Sightings

Sightings

By Martin E. Marty June 30, 2014

New research shows that charitable giving for religious organizations declined in the past few years. This trend, Martin Marty suggests, both reflects American’s dwindling interest in religious institutions and offers an opportunity for religious organizations to appeal to "the better angels of their nature."

By Jeffrey Kaplan June 27, 2014

With ISIS insurgent forces moving towards Baghdad, a religious historian hears the echoes of past foreign policy missteps. And, once again, he sees Sunni and Shi’ite forces preparing for war.

By Heike Springhart June 20, 2014

A hero to some and heretic to others, once more the theologian Hans Küng has sparked much debate in Germany with his recent question, "How long do I want to live?"

By Martin E. Marty July 11, 2013

Shifts in the U.S.' ethnic composition are portentous for religious institutions, communities, loyalties, and identities. The white majority, says Martin Marty, can kvetch or use it as an opportunity to reassess religious commitment.

May 17, 2013

Glenn Greewald's calling out of Sam Harris' speech as anti-Muslim rhetoric sparked quite a debate. Is Mr. Harris a new form of atheism an old form of colonialism?

March 29, 2013

Dealing with the dark side of the Passion story and Passover is integral to dealing with magnifications of real life and its nether sides. Martin Marty on Bach's bright side during Holy Week.

March 01, 2013

Martin Marty on the porous lines between Christian and secular music as matters of taste, whether it be pop, folk, or classical.

January 21, 2013

Martin Marty on the public consequences of divorce when churches and families relegate it as a private matter.

October 17, 2012

Though the terms "Jesus"and "wife" may prompt new obsessions, guest contributor Martin Marty writes, they won't likely change the course of biblical scholarship.

October 06, 2012

Could the concerns of Jewish and Muslim minorities in Berlin serve as a chance for "secular" Berliners to to examine their own identity? Guest contributor Brian Britt explores the role of history as a distraction challenging modern-day civility.

August 22, 2012

The topic of the ethics of meat eating often prompts a debate about religion. But how should one approach a conversation about the consumption of animals and religion? Five approaches.

June 14, 2012

Martin Marty makes the case that legitimate conflicts and argumentation are happening that are not a war against religion.

June 06, 2012

Will black Mormons vote for Romney or Obama? Guest contributor W. Paul Reeve offers a historical perspective of African Americans in the LDS Church -- and the decisions they must make in a pivotal election year.

April 17, 2012

blue skies bring tearsPhoto by Ibrahim Iujazen/Flickr, cc by-nc-sa 2.0

In his Time magazine article, “Heaven Can’t Wait,” Jon Meacham contrasts two seemingly competing visions of heaven in contemporary Christianity. One prominent view envisions heaven as the ethereal place one goes when one dies. Images of winged angels, celestial music, golden thrones, pearly gates, and streets of gold variously occupy this vision of the hereafter. Heaven is conceived of as a future paradise of eternal rest filled with peace, light, and love. Everlasting life is seen as an eternal abode in the heavenly realm with God and the angels.

February 19, 2012

Mitt Romney Bows His Head in Prayer in Elko, NevadaMitt Romney bows his head in prayer in Elko, Nevada while on the presidential campaign trail. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney is threatening to disturb the American compromise with Mormonism.

Nineteenth-century observers were largely indifferent to the new religion Joseph Smith founded in 1830. Most dismissed his claims about angels and gold plates as just another example of American gullibility. “Had we not seen in our own days similar impostures practiced with success,” yawned one Illinois contemporary, “[Mormonism] would have excited our special wonder; as it is, nothing excites surprise.” But in Missouri and Illinois local tensions erupted in violence, and national concern intensified when Brigham Young — relatively safe in the refuge of Utah — announced a system of plural marriage in 1852.

January 30, 2012

Church of Kopimism

There’s a new flying spaghetti monster in the spiritual marketplace: the Church of Kopimism. The newly “established” religion has become the talk of the internet, in part because of its transparently “unreligious” outlook and in part because of the group’s social perspective. The Church of Kopimism, which received official recognition as a religious denomination in Sweden, objects to what it calls the Copyright Religion and advocates free sharing of information by and for all. Though it lacks any particular resemblance to established religions, Kopimism has “beliefs and rituals,” which are held sufficient to establish it as a legal religious organization.

September 16, 2011

Obama and Bush Pray at 9/11 CeremonyU.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama and former U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush observe a moment of silence at the time the first hijacked airliner crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center during the tenth anniversary commemoration of the September 11, 2001 attacks at the lower Manhattan site of the World Trade Center in New York. (photo: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

Last weekend, as the nation marked the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, our collective media gaze focused on lower Manhattan, where the memorial service and dedication led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg had already provoked controversy. Though the focal point of these events was undoubtedly — and rightfully — on remembering those lost, that controversy was a revealing glimpse of contemporary American religion.

August 23, 2011

Rep. Michele Bachmann and other Christian Reconstructionists bring a clear spiritual perspective to deficits, budget battles, and taxes says Rev. Sharp. But, he writes, there is another clear spiritual approach that also needs to be heard.

June 02, 2011

bratislava-church_towerA fairly large portion of the Slovak public believes that an inordinately important concern of churches — especially the dominant Roman Catholic Church — is to pursue their economic interest and extend political influence. As a result, Slovak churches face a serious challenge: In the process of negotiations with the government concerning economic security, the decline of trust could turn into a full-blown crisis of confidence, with possibly irreversible consequences for churches.

January 16, 2010

No one has ever accused me of being fashion-forward. Neither will I ever willingly join a conversation on the relative merits of mascara brands. Nonetheless, I was completely entertained by Courtney Wilder’s essay on Sightings about a blog that enjoins women clergy to navigate the occasionally fine line between professional dress and excessive *hot-ness* as church leaders.

Wilder draws our attention to Beauty Tips for Ministers by Reverend Victoria Weinstein, aka PeaceBang. Here’s a sample of her sassy, bossy tone:

July 20, 2009

With the Pope Benedict XVI’s release of his third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, Nancy wondered if we should do a short post pointing to Laurie Goodstein and Rachel Donadio’s article in The New York Times or the press release issued by the Vatican. I recommended we hold off and suggested that perhaps Martin Marty might weigh in Monday’s issue of Sightings from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

It never came, but last Thursday Rick Elgendy, a doctoral candidate in Theology, took the reins. His piece is smart and helpful, giving us perspectives from several sides and some historical context for this social treatise. We reprint it here for you:

February 25, 2009

An essay on frugality's new trendiness and old roots in Christian teaching.

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