Century Marks

Century Marks

God and others

Aging is accompanied by a sense of loss and diminishment, especially in energy and health. Lewis Richmond believes that relying on something greater than ourselves, like God, can compensate for the loss. Research indicates that people who go to religious worship services at least once a week live seven years longer than those who don’t. This is especially true for people who combine such attendance with service to others (Aging as a Spiritual Practice, Gotham Books).

Fanning the heat

Wind farms are supposed to be environmentally friendly, but research reported in Nature indicates that large wind farms actually contribute to warmer temperatures, at least at the local level. At nighttime, after the sun goes down, the earth’s temperature usually decreases. Large wind farms mix that cold air with warmer air aloft, increasing the local temperature. This could have an eventual effect on wildlife in the area and could also affect the weather regionally, since warmer air contributes to cloud formation and wind speeds. The research was done in Texas, which has four of the largest wind farms in the world. China is reportedly erecting 36 wind turbines a day (Telegraph, April 29).

Prison ministry

Writing about Prison Fellowship, founded by the late Chuck Colson, Mark Oppenheimer points out that there have been two impulses behind incarceration in the U.S. One, with Christian underpinnings, focused on reforming the imprisoned; the other, which took hold especially in the South during the era of slavery, promoted harsh living conditions and punitive labor (think chain gangs and labor farms). Colson advocated for less crowded, more humane prisons. His critics say that Prison Fellowship doesn’t challenge the prison system so much as work toward the spiritual reformation of individual prisoners. Studies are mixed on whether such a ministry turns prisoners away from a life of crime once they’re back on the street (New York Times, April 27).

Time-out

Flora Slosson Wuellner witnessed a congregational business meeting in which deliberations would cease after every half hour and the congregation would sit in silence for five minutes, attending to the Spirit’s promptings. People would take turns holding a stopwatch. After the silent periods, “the tone of the talk and planning changes, attitudes changed, disagreements were handled differently, fresh options were envisioned,” Slosson Wuellner says (Weavings, May).

Sharing stories

Members of the Temple B’nai Jeshurun in Des Moines, Iowa, wanted to throw the book at two teens, a boy and his girlfriend, who had scribbled neo-Nazi graffiti on their synagogue. Instead, Rabbi Steven Fink met with the youths as part of a restorative justice process. At the meeting, several Holocaust survivors told their stories. The male perpetrator told about his childhood of abuse and of running away from home and linking up with the Aryan Nation. The youths were told that in the Jewish tradition they had to earn forgiveness. Each performed 200 hours of service for the synagogue, at the end of which the charges were dropped (Des Moines Register, April 22).