A street preacher works a corner just blocks from the Christian Century office, loudly warning passersby of the wrath to come. It’s always tempting to wonder, If that is the Good News, what’s the bad news? Nevertheless, there is logic to this man’s ministry. If he truly believes that most people are going to hell, then it makes sense for him to warn as many as possible.
Many of those who were skeptical about the U.S. invasion of Iraq, including the editors of this magazine, worried that sweeping away the devil of Saddam Hussein would—as in the parable in Luke 11—make way for several other kinds of devils. The devils appear alive and well in Iraq.
The case of Judge Roy S. Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, has become the cause célèbre of the Christian right. He has refused to obey an order from a U.S. district judge to remove a display of the Ten Commandments from the rotunda of the state judicial building. Two years ago Moore took it upon himself to install the 5,300-pound granite monument.
By all reports the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, which took the unprecedented step of confirming an openly gay man as a bishop of the church, was a remarkably civil affair. Church leaders debated one of the most divisive theological issues of our time in respectful fashion. They addressed last-minute charges of personal misconduct against the bishop-elect, V.
It’s easy to define a lie: it is a statement the speaker knows is not true. Being truthful is more complex. As Bonhoeffer argued, character matters. A truth told by an untruthful person could be worse than a lie told by a truthful person. And context matters too. What, for example, is the truthful response to a murderer who shows up at your door in search of your friend whom he intends to murder?
Since 1988 there have been ten major party candidates for the office of U.S. president. Except for Bob Dole and John McCain, they all attended elite, private colleges, and seven of those eight also went to elite professional schools. All eight of them went to Harvard or Yale at some point—both of the Bushes, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama, and Romney. Of the 14 presidential nominees between 1948 and 1984, the heyday of public universities, only three went to elite private colleges and only two attended Harvard or Yale, with a third candidate having gone to Princeton. Harry Truman didn’t go to college and Barry Goldwater didn’t finish college. Lyndon Johnson went to Southwest Texas State Teachers College, Richard Nixon to Whittier College, and Ronald Reagan to Eureka College (William Deresiewicz, Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite, Free Press).