Finitude, contingency, transience. These three linked words signal basic elements of what it is to be a human—and especially to be a historian. David Tracy, noted theologian and next door study-neighbor, taught me this connection, and I’ve let it color my life and scholarly preoccupations.
Sociologists are reputed to be masters of suspicion, and many keep their distance from religious belief and practice. Robert Bellah’s field was the sociology of religion, and the longtime University of California, Berkeley professor—who died last week—certainly knew the value of “distance” in this and all human sciences. But as he studied people of faith and their practice—whether in “Tokugawa Religion” in Japan (his doctoral dissertation subject) or in America—he discerned integrity and value in the faith(s) of many.
Nor were the editors [of the Christian Century] above dirty tricks, at one point even hiring an investigative reporter to find some impropriety in [the Billy Graham] organization’s finances. None came to light, but in something of a scoop, Ms. Coffman has discovered documents linking the revered historian Martin Marty to the rough anti-Graham campaign.
As far as Coffman’s book goes, I have only the usual quibbles that a historian voices when reviewing the work of another historian. It is Swaim who is unfair to the magazine.
Ralph Wood, who calls himself a Bapto-Catholic, is certainly qualified
to write on the militant Catholic Chesterton, who seldom withheld his
fire and fury except when he settled for expressing disdain for
Protestantism and other "unorthodox" versions of Christianity.
David Heim recently highlighted
in the June 9 issue of The New Republic
(subscribers only) by pioneer bioethicist Daniel Callahan and Sherwin B.
Nuland, author of How We Die.
According to Callahan and Nuland, our health-care system has for decades
"been waging an unrelenting war against disease," with dire effects
on the culture.
Those of us who enjoy poetry had good reason to be cheered
by a two-column
article on poet Richard Wilbur in a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal. Author Richard B.
Woodward did well by him as he and we celebrated Wilbur's 90th
Back when I was
co-directing a six-year study of militant religious fundamentalisms around the
world, critics used to ask me to define "modernity" and "modernization." To
many, mass media were the best symbols of the "modern." Yet as we studied
fundamentalists in a score of nations we were struck that in every case they were more at home with
the use of such media than were the "m
I am moved again by something dredged up from an old sermon:
the tomb-marker of Sir Robert Shirley, a baronet "whose singular praise it is
to have done the best things in the worst times, and to have hoped them in the
A half phrase from Augustine has challenged and inspired me for a half century: “God is like the nature he made.” It appears as a virtual throwaway line, quoted in José Ortega y Gasset’s History as a System (1941), in which Ortega adds a flourish connecting ideas about God with ideas about humans: the human “likewise finds that he has no nature other than
We asked some expert observers of the religion scene how they are navigating the new media. What do they read, watch and listen to? How have their reading, listening and viewing habits changed over the past decade?Here's Mark Silk: "I’ve always been a news junkie. I still take two dead-tree newspapers—the New York Times and the Hartford Courant. I look at the Washington Post every morning, and I listen to NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered while driving to and from work. At work, I’m in thrall to the continuous news cycle. I check the AP wire on Yahoo as soon as I sit down at my desk, and then scan the general-interest blogs and blogzines—the Daily Dish, Politico, Talking Points Memo, Huffington Post, the Daily Beast."
No! blurted the expert on Japanese Buddhism. He was a member of a group of interreligious and interdisciplinary thinkers charged with coming up with a consensus statement. His no was prompted by a proposal from the Vati can’s representative, who wanted the group’s discussion of human dignity and human rights to include at least some words about God. Why the Buddhist no?
Fifty years ago, when a generation of seminarians was cutting its theological fangs, friendship was a disdained term. Anders Nygren’s classic Agape and Eros ruled in classrooms and pulpits, and Nygren had little use for philia—the Greek word for the kind of love friends share. Nygren stressed that divine love, agape, is different from other forms of love.