Five Religious Predictions for 2011

I’ll be on Doug Pagitt Radio tomorrow (Sunday, December 19), going over my predictions for the year in religion from last year, recapping the big stories, and making my predictions for next year.

You can read my Five Predictions for 2010,

  1. Political correctness toward Islam will decrease
  2. The pope will not say or do anything particularly controversial
  3. Universalism will become a hot topic among evangelicals
  4. Rick Warren’s influence will wane and new evangelical leaders will emerge
  5. A handful of evangelical leaders will come out in support of GLBT marriage/ordination

And here are the top ten religion stories for 2010, according to the Religion News Service:

  1. NYC mosque
  2. Religious response to the Haiti earthquake
  3. Catholic clergy sex abuse and cover-up
  4. Rise of the Tea Party
  5. Obama health care bill
  6. Denominational debates on GLBT issues
  7. Bankruptcy of the Crystal Cathedral
  8. Gay teen suicides
  9. Pew Forum survey showing atheists know more about Christianity than Christians
  10. No Protestant on the Supreme Court

So, how did I do?

What you you think is in store for 2011 in religious news? Help me make my list, and be sure to listen in tomorrow!

Star Wars and Evangelical Revisionist History

An interesting take on evangelical nostalgia for a past that never was, especially important during an era in which Glenn Beck and the Teabaggers are constantly invoking this glorious version of America that never existed.

So what do Peter Marshall and Star Wars have in common? A lot. Most importantly, they show us that Americans are still searching for and finding faiths that affirm who they imagine themselves to be as a people rather than religions that challenge them to be better than they are. Marshall tells Christians that they are linked to a long line of holy predecessors just like them. Star Wars, in turn, helps viewers recognize their connection to an all-powerful, all-encompassing Force.

via 1977 Redux: Star Wars and Evangelical Revisionist History | Religion Dispatches.

My Conversation with a Beaver

So, there’s a family of beavers that live in a slough on my family’s land in northern Minnesota.  And they take advantage of the culvert that runs underneath our road to raise the water level in the slough.  I had the opportunity to sit down with the patriarch of the colony.  Here’s how the conversation went:

TJ: Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me.  Look, we’re really frustrated that you keep clogging up the culvert.  If the slough backs up too high, the water will come over our road and wash it out.  That would suck.

Beaver: What sucks is not having enough water in the slough.  We need a certain amount of water to live comfortably.

TJ: We know that.  That’s why we put boards in the culvert to regulate the water height.  We always make sure there’s plenty of water in the slough for your purposes.

Beaver: I don’t trust your new-fangled boards, and I don’t trust your regulation.

TJ: But we want water in the slough, too.  We keep the water level high because we want fish, waterfowl, and vegetation, as well as your family to thrive.

Beaver: My dams are better than your boards.

TJ: Actually, that’s false.  The innovation of processed lumber means that we can drop three or four boards into metal grooves in less than a minute and achieve the same results that it takes you and your family weeks to achieve.  It’s called progress.  The board-and-groove system is qualitatively better than your dam system.  Not only is it easier and more efficient, it will save hundreds of trees per year that you and your family kill.

Beaver: No.

TJ: What do you mean, “No”?

Beaver: I mean, no, I reject your argument.  And I reject progress.  And I think you’re a communist socialist marxist.

TJ: But the board-and-groove innovation means that you and your family could actually be better capitalists.  Instead of spending every waking hour chewing down trees and building dams and lodges, you could trust us to regulate your water flow and get on to more lucrative work, like being teeth models.

Beaver: Like I said, no.

At that point, I threw up my hands and walked back to the cabin, where I prepped the beaver trap.