The musical The Book of Mormon portrays two naïve Mormon missionaries in Uganda proclaiming that “in 1978, God changed his mind about black people.” The joke isn’t mere whimsy; the LDS Church is widely perceived as racist. The irony is that had the church followed its initial trajectory, by now it likely would have become the most racially integrated and progressive church in America.
After Cloven Tongues of Fire is a collection of historian David Hollinger’s writings on 20th-century American Protestantism. Hollinger is interested both in pinpointing ecumenical Protestant influence on the United States and in tracking signs of its decline.
Perhaps the best entry point into The Scandal of Having Something to Say is the word postliberal in the subtitle, which requires that we consider the term liberal, to which this perspective is “post.” The term liberal most comprehensively relates to Enlightenment rationality, which posits an autonomous self which can arrive at a one-dimensional certitude.
In The Sea and the Mirror, W.H. Auden audaciously wrote new poems in the voices of each character in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, all set after the action of the play concludes. The result is a work both wonderfully reverent and plainly modern—you might even call it modern in its reverence.
I would have hoped that anyone presuming to put out a book called A New New Testament would borrow Auden’s approach and give us a genuine literary and theological invention.
A three-day Vatican conference last month called on the Catholic Church to rethink its commitment to just war theory. The theory too often provides a justification for war, the conference’s final document says, arguing that the just war approach gets in the way of exploring nonviolent resolutions. “We propose that the Catholic Church develop and consider shifting to a Just Peace approach based on Gospel nonviolence,” the document says. Conferees said that the destructiveness of modern warfare and the effectiveness of nonviolent means of peaceful resolution have made the theory, which goes back to Augustine and Aquinas, outdated. “Jesus is our inspiration and model,” they state. “Neither passive nor weak, Jesus’ nonviolence was the power of love in action” (National Catholic Reporter, April 14).