After years of enduring harassment and violence, Egypt’s Christians, the Copts, have seen their situation improve in recent months. The media have become more friendly to Christianity, and plans are being made to purge school textbooks of their hate messages.
In this new century, any credible answer to that question needs to be prefaced by what we cannot give. “I have no silver or gold,” says the apostle Peter, “but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” Perhaps one of the things we Christians no longer have to give, and probably never had to give, is a neat solution to every human dilemma.
When Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was asked in 1993 why he was attending a “parliament of the world’s religions,” he answered that we are told to “welcome strangers,” that many things are happening in the world which people of different religions need to confront jointly, and that Christians can find such a gathering a unique occasion to talk about Jesus.
"I want my seminary experience to form me as a person of prayer.” We had never heard a student state this desire so eloquently and succinctly. We sensed in this comment something much more than a first-year student’s desire for greater piety in the school environment. This student had done extremely well at a college with a strong undergraduate program.
When most Americans think of small towns, say Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins, they think of churches: “Each of us carries a mental map of the perfect small town. Whether or not we are of religious temperament, this exercise in mental cartography invariably includes churches.” Frantz and Collins know whereof they speak.