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.
Five decades ago, third-grader Linda Brown could not attend school in her racially integrated Topeka neighborhood; the law required her to take a bus across town to attend a dilapidated school designated for blacks. Linda’s case and others like it prompted a series of lawsuits that eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1954 in Brown v.
Can you outsource a war? The Bush administration seems to be trying to do just that in Iraq, where it has relied to an unprecedented extent on private companies such as Halliburton and Blackwater to prosecute the war. Before the recent surge in troops, there were about as many private contractors—125,000—in the war zone as regular troops. Between 25,000 and 50,000 of these contractors protect military bases and the Green Zone, guard key personnel, provide escorts for convoys and train Iraqi soldiers. Who is accountable for the close to $4 billion that has gone to these “security services"? And to whom are these mercenaries accountable morally and legally?
Reality television is not known for its portrayal of virtue. And Yau-Man Chan is not someone you might expect to progress to the final four on Survivor: Fiji, the 14th season of the reality television show that is famous, and sometimes infamous, for its stark portrayals of human strength and weakness.
Dr. Paul Farmer, an infectious disease specialist known for his work in Haiti, has been to Liberia and planned to go back again in the fight against Ebola. According to Farmer, the outbreak of Ebola is a symptom of a very poor and weak health-care system in the three West African countries where it is spreading. In Liberia there is one physician per 100,000 people, compared to 240 in the United States. The president of Liberia points out that the Dallas Cowboys stadium uses more electricity each year than her whole country. Vaccines and drugs don’t exist because Ebola’s victims are poor and—so far—not very numerous (London Review of Books, October 23).