Century Marks

Century Marks


More than 60 Egyp­tian churches have been attacked, vandalized and in some cases set on fire since the bloody attack by security forces on Islamist camps in Cairo last month. The military regime is blaming the Muslim Brotherhood for these attacks against Christians. However, a high-ranking Western official said there’s little evidence of that. The attacks in some cases involved Islamist vigilantes working with thugs. Most of the attacks on churches have been in the Nile Valley. Some of the attacks seem motivated by revenge against Christians for their support of the military coup that ousted President Mohamed Morsi (Washington Post, August 20).

Outreach problem

Some questions that visitors to churches aren’t asking, but that churches are trying to answer anyway: How soon can I get involved with your committees? Will you please single me out in front of all the people during worship this morning? Will you please send some “callers” by my house and interrupt me while I fix dinner? Does this church have weekly meetings, rehearsals and other activities that will consume most of our family’s free time? I need more paperwork! Can you give me a folder filled with glossy pamphlets, old newsletters and denominational statements of belief? (Ministry Matters, August 13).

Down and out

People tend to think of poverty in America as an urban or rural reality. Increasingly it has become a suburban one. From 2000 to 2010 the number of poor in suburbs increased by 53 percent. Many of these people were firmly middle class at the beginning of the new century. Because of wage stagnation, declining real estate values and the Great Recession, they have fallen below the poverty line. People who once donated to social service organizations in their communities are now themselves becoming dependent on them (from The End of the Sub­urbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving, excerpted in Salon, August 3).


Andrew Hill, who teaches at the U.S. Army War College, compiled a list of the “The Best Books You Will Never Read,” based on reader votes at Goodreads. Of his list of 30 titles, the top ten are: James Joyce, Ulysses; Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past; David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest; Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace; Thomas Pyn­chon, Gravity’s Rainbow; Jacques Der­rida, Of Grammatology; Jack Kerouac, On the Road; Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; Martin Heidegger, Being and Time; and William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (Chicago Tribune, August 3).

Copts on the defensive

Since the military coup that deposed President Mohammed Morsi, Egyptian Christians have been on the defensive, particularly in the far south, where they are accused by Islamists of engineering the coup. In the city of Assiut, Christians have had their apartments marked with a red cross.  Christian entrepreneurs have shuttered their businesses. Forty percent of Assiut people are Christians (AP).