Yes, the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power. And yes, the rise of a stable, democratic Iraq would be a force for reform in the Middle East. But such benefits do not constitute a moral case for war. In the just war tradition, war is justifiable only as an emergency response undertaken in self-defense and as a last resort. Respect for the sovereignty of other states is a basic component of the international order. In other words, war is not an ordinary instrument for improving the world.
Media reports, ministerial gossip and congregational hand-wringing suggest that Christian denominations are constantly arguing over homosexuality. That is not the case. Roman Catholic theologian John Courtney Murray once said that a genuine argument is a moral achievement—it’s rare that people lay out arguments, listen to critiques and identify points of disagreement.
The Internal Revenue Service says that a sermon opposing the U.S. invasion of Iraq preached at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, just prior to the 2004 presidential election may have violated IRS rules. The IRS prohibits churches and other nonprofit organizations from endorsing political candidates.
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.
Cotton was king in the 19th century, and the industry was dependent upon slavery. It wasn’t only southern plantation owners who reaped its benefits. Northerners and Europeans created a worldwide textile industry on the backs of slave labor, and they lent money to plantation owners to buy more slaves. We are still living with the legacy of that slavery, says Edward E. Baptist, author of the recently released The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. Part of the legacy is that white households have almost $15 worth of wealth for every dollar held by African-American households (CNN, September 7).