You write that your fundamentalist background trained you for reading the world in black and white, but do you think both religious and non-religious have a hard time with ambivalence and ambiguity?
NBW: I think anyone who is raised in a system where you’re striving for some kind of purity—whatever that is—is going to eventually realize how much of a failed project that is. Maybe you’re raised in a super New Age-y yoga family where you believe in some sort of purity around breathing, and intention, and being super calm about things and blissed out. Any system where the message is: through your own striving you can become pure in some way, morally, ethically or politically—that’s impossible. That’s what we call being “under the law.” And when you’re under the law there are only two options: pride or despair. You’re either prideful about the way that you’re nailing it, especially if other people aren’t, or you despair that you can’t live up to it. Either way it’s not good news. But we all think the law will save us. Our political correctness, our feminist values, our Paleo diet, our whatever is going to save us.
Read the full interview here.
E. J. Dionne looks at some of the conditions that led to John Boehner's resignation:
The GOP’s most ardent conservatives thought they had won the right to run the country when they took control of the House in 2010. They felt this even more strongly after gaining a Senate majority in 2014. Democrats who controlled one or both houses of Congress when Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush were in the Oval Office never presumed they had such power. But the standards Boehner was held to were more exacting.
Read all of "Boehner Climbs Off the Tiger" here.
For those who weren't able to follow news of Pope Francis's visit while he was here, and others who want to relive it, we put together a small recap page that includes reporting from Grant Gallicho and a list of external resources to commentary-free video and transcripts of Francis's appearances and speeches.
Finally, our (huge) October 9 theology issue includes Rowan Williams on Laudato Si; Donald Cozzens on obligations "under the pain of mortal sin" and the church's shifting understanding of morality; Charles Morris on why emerging markets haven't turned nations into "developed" countries; Ted Smith on the ancient art of preaching as practiced in the United States; and Rita Ferrone on the mysterious decline of adult baptism. Plus, books about the "coup" at Catholic University in the late 60s, backhanded feminism in the church, the need for ethics in academia, the purity of Jewish love for God, and the Catholic Church during Argentina's Dirty War are reviewed. And if that's not enough, Luke Timothy Johnson reviews four new theology books in his booknotes column, and Kaya Oakes reflects on Montaigne's spirituality in the Last Word.
See these stories, and more, listed here.