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.
A coalition of Muslims has raised nearly $50,000 to help rebuild black churches in the South that were recently damaged or destroyed by fire. “To many, it is clear that these are attacks on black culture, black religion, and black lives,” one of the Muslim organizers said. Faatimah Knight, a 23-year-old student at Chicago Theological Seminary, was one of the instigators of the fund-raising effort, which took place during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month devoted to fasting and alms giving. Arson is suspected in several of the church fires (CNN, July 9).