- The Washington Times - Monday, June 17, 2002

Tottering churches
"American churches have lost their nerve at a time when people seem to be flocking to them en masse, looking for solace, meaning and leadership in the face of crisis. What did they find? More often than not, they will be subjected to a glut of feel-good praise choruses, guitars and drums, and pithy sermons on anything but the appointed text for the day not to mention such Christian symbols as 'God Bless America' and prayers that amount to: 'Lord, keep us steadfast while the U.S. military bombs Afghanistan back into the stone age.'
"What they will not find (in most cases) is the hope of the Gospel offered through Word and Sacrament
"Lutherans, Catholics, Presbyterians, Episcopalians clergy and laity have capitulated to the great homogenizing force that is America. Every aspect of their lives they have let erode into the American sea. Once this erosion occurs, 'mere Christianity' that deposit of faith that is guarded at the core is free to float away as well. In the immediate aftermath of the World Trade Center bombing on September 11, a nationally televised 'prayer service' bore witness to the deracination and related lack of nerve of American churches. The Rev. Oprah Winfrey presided over the solemn event "
Aaron D. Wolf in "Little Pink Churches for You and Me" in the May issue of Chronicles

Bigotry charges
"[In the film 'Windtalkers,] the Marines are employing Navajos to relay intelligence information in a code based on their language, and Joe's job is to stick to one man and 'protect the code' which means, he is informed, killing the code-carrier in the event of imminent capture
"But war movies have an extra layer of resonance right now, and [John] Woo's depiction of combat is as kinetic (and as splattery) as any ever filmed. And the scenario is real. The 'windtalkers' existed and the Marines have not entirely disputed the contention that the Navajos' lives were regarded as far less important than the survival of the code. The screenwriters, John Rice and Joe Batteer, cast this purely in terms of bigotry against Native Americans, although a case can be made that in some wartime situations, an individual should be called upon to sacrifice himself or herself for the greater good. The horror in this instance is that the Navajos were not informed of their precarious status and that they were exploited for their language but otherwise regarded (by the old white men at the top) as entirely expendable. As one Navajo puts it, 'There's no way the cowboys would watch the Indians' backs.'"
David Edelstein, writing on "Cowboys and Indians," on Slate.com, posted June 7

It's a hard, hard world
"Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, tells a story about pulling into a parking space at a Vons supermarket in La Canada, only to have another driver jam on her horn and make an obscene gesture. Mouw was sure he hadn't done anything to earn her ire. The spot was open; he had not seen anyone going for it. Still, in deference to her fury, the 62-year-old philosopher walked over and said he was sorry to have upset her.
"'You don't know what kind of day I've had,' Mouw says she told him, and then she started to cry. For Mouw the encounter was a metaphor for the times: Under the weight of life's pressures, some people are falling apart in public. And civility, which Mouw describes as 'public politeness,' has become a rare commodity
"Civility may be in short supply in 21st century Los Angeles, where motorists get honked at for obeying the speed limit. But Mouw believes that civility, like art appreciation, can be cultivated. 'The family meal is the primary workshop in civility,' he says, 'where [sometimes] you sit with people you're angry with, and you hang in there for 45 minutes because you can't leave the table.'"
K. Connie Kang, in "Service in the Cause of Civility," posted June 8 on the Los Angeles Times Web site

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