Lately it is hard to get away during the summer. People come to see us. This past week, however, Jan and I went west for a transfusion of scenery and dry air. While New England prepared for fall, we dried out, saw golden aspens and enjoyed New Mexico. I read The American University in a Postsecular Age (Oxford, 2008) edited by Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen of Messiah College. It is always nice to read something that confirms what you sense you are seeing. This book does that as it surveys the conversation about the place of religion in contemporary education. The message, "PAY ATTENTION There may not be a clash of cultures, but there is plenty of pushing and shoving as religious inclinations nudge their way back into the academy. I see it here at MIT.
Another book, Progressive and Religiousby Robert P. Jones (Rowman and Littlefield, 2008) was the object of conversation last evening after dinner with the Lutheran and Episcopal Ministry. Jones was here and argued strongly that there is emerging a movement in the public sphere uniting the religious left with progressive causes that will break the hold on public religious life by the religious right.
Both books are worth reading and in this season of holidays (Ramadan ended yesterday, Rosh Hashanah last evening) books on religion and the public sphere will take your mind off your 401K or retirement plans revised once again.
Robert M. Randolph
Chaplain to the Institute