Over ten years ago Andrew Walls, the renowned historian and mission theologian, with whom I was studying at Princeton Theological Seminary, mentioned that one of his students had begun researching African immigrant churches in New York City. The student, according to Walls, was literally walking block by block in the city looking for these churches, of which very little was known at the time.
Lately there has been a surge of studies variously construed as focused on "religion and violence," "the Bible and violence" or "God and violence." Most of these studies are not very helpful, for they dismiss the shrill reality of violence in facile ways.
Glenn Hinson recalls his first visit to the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky with a group of Baptist seminarians. They heard a talk by Thomas Merton on contemplation. One student asked Merton a question along these lines: “What is a smart fellow like you doing in a place like this?” Hinson expected a stiff rebuke from Merton. Instead, Merton said: “I am here because I believe in prayer. That is my vocation.” It had never occurred to Hinson before to think of prayer as a vocation (Weavings, vol. 30, no. 1).