At its worst, Protestantism has long been deeply suspicious of all holy things, of the very notion that a physical object can carry anything of the sacred. At its best, such a suspicion is aimed instead at the notion of holier things—of an elite, rarefied sacrality that sets a few things utterly apart.
When Kushner began his vocation as a rabbi, he soon discovered that the members of his synagogue were asking questions he had not encountered in seminary. This awakening led to a reorientation of his faith away from a “command and obey” religion to one of seeing how the ways of God add meaning and depth to life.
When ISIS threatened last year to overthrow Baghdad, Andrew White, Anglican vicar of Baghdad, invited the leaders of ISIS to his place for dinner. ISIS responded by saying they’d accept White’s dinner invitation, but they’d chop off his head. He didn’t invite them again. White—who was raised Pentecostal, was trained as a doctor, and has multiple sclerosis—has engaged in mediation efforts in some of the riskiest places in the world. “If you want to make peace, you can’t just do it with the nice people. Nice people don’t cause the wars,” says White, who now lives in Jordan (Independent, November 2).