What do Melissa Rogers, Matthew and Nancy Sleeth, Jim Wallis and
Robert George have in common? I'd say not much, other than being Christians,
broadly right to center-left theologically, who have some degree of political
influence in one area or another.
By conviction and temperament, President Obama seeks the middle ground. Though many of his opponents see him as a wild radical, intent on expanding the reach of government at all costs, his actions reveal something quite different: a pragmatist interested in striking a bargain.
In 1863 a cooper in Chillicothe, Ohio, named Schyler Courier angrily responded to a group of boys throwing snowballs at him by firing his shotgun, killing one of the boys. In 1866 in Petersburg, New York, Hiram Coon warned his employer's wife, Mary Laker, to quit taunting him for his criminal past; when she would not stop, he split her head open with an ax.
In 1838 the Jesuits who ran Georgetown University sold 272 slaves in order to keep the school afloat. The college relied on Jesuit plantations in Maryland to finance the school, and slaves were sometimes given to the Jesuits by parishioners. The sale of the slaves in 1838 would be worth $3.3 million today. The university is considering what, if anything, it owes the descendants of those slaves. Richard Cellini, a Georgetown alumnus and CEO of a technology firm, has established a nonprofit organization and hired eight genealogists to track down those slaves and their descendants. A university group is also studying how Georgetown could make amends for its involvement in slavery (New York Times, April 16).