The saints are in retreat. Faced by what they consider moral as well as academic breakdown, some evangelical leaders are calling on Christians to withdraw their children from public schools and place them in private religious academies--or better yet--teach them at home. "Exodus 2000," they call it. And for those who miss the exodus, they have a backup plan: "Rescue 2010."
Sometimes society faces issues that seem to defy rational solution. They excite extraordinary tensions, and participants in debate find that simple language is misunderstood and motives are vilified. In the 20th century this level of irrational hostility has exploded around such issues as the right of labor to organize, women's suffrage, desegregation and abortion.
This past November the tobacco industry agreed to give $208 billion to the states over the next 25 years. The tobacco companies want us to think that they have redeemed themselves from their evil deeds. But the truth is that they've engineered a settlement that may be one of the best con jobs in American history.
We were walking up to our third-floor apartment when an elderly neighbor opened her door. "I heard you come in last night," she said. We were distressed, and said we were sorry to have disturbed her. She shook her head at our apologies. "You don't disturb me. I just don't sleep well until I hear you come in at night, and know you're safe."
A few months ago, I knowingly harmed an indigent woman named Jacqueline. She was standing at the end of the exit ramp, holding up the predictable sign: "Homeless. Please Help." I parked the car and doubled back to talk to her. She and her "old man" had come from a city a few hours east, she said.