Comfortable Guilt

What does the economic crisis mean for God's work in the world? It's a question we ask every day at Christianity Today as we plan our coverage.

Actually, that's not quite right. What we are asking is more like, "What does today's economic crisis mean for God's work in the world?" There seems to be a new one every day: subprime mortgages, frozen interbank lending, a shrinking global economy, a popped housing bubble, banks in bankruptcy, and so on.

With many stories changing so rapidly, we have devoted significantly more resources to covering the financial crises online ( than in print. Among the issues we have looked at recently are

  • how Christians on Wall Street are praying and ministering to each other
  • what implications the government's bank bailout has for the relationship between church and state
  • and whether America's economic system is really driven by greed.

Still, the financial crisis we are most interested in hasn't significantly changed for decades: giving. In this month's cover story, CT editor at large Rob Moll examines new research from some of our favorite sociologists. Two of the three researchers, Christian Smith and Michael Emerson, were part of our October 2000 cover story on evangelicalism and race, and Smith's 2005 book on teen spirituality not only changed youth ministry, but also gave us a memorable description of America's true majority religion.

If Smith's phrase for that religion—"moralistic therapeutic deism"—became the Christian buzzword after the publication of Soul Searching, Passing the Plate may get us talking about "comfortable guilt." The researchers describe it as "living with an awareness and feeling of culpability for not giving money more generously, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Christianity Today
Comfortable Guilt
hide this
December December

Member-Only Access

This article is from the December 2008 print issue. Subscribe to continue reading.