Porn again — Facing denial in conservative pews

The Rev. Heath Lambert usually hears one of two responses when he tries to get pastors to be candid about the impact of Internet pornography in their churches. Response No. 1 sounds like this: “Pornography isn’t a problem in my church.” That answer drew laughter at a recent conference on faith and sexuality, organized by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Lambert, a seminary professor who leads the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, said he… Read more

Dueling saints from the Second Vatican Council?

History will show St. John XXIII was a pastor with an “exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit,” while St. John Paul II will be known “as the pope of the family.” That was as close as Pope Francis came to providing the sound bite all the so-called Vatican experts were waiting to hear during the historic St. Peter’s Square rites in which he — with the retired Pope Benedict XVI looking on — elevated to sainthood two popes who did… Read more

Year 26: Frustrated Catholics playing ‘Name that pope’

Soon after Pope Francis skyrocketed into media superstardom, some frustrated Catholics started playing an online game that could be called “Name that pope.” Most of them were not upset with what their charismatic shepherd from Argentina was actually saying and doing. Instead, they were frustrated with the media storm portraying him as radically different — in substance — from his predecessors. Frankly, this is one of the strangest stories I have seen during the many years — 26 as of… Read more

An honest Easter with doubters and the ‘nones’

It’s the first thing people do after meeting strangers in coffee shops and clubs favored by the young professionals now flocking into Austin, Portland and America’s other trendy postmodern cities. Job one is to define themselves in terms of what they do and what they believe. “I am an accountant,” one will say. “I am a vegetarian,” or “I am gay,” or “I am a techie,” others will reply. Hipsters don’t need to say, “I am a hipster,” because everyone… Read more

Building a new monastery in the isles of Celtic giants

Father Seraphim Aldea is so committed to building the first Orthodox monastery in the Scottish isles in more than a millennium that he did something no monk searching for solitude would ever, ever do. “I learned how to use that dreadful Facebook thing,” he said. The Romanian monk has already been handed an abandoned Church of Scotland sanctuary on Mull Island. While Kilninian was built in 1755, it appears in 1561 records as a site associated with the great Monastery… 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 understand that what we’ve… Read more

The death of an Orthodox visionary — in America

When major religious leaders die, it’s traditional that public figures — secular and sacred — release letters expressing sorrow and sending their condolences to the spiritual sheep who have suddenly found themselves without a shepherd. This is precisely what Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis did, acting as chairman of the assembly of America’s Eastern Orthodox bishops, after he heard about the death of Metropolitan Philip Saliba — the leader of the Antiochian Orthodox Christians in North America for a half… Read more

Praying for better journalism at The New York Times

NEW YORK — It was a perfectly ordinary invitation to gather for Christian fellowship, the kind of message believers often circulate among colleagues that they know share their faith. In this case, Michael Luo invited a circle of fellow journalists in the New York Times newsroom to breakfast, including one former pastor of an evangelical church. Yes, this tiny Times flock plans to gather again. No, the veteran reporter was not willing to name any names. “The Times is like… Read more

Time for another rant about Lent

With Ash Wednesday behind them, online friends of Hollywood screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi braced themselves for what has become a Lenten tradition — fasting-day manifestos from the witty former nun. “It’s a Friday of Lent dear Catholic brethren. And you know what that means,” she wrote on Facebook. “Corporate Sacrifice Power Activate! No meat. No braised oxtail. No venison medallions. No veal short ribs. No rabbit sausage. NO MEAT. No Muscovy Duck. No Turkey jerky. No Kangaroo Loin Fillets. nO mEAt…. Read more

The evolving state of Mormon heaven

It takes lots of praying, preaching and singing to mourn a president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a man called Prophet, Seer and Revelator by his global flock. That was certainly true at President Spencer W. Kimball’s funeral in 1985. So when one of the church’s most powerful women rose to speak, the leader of its vast Relief Society projects, she simply shared a cherished private memory that pointed far beyond the grave. While visiting Colorado,… Read more

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