Jewish Journal

God’s not dead, but is religion?

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 25, 2007 | 3:46 pm

My copy of UCLA Magazine, with my story about the intersection of God and grades on the cover, finally arrived in the mail today. Flipping through my story—the first thing all journalists do is turn to their story—I noticed a nugget from a sidebar that was worth discussion.

“The prediction made by some intellectuals at the end of the Second World War that by the year 2000 religion will have withered and only be a matter of personal interest to some folks—like some folks are Dodger fans and others are Orthodox Jews—that hypothesis has been thoroughly falsified,” claims Scott Bartchy, UCLA history professor and director of the College of Letters & Science’s interdepartmental Center for the Study of Religion. “The role of religion is enormous in current events.”

Forty-plus years ago, Time magazine asked whether God is dead? As Sun-Times religion columnist Cathleen Falsani noted three years ago in an award-winning story that pre-dated the divine presidential election of 2004, the answer has been a resounding no.

Standing around the watercooler or in line at Starbucks these days, conversation is just as likely to turn to early Christianity and whether the apostles spoke “street Aramaic” or a more formal version of the near-dead language, as it is to whether Tony and Carmella Soprano can repair their failing marriage.

A few channels away from HBO—on CNN, FoxNews or even Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”—and in the newspaper each morning, competing factions wrestle with some of life’s most basic questions, including what a family is, what marriage is, what it means to be “under God,”  and whether life may be manufactured artificially.  In one way or another, God’s name is invoked in the battle to answer each of those questions.

God is in high-demand—in politics, music, court, film, books, even to a certain extent in fashion with “What Would Jesus Wear?” accessories, and the increasingly popular “Jesus is My Homeboy” T-shirts. About 40 percent of Americans today say they have attended services at a house of worship in the last week.

Well, I’ll forgive her for neglecting to mention the popularity and influence of The God Blog (three years before it went live) but, certainly, it seems that Nietzsche was wrong. Do you agree?

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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