filipino villagers donning capes of banana leaves covered themselves in mud Friday in a ritual to thank their patron saint, John the Baptist, who they believe saved residents from killings by Japanese invaders in World War II.

CHR Comment: A fascinating memorial for an event in World War II. This festival might be studied as an example of how unusual religious rituals develop from actual events and convey meaning to the community of believers. Additionally, what will happen with this festival over time? How might it develop and grow to express new interests and concerns of the church in the Philippines?

For example, we know that the Lord’s Supper or Mass started out as a family memorial meal for Passover, which ancient Israelites regarded as historical and miraculous. Jesus transformed the Passover meal in His Passover prayers of thanksgiving, telling His disciples that the bread and the wine were His body and blood, and distributing them for the forgiveness of their sins. The disciples made this private family meal into a semi-public church meal, which became known as the agape feast. Members of the churches would bring food for a fellowship meal that included the rite of the Lord’s Supper. The Passover was transformed from an annual event into a weekly event at the center of the Christians’ worship. Additions were made to the rite, such as a cup of milk and honey that symbolized the blessings and abundance in Christ and the Promised Land (heaven). As the churches grew, church leaders likely found it difficult for congregations to host an entire meal for large crowds of people. So they stripped the meal of practices that they regarded as nonessential. The focus of the meal now rested fully on the consecrated bread and cup and the prayers that surrounded the consecration. These transformations of the rite took place over a few hundred years, inspired church musicians, visual artists, and church fathers to explain theologically what was taking place in the ritual.

Source: Mud-splattered Filipinos pray to saint for blessing and woes – The Washington Post

Catholics and Muslims Alike Pray at Shrine to Mary

The Blessed Virgin has become a “symbol of unity” in Lebanon.

CHR Comment: The Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon draws both Catholics and Muslims who honor Mary in different ways. The article points out how often Mary is mentioned in the Quran, which has a significant focus on Mary. This is likely due to the rising importance of Mary as a saint and example in early Christianity, which in turn influenced Mohammed as he wrote the Quran.

Source: Why Catholics And Muslims Alike Come To Pray At This Shrine To Mary

Praying Cop

“I will never, ever forget this, nor will my family.”

CHR Comment: A police officer’s care, willingness to listen, and to pray changed the day for this distraught driver who had just learned about his daughter’s cancer. This is a good example of how mercy can supplement effective police work and our lives together in Christ. No doubt, the man’s driving was much safer after he pulled away.

Source: He Got The Worst News Of His Life. Then, A Cop Pulled Him Over…

Scanning a Bishop’s Brain

In an unusual new paper, a group of German neuroscientists report that they scanned the brain of a Catholic bishop: Does a bishop pray when he prays? And does his brain distinguish between different religions? The researchers were Sarita Silveira and colleagues of Munich, and they used fMRI to measure brain activity in “a German …

CHR Comment: Silveira and other researchers were exploring whether there was a notable difference in brain activity while the bishop prayed the Lord’s Prayer repeatedly in his mind. The experiment seems poorly formed since reciting the Lord’s Prayer repeatedly would produce a restful state similar to the control activity of resting and thinking of nothing in particular.

Source: The Case of the Bishop’s Brain – Neuroskeptic

Personal Sacrifice at the Feast of Guadalupe

Millions of pilgrims walk for days to celebrate the Feast of Guadalupe.

CHR Comment: Devotees process to the festival caring objects of devotion and specific prayer requests with hope for healing and other blessings. On December 12, 1531, a Mexican man reported the visitation of the Virgin Mary to him, which became the basis for the annual festival. The article includes fine photography by a national Geographic correspondent.

Source: Photos Reveal Mexico’s Colorful Virgin Mary Festival

Praying During Times of Tragedy

Why do Christians keep offering prayers every time there is an act of terror, civil unrest or a natural disaster? To many in our world, praying to God at times like these seems foolish and even ina…

CHR Comment: Recent political comments about turning to prayer in times of tragedy sparked this helpful article on why Christians turn to God in prayer. The article illustrates that prayer is not inaction but a most appropriate action for a Christian to take.

Source: Praying During Times of Tragedy