Century Marks

Century Marks

What a waste

About half the food produced in the world is wasted, according to a study by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, based in the United Kingdom. This waste is the consequence of unnecessarily strict expiration dates, Western consumer demand for cosmetically perfect food, poor agricultural practices, inadequate infrastructure and poor storage facilities. Up to half the food purchased in Europe and the U.S. is thrown away. Wasted food also wastes resources used to produce it, including water (Guardian, January 10).

Theological method

Peter Enns says that everything he ever needed to know about handling theological disagreement he learned in kindergarten. “Don’t gang up on anyone. Don’t be a bully. Don’t scream or throw a tantrum. Don’t make fun of anyone. Don’t make up lies to get your way. Don’t try to make others look foolish. Don’t say things when you are angry . . . or tired. No scratching or biting. Respect others. Work as a team. Take turns listening and speaking” (patheos.com, January 17).

Two of a kind

President Obama chose former senator Chuck Hagel as his next secretary of defense because they both have an aversion to war, says journalist Bob Woodward. They both think that the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan was bungled and that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary. Hagel thinks foreign policy should come from the White House, not the Defense Department. Hagel taught a course at Georgetown University called Re­defining Geopolitical Relation­ships. He believes that the Iraq war made Iran the strongest country in the region, and he worries that Iraq will become an Iranian satellite. A veteran of the Vietnam War, he contends that the U.S. needs to avoid massive land wars (Washington Post, January 27).

Humble laws

Traditional Islamic law made a distinction between Shari‘a (divine law) and fiqh (human articulation of that law). Islamic law is humble, holding that no human being can absolutely know God’s law (Shari‘a); it is also pluralistic, allowing for different interpretations. Premodern Islamic governments recognized this distinction and allowed for a variety of interpretations of fiqh, respecting different Islamic legal schools. The enactment of Shari‘a in Muslim-majority states today blurs this distinction. These Muslim states are a modern mutation owing much to the European nation-state model. Americans shouldn’t be concerned when Muslims want to live according to Shari‘a, for that doesn’t mean they want the state to rule by it (Asifa Quraishi-Landes, “Sharia and Diversity: Why Americans Are Missing the Point,” Institute for Social Policy and Understanding report).

Now or never

An open letter from scientists published in the MIT Technology Review urges President Obama to make addressing global warming the top priority of his second term. The letter, which recognizes that many Americans remain skeptical about global warming, criticizes the president for bungling efforts to create green jobs. It calls on him to impose a carbon tax and fund trillions of dollars worth of research. “We can no longer pretend that addressing climate change will be without real costs” (Washington Examiner, January 12).