Dec 13, 2000
When Robert Edgar of the National Council of Churches suddenly told the NCC’s General Assembly that he was removing his name from an evangelical-mainline-Catholic statement on marriage, it appeared he knocked a leg off the much-discussed wider ecumenical table he was in the process of building. At the very least, his reversal embarrassed a vital ally in forming such an unprecedented pan-Christian voice in the U.S.
In his book Earth in Balance, Al Gore asks, “Why does it feel faintly heretical to a Christian to suppose that God is in us as human beings? Why do our children believe that the Kingdom of God is up, somewhere in the ethereal reaches of space, far removed from this planet?” Gore expresses here the yearning of many Christians for resources in the faith that will equip them for engaging environmental issues.
There is virtue yet in the hoe and the spade for learned as well as unlearned hands,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, echoing a theme that goes back at least as far as the Rule of St. Benedict. Both the 19th-century transcendentalists and the sixth-century abbot saw value in physical labor, even though and perhaps because each in his own way placed such a high value on the intangible, be it the Oversoul or the Holy Spirit. Physical labor would anchor the soaring mind; physical labor would keep both the American scholar and the monastic community self-sufficient.
For anyone with an ounce of idealism, or any fond memories of singing "Pass It On," Pay It Forward
offers some morally powerful moments, at least at the beginning. It
opens with a facially scarred teacher, Gene Simonet, directing his
students to come up with a plan to change the world. Simonet, as played
by Kevin Spacey, exudes some unusually dangerous vibrations in the
seventh-grade classroom. What he's seen of the world has given him a
cold intensity: he doesn't really expect his students to shake off their
When it became clear that we did not yet have a president-elect, I determined not to waste time glued to the television set trying to follow the meandering route that will eventually give us our new president. Better to use the time, I thought, to reflect on the nature of democracy and the character of holders of public office. On this latter issue, a single act by Pope John Paul II has charted the course of my thinking over the past few weeks. On October 31 the pope proclaimed Sir Thomas More the patron saint of politicians.