I just interviewed the noted theologian, Harvey Cox, on his new and provocative book, The Future of Faith. I strongly recommend the book.
Cox divides the history of Christianity into three "ages": the Age of Faith (the early Church up to Constantine), the Age of Belief (Constantine to about the mid-20the century), and the new Age of the Spirit (still emerging in the last 50-60 years). At the risk of oversimplifying, he says that the second age, the “Age of Belief,” emphasized subscribing to proper and orthodox teachings. It was pre-occupied with creeds, and statements of belief. Thus, it discovered heresies, inquisitions and other ways to exclude people from the community of “belief.”
The third age, which he says is still in formation, is the Age of the Spirit, which emphasizes – not what people believe – but how they live, how they treat one another, how they experience the divine through spiritual practices or ritual. It is global, and in many ways, interfaith, with practices being borrowed across faith traditions. His examples include a wide range, from the Community of Sant ‘Egidio to liberation theology to global Pentecostalism.
Does anyone else feel like the U.S. Bishops are living in the 13th century? They are actually spending time together – precious time – trying to decide whether or not to accept grammatically inaccurate and awkward translations of the prayer of the Mass. It’s time they simply told the Vatican that such culturally specific and pastoral issues are their province. English translations need to be done by English speakers who use the American idiom. (And the American idiom these days, by the way, is gender inclusive – although the U.S. Bishops themselves still have a way to go on that point).
Instead of arguing over nouns and verbs, the Bishops could be spending time on really pressing issues like climate change, hunger in the world, nuclear disarmament, or building an interfaith movement.
Law and Order, Dissidents Unit, starring Cardinal Francis E. George as chief enforcer, and a repertoire team of U.S. bishops.
Religion is a messy affair, and the messiness tends to take on a dialectical quality. In Catholicism, strong central control stands in tension with flexible, personal freedom. In America, where Catholicism met its first major challenge in a democratic setting, the decentralized pole has strengthened at the expense of hierarchical authority.
Cardinal George, in the first session of the annual bishops' conference, signaled that the bishops have felt the time was right to again assert their authority. He and others have demanded that Catholics affirm what the church says about major issues like abortion or quit calling themselves Catholic.
He also serves notice to Catholic publications and universities that it's time to examine whether they're worthy of the name. Already before the meeting, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Rhode Island rebuked Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI)for disagreeing with the church on abortion rights.
Now where have I heard this story before?
This from the blog, "Religion, Sex and Politics."
The Wat Pah Pong Sangha's action of excommunication (revoking Bodhinyana's status as a branch monastery) has resulted in a firestorm of controversy in the Theravada Buddhist world. The ordination of nuns is illegal under Thai Buddhist law because the order of nuns became extinct sometime between the 11th and 13th centuries, after which, the argument goes, no new bhikkhunis could be ordained since there were none left to preside over an ordination.
I always find Jesuit Thomas Reese's reflections clear headed.
Catching up on some reading I came across something he wrote nearly a week ago. I recommend it if you are confused about the issue:
In an open letter to President Barack Obama, Sojourner's Jim Wallis and a number of other progressive religious leaders urge the president to take a new approach to the conflict in that country.
Tonight and tomorrow I'll be traveling on a bus from Kansas City, Mo. for 14 hours with other locals and students from Rockhurst University. After a short stop in St. Louis to pick up students from Washington University, we'll be on our way to Columbus, Ga.
I'll be there to report on the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice (IFTJ) and the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) Vigil outside Fort Benning. Throughout the events of the weekend you can expect to see blog postings on this site with updates.
Another poll, this one by CNN, says that 61% of Americans do not want federal funding of abortion coverage in the health care reform bill. 37% said that they do support such funding.
These findings, combined with those from the polls cited below, should stiffen the resolve of centrist Democrats – and the White House – to keep the Stupak Amendment largely in tact. These numbers come in spite of the disinformation campaign of the past two weeks conducted by the pro-choice forces which made it seem that Stupak would thrust Western civilization back into the dark ages.
This past weekend was a fine one for religious life in the U.S. On Friday I participated in the 16th National Congress of the Religious Formation Conference in Denver and on Sunday, 60 religious women of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles gathered at the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Culver City for the "Women of Faith" lecture series. Both events were energizing and reinforced my belief that religious women and men believe in their vocation and are working hard to grow spiritually and foster vocations and the perseverance of new members. I wish so many more religious could have been there.
I wrote the following based on my handwritten notes and those tapped into my iPhone.
Sr. Donna Markham, the prioress general of the Adrian Dominicans, presented a morning session at the religious formation conference: "Blessing and Hope: Creating a Vision for Religious Life in the 21st Century." She spoke of dreaming and quoted Don Helder Camera, "When we are dreaming alone it is only a dream. When we are dreaming with others, it is the beginning of reality."