New lights of the spirit

"Your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions," wrote the prophet Joel. That may seem the definition of the spiritual enterprise, but in the past few years it has not described mainstream religion in America or the rest of the West. Catholicism and the Protestant mainline have occupied themselves with the less glamorous task of figuring out how changing social norms on issues like homosexuality fit into visions seemingly codified long ago.

Even America's evangelical community, usually at the nation's vital and visionary edge, has been uncharacteristically subdued as it ponders a retreat from the...

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