May 03, 2000
On January 1 the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden began a new era of independence from the Swedish government. Though the new arrangement is far from realizing an American-style separation of church and state, the enactment of this reform represents an important new step in a long process of changing relations between state and church in Sweden. The significance of the recent moves can be understood only in light of Sweden’s rather complicated church-state tradition.
Standing on a dusty Nairobi roundabout amid exhaust fumes and blaring horns, several hundred young men raise their hands north to the unseen shrine of Kerinyaga, or Mount Kenya—the second-highest mountain in Africa and mythological birthplace of the Kikuyu, Kenya’s largest tribe.
While I was visiting Fort Worth, Texas, recently, I walked into a used bookstore on North 8th Street—the kind of place where you can fall into a time warp, forgetting where you are until you hear the owner locking up for the day. For the first hour I browsed the shelves on my own, collecting a small stack of books with such delectable titles as What Every Catholic Needs to Know About Fundamentalism and Christianity as Mystical Fact. I even found a hardback copy of the complete works of Spinoza that cost $9.50, or about $1.90 a pound.