There are few greater icons of Christian faith in our time than Mother Teresa, whose work among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta epitomized the mission of the church and the power of Christian faith.
In a small-group setting at the World Council of Churches Assembly in 2006, a Paraguayan couple timidly mentioned their concerns about the United States building a military base in their country. The Americans in the group were shocked: they didn’t know about such a base. But then much of what’s done by the Department of Defense is shielded from U.S.
Mainline Protestants have spent decades debating homosexuality. The debate is vast and complex, involving biblical interpretation, ancient history, the disputed meaning of certain Greek words and the incomplete findings of biological and social sciences.
The Roman Catholic Church recently restated its view that Protestant churches are not “churches in the proper sense.” Some Protestants take offense. But we need not. The word church in Catholic parlance refers to those bodies that have bishops in apostolic succession and that recognize the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
One of the lectionary texts on the Sunday after 9/11 was Psalm 51, which traditionally has been understood as King David’s plea to God to have mercy on his sins. One pastor that Sunday used the psalm to ask whether the events of 9/11 were a judgment on the United States: Was the U.S. in some way culpable for the evil actions of the terrorists? His congregation would have none of it.
Mubarak Awad, a Greek Orthodox Catholic influenced by Quakers and Mennonites, could have become the Palestinian Gandhi. After his father was killed by Jewish freedom fighters in 1948, his mother taught her children to turn the other cheek. In 1983 Awad opened the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, with the aim of fomenting mass nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. His peaceful efforts got him kicked out of the country in 1988. He now teaches nonviolence at American University. He remains optimistic about the prospects of nonviolent resistance in the Middle East, but fears the current conflict between Israel and Gaza is driving more people into the extremist camp (Newsweek, August 11).