By now we are all too familiar not only with the major terrorist attacks on the World Trade towers and the Pentagon, but also with the smaller terrorist attacks on Muslims, Sikhs and Arab-Americans in the weeks since then. At the time of this writing, the murder of an Arizona Sikh man named Balbir Singh Sodhi is the latest deadly case of mistaken identity.
One Saturday morning when there was a brief lull in our domestic hubbub, I asked our 13-year-old son John what he considered to be the most important things in life. He instantly presented me with an itemized list:
• To make sure that you and everyone else have a good time
What are your ambitions?” an administrative colleague asked me recently. I am not often speechless, but this time I didn’t know what to say. I briefly considered explaining my understanding of vocation, especially in relation to my primary identity as an ordained minister of the gospel. That would make clear why I have presumed that the church has a legitimate claim on my life.
A few months ago I gave a lecture at a small Midwestern college. Broadly put, my topic was the encounter with “the other.” In a discussion afterwards, a student suggested that engaging in evangelism and seeking to convert another person to the Christian faith is a form of violence, a form of harmful disrespect for the other.
Over the years I have accumulated dozens of crosses. I purchased quite a few of them myself, such as the crudely poured brass cross I bought from a young girl in Ethiopia, or the small golden one I found in a shop in East Jerusalem. Others have been gifts.
Jason Trigg, a recent MIT graduate in computer science, may represent a new breed in his generation. He’s taken a job at a Wall Street hedge fund company to make as much money as he can—so he can give away as much as he can. His favorite charity is the Against Malaria Foundation, which estimates that a $2,500 donation can save one life. Trigg, who lives with three roommates, figures he can do more by contributing to good causes than by actually working in them. Rather than going on a mission trip to dig wells in Africa, he can contribute funds to have more wells dug. Trigg attributes his career choice to philosopher Peter Singer, who regards earning-to-give as the most ethical career choice (Wonkblog, washingtonpost.com, May 31).