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January 31, 2002
Of the many images associated with the year now past, the one that haunts me most is the box cutter. It is such a familiar object, one that I associate with the pleasure of unpacking books. The scenes of collision, fire, and rubble are so extreme that they seem distant by comparison. But the box cutter is everywhere: in supermarket aisles, offices, and household mail baskets.
January 28, 2002
Commentators have begun to assess the new phase of responses to terrorism. One hears and reads in many places stories matching what Jon Steinman noticed in his recent article "Enthusiasm Wanes for Flags" (Chicago Tribune, 24 January). Flags have been seen in superabundance since September 11.
January 23, 2002
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life at the University of Chicago Divinity School is sponsoring a conference entitled "A Call for Reckoning: Religion and the Death Penalty" to be held on January 25, 2002. For more information, please visit:
January 21, 2002
No, it has not been a slow week on the public religion front; there is always more to sight than Sightings has room or time for. But, in response to some requests in your responses -- and we do profit from them, even when we do not answer them -- we are occasionally asked for perspective and elaboration.
January 17, 2002
The major religions of the world have outlasted empire, country, nation-state, and business. Cultures continually address them with new information and fresh worldviews. Religions are not static; they change constantly, though deliberately and, as a rule, very slowly.
January 14, 2002
This Wednesday, January 16, is the 216th anniversary of the Virginia General Assembly's 1786 adoption of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. This weekend the Council for America's First Freedom held its annual celebration of the event. (I am writing this before leaving for Richmond.
January 10, 2002
Shortly after September 11, irony was pronounced dead. The "death of irony" discourse is said to have originated with Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter's prognostication shortly after the attacks, "There is going to be a seismic change.
January 7, 2002
"The profession of ministry is too important in our culture and society for it to go unmonitored by and uncontributed to by universities." That was the answer the late Edward H. Levi once gave me when I asked on what rationale he supported the inclusion of "ministerial studies" alongside "religious studies" at the University of Chicago.
January 3, 2002
Pietism is usually understood as a reform movement within German Lutheranism initiated by Philip Jakob Spener. Spener emphasized individual conversion, "living faith," and the fruits of faith. The name "Pietism" is derived from the "collegia pietatis," informal devotional meetings first organized around 1670 when Spener was pastor in Frankfurt.
December 31, 2001
At year’s end observers of American culture are busy trying to make sense of the religion they have been sighting as seldom before in 2001. For many, this means choosing the "Top Ten" religion stories of the year or, more appropriately, choosing the second to the ninth top stories, since number one is an obvious choice. For others, it means trying to assess trends.  


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