Century Marks

Century Marks

Best sellers

Fiction was not highly regarded by Americans in the 19th century. The country, says Randall Fuller, was focused on industry, success and salvation, not artistic achievement. Many were taken by surprise, then, by how Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin drew people into its antislavery narrative and moved them emotionally—sometimes to the point of embarrassment. Her novel, which she claimed she didn’t write (“God wrote it. I merely did His dictation”), was outsold in the 19th century only by the Bible (Humanities, March/April).

Gun violence

A study conducted by the Center for American Progress indicates that states with the weakest gun laws have the highest rates of gun violence. The ten states with the highest rates of gun violence are Louisiana, Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi, South Carolina, New Mexico, Missouri, Arkansas and Georgia. Eight of these states are among the 25 states with the weakest gun laws. New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Connecticut have the lowest levels of gun violence, and they all are among the ten states with the strongest gun laws (Progress Report, April 3).

Reservations

Kimberly Ritter is a professional meeting manager, but before organizing a conference for the Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph she had never worried about how hotels are used for sex trafficking. The Sisters insisted on using a hotel that had taken a pledge not to tolerate child sex trafficking. Ritter has since become an activist on the issue. The first step is to make hotels aware of the problem and then to get them to train staff to look for the signs of trafficking (Chicago Tribune, April 7).

Natural believers

Muslims and Hindus have the notion that children come into the world already knowing God. A growing body of research suggests that children do have an innate propensity to believe that a God or gods exist. Deborah Keleman’s research team has shown that children naturally believe that the natural world has a purpose and that someone must have created it. Other research has demonstrated that it is natural for a child to believe there is a deity who watches over them and serves as a moral police to make them behave better (Big Questions Online, March 5).

Pastor as theologian

The separation of theological scholarship from pastoral ministry has led to two unfortunate outcomes, says pastor and writer Gerald Hiestand: the theological anemia of the church and the ecclesial anemia of theology. Hiestand suggests that the pastoral vocation and theological scholarship need to be reunited by resurrecting an almost extinct role: the pastor as ecclesial theologian. Doctoral students in theology could be encouraged to make pastoral ministry the context for their scholarship (Expository Times, March).