Archive for the ‘General Articles’ Category

Four years on, more questions than answers in assessing the Francis papacy

Four years after Jorge Bergoglio became Pope Francis, not a few Catholics observers are puzzled by an unusual papacy. In a series of articles in its March issue, the Catholic magazine Inside the Vatican (March/April) has attempted to gather insights on his papacy by a range of contributors. While Inside the Vatican is definitely not […]

Saudi-funded mosque building in Bangladesh raises concern about extremism

Following last year’s visit of Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Kingdom has agreed to finance the building of 560 “model mosques,” evoking mixed feelings among Muslim groups who do not share the Saudi Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. Dhaka Tribune (April 20) reports that these mosques will be equipped with libraries […]

Trump presidency reviving religious left or just liberal clergy?

The election of U.S. President Donald Trump has mobilized the leaders and clergy of mainline and liberal Catholic churches, though it remains to be seen if the members of these churches can be stirred to action to the same extent. Reports indicate that the religious left is being rejuvenated over protests against Trump on such […]

“Holy trinity” of hip-hop injecting redemption and rejoicing into songs

“Rap got religious in 2016. Its beats and bars were baptized by holy lyricism and Gospel samples,” writes Zac Davis in the Jesuit magazine America (March 6). Kanye West started the trend, which is also in evidence among such rap artists as Chance the Rapper and Kendrick Lamar. Davis writes, “For much of the 2000s, […]

Jewish culture remixed and rebranded

Jewish culture is being re-branded and marketed to secular Jews, intermarried couples, and non-Jews, reports Bloomberg Businessweek (March 28). While there has “long been a mainstream taste for Jewish humor and food…the [recent] fervor is something new,” writes Jennifer Miller. Pioneering such marketing of a wide range of Jewish experiences and culture is the lifestyle […]

British evangelical churches find new mission in gentrified neighborhoods

Urban and spiritual renewal are being joined by churches seeking to minister in gentrified areas of cities in the U.K., reports The Guardian (March 7). While urban planners and theorists have assumed that gentrification accompanies and even helps generate secularization, recent studies have suggested otherwise. The article notes that the growth that has taken place […]

South Caucasus and the uses of religion as “soft power”

External powers have exercised an influence in the South Caucasus, a region with small countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia) on one of the borders between Islam and Christianity, for centuries. Religion may be one of the channels serving such purposes and may thus be feared by political elites, though it is one among a range […]

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ educational and professional deficit

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ low levels of education compared to other religions has affected members’ job prospects and led to a high rate of underemployment, according to a report on National Public Radio (February 19). The report cites Pew Research figures showing that only 9 percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses get an undergraduate degree, well below the national […]

Western Rite parishes under Russian Orthodox Church emerge in U.S.

In late February Metropolitan Hilarion, Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR, which is part of the Moscow Patriarchate since 2007) ordained as an Orthodox priest Sam Seamans, a former bishop in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), reports Fr. Victor Novak on his blog (March 3). Along with his parish […]

Religious changes leading to new church-state relations

Since January 1st, the Lutheran Church in Norway is no longer a state church, and its 1,250 bishops and ministers are no longer being paid by public funds. Separation had already become a reality in neighboring Sweden in 2000. According to French historian and sociologist Philippe Portier, interviewed by Bernadette Sauvaget in the French daily […]