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'Post-secular age' sparks thoughts on faith and life


For decades we have assumed that "the secular" influences are overtaking "the religious" aspects of life. So, my eye was caught by an article in the January issue of Media Development, published by the World Association for Christian Communication.

The article's title is, "Rethinking the concept of religion in a post-secular age."

The article focuses on an expanded understanding of "religion" to include a wide scope of transcendent experiences, ethical relationships, ritual celebrations, caring outreach and more.

I was intrigued, however, about the words "post-secular age," given that scholars and media so often assume we are in a post-religious age.

In editing The Fig Tree, I have not found people "post-religious" so much as having difficulty expressing their questions, values, understandings and perspectives about the spiritual or religious.

Media made "religion" invisible before we started The Fig Tree, so we help people connect, share stories and reignite their ability to talk about their faith, religion, spirituality and justice. The "religion" beat disappeared with occasional stories, but hardly the focus to support a career.

FaVs publisher and journalism instructor Tracy Simmons recently held a Coffee Talk at Community Congregational United Church of Christ in Pullman with  several of her Washington State University students telling about a religion reporting field trip, learning about "faiths and cultures they might report on one day."

We celebrate that effort to train religion reporters and restart religion coverage that helps people understand that faith may not fit in usual "news" definitions—emphasizing celebrity, controversy, conflict and the unusual. There are many nuances to differing expressions of faith influenced by culture, traditions, communities and the natural environment as is evident in the interfaith dialogue on water (below).

With Fig Tree coverage, I continue to be heartened as people share who they are (context), what they are doing (ministries, services and programs) and why they do it (faith and values).

Some struggle to talk about the why,  the faith roots motivating them, as if trained to be silent by being accustomed to seeing the world through "a secular lens."

What a joy sharing the insights through the recent interfaith panel and through pages of each issue of The Fig Tree to see the diverse expressions, understandings, perspectives and lenses religion, faith, spirituality, ethics, values, insights and people bring to their efforts to live in their communities, in this society and in this world with a sense of purpose, a sense they are not alone and a sense of the transcendent—however they may articulate it.

That's our journey with The Fig Tree.

Mary Stamp


Copyright@ The Fig Tree, May 2023