Several of my friends found inspiration in Katherine Willis Pershey’s recent encomium to fidelity in the Century. But I felt a strong aversion to the article, a reaction that’s led me into a period of self-examination. Upon reflection, I have almost no objection to the actual content of the article. It’s what Pershey doesn’t say—stuff she is not obliged to say—that has my attention.
Lauren Winner first drew widespread literary attention in 2004 with the spritely spiritual memoir Girl Meets God: A Memoir, which told the story of her conversion first to Orthodox Judaism and then to a Christianity of a Jesus-loving-Anglican-intellectual-evangelical kind. That book, with its fun and its chatty tone, snuck up on me like a charming guest at a cocktail party.
It’s not easy for churches to address what sociologist Barbara Dafoe Whitehead has termed the “divorce culture.” For one thing, the changes in laws and attitudes that have made divorce easier to obtain in the past half century represent an advance for women.
The parable of the Prodigal Son is often used to illustrate the gracious and steadfast nature of God’s love. Most of us can recognize and even identify with the characters—the younger son who strikes out on his own and makes costly mistakes, the responsible elder son who always does what is expected of him, and the long-suffering father, who shows love and constancy.
Pope Benedict XVI has called for greater consistency in the granting of annulments, suggesting that Catholic church authorities in some countries have been too lax in declaring marriages void. The pope apparently did not cite U.S. dioceses, though they handle more than half of all annulments worldwide.