This Magazine has been a friend and a resource for me for 35 years. It has stimulated my thinking, encouraged me professionally and personally, challenged my assumptions, introduced me to new movies, books and authors, pricked my conscience, made me smile and, on occasion, made me angry. Come to think of it, my Christian Century subscription has been one of the best bargains around.
The death penalty has been brought before our consciences again by three recent events. The first was Pope John Paul II's visit to St. Louis in January, where he persuaded Missouri's governor to commute the death sentence of Darrell Mease. It did not matter to the pope that Mease had been convicted of a triple murder and had never shown any special amendment of life.
Soon, perhaps in a matter of days, the impeachment trial of President Clinton will be over. Clinton will, presumably, remain in office after receiving some kind of censure. Lots of people will heave a sigh of relief simply because the ordeal is over. Indeed, the temptation will be to want to forget entirely about the whole tawdry saga, from Linda Tripp to Robert Livingston.
There's lots of talk about "Christian formation" and "faith development" these days, provoked by a great transformation in the ecology of faith: churches can no longer count on a thick network of Christian institutions to shape people in the faith.
It seems that every few weeks we read another report touting the health benefits of being religious. Scientists have discovered, for example, that people who study the Bible, pray and go to church are less likely to have high blood pressure. Another study has found that smokers who go to church live longer than smokers who don't.