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. 131, No. 1, January 8

As Mandela Is Mourned, Abortion Foes Protest
As world leaders and ordinary citizens gathered in a South African sports stadium on December 10 to remember Nelson Mandela, abortion foes pushed a message that went against the global outpouring of praise: the antiapartheid leader, they argued, backed...
Ban on Black Priests Had Racist Roots, Say Mormons
In the past, the Mormon Church has said history isn't clear on why blacks were banned from its all-male priesthood for more than a century. Now it is. The reason, according to a newly released explanation from the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ...
Boehner's Move: The House Leader Must Choose between Obstructing or Governing
Policy makers in Washington have long dreamed of a fiscal grand bargain on taxes and spending. The end of the year instead saw a rather humble bargain: a small-bore budget deal that avoids the big issues and does little to get the economy back on track....
Capitol Spectacle
At the beginning of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second film based on Suzanne Collins's novels, Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) is relieved that she has made it out of the Hunger Games alive, along with her friend Peeta Mellark...
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants By Macollm Gladwell Little, Brown, 320 pp., $29.00 Malcolm Gladwell is a best-selling nonfiction author several times over. A staff reporter for the New Yorker, he was recently...
Laws against Polygamy Flawed, Rules Federal Judge
A judge has struck down parts of Utah's laws criminalizing polygamy as unconstitutional in a case involving the Brown family, featured on the television reality series Sister Wives. U.S. District Court judge Clark Waddoups's ruling attacks sections...
Methodist-Shaped, Mandela Praised Roles of Religion
NELSON MANDELA, the widely mourned South African leader lauded by religious figures as a colossus of unimpeachable moral character and integrity, had a deep connection with faith institutions. Mandela, who died at age 95, was educated first at Clarkebury...
Necessary Songs: The Case for Singing the Entire Psalter
WHEN I ASKED MY DAD what songs he sang in church during the war, he explained that with his native Netherlands under Nazi occupation, worshipers couldn't sing anything that smacked of nationalism--nothing that would undermine the powerful oppressors....
Norman Rockwell Favorite Sells for $46 Million
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Norman Rockwell, long America's favorite mass-market painter, now has auction records to match his popularity. Saying Grace, one of his masterpieces, sold for $46 million at auction on December 4--a price three times higher...
Pope Plans Panel to Tackle Sexual Abuse
Pope Francis is creating a special commission to deal with the clergy sexual abuse crisis on a global scale, a step that comes amid growing criticism that Francis had not given sufficient attention to the scandal. Boston cardinal Sean O'Malley made...
Reflections on the Lectionary
Sunday, January 12 Isaiah 42:1-9; Acts 10:34-43; Matthew 3:13-17 WHEN I ARRIVED in Alabama as a Methodist bishop, I asked a distinguished Alabama historian to orient me to my new appointment. He told me a story. "This ole boy drove out from...
Sex, Love and Commerce: The Debate over Prostitution
I WAS ALONE when the bell rang at my internship site, a church in a gritty neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. I opened the door just a few inches, but the woman outside pushed her way in with ease. She introduced herself hastily as "Ms. Bliss" and...
Small-Town America: Finding Community, Shaping the Future
Small-Town America: Finding Community, Shaping the Future By Robert Wuthnow Princeton University Press, 520 pp., $35.00 The popular imagination, influenced by a relentless bread-and-circus news media and entertainment culture, has a way of...
Songs of Exile and Faith: Dinka Christians in South Sudan
AT FIRST GLANCE the wooden benches in the front rows of St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral in Bor, South Sudan, are simple and unremarkable. But the black letters painted on the side of each bench tell a story: ECS Zone 1 Parish. ECS is the Episcopal...
Son of Obama Faith Adviser Dies in Apparent Suicide
Isaac Hunter, the son of megachurch pastor and Obama spiritual counselor Joel Hunter, was found dead December 10 in an apparent suicide, police say. Isaac Hunter, 36, father of three, had resigned from his own Florida megachurch after he admitted...
Stanley and Friends
Is Stanley Hauerwas really retiring? He has stepped down from his post at Duke Divinity School. But a man of his energy will surely write and speak more in various venues. Happily, we have not seen the last of him. But there will never be another...
Thanks for What?
"I THOUGHT WE MIGHT ..." I am sitting in my friend's bedroom. He's struggling to say something but I'm not sure what he has in mind so I smile to encourage him. Eventually he says, "Maybe we could do some bread and wine. Eucharist." I hadn't seen...
The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking
The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking By Oliver Burkeman Faber and Faber, 256 pp., $15.00 paperback Happiness sells. So do books promising a way to help you be happier-especially when they carry the designation...
The Executioner's Return
The Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America By Evan J. Handery Norton, 544 pp., $29.95 [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] The United States stands alone among Western democracies in retaining the death penalty. In...
The Great Includer: Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
I MET Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela 50 years ago, in his jail cell on Robben Island. I was a newly ordained part-time chaplain at the prison. He was with other defendants in the Rivonia trial, named for the farm in Rivonia, outside Johannesburg, where...
The Young and the Generous
SOME SOCIOLOGICAL STUDIES suggest that today's young adults are selfish, greedy and narcissistic. Marketers and advertisers use this stereotype; they understand the enormous persuasive power of transforming wants into needs and legitimizing the fulfilling...