Nine days after the events of September 11, when President Bush laid out the grounds and directions of the U.S. response to terrorism in a speech to a joint session of Congress, he declared that this is “not . . . just America’s fight. And what is at stake is not just America’s freedom.
If non-Americans attending the recent World Economic Forum in New York had been polled concerning their attitudes toward the foreign policies of the Bush administration, the president would not have received anywhere near the overwhelming endorsement Americans have given him since September 11.
Many of the most moving experiences I have had with students in class have involved encounters with members of other religious traditions. When teaching at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois, I used to invite Rabbi Herman Schaalman to speak to first-year seminarians about the importance of Jewish-Christian dialogue since the Shoah.
When I first started teaching, the dean thought it would be a good idea for me to warm up to the vocation (after five years in the pastorate) by teaching summer school. The summer school was designed for second-career folk—those called into the pastoral ministry late in life. Some of these students, I was to discover, are the most interesting kind.
The encounter that most decisively shaped my teaching occurred during my very first year in the classroom. I was fresh out of graduate study at the University of Chicago Divinity School, and the lines of my life, as the psalmist says, had fallen in pleasant places.