One out of six American Christians changed religious affiliation over a four year period.  Where did they go?  Other churches.  But which churches?  And what are the patterns? A study has surveyed 9,500 individuals between 2010 and 2014, tracing their religious journeys.  Ryan P. Burge reports on the findings in Christianity Today in an article entitled Where Protestants and Catholics Go When They Leave Their Churches. Catholics, the study found, tend to remain Catholics.  They change churches  less than half… Read more

We have been following the case of Judge Ruth Neely, a Wyoming magistrate who lost her job for refusing to perform gay weddings because of her Christian convictions.  (She is a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.)  There was a similar case in North Carolina, in which Magistrate Gayle Myrick, a Baptist, was forced to resign for the same reason.  But a federal judge has ruled in her favor. Bre Payton (a former student of mine!) wrote about the… Read more

In addition to being the supreme evangelist, Billy Graham did much to establish evangelicalism as a potent and popular force in American culture.   But his death at age 99 marks a new era, one that has already been taking shape, in which evangelistic Christianity must cope with the loss of its cultural popularity. The First Great Awakening in the colonial days took place largely within churches, but the Second Great Awakening in the 19th century took place mostly outside the church.  Its… Read more

In China, a large attendance at a funeral is a way to honor the dead.  So to increase the number of people who come to the funeral, families are hiring singers, comedians, and even strippers.  The government, concerned with the effect on public morals, is cracking down on the strippers.  I bring this up for a reason. . . . From The Independent (UK): China has launched a fresh crackdown on funeral strippers. The Ministry of Culture said it would target “obscene, pornographic… Read more

In Star Trek, Mr. Spock could space his fingers on someone’s head and achieve a “mind meld,” in which his mind and that of his subject would merge.  Now a researcher is saying that by 2050 technology will allow us all to achieve “brain to brain communication,” making language obsolete. So says the article Humans Could Abandon Words and Communicate Using Only Our Brains by 2050: In just 32 years, humans won’t speak to each other, and will communicate through a… Read more

The indictment filed by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller against 13 Russians and a Kremlin-connected organization shows that the Russian interference with the U.S. presidential election was no mere prank.  Its scale and tactics were such that it may well have contributed some votes to Donald Trump.  But even if it did, that by no means takes away the legitimacy of his election. The Russian effort, according to the Mueller indictment, was a targeted, sophisticated attempt to prevent the election of… Read more

Some evangelicals and other conservative Christians who support President Trump no matter what he says or does are defending their position by invoking what seems to be the Lutheran doctrine of the Two Kingdoms.  But they don’t quite understand the concept. For example, Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr., suggested that Christian values–such as the Biblical mandate to be kind to “sojourners”–aren’t applicable to the conduct of government.  He tweeted, “Jesus said love our neighbors as ourselves but never told… Read more

Hollywood is reeling from the sexual abuse and harassment scandal that brought down producer Harvey Weinstein as well as other players in the movie industry.  So how can filmmakers stage sex scenes without actresses being touched inappropriately or otherwise sexually harassing them?   Well, in an effort to avoid sexually exploiting women while still sexually exploiting them, studios and the actors’ union are drawing up rules. You can read all about them in New On-Screen Sex Scene Rules Drawn Up for… Read more

I found myself drawn into the Winter Olympics when I watched an Austrian skier named Anna Veith compete in the Super-G (a.k.a. Super Giant Slalom).  And then I learned about how the sport of curling–sliding heavy stones on ice, while sweeping in front of them with a broom–has built principles of sportsmanship into its very nature. It looked like the young woman with my same obscure last name  won the gold medal, but she settled for a silver when an unheralded Czech… Read more

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has issued indictments against 13 Russians and 3 Russian organizations for interfering with the 2016 presidential election. According to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, “The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” Here is what happened, from a news report based on the indictment: According to the indictment, “Some Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and… Read more

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