When radio stations started playing Henryk Górecki's Symphony no. 3, known as the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, it was reported that drivers would pull off the road because the haunting, mournful music left them in tears. A 14-year-old Swedish burn victim wrote to Górecki to say that the Third Symphony was what kept her alive.
When I sit in church on Sunday mornings, I sometimes look
around at the other congregants and ask myself, "Why are these people here? Why
did they choose to come to church?" Some people prefer staying at home to
leisurely read the Sunday paper, or go out for a relaxed Sunday brunch. Why
have these people given up their precious spare time to be here?
I used to think my grandfather had a strange affliction. He not only
read the obituaries, but he kept a log of the deaths of relatives,
friends and people he knew. If there were ever any questions about who
died when, he’d retrieve his notebook and give us the facts.
Lee Kravitz loved his job as editor in chief of Parade magazine.
But like his ancestors before him, he was a workaholic. Most of the men
in his family worked until they died, usually from heart attacks in
their early 60s.
The challenge of telling other people’s stories is an occupational hazard for journalists, historians, memoirists, conflict mediators and even preachers. Getting the facts accurate is only part of the challenge. Storytellers have to grapple with the most effective way to tell the story and what perspective to take or interpretive remarks to include.
In 1892 Agnes and Margaret Smith, identical twin sisters from Scot land, took a nine-day camel ride to the Greek Orthodox monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai in search of ancient biblical manuscripts. They discovered the earliest known Syriac version of the four canonical Gospels.
In the fourth meeting between Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and religious leaders seeking to keep lines of communication open between Iran and the U.S.—the second such meeting I’ve attended—speakers from Jewish, Muslim, Lutheran and Mennonite communities made brief presentations that were followed by a long response from Ahmadinejad in which he affirmed that “all divine prophets have spoke
Early in my visit to Iran I was introduced to Nesa, 24, who was eager for contact with Americans. A recent university graduate who hopes to get a doctorate in English literature, she was also eager to explain her nation. “Iran is a complex country,” she said. “And so are the people.”
The theme of the World Council of Churches Ninth Assembly, held last month in Porto Alegre, Brazil, was the prayer, “God, in your grace, transform the world.” A recurrent question for many observers is whether the WCC can transform itself.
Leaders of the U.S. denominations belonging to the World Council of Churches created a small buzz at Porto Alegre by delivering a letter to the Ninth Assembly in which they confessed the complicity of the U.S. churches in actions and policies that are detrimental to the well-being of the world.
Books on spirituality abound, and the publication of new ones seems not to abate. Writings in this genre often focus on experience and practical disciplines of spirituality. The books featured below are not practical in that way; rather, they provide historical and theological analysis that is foundational to spirituality.
Years ago I was part of a religion class in which students were asked to share their religious autobiographies. I was preceded by a Jewish man who talked about his faith in God in such a way that I thought he was talking about the God I knew through Jesus Christ. How could this be?
Are mainline churches capturing the imaginations of young people and leading them toward long-term commitments to the church?Or do they serve as revolving doors—leading one way into secularism and the other way into"hotter"forms of religiosity found in evangelicalism or non-Christian faiths?What defines a successful yo
The ancient formula lex orandi, lex credendi might be translated: as we pray, so we believe. Unfortunately, there has been a split between theology and spirituality, and many theologians haven't had much to say about spirituality. Contemporary theologians are more known for talking about God than talking with or listening to God.
Frederick Buechner, 76, is a Presbyterian, but he attends an Episcopal church. He’s ordained, but he’s never been a parish minister. His first book (A Long Day’s Dying) was not supposed to sell many copies, but it turned out to be the only best seller of the 32 books he’s published.
When I told my family less than a year ago that I was going to move to Chicago to work for the Christian Century, one family member protested. She was concerned, in the aftermath of 9/11, about me working in a downtown location where, she feared, terrorists might strike next.