At least half of churchgoers in the United Kingdom claim they’ve heard their church organist occasionally slip in unexpected tunes, from popular songs to advertising jingles and theme songs from TV programs or movies. Sometimes organists are motivated by playfulness, other times revenge. One organist played “Money, Money, Money” by Abba while the offering was taken. Another played “Roll Out the Barrel” at a funeral for a man known for his drinking. (The organist got sacked for this transgression.) An organist in Scotland at odds with the elders played a thinly disguised version of “Send in the Clowns” during the procession in a worship service (Telegraph, May 3, 2013).
Home in Ninevah?
Feb 27, 2014
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).
Feb 27, 2014
Most of New York City’s trash is found in bags on the curbside, so trash is up for grabs until it’s hauled away. Foraging in trash bags has taken off in some New York circles with organizations such as Food Not Bombs, a group of volunteers that retrieves vegan or vegetarian food to share with the public. The Food Not Bombs website lists 500 chapters. “With over a billion people going hungry each day how can we spend another dollar on war?” the group’s mission statement asks. Dumpster diving generally attracts educated white people in their twenties and thirties; typically, they are people who do it by choice rather than need (RNS).
Feb 27, 2014
The purchase of a $3.6 million condo in Beacon Hill to house the rector of Boston’s Trinity Church has caused consternation among some members of this landmark Episcopal congregation. Some members claim that it reinforces the congregation’s reputation as a place for the elite. Others say it is a betrayal of the congregation’s commitment to the poor in the city. Congregational leaders say a place was needed for the rector within walking distance of the church and that nothing reasonable can be purchased in the neighborhood. The purchase of the condo, which used funds from Trinity’s $30 million endowment, didn’t affect the operating budget of the church or its substantial ministries to the poor and homeless (Boston Globe, February 14).
PTSD at home
Feb 18, 2014
Victims of violence in the United States are just as likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder as veterans of war. PTSD rates are particularly high in inner-city neighborhoods with high levels of violent crime. Even gang members, assumed to be toughened by repeated exposure to violence, experience it, since PTSD often has a cumulative effect. Most hospitals aren’t screening or treating patients for PTSD because of the additional expense. Medicaid doesn’t pay hospitals to deal with it (ProPublica, February 3).