Century Marks

Century Marks


A Kentucky high school student dropped out of a regional cross-country race after organizers gave her the number 666. Based on a reference in the book of Revelation to the Antichrist, the student considers the number a sign of the devil. The race organizers refused to give her another number, which led to the student’s withdrawal. “I didn’t want to risk my relationship with God,” she said (The Week, November 22).

Clueless kids

Many older teens are stumped by tasks—changing a tire, replacing a button, or applying for a job—that their parents would have considered commonplace when they were the same age. One explanation is that teens are remaining dependent on parents much longer, often living with and being supported by their parents into their twenties. Another is that increasingly teens and young adults are living in a cohort bubble, with little contact with other adults—a bubble marked by use of technology and social media. Despite this generational divide, the Culture of American Families Survey shows most parents see themselves as heavily invested in parenting and hope that in the long term they will be best friends with their children. It’s as though they’re looking for a return on their investment (Hedgehog Review, Fall).

Seeking redemption

In 2006 Charles Roberts walked into an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania, shot and killed five schoolgirls, injured another five and then took his own life. The Amish community immediately declared that it forgave Roberts for his heinous acts, and some of them reached out with compassion to Roberts’s mother. Roberts’s brother Zachary is now working on a documentary called Hope, focusing on his mother’s journey since the shootings. “How does the mother of a mass murderer move forward?” he asks. Forgiveness and faith have been the key ingredients in her life (Huffington Post, November 17).

Religious profiling

A diverse group of religious, racial justice, civil rights and community-based organizations sent a letter to the Department of Justice last month, urging it to investigate post-9/11 surveillance practices in New York City that the letter signers say jeopardize the civil rights of Muslims. The appeal follows investigative reports by the Associated Press documenting that New York police have sent hired people to infiltrate mosques, student associations and other places to take photos, write down license plate numbers and keep notes on people because they are Muslim. The group said the surveillance program unfairly stigmatizes Muslims, “who are a law-abiding, diverse, and integral part of our nation and New York City” (ABP).

Sunday assembly

The London-based Sunday Assembly is bringing its efforts to the United States in Novem­ber. The group holds assemblies for unbelievers who still want to be part of a congregation to become better persons and serve others. The London group, which draws about 600 people, recently went from monthly to twice-monthly meetings. Cristina Traina, religion professor at Northwestern University, said, “It’s very interesting that part of what they seem to miss is what Christians call liturgy—gathering to sing, to say something meaningful about the larger universe, to be inspired and made better in a group, not in your room.” She predicts that it will be a “flash in the pan” (Reuters).