Thursday, November 29, 2007

Faith in the Halls of Power: Cosmopolitan vs. populist Christianity

Every year our family Christmas letter lists off notable books that we've read in the past year. One book that's certain to make this year's list is Michael Lindsay's Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite. Lindsay, a sociologist, conducted 360 personal interviews with an amazing array of evangelicals in significant positions of influence and leadership in government, the academy, arts and media, and the business world. The appendix gives a staggering list of who's who, with former presidents and senators, billionaire executives and philanthropists, media moguls and celebrities, parachurch and seminary leaders, culture makers and influencers of every kind - Jimmy Carter, Kathie Lee Gifford, Pat Robertson, Phil Vischer, Kenneth Starr, C. Everett Koop, Francis Collins, Mark Noll, John Ortberg, Jim Wallis, Cal Thomas, Karen Hughes, George Gallup . . . the list goes on and on. The book shows how evangelical Christians have become prominent movers and shakers across all spheres of American society. These are people who have learned to navigate and wield power.

One of the most interesting points of analysis is Lindsay's description of these new evangelical elites as "cosmopolitan evangelicals," in contrast with what he calls "populist evangelicals." Cosmopolitan evangelicals distance themselves to some degree from the populist evangelical subculture; Lindsay reports that his interviewees went out of their way to say that they had never read Left Behind or purchased a Thomas Kincade painting. Cosmopolitan evangelicals attend invitation-only gatherings with other influential professionals, not populist mass rallies like Promise Keepers.

In politics, populist evangelicals are more likely to mobilize the rank and file to push for legislation and campaign against certain issues. But cosmopolitan evangelicals are more likely to sponsor year-long internships on Capitol Hill for future political leaders. It's a difference in strategy that focuses more on becoming full participants and insiders within cultural institutions and the corridors of power, rather than attempting to combat them or wield cultural influence from the outside.

This makes me wonder a bit about my own social location as an editor in an evangelical publishing house with some degree of cultural influence. Am I a populist who's really a cosmopolitan wannabe? As a Christian professional in the parachurch, am I a cosmopolitan who's distanced from populist issues and concerns? Is my role in publishing to speak to cosmopolitan Christians and influence the influencers, or is it to somehow bridge the cultural gap between populists and cosmopolitans?

I don't know that I have any answers to this. But it also occurs to me that the suburban context is one where we see this interface between the populist and the cosmopolitan. This is a vast overgeneralization, but rural areas may tend to be more populist, and urban metropolises may tend to be more cosmopolitan, especially in terms of contexts like where Tim Keller and Redeemer Presbyterian Church are ministering in Manhattan. But suburbia is a mix between the two, with multiple, overlapping subcultures. Neighbors and church members may be as likely to gravitate to NPR as NASCAR, country or opera, Joel Osteen or Joan Didion.

I think Lindsay's book is important for anybody working in or ministering among contexts of influence and power, whether in government, media, business or the academy. The people profiled in Lindsay's study give us keen insights for how society and culture can be transformed from within, by savvy Christians wielding their own power and influence wisely.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

If Christ is King: Encountering the Sovereign

We Americans don’t have much experience with the concept of royalty. Maybe the closest we get is if we watch movies like The Queen or The Princess Diaries. If you’ve seen The Queen, you know that one major theme of the plot is how distanced the queen and the royal family are from the British people, in contrast with Princess Diana, who was viewed as “the people’s princess.” There’s a tension between being sovereign, over the people, and being incarnational, among the people. It was a big deal at Jimmy Carter’s inauguration for him to get out of the limo and walk the streets among the people. Which wasn’t done by Bush for his second inaugural because of security reasons.

My junior year of college, our choir tour went to Washington, DC. We had a few days to visit the museums and monuments. One morning a group of us were walking down the Mall, and at one street, traffic was stopped. We stood there on the curb for a few minutes, and soon a big motorcade of black limousines came through, passing by right in front of us. We found out later that it was President Clinton on his way to the opening of the new Holocaust Museum.

A few years later, I was in DC again for a grad school summer journalism trip, visiting various media organizations in DC. One of my classmates happened to be friends with a Secret Service agent, and the agent was able to get us in for a behind-the-scenes tour of the White House. We got to see stuff that wasn’t on the public tour. We stood at the doorway of the Oval Office and looked in. Saw the Cabinet Room. Went into the private presidential movie theatre, where the President and his family watch new movies with Hollywood actors and directors. I sat down in one of the front row seats, very comfy, and the Secret Service agent told us that Tom Hanks had just been there to watch a screening of one of his movies with the President.

We got to see the White House Press Room. It’s not a very big room. At the time it had just six rows of seats, eight chairs per row. The room was recently remodeled last year, but at the time of my visit, each chair had a little brass label on it: Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post. I have a picture of me standing at the podium. We actually sat in on an actual press briefing, with White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala. I was standing two feet away from George Stephanopoulos. Could have reached out and touched him. And would have been carted off by security.

That’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to presidential power, to a head of state. And it occurs to me that maybe the best modern day analogy to Jesus as king is Nelson Mandela as president of South Africa. Here was a man who was imprisoned for decades, raised from the depths to bring reconciliation and healing to his land. Mandela might be the closest we have to a picture of a servant king.

The picture we have of Jesus as Christ the King is the crucified God, the king on a cross. If we look at the Colossians passage, we see that this crucified king is now the exalted Lord of all creation. He’s the image of the invisible God. He shows us what we cannot see. What is God? He looks like this, like Jesus. That’s what God looks like. Don’t imagine that God is some abstract philosophical concept and try to fit Jesus into that mold. Flip it around. Look at Jesus – his compassion, his love, his power, his mercy, his sacrifice – that’s what God is like. Christ the King is both sovereign and incarnational. Above us and yet among us.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

If Christ is King (continued)

[Another snippet from my Christ the King sermon.]

We usually don't focus much on the idea of God as king. Other themes get more play, especially in evangelical circles. We actually tend to hear a lot more about God as deliverer, God as savior, God as rescuer. Who is God? He is the deliverer who saves us from our sins. God is the liberator who frees us from slavery in Egypt. This is what Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann calls the gospel of rescue and deliverance, salvation for the have-nots, the people in peril and crisis. It’s part of the biblical narrative about who God is.

But it’s only part of the picture. What does salvation look like if you’re not in peril? If you’re not a slave in Egypt needing to be liberated or delivered? The other side of the coin, Brueggemann says, is the gospel of stewardship and blessing. And this is what we see in the kingship narratives. We see glimpses of it during the time of the united monarchy, and it’s also a major theme of the wisdom literature, especially the book of Proverbs. It’s the role of the wise king, the just ruler, who governs well, for the benefit of all in the land. At its best, the good king is a king of peace and harmony, bringing blessing to all under his rule so that all within the kingdom can thrive and flourish. The king is extending shalom, wholeness, well-being, the way life is supposed to be. That’s the other side of the gospel. God is not just deliverer and rescuer. Once we are rescued and delivered, we are to live wisely and well, under the governance of a good king.

What’s significant about this theme is that it’s creational. It predates the fall. After the fall, we needed a deliverer. We needed to be rescued. But before the fall, what were we called to? Tending the garden. Good governance, wise stewardship. Making sure that all was as God intended, that all creation experienced the shalom of God’s goodness.

For those of us who grew up in evangelical circles, we get a glimpse of this whenever we hear the formula of “accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord.” The Savior part is the deliverance theme. The Lord part is the kingship theme. Two sides of the same coin.

So it’s not just that we know Jesus as Savior. Jesus saves us from our sins, yes. Jesus rescues us from perishing, yes. But Jesus is not just on a mission to rescue people and ship us off to heaven. Just as important is that we live out our lives here and now, with Jesus as our king, that we live out our lives under the kingship, the lordship of Christ.

Monday, November 26, 2007

If Christ is King . . .

[I preached at my church this weekend, for Christ the King Saturday/Sunday. Here's an excerpt.]

This is Christ the King weekend, the end of the liturgical year. Once again we’ve come through the whole cycle, from Advent through Christmas, into Epiphany and then Lent, Holy Week and Easter, and Pentecost and Ordinary Time. And at the end of it all, the liturgical year makes this single, capstone declaration: Christ is King. We sing it in our liturgy: Alleluia, alleluia, Jesus is our King.

Over the last few weeks we’ve considered the Lord’s Prayer and looked at what it means that thy kingdom come, they will be done. For thine is the kingdom. Jesus’ prayer acknowledges that God our Father is our true king. But now we make a shift. It’s not just that God is king. Now the church proclaims that Jesus is king. Christ is King. And this move is absolutely astonishing. It’s one thing to proclaim the kingship of God, the creator, the Almighty. But to declare the kingship of this Galilean rabbi, executed on a Roman cross, it’s mindboggling. It’s counterintuitive. It’s radically countercultural. So what does it mean? If Christ is King, so what?

It’s unusual that the people of God would proclaim that they even have a king. What made the Israelites distinct for much of their history was that they had no king. Other nations had kings. There are references in Genesis to the king of Sodom or the king of Gomorrah, the king of the Philistines or the king of Edom. But Israel had no king. In fact, the most common reference to a king in Genesis and Exodus is the king of Egypt, otherwise known as Pharaoh. Not the best experience the Hebrew people had with a king.

At first Israel didn’t have a human king because the Lord God, Yahweh, was their true king. So Israel had judges instead of kings, and that was a mixed bag. Some were good, some were bad. The last of the judges was the prophet Samuel. And the people came to Samuel and said, “Give us a king.” This is in 1 Samuel chapter 8. They say, “Appoint for us a king to govern us, like other nations.” Here’s the geopolitical peer pressure. Everybody else has a king. Why don’t we have a king? Give us a king. We want a king.

Samuel consults with God, and God basically tells Samuel, “Don’t take it personally; it isn’t about you. They aren’t rejecting you. They’re rejecting me as their true king.” Just as they rejected God to serve other gods, the people rejected Samuel as judge and wanted to have a human king like other kings.

Samuel comes back to the people and says, “You think you want a king? You don’t want a king. Here’s what gonna happen if you get a king. He’ll take your sons as his soldiers. He’ll take your daughters as his servants (or worse). He’ll confiscate your land, your fields and vineyards. He’ll take your property, your livestock, your livelihoods. You want a king? You really don’t want a king.”

But the people refuse to listen, and they want a king anyway. If you’re a literature professor or an English major, this will jump out at you as Act 1 of the tragedy. At the beginning of every classical tragedy, there’s a prophecy, an oracle. The soothsayer tells Julius Caesar, “Beware the ides of March.” The ghost in Hamlet, the witches in Macbeth, the oracle in Oedipus. That’s what this scene with Samuel and the people is like. We want a king. You don’t want a king. If you get a king, this is what’s going to happen. And of course, it happens. Not just with the rise and fall of King Saul (whose story fits perfectly the literary archetype of tragedy). But also with King David. And King Solomon. And every king to follow, good or bad, mostly bad.

You would think that Israel would have learned. But it’s no different from the time in the wilderness when they wanted to go back to Egypt. This is how ironic their request for a king is. Imagine if they had said, “Give us a Pharaoh! We want a Pharaoh, like Egypt.” Samuel’s thinking, “Yeah, how’d that work out for you?”

So in light of all of this, why does God concede and let them have a king? Because the notion of a king, however corrupted and imperfect in human practice, still points to God’s own identity as king. God is sovereign. God is ruler. God takes a fallen human concept of king and purifies it and says, here’s what a king ought to be like.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Yet more microtrends

And here's one last batch of Microtrends.

- Soft drinks are the leading source of calories in the average American diet, accounting for almost 1 in every 10 calories consumed.

- A 12-ounce can of Coke has 34 milligrams of caffeine. Red Bull has 80. A child who drinks one can of caffeinated soda experiences the same effects as an adult who drinks four cups of coffee. Restaurants are now producing caffeinated donuts and bagels.

- In 2005, the bestselling books were on average more than 100 pages longer than they were in 1995, when they averaged 385 pages.

- One million households now employ nannies, and nannies with a college degree have an average annual salary of $43,000, well over the $22,000 that the average 18-24-year-old female makes coming out of school with a bachelor's degree.

- More Americans went bankrupt in 2005 than graduated from college. Bankruptcies have more than quintupled in the last two decades.

- Employment in the nonprofit sector has grown more than business and government. 12.5 million work at nonprofits, more than double what it was thirty years ago.

- More than 30 million Americans have tattoos - nearly 1 in 4 adults.

- Messy desks are linked to wisdom, experience and higher salaries.

- In the last decade, there has been a 444% increase in the number of cosmetic surgeries performed in the U.S. But the number of people having them has risen at a slower rate, meaning that more people are getting multiple procedures.

- Heavy technology users are more likely to be extroverts (nearly 60 percent) than introverts.

- Girls are more likely than boys to use cell phones (88 to 83 percent), digital cameras (54 to 50 percent) and satellite radios (24 to 18 percent). They use TVs, VCRs, DVD players and PCs about the same. Boys outpace girls on MP3 players and videogame consoles.

- Women are now the majority of college students, law school students, voters and car buyers.

- One in 4 videogame players is over age 50. The average player is 33 and has been playing for 12 years.

- 2.2 million kids are home-schooled, more than charter school and voucher students combined.

- While college enrollment rates are up, college graduation rates are about the same, meaning more students are dropping out (over 28 million in the past decade).

- New religious movements are becoming statistically more significant than many established religious traditions; 20 million Umbandans in Brazil outnumber the world's Jews by one and a half times and outnumber Unitarians by more than twenty times. The World Christian Encyclopedia chronicles 10,000 distinct and separate religions in the world and says that two or three new ones are being created every day.

Monday, November 19, 2007

More microtrends

More tidbits from the book Microtrends:

- The number of female clergy in America has more than tripled in the last two decades. In the last decade, the number of women majoring in religion or theology more than doubled, while among men it grew by barely half.

- Over 3 million marriages in America are interracial, ten times the number three decades ago.

- While people often assume that Latinos are Catholics, nearly a quarter of American Latinos identify themselves as Protestant. That's about 10 million Protestant Latinos - more than the total number of Jews, Muslims, Episcopalians or Presbyterians.

- 1 in 10 Americans have some hearing loss. Kids today can hear higher ring tones than adults and teachers, so they use "Mosquitotones" when they sneak their cell phones into class.

- Because of older childbearing and divorce/remarriage patterns, more children are being born to dads over age 40, meaning that more dads are working longer and retiring later to pay for college and later childrearing expenses.

- More people have pets than kids. Pet-owning households are double the percentage of households with children. Americans spend $40 billion on pets; pet products are a bigger industry than toys, candy or hardware.

- 69 percent of white evangelicals believe the state of Israel was given to the Jewish people by God. Less than 2 in 10 American Jews think this.

- Australia was founded by a total of about 165,000 criminals released from 19th-century British jails over eighty years or so of prisoner deportations. Four times that many convicts are released from U.S. prisons every year.

- Nearly 1 in 10 college students now seeks mental health counseling; 25 percent of these take psychotropic medicines (up from 9% in 1994).

- The fastest-growing group of people who knit are teens and twentysomethings, including 6 million junior highers and high schoolers.

- 8 percent of teens (1.6 million young people) make money on the Internet.

- 1.5 million children between 8 and 18 are vegetarians (up from virtually zero 50 years ago). Another 3 million pass up meat and another 3 million skip just chicken.

- In the early 1960s, the average man weighed 166 pounds, and the average woman weighed 140. Now the average man weighs 191 pounds and the average woman weighs 164.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Starbucked - some facts about Starbucks

Fast Company has some snippets from Taylor Clark's new book Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture:
  • Starbucks's closest competitor in the coffeehouse market, Caribou Coffee, is just one-twenty-fifth its size. Every 10 weeks, Starbucks opens as many stores as the total number of Caribou outlets.

  • Starbucks has had 14 straight years with at least 5% same-store sales growth.

  • Contrary to popular opinion, Starbucks increases sales at rival nearby coffeehouses. For example, when it blitzed Omaha with six stores, coffee sales at local joints went up as much as 25%, and more new ones opened shop.

  • According to Starbucks, the company pays more for insurance for its employees ($200 million) than it does for coffee beans, yet only 42% of its 125,000-plus workforce has company health insurance--a lower percentage than Wal-Mart (46%).

  • The average customer spends $4.05 per visit for coffee; the average fast-food-restaurant visitor spends $4.34 for an entire meal.

  • For a cup that costs $3.40, at least 40 cents is profit. When Starbucks bumped the 8-ounce cup off the menu, the 10-ounce "tall" (the new small) increased profits by 25 cents per cup for only 2 cents of added product.
  • More people would give up sex before they'd give up coffee.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Microtrends: Extreme commuting, at-home working and more

I just started reading the new book Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes by Mark Penn. Penn is best known as the pollster who first identified soccer moms as a cultural entity back in the 1996 election cycle. This book describes dozens of new (and sometimes contradictory) cultural trends in American society today.

For example, Extreme Commuters are the 3.4 million people who commute 90 minutes or more each way to work. These folks are naturally very concerned about gas prices. They also have health issues because longer commutes are linked to obesity. A study found that every 30 minutes of driving increases your risk of becoming obese 3 percent. Why? One poll reports that 4 in 10 people say that when they're stuck in traffic, they eat. The person identified as "America's Longest Commuter" drives 372 miles round-trip each day, leaving his house every morning at 4:30 a.m. and getting home around 8:30 p.m.

Of course, many of us find extreme commuting unappealing and unsustainable. The flip side is the microtrend of the Stay-at-Home Workers, 4.2 million who work from home full-time, plus another 20 million who work from home part of the time with some sort of flexible schedule (like myself). This trend is being embraced by employers not only because they can save on office space and the environmental footprint of office workers, but also because working from home results in happier and more productive employees. 76% of full-time telecommuters report high job satisfaction (vs. just 56% of on-site workers), and at-home workers put in an average of 44.6 hours of work a week (vs. 42.2 in the office).

Other microtrends: Commuter Couples, the 3.5 million people who are living geographically apart from their spouse or partner for work or school reasons; technology is making long-distance relationships more doable. Office Romancers (60% of employees have been involved in an office romance) and Married Colleagues (like me and my wife), who can be assets to companies because "they are productive for the firm even in downtime, since they wrestle with work challenges even as they give their kids a bath." Working Retired - more folks are working longer and later, into their seventies and eighties; they do so partly because of the meaning and purpose they derive from their work, but also out of fears of not having health insurance. (The extra work and taxes also means that Social Security is not as likely to collapse.) And longer lifespans and workspans mean that people can raise kids in their twenties and thirties and then still have forty or fifty years of work (or ministry) afterward.

This is an eminently blogable book. I'm just a few chapters into it so far, and there's lots more that could be commented on. I'll continue to post thoughts and trends from it as I go. But what's most helpful is that Penn doesn't merely treat these trends as pieces of interesting societal phenomena. More importantly, he notes that each trend correlates with a particular community or subgroup of people, each of which has its own distinct issues and concerns. Christians should read this book with an eye to considering the ministry opportunities and challenges that each of these microtrends represents. After all, after Penn identified "soccer moms" as a distinct category, churches started reconsidering how their women's ministries connected (or didn't connect) with these women. Maybe this book will spur churches into thinking about Extreme Commuters ministries or supportive networks and community for at-home workers.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Happy birthday to me: 10/20/30 years meme

I turn 35 today, which means that I am now eligible to run for president. But I will take this opportunity to formally declare my non-candidacy. However, this seems like a good occasion to comment on a meme that has been circulating the blogosphere: Where were you 10 years, 20 years and 30 years ago?

Let's see . . . I don't recall specifically what I did for my birthday ten years ago when I turned 25. It would have been my first birthday married to Ellen. We were living in our first apartment in Westmont, IL, and I was then a promotional writer for IVP, working on catalogs and ads and such. My first book, Singles at the Crossroads, had just been published. (I can't believe it's been ten years already - I think I may have been the second youngest IVP author ever at the time.) It's possible that we may have been volunteering as small group leaders at an InterVarsity student conference in downstate Illinois that weekend, but I'm not sure.

Twenty years ago in 1987 when I turned 15, I was a sophomore at Jefferson Senior High in Bloomington, Minnesota. I had just been baptized the previous summer, and with the shift from junior high to senior high, I stopped going by "Albert" (too geeky) and instead went by "Al" (which I thought was cooler and more fun). I also had gotten contact lenses to replace my glasses, which contributed to my identity shift. I think that fall was also the time when I wrote a bunch of short stories starring my friends and classmates. In one of them our honors English class was locked in the school as one of our classmates went psycho and killed us off one by one; another was a paranormal story where five of us got superpowers like telekinesis and astral projection (very Heroes-like, now that I think about it); yet another alternated between a fantasy Dungeons & Dragons motif and a sci-fi Star Trek world. Okay, so I was still pretty geeky.

Thirty years ago in 1977, I turned 5 while in kindergarten at Cedarcrest Elementary School on the east side of Bloomington. (The school closed a few years later, a casualty of the generational baby bust at the time, and eventually became an Assemblies of God church.) The only thing I really remember about kindergarten was that I got in trouble for talking too much and not paying attention in class. My memory may be fuzzy on this, but I think there was a little girl in particular that I was always causing trouble with. So my teacher put me and the girl in the school play as the kindergarten representatives to keep us occupied.

That's the best I can come up with without digging out my journals. Where were you 10, 20 and 30 years ago?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

An announcement: I'm a CT columnist!

I'm pleased to announce that I've been asked to be one of Christianity Today's new columnists for 2008! The editors there said that it's public knowledge now, and I'll take that as meaning that I can blog about it. No, I'm not bumping Chuck Colson or Philip Yancey off of the last page. Those spots are pretty secure. Several of their other columnists are rotating off, and I've been invited to do a one-year stint of six columns, every other monthly issue, starting in February 2008.

At this point we have not yet determined an official name for the column. The exact theme and focus is still being developed, but my general sense at this point is that I'll be making observations about signs of the kingdom in culture and society. That's probably broad enough of an umbrella to include any number of topics I might want to do. I'm already mapping out possible columns that would be timely in August and October.

Upon seeing my Facebook status yesterday, one friend told me that he had subscribed to CT for several years but had let his subscription lapse. Then he saw that I would be writing for them, and he decided to re-subscribe. Hear that, CT editors? That's one new subscriber that you've gotten already because you made me a columnist!

Of course, I'm honored by the invitation and not a little daunted. I've been a CT reader since my college days in the early 1990s. One of the reasons I came to Wheaton for grad school was because of the proximity to CT as a possible employer. My original plan back in high school was journalism, and working in periodicals has always been one of my roads not taken. I ended up in book publishing rather than magazine publishing, though I've dabbled with freelance articles here and there over the years. I was just reminded this week that my first published piece was an article on Dilbert and a theology of work in Regeneration Quarterly issue 2.1, way back in 1996, long before the blogosphere existed to allow unknown grad students to find an audience. While the late, great RQ is no more, that article is now part of CT's archives.

At any rate, I'm pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to CT's pages next year. If anybody has any story ideas, send them my way!

Friday, November 02, 2007

What's your religious literacy?

The Quill Book Awards are a relatively new entry in book awards. They're the publishing industry's attempt to parallel the Oscars or Emmys. This year's Quills were recently awarded, and two that I was particularly happy to see were David Wiesner's Flotsam for Children's Picture Book and Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale for Debut Author of the Year.

More immediately relevant to my work in Christian publishing was the award for Religion/Spirituality, which went to Stephen Prothero's Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know - And Doesn't. Prothero is the author of the excellent American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon, which came out a few years back. In Religous Literacy, Prothero argues that most people simply have very little understanding of the basics of most world religions and even the essentials of their own faith.

What's your religious literacy? Take Prothero's quiz:
  1. Name the four Gospels. List as many as you can.
  2. Name a sacred text of Hinduism.
  3. What is the name of the holy book of Islam?
  4. Where according to the Bible was Jesus born?
  5. President George W. Bush spoke in his first inaugural address of the Jericho road. What Bible story was he invoking?
  6. What are the first five books of the Hebrew Bible or the Christian Old Testament?
  7. What is the Golden Rule?
  8. "God helps those who help themselves": Is this in the Bible? If so, where?
  9. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God": Does this appear in the Bible? If so, where?
  10. Name the Ten Commandments. List as many as you can.
  11. Name the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.
  12. What are the seven sacraments of Catholicism? List as many as you can.
  13. The First Amendment says two things about religion, each in its own "clause." What are the two religious clauses of the First Amendment?
  14. What is Ramadan? In what religion is it celebrated?
  15. Match the Bible characters with the stories in which they appear. Draw a line from the one to the other. Hint: Some characters may be matched with more than one story or vice versa.
  16. Adam and Eve  Exodus
    Paul Binding of Isaac
    Moses Olive Branch
    Noah Garden of Eden
    Jesus Parting of the Red Sea
    Abraham Road to Damascus
    Serpent Garden of Gethsemane
See here for the answers. I got most of these right (enough to score an "A" on their grading), but the ones I didn't get related to non-Christian religions. I had a world religions course in college, but it's a bit convicting to me that I can't recall some of these very basic fundamentals. (See also this world religions quiz - I got 9 out of 10 on this one.)