Signs and Wonders
Melina Cholmondeley, right, purchases a lottery ticket in Washington, D.C.
Associated Press/Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Melina Cholmondeley, right, purchases a lottery ticket in Washington, D.C.

Signs and Wonders: Washington’s undercurrent of corruption

Newsworthy

D.C. scandals. More than a year ago, I did a short piece in “Signs and Wonders” about corruption in our nation’s capital, focusing on the D.C. Lottery scandal. That scandal involved a federal grand jury investigating the 2009 award of a $38 million contract to run the agency. According to an investigative report by a D.C. television station, “authorities are looking for evidence of crimes including bribery and illegal steering of contracts.” The investigation highlights what NBC Washington calls “systemic problems that open the door for elected officials to play politics with the contracting process and influence who wins.” The story faded away, however, and I do not know the final disposition. The city government of the District of Columbia is already tainted by other scandals. Three aides to Mayor Vincent Gray’s 2010 campaign have pleaded guilty to federal crimes, and the mayor’s campaign remains under investigation. Meanwhile, two council members resigned in 2011 after pleading guilty to felonies—one of which involved stealing city money earmarked for youth sports. This topic (D.C. corruption) could be an ongoing story. In fact, for a while, The Washington Times did have a full-time reporter who did nothing but cover D.C. corruption, but the paper has cut that position.

Tainted legacy. Theologian John Howard Yoder has been enormously influential among those on the so-called “Religious Left” and peace activists of all stripes. Stanley Hauerwas (Resident Aliens) and Greg Boyd (Myth of a Christian Nation) often cite Yoder as an influence. Now, though, comes word that he had a long history of inappropriate physical contact with women, and this news, coming from credible sources, is causing a re-examination of his life and work.

Alice Munro’s Christian roots. Canadian short story writer Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature last week. Lots of Nobel Prizes are controversial, but not this one. Munro is universally judged to be among the great writers alive today. She’s not the first woman to receive the prize, but she is the first Canadian woman to receive it, and arguably the first Canadian. (Saul Bellow was born in Canada, but most consider him an American writer.) Her woman-ness has prompted some re-consideration of her as a “feminist writer,” but such revisionism misses the point of Munro, who writes of a world still saturated with a Christian understanding of life, though that understanding is fading. Don’t get me wrong. She’s no Flannery O’Connor, but Alice Munro’s Christian roots make her a writer Christians should not ignore.

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Small blessings. According to entertainment website The Wrap, television shows such as The New Normal, Glee and Happy Endings contributed to 2012 being a record year for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender characters on television. About 4.4 percent of all characters were homosexual. This year, the number is down slightly, to 3.3 percent.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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