No alt-del-esc for Microsoft

StrangerApril28.jpgIt’s always a pleasure to see an independent weekly breaking news of national importance, which The Stranger (Seattle) is doing in a story involving Microsoft, an African American megachurch pastor and a proposed gay-rights bill in the state legislature.

In a cover story from this week’s issue, Sandeep Kaushik reports on how Pastor Ken Hutcherson and Microsoft vice president and general counsel Bradley Smith have sharply different memories of their conversations about the gay-rights bill. Microsoft says it decided to take a neutral stance on the bill before Hutcherson met with Smith. Both Hutcherson and the bill’s sponsor believe Microsoft is not telling the truth.

Well, Hutcherson puts it more bluntly than that:

In previous days, Microsoft had confirmed to other publications, in particular the New York Times, The Stranger‘s original report that Smith had met with Hutcherson, and that the company had taken a “neutral” stance on the bill this year after supporting it in previous years. However, in an e-mail to the company’s 35,000 United States employees last Friday night, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer denied that the meetings with Hutcherson had influenced the company’s switch. Ballmer wrote that he had “done a lot of soul searching over the past 24 hours on this subject,” and that the company was “thinking hard about what is the right balance to strike — when should a company take a position on a broader social issue, and when should it not?”

Hutcherson expressed disappointment with Ballmer’s statement — “Steve Ballmer, I believe, is a liar” — and said in no uncertain terms that Microsoft was not being forthright about the substance of the conversations company executives had with him, and about the timing of the company’s decision. “The company lied, and ‘the Black Man’ is not going to lie down and say ‘okay,’” he said, referencing his nickname around the church office. He added, “Evidently they don’t know that I won’t keep my mouth shut about unrighteousness.”

Hutcherson’s further explanation of his meeting with Smith shows that he has no shortage of memorable remarks:

Hutcherson said that he asked for a meeting with Microsoft after becoming upset that two company employees had testified in favor of the bill on February 1. He first met with Smith and three other lower-ranking executives on February 23.

At that meeting, Smith made it clear to the pastor that the company supported the bill, Hutcherson said. Smith told him, he said, that the company had recently been asked by GLEAM, the gay and lesbian employees group at Microsoft, to come out in favor of same-sex marriage, but the company had said no. Smith went on to say that Microsoft did support the anti-discrimination legislation, and he described it as a “civil rights issue” — a red flag for Hutcherson, who is African American — Hutcherson said. The pastor recalled asking Smith a question: “You won’t stand up for two men or two women getting married, but you will put your power behind a guy who wants to dress up in a dress and come to work?”

Smith replied, according to Hutcherson’s recollection, “That’s our policy. We thought this is a good bill to stand behind.” Hutcherson then said he told Smith he would organize a national boycott of the company if it did not withdraw its support for the bill. “You’re not going to like me in your world. I am going to give you something to fear Christians about,” he said he told Smith. “I told him, ‘You have a week’” to decide, Hutcherson said.

Smith replied to inquiries from The Stranger during a business trip to Europe:

Smith offered a very different impression of the discussion. He said the bulk of the conversation was taken up with a discussion of the confusion about Microsoft’s position on the bill that had been created by two employees who had testified on February 1. Smith had read the testimony that morning, and felt there was some confusion. Smith recalled telling Hutcherson that “the company wasn’t involved in this” and that “the company hadn’t taken a position” on the bill.

“He told me that he thought that we should fire the employees,” Smith said. He added, “It didn’t strike me as a situation where it was appropriate to fire people.” He did agree with Hutcherson that the testimony “created the impression that the company was supporting a bill when the company wasn’t involved,” he said, adding, “In my mind, that was what the meeting was about.” Smith also added that Hutcherson had requested that the company issue a letter stating that it was neutral on the bill, or that the bill was unnecessary, but that he declined.

Both sides in this debate have spoken of boycotting Microsoft (blogger John Aravosis, for instance, recommends using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer as one punitive response). Some of us who spend much of our time shackled to a laptop can enjoy the idea of a Microsoft-free workday, if only on the grounds of aesthetics and supporting innovative shareware.

Smith argues that Microsoft does not make policy based on impending boycotts: “Almost every large corporation does receive at least monthly — often weekly — letters from groups threatening to organize boycotts. You can’t run your business on that basis.”

That could well be true, though the battling boycott threats of this story make it more interesting as a news story.

Tim Gill, founder of Quark Inc., has long linked his software (including Quark XPress) to pro-gay activism. Are there other examples of software companies that take clear sides in the nation’s debate about sex and marriage?

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Galloping Air Force Academy fundamentalism

Air Force chapel.jpgNo doubt about it — David Kelly at the Los Angeles Times has found a good story out in the red-zone wilds of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Here’s the headline update from a few days ago: “Loosening Religious Grip at Air Academy: The school launches a sensitivity course in response to complaints about evangelical Christians infringing on other faiths.” This is a follow-up story to “Non-Christian Air Force Cadets Cite Harassment: The academy, which has received more than 50 complaints, says it is requiring students to attend a class on religious tolerance.”

Let me start by stressing that it is pretty clear some outrageous stuff has gone on at the academy, in terms of evangelicals making life uncomfortable for some of the nonbelievers. No doubt about that. Here is a sample of Kelly’s coverage, picking one sample out of waves of similar material:

Lt. Col. Edie Disler, an English professor who helps run RSVP programs, said some Christians questioned the value of the classes. “They have said: We are in the majority, why do we have to do this?”

Mikey Weinstein, an academy graduate and lawyer in Albuquerque, has a son who is a sophomore at the school. The cadet has been called a “filthy Jew,” among other things, Weinstein said.

“This is not a Jew-Christian thing, it’s an evangelical versus everyone else thing,” he said. “I am calling for congressional oversight and for the academy to stop trivializing the problem by calling it nonsystemic. If they can’t fix it and Congress won’t fix it, the next thing to do is go to the federal court and file a lawsuit alleging a violation of the Constitution and civil rights.”

By the way, that RSVP reference is to the new “Respecting the Spiritual Values of all People” classes that cadets and employees must attend. No sign, at this point, of “Respecting the First Amendment Rights of all People” sessions on the calendar.

This is the problem, you see. It is clear from Kelly’s reporting that the evangelical air in Colorado “Wheaton of the West” Springs is pretty thick with spiritual jargon and symbolism. But these reports are so one-sided, in terms of source material, that it seems like they were dictated by someone at Unitarian-Universalist national headquarters. No, I take that back. The U-Us I know are much more comfortable with opposing points of views.

What we need here is some attempt to verify basic facts and accusations from both sides of the story. Who finally gets to speak for the evangelical world? Is it someone from the academy? Nope. It’s the totally predictable source — a Focus on the Family spokesman.

Once again, this is a free-speech story. This cuts both ways, in terms of the freedom of people to voice strong opinions and for others to oppose them. It’s clear that some people have crossed the line and pushed their theological agendas in a military forum fueled with tax dollars. But does this mean the academy needs some kind of viewpoint discrimination that is enforced by the state?

Do all student groups lose the right to post news about events? To send emails? To debate issues at the heart of their worldviews? Does this apply to Islam? Orthodox Judaism? NPR listeners? Grateful Dead fans?

Here is another glimpse into that RSVP classroom:

. . . Capt. Paula Grant, a law professor, told participants they must balance their right to exercise their religion with the right of others not to be intimidated or harassed.

“We are not trying to stamp out religion,” Grant said. “It’s a matter of how you go about it. You cannot use your uniform to further your personal agenda, whether it’s religion or sports or anything.” . . .

As the class ended, one participant, Lt. Col. Marcia Meeks-Eure, paused before leaving. “I think this sort of thing is very good because it underscores what we are supposed to be doing,” she said. “I am Baptist but I won’t talk about my faith unless someone asks.”

That is chilling, if you know anything about Baptists and their historic defense of free speech. You see, Meeks-Eure has a right to talk to people about her faith in a wide variety of settings. And other people have every right to ask her to stop. That may be a bit tense, but that’s what free speech is all about.

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Some things never change

ErnestoCardenal.jpgErnesto Cardenal’s time in the media spotlight was brief but iconic. The bearded poet of the Sandinista revolution removed his beret and attempted to kneel when greeting Pope John Paul II in Managua, Nicaragua, in 1983. John Paul not only stopped Cardenal from kneeling but also delivered a finger-wagging scolding about the priest’s volunteering his talent for verse to the Sandinista cause.

Cardenal popped up on one of many video summaries of John Paul’s 26-year papacy — just long enough to say the pope misunderstood Marxism. Reed Johnson of the Los Angeles Times has written a 1,700-word Column One piece on Cardenal’s continuing commitment to the Sandinista vision (though not to former president Daniel Ortega, “whom Cardenal has accused of acting like a dictator by quashing dissent within the Sandinista party and cutting cynical deals with the party’s former opponents”).

Johnson’s piece is a reminder that although Cardenal has no use for U.S. foreign policy, he’s been shaped by American culture, including a time as a disciple of Thomas Merton (who also was no slouch when it came to opposing U.S. foreign policy):

Cardenal’s life is one of active solitude. He spends much of his time reading and writing. He receives visitors at home but doesn’t use the Internet, entrusting a secretary with his extensive correspondence. He still sculpts, a passion that began during his student days at New York’s Columbia University in the late 1940s. With satisfaction, he points to an elegant abstract piece modeled after a tropical plant.

And he still writes poetry.

In a country where poets are treated like movie stars, Cardenal is admired for his plain-spoken candor, technical innovations and sheer productivity. His wide-ranging intellect, epigrammatic style and blank-verse emotional immediacy recall such key influences as Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams.

In his longer narrative poems such as “With Walker in Nicaragua,” about William Walker, the Tennessee soldier of fortune who invaded Nicaragua in the 1850s and tried to transform it into a slave society, Cardenal uses the canto form to spin history into verse. Reminiscent of T.S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi” in its lush, symbolic imagery and haunted, backward-glancing point of view, “With Walker in Nicaragua” is a masterpiece of historical re-imagination.

Only in some later works does Cardenal occasionally fall into polemics. “He can be such a superb poet,” critic Richard Elman wrote in the Nation in 1985, “that his occasional wordiness and heavy-handedness is all the more unforgivable.”

Cardenal’s emphatically mixed feelings about the United States surface in many of his poems, as well as in his latest memoirs. As a young man he honed his beliefs while living in a Trappist monastery in Kentucky, where he became a disciple of Thomas Merton, the monk who was a poet, theologian and social justice advocate. Though his spoken English is limited, he has read widely in that language and has translated English poetry into Spanish. “American poetry has influenced me more than that of any other country,” he says.

Although Cardenal has not, like Dominican-turned-Episcopalian Matthew Fox, prepared 22 questions for John Paul’s successor, he shares Fox’s pessimism about the Catholic Church under Benedict XVI: “Asked about the new pope in an interview last week with a Nicaraguan publication, Cardenal described Benedict as an ‘inquisitor’ and called his election a ‘fatal’ decision by the church.”

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God: dead but lively

haggard.jpgGiven that newsstand copies of the May Harper’s have an ad flap that reads “The Christian Right’s War on America,” it was only a matter of time before one of us GetReligion sleuths broke down and bought a copy to investigate.

As Giblets would say, “Interesting stuff.” Editor Lewis Lapham’s Notebook item, “Wrath of the Lamb,” contains a lot of the usual snobbish bashing of the Republicans/Romans, but it also has this little biographical digression that tells us something about the Ivory Tower of yesteryear:

As an unbaptized child raised in a family that went to church only for weddings and funerals, I didn’t encounter the problem of religious belief until I reached Yale College in the 1950s, where I was informed by the liberal arts faculty that it wasn’t pressing because God was dead. What remained to be discussed was the autopsy report; apparently there was still some confusion about the cause and time of death, and the undergraduate surveys of Western civilization offered a wide range of options — God disemboweled by Machiavelli in sixteenth-century Florence, assassinated in eighteenth-century Paris by agents of the French Enlightenment, lost at sea in 1834 while on a voyage to the Galapagos Islands, blown to pieces by German artillery at Verdun, garroted by Friedrich Nietzsche on a Swiss Alp, and the body laid to rest on the consulting rooms of Sigmund Freud.

The two long pieces that comprise the cover package are an article on National Religious Broadcasters by the very annoying Chris Hedges and a report from Colorado Springs by The Revealer‘s Jeff Sharlet. The Hedges story was about as predictable as one would imagine. As usual, the former New York Times writer passes over any opportunities for empathy to instead sneer at his subjects. But the Sharlet piece, “Soldiers of Christ,” is fascinating.

The Revealer editor went to Colorado Springs to learn about New Life (mega)Church — its history, its founder, Pastor Ted Haggard (pictured), its influence on politics and culture — to turn out a long, frustrating, occasionally rewarding piece:

Long: It clocks out at 14 pages. At, let’s say, 1,000 words a page, you won’t be able to breeze through it. Frustrating: I’m into literary openings, but the page and a half of framing is so breathlessly Harper’s-esque that I nearly gave up.

Rewarding: Sharlet actually took the time to try to get to know and understand how Haggard put together this 11,000-member megachurch and what it says about evangelicals and the United States.

There’s a lot to note here — the Frank Peretti-style unabashed talk of angels and demons and visions and spiritual warfare, for starters — but I think this was the most revealing passage of the piece about the ways in which modern megachurchism separates itself from that old time religion:

Free-market economics is a “truth” Ted says he learned in his first job in professional Christendom, as a Bible smuggler in Eastern Europe. Globalization, he believes, is merely a vehicle for the spread of Christianity. He means Protestantism in particular; Catholics, he said, “constantly look back.” He went on: “And the nations dominated by Catholicism look back. They don’t tend to create our greatest entrepreneurs, inventors, research and development. Typically, Catholic nations aren’t shooting people into space. Protestantism, though, always looks to the future. A typical kid raised in Protestantism dreams about the future. A typical kid raised in Catholicism values and relishes the past, the saints, the history.”

Haggard uses this insight into Catholicism to cast a skeptical glance at certain forms of immigration:

“In America, the descendents of the Protestants, the Puritan descendants, we want to create a better future and our speakers say that sort of thing. But with the influx of people from Mexico, they don’t tend to be the ones that go to universities and become our research-and-development people. And so in that way I see a little clash of civilizations.”

There’s more, but I’m done excerpting for the morning. If you’ve read the essay and want to chime in with comments, go to it.

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Here we go: Darth Vader and "The Fall"

anakin_darth_vader.jpgIn the book Boiling Point: Monitoring Cultural Shifts in the 21st Century, the evangelical pollster George Barna and writer Mark Hatch make the following observation about the awesome power of mass media:

The world of entertainment and mass communications — through television, radio, contemporary music, movies, magazines, art, video games and pop literature — is indisputably the most extensive and influential theological training system in the world. From commercials to sitcoms, from biographies to hit songs, from computer simulation games to talk shows, God’s principles are challenged every moment of every day, in very entertaining, palatable and discreet ways. Few Christians currently have the intellectual and spiritual tools to identify and reject the garbage.

The second half of that statement leans hard toward the cultural right, but the basic premise is one that anyone who can read poll data ought to affirm. This is the same basic point that political liberals would make if they were talking about, oh, the impact of materialistic American media in fragile Third World cultures.

The bottom line: Ordinary Americans are much more likely to be exposed to new theological ideas at the mall than at a mainstream church. Oprah has more power than Billy Graham, when it comes to preaching outside the usual pews.

And George Lucas? We are, of course, only a few weeks away from the latest outbreak of Jedi evangelism and the usual attempts to probe the theological implications of The Force and yada yada. Hey, it’s hard not to yield to the PR side and go with the flow.

Plus, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith marks — we think — the end of the official Star Wars holy canon. The faithful are supposed to get answers to all kinds of Big Questions and see how the pieces fit, as Anakin Skywalker takes the plunge (a baptism of fire clearly looms ahead) and becomes Darth Vader.

Over at USA Today, reporter Mike Snider has written a very interesting opening salvo on some of these issues, in a piece titled “Star Wars’ universe revolves around Vader.” And that’s the point. These movies really do revolve around the fall and redemption (Lucas says that) of a character who is a symbol of absolute evil. This implies that there must be some kind of absolute good. Or does it?

Snider touches many bases to note the obvious influences:

Lucas drew on mythology, religion, psychology and cultural images, popular and past. Just as Lucas relied on Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces as the mythical underpinning for his saga, his villain had multiple purposes, too. . . .

Vader seeps into the subconscious because he embodies psychologist Carl Jung’s “shadow archetype,” a representation of the dark half of one’s personality. Mythologist Campbell pointed out that Star Wars, like classic myths before it, makes use of Jung’s archetypes — others include wise old man (Obi-Wan) and hero (Luke Skywalker) — as building blocks. . . .

In addition to the Zen-like Force that “surrounds us and penetrates us . . . (and) binds the galaxy together,” as Obi-Wan tells Luke, another Eastern religious element can be found in Vader’s resemblance to demons that, in the Buddhist tradition, were at one time human and, through the actions of Buddha or his followers, are freed from their demonic state.

So what does the word “redemption” mean in this context? If Vader is some kind of fallen angel, this implies some concept of sin and even, in biblical terms, “The Fall.” Does that work in the pseudo Yin-Yang world of Lucas and The Force?

I hope journalists seek out all kinds of voices on this, not just the usual folks who think the whole Lucas cycle is evil or those who think Star Wars theology is the perfect blend of Buddhism and postmodernity. One of my favorite writers on this topic is Roberto “friend of this blog” Rivera y Carlo. Click here for his classic “Elves, Wookies and Fanboys: Star Wars And Our Need For Stories” and here for his “Love, Sacrifice & Free Will in Star Wars.”

May the sources be with you.

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Hey Hillary, is this legislation pro-life?

Democrats for Life.gifNow here is an interesting media-relations question. What does it mean when a group of Democrats gets together to announce a package of legislation and the press conference merits a wave of coverage from the Christian Communication Network, the Conservative Voice and LifeNews.com, but the event receives no coverage at all — zero, zip, nada — in the MSM?

Well, I would guess that might happen if the group holding the press conference is Democrats For Life.

Still, there is no question that the topic is newsworthy. I mean, even Hillary Clinton has talked about this subject and people like Andrew Sullivan have noticed this. If this is a real story, then it should end up affecting legislation. Right?

So here is a clip from the LifeNews.com report by Steven Ertelt:

Democrats for Life of America joined Reps. Tim Ryan (Ohio), Bart Stupak (Michigan) and Lincoln Davis (Tennessee) at a press conference Friday to announce the “95-10 Initiative” — a plan to reduce abortions 95 percent in the next 10 years.

Kristen Day, director of DFLA, said the plan was “a legitimate policy initiative that will actually reduce the number of abortions.” She said it “has been met favorably by both pro-life and pro-choice advocates and elected officials.”

The initiative outlines 17 different policy programs designed to empower and promote women as well as protect unborn children. Some of those include a national toll-free number for pregnancy support, studying why women have abortions, funding daycare on college campuses, increasing funding for domestic violence programs, and making adoption tax credits permanent.

And so forth and so on. Obviously, there are critics of such an effort on the right as well as on the left. It’s a hot topic and compromise will be hard. After all, this effort would require proposing laws that involve tax dollars, adoption, birth control, daycare and a host of other sensitive moral, religious and political subjects. It would mean finding middle ground.

To me, that sounds like an interesting story. It looks like you will have to go to a niche news site to read about it.

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Developing: Hendrix not on Benedict's iPod

RatzingerinBlack.jpgI know this may sound too crazy to be true, ladies and gentlemen, but some university professors had their doubts about the cultural revolution of the 1960s. Try to wrap your head around this: Some adult Roman Catholics who had earned degrees and were paid to teach young people held on to the quaint notions that moral and theological truth flow from a transcendent source; that sex outside of marriage is a moral wrong and will harm people spiritually and, often, physically; that shouting down your professor is boorish and anti-democratic; and that, while the church favors democracy in secular governments, the church’s dogmas are not subject to a popular vote.

One such adult who believed these things was a theology professor named Joseph Ratzinger. Later he became a bishop. Then he became a cardinal. Then he oversaw the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where colleagues came to know “a patient listener with an orderly mind” who “keeps a clean desk.”

The New York Times tells this backstory about Pope Benedict XVI, which of course is almost too fantastic for the wildest satirical film directed by Robert Altman. And here’s another amazing thing: The Times tells this breathtaking tale thoroughly, in a way that may even depict the new pope sympathetically — at least to people open to the idea that the student protests of 1968 in the “quaint, gingerbready town” of Tübingen, Germany, got many things wrong.

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Digging deeper on the Orthodox story

Palm Sunday 2.jpgI hope everyone had a blessed Palm Sunday. Now it’s time for Holy Week.

Which is another way of saying that the Eastern Orthodox celebration of Pascha and the Western church’s date for Easter are about as far apart this year as they can possibly get, once again underlining the ancient clashes between the Julian and modern (yes, the 16th century is modern for the Orthodox) Gregorian calendars. This is a very complicated subject and, frankly, I still get confused about some of the lunar angles. But if you want to know more, click here.

In the days ahead, you can expect to see more than a few news reports linked to the novelty of “Orthodox Easter” and the chance to photograph the outdoor processions that are one of the most beautiful parts of the Eastern liturgies for this week. News photographers just love gold robes, incense, candles, flowers and men with long beards. If you try hard enough, you can even get the photos framed just right and capture the stunned faces of ordinary people driving past as the singing faithful head down the sidewalks of city or suburban neighborhoods.

This is also a favorite time of the year for journalists to write about the steady growth of Eastern Orthodoxy in North America, due, in large part, to a stream of coverts from evangelicalism, oldline Protestantism and even a few from Rome. The evangelicals are the sexy angle to the story, of course. There is a kind of exotic National Geographic quality to writing about scores of people from Campus Crusade for Christ, Oral Roberts University, Baylor, Wheaton, the Moody Bible Institute and lots of other strange places ending up in domed churches chanting the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

The Dallas Morning News ventured into this territory this past weekend with religion-page feature that covered most of the familiar bases, including a sidebar on the “trophy convert” Frank Schaeffer, the outspoken son of the famous evangelical theologian and philosopher Francis Schaeffer. The mainbar offers lots of good information, starting with this opening statement of the Dallas “trend” behind this story:

The Eastern Orthodox Church, as far removed from a nondenominational or evangelical congregation as you can get, is nevertheless attracting a growing number of converts who are drawn by the tug of an ancient faith.

Converts are trading in their PowerPoint sermons and praise bands for the ancient rhythms of a liturgy that hasn’t changed in thousands of years –­ a pendulum swing from the casual, seeker-friendly services that have dominated contemporary evangelicalism.

Their numbers are still small compared to megachurch growth patterns, with 1.2 million Eastern Orthodox Christians in America and an estimated 10,000 in the Dallas area. But adherents say there’s been a surge in people drawn to the faith.

It’s also had to knock a story that includes quotations from the unofficial grandmother of this blog, Frederica Mathewes-Green of Beliefnet, NPR and lots of other places. Take this, for example:

Frederica Mathewes-Green, a former Episcopalian and author of Facing East: A Pilgrim’s Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy, said the experience of Orthodoxy was “startlingly different” from anything she’d known in Western churches. But it clicked when she saw it was directed toward God rather than her own emotional needs.

“It called us to fall on our faces before God in worship and to be filled with awe at his glory. I could never go back. I now find Western worship tedious and sentimental. To me, the contrast is jolting.”

The feature story, written by News “special contributor” Robin Galiano Russell, is very, very positive about this whole trend, so positive that one would expect the Orthodox to print up copies and hand them out on street corners. However, I would like — as a Southern Baptist preacher’s kid turned Orthodox convert — to pause for a moment and argue that this newspaper story is way too positive.

The main thrust of the story is that some evangelical Protestants, apparently smart ones who like beautiful worship, are fleeing all of those giant suburban megachurches and hiding out from the modern world in Orthodox sanctuaries.

I cannot deny that some of that is true. That being the case, it would have been good to have included some quotes from evangelicals who think this is a bad thing. In other words, there are evangelicals who are, as we like to say, “Romeaphobic” and see the “evangelical Orthodox” trend as a bad thing, a drift into dead ritual. If would have added balance, and a zing of tension, to have talked to some of them. There are a few large evangelical Protestant churches in Dallas, even if they do not receive large amounts of coverage in the News. Trust me on this.

Meanwhile, I would also assume that there are leaders in the progressive oldline Protestant churches in Dallas who are — it’s a pretty conservative city, after all — seeing some of their more orthodox members convert to Orthodoxy. Some progressive Protestants like to hang out at Southern Methodist University. It would have been interesting to hear from them. Even the Roman Catholic heirarchy in Dallas has a bit of a progressive streak on liturgy and other issues. It would have been edgy to have called the archdiocesan spokesman for a reaction.

In other words, there are two or more sides to this story. Orthodoxy has its own internal struggles in North America, as its ethnic era fades and the emphasis moves to blending the converts into a larger, more complex body. There is more to this than bookish people escaping all those evil megachurches. I hope the News revisits the story.

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