Well, I think faith is just an interesting topic, and it’s something that I quite honestly struggle with. But I always find, however much I believe about the Catholic Church — and I have some major problems with it — I always find that going to church is a very peaceful and a really nice time for me. Sitting through Mass, and sitting in Mass. You know, the thought of forgiveness, redemption — those are things that hold an awful lot of beauty for me, and really relate to our lives, no matter who we are. So those are the kind of parts that I focus on. And obviously there are things that are really scary and awful that I try to forget about.
For many of Finn’s fans, you’ll probably enjoy this interview, but the Friday Night Lights die-hards will like it even more. I just wish the interviewer would’ve probed a bit deeper on this religion question rather than using it as a toss-away paragraph that doesn’t draw Finn out on the depths of his experience or at least follow up on his answer. What are his “major problems” with the Catholic Church? Forgiveness and redemption are present in many denominations and various religions; what is it about the Roman Catholic Mass that draws him in despite his misgivings? What does he think about and take back to his work and relationships? When he cites David Foster Wallace’s idea about “reading fiction as a form of meditation,” how does Finn put that into practice in his own life and art and faith?
Photo by dsopfe/Flickr, cc by-nc-sa 2.0.
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
The news from St Paul’s comes in a brief press release received by Riazat Butt. It reads:
‘The Chapter has previously asked the encampment to leave the cathedral precinct in peace. This has not yet happened and so, following the advice of our lawyers, legal action has regrettably become necessary.
The Chapter only takes this step with the greatest reluctance and remains committed to a peaceful solution. At each step of the legal process the Chapter will continue to entreat the protesters to agree to a peaceful solution and, if an injunction is granted, will then be able to discuss with the protesters how to reach this solution.
Theirs is a message that the Chapter has both heard and shares and looks forward to engaging with the protesters to identify how the message may continue to be debated at St Paul’s and acted upon.’
In short: we’re officially sympathetic to you, but we’ll still call the police in.
During live coverage, The Guardian’s Peter Walker sums up St. Paul’s Cathedral’s stance as it seeks to remove Occupy London protestors from its steps. Only the Brits can cut through the muck with one succinct line.
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Americans Have More Confidence in the Military than in the Church
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
What does it say about us Americans when the only institution with “a notable gain in public confidence” is the U.S. military — not churches, not labor unions, not even the U.S. Supreme Court?
The Pew Research Center notes, ”Public confidence in the military surpassed confidence in religious organizations in the late 1980s and has stayed there ever since.” Of the 16 institutions listed in a 2011 Gallup survey, only three have a confidence rating above 50 percent. Here’s the complete list of the percentage of Americans who say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in them:
- 78% - Military
- 64% - Small business
- 56% - Police
- 48% - Church or organized religion
- 39% - Medical system
- 37% - U.S. Supreme Court
- 35% - Presidency
- 34% - Public schools
- 28% - Criminal justice system
- 28% - Newspapers
- 27% - Television news
- 23% - Banks
- 21% - Organized labor
- 19% - Big business
- 19% - Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)
- 12% - Congress
Financing Churches in Slovakia: Debate and Dilemma
by Lubomir Martin Ondrasek, special contributor
A fairly large portion of the Slovak public believes that an inordinately important concern of churches — especially the dominant Roman Catholic Church — is to pursue their economic interest and extend political influence. As a result, Slovak churches face a serious challenge: In the process of negotiations with the government concerning economic security, the decline of trust could turn into a full-blown crisis of confidence, with possibly irreversible consequences for churches.
Under the current system, the state pays the wages of the clergy, even though it does not regulate the number of clergy hired each year. Over the last decade, state expenditures for registered churches that have exercised their legal right to receive funding (13 out of 18) have more than doubled. Yet, in order not to be viewed as interfering with the church’s internal affairs and thus compromising religious freedom, the state has not tried to influence policies regarding the church and its clergy.
Changing the system of direct state financing of churches and religious societies is currently the most pertinent and widely discussed issue concerning state-church relations in Slovakia. The present system of financing of churches and religious societies is problematic and untenable in the long run, but the absence of social consensus and political will has precluded its replacement with a more appropriate model. The law that governs the financing — passed shortly after the forced nationalization of church property by the Communist Party — has been in effect since 1949, though the model of direct state support of churches stretches back to the eighteenth century. This long history indicates that any fundamental change in the financing model, which would be derived from the doctrine of strict separation of church and state, is unrealistic and, to many Slovaks, also undesirable.
In February 2011, Daniel Krajcer, the Minister of Culture of the Slovak Republic, met with representatives of the registered churches, taking the first step toward fulfilling the government’s commitment, in cooperation with the churches, to “open an all-society dialogue on the problematic issues of funding the churches.” This meeting represents an official attempt to identify and implement a mutually suitable financing model. Although there is no guarantee that this effort will prove more successful than previous attempts, both the state and the churches are better equipped to bring this task to fruition than ever before. Considering the social, religious, and political contexts surrounding the debate, it may be several years before a sufficiently broad consensus is reached and a new model of financing takes effect.
Recent discussions indicate that Slovakia will not indiscriminately copy foreign financing models, even though these models — especially the European ones — are being carefully considered. Most likely, the state will continue to subsidize religious schools, restoration and preservation of church buildings that represent national cultural heritage, wages of clergy serving in the armed forces, and various public benefit activities for the foreseeable future.
The new model will probably affect the two most controversial aspects of the current system of financing: clergy salaries and financial support for the operational costs of denominational headquarters. Undoubtedly, Slovak churches will have to rely more heavily on self-financing, but their revenue will likely continue to be indirectly supplemented by the state through a church tax or tax assignation.
Since the model of financing churches through a church tax (i.e., an additional tax imposed by the state on believers) is unpopular in Slovakia, its establishment would almost certainly lead to an outflow of members from traditional churches, as recently witnessed in Germany and Austria. Thus, the most feasible model appears to be tax assignation. In this case, every citizen would be required to designate a specific percentage of their income tax to one of the recognized churches or other previously approved cultural or charitable organizations.
Though the Slovaks’ trust of the institutional church seems to be gradually declining, they are not withdrawing their church affiliation, as has happened in some Western European countries. However, the Slovak churches must now realize that the challenge is not only economic but also ethical.
About the image: The Catholic church tower in Bratislava, Slovakia. (photo: Riviera Kid/Flickr, cc by-nc-sa 2.0)
This essay is reprinted with permission of Sightings from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
American Christians Believe Church Teachings Contribute to Negative Messages of Gay and Lesbian People
by Anne Breckbill, associate web developer
Our recent show on civility with Evangelical leader Richard Mouw elicited many impassioned responses from our listeners, especially on his comments about homosexuality. Some questioned whether Mouw can truly strike a civil tone and see LGBT people as “a work of art by the God whom I worship” while still condemning homosexuality as a sin and opposing laws that would grant the same rights to same-sex couples as heterosexual couples currently receive.
Last Thursday, the Public Religion Research Institute released findings from a poll showing that two-thirds of Americans see a connection between the negative messages that come out of places of worship and the suicide incidence among LGBT youth. The pie chart above illustrates how Americans view the relationship between negative religious messages about homosexuality and the incidence of gay suicides.
This same poll shows that less than one in five Americans believe churches have done a good job dealing with homosexuality. Who feels that they do the best job in handling this issue? I found those results particularly interesting:
"Of all religious groups, white evangelicals are most likely to give their own church high marks for handling the issue of homosexuality. Three-quarters of white evangelicals give their church an "A" (48%) or "B" (27%). Among white mainline Protestants and Catholics, only about 4-in-10 give their church an "A" or "B." Catholics were most likely to give their churches negative marks, with nearly one-third giving their churches a "D" (15%) or an "F" (16%).
If you’re interested, you can view the topline questionnaire on the PRR website.
The Nashville Flood: “Our Eyes Being Directed Toward God”
Colleen Scheck, senior producer
"Would one of you be willing to blog about the flood in Tennessee/Nashville? I read a poignant tweet last night in which the person was begging the media to cover what has happened (the flood) rather than what might have happened (NY car bomb). And we also received this tweet from a follower, @bigjohnscott: @softweets checkout @pwilson in Nashville & what churches across the country are doing fighting the flood. Sounds like an incredible story.”
I scheduled an interview with Pete Wilson (download mp3 of unedited interview), senior pastor of Nashville’s Cross Point Community Church, for Thursday morning, only to learn that morning that I had been "bigfooted" by CNN’s Anderson Cooper (happens all the time). But Pete and I still had a chance to speak yesterday about his reflections on the devastating floods in Tennessee and the relief efforts he’s organized through his church.
With their permission, we’ve produced this multimedia package pairing our interview with photos from this past week posted on Cross Point Church’s Flickr page. We’d love to get feedback and thoughts.
Kitchen Table Thoughts on a Windy City Event
» download (mp3, 90:47)
Colleen Scheck, Producer
Me again, with another update on the many adventures of Krista Tippett this month. Last week, Krista traveled to Chicago for a live event at Fourth Presbyterian Church. Here, the tables were turned as Interfaith Youth Core’s Eboo Patel asked Krista questions about the program and about
religious religion and ethics in our time. Our events coordinator and her daughter sat at their kitchen table in Minneapolis listening to the online stream provided by our station partner, WBEZ, and wrote the next day:
"Wow…My daughter and I were the listeners at the kitchen table Eboo described, and we loved every minute of it….This broadcast was good radio. Highlights: hearing a city’s sirens in the background during Adam’s intro, really feeling the audience’s attentiveness, Eboo mentioning Wilco, and quoting Tony Campolo, who is quoting Huck Finn about being right in the heart vs. right in the head, Krista’s senstive answer to the Fort Hood question, Krista’s explanation of verse plucking, spiritual technologies and the body, Eboo praising Speaking of Faith as creating a ‘community of discourse.’ Great interview, great Q&A….”
We’re pleased to bring you the audio of that event for your kitchen table (or podcast while you workout) listening. And, for those of you who prefer a Twitter recap, direct from our managing producer, who attended in person:
- Krista and Kate are in Chi-town for event—7PM, Monday, 4th Church, w/Eboo Patel. Come! Windy here. Oh yeah. The Windy City. KM
8:38 PM Nov 15th
- @Lthemick V. Funny. Spell check is dangerous.
9:06 PM Nov 15th in reply to Lthemick
- Krista w/Eboo, speaking with staff at Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago. Tonight’s event is at 7 at 4th Church. Come! http://yfrog.com/edt53j
10:47 AM Nov 16th
- 4th Presbyterian Church, Chicago. http://yfrog.com/4jt5rj
4:16 PM Nov 16th
- We’re told to plan on a potential crowd of 800 tonight in downtown Chicago. Can’t be here? Join us online. 7 PM CST: http:/bit.ly/2kUOAY
4:43 PM Nov 16th
- OK, try that link again. Trent has the B Team on location tonight, poor guy. 7PM Chicago time. Krista & Eboo. http://bit.ly/2kUOAY
4:48 PM Nov 16th
- @katemoos (my lovely boss) is still gettin’ the hang of this Internet thing-a-mabob. Here’s the link to the live audio: http://bit.ly/33oiUy
5:23 PM Nov 16th
- BTW, Krista’s live conversation in Chicago with Eboo Patel starts at 7 pm Central tonight: http://bit.ly/33oiUy
5:28 PM Nov 16th
- John Buchanan welcomes the assembled to 4th Church. http://yfrog.com/7hi6pj
6:04 PM Nov 16th
- For those listening to live stream, send in your questions and I’ll be glad to include some!
6:08 PM Nov 16th
- The church is packed. 700? Maybe 800! http://yfrog.com/bel85j
6:11 PM Nov 16th
- Krista says when she left home for school, there was no space for religion in her new context. She became involved in geopolitics. Berlin.
6:12 PM Nov 16th
- Breaking: Eboo & Krista were both born on the day the Berlin Wall fell. November 9. Wow.
6:14 PM Nov 16th
- KT: If I was going to be religious again I was going to have to be able to bring my mind to it. http://yfrog.com/5al2uej
6:17 PM Nov 16th
- KT cites Bonhoeffer: “Religionless Christianity.” The church had become so corrupted. People are rediscovering virtue and taking it back.
6:19 PM Nov 16th
- Eboo: who made a difference in the 20th century? People of faith. Gandhi. Dorothy Day. Martin Luther King.
6:20 PM Nov 16th
- I felt public radio was smart about everything else but religion was a black hole.—KT
6:23 PM Nov 16th
- Because it was so important and because journalism had gotten religion so wrong we had to work that much harder to get it right.-KT
6:25 PM Nov 16th
- Eboo: Talk about speaking of faith as an act if theology.
6:25 PM Nov 16th
- KT: No one can be a Niebuhr in our age. Speaking of Faith goes beyond religion. It may be scientists. Police. How do we hold the sacred.
6:28 PM Nov 16th
- Eboo cites Wilco: Theologians, they don’t know nothing ‘bout my soul.
6:29 PM Nov 16th
- Eboo: if there is a countercultural media figure it is you. SoF does’t do news stories.
6:34 PM Nov 16th
- Webers to let the initial outrage of the news work itself out. Then we circle back.
6:36 PM Nov 16th
- KT: we covered the issue of torture. But we had to find out how to get at it. Not the question, does it work? We found the voice.
6:38 PM Nov 16th
- KT: when monks in Burma marched, we found Ingrid Jordt. And ineeded to know what that meant. 6:39 PM Nov 16th
- Sorry for the slow down. Listener questions up next.
6:54 PM Nov 16th
- Eboo asked about Fort Hood. Krista says we can only approach that event with deep perspective. Be appalled at violence and grieve.
6:58 PM Nov 16th
- Eboo what is the sow doing for your grandpa’s mind?
7:00 PM Nov 16th
- Eboo: science And religion? Krista I have a book out in March, Einsteins God…
7:04 PM Nov 16th
- From theback of the church. http://yfrog.com/j7ac3ej
7:08 PM Nov 16th
- Does amateur theology water it down? KT says it can. But many great thinkers may be unaffiliated with tradition.
7:10 PM Nov 16th
- There is spiritual but not religious but for many it is fluid.
7:12 PM Nov 16th
- Why do we need a God? We turn to at only certain times? KT: this is true.But. We also rarely choose to stand in the presence of frailty.
7:14 PM Nov 16th
- KT: I look at it both ways. I’mfascinated by the vastly different vocabularies.
7:15 PM Nov 16th
- How do we not demonize the other in our own tradition?
7:15 PM Nov 16th
- KT: That’s hard. It’s harder to be compassionTe to your cousin who disagrees about abortion or gay marriage.
7:17 PM Nov 16th
- People make breakthroughs when they humanize their interaction.
7:18 PM Nov 16th
- Oh boy. That was unexpected.
7:21 PM Nov 16th
- Does this work lead you to hope or despair?
7:28 PM Nov 16th
- Kt: we are bombarded by images and violence. I want to shine a light on widom, voices that are nourishing. Ian looking for hope.
7:29 PM Nov 16th
- But it requires you to look.
7:30 PM Nov 16th
- Even with our resouces I have no idea that something is happening that might bring hope.
7:31 PM Nov 16th
- Eboo: you have created a club of “lookers for hope,” Thanyou!
7:32 PM Nov 16th
- Debrief. Yay! Thanks!
7:53 PM Nov 16th
- @evaottesmith We’d love to come. Someday!
10:26 PM Nov 16th in reply to evaottesmith
- @HeyToepfer Not sure yet. Chicago Public Radio was recording. I’ll (@trentgilliss) get the details + let everyonee when it’s ready.
5:48 AM Nov 17th in reply to HeyToepfer
- @akdennis Our managing producer was live-tweeting from Chicago in which Eboo Patel was interviewing Krista: http://bit.ly/33oiUy. Sorry.
9:51 AM Nov 17th
- Leaving Chicago. Krista reading Agatha Christie. Thank you every body!! http://yfrog.com/0zhf8wj
3:05 PM Nov 17th