Religious bigotry in politics: 10-19-11
A thoughtful new blog: 10-21-11

A religion-tech discussion: 10-20-11

I hope you're tuned in to the various aspects of this year's Festival of Faiths in Kansas City.  I especially want to invite you to a panel discussion I'll be moderating on Tuesday, Oct. 25, on "The Future of Faith: Religion in a Google World."

Jesus_on_a_Mac[1] (2)This free event will be in the Jewish Community Center's Lewis and Shirley White Theatre at 5801 W. 115th St. in Overland Park.

And the panelists will be Rabbi Laura A. Baum, Aziza Hasan and Dr. Robert K. Martin.

I've known Martin, who teaches at St. Paul School of Theology, for a number of years and I know him to be a wonderful thinker. The other two I'm looking forward to meeting.

A press release describing this event notes that Rabbi Baum was recently honored as one of the 50 most influential female rabbis in America and also was chosen as a rabbinic fellow of Rabbis Without Borders. She's based in Cincinnati and is the founding rabbi of

Hasan is from Los Angeles and serves as interfaith coordinator for the Muslim Public Affairs Council. She also co-directs NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change.

What will we kick around?

Well, in addition to your questions, we'll consider many aspects of how religion is affecting and being affected by technology. Feel free to Tweet our answers.

But to do that, you need to show up. I hope you will.

(The picture here today is of my friend Jesus learning about the laptop he just got when Steve Jobs arrived. Maybe.)

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Robert Jeffress, the Dallas pastor who, on behalf of Rick Perry, recently insulted Mormonism by calling it a cult, has written this piece for The Washington Post, and it's worth a read. He makes a few good points in it. He also, in the end, confirms his belief that Mormons are not Christians. And he notes that Martin Luther once said he "would rather be governed by a competent unbeliever than an incompetent Christian. Yet evangelicals should remember that the purpose of the primary process is to keep us from having to make such a choice." In other words, to Jeffress, the presidential primaries are about making sure that a competent Christian is nominated. What Jeffress is doing is contributing to the prejudice that I wrote about here yesterday -- a prejudice that rejects certain candidates solely on the basis of religion. To govern a religiously pluralistic nation requires, as Jeffress rightly notes, competence. But it does not require that a candidate adhere to any particular religion.

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A History of the Popes: From Peter to the Present, by Fr. John W. O'Malley. This is a paperback edition of the highly readable and engaging 2010 book by O'Malley, a Jesuit who teaches theology at Georgetown University. It's far from a simple listing or a series of encyclopedia-like entries. Rather, it's an explanation of the context in which the various popes served, including some of the history that, frankly, the church would much rather forget or at least ignore.  O'Malley, though clearly a committed Catholic, is willing to look at the obvious questions surrounding the idea that the Apostle Peter can be considered the first pope -- at a time when there was barely even a Christian church. Despite all the ups and downs, the great men and the knaves who have occupied the Vatican throne, "the papacy has proved to be a remarkably resilient institution," the author concludes. In fact, it has undergone many changes over the centuries and today it may be at (or just past) the peak of its power and reach. Whether it can survive in its current form and state is an unanswerable question, though the history O'Malley gives us suggests some kind of change eventually is inevitable.

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


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