I struggle with the story of Jesus encountering the Canaanite woman. I
don’t know if it’s the lack of compassion in Jesus’ voice or the
exploitation of power or the tone of condescension, but if this were
the only story I knew of Jesus I’d be turned off.
The version of Christianity that appears in the media often embarrasses me: it’s narrow, sectarian, exclusive and sometimes mean-spirited. So it was a joy to find in the May 26 New Yorker an article by novelist Ian Frazier about a church being a church in the best sense.
When I can’t pray I often turn to the end of Romans 8. Here Paul
pulls back the velvet curtain of revelation. What we see is amazing: a
never-ending festivity where there sounds a strained, melodious,
mysterious prayer that all the suffering in this present world cannot
drown out. At the heart of the festivity is the Triune God praying for
Construction of religious buildings is at its lowest level since record keeping began in 1967. Declining participation and financial funding and a shift away from megachurches are cited as reasons for the decline. Congregations are also deciding to put more money into ministry rather than structures. The building of religious structures peaked in 2002 and has been decreasing ever since, though there are signs that it may have bottomed out in 2013. Mormons and Muslims, both with growing populations, are exceptions to this trend (Wall Street Journal, December 4).