Project on Religion & Urban Culture



Faith & Community  Religion as a Window on Culture 
Episode 1: The Religious Landscape Episode 1: Sacred Space
Episode 2: Religion in Black & White Episode 2: Sacred Rituals, Sacred Spaces
Episode 3: Faith-Based Partnerships Episode 3: Sacred Time
Episode 4: The Role of Religion in Times of Crisis Episode 4: Sacred Memory
Episode 5: The Public Role of Clergy Episode 5: Sacred Texts and Stories
Episode 6: Religion’s Contribution of Social Leadership Episode 6: Sacred Journey
Episode 7: Religion’s Role in Healthcare
Episode 8: Religion and Immigration
Episode 9: Models of Metropolitan Ministry
Episode 10: Sacred Spaces
Episode 11: The Vitality of Religion


Faith & Community: The Public Role of Religion

THE RELIGIOUS LANDSCAPE: The place and status of religion in America has changed both in relation to the larger culture and in relation to other religious traditions. This episode describes the rich opportunities and tremendous challenges for religious, civic, and government leaders.
RELIGION IN BLACK & WHITE: Nearly 90% of congregations in most American cities have virtually no membership from a race other than their own. This reality contradicts a desire to honor diversity and obey tenets that seek unity of all God’s people. Learn how a variety of leaders and communities are responding to the maxim that 11:00 AM on Sunday is the most segregated hour in America.
FAITH-BASED PARTNERSHIPS: America’s civic and religious institutions have a long history of collaboration to provide social services. This segment explores the long history of these collaborations, guides our understanding of the difference between what congregations see as their mission and what other people sometimes see for them, and shows us what is new about faith-based initiatives.
THE ROLE OF RELIGION IN TIMES OF CRISIS: Faith communities have a lengthy history of anticipating and responding to public need in times of crisis. Discover how public ministry is not only about public advocacy or social ministry, but can also be about the role a congregation and its members play in offering public space, public education, and public analysis.
THE PUBLIC ROLE OF CLERGY: What is the public role of today’s clergy? America’s religious leaders perform a variety of public functions. In this segment learn how well prepared they are for these roles and how the expectations of congregations, government leaders, and public citizens shape these public roles.
RELIGION’S CONTRIBUTION OF SOCIAL LEADERSHIP: In this segment determine how religious adherents are often the most active participants in civic boards, agencies and activities. Also examine the relationship between a congregant’s religious life and life as a public citizen. Discover the variety of ways in which congregations prepare children, youth and adults to become citizen leaders.
RELIGION’S ROLE IN HEALTHCARE: Religious congregations established many of America’s schools, hospitals and orphanages. In this segment, see examples of faith-based health care initiatives and rediscover how religious history and practice strongly influence the delivery of social services. Consider what the future might hold for congregation-based clinics, parish nurses, and wellness programs.
RELIGION AND IMMIGRATION: Learn ways that faith communities continue to connect immigrants to their new American homes while also helping them to preserve important aspects of their native culture. We will explore how immigrants bring their cultural traditions to existing congregations, establish their own ethnic congregations, or bring their religious traditions to the community at large.
MODELS OF METROPOLITAN MINISTRY: Many American congregations create metropolitan networks in a variety of ways, with an assortment of other congregations and institutions. There are different kinds of cooperative endeavors; among the more prominent are partnerships between urban and suburban congregations. Learn how some vital congregations are choosing the models best suited to their time and place.
SACRED SPACES: This segment will examine the many sacred spaces of a city: land, buildings, monuments and public art. Learn how creating, defining, and maintaining sacred spaces in a community can be enriching and sometimes controversial. We will closely examine religious influence on publicly accessible art and architecture asking and answering: How are these spaces and places being preserved?
THE VITALITY OF RELIGION: How vital is religion in your community, and in America? Listen to leading experts and ordinary citizens describe how they measure the vitality of religion in the United States. This segment interviews key Indianapolis civic, religious and academic leaders who will consider religion’s place in the city in light of The Polis Center’s long-term research.


Religion as a Window on Culture


INTRODUCTION AND SACRED SPACE: This episode begins to address sacred space, and how houses of worship express the values of the people who worship there.
SACRED RITUALS, SACRED SPACES: Learn how people of different religious faiths go about designating space as sacred. How do the use of symbol, ritual and ceremony define what is sacred?
SACRED TIME: Sacred Time examines those periods religions set apart from the everyday practices of life. Specific times of the day, the week, or the year may be designated as sacred, including times when people gather to worship together.
SACRED MEMORY: Sacred memory often is expressed in the form of ritual. This chapter explores the rituals and celebrations used to commemorate sacred memory.
SACRED TEXTS AND STORIES: Christians revere the Bible, Jews the Torah, Muslims the Koran. Rituals may also convey stories sacred to the tradition. This chapter examines the ways that people of faith keep traditions alive, connect the past to the present, and preserve their religion for future generations.
SACRED JOURNEY: A journey may be a physical pilgrimage leading to a particular holy place—as in the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. Or it can be an overall journey, either outward or inward, in search of the fullest meaning of one’s religious beliefs.