Century Marks

Century Marks

Getting his goat

A new missionary on an Indian reservation saw an elder standing in his yard with a goat in his arms. Occasionally the goat would stretch its neck and take a bite of the bushes in the yard. When the missionary asked what the man was doing, he replied, “I’m trimming the hedges.” Incredulously, the missionary said, “Don’t you know that could take all day?” The man said, “What’s time to the goat?” (Randy S. Woodley, Shalom and the Community of Creation, Eerdmans).

Lay leader

Philanthropist Melinda Gates has declared that she wants to devote the rest of her life to making contraception more accessible globally. Her efforts put her in direct opposition to the Vatican. Gates, a Catholic, says that since her declaration she’s gotten a multitude of supportive responses from Catholic women, including nuns. She argues that women in Africa and Asia need to make decisions on their own about contraception. She points out that 82 percent of American Catholics believe that contraception is acceptable—and that African and Asian women will likely follow them (Sydney Morning Herald, July 13).

Accommodating the faithful

Summer tends to thin out pews on Sunday mornings, as churchgoers take off for vacations. Some churches are rediscovering Wednesday p.m.—a traditional midweek church night—as a prime time to gather the flock for casual worship in the summer. Early adopters report improved attendance, slightly fatter coffers and invigorated spirituality as curious newcomers drop by and join in. For some, the shift to Wednesdays brings variety to a familiar weekly rhythm, but it’s not an easy sell for all church folk (RNS).

Hindus & Christians together?

A Christian human rights group in Pakistan has called for an exclusive region for religious minorities whose numbers have been on a steady decline in the Muslim majority nation. The group has demanded abolition of constitutional provisions that declare Islam to be the state religion. Pakistani laws also say that only a Muslim can head the government. The law forbidding blasphemy against Islam is often used to harass religious minorities. Since the formation of Pakistan in 1947, the percentage of minorities has shrunk from 40 to about 4 percent, Hindus and Christians being the largest minorities (ENI).

Mad mullahs?

A nuclear-armed Iran would not necessarily be the worst thing that could happen to the Middle East, argues Kenneth N. Waltz of Columbia University. Ever since Israel got nuclear weapons, there has been an imbalance of power in the Middle East. Armed with nuclear weapons, Iran would provide balance and bring stability to the region, he argues. Western responses to Iran’s desire for nuclear weapons is founded on the notion that Iran’s policies are devised by “mad mullahs.” In reality, Iran is guided by “perfectly sane ayatollahs” who wish to survive just like the leaders of other nations, despite their incendiary rhetoric (Foreign Affairs, July/August).