May 04, 2004
Carl Parker died recently. The Reverend Carl Parker. That you have not heard of him is an indication that you have never praised God in a church that bears the name of Wampee, Little River or Indian Field. For over 50 years he preached the gospel at places like that.
During his last days, when I attempted to comfort him, saying, “Well, Mr. Parker, it seems as if the Lord is giving you a peaceful leave,” he roused himself, looked at me from his bed, and said, “With the churches I have served, the Lord owes it to me.”
This was to be a relatively calm year for Mark S. Hanson, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The ELCA has not experienced nearly the angst over homosexual issues that Episcopalians, Methodists and Presbyterians have. That was expected to change next January as an ELCA task force recommends whether the 5-million-member denomination should rescind its ban on ordination of noncelibate gay and lesbian pastors, and whether the ELCA should create rites to bless committed same-gender partnerships.
In late 2003 President Bush said, in response to a reporter's question, that he believed Muslims and Christians "worship the same God." The remark sparked criticism from some Christians, who thought Bush was being politically correct but theologically inaccurate. For example, Ted Haggard, head of the National Association of Evangelicals, said, "The Christian God encourages freedom, love, forgiveness, prosperity and health. The Muslim god appears to value the opposite."
My Minnesota hometown is the sort of place where neighbors look in on each other and leave the doors unlocked. As in Lake Woebegon, the children are all above average. In September one of those children brought a .22-caliber Colt semiautomatic to school and shot and killed two of his classmates.
Charlie Kaufman may be both the most original screenwriting talent to emerge in the past ten years and the most exasperating. He inspires fervent loyalty among some film buffs because his ideas are playful and heady; they don’t start out or play out like anyone else’s, and at their best they can liberate actors’ most inventive impulses.
When I was 12 and far more interested in horses than high culture, my father dragged my sisters and me to a student production of The Pirates of Penzance in the gymnasium at the University of Alabama. I had seen plenty of movies by then and had watched plays on television, but nothing prepared me for the experience of live theater. For two hours I barely breathed as I watched people in opulent costumes animate a world I did not know existed. As they sang, danced and fought with swords, I twitched in my seat. Every emotion I saw on stage flew into my own body.