Oct 21, 2008
Described by the Los Angeles Times as the “preeminent student of the relationship between religion and American politics,”John Green has conducted surveys on religion for every presidential election since 1992. A professor of political science at the University of Akron, he is author of The Faith Factor: How Religion Influences American Elections (Praeger).
As you’ve been tracking this presidential campaign, have there been any surprises?
Perhaps the validity of a theological proposal can’t be properly assessed until it has been kitchified. William P. Young’s novel The Shack, a runaway success—it’s been on top of the New York Times best-seller list and has sold 2 million copies—features a particular vision of the Trinity. In theological circles, the vision is called “social trinitarianism”: the three persons of the Trinity are seen as a community of mutual love and a model for social relationships.
The sources of the current economic crisis are complex and the blame for the crisis difficult to assess precisely. But it’s clear that for years leading investment firms have disregarded the common good and even their own long-term interest in their quest for profits.
Tia Lessin and Carl Deal’s documentary Trouble the Water is a devastatingly effective depiction of the experience and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It isn’t the first: Spike Lee’s exhaustive, four-hour When the Levees Broke ran on HBO in 2006. But superb as most of Lee’s movie is, with footage that sticks in your head for months afterward, it starts to repeat itself and devolves into a rant against the ineptitude and negligence of the federal government.
When Toma and I became friends, he was somebody. I was 16, he was 22. He was a body builder, one of the best in the country, with aspirations and good prospects of becoming Mr. Universe. But then he embraced Christian faith and joined the church where my father was a pastor. He felt that God required him to abandon his athletic pursuits, which until then had been his god. He transposed the dreams of becoming Mr. Universe onto a religious plane: he wanted to be the apostle Paul of Yugoslavia, and maybe a new Billy Graham to the world.
What books compel a second—or third or fourth—reading? How is the second reading different from the first, and what does the difference reveal about the book or the reader? We asked ten writers, including Margaret Miles, Gordon Atkinson, Mary Doria Russell, Diana Butler Bass and David Cunningham, to name a book that they chose to reread, and to share their reactions "the second time around."
True confessions: Michael Jinkins, dean of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, says that the pastor of a large evangelical church told him he had decided to do away with a corporate confession in worship services. It’s too much of a downer, the pastor explained. Jinkins asked him, “Isn’t it more of a downer for your people to leave worship without confessing their sins and hearing the assurance of God’s pardon?” (Cultural Encounters, Winter).