It has been a busy week at HuffPost Religion. Two items hot off the presses from Jaweed Kaleem, our wonderful religion reporter.
First, church attendance among less educated white Americans is declining. This news is upsetting when coupled with the renewed fears of the double dip recession. It means that those people who might be more affected by economic troubles are left even more on the margins without the church community that should be able to offer them support in spiritual and material ways.
The second news flash is that Americans are losing confidence in religious leaders. Well, can you blame them? (And that is coming from a pastor!) When religious leaders focus more on relevant lessons of religious wisdom for living our collective and personal lives, and less on anti-science nonsense, judgement and hypocrisy then maybe our approval ratings will go back up.
Speaking of relevant -- we continue our series ON Scripture with great writing over the last couple of weeks by Barbara Kay Lundblad on Teaching Jesus and Eric Barreto on Faith in the Past, Present and Future. We also had some intelligent reflections on the Bible including the Bible As Library Not Book, on Mary, Mother of Jesus, the First Christians and on Adam and Eve. I am so thankful to those who are willing to go beyond literalism to delve deep into the text and divine what truths are there for us.
This week we observed the 20th anniversary of the violence of Crown Heights with a poignant piece on Re-framing the Religious and Racial Narrative of that horrific event by Henry Goldschmidt, for which he deserves this week's Piece of the Week. The fact that more progress has not been made prompted Russell Simmons to demand that Churches, Mosques and Synagogues TheirJob to promote peace and respect among all races and religion -- Preach!
We have also been delighted to have reports from the World Youth Day event in Madrid with an on-the-ground Jesuit reporter Michael Rossman, S.J., who told us of the many wonderful small moments that happen at such a big event. We hope that when people get back home they aren't too surprised by the Roman Catholic Mass that is about to undergo some big changes.
Ramadan continues with some beautiful reflections by Imam Khalid Latif. We especially enjoyed his reflection on how Muslims treat converts, which made us reflect on how all our traditions can do better at making recent arrivals feeling truly loved and welcomed.
Kari Ansari also reminded us that lessons in Ramadan can come from some unexpected places -- children. And while we love that sentiment, the kiddie preaching video phenom made us slightly creeped-out, and reminded us of those kiddie pageants -- maybe kids can just be kids and not mini-adults.
While some Jews are finding love in a cave in Jerusalem (stalagmites=romantic), other Orthodox gays and lesbians are being matchmade to one another by an Orthodox rabbi with a mission, which prompted Rabbi Andrea Meyer to go all Brokeback Mountain on the situation.
Finally, we launched our 10 Women Religious Leaders list. The 10 are only the beginning and many HuffPost Religion users had their own picks which made us feel even better. We hope that women continue expand their leadership roles in both the religious and civic world -- we desperately need good leadership in a time such as this one.
May you all be blessed as you bless others this week.
Peace, Peace, Peace!
Paul Brandeis Raushenbush
Senior Religion Editor