When mission organizations send out promotional
materials, they don't usually include missionary ruminations like Heather Hendrick's. She exposes her faith, doubt, frustration and hope with equal courage.
This week is the Second Sunday of Easter, aka "low Sunday." There
is in the life of a church a movement and momentum toward Easter Sunday, and
then inevitably a scattering, a rest after the intensity. And yet the gospel
lesson does wrestle with the implications of belief, unbelief and doubt.
The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries, by Rodney Stark. Joining sociology and history, Stark contributes much new insight to the amazing rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire—and he reaches some surprising conclusions.
Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, by Christian Smith and Melina Lundquist Denton. Nearly every new youth ministry effort is attempting to respond to the sociological research presented in this volume.
For several years I was an associate pastor on the staff of a large congregation. I often found myself preaching on the Sunday following Easter, a Sunday that's sometimes called "low Sunday." In the rhythm of life among God's people, low Sunday is the calm after the storm.
Michael Bransfield, Catholic bishop of West Virginia, seems to be taking his cues from the coal industry when interpreting Pope Francis’s recent encyclical Laudato si’, which calls for an end to the use of fossil fuels. Bransfield says the pope’s call for ending fossil fuel use is qualified: it should happen “only after” greater progress is made in using alternative fuels, and only where economically feasible. In fact, Pope Francis makes no such qualifications. Bransfield is also promoting the idea of “clean coal.” A spokesperson admitted that the Wheeling-Charleston diocese has “energy related investments” (National Catholic Reporter, July 1).