When I think of the people who have had a special impact on my life, who were catalysts in my formation, I think especially of Joseph Sittler. Sittler was professor of theology on the Federated Theological Faculty and at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. Before I got there, I had never heard of him.
Recently I made my third trip to Rome. My purpose this time was to participate in the Presbyterians’ ongoing conversation with the Vatican on the subject of the papacy—a conversation that grew out of Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical, Ut Unum Sint, which invited Protestants to discuss how the bishop of Rome might exercise his position to serveChristian unity.
A week or so after President Bush assured the nation that education would continue to be one of his top priorities and that no child would be left behind, I had an extended conversation with the principal of an elementary school in the middle of Cabrini-Green. Cabrini is the housing project on the near north side of Chicago. Constructed in the ’60s, Cabrini once housed 20,000 people.
Many years ago, when I was struggling to balance the demands of divinity school and the need to produce a weekly sermon for a congregation that sat patiently and graciously through the efforts of its student pastor, I turned regularly to a little book with a catchy title, Your God Is Too Small, by J. B. Phillips.