Century Marks

Century Marks

Homes for the homeless

Harold “Hap” Morgan from Madison, Wisconsin, has been without a permanent home, but he’s in line to get a 99-square-foot house provided by Occupy Madison Build, run by people originally involved with the Occupy Movement. OM Build is part of a nationwide movement providing tiny houses for the homeless. They are cheaper to build than conventional housing. Typically a number of them are built in proximity to each other, providing the occupants a sense of community. The movement began in Eugene, Oregon, after the city shut down an encampment for homeless people. The city helped them acquire land for micro-houses (AP).

Bottoms up

Some faculty and students at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a public liberal arts college, say the salary of the school’s president should not exceed ten times that of the school’s lowest-paid employees. Their plan calls for the lowest-paid employees to receive at least $29,976, which is 130 percent of the poverty level for a family of four and enough to keep them above the level for receiving food stamps. St. Mary’s is currently looking for a new president, and there’s concern that this proposal will deter good candidates. Similar proposals have arisen at other universities to ad­dress pay inequities and curb ballooning executive salaries (Inside Higher Ed, February 20).

Baptist amid the Orthodox

Baptist amid the Orthodox: In the wake of the shakeup in Ukraine’s government, Oleksandr Turchynov, a Baptist lay preacher, was named interim president. A onetime member of the youth organization of the Communist Party, he became a Christian in 1998. He has a long record of advocacy of religious freedom and has pushed for the return of church properties seized under communism and for ending import taxes on Bibles. The election of a Baptist might seem unlikely in a nation with an overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian identity and a Protestant population of less than 1 percent. But observers say he is well equipped to work both with those who want closer ties to Europe and those who want to maintain long-standing ties to Russia (ABP).

Textual blindness

One commentator calls the “woes” in Matthew 23 one of the most painful passages in the New Testament because of how Jesus’ words caricature Jewish leaders. Blind theologian John M. Hull points out the third, fourth, and fifth woes also paint a negative picture of the blind. Likely these metaphorical uses of blindness are an extension of Matthew 15:14, a passage about the blind leading the blind, who both land in a pit. This is a sneer at the mobility problems of the blind and perpetuates negative stereotypes about those who are sight-impaired, says Hull. “Unfortunately, churches are seldom notable for the sensitivity of their members toward disabled people,” Hull says (Theology, January/February).

Advocates needed

Donald Capps continues to teach a seminary course on mental illness even though he’s officially retired. He believes that pastors need to know more about the subject, as they will most likely have people with mental illness in their congregations. They can also suffer from it themselves. Capps urges pastors to serve as advocates for the mentally ill, especially when society is less willing to fund institutionalization of the mentally ill. A positive outcome of this deinstitutionalization trend is that more of the mentally ill are able to lead productive lives. But many others are adrift, homeless or living in substandard housing, and are not getting the treatment they need (Pastoral Psychology, February)