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 can see the obvious. "Usually, our identity … [Read more...]

Surviving the Easter crush, 2013

There must a law, deep in the cosmic base code, that if parents dress their nine children in Easter white -- especially when the New England snow is melting -- at least one will fall into the mud. "It was tough," said Simcha Fisher, describing this Easter's obstacle course, "but we survived all that and made it to Mass." This was not an ordinary Mass, of course. The Fishers -- with children ranging from 15 months to nearly 15 years -- were trying to get into the 11:15 a.m. rites on the day … [Read more...]

Quest for the common Easter

Motorists across America saw a strange sight this past Sunday morning if they stopped at a traffic signal near an Eastern Orthodox sanctuary and then, shortly thereafter, passed a Catholic parish. What they saw was worshippers singing hymns and waving palm fronds as they marched in Palm Sunday processions at these churches. Similar sights will be common during Holy Week rites this week and then on Easter Sunday. There is nothing unusual about various churches celebrating these holy days in … [Read more...]

Now that’s a tough Lent

It was a decade ago during Lent that author Lauren Winner was visited by an angel, unawares. "Actually, it was my priest," said Winner, who teaches Christian spirituality at Duke Divinity School. "I have learned that people in my life often tell me what I need to do during Lent. ... It's kind of like hearing from angels." Although the voice wasn't miraculous, Winner thought it would take a miracle to follow her spiritual guide's advice. The challenge was deceptively simple: Could she give up … [Read more...]

Fasting, for evangelical Protestants?

Elmer Towns had a big problem three decades ago after he moved to Lynchburg, Va., to help a Baptist preacher named Jerry Falwell start the school that grew into Liberty University. Month after month, Towns faced two house payments -- a real family crisis. Thus, the veteran Bible professor decided to try something that he considered a radical, "Old Testament thing." In addition to praying that someone would buy the house back in Chicago, Towns and his wife Ruth began fasting on the day that … [Read more...]

American exorcist, 2009

It was clear from the man's testimony that all hell was breaking loose in his life and he needed help. However, since this man was a scientist, Father Gary Thomas wasn't surprised that he was a skeptic when it came to supernatural evil. That was fine, since one of the first things the priest learned in Rome while training to be an exorcist was to remain as skeptical as possible, as long as possible. Still, there were troubling facts in the man's story -- such as an episode when a counselor … [Read more...]

Beyond Easter candy bargains

If there's one thing other Christians know about the ancient churches of the East it is that Orthodox believers usually get to buy their Easter candy at closeout prices.This year, the gap between the two Easter dates was so large -- five weeks -- that the leftover chocolate eggs had been cleaned out by April 27 and the great Orthodox feast called Pascha (Greek for "Passover")."It's true that when the Easters are not together, we don't have to deal with the whole Hallmark Card, Easter bunny side … [Read more...]

Dueling Anglican pulpits

There is nothing new about Anglicans worrying about the environment.One of the Church of England's most famous hymns, after all, offers this somber vision of industrialization from poet William Blake: "And did the countenance divine shine forth upon our clouded hills? And was Jerusalem builded here among those dark satanic mills?"Nevertheless, a recent sermon by the U.S. Episcopal Church's outspoken leader raised eyebrows as it circulated in cyberspace. Some traditionalists were not amused by a … [Read more...]


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