John Wooden, a faithful man

As the decades passed, the coach got used to hearing people call him a hero, an icon and even a saint -- even though he reminded them that only God knows the truth about any man.It was common to see the former English teacher reading the classics. But he also read his Bible daily and rarely missed church, so some friends called him the "reverend." That was probably for the best, since he disliked his other nickname -- the Wizard of Westwood.John Wooden's own list of heroes was short and … [Read more...]

Signs along the Methodist trail

Sex, sex, sex. That seemed to be the only thing United Methodists were talking about the year that the Rev. James V. Heidinger II took command at Good News, a national movement for his church's evangelicals.That was in 1981."Every time we turned around we were arguing about sex, and homosexuality in particular," said Heidinger, who retired last week. "Frankly, I was already weary of it and that was a long, long time ago. We wanted to get on to more positive things, like missions and church … [Read more...]

Our political high holy day, part I

EDITOR'S NOTE: First of two columns on President Barack Obama's inauguration.As Aretha Franklin finished singing "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," the queen of soul did what she has done for decades -- she improvised.The result was a soaring bridge between the inauguration of President Barack Obama and a sermon 45 years ago at the Lincoln Memorial."Our fathers' God, to thee, author of liberty, to thee we sing. Long may our land be bright, with freedom's holy light, protect us by thy might," sang … [Read more...]

What, me worry? Whatever II

EDITOR'S NOTE: Second of two columns on teens and ethics.When pollsters ask Americans the Eternal Question they almost always say, "I believe in God."Ask young Americans about faith and the response is something like, "I believe in God and stuff." Finding the doctrinal meaning of "and stuff" is tricky."God made us and if you ask him for something I believe he gives it to you. Yeah, he hasn't let me down yet," said a 14-year-old Catholic from Pennsylvania, when researchers Christian Smith … [Read more...]

Joking about Jonestown

It only takes a few words to call back the memories from 30 years ago, all those nightmare images from the jungle sanctuary in Guyana."Revolutionary suicide" may do the trick, especially when combined with that grim quotation from one survivor, "They started with the babies." But it was another Jonestown catch phrase that leapt into the national consciousness.Sherri Wood Emmons heard it when she accepted a job with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) only four years after the … [Read more...]

Tesser well, Madeleine L’Engle

Madeleine L'Engle found it amusing that her critics kept missing the obvious in her fiction.Consider the magical women in "A Wrinkle In Time" -- Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. It's true that they have strange wardrobes and unique ways of speaking. Mrs. Whatsit is chatty, for example, because she is so young -- a mere 2,379,152,497 years, eight months and three days old.When the elder Mrs. Which arrives from another dimension, her colleagues begin giggling. Why? Since she is meeting three … [Read more...]


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