As the summer moves toward its embers, I wanted to return once more to a bit of religious history. So today we'll take note here that Sunday is the anniversary of the death in 1688 of John Bunyan (depicted here), the Puritan writer most famous for The Pilgrim's Progress, published in 1678.
Bunyan had been born in November 1928, so he didn't quite make it to his 60th birthday.
Bunyan spent a fair amount of time in the 1660s and early '70s in prison -- apparently Baptists back then couldn't preach without a license in England -- and thus had plenty of free time to devote to writing. Another work that gained him fame was Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, published in 1666. Some think this book is a classic on a par with St. Augustine's Confessions.
Once Bunyan finally got out of prison, he became the pastor of the Baptist church in Bedford, England.
Of the various Web accounts of his life and influence, I especially like this one.
Just for the record: I find to evidence that John Bunyan was in any way related to the great Paul Bunyan. But who knows?
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THE FAITH OF SARAH PALIN
The Dallas Morning News Religion Blog has done a pretty good hustle job unpacking what is known about Gov. Sarah Palin's religious affiliation. The Christian denomination in which she grew up is the Assemblies of God, and she gets high marks on many "social conservative" issues from people who would describe themselves as conservative Christians. But John L. Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter notes that now Palin doesn't have a denominational home. Drawing extensively on stories in the Anchorage Daily News, the Religion Clause blog adds this about Sen. John McCain's newly chosen running mate. And here's an entry on this subject from the Boston Globe's Michael Paulson at his "Articles of Faith" blog. I would repeat this, however: Remember that our Constitution insists there be no religous test for office. And this: The only appropriate question about the religion of any candidate is how it might affect his or her views and actions on public policy. A million groups (minimum) with religious affiliations, of course, are responding to the Palin choice. I'll just give you links just to two as samples. First, the National Jewish Democratic Council. And, quite the opposite, the Christian Coalition of America.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here. (My Saturday column this weekend is about the way people of faith live in harmony with their religious calendars.)