On the Threshold:  Religious Liminals

Religion surveys ask you to check a box that describes your religious beliefs.  But that would only be a snapshot of a moment in time.  More sophisticated studies are finding that religious beliefs can be fluid.  On one day, a person may believe in God.  But not on another day.  And on other days be unsure.  Scholars are putting forward a new term to describe those who are on the “threshold” of belief:  “religious liminals” (from the term for “threshold”)…. Read more

Teenagers are forswearing “adult activities” like sex & drinking

The number of teenagers who have had sex and who have tried alcohol has plummeted since 1976, especially in the last decade.  Christians will applaud that.  But they might feel differently about some of the related findings.  Getting a driver’s license, dating, and working for pay have also declined dramatically.  Apparently, teenagers are turning away from the “adult rites of passage” and are choosing to remain children for longer.  This is not necessarily a bad thing. The Washington Post’s Tara Bahrampour… Read more

Short takes

Short takes on current events:  Hurricane Maria, earthquake in Mexico City, Donald Trump takes on the UN, and Republicans try one more time to kill Obamacare.   Still More Natural Disasters.  Hurricane Maria, having devastated the island paradise of Dominica, killing at least 7, is now striking the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.  Witnesses describe “utter devastation” in this island of 3.4 million.  Casualties and damage estimates are unknown as of this hour.  The entire island is without power. Meanwhile, an… Read more

The Number of Congregations Is Growing

Contrary to the narratives of religious decline in America, a new study has found that the number of Christian congregations has actually increased. Read more

The Ignorance Plague

Democracies require a certain level of civic knowledge and understanding so that citizens can effectively govern themselves.  But today a plague of ignorance threatens our liberties. Cal Thomas writes about two studies that show a monumental ignorance on the part of Americans of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. A poll by the  Annenberg Public Policy Center found that 37% of Americans surveyed could not name any of their First Amendment rights. According to the study, 48% knew about their Freedom… Read more

House churches

The landscape of contemporary Christianity now includes groups of Christians who get together in each other’s homes and declare themselves a church.  They may meet on Sunday mornings or on convenient evenings during the week.  They may engage in worship, whether making up their order of service or following a liturgy.  Or they may just engage in Bible study and prayer.  Usually lacking a pastor, these “house churches” may substitute an informal discussion for a sermon, with the participants taking turns… Read more

A Biblical text for our time

Here is a text from Scripture for those afflicted by or afraid of storms (as yet another hurricane, Maria, heads towards Puerto Rico), terrorism, tyranny, disgrace, loneliness, abandonment, apostasy, personal attacks, and other troubles of our time.  And it also speaks of vocation. From Isaiah 54: 4“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your… Read more

A Reformation best-seller to read and give away

Luther’s Small Catechism is a marvel of clarity, depth, and spiritual insight.  Used for centuries to catechize children, it has also proven to be an inexhaustible devotional resource for adults.  Now Concordia Publishing House is making an inexpensive edition designed to be handed out as tracts or given to friends. The edition costs only about 50 cents each.  And yet, it is very attractively printed, with full-color artwork.   See what it looks like. The booklet is only 32 pages long, so… Read more

All sides are turning against Silicon Valley

The tech geniuses and entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley have been lauded for their creativity and innovation, held up as models of financial enterprise and economic brilliance.  But lately opinions have been changing.  Now the titans of technology are being regarded more as 19th century robber barons. According to Ben Smith in There’s Blood In The Water In Silicon Valley and Eric Newcomer in Backlash Against Silicon Valley is Heating Up, both conservatives and liberals–as well as people in between–are reacting against the magnates of the tech… Read more

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