Just a few comments from South Korea, where I am in the middle of a busy speaking schedule.
On Monday I had a press conference, with about 15 journalists–several from major newspapers, as well as radio and TV religion reporters and writers for Christian publications. I did not know what to expect, nor did I feel very confident. When I talk to journalists back in the U.S.it is typically about issues of public life in the North American context. So unless folks in a place like Korea ask me about American issues, I don’t feel like much of an expert.
These questioners did want to focus on South Korea, however, and the fact is their questions were very familiar ones. Here are the main topics they wanted to discuss: What can we do to help Christians to be more civil toward people with whom they disagree? (This reporter had read my book on civility.) What would I say to Christians who are so antagonistic toward Buddhists that at night they tear down the signs that identify a Buddhist meeting-place? How destructive to Christianity are the current debates over homosexual practices? How can we be gentle in defending the truth without slipping into relativism? Am I often embarrassed about the ways that many Christians witness about their faith? Can Christians legitimately participate in interreligious services and ceremonies? What needs to be done to encourage Christians to work for the common good in the societies where they live?
All good questions. All familiar questions. Many of the hot topics that we consider to be unique to North American religious life are in fact high priority issues for the global church!