Century Marks

Century Marks

The world ahead

When global warming activist Bill McKibben is asked by people how to prepare for the world that climate change will bring, he responds: live “anyplace with a strong community.” When asked where to find a community strong enough to survive the social divisions that global warming will bring, he says: you make them (New York Review of Books, October 24).

Where’s Judas?

Antonin Scalia, a conservative justice on the Supreme Court, told an interviewer for New York magazine that he believes in hell and the devil. The interviewer wondered whether he thought she would go to hell since she doesn’t believe in it. Scalia reiterated traditional Catholic doctrine, saying that everyone would go to heaven or hell but that you don’t have to be Catholic to go to heaven. He refused to condemn the reporter to hell. “I don’t even know whether Judas Iscariot is in hell . . . He may have recanted and had severe penance just before he died,” Scalia said (New York, October 6).

Second chance food

About 40 percent of the food in the U.S. gets thrown away. Doug Rauch, past president of Trader Joe’s grocery store chain, plans to do something with the perfectly edible food that gets tossed because it is past its sell-by date and with the foods that never make it to the market because they are cosmetically damaged. Next year he plans to open an operation called Daily Table in Dorchester, Massachusetts. A cross between a grocery store and a restaurant, Daily Table will prepare mostly fruits and vegetables for “speed-scratch” cooking, and the food will be sold at prices that compete with fast-food meals (NPR, September 21).

Final act

Catholic theologian Hans Küng, who has long been at odds with the Vatican, is considering one final act of defiance—assisted suicide. Küng, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, writes in the final volume of his memoirs—just released—that people have the right to surrender their lives to God through suicide if life becomes intolerable due to pain, suffering or dementia. He argues that such a suicide isn’t an act of murder but rather an act of surrender and of voluntarily returning life to the Creator. Assisted suicide is legal in his native Switzerland (Thomson Reuters).

Left behind?

The civil war in Syria has revived apocalyptic fever among fundamentalist Christians, especially those who follow a dispensationalist view of the Bible. In a survey conducted by LifeWay Research, 32 percent of Americans surveyed said they agree with this statement: “I believe the battles in Syria are all part of the prophecies of the Book of Revelation.” Isaiah 17:1 is used as a proof text: “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap.” Hal Lindsey, author of the 1970 bestseller The Late, Great Planet Earth, argues that only nuclear weapons, perhaps used by Israel, could cause such devastation (ABP).