Bearings: Navigating Life-as-Ministry
The Science of Religion | May 2019

This issue invites Bearings readers into a journey of scientific discovery—or, for those who have already been well along the trail, invites a consideration of other trajectories. “Prophets of the Digital Divine,” by theologian Sean O’Callaghan, gives a theological read of what fans of the Netflix series “Altered Carbon” and “Black Mirror” will recognize as the adaptation of the human body and expansion of human capabilities that fall under the banners of contemporary transhumanism and posthumanism. In a second feature, sociologists Wendy Cadge and Michael Skaggs, awardees of a Compass Grant from The BTS Center, the scientific-religious journey runs decidedly off the beaten path. In “Enhancing Ministry beyond the Congregation,” Wendy and Michael share results of a survey of 1000 undergraduates from an élite liberal arts college in New England on their engagement with campus chaplaincy. Add to that, commentary from Episcopal priest Andy Shamel on how people construct meaning today focus on the critical role of play and story in structuring and articulating the spiritual in everyday experience.

From the Editor

The Science of Religion

How the Scientific Imagination can Illuminate Religious Experience and Ministry

Some years ago I gave a talk at a now-defunct seminary in which I argued, surely less eloquently than I might have liked, that a critical postmodern challenge for people in ministry was developing scientific literacy and fluency. I took as my starting point Albert Einstein’s argument in Ideas and Opinions (1934) that “the main source of the present-day conflicts... Read more
Featured Article

Prophets of the Digital Divine

On Being Human in Our Techno-Religious Future

In the scientific world, in particular, the subject of the techno-human—what it means to be human in a world of increasing technological complexity and integration with human life, including our bodies—is more prevalent than ever. But the impact of the technologization of the human being is also increasingly felt throughout almost every social, cultural, and academic... Read more
Featured Article

Enhancing Ministry beyond the Congregation

Social Science and Spiritual Care

American religious and spiritual life is changing. The number of Americans who describe themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” when asked about religion in national surveys is growing—from 16% to 21% between 2007 and 2014. The number of adults who identify as Christian is declining across a range of demographic groups. While a majority of... Read more
Commentary

Playing Games with God

How Games Play Us, Stories Tell Us, and Faith Lives Us

It’s all a game. These are not the words that the demands of our time might seem to merit. With the world on fire and political turmoil having become the constantly unsettling norm, we know that the church is being called to action in ways many of us had not imagined even ten or fifteen years ago. Sitting in my office in a suburb of Oxford toiling away at my studies,... Read more