This week's New York Times Magazine centers on its "The Way We Live Now Poll," surveying the American public on a variety of questions and asking celebrity writers to analyze the data. Some articles, like McSweeney's editor Dave Eggers writing on the reduction of true love in society, are winners. Sadly, pulp fiction writer Elmore Leonard's take on the religion questions leaves something to be desired. He falls back on the old "does God (or, in this case, Mary) care about football" conundrum that really doesn't have anything to do with the polling data. In a separate article, Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, does a much better job. "Paradoxically, Americans have a specific distaste for the theological doctrine that has informed our national morality from the beginning: Puritanism," he writes. "Americans want a capacious God who smiles on everyone, not a jealous God protective of one particular version of his teachings." He concludes that "there is a moral majority in America; it just happens to be unwilling to follow anyone's party line about what morality ought to be." The survey questions, answers, and analysis are all fascinating, and will no doubt provide many months' worth of sermon illustrations.
The current issue of The New York Times Magazine also includes a profile of Johnny and June Carter Cash's holy bathrooms. Johnny's includes an extensive library with every translation of the Bible, June Carter's serves as a prayer closet. "Every writer has an upper room, and this is mine," says the Man in Black.
"Like so many things in our culture—from ...1
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