The Church Report is pleased to announce our list of The 50 Most Influential Christians in America. Thanks to the readers of the magazine as well as the online readers for contributing over 150,000 nominations. Each of the people on this list is most deserving of this recognition. As with all types of lists, there are those who are not on the list – not because they weren’t deserving – but simply because we did not have enough space to publish a list of the 100 most influential. The staff of The Church Report did not choose this list; rather, we feel that the nominations from Christians across America and around the world are much more meaningful.
The most influential Christian in America is Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas. Bishop Jakes is most certainly qualified for this distinguished honor. In a recent conversation with Bishop Jakes he said: “I’m really honored and flabbergasted that I would be recognized in this way. I have really given my life to helping hurting people and just trying to be a support for people as they face different challenges.”
When asked about his past year, is was clear that …
Research shows that a strong sense of spirituality can make you happier, healthier and more relaxed. Can it also improve your running?
Sometimes, as he runs the 6 or 8 or 10 miles along Michigan’s Lake St. Clair, Father Mike Byrnes feels the presence of a higher power. Peace washes over him. He senses his inner being, his soul enlarging. Time slows. Colors brighten. Problems drift away.
It doesn’t happen all the time. And he neither can predict this presence nor summon it. Yet when this feeling envelops him, it justifies any pain or sacrifice he’s made in his life and his running.
“Spirituality enhances my appreciation of my running, and running enhances my appreciation of my spirituality,” says Byrnes, a priest at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in St. Clair Shores, Mich.
Yes, running can be spiritual. Like Father Byrnes, many runners who meander dirt paths, inhale the scent of pine, feel the crunch of needles underfoot and watch rays of sunlight filter through the trees feel thankful for this creation, this planet we call home. He has never felt healthier, and the weight he’s lost (and the help of reviews from snoringmouthpiecereview.org) has enabled him to …
In university, author Patrick Glynn, a Harvard Ph.D, followed English philosopher Bertrand Russell in viewing man as “a curious accident in a backwater,” the inexplicable by-product of a random universe. Today he is a Christian, and science no longer supports atheism with its old enthusiasm either. “The totality of the evidence as I understood it in the mid-1970s suggested one conclusion [atheism],” he writes. “Today the evidence suggests quite a different one.”
He has built his book on the “anthropic principle,” a term coined by Cambridge University astrophysicist Brandon Carter in 1973. Mr. Carter used it to describe a phenomenon which previously had been only dimly perceived, namely the fact that all the seemingly arbitrary and unrelated constants in physics have one strange thing in common. They are precisely the values needed if the goal is a universe capable of producing life.
The existence and action of gravitational and electromagnetic force were known, of course, but simply as separate “constants.” Then came the insight that, in accordance with the anthropic principle, any variation in the gravitational constant in relation to electromagnetism would have resulted in a universe with no intermediate stars like our sun–only cooler “red” or hotter “blue” ones …
That’s a strange question, but for 35 years of my life this was not a question but my belief, In 1946 the polio virus turned my life upside down during the early years of my ministerial training. Okay, God wanted me to have polio. Fine, that was acceptable, but what did God have in store for me with this plan? in 1957 the ordination council examined me and recommended me to clergy status. However, no church or missionary organization wanted me – until The Christian League for the Handicapped director wrote and said,”We want YOU!” Okay, God, now I know why your plan for me included a disability, so I could be more effective working with the population of disabled in our country – correct?
The next 45 years challenged my thinking. I went to my church. I returned to college for a degree in psychology. As my ministry kept me in the trenches with those whose lives had been traumatized and trashed by disability, there was that ever present gnawing inside me. How about these folk? Had God planned their lives, for in many cases was nothing but misery, sickness, and death? The more these thoughts came over me …
Discussing religion can take more than a little diplomacy. If you don’t keep an open mind, you haven’t got a prayer.
WHILE SPENDING A WEEKEND in the country not long ago, I slipped out to an Episcopal service on Sunday morning while my hosts and their other guests were still asleep. When I returned, everybody was up sipping coffee and deeply into their worship of the morning papers. Immediately, I sensed my absence had been discussed. This suspicion was confirmed soon enough.
“What did you learn in church?” Bart asked in the singsong voice adults most often use when addressing toddlers.
“Forty days have passed since Easter,” I replied. “The priest spoke about Christ’s Ascension.”
“Did Jesus float up gradually, like a hot-air balloon, or did he blast off like the space shuttle?” Jane wondered aloud.
Hardly a promising start to an enlightening conversation on spirituality. So, doing what sometimes works best when a religious discussion seems headed nowhere, I answered her question with one of my own: What’s for breakfast?
As religious intolerance goes, my friends’ sarcasm was no burning at the stake. Nor was it exactly a surprise. Quite frequently, in fact, when someone learns that I go …
Think some of us are just born tougher? Not so. No matter how hard the blow, you can learn to rebound. These people faced down misfortune–and came out stronger
When Suzy Kellett’s quadruplets were born, she braced herself for a major life change. But the new mother barely had time to bond with her babies before her husband, overwhelmed, walked out. Kellett, 31 years old and with few job skills, had little choice but to leave her home in Sun Valley, ID, and move back to the Midwest to live with her parents.
Twenty-four years later, the memory of that arduous August day is still a vivid one. At the airport in Idaho, Kellett felt numb. Because she couldn’t hold all four babies on her lap, she had to pass out three of them to people sitting around her. After landing in Chicago, she collected her brood at the gate, only to have one of her sons mark the occasion by projectile vomiting on a fellow passenger.
“That’s when I lost it,” Kellett says, still wincing at the image. “My uncle just looked at me and said, `Better you than me, kid.’ And that summed up my life: Better you …
If you ask Reverend Donald Wright what you need to do to live a long, healthy, happy life, he’ll give you this advice:
* Take care of your body by running and eating a healthy diet.
* Nourish your mind by staying positive, joyful and relaxed.
* Care for your soul by praying, attending spiritual services, reading religious writings and appreciating the world’s natural beauty.
That’s the formula that has worked for him for 35 years. Wright, chaplain of the police department in La Grange, Ky., knows it works, because whenever he slacks off in one of those areas, his energy wanes, his mood blackens, and his running suffers.
In fact, while many runners might benefit from soul-searching, Wright says many religious leaders could benefit just as much from more exercise. Burnout is high among pastors. And Wright is convinced that his running and healthy eating have helped him stay energetic.
“Running replenishes me,” he says. “When I run, I rarely think about problems. I think, ‘Wow, this is a beautiful day, and I feel good. It’s a respite. Running cleanses my mind and provides me with a fresher, more spiritual outlook.”–A.B.
Is Running a Religion?
Some people say running …
While it’s no surprise to the devout that prayer can be a lifesaver, researchers are concluding that spirituality does indeed play a role in recovering from adversity.
People who pray are healthier, calmer, and, yes, more resilient than people who don’t, says Peterson. A study he conducted of 150 coronary-bypass patients found that those who prayed were less depressed after surgery than those who did not. “Figuring out the `why’ is the next step,” he says.
Irene Hale Brodie doesn’t need any professors to tell her about the power of faith. It has been an unwavering presence in her life ever since her childhood on an Arkansas farm, where she picked cotton and listened to stories about slavery told by her grandfather.
“I had a brother who died at the age of three,” Brodie says. “That’s when I learned that we had to be accepting of God’s will. It was my first traumatic experience.”
Sadly, it wasn’t her last. Brodie was happily married and living in Robbins, IL, a suburb of Chicago, when tragedy struck. In 1966, her husband died from the complications of a heart attack. Several years later, lupus was diagnosed in her 13-year-old daughter, who, at …
To the evolutionists and their faithful in the media and the education system, fossils have always presented a problem they don’t like to discuss publicly. Their central claim, of course, is that all the species of nature came about by accident. By freak occurrence some idiosyncrasy in the body of one individual conferred upon it a biological advantage, transmitted to all its descendants. So they survived and those without it became extinct. Thus over millions of generations such freak occurrences produced the different species.
Now for this to be confirmed, there would have to be countless fossil remains. of what are called transitional species things that were; for example, part bird and part dinosaur, representing the in-between specimen as the one turned into the other. The awkward problem has been that nobody could find any, though they’ve been looking f6r about 150 years.
Then in China several years ago came this astounding discovery : a fossil that had the body of a bird and the tail and feet of a dinosaur. National Geographic called in three top paleontologists to vouch for it at a press conference, one of them Philip Currie, director of Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum. A big splash …
The print news media seem to be ushering in 2015 with the discovery of religion. The National Post before New Year’s carried a two-page spread on the turn of professional athletes to God. The Edmonton Journal reports “New thirst for spirituality.”
“Quest for spirituality world wide,” reports a Calgary Herald headline. “Counsellors noticing increased interest in life’s meaning as the world spins toward the millennium,” a subheading adds.
Meanwhile, the Globe and Mail tells us that “increasing numbers of people are looking for their spiritual roots.” But “they don’t want the kind of church they left years ago,” adds a subheadline, and another declares: “Jesus Christ makes a comeback in a new-time religion.”
As such articles frequently point out, this interest in religion (usually called “spirituality” to distinguish it from what goes on in churches) is quite a recent phenomenon. Four decades ago, American theologian Paul Tillich wrote that the words “spiritual” and “spirituality” had vanished from western culture and would never return.
“God is dead” theology, rooted in Nietzscheism, enjoyed a great vogue, especially in seminaries. Even within this decade pseudo-scientist broadcaster Carl Sagan routinely assured his television audience of the irreversible triumph of science and technology.
We are …
Despite the bad reputation Christianity, Islam and Judaism are getting these days through things like the shooting of abortionists, suppression of women and assassination of politicians, he writes, “sensible people in all religions” are turning back to their sacred texts like the Bible.
He quotes a Roman Catholic theologian who has taught at Rutgers and Princeton as reporting “a tremendous interest in liturgy and ritual among students. Students are also fascinated by moral orthodoxy in matters of sex and sexuality — tremendously hungry for things that give more shape to life.”
This is all very well, Mr. John Bentley Mays comments, but “the danger is the temptation to shift too far the other way, to go for what promises to be unchanging, rock solid. That can go to fundamentalism which risks perversion into violence.”
Which of course raises a crucial question. What exactly does he mean by “fundamentalism,” and how does it differ from the religion of “sensible people?” Belief in the “rock solid” is undesirable, but how exactly does one believe in the non-rock-solid? The only admissible beliefs in the Mays canon, it seems, are such as make no presumptuous claims that there really is anything to believe in. …
It was 46 years ago this month that we celebrated our first “Christian” Christmas. We had had prior Christmases: raucous, boozey, sometimes lachrymose events complete with singing, laughter, tears–and worry. We could never afford what we spent. But those were pagan Christmases; this was different. My wife and I had concluded that the event Christmas is supposed to commemorate had in fact occurred. It was not merely a charming story; it had actually and literally happened.
What brings back memories of that Christmas of 1952 is all the publicity surrounding the 100th anniversary of another birth, that of Clive Staples Lewis. Full-page newspaper articles, magazine spreads, a television documentary, Anthony Hopkins’s highly-rated movie, all have celebrated an unpretentious Oxford professor of literature, dead for 35 years. It was this same C.S. Lewis who, aided by some of our friends, caused our Christmases to change.
We did not first meet him through his “Chronicles of Narnia,” the books whereby our children and their children would encounter him in later years. In 1952 he had barely begun writing these. Our initial introduction to him was a little red booklet disarmingly entitled “Broadcast Talks,” the text of a wartime series on …