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November 13, 2007

Do you believe?

Do you believe in God? That’s one of the questions screenwriter Antonio Monda posed to 18 “cultural eminences,” including Saul Bellow, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese. Of the 18, five said yes, six answered no and seven placed “themselves somewhere in between.”

Monda’s interviews resulted in Do You Believe? Conversations on God and Religion , which was released this month. A New York Times wire service article noted: “Common themes run through the conversations. Fundamentalism is bad. Atrocities have been perpetrated in the name of religion. Art itself (writing, filmmaking) is a quasi-religious calling. Jesus was a great ‘thinker’ rather than redeemer.

“As for organized religion: No one has a good word for it.”

The last one made me pause. Like others I don’t always agree with decisions my church makes. After all, Martin Luther taught us to question what happens in the church. But I see evidence of the good things that can come from organized religion. Just check out the articles in The Lutheran. Or scan through the ELCA Web site —there’s Lutheran Disaster Response, World Hunger Appeal and other programs. But I work for the church and may be missing something. Do these “cultural eminences” reflect the view of society as a whole? If so, what can or should the ELCA and other churches do to overcome this?

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