In a Rich Tapestry Of Columns, a Search for Common Threads

December 18, 2009

Author: Peter Steinfels

Source: The New York Times

It comes to mind now because the Beliefs column is about to close out 20 years of appearing every other week, with occasional absences, in these pages — 486 columns, counting this one, or 482 over the strict quota of four good ones.

That student’s opinion also comes to mind because the byline over it was the same as the one appearing above Beliefs.

In fact, it has been a point of pride with this column not to tramp repeatedly over the same territory. Topics have ranged from Auden to Haydn, from the Bible to the Weekly World News, from exegesis to exorcisms. Beliefs has noted anniversaries that weren’t exactly grabbing headlines, like the 500th of Calvin’s birth, the 400th of Guy Fawkes’s plot to blow up Parliament and the 100th of the papal condemnation of “Modernism.”

This has been a place for reporting new scholarly views — on resurrection of the dead in classical Judaism, Christian blessings of same-sex unions in the Middle Ages, the scope of witch hunts in early modern Europe, the grass-roots origins of post-Reformation religious toleration and the late 19th-century construction of a modern Buddhism.