Wall Street Journal: "Memorial Day and 'The American Bible"
"Scholars of religion have long distinguished between orthodoxy (right
belief) and orthopraxy (right practice), observing that certain
religious traditions (Christianity, for example) unite around shared
beliefs while others (such as Judaism) unite more around shared
practices. The United States is a Jewish nation in this regard, knit
together not so much by a common creed as by a common practice—the
practice of arguing about our not-so-common creed. "Memorial Day and The American Bible," Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2012.
USA Today: "A Mormon Moment"
"This is Romney's moment. But it is also a Mormon
moment. At least for now, evangelicals seem to have heard enough about
Romney's faith. But given how little most Americans know about the LDS
church, I suspect other voters are going to want to know more before
they decide whether to replace the nation's first black president with
its first Mormon one." "A
Mormon Moment," USA Today, May 20, 2012.
"Americans do not want their president to sound like a theologian in chief. And they do not want presidential candidates to attack their president's faith any more than they want their neighbors to attack their own. . . . Such tolerance is a tradition worth conserving. And if Rick Santorum wants to do well at the polls this week, he needs to tell us he thinks it is worth conserving, too" (March 4, 2012).
"As religious holidays expand, the demands of the Constitution and of pragmatism, which now run in opposite directions, will merge, forcing us to do what we are eventually going to have to do: Whittle our public school holy days down to zero"
(December 19, 2010).
"I know that many will continue to see the great religions as repositories of answers. But that is not why I continue to go to them in my life and in my work. I go to the great religions to look for questions" (August 9, 2010).
"When Americans began to wrestle with the challenges of race and ethnicity, many suggested that the only way forward was to create a colorblind society, in which all human beings are one. Today it is widely recognized that a firmer foundation for interracial and interethnic civility is a robust understanding of, and respect for, racial and ethnic differences. The realm of religion requires no less understanding of diversity, and no less respect" (June 27, 2010).
Another "On Religion" column for "USA Today," this time on the tendencies of the Millennial Generation to resist "branding" in religion and politics. Bad news, this, for religious denominations and political parties alike (March 29, 2010).
My two cents on Brit Hume and Tiger Woods. I suppose there is now no unblurring the line between journalists and ideologues, but could the journalogues please know something about what they are talking about? (January 11, 2010)
I never thought that an article on "pink atheism" would turn so many faces red. But it did. In fact, I got more angry email about this column than about any other column I've ever written. Still, I believe the atheist movement would be well served by listening to the stories of the women in its midst (December 7, 2009).
Pity the poor Episcopalians. No one seems to be crying over the fact that there is just one Protestant left on the US Supreme Court, or that with the appointment of Sotomayor our nation's highest judicial body will be only one-third less Catholic than the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (July 13, 2009).
How the doctrine of the Incarnation might talk back to the Roman Catholic Church--on the Washington Post/Newsweek web site, "On Faith" (May 13, 2009) and in the Washington Post itself a few days later (May 16, 2009).
"A Niche of a Prayer in a Vulnerable Place" (August 13, 2008), reflections on the prayer placed in the Western Wall by Senator Barack Obama and then stolen by a seminarian. Based on my own travels to Jerusalem, and my own prayers at the Wall, this essay made the "Best Religion Writing of 2008" list at
Not sure why but this one prompted a lot of hate mail. Some personal reflections on a course I developed with my BU colleague David Eckel, focusing on my students' efforts to invent their own religions, and what those efforts have to say about the challenges facing Christianity and other traditional religions (February 4, 2008).
Wherein I comment upon such matters as Egg Nog Day and the Festival of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, and then present a modest proposal of my own regarding the proliferation of holiday cheer. . . . (December 23, 2007).
I wish I could say I wrote the headline. I didn't. But I did write this "New York Times Book Review" piece on "Reading Judas" by Elaine Pagels and Karen King. And I liked this book quite a bit better than "God is not Great" (6/24/2007).
My most widely reprinted article, this first appeared in the
Los Angeles Times
on January 12, 2005. It was later reprinted in dozens of U.S. newspapers and in venues in China, India, Qatar, and Africa.
Religious studies scholars have long attempted to "bracket" their personal judgments about the religious traditions they study. This short article, reprinted in "Best Christian Writing 2006," calls into question that baseline assumption, wondering whether the study of religion might be better served by scholars who at least partially "unbracket" themselves. For a series of sharp (or is it angry?) rejoinders to this piece, see
"Four Responses to 'Belief Unbracketed.'"