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.
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.
European countries are asking how to deal with hundreds of young Muslims who went to Syria to fight and then returned home. Denmark is experimenting with rehabilitation rather than incarceration. Returning fighters are treated not as criminals but as troubled youth who lost their way and need a second chance. The program, first used with neo-Nazi youth, is voluntary and includes counseling, mentoring, opportunities for more schooling, and meetings with parents. So far the program seems to be working. Denmark has the second highest number of foreign fighters per capita. They “only become ticking bombs if we don’t integrate them” back into society, said a Danish psychologist (New York Times, December 13).