Saturday, April 26, 2014

Diversity in unity

At dinner with two friends from graduate school, both now at Yale Divinity School, I learned about the results of the latest study by the Pew Center. The US thinks itself very religiously pluralistic and diverse - it's a big part of arguments about the distinctive, even prophetic, nature of American religion. But this supposed diversity melts away almost entirely if we treat all Christians as belonging to the same religion (as, by and large, folks do with every other religious tradition in surveys). We come in 68th out of 232 countries and territories studied. One can quibble with the methodology (why separate Judaism out from under "Other Religions," for instance?) but the result is in any case instructive. As I've heard folks from Netherlands (rated high) and India (rated moderate) say, the US hasn't really had to grapple with deep religious diversity. Pew is quick to point out that religious diversity and religious freedom are different things and on latter we do OK. Still!

Earlier in the day I was delighted by a Sol LeWitt wall at the Yale University Art Gallery, filling a wall with the spontaneous-seeming "All two-part combinations of arcs from corners and sides."

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