Kenneth L.

Stories by Kenneth L. Woodward

  • Iisus Khristos Loves You

    For at least two fifth-grade girls at Moscow's School No. 443, the foreign film they were watching was just too scary. It was a movie of the life of Jesus, produced by American evangelists, and when the Crucifixion scene began, the two 11-year-olds fled the school auditorium, then crept back to find out how the violent scene had ended. "He dies and then they bury him," explained their braver friend, Olya, "and then three days later he comes back to life." ...
  • Losing Our Moral Umbrella

    As the recent presidential election has demonstrated, Americans reject a politics of exclusion-especially on grounds of religion. That's why, when Mississippi Gov. Kirk Fordice recently insisted that the United States is "a Christian nation," his fellow Republicans winced. Wasn't this the sort of divisive rhetoric that cost the party the White House? ...
  • New Rules for an Old Faith

    The last time the Vatican issued a catechism for use by the entire church, it was 1566 and Rome's aim was to restate the Roman Catholic faith against the doctrinal dissonance created by the Protestant Reformation. Last week the Vatican released a new "universal catechism" aimed, this time around, at clearing up confusions within the church itself Seven years in the making and, as yet, available only in a French version, the new "Catechism of the Catholic Church" is--like its predecessor--essentially a reference work for bishops, missionaries and others charged with teaching both adults and children the basics of the Catholic religion. Two years ago it was dispatched in draft form for criticism to the world's 3,000 bishops. They responded with some 24,000 suggested amendments. The result, inevitably, is a compromise document that will surprise some and satisfy no one. But, as a summary of what Roman Catholics believe (creed), what they celebrate (sacraments), how they live (morality)...
  • Putting Women at the Altar

    The most riveting show on British television last week was, of all things, a live, one-hour religious broadcast from inside the Church of England's debating hall. The climax came when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, dryly announced that each of the church's governing houses-bishops, clergy and laity-had voted to ordain women to the Anglican priesthood. The margin was wafer thin: if two of the lay delegates had voted otherwise, the motion would have fallen short of the required two-thirds majority. Outside in the chill night air, candles held by hundreds of the church's female deacons gave way to sparklers and fireworks. "I'm delighted, surprised-and in need of a drink," said the Rev. Jane Sinclair, who had driven down to London from Nottingham for the historic event. ...
  • A Voice in the Whirlwind

    Twice weekly from the high altar of The New York Times's traditionally liberal op-ed page, conservative pundit William Safire delivers his contrarian views on the vagaries of Washington politics. Call him Ishmael, if you must, but don't call him Job. "I haven't suffered, as Job did," says Safire, who began his career as a speechwriter in the Nixon White House. "I've had the good life, nice surroundings and no one has taken anything away from me." Nonetheless, all his adult life Safire has been preoccupied with the figure of Job the Bible's righteous Gentile who called God to account when the Almighty decided to test the purity of his faith by stripping Job of his wealth, his children-and finally his health. Now, in this campaign season's most improbable political meditation, Safire has published _B_The First Dissident: The Book of Job in Today's Politics_b_ (304 pages. Random House. $23), a sometimes wise and frequently witty demonstration of how Job's confrontation with Ultimate...
  • THE NEW CLASS WARRIORS

    How can a journalist closeted 10 floors above Madison Avenue in midtown Manhattan say anything useful about the cultural elite? After all, the weatherman doesn't report the size and drift of a hurricane from inside the eye of the storm. Does the editor-in-chief of this magazine, whose name is modestly missing from NEWSWEEK'S list of the culture's elite 100, want an article a clef on what goes on inside this CE fiefdom? Dan Quayle, look at the impossible position your rhetoric has put this writer in. ...
  • These Souls Were Made For Shrinking

    Patty Hawkins had been crying for three weeks straight after the death of her father, but as a devout Pentecostal, she would not consider psychotherapy. Only after she heard about LifeCare, a "Christian psychotherapy" center in Ft, Worth, Texas, did she agree to go and unburden the secret that was tearing her up: her father had sexually abused her when she was 4. "God is the most important thing in my life," says Hawkins, 46, "and I wanted to make sure he is the most important thing to whomever I see." ...
  • She's Cooking

    For Barbara Hershey there are no repeat performances. She has four films ready for release-but she still found time to bake her own wedding cake for her marriage to painter Stephen Douglas. The roles range from a nymphomaniac duchess to the owner of a 1940s nightclub in October's "The Public Eye." Clearly, Hershey has proven she's not just a flash in the pan.
  • Careful, He Might Hear You

    She says: ". . . I can't stand the confines of this marriage." He says: "Oh, Squidgy, I love you, love you, love you." More than 100,000 eavesdroppers paid a premium last week to listen to a taped phone conversation that Britain's tabloids insist is between Princess Di and a suitor named "James." According to the tabs, the recorded conversation took place New Year's Eve, 1989, from a mobile phone.If Squidgy is Di, who is James? Speculation turned first to Maj. James Hewitt, 34, her former riding instructor, then, more compellingly, to James Gilbey, 35, an executive for Lotus racing cars and a member of the wealthy gin family. While Buckingham Palace bit the royal lip, Gilbey denied reaching out and touching the princess. Whoever it was, a call-in survey showed Brits, 7-1, still want Di as their next queen-with or without Charles as king.
  • A Fortress Around Her Heart

    The scene: the ninth-century Church of St. Andrew's in rural Wiltshire, England. The costumes: for the bride, an ivory satin dress decorated with glass beads and gold thread in Baroque arabesques; for the groom, a classic black tail coat with flamboyant striped waistcoat over tight pants. The designer: Gianni Versace, who spent five months fashioning garments fit for an "English Baroque Renaissance" wedding. It was tailor-made tradition for British rock star Sting and the mother of three of his children, actress Trudie Styler, who wed Aug. 22 after 10 years of unmarried bliss. Afterward, Trudie was led by Sting to the reception sitting sidesaddle on a white horse. And who says rock stars don't have family values?
  • Read His Lips

    Jiro, the Japanese performing monkey, brings his act to the United States this weekminus his aping of President Bush's fainting spell in Tokyo last January. Jiro will perform on Capitol Hill, and possibly at the White House. "Jiro," says trainer Taro Murasaki, "hopes to be friends" with the Bushes.
  • Better Than A Gold Watch

    In his new novel, "Wages of Sin," priest-author Andrew Greeley suggests a new interpretation for the old Roman Catholic idea of baptism of desire. At one point in the plot, his heroine slips off her robe, dives naked into a pool and pulls off her startled lover's swimming trunks. "You set me on fire," she breathes between passionate kisses, and sure enough, they make love right there in the water. ...
  • Death In A Storage Locker

    Lasting success had always eluded Arthur Seale. He had been a policeman, a security officer for Exxon in New Jersey and a furniture-store owner in Hilton Head, S.C. But at 45, Seale was jobless and living quietly with his wife, Irene, and their two adolescent children back at his parents' home in New Jersey. In one final, desperate effort to make it big, Seale and his wife--and, the FBI suspects, possibly another accomplice--allegedly kidnapped Exxon International president Sidney Reso from his driveway in April, triggering the largest FBI manhunt since the Patty Hearst case 18 years ago. The ransom demanded from Exxon was a whopping $18.5 million. But last week the two-month hunt ended with Reso dead, Arthur Seale facing charges of kidnapping and extortion, and his wife of 25 years supplying evidence against her husband that could put him in prison for life. ...
  • A Little Bit Of Magic

    At only 7 pounds, 15 ounces, and 20 inches in height, he isn't NBA material yet. But Earvin Johnson III, born last week in Los Angeles to Cookie and Magic Johnson, has already notched a major victory. He tested negative for the AIDS virus which forced his father's retirement from the Los Angeles Lakers last November. Earlier, Cookie had tested negative as well, and her doctors at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center were confident that the child was not infected. The couple "brought a little magic into the world today," Johnson's agent said in a statement. "The father is said to be looking forward to many late-night feedings and endless diaper changes." No word yet on whether Johnson, who also has an 11-year-old son, will take Baby Magic to the Summer Olympics in Barcelona next month.
  • Sympathy For The Devil's Foes

    If the Roman Catholic Church provided priests with hazardous-duty pay, those who do exorcisms would be the first to qualify. The hours are long, the work is highly stressful and-to shield themselves from cranks and the virus of vainglory--exorcists must remain anonymous. Worse yet, it now appears, exorcists don't get no respect from their own bishops. ...
  • A Coming-Out Party In Rome

    At a televised ceremony in St. Peter's Square this Sunday, Pope John Paul II will beatify Josephine Bakhita, an African slave who became a holy nun. But who will notice? On the same program is the beatification of Msgr. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, and Opus Dei, the secretive international organization he founded, has marshaled a record crowd of 150,000-including 200 bishops-for the event. All of Rome's 60,000 hotel beds were booked months ago and two "floating hotels" have been chartered to ferry well-heeled members of Opus Dei ("The Work of God") from Spain, Escriva's homeland. ...
  • Doth My Redeemer Live?

    Like other Orthodox Jews, members of the Lubavitcher Hasidim pray daily for the Messiah to come. But they do so with a difference. According to their 250-year-old tradition, there is in each generation at least one righteous Jew who is worthy of being the Messiah. In this generation, the Lubavitchers believe, that man is readily identifiable: he is their own rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, leader of the international Chabad movement, the best-known, most influential and aggressive Hasidic sect. ...
  • She Sings, Too

    Tia Carrere did more than model a white halter, shorts, garters and stockings as a Cantonese Cassandra in "Wayne's World." She also sang four songs in the unexpectedly popular movie spinoff of Wayne and Garth's "Saturday Night Live" routine. This week the movie's soundtrack--featuring the 25-year-old Hawaii native's vocals-became the nation's No. 1 album.
  • Guess Who Came To Dinner

    A lot of Sidney Poitier's East Coast pals couldn't make it to Beverly Hills two weeks ago, so the American Film Institute brought Poitier to them. For the first time in its history, the AFI tossed a second party for its annual Life Achievement awardee last week, a black-tie dinner that included Whoopie Goldberg, Cicely Tyson, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Deja vu? No, to Sir, with love, all over again.
  • Anchors Aweighty

    To celebrate the 100th episode of "Murphy Brown," CBS invited five real-life newsmothers to a baby shower for the pregnant TV anchor. Don't tell Murphy, but on May 11 she'll get maternal advice--and gifts, of course-from Katie Couric (NBC), Joan Lunden (ABC) and Paula Zahn (CBS) plus NBC's Faith Daniels and Mary Alice Williams. One person who couldn't make it: ABC's Barbara Walters. "I would have loved to have been part of the shower," she said. Never mind, 27.5 million viewers will be.
  • The Cat And The Bat Are Back

    As Catwoman, the caped crusader's feline foil, Michelle Pfeiffer does a lot of kicking, clawing and roof-hopping in "Batman Returns," out this June. Once again, Michael Keaton is Batman, sheathed in a newly designed suit of midnight armor. Danny DeVito returns as the nefarious Penguin, who is running for mayor of Gotham City and driving patrician citizen Bruce Wayne batty. But it's Catwoman who purrsues our high-flying hero. Holy Kitty Litter!
  • The T Stands For Troubled

    In his white pants and dark blue blazer, religious broadcaster Paul Crouch always looks on camera as if he had just stepped off a yacht. He is, in fact, an expert navigator in the perilous seas of televangelism. While other TV evangelists like Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart drown in disgrace, the low-key Crouch has cruised to the top of religious broadcasting. His Trinity Broadcasting Network, with more than 285 stations, is the largest purveyor of religious programming in the world. ...
  • A Questionable Saint

    To his followers, his life was shaped by God, his every pronouncement a source of divinely revealed instruction. To his critics, he was a proud, ill-tempered spiritual elitist who privately sneered at popes and encouraged a posthumous cult to himself. Whatever he was, Msgr. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the Spanish founder of Opus Dei ("The Work of God"), a powerful and secretive international association of 75,000 Roman Catholics, is on his way to being declared a saint. Already, say Opus Dei officials, all hotel rooms in Rome are booked for next May 17, when Pope John Paul II is scheduled to beatify Escriva, in St. Peter's Square. ...
  • Talking To God

    For More And More Americans, Worship Services Are No Longer Enough. They Want The Intimate Contact Of Personal Prayer.
  • New Vita For An Old Lingua

    In its role as patron of Lingua Latina, the Vatican will soon publish a new dictionary of the old Roman tongue, its first in nearly 30 years, dedicated to the proposition that Omnia dici possunt Latine--everything can be said in Latin. Using some of the several thousand new Latin phrases, a modern Virgil could compose an epic on the Victoria Iraquica celebrating Generalis Norman Schwarzkopf as its hero. Saddam Hussein would hide out in a cella loricata, or bunker, with a big ignivoma manuballista (gun) at his disposal. But to the few remaining church officials who really know and love their Latin, the new dictionary is like the fig leaves on the Vatican's classical statues--a way of hiding the fact that the precise and lovely language of Augustine and Aquinas is no longer accepted or appreciated as the lingua franca of the Roman Catholic Church. ...
  • The Life Of A Great Teacher

    In the late spring of 1957, students in Frank O'Malley's senior English class at Notre Dame turned in their final exams and started to leave. But the professor motioned them back to their seats for a final comment, as he always did. He had learned much from them, O'Malley said, and hoped they had from him. "And now," he added, palpably unwilling to see them go, "let me tell you about the meaning of life." He then delivered a half-hour critique of modern culture from a Christian perspective that brought the applauding students to their feet. ...
  • Looking Past Number One

    When the 1992 political campaign begins in earnest-if it ever does-do not be surprised if you hear candidates using slogans like "the politics of generativity" or-better-Vaclav Havel's resonant "politics of trust." These and other serviceable catch phrases turn up again and again in "The Good Society" (347 pages. Knopf $25), a wise, slightly verbose and often passionate exercise in "public philosophy" by the authors of the 1985 surprise best seller, "Habits of the Heart." In their earlier, influential book, sociologist Robert Bellah and his associates, listened closely to a broad range of middle-class Americans reveal how they try to make sense of their lives. (One young nurse, Sheila Larson, memorably described her personal philosophy as "Sheilaism," explaining, "It's just try to love yourself and be gentle with yourself.") This time round, Bellah's subject is not the drama of the private self but of those institutions-families, schools, corporations, government, the law, churches...
  • 'Natural Law, An Elusive Tradition

    For a time, the hearing on Clarence Thomas last week promised to provide a mini-course on the elusive concept of "natural law." But it never happened. In his opening statement, Sen. Joseph Biden offered three interpretations of natural-law doctrine, none of which was accurate, and demanded to know which version Thomas subscribed to. In his clearest response, Thomas said only that he regards natural law as a "philosophical background" to the Constitution. ...
  • What Is Leisure Anyhow?

    The Greeks had their festivals, the Jews their Sabbath, medieval Christians their saints' days. We have the weekend-a hammock of hours strung between the millstones of the workweek. On the whole, the ancients had it better, as Canadian architect Witold Rybczynski makes clear in his lovely book-length essay, Waiting for the Weekend (260 pages. Viking. $18.95). They had more "free" days than we moderns do, and knew how to celebrate those timeless moments as literal gifts of the gods. But we, the secular citizens of consumer societies, "spend" weekends like currency: time, we say, is money, and for that reason, valuable. ...
  • Public Enemy Number One

    As they watched the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, China's aging leadership became convinced that the man most responsible for the party's sudden fall from grace was none other than Pope John Paul II. Last summer, internal party documents accused him of directing "reactionary and subversive" forces against communists everywhere. And now, in their determination to remain the last important communist power in the world, the Chinese are attempting to rout out all papal loyalists in their midst. ...
  • Now Praying In Peoria

    Ordinarily, when a man becomes Roman Catholic bishop of Peoria, Ill., the news travels no farther than Chicago and Des Moines. But in the 18 month since John Myers, 50, replaced Edward O'Rourke at the head of the rambling farm belt diocese, his name--and reputation--have reverberated all the way to Rome. To the American church's truculent right wing, the youthful Myers is just what the times call for: a pious, energetic bishop who has made total faithfulness to the pope the test of a true Catholic. To his fearful liberal critics, however, Myers is a clerical autocrat whose naked ecclesiastical ambition hasn't been seen since a young Boston priest named Francis Joseph Spellman set out to dominate the American church. Both sides agree that Myers represents the new wave among American bishops, a prelate who is determined to eliminate doctrinal dissent and confusion--and to revive the idea of the priesthood as God's privileged clerical elite. ...