Kenneth L.

Stories by Kenneth L. Woodward

  • The Intermarrying Kind

    The Weinstein family is not your typical Jewish household. But then it's not your typical Roman Catholic household, either. Peter, a technical writer in Berkeley, Calif., prepares a Shabbat meal of salmon loaf in his kosher kitchen. He and son, Ben, 16, light the candles and sing the blessings for the wine and challah. Then his wife, Mary, a librarian, and their daughter, Kate, say grace. Ben, a convert, has been circumcised, bar mitzvahed and--like his father--is an observant Jew. Kate, 12, was baptized a Roman Catholic like her mother, hears mass weekly and attends a Catholic school. What makes the Weinstein family special is not the parents' intermarriage but the fact that the children are being raised with very definite--and very different--religious commitments. ...
  • It's Open Season On Russian Souls

    The lyrics were in Russian, but as he listened from his pulpit in a Moscow sports stadium last week, evangelist Billy Graham recognized the music of his favorite hymn: "Rock of Ages." It was Graham's fifth mission to Moscow and probably his most effective. Five thousand Soviet Christians, mostly untrained Baptists, had been brought to the capital, housed and fed by the Graham organization for a conference on evangelistic techniques--taught by the master himself. "It's been estimated that Jesus repeated himself more than 500 times," Graham said, in a sermon on the power of repetition. As for the power of Biblical references, he cited Dostoyevsky's obsession with the story of the prodigal son. ...
  • The Troubled Altar Of Freedom

    It was his first visit to Poland since the collapse of the Communist government, and everywhere that Pope John Paul II went last week he found signs that liberty is becoming as troublesome for the Polish church as Marxist oppression ever was. Welcoming the pope in a drizzling rain, President Lech Walesa rightly greeted the pope as "a symbol of the spirit of this nation, of a nation that never accepted a system of enslavement. " But in the course of his nine-day visit to his homeland, the pope conducted himself more like a visiting evangelist than a triumphant celebrant of Poland's liberation. In each of his public masses, John Paul focused on one of the Ten Commandments, warning his newly free fellow compatriots against "an easy and mechanical copying" of hedonistic Western values. ...
  • Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

    No one knows exactly where they came from. Some rabbis claim they are the lost Biblical tribe of Dan. Others say they're descendants of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Whatever their origins, they have lived in Ethiopia for 2,000 years, black like other Africans but persecuted for practicing a Judaism that is found nowhere else. Now, after a daring Israeli rescue mission (Operation Solomon) as Addis Ababa was about to fall, most of Ethiopia's Jews are finally home in Zion. ...
  • The Return Of The Fourth R

    Blank faces--34 of them--stare at Allan Nolan LaRock when he mentions the Ark of the Covenant to his sixth-grade class. "What's he talking about?" one boy finally whispers. Teacher LaRock then tries a different tack. "How many of you have seen 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'?" he asks. Thirty-four faces register immediate interest. Seizing on the movie as a point of reference, LaRock goes on to tell his class at the San Juan Unified School District, 100 miles northeast of San Francisco, about the other Ark-the one containing the tablets given to Moses. ...
  • Saint Isabella? Not So Fast

    Although Pope John Paul II is a theological conservative, he has in the last few weeks secretly halted the canonization processes for two potential saints dear to the church's right wing. He ordered an outright stop to the effort to make a saint of Queen Isabella I, the Spanish monarch (1479-1504) who expelled the Jews from Spain, fought the Muslims and presided over the Spanish Inquisition. And he demanded a delay in the canonization process for Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer (1902-1975), founder of Opus Dei, the secretive international organization of conservative priests and laymen. Both candidacies had produced fevered conflict within the Vatican. ...
  • Libels In The Cathedral

    Holy Week was yet to come, but already New York's Cardinal John O'Connor was feeling like an accused Jesus standing before Pontius Pilate. "This Lent 'Catholic bashing' has been the in thing," O'Connor wrote in his weekly archdiocesan newspaper. He went on to indict the city's secular editors and columnists for printing slurs against Roman Catholics that they wouldn't dare publish about any other group. ...
  • Ancient Theory And Modern War

    The war in the gulf is not a Christian war, a Jewish war or a Muslim war. It is a just war.GEORGE BUSH, to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention last weekIn origin and inspiration, just-war-reasoning is essentially religious, usually Christian. Its main concepts were formulated in the fourth century by Saint Augustine, who sought to reconcile the Christian commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself" with the soldier's duty to kill. Augustine's theories were given greater precision by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, when chivalry still governed the waging of battles, and refined by 17th-century Spanish theologians, who aimed to limit rather than justify the war-making powers of the emerging nation-states. After World War I with its introduction of air raids on civilian targets, many just-war principles were woven into international law. "It's a complicated theory," says Stanley Hoffmann, an expert on international relations at Harvard University, "but the old...
  • Making Saints

    On the morning of Aug. 1, 1987, the small lobby of the Hotel Gulich in Cologne, West Germany, was filled with Jews. They were members of a clan, about two dozen in all, whose German ancestors had been scattered by Hitler's pogroms to the United States, South America and Canada. Four of those ancestors had died in Nazi death camps. One of the victims was Edith Stein--"Tante Edith" to her nieces--who, as Sister Theresa Benedicta of the Cross, was to be proclaimed a martyr that afternoon by John Paul II. But a martyr for whom? To Jews around the world Edith Stein was one of 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust. To the pope she was also--and primarily--a martyr for the church. ...
  • The Priest And The Rabbi

    Christians and Jews have talked about one another for centuries. Recently, however, they have begun to talk with one another. A year ago Rabbi Leon Klenicki of the Anti-Defamation League . and Lutheran theologian Richard John I Neuhaus published a cordial conversation on social and political issues that divide the two faiths. And last month Elie Wiesel and New York's Cardinal John O'Connor published a breezy dialogue on the Holocaust, anti-Semitism,.world peace and other subjects. Now, in a longer and more substantive exchange, Father Andrew Greeley and Rabbi Jacob Neusner interpret Scripture to each other in a spirited effort to isolate where Jews and Catholics agree--and differ--about the word of God. ...
  • An Archbishop Rattles A Saber

    Excommunication is the harshest penalty the Roman Catholic Church can use to discipline wayward public figures. It bars them from all the sacraments except for penance and brands them as figures who, by their actions, have cut themselves off from the spiritual community of the church. Generally, excommunication is reserved for notorious heretics, schismatics and Catholic rulers who persecute the church. But last week, in a 19,000-word discourse published in his own archdiocesan newspaper, New York's Cardinal John J. O'Connor warned that "bishops may consider excommunication" as a last disciplinary resort against Catholic politicians who help to "multiply abortions by advocating legislation supporting abortion, or by making public funds available for abortion." O'Connor immediately denied that he had any particular politicians in mind, but there were at least a dozen New York office holders, beginning with Gov. Mario Cuomo, who fit the cardinal's categories. ...