Each time “someone clicks on a Web page, makes a phone call, uses a credit card, or checks in with a microchipped pass at work, that person leaves a data trail that can later be tracked. Every day, billions of bits of such personal data are stored, sifted, analysed, cross- referenced . . .
In my mind, reductionism translates as “nothing buttery.” Belief in God, for example, is seen as “nothing but” the result of certain neuron firings in the brain. Altruism, formerly seen as spiritual or religious at root, becomes “nothing but” an expression of “the selfish gene.” Free will is reduced from spiritual and moral agency to neural determinism.
"The economy of salvation” is an ancient phrase used by everyone from the Eastern Orthodox theologians of old to pioneer Pentecostal preacher Phoebe Palmer to thinkers across the Christian spectrum today. Technically, it refers to divine stewardship, God’s “household management” (oikonomia), but also to elements of trade: God’s gift, our response.
In 1958, during a trifaith “Religious Emphasis Week” at the University of Arkansas, I hung out at the Sigma Nu house. One morning some Baptist Sigma Nu brothers were walking with me as I went by the Lutheran campus chapel. I stopped. “You want to go in there?” they asked. Yes, I wanted to see a majestic figure of Christ on the cross sculpted by Harriet Youngman Reinhardt.
Readers often ask, “Whence issue these columns?” Here’s the current answer. Last winter we traded our suburban home of 43 years for high-rise housing in downtown Chicago. We can see three states looking south from our condo, and from my study, looking north, I see the lakeshore and the glow of Wisconsin cities.