Century Marks

Century Marks

Loaded argument

Gun rights activists have argued that Hitler’s gun control laws left European Jews defenseless and that the Holocaust would not have happened—or at least would not have been as catastrophic—if Jews had had guns. The Anti-Defamation League has objected to the use of Nazi analogies to advance any political cause. An ADL spokesperson said that armed people couldn’t have stopped the totalitarian power of the Nazi state. Some European Jews had access to a small number of firearms. At most they could put up symbolic resistance, as happened in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising (RNS).

Carbon fast

For the third year in a row the Massachusetts Conference of the United Christ of Church is sponsoring an Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast. Participants receive an e-mail each day during Lent suggesting an action one can take that day to reduce one’s carbon footprint. Actions include eliminating “vampire” electrical use by unplugging appliances, reducing driving speed and buying local produce. More than 10,000 people participated in previous fasts (macucc.org/carbonfast).

Theological method

Peter Enns says that everything he ever needed to know about handling theological disagreement he learned in kindergarten. “Don’t gang up on anyone. Don’t be a bully. Don’t scream or throw a tantrum. Don’t make fun of anyone. Don’t make up lies to get your way. Don’t try to make others look foolish. Don’t say things when you are angry . . . or tired. No scratching or biting. Respect others. Work as a team. Take turns listening and speaking” (patheos.com, January 17).

Two of a kind

President Obama chose former senator Chuck Hagel as his next secretary of defense because they both have an aversion to war, says journalist Bob Woodward. They both think that the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan was bungled and that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary. Hagel thinks foreign policy should come from the White House, not the Defense Department. Hagel taught a course at Georgetown University called Re­defining Geopolitical Relation­ships. He believes that the Iraq war made Iran the strongest country in the region, and he worries that Iraq will become an Iranian satellite. A veteran of the Vietnam War, he contends that the U.S. needs to avoid massive land wars (Washington Post, January 27).

Humble laws

Traditional Islamic law made a distinction between Shari‘a (divine law) and fiqh (human articulation of that law). Islamic law is humble, holding that no human being can absolutely know God’s law (Shari‘a); it is also pluralistic, allowing for different interpretations. Premodern Islamic governments recognized this distinction and allowed for a variety of interpretations of fiqh, respecting different Islamic legal schools. The enactment of Shari‘a in Muslim-majority states today blurs this distinction. These Muslim states are a modern mutation owing much to the European nation-state model. Americans shouldn’t be concerned when Muslims want to live according to Shari‘a, for that doesn’t mean they want the state to rule by it (Asifa Quraishi-Landes, “Sharia and Diversity: Why Americans Are Missing the Point,” Institute for Social Policy and Understanding report).