Happy today: When life is grim, columnist Mary Schmich likes to ask people, "What's making you happy today?" She doesn't ask, "Are you happy?" That's a "black hole" of a question, she says, that can lead to equivocation and existential dread. Her question, instead, assumes that there's always something, no matter how grim life is, that can be a source of gladness, however small or simple—like a flower or a bird, a skyline or a full moon, or just a cup of coffee (Chicago Tribune, May 1).
Living with contradiction: As a youth Garret Keizer was troubled with contradictions in Paul's letters. He raised the issue with his pastor, who pointed out a contradiction that Keizer hadn’t noticed: in Galatians 6 Paul says both that we are to bear one another’s burdens and that we are to bear our own burdens. But Keizer now doesn’t think this is a contradiction. We need both imperatives, Keizer says—self-reliance and social responsibility. “The trick is to get them to kiss” (Harper’s, April).
Theology for buffaloes: Donald Shriver Jr. recalls when a publisher sent the library at Union Theological Seminary in New York a copy of Kosuke Koyama’s ground-breaking book Water Buffalo Theology. “The book landed on a discard shelf outside the library door," says Shriver. Soon afterward, Union named the book's author its professor of world Christianity. Koyama died last month at age 79 (ENI).
First parishioner: Aides and friends of President Obama have been quietly visiting churches in Washington, D.C., to help the first family find a spiritual home. The Obamas are looking for a church whose beliefs match theirs and one that has a youth ministry suitable for their daughters and is active in helping the needy. Security logistics are also a factor (Boston Globe, March 22).
Thanks to Darwin: Mark A. Throntveit and Alan G. Padgett of Luther Seminary argue that Darwin’s work frees us to read the Bible on its own terms and helps us to realize that science and the Bible have different, and not necessarily conflicting, agendas. “Science seeks answers to questions of what and how, while biblical interpretation seeks answers to questions of who and why.” The Genesis accounts of creation are less about the origins of creation and more about the ordering of chaos and forming of relationship with us humans (Word & World, Winter).