HUSTLING THROUGH HAJ
Instead of taking up space here today with reflections on the execution of Saddam Hussein (I've dealt with that once in the past week and may again later), I thought you might enjoy a lighter story from the Islamic world -- this one about busy Muslims who now can arrange for what Arab News calls a drive-through Haj. Hmmm. In the Christian tradition we sometimes say sermonettes make Christianettes. I wonder if some Muslims feel something like that about this new practive.
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TOP FAITH STORIES OF THE YEAR?
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PONDERING RELIGIOUS MEGATRENDS
As we look toward the new year, inevitably we think of the forces at work shaping our world. And we begin to imagine how those forces will change things.
John L. Allen Jr., the wonderfully astute observer of the Vatican and all things Catholic, recently put together his list of 10 megatrends that he believes will affect the Catholic Church in the year and years ahead.
As you might expect from John, it's an interesting and quite wide-ranging list, but it raises for me several questions.
One of them is why he didn't include the struggles of many women in the church to achieve what they would view as a more equal footing with men. The church's refusal to ordain women priests continues to be a point of contention for many American Catholics, though the late Pope John Paul II tried to stop that conversation a few years ago, suggesting that the issue has been decided forever.
After I wrote the previous paragraph, but before I could get this entry posted here on the blog (I pushed it back a few days so I could comment on the Ethiopia-Somalia war and the death of Gerald Ford), John Allen sent out another commentary listing people's reactions to his list of 10 megatrends. It turns out I was far from the only one to note his failure to include the issue of women in the church. It was No. 1 on the list of things readers thought he left out. You can use the link in this paragraph to see what else folks thought he omitted.
Another question Allen's list makes me ask is what trends I as a Protestant my identify not just for my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), but also for the rest of the Protestant world. One obvious one is when we will get serious about unity and begin to reverse the atomization of Protestantism that is such an atrocious model for the rest of the religious world. (And by unity, I don't mean uniformity.) Another obvious one is the long battle over how to treat homosexuals in the church. Will we ever resolve that -- and, more to the point, get the solution right?
I also wonder what 10 megatrends followers of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhimt and other faith traditions might identify.
Tell me what trends you think John Allen may have missed and what trends you'd identify for your faith community.
Then let's get all of these resolved before 2007. Heck, we still have three days left.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here. (My Saturday column this weekend is about my interview with the pope. I just called him up and he answered right away.)
Today's religious holiday: Watch Night (Christian); Feast of the Holy Family (Catholic Christian); Eid al Adha (Islam).