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
"Constantinian" has lately been a favored pejorative in
theological circles. The term--an allusion to the fourth-century Roman emperor
whose conversion to Christianity turned a marginal sect into a state religion--has
been used to deplore any alliance between the church and the state or, more
broadly, between the church and the dominant political culture.
I had an English professor who used to get
deeply annoyed whenever students would cite some literary passage but not
bother to quote it exactly. I recall him telling us, "Look, if you're going to
quote somebody, get it right."
When reports started circulating that Republican
presidential contender Michele Bachmann was a member of a congregation in the
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, I thought: this could be interesting.
all the books that might be read to mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11, one of
the most probing is by a law professor at Yale, Paul Kahn. In Sacred
picks out two distinctive political problems of our post-9/11 world--terrorism
and torture--and argues that they are parallel.
Dramatic conversion stories are the exception, not the rule,
in the life of faith. Coming to faith usually involves a gradual adjustment of
one's vision and habits, rather than the kind of dramatic turnaround described
in those oft-sung words of "Amazing Grace": "I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind but now I see." Life is rarely so black and white.
It's routine, as you get out your credit card in the supermarket
checkout line, to be asked to donate a few dollars to medical research. It's an
easy way to contribute--and who wouldn't want to help conquer breast cancer or
before Rob Bell's book Love Wins (see
by Peter Marty)
came out, conservative evangelicals lit up the blogosphere with their
insistence--against Bell--that God's condemnation of the wicked to hell is a nonnegotiable part of