Century Marks

Century Marks

Pedal power

Last year more bikes were sold than cars in 26 out of the 28 countries belonging to the European Union. The two exceptions were Belgium and Luxembourg. The shift is partly due to the economic crisis, which has hurt car sales significantly, but not bike sales. Southern Europeans are now joining the bicycle revolution, long touted by northern Europeans. Milan has just rolled out a bike-sharing system similar to one in Paris. Madrid has unveiled a bike rental scheme and is planning a “green ring” of bike paths around the city’s center (AFP).

Smaller is better

The sale of Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral to the Catholic diocese in Orange County is a harbinger of evangelicalism’s future in the United States,, according to Jim Hinch, religion correspondent for the Orange County Register. Many younger evangelicals dislike evangelicals’ association with the culture wars and with large megachurches. The future of the evangelical church may look more like the decade-old Epic Church in northern Orange County, which is populated by Koreans and Hispanics. Its 200 members meet in a rented office building and spend time tutoring low-income students in the neighborhood. “We didn’t feel like our goal was to get people to come to our church,” the founding pastor said. “We wanted to be present in the neighborhood, where we’re guests” (American Scholar, Winter).

Cheap eats

A buck fifty a day is all that separates a good diet from a poor one. That’s the conclusion of researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health after studying food prices in ten developed countries. Although $1.50 a day is a pittance for most people in the United States, it adds up to $550 a year—not a small expense for the poor. But compared to the cost of medical problems stemming from poor diets, it still is a very modest price (NPR, December 6).

Pants Sunday

For the second year in a row, Mormon feminists wore pants to church on the second Sunday of December. While there are no specific prescriptions for women to wear skirts or dresses to church, Mormon women face subtle pressure to do so. The organizer of “Wear Pants to Church” Sunday said, “Sometimes at church it feels like we’re asked to adopt gender roles that are very traditional.” One participant said she was more optimistic about the church because of this quiet protest. “There is a future for progressive Mormons,” she said, “that we can do better for the gay community, for women and for people of color” (Reuters).

State by state

Statistics released by the federal government indicate that, through November, the rate of residents signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act is three times higher in states embracing the federal law compared to states where its leaders have resisted it. On the one side are mostly Democratic-leaning states that have expanded Medicaid for low-income people and started their own health insurance exchanges. On the other side are states that have refused to expand Medicaid and have not set up their own health insurance exchanges, even though many of them have relatively higher levels of poverty and fewer insured citizens (AP).