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?
At the 50th reunion of his medical school class, Dr. James Sabin said his classmates were able to talk freely about death. One noted that only half of them would be present at their 60th reunion. The dominant tones in their death talk were a matter-of-factness, gallows humor, and curiosity about the future of the human species and the planet. Doctors typically don’t talk much about death, despite dealing with it routinely. When they do, they call attention to the limits of modern medicine and eschew any heroic measures at the end of their own life (Hastings Center Over 65 blog, September 1).