Abiding Peace merged with St. Mark, which already had members from Fountain of Hope, so now we are St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church. Yes, it's a long name. We're part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which has fewer words but many more syllables. We kept it to monosyllables as best we could. So do pronounce the "Hope and Peace."
The world needs more hope and peace. There is a ferocious cynicism in our public discourse. Russ Douthat's recent column "Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?" is a good case-in-point. Douthat is a conservative, so one would expect him to be critical of "liberal Christianity," by which he means whole denominations like the Episcopal Church (United States) and most certainly the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, my denominational home. We are fair game, of course, having both (Episcopalians and ELCA Lutherans) made some progressive moves in the past few years, most notably on the issue of gay clergy and same gender unions.
But Douthat is way over the top in declaring that the Episcopal Church has become "flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes." That link will take you to a column in Christianity Today (which describes itself as "a globally minded evangelical magazine"). The article is about concern about Episcopal syncretism, which Christianity Today apparently defines as openness to the possibility of salvation through means other than adherence to Christian doctrine and dogma.
Read Douthat's column. He makes some interesting points at the end, about losing our grounding. I'm not prepared to argue with him on that one, though he overstates once again. The civil rights movement was able to proclaim Christ while demanding social change. It's harder to do that today, when that declaration is often considered quaint. Then read Diana Butler Bass's book Christianity for the Rest of Us, which describes mainline Christian congregations which are thriving, and are also rooted in some traditional practices and a clear understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Read them all today--you'll thank me.
You might also enjoy the response of Episcopal Rector Matthew Lawrence, provocatively titled "Russ Douthat Is a Fruit Fly." He links a great response that Butler Bass has provided. Go to his to get to hers. That's the way this thing works.