Many people assume that there has been a steady decline in worship
attendance for all the mainline denominations since the mid-1960s—the
era when most of them began to see their memberships decline. But
trends in attendance have actually followed their own
Carlyle Marney said that each of us is like a house, with a
living room where we entertain and a dark basement where we store the
trash. And each house has a balcony with all the people
who have influenced and inspired us. The way to
celebrate All Saints Day, he said, is to step out onto the front lawn
and salute the people on your balcony. One of my balcony people
Before my Great Aunt Esther died, she lived in downtown
Minneapolis in poverty. Oddly, this is not embarrassing to my proper,
upper-middle-class, Christian family. Esther simply continued to live as she
had when her husband, my grandmother's brother Ludwig, was alive.
“What do I have to believe to be a Christian?” If you have been part of a church for any amount of time or spent even a few minutes surfing Christian blogs or church websites, this is a question you will encounter ad nauseam. The question itself is loaded, since it assumes one has to believe something.
The highest incarceration rates in the United States are in red states, especially in the South, but some conservatives are having second thoughts about the war on crime launched by President Nixon. Among them is Chase Madar, former Virginia state senator and attorney general who was president of Prison Fellowship for ten years. Madar was persuaded that a new approach to crime is needed by visiting prisoners, seeing the conditions they live in, and discovering that virtually no rehabilitation of criminals is taking place. He now advocates the use of restorative justice, a plan that returns criminals to the communities where they committed their crimes to confess at public meetings and ask forgiveness (American Conservative, February 3).