American spirituality being what it is these postmodern days, anything can be turned into an icon, an idol, a god or an angel. I constantly scan the horizon for the impending arrival of the next deity, but it is hard to keep up.
Nostalgia and paradox seem to have nothing in common. Nostalgia is a single-minded devotion to a romanticized image of the past. Paradox, being double-minded, cannot describe anything in one-sided terms. But I read something recently that was both nostalgic and paradoxical.
I'm not going to debate whether lists of "the best" or "the worst" are valuable or destructive. Americans like lists of bests and worsts. So there. The Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly made a list of "the 25 most influential religious figures of the 20th century, from the point of view of Americans," and invited Peter Steinfels, Phyllis Tickle and me to comment.
Fewer people should be dozing off during worship, if items I'm seeing in church bulletins are any indication. For example, a United Methodist Church proclaims that it has "a longstanding tradition of whorshipful music." Another bulletin announces that "the ministers and choir will be disrobed for the morning service."