Century Marks

Century Marks

Church collateral

With banks in Cyprus on the verge of collapse and the government unable to come to agreement with the European Union over a bailout plan, the head of the Cyprian Orthodox Church offered to help. Archbishop Chrysostomos II offered to mortgage the church’s assets to help get the country out of its financial bind. Although the church is be­lieved to be the biggest landholder in the country, it does not have enough assets to bail out Cyprus by itself. The archbishop urged his country’s leaders to find solutions within Cyprus, and he was highly critical of the European Union’s plans to make bank depositors give up some of their assets. He called on Cypriots to make sacrifices to help pay off the country’s debts (ABC News, March 20).

Ordinary living

In a tribute to outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Stanley Hauerwas said that what Williams taught us is the art of ordinary living. This means giving up notions about grand gestures or heroic actions. It involves learning to live without fear of the complexity of ordinary life. Williams confessed that he longed for a church that was more true to itself. Yet, said Williams, the art of ordinary living means he “must also learn to live in and attend to the reality of the Church as it is, to do the prosaic things that can be and must be done now and to work at my relations now with the people who will not listen to me . . . because what God asks of me is not to live in the future but to live with honesty and attentiveness in the present, i.e., to be at home” (Religion and Ethics, Australian Broadcasting Cor­poration, March 20).

Women in history

When the Washington Post in 1943 tried to come up with a list of the “Ten Outstanding Women of the Modern World,” it could name only eight. Three of them were wives of world leaders at the time: Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt; Madame Chiang Kai-shek, wife of the Chinese nationalist leader; and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, wife of the King of England George VI. The others were Margaret Mead, American anthropologist; Evie Curie, Marie’s daughter; Dorothy Thompson, journalist and foreign correspondent; Sigred Undset, Norwegian writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928; and Louise Boyd, who had made an expedition to Green­land (History Today, March 2013).

Protest in the academy

Marshall Sahlins, a highly regarded anthropologist at the University of Chicago, has resigned from the National Academy of Sciences in protest. He objected to military-related research projects done by the academy and the election of anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon to the NSA. If it is involved at all in military-related projects, Sahlins said, NAS “should be studying how to promote peace, not how to make war.” Sahlins accuses Chagnon of having “done serious harm to the indigenous communities among whom he did research.” Chagnon has just published a new book, Noble Savages (InsideHigherEd, February 25).

About face

S. Brian Willson’s parents were conservative Baptists in upstate New York. His father belonged to the John Birch Society and gave money to the Ku Klux Klan. Willson became an airforce officer and served in Vietnam, where he came upon a South Vietnamese village that had just been napalmed by American forces. Most of the victims—dead or lying in pain on the ground—were women and children. He began to sob and gag at the scene. This experience turned him into a war resister. He lost his legs while lying across a railroad track in the U.S., trying to block a train carrying munitions. Willson, who is also dedicated to ecological concerns, has ridden 60,000 miles on a handcycle since 1997 (Sun, March).