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. 130, No. 6, March 20

All Eyes on S.C. and Texas Church Property Fights
When disgruntled congregations have left hierarchical denominations such as the Episcopal Church, they've often lost property battles as civil courts ruled that buildings and land are not theirs to keep. But outcomes could be different this year,...
A Response by M. Craig Barnes
Conflict is neither good nor bad. It is just inevitable, and it's another tool for leadership. Jesus Christ started most of the ones he experienced, so why should his faithful disciples expect to avoid them? The challenge for a leader of Christ's church...
A Secular Latin America?
In recent months, observers have remarked on the growing number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation (the "nones"), whose numbers are highest among the young. We can argue about just what these numbers mean, but possibly they do mark the...
Blessing Gay Marriage
This month the legal status of laws prohibiting same-sex marriage will be considered for the first time by the Supreme Court. Though the Court may decide the two cases before it on narrow technical grounds, the underlying issue is whether gays have...
Catholic Hospital Says Fetus Defense Was 'Morally Wrong'
Legal advice trumped church teaching when a Catholic hospital in Colorado tried to defend itself in a wrongful death lawsuit by claiming that twin fetuses who died at the hospital in 2006, along with the mother, should not be considered persons. ...
Chicago Is Center for U.S. Muslim Renaissance
Religious affiliation may be on the wane in America, a recent Pew study asserts, but you wouldn't know it from walking into the storefront near the corner of West 63rd Street and South Fairfield Avenue in Chicago. Inside a former bank in a neighborhood...
Clutter Buster: A Church Clears a Path
YES, WE ALL KNOW that the church is not a building or a steeple. Yet I believe that a church building is often an outward and visible sign of a congregation's spiritual condition. I learned this during my pastorate at Saints and Sinners (not its real...
Conservatives See Limits of Benedict's Reign
When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, the surprising choice cast a pall over the liberal wing of the flock and left conservatives giddy with the prospect of total victory. Ratzinger had for decades served as the Vatican's...
Dear Life: Stories
Dear Life: Stories By Alice Munro Knopf, 336 pp., $26.95 The women in many of Alice Munro's stories are fleeing, in quiet and not-so-quiet ways. A woman has an affair while on a train on her way to Toronto. A young girl in a controlling family...
Easter's Coming
EARLY IN MY ministry I heard Bill Laws, an experienced pastor, denominational leader and mentor, say it takes a full five years to learn enough about a congregation to be an effective pastor. After five years, Bill said, your ministry begins and you...
Evangelical and Gay
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate By Justin Lee Jericho Books, 272 pp., $21.99 Raised a Southern Baptist, with two loving parents, Justin Lee didn't want to be gay. But when he revealed that...
Evangelicals Embraced a Like-Minded Pope
As word spread in February of the pope's resignation, many evangelicals lamented the impending loss of a powerful spokesman for their conservative causes. "Pope Benedict XVI has exemplified moral courage and an unwavering commitment to the gospel...
Fasting like Daniel Gains a Following during Lenten Season
Amy Lester has followed Jesus for decades, but her keen appreciation of his sacrifice on the cross came only recently, when she started eating like the prophet Daniel. From the start of Lent this year, the 40-year-old mother of two has kept a type...
From Gotham City to Capitol Hill
The National Council of Churches, long strapped for cash, is leaving its costly digs in Manhattan and consolidating with a slimmer staff in a Washington, D.C., office within walking distance of two branches of the federal government. Therein lies...
Living by the World
Sunday, March 24 Luke 19:28-40, Phillipians 2:5-11, Luke 23:1-49 SOME PREACHERS complain about the Palm Sunday lectionary, which puts together the "palm" and the "passion" Gospel texts. One complaint relates to dissonance: it's not easy to pair...
Night out in London
I CAME TO St. Martin-in-the-Fields last July. It's a complex organization; to get to know it I've spent time as a concert usher, a sous-chef, a bookstall volunteer and an aide in the day center for homeless and vulnerable people. I spent a half hour...
Occupy Religion: Theology of the Multitude
Occupy Religion: Theology of the Multitude By Joerg Rieger and Kwok Pui-lan Rowman and Littlefield, 164 pp., $39.00 It is easy to conclude that the Occupy movement was a flash in the pan, enacted by disgruntled people without a plan or staying power,...
Paper Chase
BEING A SENIOR PASTOR seemed to come naturally to Larry. He had grown up working in his parents' business after school and during summer vacations, and he had seen his parents deal effectively with employees in many kinds of situations. When he went...
Publishers in 7th Heaven with Near-Death Memoirs
Do people really see a light at the end of a tunnel when they have a near-death experience? And could that be heaven up ahead? That light is shining brighter than ever these days. Heaven is hot. Hotter even than that other place. Just ask any bookseller...
Reflections on the Lectionary
Sunday, March 31 John 20:1-18 OVER THE PAST 18 years my image of Easter has undergone a night-and-day change. I don't mean metaphorically; I mean that in my mind's eye Easter unfolds not in the daytime or at sunrise, but at night. The curtain...
Staying Power: Reflections on a Tong Pastorate
I HAVE SERVED as senior pastor at the same church for 18 years. The members of my congregation no longer ask how long I am going to stay, probably because they assume ! will stay until I retire (which is a good thing because I assume that, too). Eighteen...
Supernatural Romance
The film Beautiful Creatures, based on a young adult novel by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, opened in theaters on Valentine's Day, staking its claim as the supernatural romance of the post-Twilight era. It's the story of a mortal boy, Ethan Wate...
The Half-Believer: Pico Iyer on Graham Greene
THE PAPERBACK edition of Pico Iyer's book The Man Within My Head, which is both a memoir and an essay on novelist Graham Greene (1904-1991), came out earlier this year. Iyer, a British-born essayist, reporter, travel writer and novelist, is the author...
Why the Cross? God's At-One-Ment with Humanity
SOME QUESTIONS won't go away. It is an article of the Nicene Creed that the Lord Jesus Christ was "crucified for us under Pontius Pilate." What do the two little words for us mean? What good is the cross? To ask that is to ask what is in technical...