Century Marks

Century Marks

True identity

A recent paternity test has revealed that Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, is the illegitimate son of Anthony Montague Brown, Winston Churchill’s last private secretary. The archbishop had thought his father was Gavin Welby, a whiskey salesman and son of a Jewish immigrant, who was briefly married to his mother. His mother has acknowledged she had had a liaison with Brown shortly before marrying Welby, whom she had believed was Justin’s father. Archbishop Welby says he’s not upset by this news, nor does it change his relationship with his mother, an alcoholic who has been dry for 48 years. “There is no existential crisis, and no resentment against anyone. My identity is founded in who I am in Christ,” he said (Telegraph, April 8).

Why the rush?

Søren Kierkegaard, 19th-century Danish philosopher, would not be impressed with our busyness today. “Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me to be busy—to be a man who is brisk about his food and his work . . . What, I wonder, do these busy folks get done?” Stephen Evans, Baylor University philosopher, says Kierkegaard saw busyness as a distraction from the really important questions of life, such as who we are and what life is for (Quartz, April 16).

ABCs of racism

It’s hard to know exactly how many children are homeschooled, but some researchers see an increase in the number of black families who are homeschooling. Of the roughly 2 million children homeschooled, between 5 and 10 percent are African American. Whereas white families mainly give religious reasons for homeschooling, black families cite racism as the reason. A common complaint is with how white teachers treat black children, especially boys (NPR, March 30).

Wolf in sheep’s clothing?

The United Church of Canada has decided to proceed with the review of Gretta Vosper, an ordained minister, that could lead to her being defrocked. Vosper openly says that she believes neither in God nor the Bible, going against the denomination’s ordination vows, which include belief in a triune God. Her lawyers have submitted 1,687 pages challenging the review, but the judicial committee responded with a terse, one-page response saying it saw no reason why the review, not yet scheduled, shouldn’t proceed. Vosper’s Toronto congregation is standing behind her. The review was initiated after Vosper sent an open letter to the church’s spiritual leader following the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. In the letter Vosper argued that belief in God can motivate people to do bad things (Canadian Press, March 31).


The Al Roustom family, Syrian refugees, were at first bombarded by the press when they resettled in Jersey City. Requests were initially made through Church World Service, their resettlement agency. Eventually reporters staked out their apartment, awakened them when they were sleeping, and followed them around town. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, a satirical TV show, did a segment on the family in their apartment. The Al Roustoms were an ideal family to profile, with a soft-spoken father, a witty mother, and two adorable kids. Many reporters were simply after a feel-good story and didn’t bother to place the family’s story in the context of the civil war in Syria or the politically contentious issue of resettling immigrants in the United States (Columbia Journalism Review, March 21).