A Plug for PRRI and The Morning Buzz

Photo by eflon on Flickr

One of the groups that I am part of is the Public Religion Research Institute, an organization that conducts surveys about religion in the United States. I have been a board member – though admittedly, not a very good board member– for a few years and I have been deeply impressed by the work that this organization does. In the past we have published such studies as Beyond Guns and God: Understanding the Complexities of the White Working Class in AmericaA Generation in Transition: Religion, Values, and Politics among College-Age Millennials and Catholic Attitudes on Gay and Lesbian Issues: A Comprehensive Portrait from Recent Research.

Now I am not one to dive deeply into these studies on a day-to-day basis, but one of the things that comes out on a regular basis that does get my synapses firing is called The Morning Buzz. Curated by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, it’s a great gathering of faith and politics flavored links and information:

Welcome to the Morning Buzz, PRRI’s morning dose of religion-related news with a shot of data – because what doesn’t liven up a morning round-up like some public opinion numbers?

Here is the Buzz from today, Thursday, September 27th.

  • A British policeman’s evening looked like it was turning into an episode of the X Files…until it wasn’t.
  • Curious how (or whether) Millennials will vote in the 2012 election? Come hear some answers next Thursday, October 4, at Georgetown University, during the release of our new Millennial Values & Voter Engagement Survey.
  • Was Jimmy Carter the most religious president ever? And, if elected, would Mitt Romney take that title away? To learn more about the religiosity of the American presidents, check out this book (which includes a chapter on Obama’s religion by our very own Dr. Robert P. Jones and Daniel Cox).
  • A new study shows that voter ID laws may deter 10 million Hispanic Americans from voting this November. They may also delay the outcome of the election in some states. If you need a refresher on what exactly these voter ID laws are, check out this series of graphics.
  • Do atheists need to be more welcoming of women and people of color? Some atheists say yes.
  • At the New York Times, scholars Suzanne Mettler and John Sides report that 96% of Americans have relied on the federal government for some form of social assistance (including policies usually buried in the tax code).
  • It looks like one of the four GOP state senators from New York who voted for same-sex marriage has lost his seat. One of the four did not seek reelection, while the other two are still hanging on.

Other Morning Buzzes have included the teasers:

So, if you are a religion, politics and cultural lover as I am, you should go ahead and  Sign up here or for updates and coverage throughout the day, like PRRI on Facebook or follow on Twitter.

Five Reasons to “Animate” Your Church’s Adult Education Program

Tony Jones recently posted some info about a project that I am part of, the new Animate Faith Formation Series, from SparkHouse. I have already been compensated for my part in the project, so my gushing over the project is not so much about sales as it is about hoping people take advantage of this resource that I am truly proud of.

From what I can tell, the folks at SparkHouse wanted to bring together seven of the greatest Christian thinkers in the universe in order to create an adult formation curriculum that was, not only theologically solid, but engaging and thoughtful. As the tagline reads:

Seven leading Christian voices.
Seven big conversations about faith.
All you need is seven weeks.

As it would turn out the seven greatest thinkers were already booked, so they scraped together seven other folks who have been known to flap their gums about God, faith and life:

And over about six months we wrote, procrastinated, wrote, submitted, re-wrote, gathered, critiqued, re-wrote and finally recorded our thoughts on God, Jesus, Salvation, Spirituality, The Cross, the Bible and Church. The results of our efforts can be seen in this first of many teaser videos:

Here are five quick reasons why I think you should order it today:

  • We invite rather than instruct. While we each give our perspective on faith, these are not offered in order convince anyone of anything, but rather to present a compelling reason to think about each topic and then explore what this means for each person.
  • We were allowed to be ourselves. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but we were each encouraged to bring our own stories into this project and the process. The danger in this kind of openness is that our personalities and styles might not always jive with the hearer, but the potential for folks to hear a genuine invitation to conversations about faith hopefully comes through.
  • We modeled what we encourage. Part of the process was to engage with one another through a script read-through and workshop. Gathered in one room over two days, we each read, critiqued, received and eventually left with a better message than we could have developed on our own. This mutuality and respectful exploration was an important part of this project and we hope this same kind of interaction will take place for the participate in the series. And in case you were wondering, YES this was a tad bit intimidating.
  • Not everyone will be happy with what we say or who we are. There will be some who will try to place the seven of us into some theological box from which we are collectively destroying Christendom and perverting the Gospel with our false theology in word and deed. And while there are times when I WISHED for that kind of power, rest assured that I stand proudly with these folks, not because I agree with everything that is said, but because we have each entered into a liberating journey to make faith real in a world where too often Christianity is experienced as anything but freeing.
  • It just looks awesome. Okay, I have to admit that when I was told that there was going to be animation, I thought to myself, “Cool” and immediately hoped for some Speed Racer version of myself. Well, not only is the artwork and graphical layout great looking, after previewing my own segment, folks will be moved by how the animation helps fill and form the words and thoughts that are trying to be expressed. Also, the journal that tis part of the series is one of those rare “workbooks” that people will keep on their bookshelves, not as a reminder of a moment in time, but as a way to look back on their journey of faith.

So, thanks to Tony Jones, Paul Soupiset and Team and the rest of the SparkHouse crew for their vision, leadership and support during this project. It was a blast. For more information about the “voices” of Animate including bio’s, links and trivia, click HERE and here are the various Social Media  links of interest: FacebookTwitter and YouTube.