Century Marks

Century Marks

First unions

Cohabitation is preferred over marriage among nearly half of women age 15 to 44, according to a study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. Marriage is part of a first union for less than one-quarter of women in this age bracket. Un­married couples are staying together longer and more are having children. Within three years of cohabitation, 40 percent of the women had gotten married, 32 percent still lived with their partner and 27 percent had left the relationship. Those with a college education are less likely to choose cohabitation and more likely to move quickly to marriage (USA Today, April 4).

Evangelical politics

At least since the 1980s American evangelicalism has increasingly associated itself with conservative, often Republican, politics. Comparing evangelicals in the U.S. with those in Brazil, Erin McAdams and Justin Earl Lance found that evangelicals in Brazil are not as conservative. In response to the statement, “The government should guarantee every citizen enough to eat and a place to sleep,” 96 percent of Brazilian evangelicals agreed but only 67 percent of Americans did. Brazilian evangelicals are no less theologically orthodox than their American counterparts. One reason for the difference is that no political party in Brazil endorses abortion, which takes that issue off the table. Brazil has a multiparty system and only in 2002 did one party target evangelicals (Boston Globe, April 1).

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).

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).