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Author Martin Marty

The Chicago Tribune recently alerted readers to the release that day of an ambitious set of findings about the effects of divorce on children. Reporter Manya A. Brachear called the project “unprecedented.” I crossed the street to the site of the release, Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, 271 steps away – I once measured it. “I have […] Read More

Sightings is supposed to be about “public religion.” So what are pastors, ministers, priests and rabbis doing here this week? David Brooks mentioned them Friday in his New York Times column; that is a pretty public reference to a religious theme. Let’s talk of pastors as column fare, and then see what Brooks does with them. I just […] Read More

Four daily newspapers greet the Martys at breakfast. The morning after the school killings at Newtown, Conn., 24 pages of these informed us, while zillions of twitters and tweets and TV and radio programs also addressed the tragedy. Readers don’t need Sightings to spot traces of religion-in-public-life this time because coverage of it comes in […] Read More

Sciences live by measurement, be it of size, temperature, numbers or pace. So do social scientists in the world of religion. David Gibson in Religion News Service and the Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog featured the concept of “intensity” in a much-noted recent item: “Catholic Intensity Fades as Evangelical Devotion Surges.” How is intensity measured? […] Read More

The public media evidently cannot get enough of “The Hell-Raiser,” as Rob Bell is called in the current New Yorker, or the harbinger of “A New American Christianity,” as announced in the subtitle of James K. Wellman Jr.’s “robBell.” Bell, of course, is the former mega-church pastor in Michigan who wrote the best-seller, “Love Wins: […] Read More

Through the years this Sightings column has never commented on presidential campaigns, and the contest held this year is no exception. Today, self-liberated from the practice of opting-out, we can survey the comments on “public religion” in the campaign and election just past. We usually footnote these columns with reference to newspaper and Internet coverage […] Read More

Suddenly it has dawned on pundits and publics that decline in religious affiliation and participation demands notice. Editorials on the subject abound. Some of these celebrated the liberation of society from religion, though descriptions of what is replacing it are seldom seen as satisfying (spiritually, philosophically, politically). We’ll talk about that some other day. Others […] Read More

Resolve, writers on Unitarian Universalist church members, to say: “I will not begin or end my story with Unitarian Universalist jokes.” Search engines will respond with numbers of such jokes; one of mine turned up 1,625,535 online, for starters. Compare such a log to other denominations of its size and pause to wonder. Why are […] Read More

The column series Sightings lives week by week. In my other life as a historian for 60 years, I have lived by 250- and 500-year chunks of American life. My colleagues and I know that you cannot write religious history, the history of religions and of religious people in America without reckoning with the social […] Read More

Vying for space and time on the religion-and-media front this week  — in competition with presidential campaigns, Muslim extremist riots and almost numberless other stirs – has been the attention given to a tiny piece of papyrus which includes the teeny words “Jesus” and “wife.” This text was pictured as being “hot off the press,” […] Read More