Which reminds us of Calvinism.
The connection is indirect. Many years ago, in a cheap hotel room in a developing country, Father Anonymous, then known as Seminarian Anonymous, found himself arguing with a Calvinist. It was a wide-ranging argument, and dwelt mostly on the subject of whether children ought to worship with adults or in segregated ecclesiolae, little "children's churches." (Our friend liked this idea, and insisted that letting kids worship with adults was "a ritual." We agreed, and thought that rather proved our point, but he kept repeating himself. It was a very confusing conversation, until an Episcopal interlocutor leaned over and whispered in our ear, "Remember, ritual is bad.")
Anyway, at some point in the conversation, our Calvinist friend mentioned the crucifix, and snarled, "Is Christ dead or is he risen? Is he at the right hand of the Father, or is he still on the Cross? Then why do you leave him hanging there?" And we were reminded that, although Lutherans and Calvinists share a firm commitment both to the reality of Christ's Passion and the reality of Christ's Resurrection, the manner of our devotions is often very different.
All of which is meant to preface yet another report from the front lines of American Christianity. According to the mainstream media, Calvinism isn't actually defunct. It has (in the emerging, and unfathomable, media narrative) risen from the dead.
According to David van Biema in Time magazine (linked above), the "new Calvinism" (also "neo-Calvinism") is one of the "ten big ideas changing the world right now." By this, they apparently mean "Calvinism as preached outside the traditionally Calvinist denominations.
Here is the gist of van Biema's story:
Calvinism ... is a bit less dour than its critics claim: it offers a rock-steady deity who orchestrates absolutely everything, including illness (or home foreclosure!), by a logic we may not understand but don't have to second-guess. Our satisfaction — and our purpose — is fulfilled simply by "glorifying" him. [In America, it was] overtaken in the U.S. by movements like Methodism that were more impressed with human will. Calvinist-descended liberal bodies like the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) discovered other emphases, while Evangelicalism's loss of appetite for rigid doctrine — and the triumph of that friendly, fuzzy Jesus — seemed to relegate hard-core Reformed preaching (Reformed operates as a loose synonym for Calvinist) to a few crotchety Southern churches.
There is some truth to all this: the lure of semipelagianism is strong, and works-righteousness is everywhere in our culture. The rise of the "Buddy Jesus" has been strange to see. But the main current is hogwash. Van Biema may overstate the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, which is principally about the fate of souls, not of mortgages. And his distinction between "liberalism" and "hard-core Calvinism" is just irritating. The two aren't mutually exclusive. It's like saying "all the Eskimo-descended people have turned into lawyers, so they aren't Eskimos anymore." It means nothing, and would mean nothing even if it happened to be true.
Attentive readers will recall our amusement some months back, at a Times profile of Mark Driscoll, which promoted the same idea -- that old-style Reformed Christianity has long been a thing of the past, and is only now making a comeback from the pulpit of a young punk evangelist spitting in the face of his Arminian elders. The brief Time piece adds to Driscoll's name those of John Piper and, notably, Southern Baptist leader Alfred Mohler. (Mohler tickled us pink by saying that "The moment someone begins to define God's [being or actions] biblically, that person is drawn to conclusions that are traditionally classified as Calvinist." Really? So can we assume that he will begin preaching infant baptism, as prescribed by Calvin's Institutes, 4:16:7ff?).
The press does love its metanarratives. But this one is sort of lame, and we hope they'll let it drop. Calvinism hasn't risen from the dead; it has been doing just fine for five centuries, thank you.