Liberty, Death followup

[Beliefnet, July 11, 2001] The discussion in the wake of my Fourth of July column has been invigorating, and it is moving to see the high pitch of idealism on every side. There are things I wish I'd said more clearly, and side-topics I wish I'd had room to address, but limited space demands selectivity.

Liberty, Death, or Something Else?

[Beliefnet, July 4, 2001] Give me liberty or give me death. Or give me something else. Staying alive, but under the rule of another nation? Yeah, that sounds all right, too. Scandalous thoughts, especially this time of year. I’m a conservative Christian, born an American, born into the idea of faith intertwined with freedom. But I’ve been thinking over something I read recently. During the Jewish rebellion against Rome in the first century, religious leaders were the last to join the cause. They worked for peace and opposed revolution because, as one historian put it, “Roman rule presented no serious threat to Jewish religion.” In other words, overthrowing an oppressive government wasn’t a requisite of the faith.

Jiminy Cricket was Wrong

[Beliefnet, June 20, 2001] King Henry VIII was desperate. He was swept with lust for Anne Boleyn, but she was holding out for a wedding ring. The problem, of course, was Queen Katherine, who had been his loyal, forgiving wife for twenty years. Henry needed an annulment, but the pope kept stalling. So Henry moved Katharine from one damp, drafty lodging to another, reducing her provisions, in hopes that illness would carry her off. To break her spirit, he replaced her staff with hostile spies, and refused to let her see their daughter.

Legion of Decency Pledge

[Beliefnet, December 15, 2000] The Legion of Decency pledge. That was what the priest called it, and then he asked us to stand up and recite it all together. It didn't seem like the kind of thing we usually did in church; it seemed more like school assembly, when we said the Pledge of Allegiance. But I stood between my dad and my younger sisters,

Unrighteous Indignation

[Christianity Today, October 23, 2000] Around the big table were ringed representatives of many faiths and many causes, and directly across from me was a man who burned with zeal for his. He held forth confidently on the urgency of his organization's mission, and concluded by repeating the charge he gives his leaders. “I tell them to stay angry,” he said.

A Clear and Present Identity

[Christianity Today, September 4, 2000] What was his name again? I'm trying to remember. It was one of those Swiss names. If you draw a blank at the concept of “one of those Swiss names,” you're typical. There are some nationalities that bring to mind richly detailed associations, and Swiss is not one of them.

Proselytizing in Orthodox Lands

[Beliefnet, July 13, 2000[Is it right to proselytize? Already it’s a loaded question. “Proselytism” has about as many appealing connotations as “root canal.” It’s more pointed than “evangelism,” which means exposition of the Gospel to any and everyone, particularly those of no faith at all. Proselytizing implies undermining an existing faith in order to clear ground for a new one.

Every Day is Casual Friday

[Christianity Today, July 10, 2000] I've been thinking lately about Mary Hartman's husband's hat. You might remember the late-70's TV show, “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.” This Norman Lear satire of a soap opera showcased the strange citizens of the mythical town of Ferndale. Mary's husband Tom

Neiman-Marcus Compassion

[Beliefnet, May 30, 2000] If you’re in the market for a great big Bucket o’ Compassion, the best place to look would be the May 2000 Neiman-Marcus catalogue. It sports a sincere moss-green cover embossed with a cream-colored card, which proclaims “Compassion: A Tribute to Loving Hearts and Minds.” The font is so noble you want to cry.

Get It?

[Christianity Today, May 22, 2000] So one day this guy hears his doorbell ring and he goes to answer the door. He doesn't see anybody there, but looking down he sees a snail creeping along the welcome mat. He picks it up and tosses it far across the lawn.