Conception by chance and whim
The criticism was leveled at a pedantic friend of mine that he made distinctions where there were no differences, which is a pretty nice way to say it so long as we evade the pitfall of believing that there are no differences and that, therefore, no distinctions should be made.
This sort of thinking is relevant to our ecumenical concerns in these ecumenical days. The rush is on. All kinds of first steps have been made toward uniting the churches, and those who begin to point out some differences will be considered spoilsports for questioning anything that looks so nice. The differences, nevertheless, will still be there; and, as Aristotle pointed out a long time ago, knowledge in the last analysis is the ability to make distinctions. This is a dog, that is a cat. There is no use pretending that it is any other way.
Some weeks ago I was given a tour of inspection at one of our military bases. The chaplains impressed me in many ways but particularly in the way in which they serve as missionaries all over the globe, often in places that missionaries cannot reach. By the nature of their assignment they have to be as ecumenical as possible, and I think that they may be front-runners in the whole ecumenical movement.
But there was a kind of shock in one of the military chapels. I hardly know what to do with it in my own thinking; perhaps sharing it with some others will give them a chance to think about it and a few other related things.
In order to have services for Catholics, Protestants, and Jews, they have had to plan a single building suitable for all three faiths. This chapel had a mechanical arrangement by which a cross could be turned around and be a crucifix, another by which the altar ...1
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