What superpower would you like to have?" my son asked as we were driving away from the local cinema multiplex. With all the superhero movies we've seen this summer, I wasn't surprised by the question. "I'd like to be invisible," said his sister. "Flying would be cooler," he responded, and so the debate began.
Those of us who no longer live in oral cultures may have
lost respect for storytelling as a vehicle of moral authority. Just give us the
facts, ma'am. We're data people, and we like it in writing. For us the
parabolic arts may be fine entertainment, but they're an unnecessarily messy
way of getting at the truth.
Pastoral ethnography is a strategy for listening to church members in a disciplined, attentive way. As a researcher, the pastor strives for a neutral attitude—which promotes honesty and greater understanding.
In C. S. Lewis's Studies in Words, the best book of his that you've never heard of, he describes the original meaning of the Latin term natura as something like "sort, kind, quality, or character." "When you ask, in our modern idiom, what something 'is like,'" he says, "you are asking for its natura."
Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, said he is in conversation with Pope Francis, Coptic leader Pope Tawadros, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the leader of the Orthodox church, about establishing a fixed date for Easter. Easter in the Western church is on the first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon following the spring equinox. It can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25. The Orthodox churches follow the Julian calendar and celebrate Easter at a later date. The Vatican approved a proposal for a fixed date in 1990, subject to agreement with other Christian churches and government, which has not yet been reached (BBC, January 15).