Century Marks

Century Marks

Follow me

A new 40-mile path makes it possible figuratively, if not literally, to hike the trail that Jesus took from his hometown of Nazareth to Capernaum. Laid out in 2007 by cofounders David Landis and Maoz Inon, it stitches together roads, dirt trails and tracks that take hikers through beautiful parts of Galilee as well as some less than savory sights. The trail connects Israeli and Arab towns, biblical sites, kibbutz fields, national parks, a Bedouin village and Roman, Crusader and Byzantine ruins. Side benefits of the trail: it breaks down barriers between Jews and Arabs, and it makes accessible some sites that the tour buses do not visit (Backpacker, March).

Misquoted

In his stump speeches Mitt Romney has been using a line that is wildly popular with his audiences: "In another era of American crisis, Thomas Paine is reported to have said, 'Lead, follow, or get out of the way.' Mr. President, you were elected to lead, you chose to follow, and now it's time for you to get out of the way!" But Paine never said those words, according to a representative of the Yale Book of Quotations. The line was likely uttered by George Patton. The Romney campaign may know the attribution is in­correct, hence the use of the word reported (John Fea, Patheos, February 8).

Violence against Christians

Anti-Christian violence is a greatly underreported problem, argues Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Muslim from Somalia. Attacks against Christians increased 309 percent between 2003 and 2010 in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This violence for the most part isn't centrally planned and is the spontaneous expression of anti-Christian animosity. One of the most serious problems is in Nigeria, where an organization called Boko Haram wants to establish Islamic shari'a law. In 2011 its members killed more than 500 Chris­tians and destroyed or burned over 350 churches in ten of the northern states of Nigeria (Newsweek, February 13).

Old battle

Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island, believed that freedom of religion and political freedom were inextricably linked. Pagans, Jews, Turks and even anti-Christians should be given the freedom to worship as they wished, or not worship at all, he believed. Current public debates about the role of religion in public life go back to the conflict between Williams and the Massa­chusetts Puritans. The Puritans wanted to create a Christian commonwealth. Williams created a government that was based on the will of the people and didn't depend on God's blessing. Williams set the tone for the U.S. Constitution, which doesn't mention God or invoke God's blessings on the country (John M. Barry, author of Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul, in the Los Angeles Times, February 5).

Kudos

John M. Buchanan, editor/publisher of the Christian Century, has been named winner of the 2012 David Steele Distinguished Writer Award by the Presbyterian Writers Guild (PWG). "In recognizing John Buchanan, the Writers Guild is mindful of John's concise, yet often profound editorial columns in the Christian Century which have provided the church with continuing guidance and inspiration," said J. Barrie Shep­herd, chair of the PWG award committee. Buchanan retired from pastoral ministry at the end of January after 48 years—the last 26 at Fourth Presby­terian Church in Chicago. He continues to serve at the Century (PCUSA News).