The rabbi put the question to my friend directly: Do Christians believe that God is holy?" My friend was initially taken aback; she thought of the popularity of the hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy," and of her love of passages in Exodus, Isaiah and Revelation that emphasize the holiness of God. She recalled the passage in the Lord's Prayer where we indicate that God's name is hallowed.
No! blurted the expert on Japanese Buddhism. He was a member of a group of interreligious and interdisciplinary thinkers charged with coming up with a consensus statement. His no was prompted by a proposal from the Vati can’s representative, who wanted the group’s discussion of human dignity and human rights to include at least some words about God. Why the Buddhist no?
Many Christians can name the hour and the place of their salvation. For me it was answering not one but two altar calls at Billy Graham crusades in the 1960s. For Reinhold Niebuhr, who was asked if he could name the time and place of his salvation, it was “2,000 years ago on a dusty hill named Golgotha outside Jerusalem’s wall.”
Easter is almost here and I know I should be glad. The whole Christian year leans toward this Sunday of all Sundays, when God raised Jesus from the dead and made the whole creation new. During the great 50 days that follow, the trajectory of the Easter hymns will be up.