We note the following bit of cross-cultural news, reported in the Baltimore Sun: When the Soviet Union launched a Syrian pilot aboard its Soyuz spacecraft on a 10-day mission to the Soviet space station “Mir,” the Syrian media “hailed the launch as the country’s arrival at the threshold of space age and civilization. Many Syrians slaughtered sheep, a sign of veneration, in front of TV sets as scenes of the blastoff were shown.”
It was a rich summer for quotes.
Helen Caldicott’s new christology was noted above.
Then there was Maryknoll priest Miguel D’Escoto, a recent recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize (itself an oxymoron of the first chop). In a speech in the Congo, D’Escoto continued his attack on the Catholic Church’s opposition to the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua and opined that “The Pope does not understand Christ’s message.” He later added that “If I am faced with the choice between religion and my country, I will choose my fatherland.”
Lady Mary Soames, daughter of Winston Churchill, reflected on the curiosities of June’s British election, in which her Social Democratic Party (SDP) M.P. increased his margin of victory while the SDP was biting the dust throughout the rest of the country: “One is reminded of the story of the proud mother watching her son march by with his regiment, who explained: ‘Just look-they’re all out of step except our Jock!’ ”
Finally, we note a juxtaposition of headlines that would confirm Reinhold Niebuhr’s sense of the ironies and tragedies of history: The newspaper of the Catholic archdiocese of Seattle put this banner head on its story about Brazilian Leonard Boff’s summer travels: “Liberation theologian says churches in U.S.S.R. are full and open.” The sidebar just beneath was headed, “Ukrainian bishop says priests are being killed.”
Some readers may wonder at your editor’s applause for the work of Jean Elshtain and Roy Prosterman as both are friends and colleagues (Elshtain is a fellow Associate of the Center on Religion and Society, and your editor serves on the board of Prosterman’s Rural Development Institute). To which the appropriate reply is this: we applaud their work, not because they are colleagues; they are colleagues because we applaud their work.
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and holds EPPC’s William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.