If you share my concern about the theological thinness of much of the
current craze of construing Christianity as a practice, get Roger
Owens's book. Even more, if you care about the theological identity of
the church, you will find The Shape of Participation to be this decade's finest work of ecclesiology.
My local Starbucks—and
probably yours too—has a large sign on each door that proclaims, "Take comfort
in rituals." When I'm being cynical, I read it as a multinational company
preying on our cultural longing for meaning by suggesting we can buy happiness
with a $4 cup of coffee.
Last month Slate
ran a series by Juliet Lapidos called Strictly
Platonic. Lapidos and her friend Jeffrey were born in 1983. They've been
friends since meeting at summer camp as teenagers. There were a few forays into
romantic experimentation, but today they're more like brother and sister;
My job often has me walking down hospital hallways. Today it was at
St Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti where a parishioner is recovering
from pneumonia. Last week he slept as I sat in the room and worried
about him, but today he met me with a smile. He explained a procedure
I didn’t understand. Medical information seldom sticks in my brain.
From Britain to Denmark, Europe has hundreds of empty churches. The closing of a church is painful—especially in villages where the church for centuries served as a community anchor, even for unbelievers. Efforts are often made to adapt the buildings for a community service, such as a library. Because they are very expensive to maintain, empty churches are more frequently turned into some kind of commercial endeavor. The Church of St. Joseph in Arnhem, Netherlands, still owned by the Catholic Church, has been turned into a skate park. The Netherlands has the largest number of idle church buildings. Roman Catholic leaders in Holland estimate that within a decade two-thirds of their 1,600 churches will be closed, and 700 of the country’s Protestant churches will likely close over the next four years (Wall Street Journal, January 2).