A nineteenth-century sermon illustration told of the time a town's church was burning. At the head of the bucket brigade was the village atheist. Why show up now? "Because when the church is on fire is the only time anything exciting is going on."
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June 8, 2001
American citizens -- even those actively involved in churches and synagogues -- are largely unaware of seminaries and divinity schools in their own cities and regions. They seldom think of theological schools as part of "the civic mix" of newspapers, schools, museums, and community organizations that define and contribute to local public life.
June 4, 2001
Though debates over prayer in school have turned out to be very much a public affair, in historic reckoning the practice of prayer has usually belonged to "private religion" in America. But, now and then, prayer itself becomes a public presence. The religious and secular press both have to pay attention the wildly best-selling book by Bruce Wilkinson, The Prayer of Jabez.
May 24, 2001
Having recently concluded its second season, CBS's "Survivor" has insinuated itself so seamlessly into the American mind that even those of us willfully ignorant of the show know what it means to be "voted off the island." The wild success of this so-called "reality television" program has spawned a host of imitators on other networks.
May 21, 2001
"We are supposed to write a paper defending a spoken-against position," said one of my sons during a phone call from college. "I chose polygamy. The professor challenged me. Can you help me? Many of those heroes we were taught to admire in the Bible had more wives than one -- sometimes many more. Where does the Bible say that they should stop the practice?"
May 14, 2001
Public religion in the American setting poses the issue of proselytizing, especially with respect to providing government funds to faith-based organizations that might use that money to convert the people served. Arguments about this subject rage daily.
May 7, 2001
Sooner or later, talk about "public religion" in America must focus on its popular manifestations. None is more public or more popular than the world of sports.
April 23, 2001
Johnny Hart draws "B.C.," a decent enough comic strip. He frequently injects Christian witness themes into it. Sometimes newspapers will then drop "B.C." for a day; some say Hart has no business witnessing there.
April 20, 2001
The forthcoming execution of Timothy McVeigh has agitated the nation and, within it and not least of all, its religious communities. We will skip comment on the event and go straight to the background of the religious debate.
April 17, 2001
Sightings is so busy with its periscope, scanning the horizon for religious scenes and objects and events, that we cannot often stop to reply to email responses. But now and then it is worth turning the periscope around to scan an already visited place on the horizon. This time it's worth taking another look at the concept of "the subordinate."
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