January 17, 2011
Religion in News Clips
— Martin E. Marty
Thesis: Religion is on the ropes in our modern secular world. Still, look at the stealth news about religion in one week. (Harriet Marty breakfasted Saturday with what looks like confetti left over after I have clipped religion-relevant stories from our four dailies.) It may be hard to process this mosaic jumble, but at least return for the punch-line ending.
Documents: Suburban DuPage County leaders are having fits about plans to build a mosque near a Macedonian Orthodox Church and a Dharma Meditation Center. Complaint: “Present application increases in what is my opinion a saturation of religious institutions into this specific area. . . .”
Also local: A federal court lifted an injunction against a moment-of-silence school law “that critics claim is essentially state-sponsored prayer.”
A miracle: a long letter to an editor lauds the educational influence of the nuns. Nuns usually get blasted on- and off-Broadway and on all channels. Speaking of miracles: another nun was miraculously cured of TB when she prayed to Pope John Paul II. Rome seeks a second miracle to help launch the late pontiff from beatific to sainthood status. Still speaking of miracles: if you want more than two, read of the life of Bishop Charles Little, pastor of God’s House for All Nations, a Chicago influential who prayed for dozens of healings every Sunday. Many were healed. Sainthood for Little?
Martin Luther King, Jr., observances recalled other dimensions of the black religious experience.
Headline for a dance review: “Warring Relatives and Joking Rabbis.” Another: “Matters of Faith, Prayer and Physical Exertion,” has Jesus, Mary, Adam and Eve and “the Spirit of Religion” soaring. Shirley Caesar, 72-year-old performer, moving aisle to aisle in a New York theater sang: “Jesus, how I love calling your name; every day your name is the same.” She says, “Nobody can tell me that God isn’t real.” Another review: “A POW’s Awe-Inspiring Act of Faith” about a “masterwork” of chamber music composed by Olivier Messiaen and played in a German POW camp.”
Aspiring presidential candidate ex-Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota publicly refers to his wife Mary as “my red-hot smokin’ wife,” who turns out to be a district judge “who can always supply an appropriate Bible passage in times of crisis.”
In Lebanon there’s a “fault line in the confrontation between Lebanon’s Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims. . . ‘the battle lines are clear. . . ’” Nigeria’s ruling party is torn over conflict between contenders in the Muslim North and the Christian South.
Loosening restrictions on travel to Cuba provide “broad opportunities for travel to Cuba by academic, religious and cultural groups.”
Christopher Hitchens writes about Mumtaz Qadri, who, “as a slave of the Prophet Muhammad . . . had the natural right to murder” a Pakistani governor.
African-American pastor Suzan Johnson Cook, who presides over the 7,500 minister members of a black pastoral group was appointed as an ambassador for “international religious liberty,” but she was blind-sided by Senator James DeMint, so her welcome services will not be welcomed. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, in the news over plans for a Muslim Center not far from the World Trade Center was also blind-sided, damned with faint praise by Muslim rivals, and pushed into the background.
Astrologers and their clients, who live at the edges of conventional religion, find out that the Zodiac boundaries on which they counted were not accurate.
Have you noticed that the interpretations and commemorations of the “Tucson Incident” were drenched in religious symbols, acts, and sayings?
Enough: does the thesis of line one hold: that religion is on the ropes in our secular world?
Martin E. Marty's biography, current projects, publications, and contact information can be found at www.illuminos.com.