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...]

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...]

The World Vision same-sex marriage wars of 2014

When church historians review the 2014 World Vision wars over gay marriage, they will ponder several puzzling statements by the man caught in the crossfire. "We do know this is an emotional issue in the American church," said World Vision U.S. President Richard Stearns, in the recent Christianity Today interview that revealed his organization's decision months earlier to employ Christians in same-sex marriages. "I'm hoping not to lose supporters over the change. We're hoping that they … [Read more...]

Guess the winner: Woodstock vs. religious liberty

Blame it on Woodstock. Cultural changes unleashed by the sexual revolution are affecting how millions of Americans understand religious liberty, according to University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, speaking at a recent Newseum symposium marking the 20th anniversary of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It doesn't help that disputes about the free exercise of religion have increasingly turned into bitter partisan battles pitting Republicans against the majority of mainstream … [Read more...]

A growing hole in the middle of American Jewry

There is a Yiddish saying about the mysteries of faith, family and fellowship that, loosely translated, proclaims: "You cannot make Shabbat by yourself." "The point is that you need the presence of other Jews around you to live out the dictates of your Jewish beliefs," said sociologist Steven M. Cohen, of the Jewish Institute of Religion at Hebrew Union College. Shabbat creates that circle of support. Beginning minutes before sundown on Friday, it involves a day of rest, prayer, ritual … [Read more...]

Concerning God, sex, worship and babies

Pollsters have been asking Americans questions about God, sex and babies for a long time and the answers used to be pretty predictable. Early in the 20th Century it was easy to predict which flocks of believers would produce the most children -- with Mormons reporting the highest numbers, followed by Catholics, then Protestants and so forth as fertility rates declined. But things changed as the century rolled on and America became more pluralistic and, in elite zip codes, secular. After … [Read more...]

The Anglican wars roll on (and Holy Communion for dogs)

The German Shepherd's name was Trapper and he came to St. Peter's Anglican Church with his owner, a newcomer at the historic Toronto parish. At the end of the Mass, Trapper went forward with everyone else for Holy Communion. That's when the vicar, in what she later described as a welcoming gesture, served the dog some of the consecrated bread that Anglicans believe has -- in a mysterious manner -- become the body of Jesus Christ. So one parishioner complained to the bishop and, in a flash, … [Read more...]

Making a case for the common hymnal

There was a time when the faithful in the heavily Dutch corners of the Midwest would not have been able to sing along if the organist played the gospel classic, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand." True, some may have recognized the hymn that Mahalia Jackson sang at the 1968 funeral of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., since this was the civil rights leader's favorite: "Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand. I am tired, I am weak, I am worn. Through the storm, through the night, … [Read more...]


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