On a journey through North America, my wife and I
attended many churches. At one the pastor insisted repeatedly that "the meaning and purpose of life is to have a
personal relationship with Jesus." The claim irked me.
When documentaries explore Christianity, they have little
difficulty finding diverse manifestations of faith and practice. A global survey also reveals a surprising diversity when it comes to the content of the Bible.
In the midst of today's rancorous politics and the
trivialization of religion in the public square, the death of Mark O. Hatfield calls to mind a different kind of political style and a different
kind of Christian witness.
No one knows how many child preachers there are in Brazil, but estimates run to the thousands. Most of them are Pentecostal. Alani is an 11-year-old who, according to her father, performed her first healing miracle when she was only 51 days old. Convinced that Alani had healing powers, her father placed her infant hand on a woman’s distended stomach—and it immediately deflated. Even within Pentecostal circles, some observers believe that child preachers like Alani are exploited by their parents and other adults (New York Times, June 11).