Scattered Treasures

Congregations across the U.S. are searching for an answer to a fundamental question: how will they survive at a time when attendance in mainline denominations is in a downturn? It is a quandary that cuts across faith traditions, and is most acute in … [continue]

‘Strangely Sacred’ Urban Space

Cities are places of concentration, of swimming in a great river of humanity, of chance meetings and sometimes of discomforting jumbles. As more of us in the world live in cities, we are spending more time with “strangers,” people we don’t quite know … [continue]

A Place for All

  We are all broken, in some way. Many feel broken spiritually, which draws us to a faith community, perhaps in the hope that our brokenness will find mending. Others are physically broken: arms and legs that don’t do what we want them to … [continue]

Game On

Are professional sports replacing organized religion? That question was at the root of a recent Washington Post article that pointed out that as membership in organized religion has declined, the number of people who identify themselves as sports … [continue]

The ‘Halo Effect’

You probably have already heard about the “Pope Francis Effect,” which has been credited with everything from bringing lapsed Roman Catholics back to church to boosting collection plate offerings. Since Francis became pope last March, attendance in … [continue]

Faith of Our Fathers

I recently read the novel Catholics, written by the late Irish-American writer Brian Moore, and published in 1972. The book was made into a TV-movie a year later. Very short, barely 100 pages, its premise is a confrontation between the Catholic … [continue]

Manna About Town

Where in the city does one find God? Historically, the holy, sacred places and spaces where God might “reside” have been sacred buildings at the city’s center, fronting the marketplace, rising to dominate distant views of the city. As a typical urban … [continue]

House Party

“God's House” and “The House of the Lord” are such commonplace terms for religious buildings that they barely register their implications of intimacy and domes- ticity. Many people raised in mainline religions–Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or even … [continue]

Do You ‘Church’?

Have you noticed that the word “church” is now a verb, as well as a noun? In just the past few weeks I participated in conferences where the question of how one “churches” was central to the discussion of religious and spiritual life. At a seminar … [continue]

Shall We Dance?

In July, Gallup released findings that American confidence in organized religion is at its lowest point ever. Just 44 percent of Americans expressed “a great deal, or quite a lot of confidence” in the Church/Organized Religion, down from 48 percent a … [continue]