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Texas Faith 14: Is wickedness soluble in good deeds?

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Dallas Morning News,

Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.

Following the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, novelist Joyce Carol Oates reflected on the senator's role in the Chappaquiddick death of Mary Jo Kopechne in the fullness of the his life. Writing in The Guardian, Oates said:

Yet if one weighs the life of a single young woman against the accomplishments of the man President Obama has called the greatest Democratic senator in history, what is one to think?

The poet John Berryman once wondered: "Is wickedness soluble in art?". One might rephrase, in a vocabulary more suitable for our politicized era: "Is wickedness soluble in good deeds?"

This paradox lies at the heart of so much of public life: individuals of dubious character and cruel deeds may redeem themselves in selfless actions. Fidelity to a personal code of morality would seem to fade in significance as the public sphere, like an enormous sun, blinds us to all else.

This week, we ask our panelists to think about the two questions Joyce Carol Oates poses here, both implicitly and explicitly, in the context of Ted Kennedy's life. Namely:

1. Is wickedness soluble in good deeds?; and

2. To what extent should greatness factor into our evaluation of a public person's life?

A note to readers: we asked panelists to refrain from making a political judgment on Sen. Kennedy's life and career -- this is not a political blog, after all -- but rather to use his life and his death as a starting point for reflecting on these themes. Their responses follow the jump below.

See what our panelists have to say:

NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas

(Again, I am adjusting to my new schedule. In my haste I submitted this one quote from the Srimad Bhagavatam.)

"The occupational activities a man performs according to his own position are only so much useless labor if they do not provoke attraction for the message of God."

-- Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.2.8

The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is considered the ripen fruit of the tree of Vedic literature

Hare Krishna :)

Your humble servant,

Nityananda Chandra Das

To see all the responses from the Texas Faith Panel click here