Paul Greenberg, among my favorite columnists, writes on "The Balm of Time." He went back to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and had lunch with a local politician whom he had sharply criticized when, many years ago, he wrote for the local paper. It seemed not to matter now. On holding grudges, he tells this story: "Two monks set out on a long and perilous journey to a holy site. Wanting to arrive pure in spirit, they vow not to speak or enjoy any feminine company. Early on, at a muddy crossroads, they come across a lovely young thing in an exquisite kimono, her small feet in delicate slippers. She just stands there, obviously hesitating to cross lest she dirty her attire. One of the monks tells the young lady not to worry, picks her up, carries her across and the two monks continue on their journey. Long days later, when they've arrived at the shrine, the other monk scolds his friend for breaking his vows of silence and self-control. 'What?' says his friend. 'I put the young lady down on the other side of the road. Have you been carrying her ever since?'"
Ms. magazine named him one of the "40 male heroes of the past decade: men who took chances and made a difference." Daniel C. Maguire abandoned the active priesthood many years ago and is among the most strident proponents of the unlimited abortion license, embryonic stem cell research, population control, and euthanasia. The publisher of his new book, Sacred Choices: The Right to Contraception and Abortion in Ten World Religions, tries to firm up his Catholic credentials with this: "Daniel C. Maguire is a professor of Moral Theological Ethics at Marquette University, a Catholic, Jesuit institution, and President of the Religious Consultation on Population, Reproductive Health, and Ethics. Dr. Maguire has a degree in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, one of the world's major Catholic universities, with special ties to the Vatican." The book is strongly endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The book is published by Fortress Press, the publishing arm of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
"Charity Begins at Homo Sapiens" is an article in New Scientist that examines a slew of recent research projects that suggest that human beings are innately altruistic. No matter how the findings are sliced, it appears that doing things for others is not always, or even typically, motivated by selfish reasons. Theorists of evolution are having a difficult time trying to fit this science into their presuppositions. The article concludes: "These findings suggest that true altruism, far from being a maladaptation, may be the key to our species' success by providing the social glue that allowed our ancestors to form strong, resilient groups. It is still crucial for social cohesion in today's very different world. 'Something like it had to evolve,' the author says. In the absence of further discoveries, it seems likely that the argument over adaptation and maladaptation will continue. But this controversy is not the most important issue, says anthropologist Laurent Keller of the University in Lausanne, Switzerland. 'Working out how humans behave is more interesting than whether it is adaptive or not.'" Exactly.