Boy, you’d have to dig deep to find a stranger holiday story than this one.
Archive for December, 2010
Christmas stories can be moth-eaten, cliche-ridden monstrosities. But every once in awhile, a good writer finds a way to make their Christmas story shine.
Such is the case with my old colleague Heather Hahn, who has written a fantastic Advent article about a modern-day Lone Star state shepherd.
You can read it here.
A new poll by Lifeway Research finds that 55 percent of atheists celebrate Christmas. Eighty-nine percent of agnostics and those with no religious preference celebrate the holiday. Among Christians, 97 percent celebrate Dec. 25.
I’m not too terribly surprised by these numbers. Christmas is a smorgasbord — a mix of Christianity, paganism and super-sized consumerism. Belief in Santa, Frosty — or Jesus, for that matter — is entirely optional in 21st century.
Puritans in the seventeenth-century and Jehovah’s Witnesses today considered the holiday an ungodly amalgamation.
When the Christian Right is criticizing Barack Obama, I don’t ask myself whether Obama is behaving like Jesus. Why not? Because Jesus was never President of the United States, never ran a modern-day democracy with the world’s most powerful military, never used a Teleprompter, never had to deal with Helen Thomas, etc.
Comparing Jesus and Barack is comparing twenty-first century apples and first-century oranges. It’s more logical to compare and contrast Obama and, say, Ronald Reagan.
So when the Congressional Prayer Caucus lambastes Barack Obama for referring to E Pluribus Unum as “our national motto” [when it's actually "In God We Trust"], WWJD is the wrong question. WWRD makes perfect sense.
And instead of leafing through the Scriptures, it makes more sense — in this particular instance — to rely on Google.
Would Ronald Reagan, the Great Communicator, the Gipper, refer to E Pluribus Unum as our national motto?
The answer is Yes. Speaking at the National Forum on Excellence in Education, on Dec. 8, 1983 in Indianapolis, Indiana, Ronald Reagan said, and I quote:
“The motto of the United States is ‘E Pluribus Unum,’ from many, one.”
As far as I can tell, there wasn’t a Congressional Prayer Caucus around in 1983 to scold Mr. Reagan for calling E Pluribus Unum the official motto of our nation. [Turns out, that latin phrase is the official motto of our nation's seal] and the official motto of the president’s seal, but not the official seal of the good old U.S. of A.]
There wasn’t a national outcry when Ronald Reagan called E Pluribus Unum our “national motto.”
In addition to Barack Obama, such luminaries as Dwight Eisenhower (WWDD), Jimmy Carter (WWJD), and Pope John Paul II (WWJPIID) have referred to E Pluribus Unum as the nation’s motto.
Neither claim unleashed an avalanche of letters, press releases and condemnations. Did Bush’s gaffes simply escape the attention of the Congressional Prayer Caucus? Or is the prayer caucus a Republican attack machine denouncing President Obama for political purposes?
A new study shows that Americans aren’t being 100 percent truthful when it comes to answering questions about their weekly church attendance.
(More details here.)
Fewer than one in four Americans actually attend church regularly, but 35-45 percent of the population claims to attend church regularly.
I have long suspected that weekly attendance is greatly exaggerated. Why? Roughly 1/3 of Episcopalians attend church on a typical weekend. The numbers are roughly comparable for Presbyterians and Methodists. Most Southern Baptists stay home on Sundays, too, church estimates show.
If only 35-40 percent of all church members are attending church on a typical weekend, it’s hard to imagine how 35-45 percent of all Americans could be worshipping on a weekly basis.
The reality — the gap between church attendance in the United States and Europe isn’t nearly as wide as we’ve been led to believe. Most Americans (like most Europeans) steer clear of churches on Sundays.
It’s ironic that so many Americans are willing to “lie” about their rate of church attendance. But my theory (and it’s similar to one of the researcher’s theories) is this. Pollsters ask the following question:
1.) Do you attend church every Sunday?
But the question people hear and answer is this one:
2.) Should you attend church every Sunday?
My theory: In the U.S., in 2010, perhaps 45 percent of Americans believe people should attend church, but only 50-67 percent of these people actually attend every week themselves. As a result, true weekly attendance rates are somewhere between 22.5 and 30 percent.
If my theory is correct, look for the following:
Church attendance will continue to slowly decline. But the percentage of Americans who are willing to admit they skip church could change far more rapidly. The result — it will look like church attendance is plummeting, even though actual church attendance is only decreasing slightly. This appearance of a sharp decline will have repercussions for the American church and for the wider culture.
With the help of Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, creationists will be building a replica of Noah’s Ark – a boat big enough to hold people, animals and (believe it or not) dinosaurs. Tax breaks will enable anti-evolutionists to create a “Earth is only 6,000 years old” theme park.
More details here.
h/t: Caleb Powers