I got into trouble once. Big trouble. I was enjoying myself at a barbecue supper with several clergy in a small northern Kentucky town. When we ran out of some food items, I volunteered to drive my MG—with the top down, of course—to find a grocery store. I was on my way back to the barbecue when a local officer nailed me for speeding.
In the fragility of goodness, author Martha Nussbaum writes, “The peculiar beauty of human excellence just is its vulnerability.” Goodness is fragile and its vulnerability is part of its beauty. But in several of these scripture texts, it is not the fragility of goodness that stands out but the sturdiness of righteousness.
Some time ago a family paid us a visit. Robert, as I will call a little boy who came along, was about our son’s age, and neither of them had yet mastered the art of sharing. But Robert was now on Nathanael’s territory. Nathanael’s toys were scattered all around, and it was his responsibility to share.
The most precisely regulated social order that I’ve experienced was junior high school. The building itself was a forbidding, huge, gray concrete thing with tiny windows and permanent streaks down the sides so that it always looked as if it had been in a drizzle. We had heard that it was originally built as a prison. That made sense.