For much of this century, the waning influence of religion in American colleges and universities was viewed as a natural concomitant of modernization, and it was generally seen as a necessary or even a good thing.
We call prayer at Taizé “common prayer,” not the “office,” which suggests a work obligation: “We do our office,” “We do what we ought to do.” That doesn’t correspond to the way we experience prayer in our lives. To say prayer is “common” is to say that it brings us together.
The enormous popularity of The Simpsons, now in its 12th television season, suggests that religious people have a sense of humor—contrary to the usual wisdom in Hollywood. The program takes more satirical jabs at spiritual matters than any other TV show, yet the erratic cartoon family has an appreciative audience among many people of faith and among many analysts of religion.
Imagine for a moment that we meet an angelic visitor who can tell us the future, and we ask whether some person we know will be “saved.” Suppose our visitor says, “No, she will not be saved; instead she is going to get everything she truly wants.” Suppose, on the other hand, that our visitor says, “Yes, she will be saved, though she will never come to know Christ o