When I was a child, the phrase “Defender of the Faith” did not conjure images of the Latin title Fidei defensor or of the British crown. Rather, it somehow got tangled up with another prominent idiom of my youth, “Masters of the Universe,” which referred to the popular Mattel media franchise starring He-Man. A defender of the faith was a kind of superhero, a person of great strength with an important mission.
These days, the phrase invokes yet another, completely different meaning to me. I now think of a defender of the faith as anyone who attempts to wrestle the reputation of his faith out of the hands of those who, through their actions or speech, disparage it.
Collin Hansen’s article in Christianity Today points out that pastor John Piper’s invitation may reveal a larger split within the Evangelical community, and a backlash against Saddleback pastor Rick Warren:
“You see, a lot of folks who like John don’t like Rick. So now some of John’s friends aren’t sure they want to hang out with him anymore. They may not come to his party in Minneapolis. And they aren’t sure that you should either.”
Over at Floatingsheep, Mark Graham has been rendering some superb data sets about religion as it manifests itself in various ways on the Internet.
A stirring scene from Bill T. Jones' musical "Fela" inspired us to learn more about orisas.
Karen Armstrong prefers Hillel's version; Adele Diamond prefers Jesus' variation. Both take away a call to action. Hear them both.
The confluence of the rambunctious American ritual of Halloween with the somber and sobering feast days of All Saints and All Souls that follow on its heels has always been confusing to me — never more so than when I was a child. Halloween ranked second to Christmas for the near-hysteria of our anticipation.
The thrill of dressing up to be something scary was delicious, especially so because, as the smallest and youngest member of my large Catholic family, I was much more experienced at being scared than being scary. Halloween allowed me to become the monster. This, no doubt, is at the heart of its hold over us. We’re able to put on the clothing of that which frightens us: darkness and death itself.
"I think the downtown artistic community is realizing we don’t really have the option of dismissing [evangelical Christianity] anymore. This is a force in our world."
When do charity and aid help, and when are they counterproductive? A video from one group's perspective.
Forget the glossy Bible hype. A clever cover reveals more, and says less.
View a couple of campaign commercials in which presidential candidates wear their religion on their sleeves.
News reports selectively cited quotes from Sarah Palin's speech to "M.C." students. View her entire speech and add your own knowledge.
Producer Colleen Scheck reflects on the "brewing" of this show on our staff blog.
What do you get when you search the term "heschel" — a surprising image and a moment of insight.
(photo:Vitor Sá - Virgu/Flickr)
I enjoyed Nicholson Baker’s essay about Wikipedia (a warning: in his discussion of Wikipedia vandalism, he quotes some profane language) in The New York Review of Books. He notes the astonishing fact that 1500 articles are deleted from Wikipedia every day, and there are warring factions of deletionists and inclusionists battling each other all the time.