Century Marks

Century Marks

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).

Outsourced weddings

A focus on elaborate wedding ceremonies has led to the quest for the perfect wedding and rising employment for wedding planners. Wedding planners often play the role of pastor and therapist. Expensive weddings cause some wedding guests to joke that they hope the marriage lasts long enough to pay off the wedding (Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of The Outsourced Self, interviewed by Mars Hill Audio Journal, vol. 115).

Plagued

The massive infestation of locusts in Egypt right before the Jewish Passover struck many Israelis as downright biblical. Millions of grasshopper-like insects swarmed over Israel’s neighbor, and some made their way to southern Israel. Israeli agricultural experts are on high alert, fearing that the locusts could devastate crops. Some Israelis have noted that varieties of the leggy pests are kosher. Locusts were the eighth plague visited upon the Egyptians, according to the Exodus story (RNS).

Bad math

James Wagner, president of Emory University,  created a fire­storm of protest when he suggested in Emory Magazine that the three-fifths compromise in the U.S. Constitu­tion is a model for resolving disagreements and working for the common good in a university. The three-fifths compromise was worked out between northern and slaveholding southern states as way to apportion seats in the House of Representatives. Three-fifths of a state’s  slave population was counted for purposes of representing a state’s population. Wagner subsequently issued an apology, saying he should have said that slavery is repulsive and inhuman (InsideHigherEd.com, February 13).

Not an issue

Except for white evangelical Protestants, Americans generally don’t see a couple’s differing religious beliefs as a significant stumbling block for a relationship or marriage, according to a study by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service. The bigger problem is an unsatisfying sex life. Of those surveyed, 54 percent said an unsatisfying sex life is a major problem for a relationship or marriage, while only 29 percent cited a couple’s differing religious beliefs as a major factor. Only among white evangelicals did a majority (56 percent) see religious difference as a major obstacle. (Fifty-seven percent of white evangelicals agreed that a bad sex life is a major problem.) Only 19 percent of Catholics consider differing religious beliefs a big concern for a couple (RNS).