Tahlequah Daily Press

January 11, 2013

Pastor explains religious trends in America

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — A local pastor who spoke during the Tahlequah Friends of the Library Program Sandwiched In Thursday focused on religious trends in American, especially those of the Christian faith.

Tahlequah First Presbyterian Church Rev. Jan Condren explained the Christian movement called the “emerging church,” which blends a variety of religious or spiritual groups and beliefs that may include Catholic, Protestant, post-Protestant, evangelical, post-evangelical, liberal, conservative, Adventist, and neocharismatic, to name a few.

“...the mainline church belief has – and really, the Protestant church in general –  declined steeply in the past 50 years,” Condren said.

She said every death is a time for a beginning.

“If we’re talking about the last 50 years, that’s obviously not a lot when you look at 2,000 years of the church or 5,000 years, if you want to go back to Abraham,” she said. “So I’ll first put that into perspective, the history of the church, because there’s a lot of grief going on. Grief, really, is one of the trends.”

Condren said a frequent topic of discussion among faith practitioners has revolved around “people who are spiritual, but not religious.”

“Over the past 10 years, there’s been a great change. Not in the numbers of those people, but in the numbers of the people who went from being just religious to spiritual and religious,” she said. “They define [what spiritual means] themselves, so I’m not going to give you that. My 31-year-old daughter’s definition is that religion is ‘sit, sing and sing,’ and spiritual is how do you life your life.”

Another trend, or emerging interest, Condren noted is that some people are returning to ancient practices.

“People walk the labyrinth they think is most easily visible,” she said. “There are some folks who are returning to fasting or to those kinds of spiritual disciplines that we thought we had given up because we’ve figured out how to be Christian.

“And it turns out we haven’t figured that out yet. Imagine that. In 1963, nobody thought J[ohn] F[itzgerald] K[ennedy] could be elected President as a Catholic. In 2012, there wasn’t a white Protestant on either ticket. The world has changed. You know, it’s just a real vision of how global we are.”

After Condren’s presentation, Bob McQuitty, FOL president, said the price of the luncheon has been raised from $2 to $3, and that the goal of Program Sandwiched In is “to find speakers who would be talking about books.”

“[That] is one of our main interests,” he said. “And also if there’s an informative speaker who wants to inform us about some topic, like we have today. The next program will be a professor from NSU reading his novel and his poems.”


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