Century Marks

Century Marks

Heading south

Sensing that they are losing the culture wars in the United States, several North American evangelical leaders are taking the battle to Latin America. Mat Staver, head of the law faculty at Liberty University, and Samuel Rodriguez, a Latino preacher from California, have helped form a U.S.-Latin American coalition to oppose gay marriage, abortion, and pornography. They have already lost a battle in Argentina, Uruguay, and Mexico City, which have legalized gay marriage, but they are having some success in Peru. American conservative Christians were influential in fostering antigay legislation in Uganda (Reuters).

Germ warfare

Josephine Finda Sellu, a nurse supervisor, is on the front line of the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone. She lost 15 of her nurses in rapid succession. As other workers left the hospital, her family begged her to quit her job. Some of her colleagues have been abandoned by their families due to fear of the disease. Usually a tower of strength, Sellu cries when she talks about the nurses she’s lost to the disease. She sometimes wishes she had become a secretary instead, but she sees her job as a healer as a calling from God (New York Times, August 23).

On the street

Mark Bustos, a stylist at an upscale salon in Manhattan, gives free haircuts to homeless people every Sunday, his only day off from work. He started the practice during a trip two years ago to the Philippines. The response was so enthusiastic that he decided to make the same offer in New York. Many of the people whose hair he cuts are very thankful. He especially remembers the man who, after seeing what he looked like with his new haircut, asked, “Do you know anyone that’s hiring?” (The Week, August 29).

Amish mafia?

Mary Haverstick, a filmmaker from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has taken on the makers of TV series such as Amish Mafia, which exploit the Amish. She started a Facebook page called “Respect Amish,” and it grew rapidly into a movement. The local chamber of commerce, the council of churches, and a host of local politicians backed her challenge to the makers of Amish Mafia, which airs on the Discovery Channel. Amish scholar Donald Kraybill, who teaches at Elizabethtown College, says, “There’s no Amish mafia. There never was. The whole things is a fabrication in the minds of the producers” (NPR, August 24).

Job opening

Mubarak Awad, a Greek Orthodox Catholic influenced by Quakers and Mennonites, could have become the Palestinian Gandhi. After his father was killed by Jewish freedom fighters in 1948, his mother taught her children to turn the other cheek. In 1983 Awad opened the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, with the aim of fomenting mass nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. His peaceful efforts got him kicked out of the country in 1988. He now teaches nonviolence at American University. He remains optimistic about the prospects of non­violent resistance in the Middle East, but fears the current conflict between Israel and Gaza is driving more people into the extremist camp (Newsweek, August 11).