I RECENTLY attended a conference at Princeton Theological Seminary called “Telling Our Stories: Breaking the Mold, Taking Risks, Paving the Way.” Immersing myself in a group of women of faith remembering their trailblazing predecessors and sharing their faith journeys was particularly synchronistic as I was reading Adrian Shirk’s well-received volume And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy: Stories from the Byways of American Women and Religion.
Shirk’s work is refreshing and compelling in both its unique structure and earnest voice. The book is a delightful hybrid of creative, narrative chapters featuring a diverse array of historical women intertwined with Shirk’s own spiritual memoir. In both instances, Shirk captures a voice that is insightful, sharp, and unlike anyone else’s I’ve read.
In 1947 and 1948, respectively, Christian scholars C.S. Lewis and Reinhold Niebuhr appeared on the cover of Time magazine.
Since then, commentators have bemoaned the disappearance of the Christian intellectual.
Powerful social changes are behind the apparent decline: increasing pluralism, secularization, the decline of Protestant hegemony, and the supposed triumph of science over faith as the best way to understand the modern world.
1. BB King, Blues Legend, Dead at 89
"The crowds treat me like my last name. When I go onstage people usually stand up, I never ask them to, but they do. They stand up and they don't know how much I appreciate it." — BB King, in a 2013 Rolling Stone interview.
2. The ‘Gang of Girls’ Risks Their Lives to Report from Inside a War Zone
Three of its editors have been killed, eight reporters detained and tortured, and 12 have fled the country. “In the ensuing void of order and information, Enab Baladi has become one of the most prominent independent publications of the war. That it's largely female-staffed is extraordinary. Women are barely represented in the government or in opposition groups—and certainly not in the Islamist gangs that control large swaths of the country. Yet the female editors and reporters have driven deeper coverage of how war affects civilians, families, and day-to-day life for millions of Syrians.”
3. WATCH: Divestment 101: What Do People Mean When They Say Divest?
To learn more, go to sojo.net/divest.
4. There Are No Urban Design Courses on Race and Justice, So We Made Our Own Syllabus
“Instruction at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design is based in the work of architects whose worldviews don’t give heavy weight to social problems.” In that vein, here is a suggested reading list for urban designers to begin problem-solving and creating solutions for real-world environments.
5. Congrats! You Have an All-Male Panel!
The public shaming tumblr calls out events and conferences that feature all-male experts. A humorous, if not altogether depressing, screen scroll.
Despite a deep drop in the number of Americans who identify with a particular faith, the country could be on the cusp of a religious renaissance, says Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of The Gallup Poll.
Grounded in more than a million Gallup interviews, Newport's new book, God is Alive and Well, argues that the aging of the baby boomers, the influx of Hispanic immigrants and the links between religion and health could portend a bright future for faith in America.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The question now is whether these breakaway groups signal a seismic shift in American Protestantism, or just a few fissures in the theological terrain.
In some ways, the rifts are nothing new. American Protestants have been splintering since Roger Williams left Plymouth Colony in the 1630s, said Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist of religion at Boston University.
Yet the schisms counter a 20th-century trend in which ethnic and regional Protestant groups merged to form big-tent denominations such as the ELCA and PC(USA).
"What we may be experiencing at this point is the limit of that movement to draw a lot of diversity under one umbrella," said Ammerman, author of Pillars of Faith: American Congregations and Their Partners.
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On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was standing in the bathroom of my apartment outside Chicago, about to hop in the shower, when I heard the phone ring and then my husband call my name.
"It's Roger from the desk," he called, sleepily, invoking the name of the morning assignment editor at the Chicago Sun-Times where I was a reporter at the time.
I padded down the hallway in my pajamas to the living room and picked up the phone.
"How quickly can you get down here," Roger asked.
"I dunno, an hour, maybe," I said. "Why? What's up?"
"A plane hit the World Trade Center in New York," he said. "They think it's a terrorist attack."