Christmas Wars in France

From First Thoughts

I used to think that the annual Christmas Wars were strictly an American thing, like corn dogs and attorneys’ contingency fees. Only in America, I thought, do people seriously argue about whether to allow Christmas trees in public parks or to permit public school choirs to sing “Silent Night” at holiday concerts. The issues become more and more bizarre. This year, a Maryland school district decided to remove even a reference to “Christmas” in the school calendar–as though the reference amounted to religious oppression and removal would make people forget what holiday comes round every 25th of December. Continue Reading »

Kobani, Then and Now

From First Thoughts

For the past several weeks, the world has been watching Kobani (in Kurdish, Kobanê), a small city on the Syrian-Turkish border. In September, militants from ISIS, the Sunni Islamist group that has declared a restored caliphate in the Middle East, laid siege to the city, which is mostly Kurdish and currently in the hands of the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish group that opposes the Assad government. Kobani’s strategic significance is debatable, but the city has symbolic importance, and its fall would be a huge morale boost for ISIS. Consequently, the US has instituted a bombing campaign to push ISIS back. As of this weekend, the siege was at a standstill. Continue Reading »

First World Problems

From First Thoughts

At the Center for Law and Religion Forum, guest blogger Robert Delahunty has an extremely interesting post on this month’s Synod on the Family at the Vatican. Delahunty argues that the Church is losing the opportunity for the reset Pope Francis promised at the start of his pontificate:  Continue Reading »

The Last Armenian Church in Myanmar: A Follow-Up

From First Thoughts

A follow-up to last month’s post on the Armenian Orthodox church in Myanmar: This summer, the BBC did a lovely story about a 150-year old Armenian parish church in the city of Yangon, St. John the Baptist. Hardly any parishioners remained, the BBC said, maybe 10 people on a good Sunday. Most of the congregation were not Armenians, either, the Armenians having left Myanmar, with the British, decades before. Continue Reading »