Hope and the Hunger Games

From Web Exclusives

The recent release of the first movie based on the Hunger Games trilogy has renewed attention to the wildly popular franchise from author Suzanne Collins. From a Christian perspective, one of the striking things about the film and the book series is the absence of explicit religion or references to God. As Jeffrey Weiss has observed, “The word ‘god’ does not so much as appear in any of the books. Nobody even says ‘oh my gosh.’ … Continue Reading »

Budget Cuts of Biblical Proportions

From Web Exclusives

Religious discussions of the federal budget often generate more heat than light. The debate tends to feature sloganeering (“What Would Jesus Cut? Who Would Jesus Bomb?”) and political theater (“Fasting for a Better Budget”), name calling and grandstanding (“Bully! Hypocrite!”). Just this past week, on Good Friday in fact, the formation of a “new Christian coalition, called the Circle of Protection,” was announced, intended “to resist budget cuts that undermine the lives, dignity, and rights of poor and vulnerable people.” The “Circle of Protection” refers to the sacred space surrounding “programs that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad.” … Continue Reading »

Calvin, Conversions, and Catholicity

From Web Exclusives

Since the sixteenth century, conversions and counter-conversions between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism have been the stuff of controversy, polemic, and recrimination. The Lutheran-Catholic concord on the formula cuius regio, eius religio virtually guaranteed the escalation of political strife as parties competed for sovereignty. With the emancipation of church from state in the post-Reformation era, churches in North America have inherited a rather different set of implications for the conversion of political figures. When Newt Gingrich announced earlier this year that he had converted to Roman Catholicism, and when news broke in 2002 that Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas had done the same, relatively few outside of the Beltway took more than passing notice… . Continue Reading »

Sotomayor, Catholic Supremacy, and Protestant Approaches to Law

From Web Exclusives

The nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court raises the prospect that for the first time in history there will be a supermajority of justices on the same court affiliated to one degree or another with the Catholic Church. Indeed, if her nomination is successful”as most experts believe it will be”half of the Catholics who have ever been on the Supreme Court will be serving simultaneously.

At the same time the number of Protestants on the court will fall to a historic low”with David Souter’s retirement, John Paul Stevens will be the lone Protestant. With Catholic representation on the land’s highest court at its apex, and Protestant representation at its nadir, the question must be asked whether this reflects a shift in the balance of legal influence reflective of underlying deficiencies in American Protestantism.

There is nothing intrinsic to historic Protestantism that would prevent it from cultivating first-rate legal thinkers… . Continue Reading »

Between Market and State

From Web Exclusives

By many accounts the rise to prominence of institutions other than the church or the state marks the transition from the medieval to the modern era. Even so, it is true that many Protestant reformers considered the right balance of the relations between church and state to be of first importance in . . . . Continue Reading »