Century Marks

Century Marks

Energized

On a very windy day last April, Colorado’s largest utility company generated 57 percent of its power from wind, a national record. Overall, the United States gets just 3 percent of its power from wind, and utility companies are reluctant to become more dependent upon it due to its variability (CNN.com, August 6). The San Antonio Water System has agreed to be the first site to host an experimental system that produces renewable energy from the flow of water in municipal pipelines. The system incorporates vertical axis turbines that generate electricity in large, gravity-fed pipelines (WaterWorld.com).

Biblical insanity

A sample sermon issued by the Church of England to tackle the stigma of mental illness suggests that some biblical characters could be diagnosed as having had mental disease. King Saul’s mood swings might have been signs of bipolar disorder. St. Paul’s Damascus road experience could have involved some sort of breakdown or psychotic episode. And the New Testament suggests that Jesus’ own family suspected that he was losing his mind. People who find these suggestions offensive should consider this question: “Do we mistakenly believe that God cannot or will not work through people with mental illness?” (Daily Express, August 28).

Cardinal virtues

Chinese Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi passed away last month after a six-year battle with lung cancer. He considered cancer a blessing, as it gave him a chance to explain his faith to many people. In his final years he gave priority to ministering to three groups: intellectuals, condemned prisoners and people of other religions. When asked if he was afraid to die, he responded: “No! Dying is falling into the loving arms of God” (Vatican Insider, August 23).

Broadside

The American Atheists organization bought billboard space near the site for the Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, and put up a sign claiming that Christianity promotes hate and exalts a useless savior. The group wanted to buy billboard space near the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, for a sign deriding Mormonism, but no one would sell them the space. The billboard in Charlotte was taken down after American Atheists received vehement opposition (Economist, August 25, and USAToday.com, August 28).

Credulity

The story has been told that in 1953 a Yale University survey found that only 3 percent of students had long-term goals, and 20 years later, when the same students were interviewed again, the 3 percent who had long-term goals were not only happier and more productive but also had a net worth as great as the other 97 percent combined. But this story, oft repeated by motivational speakers, preachers and professors, is a legend; these studies never took place. In What Christians Believe about the Bible (Baker Academic), Don Thorsen and Keith H. Reeves suggest that the circulation of this false story should compel us to question our own assumptions, including those about the Bible.