01: The growth of the Coptic Mission of Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia represents an unusual case of transplanting a strongly ethnic form Orthodox Christianity in a Latin American context. The mission started almost by accident in 2000 when an Egyptian monk was sent to Bolivia to minister to Coptic Christian migrants only to find the few families had moved. The monk, Father Youssef Anba Paula, started a church anyway and began attracting native Bolivians drawn to the mysterious priest in a black robe and a three-hour liturgy with ancient chants in another tongue. It was a novel experiment in mission. Aside from past efforts in Africa, the Coptic Church has rarely sought to evangelize non-Egyptian people. Today the church in Santa Cruz, now a cathedral, has grown to over 200 parishioners with four clergy, and another mission started in Paquio, a rural community three hours to the north. The church has managed a delicate balance between enculturation and retaining Egyptian traditions; the liturgy is translated into Spanish, musical instruments are used in the church—forbidden in Egypt—and many parishioners view Coptic Orthodoxy as a stronger form of Catholicism. At the same time, the largely young adult converts value the exotic nature of the faith—many wear the tattoo of the small blue cross that is an identifier of Copts in Egypt—especially its iconography. The church, although eschewing any political involvement, has also started a community development ministry. (Source: Latin American Research Review, Volume 50, No. 1, 2015)
02: Inspire magazine, the glossy magazine published by al Queda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has become the “Vanity Fair of jihadi publications,” playing a key role in radicalizing a segment of young people as well as creating “lone wolf jihadists,” according to terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman. The magazine, now in its sixth year of publication, was founded by Americans Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who were both killed by drone attacks in 2011. But the Internet magazine reappeared in 2012 and is said to have inspired several terrorist attacks, most likely including the Boston Marathon bombing. The main appeal of Inspire is not its “show and tell,” since bomb-making manuals are not difficult to find online, but rather its appeal to young Muslims that they are under constant attack by American forces. Britain and Australia have waged the most intense battle against Inspire, prosecuting individuals who just download the publication, and free speech advocates are concerned that recent right turn in the U.S. Congress may encourage similar attempts in regulation in the U.S. (Source: Foreign Policy, March/April).