Aug 28, 2002
The political furor over Vermont’s two-year-old civil union law has begun to subside, but controversy is still roiling the state’s churches. Some disputes have set pastor against congregation.
Of the 4,350 civil unions performed in the state since July 1, 2000, more than 80 percent were for couples from out of state, according to state officials. Two out of three of the people joined in civil unions were women. And, while the state does not tabulate this figure officially, only an estimated 10 percent of civil unions were performed by clergy.
I never expected First Things to give a theologically nuanced interpretation of the current U.S. war on terrorism, and it hasn’t disappointed me. Its editor-in-chief, Father Richard Neuhaus, has yet to see a war for which he could not provide theological justification from the magnificent Catholic magisterium—despite what the pope says. Yet I have been astounded by the relentless, unanimous smugness that has characterized First Things since September 11.
Preachers are like comedians. They are always looking for new material. If the recent spate of articles on preachers plagiarizing in their sermons is any indication, the production of the weekly sermon in the face of limited time and a challenged imagination has become the overriding issue for busy ministers.
I find the return to school every fall very exciting. I like the start-up rituals. I still have to have new stuff—pens, notebooks, calendars, and of course new shoes. I am glad to see the faces of my friends and colleagues again and to hear what they have been doing since I saw them last. I love to see former students again and meet new students. I’m eager for classes to start. I haven’t yet gotten behind on my paperwork and phone calls.
The summer blockbuster Signs is a 1950s B movie wrapped up in 21st-century finery. This goofy smorgasbord of a film juggles questions of faith, terrifying shock cuts and comic asides with admirable dexterity. Most of all, it is a cinematic paean to famous genre films like The Birds, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Night of the Living Dead and any number of low-budget alien adventures that feature lines like "Resistance is futile, puny Earthlings!"
Mage Knights, those miniature warriors with names like Gibbering Ghoul, Bone Grinder, Soul Stealer and Weresabertooth, were all the rage last year in elementary school. Though designed primarily for the adolescent male world of gaming enthusiasts, Mage Knights also cast their spell on the younger set. During recess, it was not unusual to see all the first-grade boys, among them our son Andy, huddled together analyzing damage points and engaging in trade negotiations tough enough to give General Motors a run for its money.