You will not find the term generosity in your theological dictionaries. Most ungenerously skip from “Generation, Eternal” to “Genevan Catechism” or from “Gaudium et Spes” to “Genocide” without “Generosity” slipping in. Don’t blame the authors. They need something with which to work, and the Hebrew and Greek words translated as “generosity” rarely appear in the biblical texts. But since theology (theos+logos) involves words or language about God, generosity has to be attached—as in “the generosity of God.”
At age 12, when I still thought I was or would be or could be a poet, John G. Neihardt figured large in my imagination. For 50-plus years he was Nebraska’s poet laureate. He began his editing and writing career in a cottage—really a shack—at the edge of the Omaha Indian reservation, 12 miles from where I grew up.
In the 1960s, famed community organizer Saul Alinksy, Arthur M. Brazier and the Woodlawn Organization took on the University of Chicago, the mayor’s office, some church groups and even this magazine as they strove to improve life for people in the Woodlawn community near Hyde Park.
As Christians conquered pagan lands, they regularly superimposed Christian symbols on pagan shrines. I thought of this when I read that the buildings of Chicago Theological Seminary have been sold to the University of Chicago and will become the Milton Friedman Institute, named after one of our era’s most celebrated economists.
The next time I head for the airport security line, ready to be scolded for wearing too large a wristwatch, I will have to make a quick decision. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now asks passengers to sort themselves into three different lanes on the basis of their experience and efficiency as travelers (and packers).
Ronald Autry has always been called Ronald, never Ron or Ronnie, during the years that we have known him. We have spent time with his family in Vermont and visited them in Des Moines; we have spent hours doing jigsaw puzzles with Ronald, who is is a master of puzzles. We are the fumblers who lose pieces, which he ardently seeks until he finds.
Hell is talked about cautiously, if at all, in mainline churches. Yet the notion of a divinely ordained place of punishment for the wicked after death is deeply embedded in the Christian imagination. How should we think and talk about hell? Why don’t we talk about it? We asked eight theologians to comment.
On the way to the airport for my TWA flight to St. Louis, I gassed up at the Standard station. When I got to the airport, my plane was delayed so I had time to drop in on Crown Books and then stopped at the Rexall concession to get some aspirin. Having an hour to kill in the club before takeoff, I put on my earphones and listened to the tape I had purchased the day before at Rose Records.
Tim Goeglein, special assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Public Liaison, was recently caught plagiarizing Dartmouth veteran Jeffrey Hart. At issue was a Hart editorial that included a quotation from Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, miscopied by Goeglein as Eugene Rosenstock-Hussey.
I wait each year for the January issue of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research with its “Table C. Status of global mission, presence, and activities, AD 1800-2025.” Each year my eye falls on Table C’s saddest line, Line 62: “Ecclesiastical crime, $.” Before me is Vol. 32, No. 1, January 2008.
Sixty-nine years after I moved away, I still read the West Point News, the weekly in my Nebraska hometown. Recently some items in the paper’s “75 Years Ago” column caught my attention: “February 9, 1933: The Stanton County Courthouse is without a telephone. All but one were to be removed, but it was deemed impractical so all were taken out.
The medial orbitofrontal cortex has given us much to think about recently. So far as I understand, which is not very far, the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) helps to explain why the more expensive wine is, the better it tastes. In an era of secular Calvinism, all of human life is predetermined, predestined and biologically fated.
Back in the Middle Ages, which means somewhere in the 1990s, the acronym WWJD was a widely publicized guide to Christian ethics. We don’t hear much about it today, and sales of jewelry and bumper stickers bannering the letters seem to have declined. Why has its market value dropped?
A friend stopped by the other day having just come back from Iran. She brought with her a gift of sweets from the Iranian city of Qom. The only English on the box was an address in case I might want to drop in during a future visit to Qom. It reads:
In 2008, we have the opportunity to celebrate the centennial of MSG! In 1908, Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda isolated MSG—monosodium glutamate—and introduced the concept of a fifth taste: umami. I personally hadn’t heard of it until this past autumn and had been getting along just fine with salty, sour, sweet and bitter.
In 1965, I reported in these pages on the New York World’s Fair. At that event, I was wandering around in the Protestant and Orthodox pavilion where a smorgasbord of offerings to gods both known and unknown (to me) were vying for attention. Even as I tried to breeze by, the representatives of the Church of the New Jerusalem/Swedenborgian stopped me.