Century Marks

Century Marks

Charismatic renewal?

At the invitation of Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, representatives of Chemin Neuf (“New Way”), a Catholic-based charismatic community, are moving into Lambeth Palace, the archbishop of Canterbury’s residence in London. Welby discovered this group before he became a priest and while working for an oil company in France. Chemin Neuf was founded 40 years ago in France as a Catholic prayer group but has since become ecumenical. The group moving into Lambeth Palace includes a Catholic priest, an Anglican couple and a Lutheran seminarian (American Interest, December 18).

Big government

Benjamin Radcliff, political scientist at the University of Notre Dame, has compared the size of government in different countries to the sense of well-being among its citizens. He concludes that “the smaller the government, the less happy people are.” Key to government providing a greater sense of well-being are measures that keep people in a capitalist economy from feeling as though they are “commodities.” Government programs that care for older people and the unemployed and free people to care for infant or ailing family members contribute to a sense of well-being. People of all income levels benefit, as do both men and women (Washington Post, December 23).

God and world

The universe is both distinct from God and loved by God, according to Christian theology. Such a view of the universe, says theologian John F. Haught, makes room for the concept of evolution. A world that is truly other than God has autonomy and therefore the freedom to develop spontaneously in its own, contingent manner. A God that truly loves the world will not coerce it to change but rather work with it through persuasive love. “If God is love, and not controlling power, the world will be given leeway to experiment with an array of creative possibilities”—what is considered randomness in evolutionary science (Sewanee Theological Review, Michaelmas).

Atheism in a new light

Chris Arnade has a Ph.D. in physics. He worked on Wall Street for 20 years. He counted himself among the atheists who enjoy nothing more than poking holes in the Bible and making fun of Christians. Richard Dawkins was his hero. He quit his Wall Street job to photograph homeless people in the Bronx. The homeless people he met, including the addicts and prostitutes, undermined his atheism. For many of them, faith was what got them through life. “I’ve been reminded that life is not as rational as Richard Dawkins sees it. Perhaps atheism is an intellectual luxury for the wealthy,” said Arnade (Guardian, December 24).

Eat your veggies

After decades as a mortician in East Baltimore, Erich March became concerned about the way people in his neighborhood were dying prematurely from obesity, hypertension and diabetes. The deaths were linked to a poor diet. March and his wife opened a grocery store, called Apples & Oranges, that sells healthy food and teaches people how to prepare it. The store doesn’t carry sugary sodas, cigarettes or lottery tickets. March said he was motivated by his Catholic faith and the example of his parents, who often provided funeral services free of charge (U.S. Catholic, December).