Kenneth L.

Stories by Kenneth L. Woodward

  • Thou Shalt Not Patent!

    There are more than 50,000 human genes, and scientists are working as rapidly as they can to identify the functions of each one. Right behind them are the biotechnology companies, and they are working as fast they can to patent those genetic processes that show commercial promise. Since 1981, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has approved 11,815 patents for genetically engineered substances. The human gene pool is vast, but limited. And by the time today's children see their grandchildren it is possible that every gene will be mapped and open for commercial exploitation. ...
  • The Stages Of Grief

    The rescue squads have pulled out of Oklahoma City. Already the attention of the national media has turned elsewhere--to Africa, to O.J., to the hunt for John Doe No. 2. Eventually, what's left of the shambles of the federal building will come down and a memorial of some sort will be constructed. But while the rest of America gets on with its affairs, the hard part has only just begun for the families of victims. "Let the healing begin," said evangelist Billy Graham four weeks ago at the memorial service televised throughout the nation. His call was wildly premature. Throughout the city, the aftershocks of the homemade bomb that took 168 lives and wounded more than 400 others are still being felt. One family that lost a child continues to set an extra place at the dinner table. A rescue worker keeps splashing his face with cologne yet still can't rid himself of the stench of rotting bodies. A woman who lost all her children in the blast asks, numbly: "Am I still a mother?" ...
  • Life, Death, And The Pope

    EVERY POPE LEAVES HIS MARK ON THE CHURCH. JOHN XXIII IS remembered for "Pacem in Teryis," his magnificent invitation to world peace. Paul VI will forever be associated with "Humanae Vitae," the agonized encyclical condemning contraception. The prolific John Paul 11 has already published 10 papal letters. But in "Evangelium Vitae"-"Gospel of Life"-released last week, he has at last produced his signature statement. It is the clearest, most impassioned and most commanding encyclical of his 16-year reign. As a summons to the world's 1 billion Roman Catholics to "resist crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize," it may also be his most controversial.The pope's pronouncement addresses some of the most incendiary moral issues of the moment: abortion, euthanasia (mercy killing of the aged or infirm), use of human embryos for medical research, and capital punishment. All are, for the pope, signs of an encroaching "culture of death" that threatens human dignity and freedom. Indeed, ...
  • The Mantle Of Prophecy Comes Only In Gray

    When the apostles who govern the Mormon Church appointed their 15th ""president, prophet, seer and revelator'' last week, their choice was no surprise. By tradition, the prophet's mantle falls automatically on the apostle who has served longest as a member of the church's Council of the Twelve -- in this case, 84-year-old Gordon B. Hinckley. But among many Mormons, there was also considerable relief. The last two prophets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been so infirm that Hinckley, as one of the president's two counselors, has functioned as the de facto head of the church. When president Howard W. Hunter -- the first Mormon prophet born in the 20th century -- died three weeks ago at the age of 87, he finished the shortest term in the church's history: nine months. Already gravely ill with cancer when he took office, Hunter had replaced Ezra Taft Benson, who was mentally feeble throughout his eight-year presidency. ...
  • Q. When Is A Marriage Not Really A Marriage?

    Frank Sinatra has one. So does former Chrysler Corp. chairman Lee Iacocca. New York Sen. Alfonse D'Amato may need one; Sen. Ted Kennedy reportedly got one, and his nephew Joseph P. Kennedy II, a congressman from Massachusetts, hopes to get one. Four of these men are divorced and remarried -- Sinatra several times over. What each man has or is seeking is a marriage annulment from the Roman Catholic Church. ...
  • The Giggles Are For God

    On a recent weeknight in Toronto, 1,500 worshipers gathered in the Vineyard Christian Church and had a good laugh. It began when a dozen pilgrims from Oregon got up to introduce themselves and then began to fall to the floor, laughing uncontrollably. An hour later, the huge new church looked like a field hospital. Dozens of men and women of all ages were lying on the floor: some were jerking spasmodically; others closed their eyes in silent ecstasy. A middle-aged woman kicked off her pumps and began whooping and trilling in a delicate dance. Scores of others proclaimed deliverance from emotional and physical pains. "I've been living in my spirit," said a woman from Long Island, N.Y., still giggling after 20 minutes on the floor. ...
  • What Ever Happened To Sin?

    Before there was shame or guilt or blame, there was sin. As the Bible tells it, Adam and Eve first disobeyed their creator, finding his command not to eat the fruit of a particular tree in Eden an intolerable limit on their freedom to choose. In shame, the first couple then hid from God when he came searching for them. Flushed with guilt, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. The results of that original sin, the Book of Genesis implies, are still around for all of us to see: estrangement from God, from nature, from each other and from ourselves. ...
  • Religion: To Forgive Is Human, Too

    In a culture of victimization and blame, it is rare to witness a public act of forgiveness. That's what happened last week when Chicago's Cardinal Joseph Bernardin revealed his tearful reconciliation with Steven Cook, the man who in 1993 accused the cardinal of sexually abusing him in the 1970s. Cook later dropped his $10 million lawsuit, saying his memories were unreliable. Forgiveness, of course, is the core of the Gospel. Jesus instructed his followers to beg God to forgive their sins, "as we forgive those who sin against us." Yet in this vengeful era, acts of genuine forgiveness are as unusual as the recognition of sin itself. At their two-hour meeting in a Philadelphia seminary, Cook apologized "from the bottom of my soul" but said that he needed to have Bernardin look him in the eye and say no, he didn't do it. Bernardin obliged, then celebrated a private mass for Cook and a gay friend. "I think I have grown spiritually as a result of this," said Bernardin. In reconciling,...
  • On The Road Again

    For most of human history, no one had to search for the sacred. At the core of every culture was a cult, with sacred times and places set aside for public rituals that enabled everyone to commune with the divine. Religion was the womb of civilizations. The real world was the realm of the gods, whose cosmic power and mysterious presence gave the mundane cycle of birth, work, sex and death its meaning. Periodic religious festivals brought secular activities to a welcome halt so that the populace could celebrate its identity as a people. Every tribe, every village and eventually every city set aside public space for sacred worship. In the ancient Greek city-state, with its temple and court, no less than on the New England village green, with its church and meetinghouse, the sacred and the political were yoked in mutual support. But only in temple or church could citizens realize their true spiritual dignity, retell their sacred stories and experience a taste of the transcendent. ...
  • The Flying Pope Gets Grounded

    He doesn't walk, he shuffles. On trips abroad he no longer kneels to kiss the ground. When he visited Croatia two weeks ago his energy was so low he was unable to perform his favorite function: blessing the handicapped children brought to see him. Last week his doctors virtually ordered him to stay home. And so a reluctant Pope John Patti II postponed his October trip to the United States, where he planned an impassioned speech at the United Nations on the family. ...
  • Hot Under The Roman Collar

    He's hot as hell under his white Roman collar. When he mentions the subject, which he does almost daily, the veins stick out on his neck. Nothing -- not Polish communism or dissident Catholic theologians -- has upset Pope John Paul II like the United Nations Conference on Population and Development, which opens in Cairo this week. As the pope reads it, references to "reproductive rights" and "pregnancy termination" in the conference's draft document would establish abortion on demand as a U.N.-sanctioned human right. In his view, the draft also downplays marriage, ignores the role of families and tolerates adolescent sex. ...
  • The Gospel Of Guyhood

    Goodbye, macho man. Kiss off, Sensitive Man. Get lost, Wild Man. Make room, brothers, for the latest icon in the quest for masculine identity: the Godly Man. He is the image offered by evangelical Christians and modeled, of course, on Jesus Christ. Not the androgynous Sunday-school Jesus with the long, permed tresses, pale blue eyes and soft pink lips -- the Jesus who turned the other cheek and never married. No, this is the Jesus of the burgeoning Christian Men's Movement and he trumps all the secular archetypes. He's a mighty King and Warrior, a Leader of Men and their Savior, a Wild Man with a redeeming purpose -- and absolutely the best buddy a guy could ever have. ...
  • Do You, Paul, Take Ralph...

    HE IS AN ACCOMPLISHED MEDIEVAL historian, noted for his work on Christianity and homosexuality. He is gay himself and also a devout-if conflicted-Roman Catholic convert. So when he opened his mail a dozen years ago and found a copy of what looked like an early Catholic ritual for same-sex marriages, John Boswell of Yale University determined to check it out. His quest took him every subsequent summer to the great libraries of Europe including the Apostolic Library at the Vatican. Eventually he found 80 copies of the ritual and set about writing a book proving that sexual relationships that have long been condemned as sinful by the church were once tolerated, even blessed. The result, published this week, is "Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe" (412 pages. Villard Books. $25), a volume that is certain to arouse more than scholarly passions. ...
  • What Is Virtue?

    VIRTUE: FOR TOO MANY AMERICANS, the word suggests only a bygone bluenose era, prim lectures on sexual purity -- at best, something you ""lose'' when you finally give in or give up. But for the ancient Greeks, the great medieval theologians and a growing number of contemporary philosophers as well, virtue has little to do with sexuality. For these thinkers, the cultivation of virtue makes individuals happy, wise, courageous, competent. The result is a good person, a responsible citizen and parent, a trust-ed leader, possibly even a saint. Without a virtu-ous people, according to this tradition, society cannot function well. And without a virtuous society, in-dividuals cannot realize either their own or the common good. That, in theory, is what the ""politics of virtue'' is all about. ...
  • A Heavyweight Contest

    FORGET THE KNICKS VS. THE PACERS OR the Rockets vs. the Jazz. The major contest this week is a scheduled one-rounder at the Vatican where Bill Clinton, America's pro-choice president, will meet for an hour with John Paul II, the world's pro-life pope. At issue is the draft document for September's International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt. Led by representatives of the United States and shaped to a large extent by the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the document calls for massive contraception programs throughout the world and universal endorsement of a woman's right to abortion on demand. ...
  • An Identity of Wisdom

    WHEN HE WAS APPOINTED to the faculty of the Harvard Medical School in 1934, Erik H. Erikson had never studied medicine. He had no college degree, either, only a standard diploma from a German high school. But he had genius and confidence in his own intuitions. He had pioneered child psychoanalysis with Anna Freud in Vienna, and, gifted with an artist's capacity for seeing what others miss, he eventually revealed more about how we come to be the "who" we are than any of his degree-laden peers. Long before he died last week in Harwich, Mass., at the age of 91, many of Erikson's key concepts and phrases-especially "identity crisis"-had enriched that store of wisdom known as common sense. ...
  • The Death Of Jesus

    THE PASSION AND THE DEATH OF Jesus, which Christians celebrate this week, may well be the world's best-known story. For believers, it is the core of Christian faith and identity, the drama that gives Easter its meaning. Through the four Gospel narratives, a whole procession of characters-Judas the betrayer, Peter the denier, Caiaphas the high priest, Pontius Pilate the Roman governor, the good thief and the bad-permanently entered the historical imagination and inspired some of the world's greatest painting, music and literature. The Evangelists' dramaturgy is the raw material of requiems by Mozart, Verdi and Berlioz, of folkloric passion plays and of countless local legends. Unfortunately, their accounts of Jesus' crucifixion have also been used to justify the repeated persecution of Jews. ...
  • Pink Collars For Anglicans

    THIRTY-TWO NEW PRIESTS WERE ordained to the Church of England last weekend, and all 1,100 tickets to the ceremony at Bristol Cathedral were sold out months in advance, The reason: the new priests were women, the first to be ordained in the church's 460-year history. For most Anglicans, the ceremony was a festive conclusion to a long and difficult struggle for gender equality in the church. For many others, however, it sealed their decision to abandon England's established church and embrace Roman Catholicism. ...
  • Was It Real Or Memories?

    HE HAS BEEN A PRIEST FOR MORE than 40 years, a bishop for nearly 30 and a cardinal since 1983. But nothing in the life of Chicago's Cardinal Joseph Bernardin compares to the public humiliation that began three months ago when he was accused of sexually molesting an adolescent boy 17 years earlier. Coming as it did after a wave of pedophile-priest stories, the allegations suggested that even the most respected member of the American Catholic hierarchy was a secret sexual predator. Last week lawyers for plaintiff Steven Cook of Philadelphia dropped Bernardin from their sensational $10 million civil suit. The "evidence" against the cardinal, it turned out, did not hold up and the accusations were false memories suggested, perhaps, by other people. For Bernardin, the news brought an early Easter deliverance, but the humiliation inflicted by the highly publicized accusations remains. "My life," he told NEWSWEEK, "will never be the same because of this." ...
  • Angels

    AS CHANTAL LAKEY TELLS THE STORY, she and her fiance, Dale, were exploring the Oregon coast when he lost his footing. As Dale plummeted to his death, Chantal shouted, "Please God! Help me!" and was immediately surrounded by a cloud of angels 400 feet above the sea. "It was like a whiteness all around," Lakey recalls, "and I could almost hear singing." Steadied by the heavenly host, Lakey managed to climb down the otherwise impassable cliff. ...
  • Misty, Watercolored Memories

    IN A MINNESOTA COURT, A woman is suing her father for alleged sexual abuse as a child. This is hardly news. What makes this lawsuit special is age: the plaintiff is 60, her father is 91 and the alleged abuse occurred 57 years ago--something the daughter claims to have remembered only recently, with the help of a therapist. "This may be as extreme an example of repressed memory as you are likely to find," says the defendant's attorney, Michael Stern, who will divulge neither of the parties' names. ...
  • Did You Know?

    are more likely to belong to a church than nongraduates.attend worship services less often than the poor.are not Muslims, and most American Muslims are not Arabs.are Protestant than Catholic; they led the first St. Patrick's Day parades in New York.are much more likely to register to vote than Americans in general (67%).are Roman Catholic (9%) than Muslim (.9%).graduate from college at about the same rate as white Catholics.of all Korean-Americans are Presbyterians.of American Jews have no religion, and another 12 % are Christian converts.represent only 14% of American Catholics.have the most divorced members: 12% of men, 14% of women.have the lowest divorce rate.are least likely to adopt another religion when they marry someone of another faith.West Bay Area has the lowest proportion of Christians in the continental United States: 70%.
  • The Rites Of Americans

    SOCIOLOGISTS HAVE LONG PUZZLED over surveys that show that the United States is the most religious nation in the advanced industrialized West. When asked, more than 90 percent of Americans profess a belief in God, More than half say they pray at least once a day and, in any given week, more than 40 percent claim to have attended worship services. All this in a society that is overtly--even aggressively--secular. ...
  • Allies In A Cultural War

    UNTIL A MONTH AGO, THE CLOSEST PAT Robertson had come to the Roman Catholic Church was sharing his digs at Yale Law School with a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. That was in the 1950s, long before Robertson had his "born again" conversion, became a Southern Baptist minister and learned to pray in tongues. But now Robertson's Christian Coalition heretofore a political engine for evangelical Protestants--is openly courting conservative Catholics. At its September meeting in Washington, D.C., the coalition bestowed its first Catholic Layman of the Year award on Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, held a workshop on Catholic-evangelical cooperation and--holy heterodoxy!--closed its meeting with a Sunday mass as well as a Protestant service. ...
  • What Evil Lurks In The Heart...

    AT THE PIVOT OF HIS PAPACY A QUARTER century ago, Pope Paul VI issued his most controversial encyclical, "Humanae Vitae," which reaffirmed the church's ban on contraception. It also set off a crescendo of dissent from this and other papal teachings. Now, in what are perhaps the waning years of his own reign. Pope John Paul II has written a tough, often tendentious sequel, "Veritatis Splendor" ("The Resplendence of Truth"), which-if heeded-would make dissent morally impossible for Roman Catholic theologians and married couples alike. Although it rarely mentions birth control, the 179-page document clearly represents an elaborate response to Catholic thinkers who find "Humanae Vitae's" key assertion-that every act of sexual intercourse must be open to the possibility of transmitting human life morally unjustifiable. ...
  • Mixed Blessings

    John Paul II comes to America, where he'll be welcomed by a pro-choice president and celebrate with a church divided over sexual issues ...
  • Dead End For The Mainline?

    To join it, one would never know that the Community Church of Joy in Glendale, Ariz., is Lutheran--or that Pastor Walther Kallestad had been educated in a traditional Lutheran family, college and seminary. From the Steven Spielberg-like Sunday-school gimmicks to the generic, Amy Grant music at worship services, everything is designed to "meet the needs" of his nondenominational babyboomers. "Be quick" is the first commandment. Moving faster than a Wendy's at lunch hour, the Church of Joy needs only five minutes to distribute communion to 1,000 worshipers. Still, Pastor Kallestad insists, "It's a very meaningful moment for our people." Sermons take a bit longer because Terey Summers, Arizona!s Actress of the Year, likes to stage skits in the sanctuary instead of having ministers preach from the pulpit. "People today aren't interested in traditional doctrines like justification, sanctification and redemption," the pastor has concluded. ...
  • The Sins Of The Fathers...

    Three months ago, Father Tom met a group of 10-year-olds at a hospital in Rhode Island where he was visiting Roman Catholic patients. "Hi, fellas," he said, "how're you doing?" Suddenly, the mother of one of the boys rushed up and grabbed her child. "He's a priest," she warned. "Don't talk to him." Father Tom (who didn't want to be identified) has been ordained for 28 years and has never been closer to clerical abuse than the stories he reads in newspapers. Still, he can't get over the shock he felt that day. "It shakes you up when you've given your life to helping people," he says, "and someone reacts like you are a criminal." ...