Every Sunday, millions of Christians recite either the Apostles' or the Nicene Creed. The first evolved over several centuries and first appears in the writings of St. Ambrose in 390 c.e.; the second was formalized by 318 bishops assembled to battle the Arian heresy at the Council of Nicea in 325. Some of us sleepwalk through the exercise of saying the creed, thinking of other things.
The daily accounts of the violence shattering the Holy Land make us wonder if Jerusalem's three religions will ever be able peacefully to coexist there. Bruce Feiler argues that Abraham, the first of the biblical patriarchs, can again become a defining, unifying and hopeful symbol for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.
Stanley Hauerwas does not believe that the people who died on September 11 "deserved" their deaths for the sins of greedy, capitalistic America. He does not think that we should see in that horrible event the direct hand of God. He believes, rather, that as Christians we have been lazy in our thinking and teaching.
Two provocative insights surface in novelist and English professor Brad Gooch's introduction to Godtalk. The first is that the spiritual quest in America has become less superficial and "more sophisticated, more global and more interested in tradition." Borders are opening like never before between the world's cultures and religious traditions.
William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying (1930), a chronicle of the Bundren family's odd journey to bury wife and mother Addie, is notable for its innovative use of narrative chronology, stream of consciousness and multiple perspectives.
Rise and be prepared to move on and ever on," is the continuing theme of Maya Angelou's autobiographical cycle, and the phrase succinctly sums up the story of her life. The first of this series of six splendid testaments, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, published in 1970, accounted for her first 17 years. That memoir met with much acclaim and popular success.
"The Christian ideal," wrote G. K. Chesterton, "has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried." Philip Yancey identifies with Chesterton's assessment. After much struggle he was able to come to terms with the dilemma of absolute ideals and absolute grace that suffuses the teaching of Jesus.
His primary expectation was that you keep your heart open to life," writes Fred Bratman of his friend Henri Nouwen. That Bratman, who is a marketing executive at a New York investment bank and Jewish, is one of the 47 contributors to this expansive and diverse collection shows something of the range of the Roman Catholic Nouwen's spiritual influence.
Historian Paul Johnson compares religious organizations to icebergs. They move slowly and the changes in them are not easily seen. Yet, as Richard Cimino demonstrates in his study of six renewal movements, the most effective reform of these institutions may come from cyclical, rejuvenating forces configured into groups that slowly adapt themselves to change.
Lutheran pastor Jerome E. Burce addresses the challenge of mission and ministry in postmodern North American culture. Proclaiming the Scandal describes the Good News as "folly" and a "stumbling block" which is no easier to believe and preach today than in the early centuries of the church.