Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hispanics Transforming Nation's Religious Landscape

By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service

About half the nation's Hispanics -- including many who are Roman Catholic -- consider themselves to be charismatics or Pentecostals, creating a new confluence of streams in American Christianity.

"Simply put, Latinos are transforming the nation's religious landscape," said Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center, one of two organizations that produced a new study.

The survey and accompanying report, released Wednesday (April 25), found that 68 percent -- or two-thirds -- of Hispanics describe themselves as Roman Catholics while 15 percent are evangelical or born-again Protestants. Eight percent do not identify with a religion.

A joint project of the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, the report details results of a bilingual telephone survey of 4,016 Hispanic adults between August and October of 2006. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

The religious practice of Hispanics -- across religious persuasions -- is a daily, active one, researchers found. Seventy percent of all Hispanics have a crucifix or other religious object in their home. And 58 percent pray to the Virgin Mary or saints at difficult times.

Among Latino Christians:

-- 75 percent believe in miracles
-- 71 percent say religion is very important
-- 70 percent pray every day
-- 53 percent believe the Bible is the literal word of God
-- 52 percent believe Jesus will return in their lifetime
-- 47 percent attend church at least weekly
-- 29 percent speak in tongues at least weekly

Hispanic Catholics are four times as likely as non-Hispanic Catholics to describe themselves as charismatic, but they do not discard traditional Catholic teaching, the report notes. Instead they incorporate charismatic practices into their religious life.

Press here for the Beliefnet report

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Our Coat of Arms/ Nuestros Escudos

On our 10th wedding anniversary/En nuestro decimo aniversario de bodas

Boom in Third World Christianity transforms middle-class American church

The Associated Press
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 04.25.2007

The United Methodist Church is the latest Protestant group caught in the shifting currents of world Christianity. While the American denomination is shrinking at home, its congregations in the developing world are growing explosively.
Over the last decade, the number of United Methodists outside the U.S. more than tripled. The denomination's largest district is now in the West African nation of Ivory Coast. At the next national church assembly, the 2008 General Conference in Texas, overseas delegates will have more say than ever in the church's future — as many as 30 percent could come from abroad.
"Trends suggest that Christianity is going to continue to grow as a global phenomenon, and denominations that have thought of themselves as being predominantly North American in character are going to have to get over that," said William Lawrence, dean of the Perkins School of Theology, a Methodist seminary in Dallas.
Nearly 8 million United Methodists are now in the U.S., with another 3.5 million church members overseas. The denomination is the third-largest in the nation behind Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists, and middle-class worshippers mostly fill the pews of its American churches.
But if current patterns continue, within decades the typical United Methodist will be from Africa. While international congregations expand, the denomination's U.S. ranks have decreased by 19 percent since the 1970s.

Press here to read the whole report

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Prayer in the wake of the Virginia Tech Tragedy

I wanted to share this prayer written by Rev. Dr. Mark Roberts who is pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church and was my New Testament professor at San Francisco Theological Seminary

God of love and justice, our hearts are stunned today by the horrifying events at Virginia Tech. We struggle even to know how to pray. Yet we ask You, above all, to let Your gracious presence be known to all who suffer this day, especially the families and friends of those who have died. Grant them Your peace that passes all understanding. Help us, dear Lord, to learn what we must learn from this crisis. Give us hearts open to You. Keep us from using the pain of others to manipulate or callously advance our personal agendas. Help us to listen to each other, and most of all to You. Thank You for being a God who is not watching us from a distance. Thank You for entering into the pain and sorrow of this broken world. Thank You for being present with us when we suffer. Thank You for giving us hope when all seems hopeless, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Christianity plus drums?

Back in 2002 the Atlantic Monthly published an insightful article in which he quotes Philip Jenkins from Pennsylvania State University on the new face of Christianity...

"We need to take the new Christianity very seriously, it is not just Christianity plus drums. If we're not careful, fifty years from now we may find a largely secular North defining itself against a largely Christian South. This will have its implications."

"I think,that the big 'problem cult' of the twenty-first century will be Christianity."

Press here to read the complete article

Friday, April 13, 2007

Churches changing to keep faith alive- A Courier News Report


Today's Christian processes more information in one day than pious medieval peasants did in a lifetime. Somewhere between the new Easter outfit, the marshmallow latte and the Easter basket containing an iPod, a yoga mat and a chocolate bunny, the traditional message of Easter can get lost.

Armed with technology and multimedia and drawing from a range of world cultures and traditions, local churches are confronting postmodern life in creative ways and giving new meaning to the phrase, "If you can't beat it, join it:"

-In Hillsborough, that means a church sponsoring its first-ever Easter egg hunt, a secular tradition the church's members wanted for their own congregation.

-In Bridgewater, that means a church using slides of famous paintings in one service and incorporating the ancient tradition of hands-on healing in another service.

-In the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen, that means playing host to theological and spiritual discussions for younger people at bars and restaurants in a program called Theology on Tap.

-In Morristown, that means the first service today of an independent, non-denominational church that formerly met in Bernards, and includes a variety of outreach efforts such as prayerfully pumping gas for strangers.

-In Somerville, that means one 89-year-old church member puts church fliers in strangers' mailboxes.

The potential pool for new congregants is vast. In February 2006, Christianity Today magazine reported that 61 percent of Americans believe in God but don't attend church.

Press here for the full article

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

L.A. Philharmonic gets "boy wonder" conductor

Dudamel was born in my native town of Barquisimeto- Venezuela

By Kemp Powers
Tuesday, April 10, 2007; 1:56 AM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The classical music world was handed a new star on Monday as charismatic 26-year-old Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel was introduced as the next music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic

Dudamel, a graduate of his country's unique youth orchestra system aimed at poor students, has been hailed as the "boy wonder" of classical music.

Press here for the entire Washington Post report

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Perfect Mission Field- Do You Feel Called?

If we were going to design the perfect mission field, here is what it might look like:

1. It would be filled with millions of unsaved and accessible youth and young adults.
2. It would be a place where people openly, regularly, and publicly share their opinions, thoughts, feelings, concerns, fears, and needs without anyone asking them to.
3. It would be a place where people connect with other people in community, and people like and expect to meet new people.
4. It would be a place where many people provide a picture and a little information about themselves so you can know a little about them before you communicate with them.
5. It would be a place where it is okay to be creative, different, and to just be you.
6. It would be a place where people openly debate, discuss, and exchange ideas including spiritual matters.
7. It would be a place where people like to go and hang out. It would be fun, sometimes silly, and people would smile and laugh.
8. It would be a place that is very close to our home so we could get there quickly when we have some time, and getting there would not require immunizations, or passports, or plane trips. And it would all be free.

This perfect mission field exists right now, down to the last detail. It exists on the Internet in public online services that connect people in community: blogs, personal webpages, and discussion groups, including social networking sites s

G.K. Chesterton on Easter as "Creation Take Two"

"On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in the semblance of a gardener, God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn." ~The Everlasting Man

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Thought by T. S. Eliot

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."