The Week: Most Recent Religion Posts recent posts.en-usTue, 18 Nov 2014 06:02:00 -0500http://theweek.com Recent Religion Posts from THE WEEKTue, 18 Nov 2014 06:02:00 -0500Why Christians should get on board with space exploration<img src="" /></P><p>When a European spacecraft executed the first successful landing on a comet last week, much of the world celebrated. But many Christians yawned.</p><p>Christians are less interested in space and less supportive of exploring it than the general population, according to a paper presented by University of Dayton professor Joshua Ambrosius at this year's gathering of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Drawing data from the General Social Survey and three Pew studies comparing attitudes among various religious traditions, Ambrosius found that church attendance actually decreases a person's...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/jonathan-merritt" ><span class="byline">Jonathan Merritt</span></a>Tue, 18 Nov 2014 06:02:00 -0500Is devout faith a blessing -- or curse?<img src="" /></P><p>Among the devoutly religious &mdash; fervently pious Catholics, fundamentalist Protestants, Salafist Muslims, ultra-orthodox Jews &mdash; you'll sometimes hear it said that the rampant anxiety, depression, and other forms of emotional suffering in modernity are a product of the decline of faith.</p><p>"You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you." That's how St. Augustine famously put it: we want, we crave, we long for God, with all our heart, all our soul, and all our might. When we find him, we rejoice, at last feeling at home in the comforting arms of a...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Fri, 14 Nov 2014 06:05:00 -0500Why Jewish women had to smuggle a tiny Torah into the Western Wall<img src="" /></P><p dir="ltr">In one of their cleverest moves yet, the Women of the Wall recently pulled off a Bat Mitzvah service for a teenage girl at Israel's holiest site by using a tiny Torah and a magnifying glass. While countless boys have been Bar Mitzvahed at the Wall, this was the first time a girl has ever experienced the rite of passage there.</p><p dir="ltr">A remnant of the retaining wall that surrounded the Second Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, the Western Wall is considered a sacred place by Jews around the world. The plaza in front has a partition separating the men and women's prayer spaces. On the men...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/elissa-strauss" ><span class="byline">Elissa Strauss</span></a>Mon, 03 Nov 2014 06:08:00 -0500The culture war finally comes to the Catholic Church<img src="" /></P><p><em>New York Times</em> columnist Ross Douthat is no one's idea of a radical. In the five and a half years since joining the op-ed page of the paper, he's proved himself to be a thoughtful, measured, and nuanced social-conservative commentator on political and cultural events.</p><p>That's why I was surprised when six months ago Douthat responded rashly to reports that Pope Francis had told an Argentine woman that she could receive the sacrament of communion even though she was married to a divorced man. Roman Catholic Church doctrine holds that the woman's marriage is adulterous unless the man's original marriage...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 28 Oct 2014 06:08:00 -0400The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion<img src="" /></P><p>If you're looking for someone to hurl sweeping, ill-informed insults at the deeply held beliefs of hundreds of millions of people, the so-called New Atheists are always happy to oblige.</p><p>In the most recent of a long line of examples, talk show host Bill Maher and guest Sam Harris got into a heated exchange with actor Ben Affleck and <em>New York Times</em> columnist Nicholas Kristof about whether Islam deserves to be denounced by secular liberals as (in Harris' words) a "motherlode of bad ideas."</p><p>But that wasn't the end of it. In the more than two weeks since the segment aired, Harris has continued his...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 21 Oct 2014 06:05:00 -0400The Vatican's latest foray into self-deception<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">Are the "irregular" family situations that the Vatican is considering this week similar to the many varieties of Christianity that exist outside the Catholic Church?</p><p class="p1">That's the theory behind an intriguing article by John Allen Jr, the intrepid church reporter who heads up <em>The</em> <em>Boston Globe</em>'s standalone venture, <em>Crux</em>. Just as the churchmen partaking in the Vatican's "synod" on the family today wish to emphasize the good in unmarried, previously divorced, or same-sex couples in order to move them toward a fuller realization of grace, so did the Second Vatican Council shift emphasis away from the...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/michael-brendan-dougherty" ><span class="byline">Michael Brendan Dougherty</span></a>Wed, 15 Oct 2014 11:31:00 -0400Pope Francis' Machiavellian strategy to liberalize the Catholic Church<img src="" /></P><p>Maybe you can help me. I'm confused.</p><p>The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares as a matter of binding doctrine that homosexual acts are "acts of grave depravity," "contrary to the natural law," and "intrinsically" as well as "objectively disordered." "Under no circumstances" can those acts "be approved." Although people who feel same-sex attractions "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity," they are called by the church to take up "the Lord's cross" and embrace a life of "chastity" through "self-mastery" of their desires. That is the only way for them to "gradually and...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 15 Oct 2014 06:04:00 -0400The Vatican risks turning marriage into a moral luxury<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">A supposed "earthquake" hit the Vatican this week with the release of an obscure document, a mid-play summary of the proceedings of the synod of bishops convened by Pope Francis on the question of the family.</p><p class="p1">What did all the shaking? The Vatican's supposedly new approach to affirming the good even in irregular family situations &mdash; e.g. couples that are unmarried, were previously divorced and remarried, or are same-sex &mdash; and to leading people "gradually" to a fuller understanding of Church teaching. But much of what has been hailed as a great discovery in this document is in fact not...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/michael-brendan-dougherty" ><span class="byline">Michael Brendan Dougherty</span></a>Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:21:00 -0400Everything you need to know about Pope Francis' synod on the family<img src="" /></P><p><strong>What's a synod?</strong><br />It's an organized meeting of bishops. The Catholic Church views itself as being led not just by the pope, but by the pope in communion with the bishops, who are the successors of the apostles appointed by Jesus to lead the Church. In other words, the bishops are a real source of authority in the Catholic Church. Even though under canon law the synod cannot decide anything without the approval of the pope, in practice a synod is an important meeting where things can happen. And it can last for many, many days.</p><p><strong>What's the biggest issue being discussed at the synod?</strong><br />Communion for divorced...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/pascal-emmanuel-gobry" ><span class="byline">Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry</span></a>Fri, 10 Oct 2014 07:07:00 -0400Christians cannot strategize and argue their way into renewed prominence<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">Christian conservatives are preparing for a big and long overdue rethink of their position in our culture, and in America's political life.</p><p class="p1">Although Pew regularly tells us that about 40 percent of Americans are regular attendees of church services, more accurate surveys show that the actual number is about half that. And it's not just conservatives who fear the wane. Religious liberals also worry about passing on their faith to the next generation.</p><p class="p2">Court cases like Hobby Lobby, or the clash between bishops and legislators in California over whether Catholic insurance plans must cover abortion...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/michael-brendan-dougherty" ><span class="byline">Michael Brendan Dougherty</span></a>Mon, 06 Oct 2014 06:05:00 -0400