Century Marks

Century Marks

Biker priest

Lou Vallone, a Catholic priest in western Pennsylvania, is a master scuba diver and a self-proclaimed barbecue expert. His favorite activity is riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle. Two hours on the bike is better than a three-day vacation, he claims. His diocese is wary of his biking avocation, but his parishioners are supportive. Vallone uses his biking experiences in his homilies (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 27).

Slip up

Anne Lamott has been criticized for a Twitter comment she made about transgender Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner. She confessed to being “a tiny bit tired of Caitlyn” and repeatedly used male pronouns to describe Jenner. Lamott added that she “will call him a she when the pee-pee is gone.” One writer accused Lamott of being transphobic, and the Daily Kos said she was bigoted. Lamott later apologized to transgender people and the parents of transgender children. RNS commentator Jonathan Merritt responded that “a couple of ignorant comments do not erase Lamott’s long history of defending marginalized people. And they certainly do not turn her into a transphobic bigot” (RNS).

Love and loss

Danielle Snyderman, a geriatrician, says it isn’t possible to work successfully with an elderly patient without knowing about that person’s relationship with his or her spouse. This awareness led her to start collecting stories about the love lives of the couples she was working with. These stories are “packed with humor, history, wisdom, and grace. Who wouldn’t feel better after bearing witness to love that has weathered child-rearing, war, poverty, financial success, and physical decline?” Couples have difficulty addressing one question: “How do you anticipate a time without each other?” (Philadelphia Inquirer, June 14).

Pastor and spirits

Christopher Thoma is an Evangelical Lutheran pastor in Michigan who blogs about his love of Scotch whisky at www.angelsportion.com. A collection of these blogs has been published in a book, The Angels’ Portion: A Clergyman’s Whisky Narrative. He bought his first whisky at a shop in London. The owner let him taste samples of whisky, and he walked out with a $500 bottle of William Grant & Sons, a special 25-year release. Thoma’s reviews have a narrative shape to them, including family stories, experiences as a pastor, and references to history and literature (Livingston Daily Press & Argus, May 18).

End of the church?

A statistical projection is not a prediction, but if the number of Christians in Britain continues to decline at the current rate, there will be no more British Christians by 2067. Between 2001 and 2011 the church lost 5.3 million members—about 10,000 each week. The rate of decline in the Church of England is higher than that of other denominations. In one survey the numbers dropped from 40 percent of the population in 1983 to 29 percent in 2004 and just 17 percent last year. The decline in the Catholic Church is not as precipitous because of the influx of Catholic immigrants. Sometime in this century Muslims will outnumber Christians in Britain (Spectator, June 13).