David Barton, a chief advocate for a Christian America, is a bad historian. When he thunders, "We have lost our understanding of the Founders' intent and teachings. . . . We have been robbed," he is partially right: the founders were at least loosely Christian. But it is historically absurd to dismiss the separation of church and state as a myth.
The story of the widow’s mite offers a profound contrast between two types of temple worshipers. But we often misinterpret the reason for Christ’s comparison. He is not preaching a lesson in personal piety and sacrificial giving—although pastors like to use this story during stewardship campaigns. It is critical that we hear instead an indictment of the preference we show to the rich and successful.
I read this week’s lectionary passages last summer in the Urubamba Valley in my native Peru, and in my native Spanish: “Pero Cristo ya vino, y ahora el es el Sumo sacerdote . . .” At first I resisted the Hebrews passage, as I prefer Jesus’ concrete teachings to more abstract theological concepts. So, while leading a tour group across the Andes, I turned to Mark: “And man must love God with all his heart and with all his mind and with all his strength; and he must love his neighbor as he loves himself.”
First Pluto, now limbo: The Catholic concept of limbo is about to be put out of business. Pope Benedict XVI is expected to disavow the place where unbaptized babies and those who lived before the time of Christ were thought to live for all eternity—on the limbus of heaven; that is, on its border, according to speculation by St. Augustine (Philadelphia Inquirer, October 6).