James Carroll on the Moral Conundrums of Our Day

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Last year, James Carroll's book "Constantine's Sword" outlined the long history of anti-Semitism in Christianity and offered ideas as to how we might reach atonement and forgiveness. One year later the Catholic Church is wrapped up in a priest scandal, and the United States finds itself walking a thin tightrope in the Middle East, and on shaky ground with the people of Islam. Tonight James Carroll applies the lessons of "Constantine's Sword" to the nation's current crises.

Carroll is a Boston Globe columnist who brings a unique sense of moral sensitivity to his writing. In warning that the U.S. could be on its way to becoming a modern-day Sparta, Carroll writes:

"The great insight of tragic literature - what Athens gave to the world - is that grief, anger, and fear can lead, in the mystery of human freedom, not to revenge, but to wisdom. What is wisdom in our present circumstance except another way to think of war?"

A former priest, Carroll writes frequently about the Catholic Church. In asserting that even the Gospels partly corrupt the real message of Jesus, Carroll writes that the existence of sinful priests in the Church does not take away from the holiness of Catholicim:

"The mystery of Biblical faith is that God lives in human history - not in heaven. And this is what human history looks like."

This hour, James Carroll applies the lessons from his "Constantine's Sword" to the dilemmas facing the United States and the world.


James Carroll, Boston Globe columnist

author of "Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews — A History"

This program aired on March 27, 2002.


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