Century Marks

Century Marks

Cardinal sin

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is drawing fire from Catholic theologians for an opinion piece he wrote in the May 22 Wall Street Journal. Dolan suggested that Pope Francis’s critique of capitalism does not apply to American capitalism and that the pope’s principle teaching on economics is that it must be based on the virtues of compassion and generosity. Others say it is precisely American-style capitalism that the pope has critiqued, because it is leading to greater disparities between the wealthy and the poor. Dolan’s critics were especially disturbed by his focus on personal virtues as opposed to social structures (National Catholic Reporter, June 6).

Pub evangelism

William Miller, an Episcopal priest in Hawaii with Texas roots, argues for using beer in evangelism. The author of The Beer Drinker’s Guide to God, Miller says, “Beer is the universal beverage. If you want to sit down and have a friendly, personal conversation with about 90 percent of the people in this world, then that is probably going to take place over a beer, that is if you want them to open up and level with you” (Terry Mattingly, “On religion,” Patheos, June 16).

A hard silence

Arvo Pärt is an Estonian composer known for writing contemplative music and for his love of bells and silence. In an interview, Pärt said that “silence must be approached with a feeling of awe. And when we speak about silence, we must keep in mind that it has two different wings, so to speak. Silence can be both that which is outside of us and that which is inside a person. The silence of our soul, which isn’t even affected by external distractions, is actually more crucial but more difficult to achieve” (NPR, June 2).

Dubious winners

Leading up to the World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil, the charitable organization Oxfam conducted its own world cup. Using the Palma ratio, a technique to determine which countries have the greatest gap between the rich and the poor, it noted that countries in Central and South America show the greatest income gaps between the richest 10 percent and the poorest 40 percent. Eight Latin Americans appear on the Forbes list of the 100 wealthiest people in the world (Guardian, June 10).

Daughters matter

Having at least one daughter makes a difference in how judges rule on civil cases involving gender issues, according to two scholars: it increases the chances a judge will rule in favor of a feminist outcome by 7 percent, and it increases a feminist outcome by 16 percent when compared to judges who have only a son. A noteworthy case involved conservative chief justice William H. Rehnquist, who surprised his colleagues by writing the majority opinion in a 2003 decision that allowed state employees the right to sue for violation of a federal law allowing time off for family emergencies. His daughter was a mother who had recently been divorced (New York Times, June 16).