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Friday, March 22, 2019

'Nones' now as big as evangelicals, Catholics in the US

'Nones' now as big as evangelicals, Catholics in the US
Religion News Service: In a shift that stands to impact both religion and politics, survey data suggests that the percentage of Americans who don't affiliate with any specific religious tradition is now roughly the same as those who identify as evangelical or Catholic.
Christianity Today: Evangelicals show no decline, despite Trump and Nones

Being a gay Christian can be hurtful and grueling. But I refuse to lose faith
The (London) Guardian: "So why do we bother going back to these churches and people that have hurt us?" Lucy Knight asks. "The simple answer is that I still believe in a loving God, and I still have faith that views will change, and things will get better."

When loving your neighbor means fighting hookworm in Alabama
Christianity Today: In the Black Belt -- once cleared for cotton plantations -- rural black communities suffer the consequences of poor land stewardship.

The student strike that changed higher ed forever
NPR: 50 years ago, studying the history and culture of any people who were not white and Western was considered radical. Then came the longest student strike in U.S. history, at San Francisco State College, which changed everything.

The thoughtful pastor: After 12 years, it's time for 'other voices to be heard'
The Denton (Texas) Record-Chronicle: After 12 years writing for the Record-Chronicle, retired UMC pastor Christy Thomas reflects in her last regular column.

The End of Identity Politics

The End of Identity Politics

That title suggests both the place where identity politics will end up—in the slaughter of other identity groups—and (hopefully) the beginning of the end of this chapter in political history. It’s no secret that the New Zealand terrorist (who will deliberately go unnamed) was driven in large part by identity politics. In his case, he was trying to protect his white Christian identity. Other cases across the globe have seen actors violently defend their identity as Muslims or Hindus or French or black or gendered or whatever identity. Many are having an increasingly hard time seeing how this—identity politics—is furthering the human project. This edition of the GR is, for better or worse, a selection of the articles I have found most interesting and/or persuasive lately on this one theme.
No Hate Left Behind” is by New York Times columnist Thomas Edsall (HT to GR reader Eric H). Edsall marshals a great deal of contemporary research that shows how “we” (however we define ourselves) find “them” not just mistaken but actually evil and worthy of, well, extermination.
In “A Perpetual War of Identities, ” Frank Furedi (author of How Fear Works: the Culture of Fear in the 21st Century—one of many books on my to-read pile) argues that “Identity politics is divisive, destructive and anti-human. It must be confronted.”
Moral Zealotry and the Seductive Nature of Evil” in Quillete reminds us that evil is rarely done in the name of evil but only by people who believe they are doing good. Like defending the rights of their class, party, identity, race, religion, or whatever.
In “Against Identity Politics: The New Tribalism and the Crisis of Democracy” Francis Fukuyama, one of the most insightful political scientists (in my view, anyway. I’ve pointed to him before), describes the psychological attraction of identity politics—the yearning for dignity. He concludes: “People will never stop thinking about themselves and their societies in identity terms. But people’s identities are neither fixed nor necessarily given by birth. Identity can be used to divide, but it can also be used to unify. That, in the end, will be the remedy for the populist politics of the present.”
What will unify a multicultural nation, of course, cannot be identity politics as it is presently conceived. It has to transcend the numerically smaller identities of which our nation is made, toward an identity that can bring us together. In the church, that unifying force is a person, Jesus Christ, who insists that all our favored identities (even our blood families!) must be “hated” (Luke 14:26) so that he can be properly loved; only in this way can the genuine unity of humankind can be found (Gal 3:16). But what can bring us together as nations—that is the challenge of the 21st century.
Step One: Repentance
What I like especially about “Moral Zealotry and the Seductive Nature of Evil” above was this line in particular:
The moral of the story is not that we should “call out” our political opponents for their zealotry. This is certain to be rhetorically ineffective. Your interlocutor will say, with justification, that you are begging the question and that if you really understood the issue, you’d see the rightness of his response. The point is rather that we should be watchful. We should on occasion ask ourselves: “What wouldn’t I do in the service of my favorite cause?”
That insight goes hand in hand with a piece by Hans Boersma whose theme is: “Repentance depends on memory. Thus, memorization is a Lenten practice, a repentant turning back to the memory of God. The link between memory and character formation was recognized long ago.” Thus we are prompted not only to a new spiritual discipline—memorization of Scripture especially—but to the core spiritual practice of repentance. (In my case, having hostile feelings toward identity politics extremists!)
Grace and peace,

Mark GalliMark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor-in-Chief, Christianity Today

Bring your parish back to life

Cardinal DiNardo discharged from hospital following stroke: Has entered rehabilitation program expected to last about two weeks
Will Pope Francis meet with Chinese leader?: President Xi Jinping will be in Italy March 21-23, but Chinese sources say they doubt he will meet with pontiff  
Bring your parish back to life: here’s how: Mass attendance is up 12 percent, income has more than doubled at Star of the Sea Parish in San Francisco

Evangelicals Show No Decline, Despite Trump and Nones

The 2018 General Social Survey reports American evangelicals holding steady amid growth of the unaffiliated—and a surprising uptick for mainline Protestants.
Ryan P. Burge
Evangelicals in the United States are holding steady at just under a quarter of the population, according to the latest biennial figures from the General Social Survey (GSS), one of the longest-running measures of religion in America.
Despite the quick pace of news and week-to-week political polling, ...
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Laid Bare by Midwest Floods

America’s Farming Crisis, Laid Bare by Midwest Floods
America’s Farming Crisis, Laid Bare by Midwest Floods
A deeper problem lies beneath recent stories of swelling rivers, soggy small towns, and feel-good relief efforts.
Jake Meador
The fields where my grandfather and his brothers once played football are currently covered by several feet of water.
My grandpa Bert was born in a small Nebraska town called Oakland, a couple hours north of Lincoln, just down the road from Senator Ben Sasse in Fremont. Like much of northeastern Nebraska, these towns are now in crisis, battling the historic flooding that has devastated the state’s farms and ranches, killed three people, and dislocated thousands.
Currently the state estimates ...
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14 Shocking Statements of Pope Francis

The Politically Incorrect Francis—14 Shocking Statements

Paul Kengor

Editor’s note: The following essay by Professor Kengor is considerably longer than the typical Crisis article. We try to be mindful of the reading habits of our Internet audience which tends to favor shorter pieces. However, Professor Kengor’s essay is original, timely, well-documented, and very readable. Crisis welcomes the lively discussion and debate it will […]

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Three Horizons of Old Testament Prophecy

The prophets launch their words into the future. Where do they land?
Christopher J. H. Wright
A frequently challenging part of Scripture for many Christians is the Old Testament prophets. Sometimes, understanding their message can be a little confusing. Especially, when that message might apply (or is applied) to the New Testament. When the prophets do look into the future that God revealed ...
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Francis Chan Shares a Stage With Benny Hinn

“There are millions who will never hear strong biblical teaching unless teachers are willing to go.”
Kate Shellnutt
Why would a respected evangelical leader like Francis Chan agree to speak at major events that also feature controversial prosperity gospel preachers? The short answer: to share the truth.
The popular author and former pastor recently came under scrutiny for appearing on the same stage as televangelist ...
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The Bad Poetry of Modern Hymnody

The Bad Poetry of Modern Hymnody

Anthony Esolen

In an earlier column, I asked why we could not sing hymns from the Christian treasury, which is nearly two thousand years old, and which features composers with names like Bach and Handel and poets from Prudentius to Thomas Aquinas to Isaac Watts, the Wesleys, and John Henry Newman, rather than silly, sloppy, banally sentimental, […]

Proper Liturgy Needs Doctrinal Truth

Rev. James V. Schall, S.J.

“This is why respect for truth is ultimately inseparable from what we call worship. Truth and cult are inextricably united—one cannot exist without the other, however often history may have separated them.” ∼ Joseph Ratzinger (1982) Liturgical thought today seems to downplay the importance of doctrine while elevating the significance of practice. The harmony of lex orandi […]

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