Problems with Tumblr, Missionary killed, Sinead O’Connor, and celebrating Madeline L’Engle, C.S. Lewis

Weekly Review

Tumblr Out. Apple took a positive step to protect children when it removed the popular app Tumblr from its app store. The microblogging app had become a repository for content containing child sexual abuse. Tumblr responded by saying it would implement better filters to catch explicit and violent content. However, the company has made such promises before and the dangerous content persists. Common Sense Media says the site includes “pornographic images, depictions of drug use, and plenty of offensive language.” Still, a Pew Research Center study in 2015 found 23 percent of teenage girls use Tumblr, which hosts more than 400 million blogs.

Missionary Killed.  John Chau, who was affiliated with the Kansas City-based missions organization All Nations, was killed when he set foot on an island in the Indian Ocean that had been declared off-limits to keep the native people there from being exposed to disease. All Nations released a statement calling Chau “humble” and “courageous.” Chau wrote in his journal, “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this but I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people. Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed—rather please live your lives in obedience to whatever He has called you to and I’ll see you again.” However, his zeal hasn’t deflected controversy, or criticism that he violated the law and attempted to contact an unreached people without adequate language training or cultural understanding. Local Indian media have labeled him a “willful intruder.” Christian writer Rod Dreher said, “Chau ought to have left those vulnerable tribespeople alone. He had no chance of converting them to faith in Christ, but a good chance of giving them a disease that could have wiped them off the face of the earth. How could any Christian justify this?”

Sinead O’Connor Misinformed. Irish singer Sinead O’Connor recently converted to Islam. When I read this story, I thought of a famous line from the movie “Casablanca.” Someone asks Rick, played by Humphrey Bogart, why he moved to Casablanca. He says he came for the waters. His questioner reminds him that Casablanca is in a desert. Rick replies: “I was misinformed.” This exchange, with minor modifications, could describe O’Connor’s misunderstanding about Islam’s treatment of women, a cause she claims to champion. The musician was ordained as a priest in 1999 in a dissident Roman Catholic group. She has previously spoken out against the abuses of the Catholic Church, ripping up a photo of Pope John Paul II during a Saturday Night Live appearance in 1992.

Trade Trouble. The Trump administration has been promoting the United States–Mexico-Canada (USMCA) free trade agreement. It’s the successor to NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), which Trump derided as bad law. However, for religious conservatives, USMCA could be worse. It includes provisions that could promote LGBT policies. USMCA has two references to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). A group of 46 conservative House lawmakers sent a letter to President Donald Trump last week asking Trump to remove those references, which they say would have the effect of making sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes. The lawmakers claim SOGI language should not be in trade agreements because it usurps the ability of the United States to set its own policies regarding discrimination. This concern could derail the agreement, as Trump needs 218 votes for it to pass in the House. Losing 46 Republican votes would force the administration to rely on Democratic support. But many Democrats oppose the agreement because they want stronger safeguards against pollution and climate change.

Milestones. Madeline L’Engle was born on Nov. 29, 1918, 100 years ago this week. She is best known for her children’s classic “A Wrinkle in Time”…. The great Christian writer C.S. Lewis was also born Nov. 29, 1898, 120 years ago this week. Lewis had a razor sharp mind who defended the doctrines of the Christian faith in such books as “Mere Christianity” and “The Problem of Pain.” However, anyone who has read “The Chronicles of Narnia” or his science fiction space trilogy knows he also believed in the power of storytelling to communicate truth.

 

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