Mind-boggling: If the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street were paid out in $100 bills, it would amount to a stack 54 miles high. Given the magnitude of the plan, no wonder there is public outrage. But columnist James Carroll noticed another, similar figure: in the fiscal year just begun the Pentagon will spend $607 billion on regular military operations (as well as another $100 billion on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq).
True confessions: Michael Jinkins, dean of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, says that the pastor of a large evangelical church told him he had decided to do away with a corporate confession in worship services. It’s too much of a downer, the pastor explained. Jinkins asked him, “Isn’t it more of a downer for your people to leave worship without confessing their sins and hearing the assurance of God’s pardon?” (Cultural Encounters, Winter).
God’s chosen: A Marxist and a Muslim were having a discussion about Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac in obedience to God’s command. The Marxist said that if God were to ask him to sacrifice his son, he wouldn’t do it. The Muslim replied, “That is why you are not Abraham” (International Journal of Middle East Studies, August).
Not color-blind: Mahzarin R. Banaji, a Harvard researcher who created a way to test racial attitudes, has devised a method to test racial bias in children. She expected that children ages five or six would not show any bias, but discovered to her dismay that children as young as three display a bias—and as intensely as adults do. She still believes that overcoming racism is possible (Chronicle Review, July 25).
It isn’t funny: Timothy Shriver, chair of the Special Olympics, says that the movie Tropic Thunder is an unchecked assault on the dignity of people with intellectual disabilities. Boycott it, he says, and “talk to your children about language that is bullying and mean” (Washington Post, August 11).