As our train ambled through the outskirts of London, I thought I would kill some time by quizzing my children on a few items I’d tried to instill in their brains as a little bonus above and beyond their school curricula. I elicited mild groans and chuckles when I asked, “How did the Gettysburg address begin?” and “Can you count to ten in Spanish?” But when I asked, “Can you name the books of the Bible?” a train rider across the aisle turned, and his eyes flew wide open.
It’s Dad’s birthday next week, I tell the boys. What shall we get him? Without hesitation, they chime in: the Phacops rana at A2Z. A2Z is a science and nature store in town, where our youngest is taking weekly yo-yo lessons. His father has been admiring this particular trilobite for months. And why not?
I had just shown a group of pastors and laity a scene from the movie Chariots of Fire. Christian missionary and runner Eric Liddell says about his running and his God, "To win is to honor him." A man in the group responded, “I don’t believe that line comes from Liddell. It’s pure Hollywood. It is out of character for Liddell to be so focused on winning.”
Is winning compatible with the Christian faith? What are the criteria by which we measure "winning"?
This past summer at our family home in Croatia, I was immersed in George Weigel’s long biography of the late John Paul II, Witness to Hope. As the intense focus of world attention on his funeral made clear, he was a great world leader and, in many regards, a global moral conscience. That was plain for all to see during his life and even more clearly after he died.
According to Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of Great Britain, the Hebrew Bible contains only one commandment to love the neighbor but no less than 36 commands to love the stranger. Throughout Torah, the reason given for this moral teaching is that the Israelites themselves were strangers once.
The conventional wisdom has been that going to college leads people away from organized religion, and that was true for those born in the first part of the 20th century. But it’s not true for recent generations, says sociologist Philip Schwadel at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. In fact, it’s the least-educated members of Generation X—people born roughly between 1965 and 1980—who are most likely to leave religion. “Americans born in the late 1920s and ’30s who graduated from college were twice as likely to drop out of religion than people who didn’t graduate from college,” said Schwadel. However, for the generation born in the 1960s, there’s no difference between those who did and those who did not go to college in their likelihood of religious affiliation. Among those born in the 1970s, “those without a college education are the most likely to drop out.” Schwadel did not include millennials—Americans roughly between the ages 18 and 30—in the study because, he said, it’s too soon to tell if they will settle on a religious identity (RNS).