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Religion

Theories have limits. Some account for phenomena quite well when applied within given parameters, only to fail miserably when expanded beyond them. Ironically, it is often the more limited theory that appeals most strongly to common sense. Consider the case of Ptolemy.

Ptolemy (ta-le-mi) was a 2nd-century astronomer who, like virtually all of his contemporaries, believed that the heavens revolved around the Earth. This geocentric conception of the universe worked quite well for the ordinary living of his day. In fact, it still does.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay appears to be the first prominent Missouri politician -- Democrat or Republican -- to weigh in on the national debate over the proposed construction of a new Islamic center and mosque in New York.  

The proposed site is just a few blocks away from Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center towers stood before they were destroyed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 people (in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.).

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 17, 2010 - As the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Salazar v. Buono, I was at my grandmother’s funeral. She had passed away on Monday, at the age of 94. We held a small graveside ceremony. My father had not planned to speak; that’s not “his way,” as he put it. Yet at the end of the ceremony something led him forward and brought words from him, completely extemporaneous and very touching. I was moved by him, and deeply proud of him.

Commentary: Who will hold the United States together?

May 9, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 9, 2010 - A few weeks ago, Peggy Noonan wrote of the anger in our country, especially in politics. She compared America to a beehive that people in Washington were poking with a stick. She worried that "something bad is going to happen." Here's a quote from her column:

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 6, 2010 - In a time of heightened security and concern over terrorism and other violent acts, how can houses of worship preserve their main mission of being accessible and welcoming without leaving themselves open to harm?

One of the answers that emerged from a conference at Missouri Baptist University Thursday comes down to this: The Lord will help those that help themselves.

Chunks out of the wall separating church and state

Apr 30, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 30, 2010 - The small Latin cross on Sunrise Rock in the Mojave Desert provided the U.S. Supreme Court with a chance to say what it doesn’t like about its previous decisions on the separation of church and state.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 9, 2010 - American Protestantism is in the ER, says a growing number of church leaders as well as critics. Mainline churches in previously dominant denominations like the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church are about to become flatline churches, quipped Stephen Patterson, the preacher at the worship service that opened the annual spring gathering of alumni and students at Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves earlier this week.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 17, 2010 - It can be a struggle for congregations and religious groups to attract the attention of 18- to 29-year-olds. They are often no longer attending services with their parents and are not yet at the point of settling down and deciding on a permanent place of worship.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 28, 2009 - She knew what waited for him before it ever started, but still, Reena Hajat felt she was stepping into the unknown as she and David Carroll entered into the kitchen of her childhood home.

On the table sat four mugs of black tea. Around the table sat Dr. Mala Hajat and Dr. Gulam Hajat. This November afternoon, no one would be heading into the Chicago cold or hitting the black Friday sales.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 18, 2009 - Call it E-vangelism. Thousands of churches and other Christian groups are signing on to a movement called Advent Conspiracy that most of the participants first heard about online. The 4-year-old movement has grown from five churches -- in St. Louis County, Phoenix, Portland, Ore., Houston and the Bahamas -- to thousands of churches in more than 17 countries around the world.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 8, 2009 - The two First Amendment cases that the U.S. Supreme Court heard during the first week of its regular term are unlikely to make major changes in the contours of free speech and religious freedom.

On Tuesday, the justices seemed disinclined to create the first new exception to free speech in the past 25 years. The government and animal rights advocates want the court to approve laws outlawing video depictions of cruelty to animals. But the justices buried the argument in hypotheticals suggesting the law was so broad that it would outlaw movies of bullfighting, hunting and of using geese to make foie gras.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 7, 2009 - Karen Butchko says it is "no big deal" that every Sunday she drives about 25 minutes from her home in the Oakville area of south St. Louis County to Madison, Ill., and her parish church. She prays, sings and leads the choir with lifelong parishioners at the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Church. She's made the Sunday morning round trip all her life.

"Well maybe not the first six months," she teased.

Congregations lack sanctuary from economic woes

Dec 15, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 15, 2008 - Many St. Louis area religious congregations are experiencing four facets of the economic downturn.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 29, 2008 - To win votes of faith-based groups across the spectrum of beliefs, the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns have hired special faith outreach staff. Candidates' supporters hold house parties and coffees for members of their faith groups to convey the idea is that "lots of people who share your values" support their candidate.

Local Episcopal clergy react to Lambeth conference

Aug 7, 2008

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 7, 2008 - For five years the shadow of schism has loomed over the 77-million member Anglican communion but the fresh idea of a covenant, which sprang from the bishops' 10-yearly Lambeth Conference that ended Sunday, might prevent the church's split. About 2.2 million Americans belong to the Anglican Communion's American wing -- the Episcopal Church in America. U.S. dioceses are among the most liberal in the Anglican Communion, an association of believers rather than an administrative body.

How a bishop is named

May 14, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Who knows the name of the next New York archbishop? The pope, if he has decided.

Muslims Left Out -- The Beacon on KTRS

May 11, 2008

Are we bringing everyone together?  

When candidates talk about uniting our country, they frequently mention blacks, whites, Hispanics and Asians, Christians and Jews. They almost never mention the nation's 5 million Muslims. What's up with that? Dick Weiss and McGraw Milhaven discuss this on the McGraw Show on KTRS-550 AM.      

Listen to the podcast

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Plenty of concern for God's creation comes from folks in the pews."

Used to be that when a young family considered joining the church, they'd ask about its nursery and check the bathrooms," the Rev. David Mason, pastor of Green Valley Baptist Church in St. Joseph, Mo., said. "Now they ask if we have gone green. People care."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Green choices often begin at home. When David A. Mollerus, a Southern Baptist, completes his commute from work, he tosses aside his car keys and runs, or walks, to do his errands. His home in New Town of St. Charles is a short walk to a dry cleaner, a grocery, a gym, a farmer's market and a beautiful lake. He bought a home in the densely planned "New Urbanism" community two years ago, in part, to lessen his carbon footprint. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Across the country, evangelical Christians are going green. To be sure, many are still leery about jumping onto a bandwagon already filled with — in their view — ultraliberal, even "unwashed," activists. Yet, in recent months, several national evangelical leaders have urged their fellow believers to protect the environment.

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