Century Marks

Century Marks

Unholy gambling

A hacker group calling itself the “moroccan­ghosts” took over the French website of the Euromillions lottery early this month. The hackers posted verses from the Qur’an and warned that gambling would “turn you away from God and prayer.” France has the largest Muslim population in Europe, many of whom come from Morocco and Algeria (The Week, November 9).

Wake-up call

Last summer scientists documented that the sea level is rising faster in the northeastern United States than in almost any other place on the globe. They spelled out a series of risks, including the flooding of the New York subway system—which happened last month during Hurricane Sandy. It’s unclear whether New York City can build sea walls to protect against future storms and higher seas. New York is 17th on a list of cities worldwide that are subject to calamities from flooding due to global warming. Leading the list are Mumbai and Kolkata, which are less likely than New York to be able to hold back rising seas (Bill McKibben at commondreams.org).

Brazil’s religious right

More than 20 percent of Brazilians are evangelicals, and while they don’t yet have a unified agenda the way many evangelicals in the U.S. do, they are making a political mark. They hold only about 10 percent of the seats in the legislative assembly, but they had enough power to kill a measure that would have supplied Brazil’s schools with antihomophobia materials (Los Angeles Times, October 21).

Tending to the neighbor

Marilyn McEntyre suggests some very practical ways that American Christians can work against a self-centered consumerism and toward concern for the neighbor and community. Begin every day for a month asking the question, “What can I share today? . . . What do I have that might be given away?” See if a room at church can be found to use as a “sharing station” where tools, utensils, clothing or books could be stored for others’ use. Talk on the phone with someone who may be lonely for 15 minutes two or three times a week. Host dinner-and-documentary nights to discuss public problems with a view to finding and working at solutions. Commit to a steady-state household: if something new comes in, then something else goes out. “Who is my neighbor?” is a question we cannot afford to consign to cliché, McEntyre says (Weavings, November–January).

Abortion numbers

Research at Washington University’s School of Med­icine indicates that unwanted pregnancies and abortions drop dramatically when free contraception is available. In this study, 9,000 St. Louis women re­ceived free contraception. Teen pregnancy in this group numbered 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers, compared to 34 births per 1,000 teens nationally. Abor­tions among the women in the study numbered 4.4 to 7.5 per 1,000 women, compared to national figures of 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000. The Affordable Care Act pays for contraception for woman. More than 30 federal lawsuits have been filed challenging the contraception mandate, mostly by anti­abortion groups (Religion Dispatches, October 22).