"Admiral, the great navy of the State of Nebraska,” my 1991 citation from Governor Ben Nelson of Nebraska declares. It continues, “I do strictly charge and require all officers, seamen, tadpoles and goldfish under your command to be obedient to your orders as Admiral. . . .”
Every half century or so the Christian Century moves its offices. As our old Dearborn Street neighborhood seems to be “going condo,” we moved to Michigan Avenue last autumn. We’ve traded the historic Old Colony Building for the equally historic Monroe Building. I don’t keep desks in the places from which I’ve retired, but I do drop in on this office, and savor the occasions.
General Mills recently tucked a CD-ROM containing the Bible into 12 million cereal boxes and then had to issue profuse apologies for having done so as it withdrew the offensive inclusions. GM pleaded not guilty: “we didn’t know it was loaded” with scriptures, they said.
Question: Who had reason to vandalize the statue of Carl von Linné, a.k.a. Carolus Linnaeus (1707-78), prompting Chicago authorities to move it from once-Swede-surrounded Lincoln Park to the University of Chicago?
Answer (choose one):
a) anti-Swede toughs; b) neighborhood thugs; c) enemies of pornography; d) lovers of pornography;
Like red wine, which we biblical literalists are commanded to take now and then, coffee, unanticipated in the scriptures, offers both an enhancement of and a threat to health. A recent issue of Time summarizes coffee’s contradictory potentials.
We’re in the Money!” announces the cover of Christianity Today (June 12). “How Did Evangelicals Get So Wealthy, and What Has It Done to Us?” the subhead asks. Michael S. Hamilton’s lead article defines the “us” as the parachurch organizations which, by Hamilton’s estimate, have combined budgets of $22 billion. Both he and, in another article, John Stackhouse Jr.
Cats, they say, have nine lives. My cat columns, I say, will have only two. My first (April 5) was a pioneering, tentative but catastrophically flawed venture into the aelurophilic world. It spawned a cataract of letters. Fax and e-mail contributed yet more catcalls.
For my sister Mildred’s 50th wedding anniversary, our clan is gathering in Fort Wayne this summer. Happily influenced by my siblings, from whom I keep learning, I dedicate this column to my sister and brother-in-law by detailing for others what our family calls “Mildred’s law.”
A bore, they tell us, is someone who, when you ask him how he is, tells you. “Let me tell you about my operation,” he says. To that familiar definition, our culture has added another: a bore is anyone who relates the details of an airplane incident.
Some years ago a writer in the Washington Post made a snide comment about evangelicals of the southern persuasion, saying that they were dim-witted ignoramuses. I should know the statement by heart since it’s been quoted often enough by bright-witted evangelicals as evidence of media bias.
On a recent trip to the University of Notre Dame to speak at a conference on “Religion, Spirituality and Business,” I stopped at a toll-road fast-food, fast-fuel station. A theme of my address was to be that “the market has won,” that it is all-enveloping, all-embracing, intrusive, unavoidable.
Years ago I wrote about the tendency of modernist, evolution-minded, progressive, pacifist theists to live long lives. Someone once asked Vida Scudder the secret of her longevity. She said that she was a liberal who nurtured many projects, and she had to get up each morning to see how they were doing.
Reviewing Jonathan Raban’s Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings (Pantheon) in the New York Review of Books (January 20), Larry McMurtry concentrates on the act of saying good-bye. Raban, a skilled writer of travelogues and an adventurous traveler, tells his three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Julia that he is leaving for 21 days.
If anyone ever did a word search of four decades’ worth of these columns, it is not likely that cat would ever show up. I am neither pro-cat—I sneeze when one comes near—nor con-cat—I don’t want to lose any cat-loving readers. I am just neglectful of felines.
I wouldn't recognize Rosie O’Donnell if we bumped into each other’s baskets at the supermarket, but I know she’s big on television. And on the basis of just one of her sentences, reported in a recent issue of Time, I nominate her for a position on liturgical commissions and other groups that decide what should go on in contemporary worship and public prayers.
The last time I wrote about scanning the obituaries, I referred to people whose accomplishments were widely recognized. This time I will look at the lives of the less known, to illustrate ordinary goodness in an often ungood world. I hope the papers in your town do what the Chicago Tribune does: interview friends and family members to bring some color to each account.