470: Readers tell us about … Aging, Confusing Ol’ John Calvin … & the Pope

Once again, thanks to readers like you,
we’ve got your feedback to share …

Some Startling New Data on Growing Older
Prompts a Spirited Conversation with Readers

OUR LIVELIEST EXCHANGES with readers this week were in Dr. Wayne Baker’s OurValues.org Web site. A new Pew Research Center report on aging in America revealed some startling truths: One is that older—and younger—Americans may agree on the need to help each other. But, they disagree sharply about who gives—and who receives.
    Also, you might be surprised about how Americans define old age. Dr. Baker shares Pew’s conclusions from a nationwide study of our attitudes—and OurValues.org readers chimed in with their own viewpoints as well. There’s still time to share your thoughts, too.
    Check it out and add a Comment right now. (ALSO: If you want some great tips for taking aging seriously in your local ministry, check out our earlier article by Missy Buchanan, a national expert on this emerging issue in congregations.)

It’s John Calvin’s 500th Birthday
And There’s as Much Confusion
As Celebration …

A REFORMED CHURCH PASTOR called me this week (and preferred that I not mention his name in quoting him here). He serves a church in the Great Plains that’s about 100 years old and he called to talk about some of our “green-theme” stories in the last couple of weeks. (First, we published an interview on “50 Ways to Help Save the Earth” and, this week, we published a provocative interview with a “true green giant.”)
    “I’m with you on the green stuff. We’ve got a shot at doing some good work there,” this pastor said. “I’ll preach green! But, now, ol’ John Calvin? He’s our guy and I’m still not planning to deliver any big sermons on what he ‘means’ to the world these days. I’m not sure that I even know the answer to that—and he’s not exactly a hot topic at potlucks, I’ll tell you. Nobody’s knocking down my door demanding a birthday sermon!
    Well, the same could be said about John Wesley in Methodist churches, I suppose. The wise ol’ founder of the Methodist movement doesn’t figure prominently in Methodist preaching, either.
    We did publish some intriguing Web links on the life of John Calvin—to mark his 500th birthday. Click here and jump to our Spiritual Season column, then scroll down to the last news item there on Calvin.
    PLEASE, if you’ve got a thought about Calvin’s legacy, we still welcome your Emails.

The Pope’s Major New Teaching 
Should Be Widely Read …
But Was Overshadowed This Week

ON THURSDAY, I actually received an Email from a top writer who warned me that he “didn’t have time to read the pope’s new encyclical, but …”—and then he proceeded to share thoughts about what this big new Vatican document means. Mainly, he argued, it means that there might be more good will between the Vatican and President Obama than many Americans might expect. (If you haven’t been following news about the Catholic church, here’s a tiny bit of background: A handful of American bishops and traditional Catholic activists have been relentlessly slamming the president on various social issues. This group was angry over Notre Dame welcoming the president this spring. However, Obama actually shares a lot of top political priorities with Benedict—even more since the publication of this new document.)
    This writer who Emailed wasn’t alone. Even Jim Wallis of Sojourners—an important writer, too—began his commentary on Pope Benedict this week by admitting “I haven’t read the entire encyclical.”
    Here’s the problem: There are very few Religion Writers left in America who make a point of actually reading “Charity in Truth” (the pope’s major new teaching document)—before pontificating on what it means. In this era of rapidly dwindling journalism—thank God for professionals like Thomas Reese, S.J. This week, Tom is giving publications like ReadTheSpirit permission to repost his analysis of “Charity in Truth.”
    This papal encyclical sounds like a really important—and very strong—message. At one point in his analysis, Reese says that Benedict begins to sound like a union organizer as he preaches about the rights of workers!
    HERE’S HOW WE CAN HELP YOU: We’ve accepted Tom Reese’s invitation and we’ve published his commentary. Click here to read it. And, please, tell us what you think about all of this!


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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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