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monitors trends and events affecting the future of religion

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Monday, March 11, 2002
About to be taken in the Rapture and don't have time to pack, much less say goodbye to loved ones who'll be "Left Behind"? Well, now you can say those goodbyes in advance with a Rapture Letter.

As the site says:

"I have written a computer program to do just that. It will send an Electronic Message (e-mail) to whomever you want after the rapture has taken place, and you and I have been taken to heaven."

Now I wonder how a computer program can detect the Rapture...

Wednesday, March 06, 2002
Think of this as the new Postmodern, online mission field: Killing the Buddha...

"Killing the Buddha is a religion magazine for people made anxious by churches, people embarrassed to be caught in the "spirituality" section of a bookstore, people both hostile and drawn to talk of God. It is for people who somehow want to be religious, who want to know what it means to know the divine, but for good reasons are not and do not."

Tuesday, March 05, 2002
An interesting debate about the next thousand years of humanity: Can We Imagine the Far Future--Year 3000? Experts debate on Closer To Truth

Luminaries like Edward DeBono, Graham Molitor, and Dr. Bruce Murray give their characterizations of the human future. Where is religion in such a debate? Imagining the far future of humanity brings into question the very meaning of Human Life.

What does your theology, or eschatology, have to say? And can you bring it back to inform how we live in faith today?

Monday, March 04, 2002
From Barna Research Online, a new survey: Americans Are Most Likely to Base Truth on Feelings. What? Like, that's a bad thing?

Seriously, though. Some say that postmodernism is the cause of such moral relativism. Others say that postmodernism might allow us to engage relativism in a constructive dialogue. The Modernist mindset's dialogue with moral relativism is a non-starter for sure.

How does Postmodern theology speak to the moral relativist?

I know this isn't about the future explicitly, but it is kind of neat. This Sacred Texts Timeline is a parallel comparison of major publications and events within the world's religious traditions. It serves not only as a handy quick reference, but as a portal, because almost all of the events have links to summaries or actual text.

Check it out.

Monday, February 18, 2002
This is probably one of the best sites on postmodern Christianity I have ever seen: faithmaps.

I haven't plumbed all the depths yet, but the writing on postmodern Christianity on this site is the clearest and most accessible of any I've read. Nice site organization, simple navigation, and, unlike a lot of Pomo religion sites, not bogged down with slow-loading images and ponderous Flash multi-media. Check it out.

From their Perspective on Postmodernism page:

"We believe that the different strands of thought represented in postmodernism have something to contribute to the church.

Thinkers like Jacques Derrida and Thomas Kuhn help us to understand that language is symbolic and that we hold reality in our minds in paradigm. Our grasp of what is real is not always - if ever - complete. Postmodernism can help us to remember that "the secret things belong to the Lord our God" (Deuteronomy 29:29a, NIV).
Nevertheless Christianity corrects a radical postmodern perspective that might then incorrectly conclude that we can know nothing or that God cannot use language to really communicate.

For while "the secret things belong to the Lord our
God, ... the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law"
(Deuteronomy 29:29)

Other writers such as Richard Rorty can help the church to appreciate that truth is best discerned in the context of community.

However, the subjective discernment and application of truth does not vitiate its objective nature nor its universal

Finally, Michel Foucault has brought to our attention that paradigms and language can oppress.

We nevertheless deny that presented mindsets and language are inherently malevolent.
Postmodernism critiques a modernized evangelicalism

....when it leaves little room for God's mystery and relentlessly seeks to resolve all matters that evoke cognitive dissonance into an arbitrarily consistent theology, or

....when it sets forth information as the key to spiritual maturity.

Evangelicalism critiques a radical postmodernism when it

...denies the adequacy of language for genuine communication, or

...denies the existence or reliability of information."

Okay, I'll bite. I don't know where you people are coming from or why you keep trickling in despite the fact that I haven't updated this site since last summer, but hey, maybe this is some kind of sign.

I quit updating because I couldn't maintain the level of effort needed to support the original vision I had for this site. But, hey, I can moderate and throw in the occasional link. I am still looking for people to help spot good scanning hits and trends.

So, for those of you that have subscribed in the past few weeks and for those of you who seem to be dropping in to see what's up -- I'm up again. But what happens here is a function of you as well as me. I can commit to a few links a week. How about you? Drop me a line.

Maybe you're just seeking to connect with a group of people who are concerned about the future of religion in postmodern times. Well, there's a new group called WowFuture dedicated to just that topic. Get in on the ground floor. Very much worth the minor hassle of a (free) Yahoo! registration.

So I'm back. Are you? :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2001
The Pope speaks on the increasing clash between medicine and morality. What struck me is the conciliatory and non-authoritarian tone of the announcement. Sounds like salvo from an increasingly PR savvy pontiff.

Thursday, June 07, 2001
Interesting news of an ordination which merges Native American spirituality with Cathoilic religion. The incorporation of native customs and beliefs has been happening informally in Africa for years, but this is the first formal endorsement of such a thing by the Catholic Church.

Wednesday, June 06, 2001
A cure for end-times paranoia? The Church's Eschatological Metanoia? The Transmillennial 2001 Conference is upon us again.

This seems like a good scanning source for a religious futurist. Current Thoughts and Trends Online.

Thursday, February 01, 2001
[science] -- Hard-wired for God?

An excellent review of "The God part of the Brian" by Matthew Alper. It does a good job of addressing the attempts to explain away religious experience using evolutionary biology.

Monday, January 22, 2001
[ecclesial] -- John Paul II names 37 new Cardinals

Pope John Paul II named 37 new Cardinals (free subscription required for link) reportedly in an attempt to pack the college of cardinals with conservative loyalists. Ten of the appointments were from Latin America, which indicates the Pope's view that the future of the Church is there.

Wednesday, January 17, 2001
[culture] -- Postmodern worship

Via Phuture, a survey of the postmodern worship trend worldwide.

[eschatology] -- Apocalypses we can live with

John C. Reilly's paper, Soft Landings, was presented at the Center for Millennial studies last October. An interesting examination of three apocalyptic models of history that reconcile with a positive outlook on the future.

"The point to keep in mind is that the age after the culmination of history, which we may call the Millennium for convenience, can be a habitable place. That is, it can be continuous with profane history, even if you have to pass through a great Tribulation to get there. However, the
expectation even of a habitable Millennium can still generate familiar forms of millenarianism."

Tuesday, January 16, 2001
[culture] -- Simpsons are the most religious family on Television

Yep, it's no joke. The Simpsons deals with religion more sunstantively than most situation comedies in TV history. "In the cultural debate over Hollywood values, a show once maligned for steering America's youth astray is garnering serious attention for its groundbreaking attitude toward the importance of religion in Middle America."

[ecological] -- Worldwatch Institute projects ecological decline

Via Salon, bad news about amphibians and coral reefs spell future bad news for the global environment.

editor -- Wouldn't it be nice to hear a few fire and brimstone sermons from the pulpit on this issue? I won't hold my breath, though

[futures] -- Online futures studies primer

Though it's intended for secondary education, the Creating Preferred Futures site at planet-Tech is a good all-around introduction to the field of futures studies.

Good job, folks!

[social] -- Unmarried Couples have increasing legal, economic status

An Article in American Demographics about unmarried couples needing to have legal and financial products tatgeted for them. SInce they don't have a "default marriage contract for unmarried unions" they "have a greater demand for tailored financial, legal, tax, insurance, health care, and estate planning, and for some, even prenatal and day-care" services. The article advocates greater recognition of this growing demographic category.

editor -- If unmarried couples need all those services with more individual autonomy than the "default marriage" plan allows, can a "marriage lite" contract package be far behind? Maybe we'll see states passing deals similar to covenant marriage laws -- except that the current legal marriage will be the higher, not the lower standard. How will churches recognize and accept these couples?

Monday, January 15, 2001
[social] -- The case for Atheism

A thoughtful commentary on the state of Atheism in America which points out that, while belief is pervasive (though shallow), skepticism is as deeply rooted in our society. Confessions of a Lonely Atheist from the New York Times (free subscription required)

editor -- This essay is good sermon fodder. I'd like to hear a good, thoughtful answer coming from pulpits in coming Sundays. Christians, and other believers, need more practice in engaging the secular world in cinstructive dialogue.

[social] -- Western Commercialization of Hindu Festival

The Material Girl and other westerm glitterati will be "premium guests" at the world's largest religious gathering, the first Mahakumbh of the millenium. A good story about the commericalization of the Kumbh.

[social] -- Sell your soul online?

Sign of the impending apocalypse #296. soulXchange, the world's first Soul 2 Soul Marketplace, is now online.

editor -- Let's hope this is a parody, huh? I'm warning you that I'm searching for, and posting, religous oriented parody sites as research for a piece I'm doing for Religion Watch. Reader beware.

Monday, November 27, 2000
Signs of the impending apocalypse number 294.

Wednesday, November 22, 2000
[social] -- Religious vows in America.

From Salon, a discussion about the state of religious life in America centered around an excellent profile of a new young nun.

Tuesday, November 21, 2000
[technological] -- New fertility research

A study of 2600 women by the National Institutes of Health Indicates that the average woman's cycle is unpredictable.

editor -- This study only addresses the calendar method of predicting. No symptom methods are addressed. But Catholics and NFP advocates heads up -- this study is likely to be confused by an already skeptical public as evidence against using NFP. Especially by those who already confuse NFP with the rhythm method.

Monday, November 20, 2000
[social] -- Not so fast with the Postmodern Ministry

From Next Wave zine: Next-Wave: Please Don't Start Another Postmodern Ministry illustrates some misconceptions and unrealistic expectations of the whole Pomo movement.

[political] -- Will the Next Pope be African?

A Beliefnet atrticle muses on whether Cardinal Francis Arinze, a Nigerian, might become the next Pope after John Paul II

editor -- Would be an interesting choice. And possibly a sign that the Catholic Church will position itself even more strongly as advocate for the world's poorest nations as globalization advances.

[social] -- Salon on Faith

Salon, an unabashedly liberal online zine, features the State of Faith in America. A (wishy-washy) thumbs-up for religion, but mainly as it pertains to Americans' increased altruism and morality.

Thursday, November 02, 2000
[social] -- Mission Focus Turning Toward U.S. unchurched?

From Barna Research, report of the top four ministry issues for Christian Churches. Foremost is the need for missions to the unchurched in the U.S.

[social] -- Is Harry Potter an Evil Plot? monitors the Harry Potter backlash.

editor -- Is this just a proxy debate for fundamentalists cranky about the rise in pagan and wiccan popularity in general?

[social] -- Exorcism on the rise

It's a trend. Not just for Catholics anymore.

[political] -- Nun fired for performing baptisms

A Nun and priest were disciplined in Boston after she helped perform baptisms.

editor -- I would expect to see plenty more skirmishes caused by liberalization on the local level vs. more hold-the-line higher ups in various denominations in the future. BTW, I will classify hits concerning hierarchical authority structures in religion as political, even though do not directly concern civil government.

Wednesday, November 01, 2000
[political] -- Beyond "denominationalism"

The Hartford Institute explores modes of religious organization besides the hierarchical denominational model.

A hit in the trend toward mainstream denominational change.

[social] -- Papal Term Limits

Not intending to insinuate that John Paul II himself should resign, a prominent Belgian Cardinal is calling for a dialogue on Papal term limits. Seems that some think the idea that the Pope is leader for life does not translate well to an era of 80-100 year life spans.

[social] -- American Jews Accept Intermarriage

A recent Poll of 1,010 Jews indicates that 56% do not object to intermarriage and a full 80% believe that intermarriage is inevitable.

Supports a trend toward multiculturalism and blending of religious traditions.

Wednesday, October 25, 2000
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