VOICES

Charlottesville and America’s original sin

I vividly remember my first visit to Charlottesville, Virginia. It was about 20 years ago, and I was on vacation with a good friend, who shared with me a passion for American history and for Thomas Jefferson in particular. We had toured a number of Civil War battlefields in Maryland and Virginia and then had made our way to Jefferson’s University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Finally, we ventured outside the city to the little hilltop home that the great founder had designed and built for himself, Monticello.

Be a ‘crack of light’ in the lives of others

The house in which I live was built in 1902 on Seattle’s “First Hill.” I have a photograph of the house in its early days, which reveals that my residence was one of many in what was then an essentially residential neighborhood.

Understanding grace more deeply

The mark of genuine contrition is not a sense of guilt, but a sense of sorrow, of regret for having taken a wrong turn; just as the mark of living in grace is not a sense of our own worth but a sense of being accepted and loved despite our unworthiness. We are spiritually healthy when our lives are marked by honest confession and honest praise.

Being goodhearted is not enough

Charity is about being goodhearted, but justice is about something more. Individual sympathy is good and virtuous, but it doesn’t necessarily change the social, economic and political structures that unfairly victimize some people and unduly privilege others. We need to be fair and good of heart, but we also need to have fair and good policies.

From conflict to communion

We are just a month away from the fall season in which the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation will be commemorated on Oct. 31. Each earlier centenary commemoration has been shaped by church and political agendas that reflected the cultural and political context of the time.