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.
I once told a story from the pulpit about road rage that evoked as much response as anything I have ever said. I told about being in the left lane on Michigan Avenue and needing to move to the center lane and then the right lane in order to make a right turn at Chestnut. Simultaenously, a young woman in a BMW was moving from the far right lane to the center.
Jesse Jackson is a complicated man. He has been right on most issues most of the time, though certainly not all the time. No one is more eloquent on the topic of human rights, and no one more personally committed to the cause of justice for minority and marginalized people.
Calendar purists insist that only now are we entering the 21st century, since 2000 was really the final year of the 20th century. Whichever it is, I entered this new year thinking a lot about the fractious divisiveness that seems so evident everywhere in the world, and about its reverse, the precious but fragile unity of the human family.
For the first time in centuries, church bells didn’t ring and no mass was celebrated the last Sunday of June in Mosul, the Iraqi city overrun by the radical Islamic group called ISIS. Christians in Mosul have been forced to pay a tax for their non-Muslim status. When one Christian family said it didn’t have the money, the mother and daughter were raped. The husband and father was so traumatized by the event that he committed suicide. By tradition, Mosul is the site of Jonah’s burial. Most Christians have fled from Mosul, some going to Kurdistan (Daily Beast, June 29).