Residents of the Pacific Northwest are redefining what it means to be religious. The region is sometimes called the None Zone because 63 percent of those polled for the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey said that they were not affiliated with a religious group, compared to 41 percent of all Americans, and 25 percent claimed to have no religious identity—compared to 14 percent nationally. By checking “none” on a survey, however, Northwesterners are not necessarily signaling a lack of interest in religion. They are indicating, says Patricia Killen, a historian and dean of Pacific Lutheran University, that they do not think “religious identity is connected to a historic religious institution or faith.”
Squatters’ (divine) rights: To a Pentecostal community of squatters in Caracas, Venezuela, studied by Rafael Sánchez, their occupation of an empty, 12-story building in what was once a posh part of the town makes good theological sense. The world really belongs to God, they explain, but the devil has taken it over, and Christians’ job, as agents of the Holy Spirit, is to take back what really belongs to God (Public Culture, Spring).
John the Baptist baptized Jesus of Nazareth. The synoptic Gospels all say so, and the kerygma in Acts connects the beginning of Jesus’ ministry with that baptism. But although Mark seems to find it quite right that Jesus should have been among those who heeded John’s preaching, all the other evangelists seem discomfited by the suggestion that Jesus was somehow a disciple of this other preacher.