Hardball tactics

When United Methodist Church bishops condemned the U.S. military presence in Iraq, a fax arrived almost immediately at the Century from the Institute on Religion and Democracy's top Methodist watchdog, Mark Tooley. Like some kind of Methodist pope perched over the bishops, Tooley dressed down the bishops: "How woefully absurd that church prelates condemn the United States for attempting to build democracy in Iraq."For three decades Tooley and others at the IRD have been monitoring mainline churches for political statements that are out of step with the views of their rank-and-file members. When there's a gap between the views of church leaders and people in the pews the IRD steps in to take advantage of the controversy.

The Robert Shaw Reader

Robert Shaw’s father was a second-generation evangelical minister with the Disciples of Christ, and Shaw said that his mother “was the best singer of gospel songs and spirituals I ever heard.” Although he intended to become a minister and served for a time in his father’s pulpit, Shaw (1916-1999) spent most of his life behind a conductor’s podium as the mo

Cambridge Platonist Spirituality

At a time when religious conservatives claim a mandate and the best-selling Left Behind novels gleefully contemplate the destruction of all but a small remnant of humanity, the works of the Cambridge Platonists speak with particular resonance. These 17th-century rational theologians also lived in a remarkably fractious age.

Saints and sinners

If you know about Jane Addams, you probably know the Jane Addams of Hull House, the Addams who worked for social justice, women’s suffrage and world peace and whose settlement house was a place where people met across racial, ethnic and class lines. Becoming this Jane Addams was an arduous process, as Louise W.

Widow's walk

Among the inside-the-beltway commentariat, it goes without saying—although the commentators frequently say it anyway—that the United States is in the midst of a culture war.