Century Marks

Century Marks

Cutting child poverty

Monthly subsidies to families with children are becoming common in developed countries. The UK gives the equivalent of $140 per month for each child, Germany $250. “If we issued a $400 monthly payment to each child, and cut tax subsidies for children in higher-income families, we would cut child poverty from 22 percent to below 10 percent,” says Austin Nichols of the Urban Institute. “If we further guaranteed one worker per family a job paying $15,000 a year, and each family participated, child poverty would drop to under 1 percent,” Nichols figures (MetroTrends Blog, September 16).

Digital reading

In a national survey 35 percent of people polled who own e-readers or tablets report reading more books now than they did before having such devices. This increase is especially pronounced among people ages 18 to 40. Adults with a reading device report reading 18 books a year; adults without one say they read an average of 11 books each year. Forty percent of adults now own an e-reader or tablet (USA Today, October 7).

Guilt gone

In his 1958 book on guilt and guilt feelings (Schuld und Schudgefühle), Martin Buber said that some religious perspectives on how to deal with guilt are so important they should be shared with the rest of society. These include the Jewish synagogue tradition, the Catholic practice of confession and the Protestant tradition of preaching about the necessity of confessing one’s sins. In its own way each of these traditions teaches that it is possible for a sinner to be free of guilt if that person is willing to walk the long road of remorse, confession, making amends and asking for forgiveness. What was done can’t be undone, but the guilty one doesn’t need to continue to be identified with the sin (Dialog, Summer).

First testament

Preaching from the Old Testament is a problem for pastors who use the Revised Common Lectionary, since OT texts are usually chosen to match themes in the New Testament texts. The contexts of the OT texts are often overlooked as they are used to retell the Christian story. One option is to suspend use of the lectionary occasionally to preach by drawing on books of the first testament. Another is to make the OT texts from the lectionary the main focus, taking seriously their contexts and the narratives of which they are a part (Expository Times, September).

Liquor Effect

Marie Crandall, a trauma surgeon at Northwestern Memo­r­ial Hospital in Chicago, did a study of violence in the city’s most violent neighborhoods. She discovered that people who live near a liquor store or bar are 500 times more likely to be shot than other people in the same neighborhood. Crandall hopes that her study will start a discussion about how easy access to alcohol affects urban neighborhoods plagued by poverty, crime and the lack of jobs and nutritious food. Crandall suggests replacing liquor stores, which often serve as local mini-marts, with grocery stores (Chicago Tribune, September 19).