Century Marks

Century Marks


Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, is predicting that Christians in Africa will be massacred if the Church of England approves gay marriage. “I have stood by gravesides in Africa of a group of Christians who had been attacked because of something that had happened in America,” he said. The killers, he reported, had feared that because of the Christians they would “all be made to become homosexual,” and so they determined to “kill all the Christians.” Rowan Williams, Welby’s predecessor as archbishop of Canterbury, reportedly anguished over the same concern (Guardian, April 4).

Going home again?

Before he was diagnosed with a terminal illness, essayist Christopher Hitchens was asked by literary critic James Wood what he would do if he had only weeks to live: would he stay in the United States or go home to Britain? “I’d go to Dartmoor, without a doubt,” Hitchens replied, referring to his childhood home. It is not unusual for people to want to go home to die, but they often find that home is no longer the same place and that one has also changed in the meantime. Wood, who lived in the United States for 18 years, compares going home to Durham, England, his birthplace, to a masquerade. “It is possible to miss home terribly, not know what home really is anymore, and refuse to go home, all at once.” Homelooseness is the word he coined to describe the condition of feeling that no place is home anymore (London Review of Books, February 20).

Church guards

Thousands of Christians have been taking turns standing guard at a Christian church in the Chinese city of Wenzhou since the provincial Communist Party in early April condemned it and announced plans to raze it. The church is part of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, China’s officially sanctioned and government-controlled Protestant body, which makes the standoff unusual. Government officials claim that the church, which took six years to build, was illegally constructed and is structurally unsound. One 74-year-old congregant begged officials to leave her church alone, offering her life instead. “Even if they take my head, I can still find happiness with God,” she said. Christians in China now outnumber Communist Party members, according to one estimate (Telegraph, April 4).

A blessing

When the late Brenning Manning was ordained a priest, his spiritual director, Larry Hine, offered Manning this blessing (quoted in Fail by J. R. Briggs, IVP): May all of your expectations be frustrated, / May all of your plans be thwarted, / May all of your desires be withered into nothingness, / That you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and can sing and dance in the love of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


Krista Tippett, host of On Being on public radio, gave birth to a daughter while in seminary. The birth made her more aware of Jesus’ teaching that adults should become like children. She came to realize that the kind of childlikeness Jesus recommends doesn’t entail debasing oneself—it means living with a sense of curiosity, wonder, and delight. Tippett learned to see this kind of delight in other parts of scripture. The word Eden, for example, means delight (Prism, Winter).