It is hard to be moved anymore by films about concentration camps. The grainy images of scarecrow figures; maniacal guards firing pistols on a whim; parents dragged away while children stare—Hollywood has managed to turn such horrors into stock visuals. It has made the unspeakable not only speakable, but almost rote.
When award-winning documentary filmmakers Alan and Susan Raymond set out to make The Congregation, they may have imagined they were taking a respite from the hot topics of their previous films—wartime Bosnia, New York police, and homosexuality in America.
Think of the standard theological debates in Western Christianity: Is conversion a matter of divine grace or human free will? Are theological disputes to be arbitrated by appeals to the Bible or to church tradition? Do the church’s authority and unity cohere in the pope, in a set of bishops, or in assemblies of the faithful?
Brian McLaren’s two most important books—A New Kind of Christian and the recent A Generous Orthodoxy—both open by raising the specter of an evangelical pastor leaving the ministry or the church altogether.
What do philosophers do? Do they, like other academics, get doctorates, publish for fellow academics, strive for tenure and advance up the academic ladder? Alain de Botton defines a philosopher not as an ambitious academic, but as one who asks hard questions. Why do people work? Why do we travel? Why do we love?
For many years Stanley Hauerwas has been attempting to return the church to the center of Christian theological and ethical reflection. He argues that “liberal” and “conservative” voices in the church tend to mimic the groups that share those labels in the wider political culture.
Is there anything laypeople can do to get themselves kicked out of the United Methodist Church?” My question stumped the speaker, expert on Methodist church law though he was. He had just delivered a detailed list of offenses that could get Methodist ministers cast into outer darkness. Wanting to democratize the misery a bit, I wondered if the church disciplined anyone other than ministers.
"I heard that when the tribulation comes, China will be one of the few countries with a big enough army to take over the United States.” My parishioner looked at me earnestly, awaiting confirmation of her theological and political obs
I’ve spent time in three Trappist monasteries—the order made famous by Thomas Merton and known for its commitment to silence. Actually, I’ve found that the monks are rather eager to talk. They are commanded in the Rule of St. Benedict, the guidebook for all western monasticism, to “receive every guest as Christ.” Or, to use Kathleen Norris’ paraphrase in Cloister Walk, they are formed to think: “Hot damn, it’s Jesus again!”