Commonweal, a superior Catholic magazine, recently presented a symposium featuring notable, mature and senior Catholic parents who wrote about the absence of explicit Catholic faith among many of their grandchildren. The collection inspired an uncommon number of blog posts and other responses, a fact suggesting that this topic concerns multitudes.
Two stories vied for top notice over the weekend. The first was the death of Nelson Mandela, the South African maker of peace. The second was the war about “The War Against Christmas.” Both dealt with the “public religion” themes that preoccupy Sightings.
Pope Francis’ “apostolic exhortation” wiped out all competition for attention among opinion-makers and reporters who deal with significant news in the spheres where religion and everything public meet.
When a profound liturgical act, the prayer service, with an exorcism attached, gets seen as a “stunt,” it loses its ability to achieve its non-stunt end, of which nothing is more profound and urgent in Catholic and other Christian liturgies.
“Asserting a God-Given Right to Snakes” is the kind of headline which can grab attention in the midst of news-of-the-week about the Affordable Care Act, the catastrophic typhoon in the Philippines, and other beckoners for public notice.
As thousands of bloggers and interest-group leaders responded at once, it became clear that this year again the Court will be called to resolve the irresolvable and put an end to the unendable debates on this subject.
Good news for readers who are weary of some subjects which are naturally covered in Sightings: here is a story about some Native Americans and about Mormons who work among them.
The public is getting used to headlines like these: “Evangelical Leader Preaches Pullback from Culture Wars” and “Southern Baptists Sounding Full-scale Retreat in Culture War?” The former is from The Wall Street Journal and the latter from Renew America. The theme has become a constant in the blog world and among public media, just as it has become a topic of conversation in churches, and wherever “culture wars” have been standard unsettlers, and where innocent bystanders have been unsettled.
Having had enough of talk about Congress and the Affordable Care Act and “default,” let’s look ahead, not back. I propose a glance at the calendar, with Thanksgiving Day several weeks off.
Born on Dwight L. Moody’s birthday, able to keep an eye on the Moody Bible Institute from my apartment’s west window, friend through the years of some faculty and students, and remembering that the Institute has shown hospitality to some of my researching former graduate students, I am always interested in seeing how it negotiates its way in American culture.