Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Death's Dark Visits

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Death's Dark Visits

Article excerpt

Robert Bellah's death at the end of July from complications after heart surgery saddened me a great deal. At eighty-six, he was not a young man, but his vigorous, not to say combative, performance last December at the First Things seminar dedicated to his last book was very lively.

The seminar affected me deeply. In the contest between Bob's inclusive pluralism and the Christian triumphalism so clearly represented by Paul Griffiths, both at the seminar and in our pages, I side with Paul. But I do so with a deeper sense of the difficulty men and women of faith face. How can abandoning ourselves to the jealous God of Israel humanize not only us in our faith but even the world in its unbelief? I'm very grateful to Bob for helping me see more clearly where I stand.

Jean Bethke Elshtain died in August. It was not a surprise. She was suffering from a debilitating heart condition. But it was nevertheless a shock, as the sharp blow of death so often is, even when we see it coming. …

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