My husband and I found the WorldWide Telescope a few months ago, and we’ve been staring into the heavens ever since. “Which planet would you like to see first?” he asked me once he'd loaded the program onto his computer. No question: Saturn. I’ve always been fascinated by those rings. A few clicks of the mouse and there they were, circling and circling, a sash of light, a halo, a crown. We looked at Jupiter next, with its great red spot. We looked at Mercury, Venus, Mars and Pluto. Each planet was unique, different from every other. But what they had in common was this: they shone out of utter darkness.
In American theological education, we are in the midst of recruitment season. Applications to M.Div. programs across the country have been read and argued over by admissions committees, and offers of admission have gone out in the mail. Now we are wooing our accepted students, making the case that our school is the right place for them to become the ministers God is calling them to be.
The release of the film version of Philip Pullman’s novel The Golden Compass has reinvigorated the controversy over his trilogy, His Dark Materials. Proclaimed “worthy of the bonfire” when first published, Pullman’s books have evoked from some Christians the kind of response that one might expect from the church as described in the trilogy itself.
Several summers ago, I visited the early medieval monastic site of Glendalough with students and faculty from a seminary in Dublin. The site dates back to the sixth century, when St. Kevin (led by an angel, according to tradition) founded a monastery there.
Three senior pastors of large mainline churches describe, in the words of one, their "ascent out of liberalism." They offer fragmentary glimpses of how a postliberal church, exiled from cultural prominence, ought to read scripture, preach, worship, form faithful Christians and engage in social action.