Christianity is supposed to provide an "optic" for reading the world that is different from purely human logic. If that's true, one would expect Christians to make choices that defy conventional wisdom.
Traditionally, this has been the role of the martyrs. Less dramatically, however, one can also see it in ecumenists who are still committed to the vision of full, structural unity within the divided Christian family. Despite a fairly persuasive case for futility, ecumenists keep plugging away.
They go once more into the breach Sept. 18-25, when the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church meets in Belgrade, Serbia, after a hiatus of six years.
The last session, held at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, in 2000, ended in near-disaster after disputes over both papal primacy and the status of the Eastern-rite churches in communion with Rome. The original plan had been to treat these issues last, but the Orthodox demanded they be put on the table -- leading, predictably, to acrimony.