Century Marks

Century Marks


Tim DeChristopher, an environmental activist, was found guilty of making false statements and of violating the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act. He was charged with subverting the leasing of publicly owned lands in Utah to gas and oil companies. DeChristopher's strategy was to outbid the companies in an auction, even though he didn't have the means to lease the land. When he appeared in court to receive his sentence, he gave a passionate speech defending his actions. Then he turned to the judge and said, "This is what love looks like" (Orion, January/February).

Family man

President Obama has been accused of being aloof and not schmoozing enough with members of Congress and other movers and shakers in Washington. The president defended himself recently in a Time magazine interview: "I've got a 13-year-old and 10-year-old daughter and so, no, Michelle and I don't do the social scene, because as busy as we are, we have a limited amount of time, and we want to be good parents at a time that's vitally important for our kids" (Time, January 30).

Nietzsche in America

In the years surrounding the turn of the 20th century, some American intellectuals were infatuated with philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. People as different as William James, H. L. Mencken, Margaret Sanger and Ayn Rand were attracted to his ideas and the tortured personality that produced them. How could this son of a Lutheran minister declare that God is dead and rail against the idea of universal truth? Some Christian leaders pushed back at Nietzsche, notably theologian Walter Rauschenbusch. As a social gospel proponent, Rauschenbusch saw in Nietzsche's philosophy an expression of the brutal nature of laissez-faire capitalism (Wilson Quarterly, Winter).

Shari‘a law

Churches in India have decried the verdict of an Islamic court in Kashmir that ordered the expulsion of a Protestant pastor and a Dutch Catholic missionary. Muslim groups pressed charges against the pastor for baptizing five Muslims and a Hindu. While the pastor was released on bail, the Shari'a court went ahead with its own trial. Muslims are the majority in this part of India, and they make up a majority of students and teachers even in Christian schools (ENI).


Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, says doctrine is needed in order to help Christians know how God acts in creation and in transformation. We must have doctrine in order to know what it is that we are to be attuned to. "But if doctrine doesn't make possible poetry and contemplation, then doctrine is a waste of time," he says. This "is where the poetic and contemplative touch the prophetic, because the prophetic is all about the diagnosis of dead words and false acts. The prophetic task is to smell out death in a situation" (Williams, A Silent Action).