In the Middle East, May 4 and May 17 loom large on the calendar. For a long time it was feared that Yasir Arafat would declare the formation of a Palestinian state on May 4. That's the deadline set by the Oslo Accords for the parties to settle their differences.
Throughout those tortured months leading to the impeachment trial of President Clinton, one point of national agreement stood out: truth telling is good; lying is bad. Martin Luther made that point in his Small Catechism, in explaining the eighth commandment: "We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations.
Theologians sometimes use films to illustrate religious themes. This can result in a useful correlation of cultural concerns with religious claims, but it can also be a disservice to the films cited if they are employed merely as illustrations rather than engaged on their own terms.
When Sue Miller's latest novel opens, Jo and Daniel Becker are enjoying a leisurely afternoon on a lake. He is fishing and she is resting, half asleep, in the bow of the boat. The book's title is also its theme: While I Was Gone.
Across the street from the Christian Century's offices there used to be a wholesale outlet that sold barber supplies. On the first morning I reported for work as editor of this magazine in the summer of 1972, I left the house without a comb, so I stopped by the store to buy one. An employee looked at me with disdain.
Hard to believe that a year has passed since first we heard about Monica. It feels more like a decade that we've been in this Slough of Despond. That was John Bunyan's term for one of the stops on Pilgrim's journey, which included a visit to the valley of Humiliation, a location all too familiar to many of the players in this yearlong national nightmare.
In Wim Wenders's film Far Away, So Close, two angels look out across Berlin from atop the Brandenburg Gate. One of the angels, Raphaela, speaks to her colleague, Cassiel: "It is so exhausting to love people who run away from us. Why do they shun us more and more?"
Proportionality is the key theological word for the impeachment process, a word far superior to the solemn evocations of "the law" intoned by the ideologically driven conservatives on the Judiciary Committee during their partisan indictment of President Clinton.
A bunch of religious academics, 87 to be exact, have been fussing with some of us about being too easy on Bill Clinton. According to their statement, they feel that some serious punishment is in order for the president's dalliance in the White House and for his period of denial that followed.
After a six-mile bus journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, a British journalist reported that his Israeli tourist guide used the term "terrorist" 32 times. The guide also said he could not be responsible for taking his passengers around Bethlehem.
Yasir Arafat and Benjamin Netanyahu have departed from Maryland's Wye Plantation. If you believe there is any cause for serious optimism following their meetings, then, as George Strait sings, "I've got some ocean front property for you in A-ro-zo-na." There is, however, a hint of a hopeful breeze emerging from Wye.
A little ideology can be just what the political strategist ordered. Ideological passion stimulates party activists, brings out the volunteers, injects ideas into the forefront of debates and, on election day, produces the voters needed to decide close elections. But too much ideology can be toxic.
A new television season always begins in autumn, which is really a shame. Television needs a spring start, with buds bursting, grass growing greener, and trees coming alive. But the television producers rely on the waning daylight and bleaker weather to drive people indoors to their television sets. This year's premiers have been depressingly familiar—full of noise and empty humor.
Newness always poses a threat. Whereas the old and familiar is reassuring and offers at least the semblance of personal control, the new is unpredictable. The shepherds knew of the possibility of a messiah, but they certainly didn't anticipate God's arrival in the form of a baby in a cave.