I live in a part of the country where the five-letter word taxes
is often used as a four-letter word. Folks around here are highly
skeptical of government even as they say we have the best government in
Several years ago, I was interviewed by Linda Wertheimer of
National Public Radio about the then extraordinarily popular Left Behind
series. At one point, she asked me if I thought the Left Behind books were
funny. I paused, trying to absorb all the layers of her question, and then came
up with a brilliant answer: "No. Why? Do you?"
"Constantinian" has lately been a favored pejorative in
theological circles. The term--an allusion to the fourth-century Roman emperor
whose conversion to Christianity turned a marginal sect into a state religion--has
been used to deplore any alliance between the church and the state or, more
broadly, between the church and the dominant political culture.
If you wrestle with this Matthean parable through the night, it'll leave
you limping by morning. Martin Luther didn't like preaching on it, and
worshipers in early October won't be in the mood for its judgment.
Compassion & Choices, a death with dignity group, recently polled a representative group of likely California voters, asking how they’d vote on a measure to give terminally ill people who are of sound mind the right to request a life-ending medication. Nearly two-thirds said they’d vote in favor of it, including 53 percent of Republicans. Ignacia Castuera, a United Methodist minister and a Compassion & Choices board member, believes baby boomers are going to want that choice when they reach the end of life. Previous death with dignity efforts in California have been defeated with the help of religious groups, including the Catholic Church. Five states now have provisions for assisted suicide or assisted dying (Los Angeles Times, September 30).