A two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine crisis has been growing more and more distant. Prospects suffered yet another blow last week when a government commission in Israel recommended that all Israeli settlements in the West Bank be declared legal.
Anyone who likes maps, religion and useful or odd bits of data will have fun poking around the website created by the Association of Religion Data Archives, which now includes information from the 2010 census. The site allows for all kinds of searches by denomination and region.
For example, the curious can find out what U.S. counties have the highest or lowest percentage of Episcopalians.
One of the few things Western observers of the Middle East tend to agree on, regardless of whether they lean toward the Israelis or the Palestinians, is that Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad has done an excellent job as administrator of the Palestinian Authority.
In noting the death of Chuck Colson, David Sessions at the Daily Beast points to Colson’s role in popularizing the idea--which he got it from Francis Schaeffer, who got it from other Reformed thinkers--that Christians possess a distinct “worldview.”
Brian Bantum, a theologian at Seattle Pacific, was
mentioned in the Century's recent article on the new black theology. Readers
intrigued by that topic will be interested in Bantum's comments
on a book on racial reconciliation
written by a white Minneapolis preacher, John Piper.
Who would have thought that contraception would become such a
major issue in this election year?
Or is it?
The U.S. Catholic bishops stress that the issue
is not really contraception but religious liberty--the right of Catholics, and
by extension any group of religious people, to practice and live out their
faith. That's a plausible argument, as the Century
editors acknowledged a few weeks ago, and
it is certainly one designed to gain allies among other religious people.
lawyers for University of Virginia student George Huguely said
their client was a "stupid drunk," not a killer. He was widely known to have a
history of abusing alcohol--hardly a rarity on college campuses. Huguely was
convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 26 years in prison for
killing his girlfriend, Yeardley Love, after a day of nonstop drinking.
case highlighted yet again the problem of rampant alcohol abuse on campus--and
the situation of friends and bystanders who know perfectly well that someone
has a drinking problem but don't care or know how to intervene.
John F. Kennedy's famous
Houston speech on church and state during
the 1960 presidential campaign elicited Rick Santorum's after-the-fact disgust. Though Santorum
misrepresents the speech in some ways--Kennedy didn't say anything about
limiting religious institutions and leaders from speaking on public issues--he
is right to find the speech theologically lame.
Occasionally the Century editors sit down to talk with experts in magazine
marketing. They sometimes tells us that we need to do more with
celebrities--feature a celebrity on the cover of the magazine, for example.
No, they're not pressing us to feature Brad Pitt
or Lindsay Lohan. What they have in mind is featuring the celebrities of our world, that is, the celebrities of
the mainline Protestant world.
We usually respond: "But mainline Protestants
don't really have celebrities." When the experts look doubtful, the editors
look at one another. "Well, we might come up with a few living semi-celebrities--but that would take
care of only two months worth of covers."
A certain ritual of public
witness--thanking Jesus in the postgame interview, praising God for victory,
pointing heavenward after a score--has become routine behavior for devout
Christian athletes. Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is the most prominent
perhaps different approach--or perhaps not so different--may be emerging with
basketball player Jeremy Lin, who in recent weeks burst out of nowhere to
become a fan favorite on the New York Knicks.
a response to complaints from Catholic leaders, last week the Obama
administration revised its rule requiring some religious institutions to
include birth control in health insurance. The new stance was welcomed by some
Catholic organizations, including the
Catholic Health Association but was firmly
rejected by the Catholic bishops--who in doing so shifted the ground
of their own argument.
Whatever Rick Santorum's
fate in the New Hampshire primary today, his near win in the Iowa caucuses
inspired columnists Michael Gerson and David Brooks to burnish the candidate's image not only as champion
of the family and conservative Christianity but as a political thinker.
Santorum, they argued, is shaped by Catholic social teachings and in particular
by the Catholic principle of subsidiarity.
recently heard a panel discussion in which the conversation turned to the sorry
state of American political discourse, which too often descends into
sloganeering--assertions about "smaller government," "equal rights," "personal
responsibility" or "liberty," as if that ends the discussion.
Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World, by Robin Wright. The West's myopic preoccupation with the war on terror has kept it from seeing the ferment in the Middle East, says Wright.
and church-growth gurus have been closely following Nadia Bolz-Weber's church
plant in Denver, the House for All Sinners and Saints. An outreach innovator,
Bolz-Weber is a traditionalist when it comes to matters of liturgy and
theology. She appears to have a special attachment to the doctrine of original
knew that mainline congregants tend to be older than the general population.
The average member is about 58, whereas the average American is age 38. The
latest survey from Hartford Seminary fills in the
picture with this piece of data: in more than half (52.7 percent) of mainline
Protestant congregations, a third or more of the members are 65 years old or