Dramatic conversion stories are the exception, not the rule,
in the life of faith. Coming to faith usually involves a gradual adjustment of
one's vision and habits, rather than the kind of dramatic turnaround described
in those oft-sung words of "Amazing Grace": "I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind but now I see." Life is rarely so black and white.
The dream of a ladder linking earth to heaven is surely
among the most familiar images of biblical literature. From "We are Climbing
Jacob's Ladder" to "Stairway to Heaven," the idea has been deeply embedded in
our collective consciousness.
In this wonderfully titled memoir, Mark Vonnegut writes of his college years in the late 1960s: "At Swarthmore I majored in religion with the idea of going to divinity school and then maybe the Unitarian ministry, where I would be a comforter of the sick and disadvantaged but mostly a really good professional arguer who argued against the war and materialism."
In a survey conducted by Charity Navigator, five metro areas were judged to have the best climate for charities: Houston, St. Louis, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Dallas, and San Diego (a tie). Their research shows that performance on financial, accountability, and transparency matters is influenced by the metropolitan context. CEO compensation, which has a bearing on the operating expenses of a charitable organization, is much lower in a city like Orlando than it is in Washington, D.C. (charitynavigator.org, September 6).