Friday, May 13, 2016

Quakerism's Future and Kenya

Kenya currently has one-third of the world's Quakers, and their share is increasing as the number of Quakers in the west continues to decline.  This article discusses the success of Quakerism in Kenya.  Interestingly, the author links the success of Quakerism in Kenya to innovations in worship.  Quakers in the west are known for low-key religious meetings that are dominated by long periods of meditation.  Kenyan Quakers, however, have incorporated many of the exciting features of innovative Christianity, such as musical bands, dancing, and lots of exuberance.

Two lessons stand out.  Firsts, the low-key Quakerism, though preferred by some, is not the most successful in the religious marketplace.  Second, when a religious group adapts, it can thrive.

Some critics may argue that this exuberant form of Kenyan Quakerism is not real Quakerism, but I think this is a matter of perspective.  What seems true from the historical record is that religious groups that do not adapt eventually die out.  If real Quakerism is dying, then perhaps this young upstart is its best chance for any form of Quakerism to continue to be relevant in the world.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Possible Ordination of Women as Catholic Deacons

This is a big story out of the Vatican:  Pope Francis will consider allowing women be ordained deacons.  Read about it here.

A few details:
  •  Current policy allows only men to be ordained deacons.
  • The Bible speaks of female deacons, so this change would not be without scriptural precedent.
  • A commission will examine the matter, but their conclusion is difficult to predict.  It is just as possible for them to reconfirm the current policy as change it.
The change, should it happen, comes when there is ever-worsening shortage of priests in the Catholic Church.  More and more responsibilities have shifted from priests to other clergy such as deacons.  This policy change would help alleviate this shortage not by increasing the number of priests but by increasing the number of non-priest clergy to help shoulder the load.

Monday, May 2, 2016

USCIRF 2016 Annual Report

The USCIRF has published online its 2016 annual report.  The full pdf is here.

The USCIRF recommends that the following countries be redesignated as "Countries of Particular Concern" (CPCs):  Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

The USCIRF also recommends that the following should now be designated as CPCs:  Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, and Vietnam.

A number of other countries and regions experienced serious religious freedom violations:  Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, the Horn of Africa, and Western Europe.