This year’s natural disasters—a tsunami in South Asia, a series of brutal hurricanes in the Gulf and a massive earthquake in Kashmir—are enough to make Left Behind enthusiasts see portents of the end times. The earthquake in Kashmir is perhaps the most devastating of all. It has already killed 80,000 people.
President Bush has had two chances to install on the Supreme Court a hard-core conservative pledged to overturn Roe v. Wade at the first opportunity. On each occasion he has decided not to go there. In the case of John Roberts, he picked a moderate conservative known primarily as a lawyer’s lawyer, not for his ideological purity.
After the hurricanes, we heard many stories of church groups that loaded up trucks with supplies for destitute people in the Gulf Coast. Some Christians have been responding to long-term issues of poverty by loading up not supply trucks but moving trucks.
At first Job’s friends were in good form on their pastoral visit: sensing the great suffering of their friend, they sat in silence with him for seven days and seven nights. Their mistake was to open their mouths and offer advice.
The enormous ecumenical impact of the Taizé community, with its haunting music and its tradition of silent prayer and meditative chant, is astonishing given that the community never promoted itself. No doubt many American Christians who have made the pilgrimage to Taizé had to suppress their initial disappointment at its unprepossessing buildings and casual presentation.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran had his brother hand deliver a check for $400,000 last month to Tehran’s only Jewish hospital with the message that “our government intends to unite all ethnic groups and religions, so we decided to assist you.” In September Rouhani’s administration had issued a Rosh Hashanah greeting to Jews around the world. Though some question Rouhani’s motives, his behavior is a refreshing contrast to that of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is a Holocaust denier (New York Times, February 6).