Century Marks

Century Marks

Final act

Catholic theologian Hans Küng, who has long been at odds with the Vatican, is considering one final act of defiance—assisted suicide. Küng, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, writes in the final volume of his memoirs—just released—that people have the right to surrender their lives to God through suicide if life becomes intolerable due to pain, suffering or dementia. He argues that such a suicide isn’t an act of murder but rather an act of surrender and of voluntarily returning life to the Creator. Assisted suicide is legal in his native Switzerland (Thomson Reuters).

Left behind?

The civil war in Syria has revived apocalyptic fever among fundamentalist Christians, especially those who follow a dispensationalist view of the Bible. In a survey conducted by LifeWay Research, 32 percent of Americans surveyed said they agree with this statement: “I believe the battles in Syria are all part of the prophecies of the Book of Revelation.” Isaiah 17:1 is used as a proof text: “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap.” Hal Lindsey, author of the 1970 bestseller The Late, Great Planet Earth, argues that only nuclear weapons, perhaps used by Israel, could cause such devastation (ABP).

Cutting child poverty

Monthly subsidies to families with children are becoming common in developed countries. The UK gives the equivalent of $140 per month for each child, Germany $250. “If we issued a $400 monthly payment to each child, and cut tax subsidies for children in higher-income families, we would cut child poverty from 22 percent to below 10 percent,” says Austin Nichols of the Urban Institute. “If we further guaranteed one worker per family a job paying $15,000 a year, and each family participated, child poverty would drop to under 1 percent,” Nichols figures (MetroTrends Blog, September 16).

Digital reading

In a national survey 35 percent of people polled who own e-readers or tablets report reading more books now than they did before having such devices. This increase is especially pronounced among people ages 18 to 40. Adults with a reading device report reading 18 books a year; adults without one say they read an average of 11 books each year. Forty percent of adults now own an e-reader or tablet (USA Today, October 7).

In need of prayer

The prayers of Barry C. Black, the first African American and Seventh-day Adventist to be chaplain of the U.S. Senate, have become pointed during the government shutdown. “Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable,” he prayed one morning. After he prayed on another occasion for God to “remove from them that stubborn pride which imagines itself to be above and beyond criticism,” Senate majority leader Harry Reid seemed genuinely contrite. “I think we’ve all here in the Senate kind of lost the aura of Robert Byrd,” Reid said, invoking the long-term senator from West Virginia who valued gentility and compromise (New York Times, October 6).