The most impressive thing about “A Common Word Between Us and You,” an open letter to the world’s Christian leaders signed by 138 Muslim scholars, is that it exists. (See news report.) The second most impressive thing is the economy of its argument.
When President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran visited Columbia University, he was introduced as a “a petty and cruel dictator” by his host, the school’s president, Lee Bollinger. When he addressed the General Assembly at the United Nations, the U.S. delegation walked out.
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.
At the 50th reunion of his medical school class, Dr. James Sabin said his classmates were able to talk freely about death. One noted that only half of them would be present at their 60th reunion. The dominant tones in their death talk were a matter-of-factness, gallows humor, and curiosity about the future of the human species and the planet. Doctors typically don’t talk much about death, despite dealing with it routinely. When they do, they call attention to the limits of modern medicine and eschew any heroic measures at the end of their own life (Hastings Center Over 65 blog, September 1).