Like many Americans, my family will celebrate July 4 by sharing a picnic with friends. After the usual greetings, jokes, and anecdotes about our children, we’ll no doubt find time for a political discussion. And since most of us are Democrats living in a very Republican county, my husband and I won’t have much trouble triggering a good argument with strong opinions.
When Martin Luther asked “Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved,” he was struggling to find a theologically defensible balance between two competing demands. As he penned the 1526 essay, he was feeling the force of the New Testament’s condemnation of violence and Christ’s exhortation to nonresistance of evil. But Luther also faced the demands of political reality.
I finish this review in the shadow of Timothy McVeigh’s execution. But while America’s most notorious mass murderer is dead, and while the pundits continue to argue the merits and meaning of his execution, news about capital punishment just keeps coming.
Hardly anyone likes suburban sprawl. Although most suburbanites prefer to live in suburbs, many of them regret that so many others have followed them out of the city, thereby destroying the advantages that attracted them in the first place. For many, the answer is to move still farther out. Rural landscapes recede, traffic increases and strip malls proliferate.
In the spring of 1976, I took my New Hampshire youth group to Philadelphia for the bicentennial celebrations. Not wanting to break the bank on hotels, we slept in a church hall in a suburb north of the city. There, for the first time in my life, I encountered row after row, block after block, street after street of identical beige cinderblock houses.