Martin E. Marty

"Marty" is one of the most prominent interpreters of religion and culture today. Author of more than 50 books, he is also a speaker, columnist, pastor, and teacher, having been a professor of religious history for 35 years at the University of Chicago.

All Stories by Martin E. Marty

Is America losing its religion of football?

September 11, 2017

Critics and defenders of the sport and business of football, from the grade school level to the National Football League’s market-religious status, agreed that science and media interests have converged to appeal to the public conscience.

Malls, small-town stores are closing all across America. And churches?

August 1, 2017

… we keep thinking of one special fact in the human condition and situation: sooner or later, every thing on earth will close and will not reopen. One does not need scriptural reminders of this; we just do our sighting and have evidence. Having read much about “decline” in religion—hereabouts, not always globally—evidences abound.

Revisiting Ayn Rand’s anti-religious philosophy

July 18, 2017

… many counsel that this would be a good moment to appraise why and how so many conservative (and other) Christians could buy into a philosophy which, on its face and all the way down, is opposed to religious faith and, in the Christian case, manifestly contradicts all the stories, counsels, commands, and promises of that faith.

Euthanasia, dignity and ‘spirituality lite’

July 12, 2017

Christianity is not the only anti-bathos-faith, but it is representative of values unlikely to be surrendered by those in any community or tradition who celebrate dignity more than advertised self-affirmation.

The precarious vision of Peter Berger

July 5, 2017

I am choosing to remember the dominant and—to non-sociologists like me—most astonishing aspect of an inventive, creative truth-teller who taught and, through his many writings, will continue to teach us as we pursue cases, when we don’t “just make them up.”

Pastors and political choice

June 28, 2017

Readers who paint with broad brushes, skipping the subtleties, may come away from reading the survey tempted to paraphrase Emmett Grogan’s dictum that “anything anybody can say about America[n religion] is true.” But, if they look closer up, they will find what astute politicians and marketers know: one cannot treat religion as a whole, but only in parts, as the Supreme Court regularly does.

For Southern Baptists, a sudden awakening and turn on the ‘alt-right’

June 20, 2017

The Convention, however, had something else first on its mind, namely the issue of race, which it had to take up before its participants headed home. Its leadership had “declined to bring to a vote a Texas pastor’s proposed resolution condemning the ‘alt-right’ movement,” proponents of a white supremacist culture that is attractive to some Southern Baptists and their kin and kind. But—stop the presses!—there came a sudden awakening and turn, “[a]fter a fierce backlash on social media.”

We must save ourselves from the abyss

June 14, 2017

Many religious leaders, groups, institutions, and forces-for-good observe all this, and often speak out, but can usually produce only barely noticed whispers of criticism. Lewis warns that, meanwhile, we are confronted by weapons that offer us the ability to destroy ourselves, a shared hazard for which our social mechanisms for managing large-scale violence are dangerously ill suited.

The necessity of LGBT bridge-building

June 7, 2017

Sightings has rarely done justice to the LGBT revolution, though it would have been easy to locate and comment on kindred topics almost any Monday during the two decades of our “sighting” efforts. The observer and reporter in me observes and reports that changes in public opinion on these issues have been astonishingly sudden. Why?

Memorial Day, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the American future

May 31, 2017

In a time of bitter divisions in New Orleans and throughout the nation at large, Landrieu spoke not as a great denunciator, but as a great enunciator of directions for his contemporaries to take.

Updating the American spirit

May 23, 2017

McCullough is a master at dealing with public life, but religion, if we mean to refer to formally defined versions, happens to be only slightly treated. Yet one cannot listen long to McCullough speak, as some of us did at the Chicago Public Library last week, or read this book, without seeing how complementary and reinforcing all of this is.

Taking the Unitarian Universalist diversity crisis seriously

May 16, 2017

Let it be noted that not all resistance to integrative change is based on hatred, prejudice, or snubbing on the part of the privileged against the marginalized. Reluctance to change can sometimes be read as a tribute to the enduring power of existing religious communities to contribute positively—in the form of art, creativity, pastoral care, etc.—to those who make them up.

How life should end

May 10, 2017

Those of us who are guilty of belonging to worshiping communities tend to see things in particular ways. Hospital chaplaincies, religiously based care-of-the-sick-and-dying agencies, seminary courses, and lay seminars on the subject abound. A pastoral call or ritual and prayerful address by fellow members of one’s religious community are much cherished.

‘Shocking’ news on worship and the public

May 3, 2017

We don’t expect religion to make shocking news unless there are sex or financial scandals in the world of the church, synagogue, etc. Add to that theological controversies over the beginning of things (think of headlines about evolution) or the end of things (think apocalypse, be it nuclear or otherwise). Yet whoever consistently sights the religious scene knows that worship is a hotly contested phenomenon among those who “practice” religion, or who are “observant.”

Religio-secular … again

April 26, 2017

How “religious” are the “religious” when they make political or consumer choices? How “secular” are the “secular” when they want to do justice to American culture and society by simply overlooking religion and the religious?

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