Here are some links worth reading this weekend.
1. A big case in Malaysia in which someone was allowed to convert from Islam to Christianity. This is a reminder to appreciate our present religious liberty in the US and continue to pray for those who are oppressed elsewhere.
In a landmark ruling last week, a Malaysian court upheld the rights of a Christian to convert from Islam.
The judgment establishes a precedent in a country where religious conversions, particularly from Islam to Christianity, have been steeped in controversy. The verdict reaffirms the right of freedom of religion, guaranteed under Article 11 of Malaysia’s constitution.
Rooney Rebit, the plaintiff, argued that his belief in Jesus was a fundamental human right, and the High Court in Kuching, Sarawak state, agreed. The judge, Yew Ken Jie, said, “He is free to exercise his right of freedom to religion, and he chose Christianity.”
2. On the other hand, in the US, one writer makes a strong connection between religious liberty and Apple's fight over encryption. Why should Apple have a right to avoid governmental intrusion in its product, market, and practices when they lobby for other entities to lose similar rights? The two things need not be exactly the same to find important similarities between the issues.
Responding to consumer demand for privacy, Apple’s iPhones possess seemingly unbreakable encryption. According to the company’s motion to vacate, the government asked the company to write unlocking software that will work only on this particular iPhone, belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook. Apple argues that since the law treats computer code as speech, the government is attempting to violate First Amendment rights by compelling its speech. The government must show that getting Apple to create this code is “narrowly tailored to maintain a compelling state interest.” Apple claims the FBI has not submitted any evidence that the iPhone holds relevant information that the government needs.
In the Hobby Lobby case, the government faced similar burdens under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It had to demonstrate that the contraceptive mandate was the “least restrictive means” to achieve its compelling interest. Ultimately, the court ruled that in asking Hobby Lobby to violate its sincerely held religious beliefs, the government had not chosen the least burdensome approach.
3. One of the best things that Christians can do when communicating with non-Christians is to admit when skeptics have a valid point. It's not that there are no difficulties in Christianity, it's that Christianity provides the best overall answers to the most difficult questions. Simply dismissing someone's concerns is unlikely to lead to a meaningful dialog.
Years ago, when I began earnestly addressing my questions about the plausibility of Christianity, I often found myself disappointed when I found answers. In fact, I sometimes felt that it would have been better to not have voiced my doubts at all. “If this is the best we can do,” I thought, “then I guess my concerns were well-founded.”
Of course, there’s a legitimate reason for finding an answer unsatisfactory: perhaps there isn’t a good answer. But this usually wasn’t the case, and it certainly wasn’t the most troubling kind of case. Rather, the responses that bothered me most were those that didn’t seem to see the real weight of my question. When people underestimated the difficulty of my objection they usually gave distressingly facile answers, which, to my mind, immediately discredited their competence (even if not their sincerity). And along with that credibility went a little bit of Christianity’s believability.
But whenever I found an author who unblinkingly acknowledged the difficulties—who admitted that the opposition had a point worth addressing—I found immediate relief. In fact, even if the response to the objection wasn’t enough to fully alleviate my doubt, merely knowing that someone else understood the issues gave me solace and breathing room. I then had time and space to work through my questions slowly and carefully.
4. If you haven't linked with the Babylon Bee, you're missing out. It's a satire site based on a Christian worldview that shares traits with the Onion. They are a month or so in and still producing great content. Today's gem mocks the first-year seminary student who, for some reason, thinks he's got it all covered.
First-year seminarian, George Turner, 23, confirmed Friday that—if necessary—he could easily step in to take over Rev. Gary Price as Senior Pastor at Covenant Presbyterian.
Turner realized it probably wouldn’t be that hard as he sat through Rev. Price’s Easter sermon over break during his first semester at his divinity school.
“Well, it’s not that he’s a bad preacher”, Turner hedged, “but I don’t know how well he’d do in my preaching class nowadays”, noting that since he had been in ministry for more than 20 years, it had been a while since Price had received his Master of Divinity.
“We’re just not as propositional in postmodernity. The Bible is a story, you know?”
5. Justin Taylor shares some insights on writing curated from the writing of C.S. Lewis. They are worth a few minutes and a bookmark.
Work hard at being clear.
“Take great pains to be clear. Remember that though you start by knowing what you mean, the reader doesn’t, and a single ill-chosen word may lead him to a total misunderstanding. In a story it is terribly easy just to forget that you have not told the reader something that he needs to know—the whole picture is so clear in your own mind that you forget that it isn’t the same in his.”
Don’t throw away writings projects that you put aside.
“When you give up a bit of work don’t (unless it is hopelessly bad) throw it away. Put it in a drawer. It may come in useful later. Much of my best work, or what I think my best, is the re-writing of things begun and abandoned years earlier.”
6. Chris Krycho and Stephen Carradini discuss art and politics in their latest podcast: