Poor criteria: When writer Paul Wilkes helped start a ministry to the poor and homeless in Brooklyn, supporters discussed whether they should use some criteria to identify the truly needy. Wilkes's spontaneous response was: "Just that they come to us, literally begging, says enough. Let's not humiliate them further. I didn't see Christ applying a means test. We're not going to either" (In Due Season, Jossey-Bass).
Outside the gate: Three British doctors started a hunger strike last month in Egypt because they’ve been denied access to Gaza via the Rafah crossing. Their aim is to start a cardiac surgery unit in Gaza City to train medical students and junior doctors. They want the British embassy to pressure Egypt to grant their passage (Guardian, May 19).
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).