Last month Willow Creek Community Church announced plans for satellite churches around the Chicago area. These churches will incorporate "a mix of in-house worship and preaching beamed in via fiber-optic lines," reported the Chicago Tribune. David Staal, the megachurch's director of communications, told the paper, "The purpose of the regional centers is to reach more people in the Chicagoland region who are unchurched." So what better place to launch its first satellite church than in the "evangelical Vatican" of Wheaton, reputed to have the most churches per capita in the U.S? There are obvious ironies here, but some are more subtle. First, the church is apparently launching not because of the unchurched but because of the churched: Willow Creek found that many of its parishioners are from Wheaton, which is about 20 miles away from the church's Barrington campus. Second, the other reason that Willow Creek can come into the town is because a Willow Creek clone, Ginger Creek Community Church, is moving into its own building—allowing Willow to use the high school auditorium Sunday mornings.
Retraction of the month
There are retractions, and then there are Retractions. Weblog has attempted to stay away from the Gary Condit- Chandra Levy story, excepting one link to a column about how Condit's religion shaped his politics. There have been other religion angles to the story, of course, but with as much coverage as this case has received elsewhere in the media, there's probably no angle that hasn't been written. Still, Weblog was pushed over the edge upon reading an article in Saturday's Washington Post: the Pentecostal minister who made front-page news with accusations that his teenage daughter had an affair with Condit now says the story is utterly false. "I never met the congressman who's involved in all of this," said a statement by his daughter. Either the minister-gardener (who has worked for the Levys) was lying then or he's lying now. Clearly the Post and other publications headlined the man's occupation as a minister rather than as the Levys' gardener to add credibility to the claim. But now it's not just Otis Thomas's reputation that will suffer; this will reflect badly on ministers in general.
Speaking of retractions …
The folks over at the MereLewis e-mail list are clamoring for a retraction from Weblog over its recent coverage of The Chronicle of Higher Education's "Holy War in the Shadowlands." "The secularization of Narnia was not the real story the Chronicle was pursuing, contrary to [Weblog's] account," writes Seattle Pacific University's John West. Very well, then. Consider it retracted. The Chronicle was writing about the battle for the legacy of C.S. Lewis, but the article was reportedly initiated by the magazine's interest in Kathryn Lindskoog's latest screed against the Lewis estate than by the media frenzy over rumors that Narnia would be secularized.
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