Last Saturday was the day set aside for the annual festival commemorating “The Conversion of St. Paul.” Did anyone notice? Still, Paul is “all over the place” in Christianity. Almost everything about him evokes or signals conflict.
Scholar Ian Barbour probably did more than any other American to transcend the “extremes” in science-religion conflicts.
Fight for rational, limited gun-control if you are so moved by the Spirit or spirits, but know that in the present culture you will have stepped beyond the bounds of politics and moved to question the heart of one of the vital, vivid religions active today.
Few expressions of religion are as public and inescapable as buildings. It is difficult to hide temples, churches, chapels, mosques, and shrines from public view. Millions of people in all cultures enter and use them, and billions recognize them in skylines or down the block.
With this release Monday’s Sightings says good-bye to 2013. Appropriately, I want to use this moment to take a retrospective look at religion-in-the-news during the past year.
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.