In the World

Church door from inside

Steve Thorngate on public life and culture

Jeffrey MacDonald reports on an interesting development: left-of-center religious groups invoking religious liberty much as right-of-center groups have in recent years. A church wants to install solar panels despite the objections of a local historic district commission; elsewhere, groups serving the homeless are looking to faith-based partners to protect their ability to do so. The story provides a lens on the classic questions about what counts as religious exercise and who decides. Yet it’s a little odd that MacDonald’s framing takes as given this very recent use of the term “religious liberty”—more strategy than principle, an argument to advance a cause.
August 29, 2016
A friend notes, “now if we could get this type of article to be printed in men's magazines, too.” Indeed. Yet a male president’s byline on a Glamour exclusive makes a powerful statement before the main text even begins.
August 15, 2016
National Public Radio just ran a pair of features on the flavors of Christianity represented by the presidential and vice presidential nominees. An editor’s note affixed to both stories summarizes the theme: “Both major presidential candidates this year are Protestants… Beyond that, their faith profiles are very different.”
August 3, 2016
Bob Dylan is 75 today. He’s not the only one who’s still making records after 50+ years, but it’s hard to think of anyone else with as many good ones. “Keep it religious,” the Century’s longtime editor liked to say. Many people find this hard to do when talking about Dylan.
May 23, 2016
Time was when we had a neutral commons where those of us who wanted to say something could say it, try to earn people’s attention, and choose whether to give them our own. I’m speaking of course of the internet—a long decade ago, before social media swallowed it whole.
May 11, 2016
There are at least two important differences between a touring musician who skips a state to make a point and a service provider who doesn’t want to provide services on account of personal opposition to the larger thing being served.
April 13, 2016