There Are Now Only Two Living Members of the Shaker Faith

One of the group’s three remaining worshippers, Sister Frances Carr, 89, died Monday.

Source: There Are Now Only Two Living Members of the Shaker Faith | Mental Floss

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Race and Religion in American History

With all the memes wishing a good riddance to 2016, and John Oliver’s epic send-off to this annus horribilis, it may seem small comfort that this was a year that might be remembered as one of the most important in a long time in my corner of the scholarly universe: for works that illuminate race and

CHR Comment: In view of this collection, scholars for this history are focused on liberation theology (Black theology) and on non-Christian religions that emerged among African Americans. These are valid fields of study yet I wonder what new histories are available on traditional, Trinitarian Christianity among African Americans, since they make up the great majority of African American churches.

Source: Year-End Best Books in Race and Religion in American History | Religion Dispatches

Pope Francis Gives N.J. Its First Cardinal

(RNS) By moving Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin to Newark the pontiff ignored protocol – and showed he’s serious about changing how the Catholic Church operates.

CHR Comment: According to the article, Cardinal Tobin is more progressive and represents a preferred leader for Pope Francis in contrast with conservative Catholics.

Source: Pope Francis gives N.J. its first cardinal – and ups the ante on church reform | Religion News Service

African-American Spirituals

“Spirituals are, of course, the songs that the enslaved crafted to tell the story of their experience. But more than that, to tell the story of their faith and the understanding of who they were in relationship to God, and who God was in relationship to them, and it became a story of freedom,” says Rev. Kelly Brown Douglass, Canon Theologian at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. More →

CHR Comment: The occasion of the article was a concert that presented spirituals. The article includes a video.

Source: African-American Spirituals | November 4, 2016 | Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly | PBS

William Simon’s Mission to Make Parishes Great Again

“The local church is the greatest engine for good in human history,” businessman and philanthropist Bill Simon says of his hope for Catholic parishes.

CHR Comment: American conservative, Bill Simon, is a devout Roman Catholic who recently published “Great Catholic Parishes,” for which he studied 244 parishes. He advocates Bible Study, church music, and preaching as key to vital parish life.

Source: William Simon’s Mission to Make Parishes Great Again

Vice Presidential Candidates Have Faith-Filled Lives

Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence – both raised Catholic, one now born-again Christian – see religious faith as central to their public service.

CHR Comment: The article describes the faith and faith-driven activities of the vice presidential candidates contrasting one as focused on “thou shalt not” and the other as focused on “thou must.” One wonders whether a reporter with greater empathy might have been found for this article. I have noticed numerous Facebook comments from persons expressing interest in having these candidates as the presidential candidates instead of the current candidates.

Source: In vice presidential debate, two portraits of faith-filled lives – CSMonitor.com

Seven Follow-Ups on 10 Reasons for Christian Decline

Seven lessons learned through dialogue about Christian decline in America.

CHR Comment: The article delivers something other than the first article suggested. It includes seven points of dialogue with persons who read the first article rather than clearly stating seven ways to address Christian decline in America. In the following list, I try to bring out the authors proposed solutions more clearly:

  1. Defend the faith by pointing to its good works rather than using apologetic arguments.
  2. Explain science and Christianity in ways where one does not cancel out the other.
  3. End Christian triumphalism (the suggestion that Christianity has done no wrong).
  4. Disassociate from the Christian Right in politics.
  5. Practice tolerant Christianity toward other religions.
  6. Rediscover the Christian message, which can no longer be a mission to save the world from “dark heathenism.”
  7. Do not promote authoritarian Christianity.

This is an interesting set of suggestions, which shows the author to be a member of the Christian Left in politics. I wonder how Christians on the right and the left might learn from the author’s observations and suggestions? What would your congregation do differently (or not)?

Source: Seven follow-ups on 10 reasons for Christian decline | Religion News Service