‘Backsliders’ and the ‘unchurched’ equal the ‘Nones’?

Old-school preachers used to call them "backsliders," those folks who were raised in the pews but then fled.Sociologists and church-growth professionals eventually pinned more bookish labels on these people, calling them the "unchurched" or describing them as "spiritual, but not religious."Pollsters at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and similar think tanks are now using a more neutral term to describe a key trend in various religious traditions, talking about a sharp increase in … [Read more...]

God, Barbies and girlie girls

It's a question that can cause tension and tears in a circle of home-school moms in a Bible Belt church fellowship hall.It's a question that can have the same jarring impact in a circle of feminist mothers in a Manhattan coffee shop.Here it is: Will you buy your daughter a Barbie doll? Other questions follow in the wake of this one, linked to clothes, self esteem, cellphones, makeup, reality TV shows and the entire commercialized princess culture.The Barbie question is not uniquely … [Read more...]

Are there ‘virtual’ sins?

It has been a few weeks since the kids ripped off the Christmas wrappings and, after plugging in a few cables, soared off into the private universes inside their new video games.Since then, most of them have been slaying armies of evil aliens, orcs, zombies or Nazis. Then again, they may -- with pounding pulses and razor-sharp reflexes -- have slaughtered innocent bystanders, bedded prostitutes, sold hard drugs to children and used stolen vehicles to flatten cops."Gamer" Jeff Hooten is worried … [Read more...]

Neo-traditional born-again dads

They show up for dinner, help with homework, lead the rituals of bedtime and park their butts in the bleachers when their kids are in action.They are heavy on discipline, but also eager to praise. They have been known to spank their children, but they are also more likely to hug them. They certainly take their families to church -- early and often.They are totally off the radar screens in Hollywood and elite academia.They are ordinary, faithful, evangelical and Catholic men and University of … [Read more...]