I often link to various reports done by the Pew Research Center about religion, because it’s a good place to get statistics about the state of belief in the United States and across the world. Yet, the questions that tend to be asked in the Pew studies tend to be those that are easily quantifiable or have easy yes/no answers: how often do you attend religious services, do you approve of same-sex marriage, how often do you read the Bible, etc. As useful as these questions can be in assessing the role religion plays in modern life, they don’t give us much of a picture as to how religion actually functions in most people’s lives.
Last week, I went to a planning session of a “Pizza and Politics” group at Boston University, where graduate students and professor talk about religion and politics over lunch. We did the usual introductions thing, and unsurprisingly, most of the other students listed Islam as their primary research interest. When my turn came around, I mentioned that I was interested in studying the Society of St. Pius X and the Catholic church’s response to modernity, particularly liberal democracy. Crickets from the others. I gave a quick and dirty explanation of the SSPX for the perplexed, but once again, it illustrated to me that outside of the Catholic blogosphere, nobody really knows or cares about the SSPX
One of the classes I’m taking here at Boston University is called Global Ethics, which is actually more of a semester-long introduction to liberation theology. And not just the Latin American variety, but almost every kind you can think of: womanist (both African American and African), feminist, Palestinian, Korean, Native American, etc. Before starting the class, I had assumed as a result of my sojourn in the Catholic church that liberation theology was more or less dead. But no, the rumors of liberation theology’s demise are quite premature, and it’s arguably doing better than ever.