Kenneth L.

Stories by Kenneth L. Woodward

  • 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. ...
  • 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. ...