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January 30, 2007

So you think Christians can dance?

Turns out, it is possible for Christians to be portrayed in the media as thoughtful, faithful individuals. What a concept!

The New York Times ran a story on dancing at Christian colleges in this Sunday's magazine. Focused on one college's first-ever sanctioned dance, the article says that "by dressing up nicely, but not suggestively, and dancing exuberantly, but not too closely, these students and professors would say with their bodies not only that Christians may dance but also that they should." Scandalous stuff once upon a time, but not anymore.

Why this reversal of policy? For one thing, Christian colleges are trying to be more welcoming of minority and international students, for many of whom dance is a form of cultural expression and an accepted form of worship. For another, formal dances and swing are no longer considered evil. Like their long-accepted cousin, square dancing, these dances are now seen as quaint and harmless means of social interaction. And, in perhaps a bit of a stretch, dancing is seen as a way to bridge cultural divides and build relationships for witnessing...so now, you can take your missionary date to a missionary dance, I'm guessing.

This is a great article, not only for its realistic and very normal portrayal of Christians, but also for the unpacking of theology around the issue of dance, from David and Miriam to the Gnostics and Puritans. Kudos to the Times for such a thoughtful piece on faith.

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Steven Barrett

I danced at parties held at my Catholic alma mater, St. Thomas University (then Biscayne College) in Miami, and at our sister institution, Barry College.

I don't think anyone's souls were in danger, especially at Barry which was run by the order who gave the world the Inquisition: Dominicans.

But of course, the order that ran Biscayne and St. Thomas (nowadays) is the same one that one Martin Luther used to belong to, Augustinians.

We also had a Rathskeller on campus. Now all your stereotypes about those heathen Catholics will be

That was back in those awfull days of the anything goes "Me Decade" of the Seventies. They were awfull, but not because of dancing.

Michael Snow

Wow! What a refreshing, well-written, well-researched piece.

The article brought to my mind a comment of Joseph Bayly that higlighted evangelical thinking in his day.

After WWII, at a meeting of international students, a German student remarked how he had given up his opportunity to become an officer because he would not engage in social dancing.

Bayly remarked that he wanted to ask, but didn't, 'What about the killing of Jews?'

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