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Unpacking 'The Lord's Prayer': 9-30-10

A couple of years ago I heard the Vanderbilt New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine argue persuasively that what Christians call "The Lord's Prayer" is a wonderful Jewish prayer that, were it not so obviously associated with Christianity, Jews today might be able to pray with no trouble.


In fact, in her book The Misunderstood Jew, Levine, who is herself Jewish, calls the Lord's Prayer "an ideal prayer for a first-century Jew."

Levine's thinking was confirmed for me as I read John Dominic Crossan's new book, The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord's Prayer. Crossan describes the Lord's Prayer as "a revolutionary manifesto and a hymn of hope not just for Christianity but for all the world. Better, it is addressed from Christianity to all the world. Better still, it is from the heart of Judaism, through the mouth of Christianity to the conscience of the earth."

I entered Crossan's new book with reservations. Crossan, who 25 years ago next month co-founded the Jesus Seminar with the late Robert Funk, represents to me some of the scholarly silliness and triviality of the Jesus Seminar. Beyond that, the Jesus Seminar folks have always seemed to me much more interested in talking about what they don't believe rather than what they do, and, along with some insightful scholarship, they have been advocates (especially Funk) of dismissing traditional Christianity as hopelessly wrong.

If you want to know more about what's been amiss with the Jesus Seminar, read The Real Jesus by Luke Timothy Johnson. It's a bit dated (1997 publication) but it gets most of this right.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find Crossan here being not just insightful -- if too willing to digress -- but also willing to reveal a man of faith who himself wrestles with how to live an authentic Christian life.

There must be a hundredyskillion books on the Lord's Prayer. And a zillion times that many on Jesus. So you wonder what a new look at this prayer might reveal.

Well, in the spirit of Amy-Jill Levine, Crossan here offers a foundational prayer in part as a way of improving interreligious understanding, especially between -- but not limited to -- Christianity and Judaism. And he concedes that he meant to provoke a response by naming the Lord's Prayer "the greatest" to see if people of other faiths might offer one of their own.

For Judaism, that almost certainly would be the Sh'ma, found in Deuteronomy 5. The Sh'ma has become what my book writing colleague Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn, in his book Accessible Judaism, called "the central prayer in Judaism."

Did I find things about this new Crossan book that bothered me? Yes. I'll mention just one. He repeated the old (and misleading) wisdom that the term "Abba," which Jesus used to refer to God, "is a more intimate address to God, similar to our 'Daddy'. . ." But as Levine writes in her book, "Even Joachim Jeremias, the scholar who first proposed the translation 'Daddy' along with its unique attribution to Jesus, retracted his thesis and called it 'a piece of inadmissable naivete.'" And yet four years after Levine's book, Crossan repeats the "naivete" in his book -- and by the same publisher.

Still, Crossan's book is worth a read and might well serve as a good book for study groups from congregations of nearly any faith -- as long as the group is led by someone who can serve as a corrective when Crossan goes amiss.

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The wise columnist Clarence Page looks at the religious ignorance survey I wrote about here yesterday and suggests that it should lead us to teach our children -- all children -- about religion in our schools. He's right.

Religion on the stage: 9-29-10

The other evening my wife and I attended a performance of the musical "Saved" at the Kansas City Reptertory Theatre.


And although it was an enjoyable evening, it brought home to me again how difficult it is to raise questions of faith in a dramatic (or sometimes comedic) setting -- without resorting to cliches and without achieving more than a surface look at things.

"Saved" is set in a Christian high school run by a flawed pastor whose seems not to understand the ways in which rules must be mediated by love. Naturally, because it's a play for the 21st Century, it deals with teen pregnancy, abortion, religious differences, homosexuality and marital infidelity. About the only thing missing was an interracial dispute about climate change.

Much of the singing was engaging, as was some of the dialogue. The staging, almost inevitably, involved overly dramatic set pieces, such as a huge lighted cross and fake clouds to suggest heaven. Apparently minimalism has been minimalized to zero.

Indeed, much of the theology expressed directly or indirectly by the acting company seemed limited to the question of how to get to heaven. One of the students played a Jewish girl, and that, of course, brought up the endlessly debated question of whether a commitment to Jesus Christ is necessary for personal salvation.

The kind of Christianity on display among students and adults in the play would be familiar to followers of Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell but it did not represent the Christianity of millions of Americans in Mainline, Catholic, Orthodox and other branches of the faith. There was, of course, no effort to explain the narrow choice of the playwright.

Well, in the end, my bride and I decided that the acting company did pretty well with the material but that on the whole it was just an evening of shallow entertainment. Yes, it did engender some deeper conversation but to get there we had to get past the stereotypes offered by the play.

So if you had to pick a play or movie that dealt seriously with religious issues without relying on caricature, what would you pick? You can e-mail me your answer to

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A friend in Warsaw, Poland, recently alerted me to a CNN documentary that he said had been shown on that news network's international version, though if it's been available on CNN in the U.S. I've missed it. It's a fascinating story of how a neo-Nazi skinhead and his wife there discovered that they're Jewish. Sort of like the old Groucho Marx joke, the man's instincts were to refuse to to be part of a group that would agree to have him as a member. But as he spoke at some length with Michael Schudrich, the chief Orthodox rabbi of Poland, he came to understand that his anti-Jewish prejudices were wrong. Today he's an observant Jew. When my co-author, Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn, and I were in Poland to do interviews for our book, They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust, Schudrich told us that people come to him every day to ask for his help because they think they might be Jewish -- an identity that was suppressed by their parents or grandparents in order to survive the Holocaust. At any rate, the CNN story is worth reading and watching.

E pluribus ignoramus: 9-28-10

Because I'm convinced from my own experience that Americans are appallingly ignorant about religion, even though we're one of the most religious countries in the world, I regularly recommend that people read Stephen Prothero's 2007 book, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to know -- And Doesn't.


In this book, Prothero also accuses Americans of being ignorant about religion, but, in fact, that's just a guess on his part, buttressed with his personal experience and anecdotal evidence. Until today there really has not been a decent survey of religious knowledge among Americans to confirm what Prothero suspected.

But today the Pew Center on Religon & Public Life is releasing its new "U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey." To read a pdf of my embargoed-until-today copy, click on this link: Download Religious-Knowledge-Survey.

The Pew Center folks are careful not to call Americans what I already did -- appallingly ignorant -- because, they say, it's hard to know exactly what Americans should know about religion and because the lack of previous studies makes it hard to say whether we're more or less ignorant than we have been in the past.

Well, fine. But the truth is that this study shows that lots of Americans don't know squat about religion. I often feel ignorant about aspects of religion that I haven't yet learned much about even though I write professionally about the subject. But the questions in this survey really are so basic that I find it hard to imagine how any reasonably well educated adult could not know this stuff.

Some examples:

* 18 percent of the respondents in this survey didn't know that Mother Teresa was Catholic.

* 29 percent didn't know that the Bible says Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

* 32 percent didn't know that most people in Pakistan are Muslims.

It gets worse.

* 46 percent didn't know the Qur'an is Islam's holy book.

* 54 percent didn't know Martin Luther inspired the Protestant Reformation.

* And 92 percent didn't know Maimonides was Jewish.

No wonder we have religious controversies in this country. We seem to have ignorant people arguing about things they don't know much about. If they ever swallowed knowledge about religious stuff it seems to have gone down the wrong way -- or something. How can we respect each other's freedom of religion if we don't know what we're talking about?

Well, you can read the survey for yourself -- and weep. Then we need to figure out what to do to improve this dismal picture. And we can start with our own faith communities, if any, demanding they teach us our own faith better and introduce us to other religions so we're not wallowing around ignorantly.

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The Jewish newspaper The Forward has done this intriguing analysis of the Christian aspects found in the Tea Party movement -- and especially how Jews might want to be thinking about this. Every political movement, of course, contains within it some approach to religion, even if it is not overt or is even a stealth approach. So people of faith should be always figuring out how the parties and candidates they're considering supporting may either undermine or support their own religious views. But as we do this we must reaffirm that there is not, nor should there be, any religious test for public office in the U.S.

Tracking Islamic controversies: 9-27-10

As you know, much of the controversy having to do with Muslims in America in recent months has centered on the proposal to build an Islamic community center near Ground Zero in New York. (For my views on why this is exactly where this facility needs to be located, click here.)


But in a country the size of the United States with a population that is predominantly Christian, you can be sure that there is more than one source of controversy about any subject, including Islam.

So the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has gathered up information about several dozen controversies in the U.S. having to do with construction of mosques and Islamic centers. Included in the Web site to which I've linked you in the previous sentence is an interactive map showing the location of these disagreements -- some of which are simply about traffic and congestion and not about religion directly. There are nearly 1,900 mosques in the U.S. at the moment, Pew Forum reports.

(By the way, my mentioning "mosques" leads me to repeat what I've said before, which is that "Ground Zero mosque" is deliberately misleading terminology. It's not at Ground Zero. It's 2.5 blocks away. And it's not a mosque, though it is to contain mosque prayer space for Muslims as well as prayer space for people of other faiths.)

The Pew Forum site also provides a link to this new report from U.S. Department of Justice on the 10th anniversary of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. As the report note, "The law, which passed both houses of Congress unanimously and was supported by a broad coalition of religiously and ideologically diverse groups, addresses religious discrimination and government infringement of religious liberty in two areas: local land-use laws, such as zoning and landmarking ordinances, and the religious exercise of persons confined to institutions."

The report also asserts that since passage of this law, it " has helped secure the ability of thousands of individuals and institutions to practice their faiths freely and without discrimination."

And yet my guess is that lots of Americans don't even know the law exists. Well, have a look at the report today and a look at the mosque-controversy map. And then let's see how we might be agents for solutions that are fair to all. (By the way, it pleases me that no locations in Missouri or Kansas are on the map.)

Oh, and be sure to be back here tomorrow when I'll talk about an intriguing new study from the Pew Forum on religious knowledge in America.

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Here's an interesting case of interfaith cooperation. Orthodox Christians have picked up support from Muslims for their desire to have religious education in schools in Bulgaria. In many ways, it's a rejection of 60 years of atheism under the communists. And, of course, there should be education about religion in public schools in the U.S., though not indoctrination in favor of any one religion. This might help to reduce the appalling ignorance about religion that many Americans show. Much more on this subject here tomorrow.

Asking important questions: 9-25/26-10

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- One of the joys of being on a college campus is the opportunity to have stimulating conversations about what matters.


That's what my co-author, Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn, and I experienced a few days ago at Kansas State University, which invited us to speak at its Community Cultural Harmony Week about our book, They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust.

More than 60 people gathered in a room at the K-State Union to hear and talk about the difficult moral questions raised by our book -- questions about the value of life, about when and whether to risk life, about how people who disagree about many things can continue to be in respectful conversation.

After a relatively (on purpose) brief presentation, we opened things up for questions and conversation and were not disappointed. People wanted to talk about how the church in Poland in World War II might have differed in its approach toward Jews from the church in Germany. They asked about the controversy surrounding the proposal to build an Islamic community center near Ground Zero in New York City. And on and on.

The point, to me, was that we were engaging questions that really meant something versus the questions our culture often spends so much useless time pondering -- like whether this pop culture couple of that will break up or whether this network or that will cancel this or that sitcom. Puh-leese. Who gives a damn in the long run? I confess I don't even care in the short run.

One of the things both universities and faith communities do is to provide a forum for conversation about the truly important questions of life. K-State and the community of Manhattan have been providing this harmony week space for learning for more than two decades. I hope they're proud of that and will keep it up.

In an era when civil discourse is on the skids, we need more such opportunities for deep sharing of ideas in respectful ways.

* * *


Speaking of talking about important things in respectful ways, we seem to be an a crucial point in the newly restarted Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and as columnist Roger Cohen argues, it's time for President Obama to insist that Israel extend its moratorium on building settlements. A great deal, indeed, is at stake here, and if the rap on the Palestinians' leadership has been that tt never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity, that rap will fall on Israel if its action now explodes these talks. Yes, there is blame to go around, for sure, but the issue now on the table is the extension of the moratorium. There may well be breaking developments on this over the weekend, but as of Friday evening there was no new agreement, this report notes. On Sunday morning, the Jerusalem Post quoted a Palestinian Authority negotiator as saying only Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, could save peace talks by extending the moratorium on settlement construction.

Cairo's last Jews: 9-24-10

When people speak about the Jewish diaspora, they often mean the dispersal of Jews away from Jerusalem and the surrounding area in 70 BCE when the Romans crushed the city.


But, in fact, there have been several Jewish diasporas, both before and after that. The result is that Jews live all over the world, though of course since 1948 the Jewish state of Israel has become home to many of them. Indeed, as the piece to which I linked you in the first paragraph here notes, the beginning of the diaspora occurred in 587 BCE, when Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and Jews were exiled to Babylonia.

As readers of my latest book know, the largest Jewish population of any country in the world at the start of World War II could be found in Poland -- nearly 3.5 million, more than 90 percent of whom perished in the Holocaust.

But Jews, as I say, have lived and continue to live in many places, including predominantly Arab and Muslim countries, such as Egypt.

Ah, but the state of affairs for Jews in Cairo these days is sad and desperate, as this report in Tablet Magazine shows.

As the piece notes, the Jewish population of Cairo "has dwindled from an estimated 80,000 before 1952 to 50 mostly elderly widows today." And yet there still are 10 synagogues to maintain.

I have no answers for what should happen to Judaism in Cairo, but it's hard not to feel some sympathy for a dying tradition so close to where Judaism also thrives. My hope is that there will be people, including Christians, who can help make life bearable for Cairo's last Jews.

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I look forward to reading A World Without Islam, by Graham Fuller, the book highlighted in this excellent review. Fuller's argument, as I get it, is that the current struggles between the Islamic world and the non-Muslim world almost certainly would be happening anyway, even if Islam had never existed. What I do know is that Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations" theory was far too simplistic an explanation of things. The reality for Islam as well as for other religions is that cultural traditions often overwhelm that religion's teachings and then those cultural traditions get attributed falsely to the religion. The oppression of women in predominantly Muslim countries is a good example of that.

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Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who's Already There, by Leonard Sweet. Some years ago, when Leonard Sweet was president and professor of church history at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, I read something he wrote that has stuck with me. He suggested that Christians think of the church not as an institution but as a movement. The difference? Sweet said an institution is in the public eye while a movement is in the public hair. I liked that kicky way of putting it. Sweet has moved on to be a professor of evangelism at Drew University in Madison, N.J., but he's still finding memorable ways of saying things, as this new book on evangelism reveals -- indeed, on almost every page. In fact, if I have a complaint about this book it's that its language is too cutesy and too clever by half. Sweet, like an inveterate punster, seems unable to help himself. Even the title, for me, falls into that category. The book is directed at Christians who know they should be sharing their faith with others but have found the heavy-handed methods so often used repulsive and ineffective. Sweet outlines strategies for a more subtle type of evangelism that often won't even seem like evangelism at all. If you can get past Sweet getting in the way of his own message because of his linguistic tricks, you also can learn things I bet you've never known or perhaps have forgotten. A small example: When Jesus talks about teaching people how to fish for people instead of for fish, he has in mind a social activity, not a lone-ranger fisherman the way we probably perceive it. ". . .the fishing Jesus is alluding to here is net fishing where an entire village would fish together and often two boats would work in tandem drag-netting fish in between them." He concludes, "Perhaps if a more communal mentality of nudging were adopted by our churches, the fear of evangelism would diminish. . ."

A call to prophetic preaching: 9-23-10

You may recall the old joke about the woman at church who kept shouting out "Amen" and "Preach it, brother" as the pastor railed against one sin after another -- until he mentioned gossip. At that point the woman turned to her friend next to her and said, "Well, now he's just meddling."


What that preacher was, in fact, doing was engaging in at least one variety of what's called "prophetic preaching." There are many definitions and types of prophetic preaching but, in essence, it is preaching that points to things that are wrong and need to be repaired.

In this case, "prophetic" does not mean telling the future. Rather, it means looking at the present and trying to let people know what it is about our lives, our relations or our society that is breaking God's heart -- and then it's offering an alternative vision for how to live.

In the end, if preachers of any religion are not engaging in prophetic preaching at least part of the time, I think they're wasting their time and the time of their congregants.

Leonora Tubbs Tisdale has written an insightful and helpful new book called Prophetic Preaching: A Pastoral Approach, in which she seeks to give pastors tools to help improve their prophetic preaching or to get them to preach in this way if they're avoiding it now. Tisdale, who now teaches homiletics at Yale Divinity School, has been in parish ministry, too, including at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, from which Paul Rock, the new pastor at my own church, just came to Kansas City.

Yes, Tisdale's book is written for pastors, but it's in plain language and it can give those of us in the pews an excellent look at the various kinds of prophetic preaching we might expect -- or demand -- from our preachers.

After offering definitions of prophetic preaching from many sources, Tisdale avoids giving us her own but she does synthesize ideas about this genre in seven points, which (briefly) say that propehtic preaching:

* Is rooted in the Bible.

* Challenges the status quo.

* Identifies evils, though more in the social or corporate realm than in the personal.

* Names not just "what is not of God in the world" but also points to the new reality God seeks to bring about.

* Offers hope.

* Gives courage to those who hear it.

* Requires the preacher's heart to break at those things that break God's heart.

Many people in the pews of congregations don't want their world views challenged. They want to be comforted, and wise prophetic preaching does that, too. But it refuses simply to comfort. Rather, it challenges, though ideally in ways that the congregation can hear and support. As Nora Tisdale makes clear, prophetic preaching insists that God's radical love wants better for us and for the world than perhaps we want for ourselves.

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When the folks who started Alcoholics Anonymous were drafting words to explain their 12-step approach, it turns out, they edited out some explicitly Christian language to make the words more appealing to people of all -- or no -- faiths, this report says. Sometimes overt religious language can get in the way of the message religious people want to convey. I'll say more about that tomorrow when I review Leonard Sweet's new book on evangelism.

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P.S.: My latest column for The National Catholic Reporter now is online. To read it click here.

Making faith a festival: 9-22-10

It's time to clear out some fall calendar space to make room for the events coming up that, together, will make up this year's Festival of Faiths in Kansas City.


After last night's first event -- a Christian-Jewish conversation -- the next event will bring in this year's keynote speaker, author Bruce Feiler, who will speak at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at Village Presbyterian Church. His topic will be "Can We Talk? Religion and Civil Dialogue in America." After he speaks, I'll help moderate a Q&A session with him.

You may recall that Bruce was here several years ago to speak about one of his books on faith, and we had a good panel discussion with him. On his own Web site, to which I've linked you in the previous paragraph, you can read about all his books, including his latest one, The Council of Dads.


The day after Bruce speaks at Village, he'll join students at Notre Dame de Sion High School for some information conversation. Sion has been a leader in this area in getting students active in interfaith dialogue.

There are five other events that will be part of this year's festival, including the annual Table of Faiths luncheon on Nov. 11. I hope you'll take a long look at what's coming up and make plans to be at as many events as you can make.

The festival is a true gift to the Kansas City area, and it helps to further the goal of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council to make Kansas City the most welcoming community in America to people of all faiths.

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Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum writes that Pope Benedict XVI's recent visit to the United Kingdom was a huge success. I mostly agree. And I agree that Applebaum is on to something when she notes that one reason B-16 got so much sympathetic attention there was that his critics unwisely went way, way over the top in slamming him and his visit. Sometimes protests help the side against which the protests are being lodged. The ridiculous attacks on the pope turned him into an underdog for whom people could root. By the way, this Australian observer agrees with the assessment that the pope's U.K. trip came off really well, and he lists the reasons he thinks so.

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P.S.: My latest column for The National Catholic Reporter now is online. To read it click here.

40 years later I'm still here: 9-21-10

I hope you'll forgive me a little personal nostalgia today. For it was on this date 40 years ago that I began my career at The Kansas City Star. These were pre-computer days when I typed on an upright manual typewriter. (The photo here today is not that typewriter but, rather, an old Woodstock model made in my hometown of Woodstock, Ill. It sits quietly on a shelf in my home office. One old Woodstock played a role in the Alger Hiss spy story. To read about that, click here.)


That career -- at least the full-time part of it -- ended in mid-2006 with my formal retirement. On my last day of work I was in Boston for a conference, but I wrote this piece about retiring then.

You can go back to that piece to see what I was thinking about my Star career -- which I extended until mid-November 2008 by writing a weekly Faith section column on a freelance basis. These days, in addition to this daily blog, I write a monthly column for The Presbyterian Outlook and a biweekly column for The National Catholic Reporter. You can access those columns by looking for them under the "Check this out" headline on the right side of this page.

What I want to invite you to think about today is both how short and how long 40 years is and how, in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, 40 is a symbolic term that usually means "a hell of a long time." You find, for instance, Moses and the children of Israel wandering in the desert for 40 years. And you find  Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days, just as you find Noah on his ark for 40 days.

When I started at The Star in 1970, I already had three-plus professional years under my belt at the now-defunct Rochester (N.Y.) Times-Union. The raucous 1960s, which really didn't begin until 1961 or maybe 1963, were still roaring, and would until at least 1974,  no matter wht the calendar said.

Since I began at The Star, I've become the father of two, the stepfather of four and the grandfather of six. And I've written way more columns than I can count -- having written a daily column for nearly 27 years.

So much has changed over this "40" accounting, and I have learned an astonishing amount -- especially how ignorant of so much I continue to be. If you don't learn that, I'm not sure you ever learn anything.

So how will I commemorate 40 years today? Oh, I'll work a bit on the blog, do some church work and give a speech tonight (see "Where's Bill speaking" under the "Check this out" headline on the right). Also, I'll give thanks for my career and for readers like you.

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There's a fight on in Texas over how Islam is portrayed in school text books. Why do I think that this won't end well? And should I be worried that this involves the Texas Education Agency, or TEA? Perhaps another TEA Party?

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P.S.: My latest Presbyterian Outlook column now is online. To read it click here.

Is almost all music sacred? 9-20-10

WINFIELD, Kan. -- Before Rik Stevenson of "Trevor Stewart & Earthlines" played "Twilight Horizon" on a Native American flute, he told the "Walnut Valley Festival" crowd here the other day that the instrument had been blessed in a sweat lodge.


The blessing, he said, was meant "to heal the hearts of all who hear me play it."

I don't know if it was that blessing or something else, but the music (Stevenson was accompanied by musicians playing a Chapman Stick, steel drums and other percussion instruments) washed over me like baptism water.

I came to what I thought was a bluegrass festival. Well, it may have started out that way in 1972 (click on "archives", then "history") but today the range of music is wide and deep on four separate stages, each running simultaneously. And what I noticed was how so much of this music -- with roots in bluegrass, country and similar genres -- was, in fact, sacred music.

In the Earthlines' set, for instance, Stevenson also played a didgeridoo, which he said often was used in sacred ceremonies and healing.


Just before Earthlines had performed, a Chicago couple called "Small Potatoes" sang a gospel-tinted song called "Someday" that talked about heaven and all the people who showed up there. And after Earthlines, a Kansas City band, "The Wilders," first sang a song with these lyrics, "Heaven bells are ringing and I'm going home, climbing over Zion's wall." It was one of two songs that the Wilders' fabulous fiddler, Betse Ellis, called "Ozark spirituals."

There is something about the human condition that requires music. It makes no logical sense to me, especially when I hear lyrics that make no sense. But clearly deep within the human spirit is a musician and magnet to attract the music of others. Each of us has our own preferences for the kinds of music we like, but it seems to me that one cannot be truly and fully human without some kind of music.

And, as I say, even styles of music not necessarily associated with religious or spiritual matters often wind up offering religious or spiritual messages.

At the International Autoharp Competition here, for instance, the winner was asked to do an extra piece for the audience and she chose the famous hymn "Amazing Grace." More than that, she said to the audience, "Let me hear you sing a verse." So in this old fairgrounds building no doubt used for cattle shows, we all broke into "Amazing Grace." Everybody, it seemed, knew it.

To hear one of the autoharp contestant play, click on this link: Download Autoharp


And later, on another stage, I heard a couple known as "Notorious" perform what the vocalist, Eden MacAdam-Somer described as Romanian Jewish dance music. To hear a bit of that music, click on this link: Download Notorious

So thousands of people -- hungry for music, though perhaps not knowing why -- came here to Winfield (many camping out, as the picture here shows), put our feet up and were ministered to by tone, by rhythm, by whatever it is about music that resonates with our souls. And when we left we were much closer to being healed of whatever was amiss than when we came.

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By most accounts, the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom was a success. As Britain's prime minister noted, the pope made citizens there "sit up and think." And thinking clearly is an important part of faith, despite what some folks say. Faith that is not in some way reasonable and thoughtful may not be faith at all but, rather, ideology.