The ecumenical tables in the U.S. are too small. None is large enough to encompass the full diversity of Christian life in this country. The National Council of Churches includes 36 Protestant and Orthodox bodies, but the member churches account for only one-third of U.S. Christians. Glaringly missing from its ranks is the nation’s largest Christian church, the Roman Catholic.
The United States “has too much power for anyone’s good, including its own.” So argues Timothy Garton Ash, who observes that since the demise of the Soviet Union there is no countervailing force on the world scene to check the use of U.S. power. Economically, the U.S.’s “only rival is the European Union. In military power it has no rival.
The scandal of sexual abuse among priests and its institutional cover-up presents the Catholic Church with a staggering crisis. It is a crisis of leadership, of moral credibility, and of trust between parishioners, priests and bishops.
Whatever the motives behind it, the land-for-peace initiative floated by Saudi Arabia strikes a note of reason in the ever-escalating violence of the Middle East. Since September 2000 over 1,074 Palestinians and 375 Jews have been killed in rounds of provocation and counterprovocation.
About every two hours a young person in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 24 dies of suicide. It wasn’t always this way. The suicide rate for young white males tripled between 1950 and 1994, and it doubled in that period for white females. Though the figures have dropped slightly since then, the rate remains high. In 1999, about 4,000 young people killed themselves.
The United States is deeply divided regionally when it comes to violence, gun possession and the death penalty. Dividing the country into 11 different “nations” based on the predominant origins of its inhabitants and the resulting culture, Colin Woodard says Yankeedom (his label for the Northeast) and the Left Coast are most open to gun control and abolition of the death penalty. The Deep South, Appalachia, Tidewater and Far West regions contain the most adamant supporters of the Second Amendment and capital punishment, and they also have the highest rate of murders. If the deadlock between these two extremes is ever to be broken, it will come about through swing voters in the middle states (Tufts magazine, Fall).