During a Lenten retreat, we were asked to reflect on the feelings and role of the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Though I had frequently thought about the parable over the years, I had not given the father much attention other than to consider him a symbol for God. Our retreat leader, however, asked us to think of the father as a real parent.
Reading a recent issue of the Christian Century finally provoked me to register a concern raised by other reviews and articles over many months. It would help me a great deal if the editors and writers would delineate, if not define, the "liberal" we are "post" (see especially "The making of a postliberal," by Anthony Robinson and Martin Copenhaver, October 14, 1998).
During the past 30 years various churches have begun to revive an ancient pattern for preparing adults for baptism and Christian discipleship. The Roman Catholic Church began the process in the 1980s by creating a Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults-now the way one becomes Catholic as an adult. The Episcopal Church soon followed with a process of its own.
Why are people ripping "For Those Tears I Died" out of songbooks and hymnals? It's one of the most popular Christian folk songs to come out of the '60s. It's been translated into 12 languages. There's hardly an evangelical songbook in which it doesn't appear. Written by then 16-year-old Marsha Stevens, the song expresses adolescent piety, yet its images of baptism and liberation are universal.
Is the religious right becoming sectarian? That was the question I found myself asking after Paul Weyrich, one of the founding fathers of the Moral Majority, recently called on Christians to "drop out" of American culture. "I believe that we have probably lost the culture war," Weyrich lamented.