FREEDOM OF CHOICE FOR MUSLIMS
A top Islamic scholar and adviser in Egypt says Muslims are free to choose which religion to follow -- an opinion certain to have various ramifications, including for Christians there. In the best of all possible worlds, of course, one wouldn't need to say this at all because of its obviousness.
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MARKING A GREAT HYMN -- AND WORDS ON BIRTH CONTROL
Now and then this summer, just for a change of pace, we've been talking a little religious history here on the blog.
The first is the birth in 1899 of Stuart W.K. Hine, an English missionary who, with his wife (whose first name I cannot find), wrote the English words to one of my favorite hymns, indeed, one of the most popular hymns in all of Christianity -- "How Great Thou Art." (The picture here is of evangelist Gail Richardson singing the hymn at a White House service last year.)
Some years ago a wonderful pianist at our church played a version of that one evening as well as "Great is Thy Faithfulness" when a group of us met in the sanctuary, and it was simply transforming.
I said earlier that Hine wrote the English words. The hymn originally was written in Swedish by a pastor named Carl Gustaf Boberg, entitled O Store Gud (Oh Great God) and published in 1891. Hine later found a Russian version of the text and sang it on missionary work in Ukraine.
Today is also the 39th anniversary of the publication of an important encyclical by Pope Paul VI called Humanae Vitae, which condemned artificial methods of birth control. It's hard to think of a papal position that more American Catholics ignore (at least by anecdotal evidence). Perhaps one reason is that most of the members of the Pontifical Commission appointed to make study the subject favored contraception in certain cases.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.
Today's religious holiday: St. James the Great Day (Christianity)