Jerry Falwell loves making grand gestures and startling statements. In the mid-'80s he took over the scandal-ridden PTL empire from Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and proudly took a plunge down the water slide at PTL's Heritage amusement park.
By some gracious irony, the death of Robert Runcie came while the U.S. Episcopal Church’s General Convention was in session. As archbishop of Canterbury, Runcie led the Church of England and the Anglican Communion through the turbulent 1980s, seeking to hew to a “middle way” when issues of women’s ordination and modernized liturgies threatened to split his church.
When a friend of mine was invited to a retirement party, he responded, “Sorry, can’t make it. I am going to be climbing a mountain in Kenya. Besides, I prefer to live in the future, not the past.” There is nothing inherently wrong with retirement parties, but my friend has a point. Living in the future should take preference over living in the past.
The 20th century began in Sarajevo and it will end in Sarajevo.” That saying, current during the war in Bosnia, wasn’t too far wrong. A grim age that began with the 19th century’s bleeding to death in a war sparked in the Balkans is ending, in places like Sarajevo and Kosovo, with the aftershocks of communism’s collapse.
The participants at the church retreat had been talking about their families, new grandkids, vacations and pending retirements. The facilitator had asked us to share something personal. I’d shared personal stuff in church groups before. But this time my heart sank and my shoulders slumped. I could feel a shroud of fear and disgrace coming over me. Share something personal? Why? How?