The future?

Each Easter sees a predictable resurrection of serious interest in Christianity from the nation’s usually skeptical or indifferent secular magazines and newspapers. This year was no exception. Newsweek featured a digitally enhanced portrait of Jesus on the cover and an assertive essay by Kenneth Woodward on "How Christianity Shaped the Modern World." With typical British drollery, the Economist ran an "obituary" to mark the anniversary of Jesus’ death and the approaching third millennium of Christianity. Reviewing the historical Jesus debate, the obit writer laid out the contradictory aspects of Scripture, the historical triumphs, tragedies, and sins of the church, and the competing theological visions that now seek to clarify the meaning of Jesus. In the end, the obituarist somewhat limply concluded, "it would seem that Jesus, in his older years, has grown more tolerant."

Well, maybe. Not to be left out of this Easter parade, the New York Times Magazine devoted countless pages to an Easter Sunday story about Catholic seminarians ("Why a Priest," April 4, 1999). The magazine’s cover featured three smiling, breviary-wielding seminarians, pointedly dressed in black and wearing Roman collars. Mischievously printed across the men’s loins was the title, "The Last Counterculture." "No one lives at further remove from consumerist, sexualized, technocratic America than its Catholic priests," read the consumerist,...

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