China's New Consumerism

On a chilly afternoon last October, as my son and I walked through a bustling shopping district in Xi’an, China, we passed a group of teenage girls who were chattering loudly in Mandarin. Obviously they had been shopping in a nearby mall, as several of them were carrying bags labeled with familiar names, including “Gap.” What struck me especially, though, was that one of the young women wore a t-shirt featuring a picture of Justin Bieber.Earlier that day I had given a lecture to 120 pastors from midwestern and western China, who had been brought together by the Three-Self church leadership for continuing education. In our conversations, several pastors expressed concern about a growing penchant for consumerism in the younger generation, a reality that was confirmed for me by my brief encounter with the teenagers. Continue Reading »

Millennial Religion and the Sovereign Self

Claiming to speak for an entire generation to which she admittedly does not entirely belong, Rachel Held Evans tells us why Millennials are leaving the church. A sample of the reasons she cites: Armed with the latest surveys, along with personal testimonies from friends and readers, I explain how . . . . Continue Reading »

Tragic Worship

The problem with much Christian worship in the contemporary world, Catholic and Protestant alike, is not that it is too entertaining but that it is not entertaining enough. Worship characterized by upbeat rock music, stand-up comedy, beautiful people taking center stage, and a certain amount of . . . . Continue Reading »

More Manent

From the City Journal, this time, a full essay, with a title that says it all “City, Empire, Church, Nation.”    Here’s a taste: During the premodern era, competing political forms—the city, the empire, and the Church—checked one another, so it was necessary to . . . . Continue Reading »

We’re just like Oprah

Some people have been hurt in the local church. For some people it’s just a rote activity, as Oprah admits, which she learned as a child. Some of us are much smarter than our local church can bear, and some cannot stand how smart the church thinks it is. Worse still for others: it will simply be completely useless. Continue Reading »

The Church's Way of Speaking

When St. Augustine abandoned the teaching of rhetoric in Milan to enroll for baptism, he asked St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, what to read in the Scriptures “to make me readier and fitter to receive so great a grace”? Ambrose told him to read the prophet Isaiah. Augustine took his advice, . . . . Continue Reading »