A few years ago, I read a fascinating and somewhat controversial book called The Churching of America, by Roger Finke and Rodney Stark. In it the authors examined and brought to light the history of religion in America by arguing it works as a free market economy, an economy in which there are winners and losers. The authors were not pastors or theologians, but professors of sociology and they tackled the issue as sociologists. They do not speak much about orthodoxy or heterodoxy or faithful confessions but use the language of economics.

Last weekend I competed in my first World Master Jiu-Jitsu competition. Over several days, hundreds of athletes descended on the Las Vegas Convention Center for the biggest master’s competition in the sport. The whole event was awesome. I was terrified, anxious and eager all at the same time. To stand across the mat from a person I have never met and engage in a combat sport is something I never imagined I would find myself doing, especially at the age of 44. But there I was, and it was an experience I will not soon forget.