Ken Garfield

Ken Garfield writes for Religion News Service.

Posts By This Author

'Homeless Jesus' Provokes Debate on What it Means to Be Christian

by Ken Garfield 03-12-2014

“Homeless Jesus” depicts the Christian savior huddled beneath a blanket on a park bench. Photo: courtesy Timothy Schmalz/RNS.

In a small college town 20 miles north of Charlotte, N.C., “Homeless Jesus” is provoking more conversation than a month of Sunday sermons.

The life-size sculpture depicting a figure asleep under a blanket on a park bench lies outside St. Alban’s Episcopal Church. The nail-scarred feet peeking out from under the blanket are the only indication that Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz is making a religious statement about Jesus.

The hollow, bronze piece bolted to the park bench is a $22,000 gift from a church member intended to support public art.

That’s a small price to pay to get people thinking about what it means to be a Christian — and what it means for “Homeless Jesus” to take up residence in a community of 270 townhomes and single-family homes, said the Rev. David Buck, the rector of St. Alban’s.

Billy Graham’s Legacy Fading ‘Into the Mists of History’

by Ken Garfield 10-01-2013

Rev. Billy Graham at the Billy Graham Crusade June 25, 2005 in Flushing, New York. Photo via Shutterstock, by Anthony Correia

We gathered at Billy Graham’s alma mater over three days to explore his ministry’s place in American history and chronicle its meaning for the future. It was a fascinating conversation, and poignant, too, as Graham struggles with poor health at home in Montreat, N.C., far from the limelight he once commanded.

But as scholars and admirers here in suburban Chicago added to the growing conversation on Graham’s legacy, a question hovers: How many people younger than, say, 60 are listening?

Holocaust Violins Live to Play Another Song

by Ken Garfield 04-11-2012
Details of the violins. RNS photo by Ziv Shenhav

Details of the violins. RNS photo by Ziv Shenhav

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Another voice from the past is telling the stories of the Holocaust.

Violins that outlived the owners who played them in the death camps and Jewish ghettos are being brought back to life by Amnon Weinstein in his shop in Tel Aviv. As Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance) gatherings occur around the world in April, 18 violins tracked down and repaired by Weinstein will be unveiled in Charlotte, N.C.

A dozen public concerts, worship services and other programs throughout the month are expected to attract thousands who are drawn to the music, and the history behind each instrument -- the first time the violins will be shared with the public in North and South America.

Weinstein hopes he can bring the violins to other communities, in a bid to recall the 6 million Jews and 5 million others who perished at Hitler's hand.