John Polkinghorne remembers the day when some of his colleagues thought he had lost his mind. He was already famous as a physicist for his work in helping explain the existence of quarks and gluons, the smallest known particles. He had been selected to be a member of England's Royal Society, one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a scientist.
Working with this week's apocalyptic Gospel text evokes
memories of childhood experiences and teachings in a Mennonite congregation
with a fundamentalist understanding of Bible and life. Within that setting,
however, my family was solidly Anabaptist in outlook and rooted in social
justice concerns. My public school was, for a community in the middle of rural
Illinois, a virtual hotbed of ecumenicity, with all the major and many of the
minor denominations represented. All this made for some interesting tensions,
especially in a family with an ethos of discernment rather than rules.
Rivonte Moore, 17, doesn't think of himself as a theologian. But he raised his hand in a class at Atlanta's Candler School of Theology last summer to debate the meaning of the term "sentimental nihilism" as used by Cornel West in Democracy Matters.
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).