Signs of being divorce-proof

Here are five bits of social science research that would indicate a person is unlikely to get a divorce.  The post completely leaves out more important factors, such as not believing in divorce and the role of Christian faith.  Still, the list of factors, while on the shallow side, is interesting and amusing.  (But please, don’t read them after the jump if you are going to beat your spouse over the head with them!) [Read more…]

Churches, sects, denominations, and non-denominations

Sociologist of religion Peter Berger (an ELCA Lutheran) discusses the phenomenon of the Sunday Assembly, which we blogged about yesterday.  He said the fact that atheists too are gathering together following the pattern of religious activities demonstrates the almost universal human need to worship (or the equivalent) and to join together with others who hold common religious or philosophical convictions.

In the course of his discussion, he draws on older sociologists who distinguish between different kinds of religious institutions:  a church (which a person is born into) and a sect (which a person chooses to join).  Such a distinction, it seems to me, grows out of the European state church.  American religion, according to Dr. Berger, has added the concept of the denomination, which a person may be born into or choose freely to join.  Dr. Berger further says that denominations of one sort or another–in the sense of “a community of value, religious or otherwise,” have become inevitable in America, extending even to atheists.

After the jump, read his argument and some questions I have about “non-denominational” churches.  [Read more…]

The worst obligatory sex scene of the year

One of the banes of contemporary literature, in my opinion, is the obligatory sex scene, in which the aesthetic pleasure of fiction is interrupted with a blow-by-blow description of its characters’ sexual experience.  Setting aside the moral issues of a work aspiring to pornography, these scenes are almost always very badly written, even when attempted by an otherwise accomplished author.

So Britain’s Literary Review gives an annual “Bad Sex Award” for the worst sex scene in a novel with literary pretensions.  (Ordinary trashy novels are not considered.)  Previous winners have included John Updike, Norman Mailer, and Tom Wolfe.  The purpose of the prize is  to ”draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it.”

This year’s winner is so overwrought, so opaque, so non-erotic, that I don’t think it will offend anyone.  I think I can quote the passage after the jump without violating the G-rated standards of this blog. [Read more…]

Republicans are now playing nice on the budget

Republicans in Congress tried to cut the deficit by letting the government shut down, being willing to dive over the fiscal cliff, and sequestering expenditures, but those measures didn’t go over very well politically.  So now Congressional Republicans are going along with the Democrats, and they are close to an agreement on a budget deal.   Is that good news or bad news? [Read more…]

Sunday Assembly

If you were travelling through Dallas, Chicago , Nashville, Grand Rapids, or other cities in America, Great Britain, or Australia, you might come across a congregation called Sunday Assembly.  That would not be what it sounds like, some offshoot of the Assembly of God.  This is an assembly of atheists.   They meet on Sundays in congregations for singing (not hymns, of course, but songs like “Lean on Me” and “Imagine”), teaching, and fellowship.

We’ve blogged about this before, talking about the group’s liturgy (in fact, the Sunday Assembly website links to our post in the “about” section).  After the jump, see the denomination’s 10-point creed. [Read more…]

A lawsuit against pro-life religions

A woman had a complication in her pregnancy that would normally (by today’s standards) be treated with an abortion, but she was in a Catholic hospital that did not give her that option.  So she is suing the hospital.  But that’s not all.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is handling her case, is also suing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for the pro-life teaching that caused the hospital to not offer the abortion.

Columnist Seth Lipsky of the New York Post says that this represents a new front in the battle against religion:  Suing religious institutions themselves for the content of their beliefs. [Read more…]