A Journey Through NYC Religions

Podcast talking: Would Democrats take Marianne Williamson seriously if her name was ....

Podcast talking: Would Democrats take Marianne Williamson seriously if her name was ....

Donald Trump is not going to be beaten just by insider politics talk. He’s not going to be beaten just by somebody who has plans. He’s going to be beaten by somebody who has an idea what the man has done. This man has reached into the psyche of the American people and he has harnessed fear for political purposes.

“So, Mr. President — if you’re listening — I want you to hear me please: You have harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out. So I, sir, I have a feeling you know what you’re doing. I’m going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field, and sir, love will win.”

— Marianne Williamson’s final statement in first debate for Democrats seeking White House in 2020.

Anyone want to guess what this particular candidate might use as the anthem that plays at the beginning and end of her campaign rallies?

I’m thinking that it might be something that honors the 1992 bestseller — “A Return to Love” — that made her a national sensation back in what people called the New Age era. Something like this: Cue the music.

I focused quite a bit on that book’s old New Age theology in my recent post (“Evil, sin, reality and life as a 'Son of God': What Marianne Williamson is saying isn't new”) about a fascinating New York Times feature about Williamson and her decision to seek the White House. I thought it was appropriate that the Times gave so much attention to the religious themes and concepts in her work, instead of going all politics, all the time.

But, truth be told, the key question discussed in this week’s “Crossroads” podcast — click here to tune that in — focused on mass media, celebrity, religion and, yes, politics, all at the same time.

Look again at that debate quote at the top of this post and give an honest answer to this question: Would that quotation be receiving more attention if the candidate who spoke it was someone named Oprah? How about this person’s candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination?

Williamson is being treated as a bit of a novelty, frankly, even though millions of Americans — on the elite coasts, but also in the heartland, because of her role as a spiritual guide for Oprah Winfrey.

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Offering sociological journalism about the mosques of New York City

Offering sociological journalism about the mosques of New York City

ake your pick. Tony Carnes is either a sociological journalist or a journalistic sociologist.

Either way, since 2010 he’s led a team that walks the 6,375 miles of New York City streets, block by block, for interviews, documentation, and analysis of local religious activity -- with remarkable findings. Any newswriter interested in religion or immigration in America’s largest city can acquire ample material from the online magazine Carnes edits, “A Journey through NYC Religions.”

A transplanted Texan turned patriotic New Yorker, Carnes – full disclosure: a personal friend – has been a college teacher, wrote academic publications, and leads a university seminar in social science methods. But he’s also been an active journalist, including years as a senior writer for Christianity Today. His non-profit research organization, founded in 1989, has done field work in mainland China, the dying Soviet Union and rising Russian Federation, and the United States. A college convert to evangelical Christianity, Carnes attends Manhattan’s noted Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

A series of Journey articles launched May 18 is taking a fresh ground-level look at Islam. After the 9/11 attacks, the media widely reported that New York City had 100-plus mosques (“masjids”). But an early “Journey” report  located 175.

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