“So who were Saints Philip and James?” The question involved the namesakes of a local Catholic parish, and I couldn’t be sure of the answer. There were quite a few saints that shared those names. But I suspect we can narrow down the list, because naming a church after the wrong one of those Philips would just be asking for trouble. [Read more…]
Every facet of white evangelical Christianity as it exists in America today is based on this unspoken belief. It is the bold claim that defines the tradition, the bedrock of everything that white evangelical Christianity is and strives to be. That claim is this: Hundreds of years of slavery and a century of Jim Crow oppression had no effect on the shape of American Christianity.
The very same survey data they’ve collected might demonstrate something very different from what they’re arguing. They say this data shows that church-attendance makes it less likely for people to wind up divorced or addicted or in financial distress. But it’s just as possible — and far more likely — that it simply proves, instead, that our churches are really, really bad at welcoming people who are divorced, addicted, or in financial distress. [Read more…]
The Pearly Gates of Heaven are a cliché image in popular culture. Every time a famous person dies, newspaper cartoonists churn out variations of the Famous Person at the Pearly Gates cartoon. The same Pearly Gates scene gets recycled endlessly in movies, TV shows, advertising, and more jokes than we could ever get written down. But in all of that pop-culture imagery and in all the religious folklore built around it, we tend to get one detail of John of Patmos’ vision completely backwards. [Read more…]
Many of the songs and choruses that make up our “worship music” claim to be about God, but the language they use to describe God is indistinct from the language we might use to try to describe the super-massive black hole at the center of the galaxy. Many of these songs could be sung, without changing a word, by a Sagittarius A* death cult. [Read more…]
Purity is the main thing here, after all — retaining the unsullied perfection of our undefiled religion. The whole orphans and widows bit is really just thrown in there as an afterthought for those who feel kind of weird just sitting around, avoiding the world, stayin’ pure and undefiled. But clearly it’s optional. Extra-credit, maybe, but not required. And really it’s just too dangerous to risk it. [Read more…]
“Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore, we are saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we are saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love.” [Read more…]