Dec 20, 2000
Science writer Margaret Wertheim suggests in The Pearly Gates of CyberSpace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet that cyberspace has become for some a technological substitute for the heaven of Christian aspiration. “The Heavenly City of the New Jerusalem was the great promise of early Christianity,” she writes. “In the last centuries of the Roman era, as the empire disintegrated, such a vision offered special appeal.
When Vice President Al Gore picked Joseph Lieberman as his running mate, it was the first-ever selection for a national ticket of a Jewish nominee—and a practicing Orthodox Jew at that. Though in decades past the decision might have been viewed as highly risky, choosing Lieberman was seen quickly as a “plus” for the Democrats. On the campaign trail, the sabbath-observing Lieberman spoke freely of Judaism’s influence in his life, drawing some cautionary words from the Anti-Defamation League and others concerned with the separation of religion and government.
In the late 1980s, Barbara Brown Zikmund lamented the failure of churches prior to the 1960s to understand and help working women, women who had first moved into the workplace during World War II. The indices of the Century during the ’40s and ’50s demonstrate how little attention mainline religion gave to women’s issues during those years. A lone mention of “women in ministry” appeared in 1947, and the topic did not resurface for over a decade. A reference to “women in churches” appeared in 1941 and another in 1948, with multiple references coming in 1949.
There will be no Christmas celebration in Bethlehem’s Manger Square this year. The annual festivities have been canceled because the organizers have deemed it inappropriate to celebrate in the midst of the conflicts and violence.
It is difficult to understand the political complexities of the Middle East and easy to feel despair about any possible solutions. The loss of a Christmas celebration in Manger Square is a particularly troubling symbol for the region, and a painful sign of the Palestinian plight.