Nov 17, 2009
Two church members came in to talk to me on the same day. The first said the church had betrayed her, limited her, injured her. She described the church as indifferent, cowardly and sick. The second member said the same church was her lifeline and her salvation, her family and her divine appointment.
I have been in ministry for 38 years and have heard variations of this situation over the decades, but this was the first time that the prongs of contrasting opinions skewered me on the same day. How in the world could two Christian women see the same church in such different light?
Mary Karr has won a Guggenheim Fellowship for her poetry as well as the Pushcart Prize for her poetry and essays. She teaches at Syracuse University and lives in New York City.
In recent years you have tried to find a language to talk about faith and religious conversion. What has that experience been like?
It’s very hard to talk about. We sound like idiots, we really do. The other day I said to my son, who is actually very prayerful, “God’s got his hand on you.” He said, “I know, Mom, but when you say it like that, geez, I feel like I’m in a cult.”
Set in early 1960s London, An Education is a coming-of-age film about a sharp-witted teenager who falls in love with a man in his thirties. The world he unveils for her is glamorous, cultivated and illicit. It represents an education, but one very different from the Oxford education she had been striving for.
Early in October, Yale was abuzz with passionate debates about the freedom of expression. Participants included Yale students and professors, as well as prominent alumni such as John Bolton (former U.S. ambassador to the UN) and David Frum (economic speechwriter for former president George W. Bush). Also present was Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist who drew a famous caricature of the Prophet Muhammad with his turban morphing into a bomb with a lit fuse—one in a series of cartoons on Islam published in a Danish newspaper that set off a worldwide reaction.
Smithsonian will open evolution hall and engage in dialogue with religion: An effort to bridge the gap
Our common lot: Ethicist Daniel Callahan asks why it is that the U.S. is the only developed country that doesn't provide universal health-care insurance. One reason is that Americans don't have a strong tradition of thinking about the common good. "Suffering, disease, and death are our common lot," argues Callahan. "They ought to be dealt with as our common problem . . . in the recognition that we all have bodies that go awry and fail" (Commonweal, October 9).