Some two decades before Robert Bellah and his colleagues wrote the seminal 1985 book Habits of the Heart, which improved the public conversation about religion and society in the United States, Bellah penned a provocative essay called “Religious Evolution.” He has finally returned to that ambitious theme.
Margaret Farley’s Just Love: A Framework for a Christian Sexual Ethics is at #16 on the current Amazon sales list. When is the last time a sane, scholarly, carefully argued and theologically rich book of sexual ethics ranked that high?
I don’t know, but I can’t imagine it was recent. (Four out of the top five on the Amazon list are versions of Fifty Shades of Gray. If only those readers would open up Farley!) To make matters even stranger, the book is six years old and used mostly in seminaries and at religious institutions.
The flurry of interest was provoked by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
I once went on a blind date. He was a law student, a friend of a friend, and I was a seminarian. We met for drinks.
He was nice, funny. He was a self-identifying Christian--the first one, actually, I had ever gone out with. We were talking about our chosen professions; he was, as many are, fascinated by the idea of a call to ministry. My call story is not exactly dramatic, but it has a social justice edge, forged on youth group mission trips and in researching poverty. “I want to make the world a better place,” I told the date.
The future lawyer looked at me and asked, “But isn’t the world a fallen place?”
A few of the current candidates for president have remained members of the faith in which they were raised: Hillary Clinton (Methodist), Ben Carson (Seventh-day Adventist), and Rick Santorum (Catholic). Numerous other candidates have made a switch: Jeb Bush switched from the Episcopal to the Catholic Church. Rand Paul moved from the Episcopal Church to a Presbyterian church. Ted Cruz grew up in the home of lapsed Catholics until his father joined the Southern Baptists. Marco Rubio has migrated from the Catholic Church to Mormonism and back again to the Catholics, but sometimes goes with his Baptist spouse to her independent church. Bobby Jindal made the biggest switch: from the Hinduism of his youth to the Catholic faith (Newsweek, April 2).