Joan Chittister says that singing is what makes her Benedictine community a community. The singing of the group effects the unity that it represents. But since religious experience and convictions are closely tied to certain forms of music, music can also divide people.
Only days after President Bush stood in Aqaba, Jordan, on June 4 and touted a road map to peace in the Middle East—with Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas at his side—his plan was nearly in shreds. The Palestinian militant group Hamas snubbed the road map, rejected Abbas’s appeals for a cease-fire and launched terrorist attacks in Jerusalem.
Alice O’Connor, a historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara, says that her students laugh when she talks about how Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “war on poverty” in the 1960s. Apparently the idea strikes them as quaint.
Will our children have faith? Christian educator John Westerhoff asked that question over 25 years ago in a book with that title. It a question worth asking repeatedly, for the church is always only one generation away from extinction. Are mainline churches winning the hearts and minds of their youth?
The release of President Bush’s “roadmap” to peace in the Middle East, designed to lead to a Palestinian state by 2005, brings to mind the famous New Yorker cartoon in which a scientist, after filling a blackboard with a complicated mathematical formula, ends with the words “and then a miracle happens.” A colleague observes: “I think there’s a problem with your last step.” In the case of th
Thirteen nuns who were kidnapped from their monastery north of Damascus last December were released in March in an apparent exchange for prisoners held by the Assad regime. Despite this good news, Christians in Syria continue to be under siege. A jihadist group in the city of Raqqa gave local Christians an ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay a protection tax, or be killed. Although accurate numbers are hard to come by, one estimate says that 450,000 of the 2 million Syrian refugees are Christians. Syrian Christians who have fled their war-torn country report kidnappings, murders, ransacking of their shops, and pressure to convert (Christian Science Monitor, March 10).