What Crisis in Christianity?!? Andrew Sullivan Reax

The editor of a major newsweekly once told me that if he wanted to double the sales of the magazine for a week, he just had to put Jesus, Mary, or angels on the cover. Newsweek, even after the ousting of its staunchly Episcopalian editor, Jon Meacham, still plays this game more than other newsweeklies. So it was no surprise that the latest acquisition by Newsweek/The Daily Beast, the vaguely Catholic Andrew Sullivan, penned the Holy Week cover story on Jesus and the crisis in Christianity.

According to Sullivan, who often publicly quarrels with his own church, the crisis in Christianity is that the church has become too political, thus corrupting the central message of Jesus. Get Jesus back into your heart, and screw the church. That’s Sully’s thesis.

Many of the bloggers I read disagree. Here’s a round-up of them, including a riposte from Sullivan himself:

Father Robert Barron at RealClearReligion:

The result of this Jeffersonian surgery is Jesus the enlightened sage, the teacher of timeless moral truths concerning love, forgiveness and non-violence. Both Jefferson and Sullivan urge that this Christ, freed from churchly distortions, can still speak in a liberating way to an intelligent and non-superstitious audience.

Diana Butler Bass at HuffPo:

What Sullivan apparently does not know is that some Christians, from pews, pulpits, and classrooms are asking the right questions–and are working toward a spiritually renewed and intellectually credible Christianity. These new questioners make up what I call America’s “exile” faith communities–the creative but often ignored Christians found in liberal mainline churches, emergent evangelical gatherings, and progressive Catholic circles. With growing awareness over the last two decades, they have been engaging this crisis, listening to the grassroots questions of American religious life, and constructing new patterns and practices of faith. For them, the questions are becoming clear–and some answers are emerging.

Paul Pastor at Out of Ur:

There once was a writer named Sullivan
who wanted to give Christ a mulligan,
so he said “people, please—ditch the Church so diseased,
and remember what Jesus taught us again!”

Scott Paeth at Against the Stream:

To be Christian, he seems to be arguing, means to reject the use of power, and he responds to a commentator who notes that we’re always exercising power by saying “well: duh,” and referring back to the fall. But I think this sells the question of power short. Power is not simply the power of coercion, which is how Sullivan wants to use it, and thus not simply a product of the fall, rather, power is constitutive of our very being. To exist is to exercise power, not simply because of the fall, but because that’s what existence means.

In this respect, I think that Sullivan has perhaps drunk a bit too deeply from the works of Reinhold Niebuhr, and not deeply enough from the work of Paul Tillich.

And, at Patrol, all the bases are covered:

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Why We Can Ask Mitt Romney about His Mormonism

Jeff Weiss responds to the criticism he got last week in his proposed questions to Romney:

The reason I felt particularly justified in posing those questions is why the situations of Romney and Obama are not parallel.

For a decade, Romney was a member of the clergy for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He was ward bishop and stake president. … As such he was a recognized authority, expected to understand and agree with official church doctrine and to apply it while working with members of his congregations.

I would only ask these kinds of questions to someone for whom religion is a central part of their public persona. Dick Cheney, for instance, is Methodist but never much talked about it. So it isn’t politically relevant. His former boss, however, famously said that Jesus Christ was his favorite political philosopher.

I count it a signal failure of the national media that candidate George W. Bush was not queried sharply and repeatedly to explain how his understanding of the political philosophy of Jesus would inform his governance.

Read on to see why Weiss says that we can also ask Obama about his faith: RealClearReligion – Yes Obama Can! Talk About God.

Did You See Blue Like Jazz?

So, I’m wondering if any of you saw Blue Like Jazz over it’s opening weekend. As expected, I saw many posts like this on Facebook:

That’s right, it’s a Christian’s duty to buy tickets for this movie, even if you can’t go, in order to send the message to the fat cats in Hollywood that we want more movies like this.

It seems the “crucial” opening weekend didn’t go so well. BLJ came in 20th at the box office, according to Variety, behind even John Carter. It did make more per theater than John Carter, because BLJ was only in 136 theaters. This weekend, BLJ made 1% of the number one movie, Hunger Games.

The comments left on my earlier post and the FB posts and tweets I read about the movie ranged from “Meh” to “Everyone seemed like a sophomoric cartoon of real people.”

On Rotten Tomatoes, there seems to be a split between critics and fans:

So, I’m wondering if you saw it. And, if so, what did you think?

Watch Sarah Pulliam Bailey Destroy The Atlantic

Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey, writer for Christianity Today, is one of my more favorite writers in the evangelical-journalist community. Like me, she was emailed a downright absurd article posted on the Atlantic‘s website last week, linking KONY2012 to the emergent church movement.

In our world, the Atlantic is supposed to represent good, serious reporting. And Christianity Today is supposed to represent slanted, non-objective reporting.

Well, read Sarah’s piece if you’re ready for your categories to be upended. She completely pwns the Atlantic at Get Religion:

Earlier this week, a reader sent us a “slightly alarmist” piece from The Atlantic on a Christian sect driving Africa. Can you guess what might be “The Upstart Christian Sect Driving Invisible Children”? Wait for it: the emerging church. That’s right. The movement that no one is talking about anymore.

I asked Tony Jones what he thought of the piece, given that he has been one of the leaders of the Emergent Church Village, and he had some strong words.

I read the Atlantic piece on KONY and the emerging church, and I was dumbfounded. Firstly, I found the article nearly indecipherable. But even more troubling was the supposed connection between Invisible Children and the emergent church movement is ludicrous. But then, when the reporter referred to Mark Driscoll as a liberal, we all knew that he had no idea what he was writing about. That should be enough for the Atlantic to take the article off their website, and fire the editor who greenlighted it.

Why does Jones feel so strongly about this piece? Walk with me through bits and pieces to find out why it’s such bad journalism.

Please read the rest of Sarah’s paragraph-by-paragraph deconstruction of the Atlantic article here: Correction please on The Atlantic’s lol Kony report » GetReligion.