Century Marks

Century Marks

Pine-box view

Jeffrey M. Piehler, a surgeon dying of cancer, angered his wife when he announced that he was planning to build his own pine coffin. His friends also misunderstood his motives: they thought it was a sign he was giving up on life. In fact, the activity helped him live more fully and put things in proper perspective. “It’s pretty much impossible to feel anger at someone for driving too slowly in front of you in traffic when you’ve just come from sanding your own coffin,” he said (New York Times, February 1).

PTSD at home

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).

Back to Torah

Hebrew Roots is a group of Torah-observant gentiles who believe that Jesus was the Messiah, yet they do not want to be called either Jews or Christians. They don’t celebrate Christmas or Easter, and they don’t display crosses. Instead, they observe Passover and Sukkot, wear tzitzit, and post mezuzahs on their doors. They believe that the Torah is still binding, and they aim to follow the Torah as they believe Jesus himself would have. They see the New Testament as an extension of the Old. Estimates put the worldwide number of Hebrew Roots followers at 200,000 to 300,000, most of whom have joined in the past 15 years. They have used the Internet successfully to spread their convictions (Tablet, February 4).

A congregation repents

For years the First Assembly of God in Madison, Indiana, was known for driving away its pastors. The core problem was a small, elite group that pressured pastors to leave for the smallest of offenses. After a split in the church, the controlling group left, and the congregation realized what had happened to its ministers. The former pastors were invited back for a service of confession and reconciliation. As part of the service, the current pastor, on behalf of the entire congregation, washed the feet of former pastors (Leadership Journal, January).

Student activists

A dozen smartly dressed students tried to get a hearing with the Duke University board last October to deliver a petition signed by 2,000 students. The petition called for greater social responsibility and more transparency about the university’s nearly $6 billion endowment fund. The students didn’t get access to the board, but the board already had on its agenda a modified version of a proposal from DukeOpen, the student group behind the effort. The trustees agreed to expand the investment oversight committee and establish a Social Choice Fund within their investments, which will invest only in socially responsible funds. The university president committed the school to undertake a yearlong study of the endowment’s transparency (Nation, January 25).