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.
Bill Clinton's remarks at the White House prayer breakfast more than made up for his less-than-contrite confession on the night of his grand jury appearance. I was at the breakfast, and I saw close-up a man and his wife in deep agony over the public shame and humiliation he had brought upon himself, his family and the nation.
The text for this first-ever column in its new location is taken from the first chapter of John Irving's novel A Prayer for Owen Meany: "I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice--not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christia
According to one White House spin doctor, President Clinton didn't want to appear too contrite in his Monica speech because he knew he would soon be back on center stage as commander in chief, defending the U.S. strike against terrorism. The inspiration for that judgment could have come from John Wayne's advice to a young army officer: "Never apologize, mister.
Bill Clinton has served as our national pastor on many occasions, empathizing with those who suffer, comforting those who grieve, and deftly articulating people's sentiments. He is at his best when he speaks to us in times of crisis. In his speech on August 17 the president had another opportunity to speak at a time of crisis. It was an opportunity to speak of his own personal failure.
Novelist John Irving quotes François Mauriac: “God doesn’t care at all--what we write--but when we do it right, He can use it.” I have a story I want to relate, but Mauriac’s admonition is intimidating. How do we know we are getting it right? We can’t, so all we can do is try--and hope that the story’s merits will nevertheless emerge, whatever the limitations of the storyteller.
President Clinton gently urged Chinese leaders to try a little tenderness in dealing with dissidents. But apart from that rhetoric on human rights, it was clear that the real purpose of Clinton’s trip to China was not to scold Chinese leaders but to start reversing the $50 billion imbalance in trade between the two powers.
Several entertainment and media conglomerates recently selected the top 100 films of the first century of the U.S. motion picture industry. You could hardly miss the news--the list was announced in a three-hour CBS special and in a special edition of Newsweek, and videos of the 100 films were made available at Blockbusters.