Generous Orthodoxy  

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Portrait of a marriage

Ramsey Clark, Attorney General of the USA under Lyndon Johnson, became a highly controversial figure later in life. He was a true radical (there aren't many). In his commitment to impartial justice, he defended the rights even of monstrous figures to fair trials and met with a considerable amount of opprobrium. Sometimes people of Clark's stripe are impossible to get along with, but the obituary written about his wife by their family testifies to a remarkable marriage and a remarkable woman. Here's an excerpt:

Georgia Welch Clark, 81, passed away peacefully in her home on July 3...she is survived by her husband of 61 years, Ramsey Clark, her daughter Ronda, her son Tom Clark II...her granddaughters Taylor, Whitney, and Paige...Her beauty, wisdom, and limitless love-filled labors for her daughter Ronda who was born incapable of caring for herself, and for her husband Ramsey in pursuit of his ideals, made the lives they have lived possible.

Ronda must be in her 50s by now. What a story this tells.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Haiti today: an appeal to us all

The West hasn't done a very good job of helping the Pakistanis with their catastrophic floods. Too far away, too Muslim, too corrupt a government, too uncertain the aid agencies, too much intertwined with terrorism. These excuses may or may not be valid, but there are no such excuses for us to forget earthquake-devastated Haiti, an island of at least nominally Christian people, with close ties to the US, and many church-related institutions with long-standing missions there. An article on the front page of today's New York Times describes the despair of the Haitians in terms too convincing to ignore. We have no excuse not to help. We are blessed by the deep and abiding contacts with Haiti within the various churches. Episcopal Relief and Development is a highly respected agency which has a long history with the island. I just sent off a donation. Read this article and you'll see what I mean.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

In today's New York Times, Dwight Garner takes the measure of Stephen Hawkings' new book, The Grand Design, which has soared to the top of Amazon's list as a result of publicity trumpeting its anti-God stance. The New Atheists are thrilled, but no one who understands the difference between religious faith and science will be impressed. So Dr. Hawkings has discovered that we don't need a "God hypothesis" to explain the universe? Ho hum. Science is one thing, and faith another, as Mr. Garner perceptively notes in this paragraph:

The arguments in “The Grand Design” — especially those about why God isn’t necessary to imagine the beginning of the universe — put me in mind of something [Timothy] Ferris said in his excellent book The Whole Shebang (1997). “Religious systems are inherently conservative, science inherently progressive,” Mr. Ferris wrote. Religion and science don’t have to be hostile to each other, but we can stop setting them up on blind dates. “This may be an instance,” Mr. Ferris added, “where good walls make good neighbors.”

Hooray for both Ferris and Garner. I would take exception to the word "conservative" (Christianity is radical, not conservative) but the rest of the quote is going in just the right direction. To be sure, it is important to understand that Christianity can be intellectually defended, but that isn't the same thing as making Christianity dependent on arguments made from a scientific perspective. Biblical faith is revealed, not arrived at by reasonable argumentation. That's why apologetics, even the very best kind, fails to grasp the central affirmations of our creeds.

Mr. Garner's review is witty. He gets in some zingers about Hawkings' cheap tricks designed for the airport bookbuying audience. He calls The Grand Design "tinny," "inelegant," "condescending," "impenetrable," and "packed with grating yuks." He writes,

This book is provocative pop science, an exploration of the latest thinking about the origins of our universe. But the air inside this literary biosphere is not especially pleasant to breathe.

Here's the link to the Garner article: