May Forums

Not of This World — Part 2
Faith, Culture, and Christian Responsibility

By David Romanik

“Not of this World”: Faith, Culture, and Christian Responsibility

In his book American Jesus: How the Son of God became a National Icon, historian Stephen Prothero makes two seemingly contradictory claims: that American Christianity “has been formed by Christians and non-Christians alike,” and that “the varieties of American religious experience have been shaped by the public power of the Christian message.” Prothero’s argument is intriguing because it suggests that Christianity has both influenced and been influenced by non-Christian traditions. Moreover, it assumes that “American Christianity” exists somewhat independently of its theological origins: that faith is, at least partially, a product of the culture that surrounds it. There is something unsettling about this claim. Both Scripture and the Christian tradition are somewhat ambivalent about engagement with the world. In fact, based on some interpretations of the tradition, it would be easy to assume that a faithful life requires us to eschew the broader culture in favor of a pure expression of piety. At the same time, it is virtually impossible and probably inadvisable for us to remove ourselves completely from the influence our secular society. How can the Church respond to the culture even as it fulfills its responsibility to transcend it? Our Spring Forum Series will explore this question. We will examine some of the ways that faith and culture influence each other and consider how this contributes to our understanding of the gospel and our Christian vocation.


May 6
All the Truth that’s Fit to Print

The legendary White House correspondent Helen Thomas once observed, “We don’t go into journalism to be popular. It is our job to seek the truth and put constant pressure on our leaders until we get answers.” The discovery of truth, in other words, is arguably the driving force behind the journalist’s vocation. At the same time, one of the central assumptions of the Christian faith is that truth is a revelation from God; efforts we make to uncover the truth are half-measures at best. In this sense, one might assume that the vocations of the journalist and the Christian are incompatible. Paradoxically, however, it is the truth’s ultimate elusiveness that animates those who pursue it. Join Trish Bennett as she examines this tension and reflects on the angst and possibility of being a Christian and a journalist.

May 13
The Believing Bard

In a skeptical review of several recent “updates” of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, the critic Adam Gopnik commented, “Shakespeare believed in fate, order, and forgiveness; we believe in history, justice, and compassion--three pairings so similar as to sometimes seem the same, though they are not.” Gopnik’s penetrating observation reveals that the world Shakespeare inhabited is, in many ways, entirely distinct from our own. Specifically, Shakespeare’s worldview was rooted in and shaped by a powerful sense of God’s providence, while our secular society has difficulty seeing beyond what is immediately apparent or useful. Though our outlook has changed, Shakespeare’s work continues to have deep relevance to the human condition. Join Shakespeare scholar Dr. Anne Hall as she examines the Christian themes in Shakespeare’s plays and explores how they speak to us today.

May 20, 2018
A Country in Crisis: The Opioid Epidemic in Pennsylvania

Though it has become a matter of common knowledge that United States is in the grips of an opioid crisis, the statistics from Pennsylvania alone are sobering. In 2016, 4,642 drug-related overdose deaths were reported by Pennsylvania coroners and medical examiners, an increase of 37 percent from 2015. Put another way, 13 people died of a drug-related overdose each day in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Few people have been more attentive to the opioid crisis in this region than Kevin Steele, a Redeemer parishioner and the District Attorney of Montgomery County. Join Kevin as he describes the steps his office has taken to address the crisis and explores the ways the Christian community in general and The Redeemer in particular can support those who are suffering from this epidemic.

Last Published: April 27, 2018 3:58 PM