Century Marks

Century Marks

Making peace

When Lu Lobello returned from duty in Iraq, he was haunted by the memory of one particular incident. Early in the takeover of Baghdad, his marine unit had shot up a suspicious car that turned out to contain civilians, the Kachadoorian family. Only the mother and a daughter survived; all the men were killed. Lobello was discharged from the marines due to actions related to his suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. He eventually researched what happened to the survivors in the Kachadoorian family. They had moved to California and lived not far from Lobello. Through a reporter who had written about the Kachadoorians, a meeting was arranged. The conversation was awkward, but the mother and daughter, both Arminian Christians, told Lobello that they forgave him and welcomed him as a son and brother (New Yorker, October 29).

Despiser of religion

Robert Inger­soll was a late 19th-century agnostic who spoke to more Americans than U.S. presidents did, at a time when public lectures were a source of information and entertainment. Known by his clerical opponents as Robert Injuresoul, he argued that the United States was the first secular government in world history, and he introduced Darwinism with skillful humor. Ingersoll was the son of an unsuccessful Presbyterian minister and, like his hero Abraham Lincoln, self-taught. Though little known today, he influenced such figures as Clara Barton, Clarence Darrow, Mark Twain and Mar­garet Sanger (American Scholar, Winter).

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).

Misplaced faith

Pryor Creek Community Church in Oklahoma is one of a number of congregations that sponsor classes on using concealed weapons. Pryor Creek and the others see it as a way of reaching out to new people and gaining members. These churches are facing sharp criticism in the wake of the school shootings in Connecticut. Richard Cizik of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good says he grew up in gun country and isn’t opposed to the Second Amendment. But “the gospel should be ‘Put your faith in Christ,’” Cizik says. These church programs teaching people to use guns seem to suggest “Put your faith in Glock” (RNS).

Open doors

The Occupy Wall Street movement initially got the cold shoulder from some churches, but attitudes changed in New York City after Hurricane Sandy. Members of Occupy organized a relief effort called Occupy Sandy, and churches in Brooklyn, Staten Island and Coney Island opened their doors as organizing hubs and supply centers. Occupiers won the trust of locals by helping clean up damaged churches and serving people passed over by state-sponsored efforts. And they cleared pews of supplies before worship services so that the sanctuaries could be used by their congregations. Even before Sandy, the Occupy movement was reaching out to faith groups with a program called Rolling Jubilee, an effort to buy up defaulted debts for pennies on the dollar and then liquidate the debts (Utne Reader, December 20).