Century Marks

Century Marks

War weary

Americans were more supportive of the United States going to war in Afghanistan after 9/11 than other recent American wars. Soon after the Afghan invasion, only 9 percent of Americans thought it was a mistake. That compares to the 20 percent who opposed the Korean War at its outset and 24 percent who opposed the Vietnam War. Americans also remained supportive of the Afghan engagement much longer than other wars. Now for the first time more think it was a mistake than not—49 percent compared to 48 (Gallup, February 19).

Flight attendants

Airport chaplains provide religious services, and a whole lot more, especially at the Hartsfield-Jackson airport at Atlanta, the world’s busiest airport. Three full-time chaplains and some 50 volunteers representing ten faiths function like a spiritual concierge, listening to people in distress, mediating conflicts with airline representatives, buying meals for people who are broke or finding them lodging, and befriending airport employees. Chapels are common in the eastern and central United States but rare in major airports in the West (New York Times, March 2).

Radical elements

Pete Simi, coauthor of American Swastika, says there is no uniform profile of persons who join extremist groups. But many of them have experienced some kind of family disruption. They also tend to have difficulty with ambiguity and are susceptible to conspiracy theories. It’s a myth to think they come mainly from the lower classes. Some were violent before joining such groups, others become violent only after joining. For most of these groups, violence is in their talk rather than their actions (Southern Poverty Law Center, Intelligence Report, Spring).

Grace and suffering

Jim Kelly has to be the Job of the National Football League. As an NFL quarterback he took the Buffalo Bills to the Super Bowl four years in a row—and lost each time. A son born with Krabbe disease died before his ninth birthday. Kelly barely survived a plane crash in Alaska. He contracted cancer and has had his upper left jaw removed and all but two of his teeth. He has so much pain he can’t sleep at night without medication. Yet his wife says he never complains and indulged in self-pity only once. Kelly, 54, says, “I’ve been blessed. I wouldn’t change a thing” (ESPN.com, March 4).

Home in Ninevah?

There is a movement afoot in Iraq to establish a province in the Ninevah plains, which would give some autonomy to the Iraqi Christians who live there. Christians in that region make up about 40 percent of the population in the proposed province. Some Christians are skeptical. One former member of the Kurdistan Parliament thinks it is a political ploy to get votes in the upcoming Iraq elections. Sunnis also have their eye on the region, hoping to establish an autonomous province that would protect them from strife with the dominant Shiites. According to the Chaldean Church, six Christian families leave Iraq every day because of the violence and slim job prospects (Rudaw, January 24).