Prayer. We read, write, talk and agonize about it, resolve to do it, wish we’d done it more than we actually do it. In this it resembles other pursuits of which people overestimate the intensity, frequency and duration—such as reading, writing and sex.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,” our priest droned for the tenth time. His pedagogy was nothing if not dogged. He would have said it again, but I jumped in: “How can I love someone I can’t see?” The other kids sat up. Would he ignore me or call my parents? I always tried to rattle him, but for once I wasn’t showing off.
Bulgaria is a small country with a long history. Like other Balkan countries, it has gone through turmoil, slavery, exaltation and defeat. Though Bulgaria is the quietest and most obscure nation on the troubled Balkan peninsula, its people have to wrestle with the usual social evils that plague former communist-bloc countries: slow reforms, economic difficulties and moral confusion.
Three years ago, on the very first broadcast of Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, the PBS program I host, we did a feature on a stretch of road outside Washington, D.C., that has been nicknamed the “Highway of Heaven.” Side by side, block after block, is an amazing variety of new places of worship for Vietnamese Catholics, Korean Presbyterians, Cambodian Buddhists, Ukrainian Ortho
Back when I made my living as a high school English teacher, I used to tell my ninth graders that the class unit with the most practical application to their lives was Greek tragedy. “Grammar’s important, too,” I would hasten to add. “Don’t get me wrong. But not all of you will require a working knowledge of English grammar to get by in life.