Century Marks

Century Marks

Irresistible

Help, Mom! There Are Arminians Under My Bed! by the Rev. J. D. Hall is a picture book intended to teach children the Calvinist doctrine of sovereign grace. A reviewer at Amazon by the name of B. Ditto says facetiously: “We bought this for our three boys, Beza, Calvin, and Van Till! . . . The joy they got out of this book made me almost as happy as when little Calvin started quoting the Institutes, little Van Till argued for the existence of God by assuming He existed, and little Beza threw rocks at that Methodist kid in his class! I know that God has predestined them to great things!!!” (amazon.com).

Ending slavery

Historian Michael T. Bernath argues that the formation of the Confederacy allowed Southern reformers to raise questions about slavery and it provided an opportunity for Southerners to discuss slavery in ways that they couldn’t while being pressured by Northern abolitionists. While part of the Union, white Southerners felt their way of life was under attack and so they put up a united front to protect it. After secession, Southern reformers more freely argued for at least the reform of slavery—the right of slaves to learn to read and to marry and an end to the mistreatment of slaves. Their opponents, with good reason, thought even small reform measures would lead to the demise of slavery (Journal of Southern History, May).

Refuge

In response to anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar, over 1,000 Muslims have taken refuge in a Buddhist monastery that is protected by the Myanmar military. Anti-Muslim unrest, precipitated by Buddhists, started last year and has been spreading across the country. The present government, which took over from a military regime two years ago, has been criticized for not doing enough to quell the violence (AP).

Breathing in and out

There is an ongoing tension in Christian faith between contemplation and activism, being and doing. M. Robert Mulholland compares this alternation to breathing in and breathing out. Both are essential; we can’t live without spiritual formation (breathing in) and Christian mission in the world (breathing out). “Genuine Christian spirituality views humanity as spiritual beings created in the image of God and participating with God in a fallen creation which God intends to redeem,” says Mulholland (Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care, Spring).

Stalemate

Thirteen years before the outset of World War I Jan Bloch (later known as Jean de Bloch) predicted that a major war in Europe would be devastating and that it would only end when one side was exhausted. Although he couldn’t foresee the deadly power of the machine gun, he predicted trench warfare: the increased range of smokeless rifles and use of magazines would mean combatants wouldn’t be able to reach other, bringing advances to a standstill. His predictions elicited skeptical responses. One British admiral observed that the prospects of huge casualties hadn’t stopped countries from going to war before. Bloch, a banker and important figure in Russia’s railroad system, called for arbitration to settle international conflict (History Today, May).