Given the nature of both the topic and the media, if religion is covered as news, the bad stuff will predominate; if it appears as features, the good side gets a chance to show, says Martin E. Marty. He illustrates his point with reference to Southern Baptists in the USA.
The ornate rituals in Westminster Abbey, and Donald Trump’s investigation of President Obama’s birth certificate have something in common, says Heather McRobie: a very pre-modern fixation on blood as a marker of belonging, and heritage as a prerequisite for legitimacy to rule.
Why do religious communities which for a long time strenuously resisted the new, the modern, the contemporary, now most successfully adapt their expressions and employ or even exploit the manifestations of 'the modern' which they once opposed? Martin E. Marty opens up an apparent conundrum.
The pomp, circumstance and military trappings of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was light years away from the teachings of the vulnerable man Jesus who was executed by the Romans, says Sande Ramage. Despite that 'The Royals at the Abbey', with the full co-operation of the church, keep trying to blend two irreconcilable concepts.
Christians agree that the death and resurrection of Jesus is central to their faith. But as soon as we try to understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’, it becomes much more difficult to articulate this belief. Alison Goodlad suggests that the evocation of poet R. S. Thomas is among the imaginative resources that construe meaning with vitality, while 'leaving the reason torn'.
The narrative of the trial and execution of Jesus has been subject to centuries of creative re-interpretation, says Jill Segger. A Bach Passion performed in a Cambridge college chapel proved both exemplar of the vitality of the cultural hybrid and inspiration to revisit the source.
Deir Zor, the felicitous little village in Syria which bore witness, a century ago, to the death march of hundreds and thousands of helpless victims of an organised genocide against Armenians, is in the news again. Arthur Hagopian reports from Jerusalem.
It is not the non-theistic philosophy that is dismaying in Grayling’s new 'secular bible', says Maggi dawn. It’s the sheer failure of imagination of someone who will dismiss the real Bible as mumbo jumbo, while putting their own uninspiring prose out there as an alternative.
A biblically-inspired fast is taking place in the USA, as Christians and Jews protest the way budget debate is sidelining the poor. Martin E. Marty reflects on a movement for justice with ancient roots and modern resonances.