Martin E. Marty, the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Modern Christianity at the Divinity School of The University of Chicago (actually, I’m writing this blog post just so I can type out that title), has had a lot to say. I’ve been listening to my doctoral mentor for a long time, and America (and many parts beyond) has been listening for far longer–at least since the late 1950s when publications of his got him on the national radar as a keen observer of religion and culture. (Yes, that makes him an important commentator in six decades.)
Marty has retired but has not disappeared. And an excellent way to track at least some of his recent musings is through the on-line publication of the Martin Marty Center at the U of C Div School, “Sightings.”
No better introduction to its semi-weekly value (Marty on Mondays; others midweek) is today’s piece interpreting the recent Pew survey of religious (non-)knowledge in the United States. Marty’s fluent writing style might disguise the fact that he manages to list and helpfully comment on virtually every major interpretative line offered in the multitudinous responses to this poll on the Internet. A little good history, as usual with Marty, goes a long, long way to help people calm down about some things and pay more attention to others.
It’s the last paragraph and, indeed, the very last phrase, however, that icily grip the heart. The metaphor is the more arresting–Pascalian, Kierkegaardian–for its homeyness. Lots of right-wing rallies scream, “Wake Up, America!” but Marty’s quiet warning comes as a word of God.
“Sightings” is free. You should subscribe.