Among Gospel epitomes I
especially love the Jesus prayer, the Agnus Dei and "When he ascended on high,
he led captivity captive"--the good news as I first heard it from Paul
(Ephesians 4:8) and Christ's Jubilee proclamation (Luke 4:18).
"Religious commitments are no longer taken for
granted as part of North American people's lives," says Scott Kershner of Holden Village, a Lutheran retreat center in Washington State. "So space opens up to
ask very basic and interesting questions."
Of the rewriting Christ and Culture there
shall be no end. Miroslav Volf is too sophisticated a theologian to
rehash or imitate H. Richard Niebuhr's celebrated fivefold schema, but A Public Faith remains in the shadow of Niebuhr's defining work.
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).