Growing tensions on the Faith and Family Left

It was one of those symbolic questions that pollsters toss into the mix when probing fault lines inside political coalitions.The Pew Research Center recently asked, as part of its "Beyond Red vs. Blue" political typology project, whether voters agreed or disagreed that it is "necessary to believe in God to be moral."Among the voters called "Solid Liberals," one of three major Democratic Party camps, only 11 percent of those polled said "yes." People in the emerging "Next Generation Left" … [Read more...]

Religious leaders struggle to reach ‘emerging adults’

When leaders of traditional faith groups think about reaching out to Millennials, religious seekers, unaffiliated "Nones" and other postmodern young Americans, this is the voice that many keep hearing in their heads."Morality is how I feel too, because in my heart, I could feel it," said one person interviewed in the National Study of Youth and Religion. "You could feel what's right and wrong in your heart as well as your mind. Most of the time, I always felt, I feel it in my heart and it … [Read more...]

Pain, hope and schisms in the long Anglican wars

Anglicans seem to be hopeful about their flocks in the United States, even if the warring factions in their Communion keep moving further and further apart.That was a common theme in two upbeat recent sermons preached by leaders in the progressive and orthodox Anglican bodies now competing in the marketplace of American religion.In the first sermon, Father Cameron Partridge became the first openly transgender priest to preach at Washington National Cathedral. The June 22 liturgy was part … [Read more...]

Clergy, temptation, sex abuse and the law

Surely one of our world's most endangered species -- right up there with the Mountain Gorilla or the Sumatran Tiger -- is the church "ministerius youthii."That was the conviction of the late Louis McBurney, a Mayo Clinic-trained psychiatrist who spent decades at his Colorado retreat center helping ministers crushed by the demands and temptations of their jobs. Youth ministers, for example, face stunning parental expectations, low pay, the loss of privacy and a nagging sense of … [Read more...]

Sobering words define a young priest’s life

As sermons go, it was not the kind of pulpit performance that -- when it was given -- created a buzz in the pews.The young Catholic priest's voice was flat and subdued, his face calm but not expressive. After all, he was only a year or so into his priesthood and preaching was still rather new to him. On this day he was working with a sobering text from the Gospel of Luke in which Jesus looks over the city of Jerusalem and weeps, knowing that death and destruction looms in the future.So … [Read more...]

A wry case for using beer in evangelism

While he knows that millions of teetotalling Christians disagree, Father William Miller believes he can make a theological case for the moderate consumption of beer through a simple use of evangelistic math."Beer is the universal beverage. If you want to sit down and have a friendly, personal conversation with about 90 percent of the people in this world then that is probably going to take place over a beer, that is if you want them to open up and level with you," said Miller, who is -- … [Read more...]

Ann B. Davis was much, much more than ‘Alice’

Soon after its birth, the MTV network tried to branch out with "Remote Control," a hipper than hip game show.Contestants were quizzed on media trivia including a category called, "Alive or dead?" The goal was to guess the current status of pop-culture icons.One day in 1988 the name "Ann B. Davis" popped up on the screen. Hitting the buzzer, a contestant shouted, "Dead!"With a classic double take, Davis shouted, "I am not!" at the den television in the 26-room redstone house she … [Read more...]

Pope, patriarch, primacy and the press

The Holy Land pilgrimage by Pope Francis contained plenty of symbolic gestures, photo ops and sound bites crafted to slip into broadcasts, ink and Twitter.There was his direct flight into the West Bank, the first papal "State of Palestine" reference and the silent prayer with his forehead against the concrete security wall between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, near graffiti pleading, "Pope, we need some 1 to speak about justice." He also prayed at a memorial for suicide-bombing victims and put a … [Read more...]


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