Anglican Ink provides a report on the fragments of the Gospel of Mark potentially dating from the 1st century.
George Conger, in Get Religion, discusses the definition of Anglicanism, exploring what it means to be an Anglican in today’s religious environment.
Christianity Today asked economists to rate the best methods for helping the poor, and the result is a top ten list cost-effective strategies to fight poverty.
The Saturday essay in The Wall Street Journal focused on Alain de Botton’s desire to establish a “religious atheism” that ties secular communities together in ways churches typically do without the supernatural beliefs or odd rituals. De Botton’s essay is interesting in so much as he highlights the unique ways in which the church overcomes our petty provincialism, bringing strangers together under shared values. As he says:
Consider Catholicism, which starts to create a sense of community with a setting. It marks off a piece of the earth, puts walls up around it and declares that within their confines there will reign values utterly unlike the ones that hold sway in the world beyond. A church gives us rare permission to lean over and say hello to a stranger without any danger of being thought predatory or insane.
The composition of the congregation also feels significant. Those in attendance tend not to be uniformly of the same age, race, profession or educational or income level; they are a random sampling of souls united only by their shared commitment to certain values. We are urged to overcome our provincialism and our tendency to be judgmental—and to make a sign of peace to whomever chance has placed on either side of us. The Church asks us to leave behind all references to earthly status. Here no one asks what anyone else “does.” It no longer matters who is the bond dealer and who the cleaner.
The Church does more, however, than merely declare that worldly success doesn’t matter. In a variety of ways, it enables us to imagine that we could be happy without it. Appreciating the reasons why we try to acquire status in the first place, it establishes conditions under which we can willingly surrender our attachment to it.
The question, of course, is whether secular institutions can truly mimic the church’s ability to create the conditions for community without the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.