Century Marks

Century Marks

Worship revolution

Poet Christian Wiman says that “mystical experience needs some form of dogma in order not to dissipate into moments of spiritual intensity that are merely personal.” On the other hand, “dogma needs regular infusions of unknowingness to keep from calcifying into the predictable, pontificating, and anti-intellectual services so common in mainstream American churches.” Practically, this means that “conservative churches that are infused with the bouncy brand of American optimism one finds in sales pitches are selling shit. It means that liberal churches that go months without mentioning the name of Jesus, much less the dying Christ, have no more spiritual purpose or significance than a local union hall. It means that we—those of us who call ourselves Christians—need a revolution in the way we worship” (Image, Spring).

Aints go marching in

For one night in August the St. Paul Saints, a Minnesota minor league baseball team, will become the “Mr. Paul Aints.” The game is being sponsored by the Minnesota Atheists. The letter S will be covered in all Saints signs and logos around the stadium. The Saints have hosted several events with religious themes, and the club thought it would be inconsistent to say no to the atheists (RNS).

Accommodating the faithful

Summer tends to thin out pews on Sunday mornings, as churchgoers take off for vacations. Some churches are rediscovering Wednesday p.m.—a traditional midweek church night—as a prime time to gather the flock for casual worship in the summer. Early adopters report improved attendance, slightly fatter coffers and invigorated spirituality as curious newcomers drop by and join in. For some, the shift to Wednesdays brings variety to a familiar weekly rhythm, but it’s not an easy sell for all church folk (RNS).

Hindus & Christians together?

A Christian human rights group in Pakistan has called for an exclusive region for religious minorities whose numbers have been on a steady decline in the Muslim majority nation. The group has demanded abolition of constitutional provisions that declare Islam to be the state religion. Pakistani laws also say that only a Muslim can head the government. The law forbidding blasphemy against Islam is often used to harass religious minorities. Since the formation of Pakistan in 1947, the percentage of minorities has shrunk from 40 to about 4 percent, Hindus and Christians being the largest minorities (ENI).

Mad mullahs?

A nuclear-armed Iran would not necessarily be the worst thing that could happen to the Middle East, argues Kenneth N. Waltz of Columbia University. Ever since Israel got nuclear weapons, there has been an imbalance of power in the Middle East. Armed with nuclear weapons, Iran would provide balance and bring stability to the region, he argues. Western responses to Iran’s desire for nuclear weapons is founded on the notion that Iran’s policies are devised by “mad mullahs.” In reality, Iran is guided by “perfectly sane ayatollahs” who wish to survive just like the leaders of other nations, despite their incendiary rhetoric (Foreign Affairs, July/August).