Mixed Blessings

What happens when a prayer is censored?

As Ruth Langer inspected the grainy images of medieval prayer books, she began to notice that some words had been blotted out with ink or smeared as though with the lick of a finger—signs of censors at work.

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Relative Poverty

The indignity of gross inequality

Which view of economic inequality has greater merit? The one espoused by Adam Smith, the father figure of capitalism? Or the teaching that unfolds from the Bible’s pleadings for justice and righteousness?

It’s a trick question. In fact, these two perspectives are broadly the same. Smith, like the biblical writers, was opposed to gross income inequality. For both, how people are faring relative to others in society is not simply a question of envy. It’s a matter of human dignity and social well-being.

There’s another outlook on inequality that has many adherents. Let’s call it the We Got Stuff school of thought. …read more

Master Teachers

Inside the classrooms of six Boston College faculty

At 8:15 one Wednesday morning last January, most of the 40 students in G. Peter Wilson’s 8:30 Financial Accounting class were already present. Wilson waited a minute or two longer, surveyed the lecture room occupied mostly by freshmen in Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, and said: “Let’s do it.” All heads turned toward a bingo cage on a wooden bench at the front of the room. The professor gave the toy a spin and yanked out a numbered yellow ball—indicating the study group that would report on its research momentarily. Then he rolled a red dice. “And the lucky number is two,” he announced, signaling the student who would deliver the group’s brief presentation. In the back of the room a young man pumped his fist and exclaimed, “Yes!” … read more

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