By exploring the contradictions between official theologies and the actual behavior of religious communities, sociologists of religion help religious people to view themselves more honestly—a sometimes deflating and even painful process. Such may be our experience in reading W.
When Knopf advertised Updike’s novel as “a Bildungsroman describing the education, romantic and otherwise, of Owen Mackenzie,” critics knew that the ending would be the crux of the literary proposal. Not that the “getting there” would be irrelevant. But the literary and moral value of the story would depend on where the journey ended.
Religion may be killing us. The good news is that in our post-9/11 world there is a widespread concern about religion and violence. A December 2003 Minnesota poll, for example, showed that 77 percent of respondents attributed a fair amount of the cause of the world’s wars and conflicts to religion.
Some might judge this collection of 280 portraits from the 100-year plus history of the National Geographic to be voyeuristic. The photos probably say as much about the editors, photographers—and subscribers—of the magazine as about the subjects themselves.
A day before President George W. Bush delivered his acceptance speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York, he appeared at an enthusiastic rally of 21,000 supporters in Columbus, Ohio. It was the kind of political event that would be unlikely to happen in the United Kingdom, Russia or France.