Nov 15, 2000
"Women are more religious than men.” That’s a longstanding generalization made by pastors surveying their pews and by social scientists surveying the public. Husbands and single guys with other weekend plans might even offer that truism as an excuse for skipping church.
Fernando did not look like what I thought a refugee should look like. He was fat, for one thing. The beige polyester suit he wore was tight on him, especially around the belly. He reeked of cologne. He had one gold front tooth and around his neck was a matching gold chain. The pendant dangling from the chain appeared to be a phallus.
Though the past quarter century has been a challenging, sometimes discouraging time for mainline congregations and their leaders, many positive things, often hidden from public view or statistical analysis, have been going on. Many mainline congregations have learned to see scripture afresh, have profited from more biblical preaching and have rediscovered the power and beauty of worship. There has been an explosion of creative new hymnody, reflected and made available in a host of new hymnals.
One of the central characters in Berke Breathed’s wonderful comic strip Bloom County was a penguin named Opus. One day Opus decided he wanted to give up television and become more learned. As he walked up the steps of the “Publik Library,” Opus announced: “Attention, dark world of electronic gratification . . . I would like to announce my intellectualization! No more tv! No boob tube-a-roo! ‘Twas turning my noodle to video goo! Yes, there’s something much better for smart chaps like me . . .