The enormity of the events of September 11 sparked unprecedented demand for books on Islam and the Middle East. For a while in fall 2001, books about Islam, Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan made bestseller lists, as readers played catch-up by devouring university or specialty press titles by scholarly and policy experts.
It is not easy to be a moderate in the United Methodist Church today. On the right are the conservatives, exemplified by Good News magazine, who want Methodists to conform to their pinched vision of orthodoxy. On the left are the liberals, exemplified by the church bureaucracy and the Council of Bishops, whose concept of leadership seems to be limited to condescending sloganeering.
There are many Jesuses, despite the fact that there was only one. Permutations began appearing as early as the first century and have not abated, making efforts to uncover the historical Jesus, the real man from Nazareth, notoriously fraught and conflicting endeavors—as Christians who have tried can attest.
For many years, Suzanne Hiatt taught a course on “Death and Dying” to seminarians. When she got sick last year, she got to see how the actual experience compared to her class notes. “What I never thought of was how clergy behaved on a hospital visit. What I learned when I was in the hospital allegedly dying is: they’re terrible at it.
Art can bring together those parts of us which exist in dread and those which have the surviving sense of a possible happiness, collectivity, community, a loss of isolation,” wrote the American poet Adrienne Rich. Her insight helps me see why I’ve turned so often to the arts since September 11.