Yes, the letter written by President Ahmadinejad of Iran to President Bush last spring is a political document, and is no doubt duplicitous, multilayered and deliberately deceptive. Yet the letter, framed as an address by one believer in God to another, received little sensible comment in the American media. Suppose the appeal to Bush to take his Christianity seriously is at least in part genuine. Can we American Christians hear this appeal?
James and John McZebedee matriculated at my seminary again this fall. The “Sons of Entitlement,” I call them. They are usually—but not always—young and white in addition to being male. They have typically grown up in the church, attended Christian colleges and majored in religion. They like to refer to their mental index of Theologians Worth Reading and readily scoff at those theologians they have not read (and so are not worth reading).
This portion of the narrative is a continuation and expansion of what has just preceded. The other ten disciples are jealous, are angry with James and John because they have pushed Jesus—successfully—to give them a preeminent share in his destiny. Jesus has not criticized or dismissed their insistent demand but has lovingly transformed it from a desire for glory into a willingness to suffer. Still, why should some of the disciples be granted privileges over the rest?