Some days seem almost mined with religious significance -- and for no apparent reason beyond coincidence.
* 1775, Francis Salvador, the first Jew to hold an elective office in the Americas, was installed as a member of the South Carolina Provincial Congress.
* In 1949, the cornerstone was laid for the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C. It's often considered the first important mosque in the U.S.
* In 1978, Toni Morrison's book with the name of a book of the Bible, Song of Solomon, won the National Book Critics Circle Award. The book is not about the biblical chapter after which it's named, however.
* In 2010, Miep Gies, famous for hiding Anne Frank in the Holocaust, died at age 100.
I'm sure that conspiracy theorists could come up with some strange way that all of these Jan. 11 events are connected, but I simply want to note that almost certainly you could pick most any date in the calendar and find it to be the anniversary of some important or at least interesting religious-related event.
I just happened to pick today. Had I picked a week from today, I'd have been forced to mention the birth of a religion blogger and columnist, ahem.
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AND THE WINNERS ARE. . .ADAM AND EVE
Speaking of polls that seem a bit tough to believe (as I was here the other day), a new poll reported by a group connected to the Southern Baptist Convention shows that an overwhelming percentage of Protestant pastors think Adam and Eve were literal people and that God did not use evolution. Plus nearly half agree that the Earth is only about 6,000 years old. Oh, my. The section of the poll that describes its methodology is so scant that it's difficult to tell how many of these Protestant pastors were Southern Baptists versus how many might have been Mainline Protestants such as Lutheran, Methodist or Presbyterian. My guess is that if you polled only Mainline pastors you'd find a huge majority who would reject the idea that Adam and Eve were historical human beings and an even bigger majority who would laugh at the idea that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. The majority opinions reflected in this poll are what make many people in the world rub their eyes and respond, "Say, what?"
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P.S.: At 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22, at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church in Overland Park, Kan., there will be an pre-trip orientation meeting for those going on the Jewish-Christian study trip I'm helping to lead to Israel in April. Even if you haven't yet signed up, you're welcome to come. If you've already signed up, hope to see you there with my co-leaders, Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn and Fr. Gar Demo.
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ANOTHER P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column now is online. To read it, click here.