Cross Currents

Articles from Vol. 56, No. 3, Fall

Burning Words: A History Play
Goats graze on bitter herbs and make sweet milk of it, and from the selfsame flower do honey bees derive their sweet honey and spiders their deadly poison. --Johannes Reuchlin Time: Action spans the first two decades of the 16th century, the twilight...
Christian Rhetoric: Scraps for a Manifesto
Too much Christian theology is rhetorically dangerous, by neglect or by design. Academic writing excuses itself from rhetorical care in the selfless service of some precise truth--and then deforms our only means for speaking truth. Popular theology...
Editorial
Those who are constitutionally disposed to speak in religious language whether they like it or not are in perennial doubt whether religious language has any legitimate uses. Worship, however physically compelling, is deeply compromised by the dynamics...
God and Social Change
During the 1960's I was affiliated with and, for a couple of years, worked full time with SNCC (SNICK), the Student NonViolent Coordinating Committee, at the main office in Atlanta, Georgia. The organization is best remembered now for its two most...
Islam and America: Poetic Connections
One of the best-selling poets in America is a 13th century Muslim named Jelaluddin Rumi. His words are read aloud at open-mike poetry nights and invoked at wedding ceremonies. Mainstream bookstores carry well over a dozen books of his poems and stories....
Islam and the Cultural Imperative
For centuries, Islamic civilization harmonized indigenous forms of cultural expression with the universal norms of its sacred law. It struck a balance between temporal beauty and ageless truth and fanned a brilliant peacock's tail of unity in diversity...
Meeting Her Maker: Emily Dickinson's God
It's common for secular academics to assume that religious belief--adherence to any religious system or ideology--is fundamentally at odds with the open-minded, exploratory enterprise of critical interpretation. That was certainly my assumption two...
Revelation and Revolution
For Alain Badiou, the contemporary French philosopher of the radical Left, a subject is what is summoned into being by a response of persistent fidelity to an eternally enduring "truth event" which breaks disruptively, unpredictably, into the given...
Revising Night: Elie Wiesel and the Hazards of Holocaust Theology
Try to imagine the ideological gap that exists between those who struggle to find meaning in the Holocaust and those who deny its reality. Try to see the size of it: an A-Bomb crater, a city-shaped hole in the earth. On the one side we find survivors,...
Shofar: An Oratorio for Soprano, Tenor, Two Bass-Baritones, Chorus and Orchestra
The shofar is the ram's horn of Jewish liturgy, used during the High Holy Day period to evoke the breakdown of the soul's defenses against a consciousness of sin and its ultimate return to God. Robert Stern's music uses the technique of soggetto cavato...
Speaking Truth and Seeking Justice
The contemporary apophatic namings of God name God as Incomprehensible. Apocalyptic also desires to name God in terms of the Impossible but not merely to render that naming in language and thought but more importantly to render it in time and in history...
The Subtle Violence of Nonviolent Language
and now nothing will be impossible for them, which they have imagined to do. Come, let us go down, and there confound their language.... --Gen. 11:6 These thoughts are occasioned by a training video (1) by Marshall Rosenberg, a 200-minute condensation...
To Go among the Saracens: A Franciscan Composer's Journey into the House of Islam
Francis of Assisi went to Damietta, Egypt in 1219 with the intention of converting Sultan Malek al-Kamel, in the hope that the rest of the Fifth Crusade might be averted. After spending a week with the Sultan (during which he was able to work out a...