Century Marks

Century Marks

Guilt gone

In his 1958 book on guilt and guilt feelings (Schuld und Schudgefühle), Martin Buber said that some religious perspectives on how to deal with guilt are so important they should be shared with the rest of society. These include the Jewish synagogue tradition, the Catholic practice of confession and the Protestant tradition of preaching about the necessity of confessing one’s sins. In its own way each of these traditions teaches that it is possible for a sinner to be free of guilt if that person is willing to walk the long road of remorse, confession, making amends and asking for forgiveness. What was done can’t be undone, but the guilty one doesn’t need to continue to be identified with the sin (Dialog, Summer).

Altar call

The agency that commissions Southern Baptist military chaplains says no Southern Baptist chaplain will be allowed to perform, attend or support a same-sex wedding either on or off base. The guidelines issued by the North American Mission Board were updated in response to the military’s repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and the Supreme Court’s decision this summer to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. Recently, the Pentagon began allowing gay and lesbian service members who plan to wed to take travel leaves for up to ten days as long as those service members live 100 miles or more away from one of the 13 states that allow same-sex marriages (RNS).

Humor as a virtue

Humor is not only a desirable human trait, it is also a spiritual virtue that shows evidence of a genuine conversion, argues moral theologian John J. Slovikovski. Christ had a sense of humor, and “to be humorous . . . is to be Christlike, and to be Christlike is to be converted.” Slovikovski understands humor to be a form of mirth. Its goal is the “generous allocation of overflowing and redeemed goodness that makes right relationship with Christ as a redeemed, fully human person attractive and cheerful.” Humor must be related to the other virtues. Humor devoid of love “is nothing more than callous, egocentric and existentially costly self-amusement,” says Slovikovski (Theology, July/August).

Trying harder

In the West, students who are academically successful are considered intelligent, and it is assumed that students who struggle to learn must not be very smart. In Eastern cultures like Japan and China, such struggle is viewed as the necessary ingredient for academic success. Students who are rewarded for effort and persistence are motivated to work harder at academic achievement, regardless of their intelligence (NPR, September 2).

Faith-filled writing

Taking issue with the claim that there is a dearth of mainstream writers who grapple with issues of religious faith, Gregory Wolfe, editor of Image journal, has compiled a list (with input from others) of 25 such writers, including Wendell Berry, Annie Dillard, Patricia Hampl, Ron Hansen, Mary Karr, Julia Kasdorf, Anne Lamott, Paul Mariani, Kathleen Norris, Ann Patchett, Marilynne Robinson, Elizabeth Strout, Christian Wiman and Franz Wright (Patheos, September 9).