To say that this is a period of religious upheaval across the globe is to state the obvious. But this period of change takes many forms in many different traditions.
In Israel, for instance, Jews are debating whether just the Orthodox should be setting the rules. In the U.S., issues for Jews have more to do with ways in which people who identify as Jewish are less and less likely to be active in a synagogue or even marry other Jews.
Islam, of course, is in a struggle for its very heart and soul, with the mainstream doing battle with violent extremists intent on using the religion to justify violence and doctrinal rigidity.
Catholics are trying to figure out where the church is moving under this exciting new pope, while Protestants in the U.S. are trying to get used to being now only a plurality of the population, no longer a majority.
American Christians are struggling to figure out how to be the church in the 21st Century, when our context has changed fairly dramatically. This is happening at the level of individual congregations, with such reports and recommendations as the one that came out of a task force I chaired at my church, Second Presbyterian of Kansas City.
Indeed, I am struck by how often the TREC report and my congregation's GPS report come to similar conclusions.
Here's the way the TREC report worded a conclusion also found in the GPS report:
"In contemporary society, people are hungry for spiritual encounters; a sense of awe; genuine community; authentic witness; and practices to live loving, faithful and just lives. They are also less and less inclined to approach the church or any organized religion to find these things."
This is an exciting time to be around to witness and participate in religious change. My hope is that we get more right than wrong, though surely we'll do both.
(The photo here today is one we used in our GPS report. It's taken from inside the church looking out toward what we understand to be our mission field, our neighborhood.)
* * *
P.S.: FREMONT, Calif. -- While I'm on the West Coast for a few days visiting family and friends, I won't be adding the usual second item to the blog here. We'll get back to normal near the end of the week.