On Sunday drives some 40 years ago, our family would travel up and down Des Plaines Avenue, which cut through Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois. It often took quite a while because of the traffic. Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the people buried there remembered the sites and the people they honored.
Baltimore, our declining but still 12th-largest city, has a larger population than the entire state of North Dakota, which has 634,366 people. The state’s Divide County takes up a lot of space on the map, but its population declined from 9,636 in 1930 to 2,208 (down 77 percent) today. You could fit those people into any urban block.
Expect to see banners with “Song of Solomon 2:6” or “Genesis 2:25” unfurled in sports stadiums along with the customary “John 3:16” signs. Expect these, that is, if the annual multimillion-dollar sale of evangelical sex manuals continues to grow apace. Those two scriptures are cited in such texts, many of them written by Tim and Beverly LaHaye.
Sixteen toy Model A Fords greet me each day in my study. In the 1927 model, modest headlights are connected by a straight bar. Its symbolic straight face is noncommittal. I carry no nightmare images from childhood confrontations with such autos. By 1931, however, the Model A revealed a slightly down-curved mounting bar, thus presenting the image of mild melancholy.
For years my multiyear calendar has had a listing for April 19, 2009: “Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Minneapolis.” “You must really be in demand!” someone or other who peruses the schedule says. Hardly. Mt.
Mario cuomo, no mean rhetorician, is no expert on Christian denominations. Analyzing Hillary and Bill Clinton’s rhetorical styles, Cuomo said: “She is more a Methodist and he is more theatrical.” I scurried to the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches to see if it listed the Theatrical Church.
Some questions just will not die. “Why is there something instead of nothing?” is a perennial. Perhaps the second-most persistent question is this: “Is yawning contagious?” or “Why is yawning contagious?” The empiricists ask the first of these, the metaphysicians the second.
The theological education issue of this magazine in 1958 featured a ruckus-raising editorial, “Domesticity in Our Seminaries” (April 23). The author was Ted Gill, my office mate and mentor in religious journalism. The editorial was unsigned, but no regular reader could have failed to discern Gill’s style, described by one colleague as “late baroque, early rococo, unfailingly grabbing.”
For the first time in the United States,” said the book blurb, “a number of Christian thinkers gathered to analyze Bonhoeffer’s theological achievement for publication.” So eight of us claimed—I was editor—in The Place of Bonhoeffer, which in 1962 sold for $4.50 ($2.25 paperback), and now, Google will tell you, can be found for $55.00.
Jeff Samardzija’s is not the first difficult name on the Notre Dame football roster, nor does one expect to find familiar names—that is, familiar to Anglos—in sports in this cosmopolitan era. Yet his name signals a problem for many.
Like most artists, the sculptor and painter Anselm Kiefer favors certain hues and materials. His chosen hue is gray, in all its shades, and gray is nothing if not shaded. His favorite material is lead, which is, yes, grayish. His maxim: “The truth is always gray.”
In October NBC’s Today show covered the floods in New Jersey with a live shot of correspondent Michelle Kosinski, who was paddling a canoe. As she was paddling, “two men walked between her and the camera—making it appear the water where she was floating was barely ankle-deep” (as was noted by the Associated Press).
Soon the fashionistas will fashion a new craze to replace the craze for distressed jeans. I imagine pants modeled after tuxedo trousers: black with a black satin stripe down the sides and with neat undistressed pockets, knees, hems and rears.
Now and then we play a game: “Which four figures would you nominate to be included in a Mount Rushmore of American religionists?” Jonathan Edwards and Martin Luther King Jr. make most lists right off. After that there is much debate. Shouldn’t we include a Catholic? A woman?
On the lecture circuit I once met a man who was one of the hierarchs in the advertising division of the New Yorker. I was primed to learn more about the magazine’s editors and writers, who are heroes and heroines to me, but he told me he did not know any of them. The magazine did all it could, as a matter of policy, to separate the advertising personnel from the editorial staff.