The Christian Century

Founded on January 4, 1900, The Christian Century is a biweekly magazine published by The Christian Century. Its subject is religion. The Rev. John M. Buchanan is Editor and Publisher and David Heim is Executive Editor.

Articles from Vol. 128, No. 15, July 26

Can Creedless Unitarians Make It Another 50 Years?
A recent Sunday service at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore ended with an apology. Laurel Mendes explained that religious doctrine had been duly scrubbed from the hymns in the congregation's Sunday program. But Mendes, a neopagan lay member...
Catholic Crackdown: Elizabeth Johnson and the Bishops
IN MARCH the Committee on Doctrine of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a critique of Elizabeth Johnson's 2007 book Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God (Continuum). Though Johnson faces no official sanctions...
Deep Listening: The Pastor Learns the Congregation's Story
PASTORS OFTEN complain that their congregations are resistant to change. Hence the old joke about the seven last words of the church: "We've never done it that way before." The persistent thrum of the status quo keeps many congregations insulated from...
Evangelical Readers See Their Influence Failing
Are U.S. evangelicals losing their influence on America? A new poll from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life seems to say just that, with the vast majority--82 percent--of U.S. evangelical leaders saying their influence on the country is declining....
From Shame to Fame
Stefani Germanotta was an awkward teenager, at least as she remembers it. Her peers bullied her for being ugly, for having a big nose and giant eyebrows. They teased her for her laugh, for her love of theater, for her penchant for constantly singing,...
Gravesite Blessing
SHOOTS OF GRASS are emerging here and there around the fresh burial mound. Indignant, my companion bends down to pluck away a dandelion that's growing next to the tombstone. Then she takes the cut flowers that are clutched in her hand and lays them...
Historic Consensus on Proselytizing
Christian missionaries should renounce all "deception and coercive means" of winning converts, according to a final document from a coalition of evangelicals, the World Council of Churches and the Vatican that is unprecedented in its breadth. "Christian...
Justices Cite 'Standing' in Church-State Disputes
After the U.S. Supreme Court ended its 2010-2011 term in late June, legal scholars specializing in church-state issues are saying a Court decision issued in the spring is likely to resonate in First Amendment debates for years to come. On April...
Learning Curve
AMY PLANTINGA PAUW'S article (on p. 31) about theologian Elizabeth Johnson sent me to the bookshelves to retrieve Johnson's 1993 book She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse. I loved the book, learned from it and underlined...
Limited Access
On January 8, a gunman shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords and several other people at a Tucson, Arizona, shopping mall. Although groups such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Mayors Against Illegal Guns have informed the public...
Living by the Word: Reflections on the Lectionary
Sunday, July 31 Genesis 32:22-31 WHAT SUPERPOWER would you like to have?" my son asked as we were driving away from the local cinema multiplex. With all the superhero movies we've seen this summer, I wasn't surprised by the question. "I'd like to...
Marketing Plan: A Mainline Church in the Bible Belt
FOR TEN YEARS, I was the pastor of First United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Tennessee, a Bible Belt corner of the world that's chock-full of religious right, fundamentalist congregations. Every year on the anniversary date of Roe v. Wade, a church...
Midnight in Paris
Midnight in Paris Written and directed by Woody Allen Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard Woody Allen fans were in a rough spot for nearly a decade and a half. His movies continued to come out at the usual rapid rate,...
New York State Is Sixth to Legalize Gay Marriage
"WE HAVE LIFTED the legal barriers that had segregated some loves to shadows," said Stephen H. Phelps, interim senior minister of Manhattan's Riverside Church. "Now the dignity of marriage is available to all," said Phelps, who was among clergy that...
Obama Urged to Change Faith-Based Hiring Rules
A group of clergy and lawmakers is trying to overturn a nearly decade-old policy that allows faith-based organizations that receive federal funds to hire and fire employees on the basis of religion. Critics say President Obama has reneged on a campaign...
Pawlenty's Pastor Avoids Politics in the Pulpit
When GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty goes to church, he knows he'll hear a 27-minute sermon--never longer, never shorter. But whether he'll hear a biblical endorsement of the Republican platform is far less certain. Pawlenty gets his spiritual...
Public Rates Politicians' Sexual, Financial Lapses on Different Moral Scales
Americans are tougher on politicians for their financial misdeeds than their sexual ones, but men are more willing than women to tolerate sexual misbehavior in their elected officials. Across different religious groups, U.S. adults consider it worse...
Turning out Voters
July 26 2011 The movement to require voters to show a photo ID before casting a ballot has been gaining momentum. Wisconsin, Texas and South Carolina recently joined Kansas, Georgia and Tennessee in imposing this requirement. Legislatures in Pennsylvania...
UMC Suspends Minister for Performing Same-Sex Union
A United Methodist minister was suspended for 20 days by a church court in Wisconsin for performing a same-sex union in 2009, a breach of denominational rules. After deliberating seven hours, a jury of local United Methodist clergy voted 9-4 on June...
Unexpected Grief
On February 23, Libya was convulsed in civil revolt against Muammar Qaddafi, who threatened to shed his last drop of blood while tracking and killing the protesters. Turmoil throughout the Arab world triggered a spike in crude oil prices, a plummet...