‘Lost’ in the eternal lite

When describing the mysterious concept called purgatory, the Catechism of the Catholic Church starts with the basics."All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven," the text states. "The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification. ... The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts … [Read more...]

Island of ‘Lost’ souls

It's getting harder to visit office water coolers without hearing the whispers of the "Lost" disciples who are bracing for the end of the world as they know it.The same thing is happening during coffee hours in religious congregations of every shape and size, which is a testimony to the complexity of the religious themes and symbols embedded deep in the show's mythology. Tough theological questions have circled the island of the castaways ever since the fateful crash of Oceanic Flight 815.Do … [Read more...]

Trying to focus on the future

As strange as it may sound, the head of Focus on the Family is trying to find just the right place in his Colorado Springs office to put a framed copy of an editorial from the New York Times.Under the headline "Super Bowl Censorship," it defended the Christian group's right to buy a prime chunk of airtime, even if the ad focused on the decision by an ailing Pam Tebow to ignore her doctors' advice to abort her fifth child -- a son named Tim. Protests by the National Organization for Women, … [Read more...]

Voices of unbelievers, in pulpits

On Sunday mornings, you will find him leading hymns in one of the independent Church of Christ congregations somewhere in South Carolina.Call him "Adam." He is a church administrator, a "worship minister" and a self-proclaimed "atheist agnostic." That last detail is a secret. After all, his wife and teen-aged children are devout believers and he needs to stay employed."Here's how I'm handling my job. ... I see it as playacting. I kind of see myself as taking on a role of a believer in a … [Read more...]

Sermons by Billy and Obama

Both men faced rows of loved ones still wrapped in grief after shocking tragedies.Both men quoted the Psalms. Both concluded with visions of eternal life and heavenly reunions. Both referred to familiar songs that offered comfort.Facing those gathered in Beckley, W.Va., to mourn the loss of 29 miners, President Barack Obama asked them to remember a rhythm and blues classic -- "Lean on Me" -- that had its roots in coal country life.Songwriter Bill Withers wrote: "Sometimes in our lives, we … [Read more...]

State of the online Godbeat 2010

For journalists who care about life on the Godbeat, the list of the dead and the missing in action has turned into a grim litany.Some religion-beat jobs have been killed, while others have been downsized, out-sourced, frozen or chopped up and given to reluctant general-assignment reporters.Gentle readers, please rise for a moment of silence.The Orlando Sentinel. The Dallas Morning News. Time. The Chicago Sun-Times. The Rocky Mountain News. U.S. News & World Report. The list goes on, … [Read more...]

State of the Godbeat 2010

This was not your typical New York Times headline: "For Catholics, a Door to Absolution is Reopened."The news report itself offered a flashback into an earlier age, back to the days before Vatican II or even to the tumultuous times of Martin Luther. On one level, this was simply a trend story about the Vatican trying to revive some old traditions. However, there were complicated details behind the blunt headline."In recent months," the Times reported, "dioceses around the world have been … [Read more...]

God, movies and cancer

Hollywood bean counters have started calling them "God films."The typical faith-based indie has a tiny budget and most of the actors are amateurs or second stringers from television. It doesn't take much money to promote one because churches are eager to hold pre-release screenings that fire up clergy and volunteers to spread the word -- on foot and online.Southern Baptist entrepreneurs in Georgia made the pro-marriage drama "Fireproof" for $500,000 and it grossed $40 million at the box … [Read more...]


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