Century Marks

Century Marks

Workers unite

Henry Blodget, former equity research analyst, has had an antipathy toward unions. He has thought that unions led to a sense of entitlement, decreased corporate competitiveness and ultimately led to the transfer of jobs overseas. We now have a larger problem, Blodget says: while corporate profits are at an all-time high, wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low. Companies are so obsessed by short-term profits that they’re paying employees less and not investing in future growth, keeping the economy from recovery. Robust labor unions are needed again to increase workers’ compensation. Corporations won’t voluntarily do it (BusinessInsider.com, August 2).

In B&W

First Grace in New Orleans is the result of the merger of two congregations—one black, the other white—in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.The first Sunday the groups worshiped together, only 60 people attended—half of them black, half of them white, all a bit nervous. Today attendance is in the hundreds. The church’s outreach ministries include a medical clinic, a halfway house, a feeding program and a legal clinic. Apparently when you’re caught up in the mission, you don’t have time to worry about the color of somebody’s skin (RNS).

Backfire

Over the past four years the United States has made at least 75 drone strikes in Yemen, killing at least 600 people. The al-Qaeda network in Yemen, according to the U.S., is the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world. It has grown from 300 members in 2009 to well over 1,000 today, despite all the killings. The drone strategy doesn’t work in Yemen the way it has in Afghanistan or Pakistan. In Yemen the terrorists are Yemeni, not outsiders. When terrorists in Yemen are killed by a drone, other Yemeni will defend them because of their sense of kinship, not because of shared ideology (Foreign Policy, August 6).

Preferential treatment

Troy University, a public institution in Alabama, is opening a new dormitory this fall for students seeking a faith-based college experience. To live in this new $11.8 million facility, students must be committed to a spiritual lifestyle, be active in a campus-based religious orga­nization and maintain a 2.5 grade point average. Troy has a high percentage of international students, many of whom follow non-Christian religions. The university claims it won’t discriminate against them, although the new facility will give preference to Christians. The Freedom from Religion Foundation is challenging the rule (AL.com, August 2).

Real-world prayer

About one in five Americans play video games at least once a day. Some do it for relaxation; others are possessed by the games and become addicted. The difference between the two groups seems to be that one group finds identity in the world and the other group finds identity in the games. Anthropologist T. M. Luhrmann, who has studied prayer among evangelicals, says prayer can similarly become an addiction. “When people use prayer to enhance their real-world selves, they feel good,” says Luhrmann. “When it disconnects them from the everyday . . . they feel bad” (New York Times, August 3).