Century Marks

Century Marks

Imagine this

The phrase “I can’t imagine” is a well-intended corrective to the bromide “I know how you feel,” which some people utter when responding to those in grief. Mary Robin Craig, whose son took his own life, doesn’t think “I can’t imagine” is much of an improvement. Craig said she has never heard that line from people who were steeped in Ignatian spirituality, which focuses on the cultivation of the spiritual imagination. “The spiritual companions who offered me time and space,” she says, “were able to imagine my experience well enough to enter into its vast emptiness with me, to accompany me without judgment into places without answers or comfort” (Presence, September).


A woman from Tennessee was thrown out of the Ridgedale Church of Christ, which she had attended her whole life, because she refused to publicly condemn her lesbian daughter. “They’re exiling members for unconditionally loving their children,” the lesbian daughter said in defense of her mother (The Week, September 6).

Restorative justice

Although the ghosts of genocide persist in Rwanda, where an estimated 800,000 men, women and children were slaughtered in 1994, there are signs of hope. Rwandans are creating one of the safest, least corrupt and most economically successful countries on the continent. One factor in the healing of the ethnic strife between Hutus and Tutsis was the use of a traditional justice system called gacaca. Gacaca courts are community-based public trials that allowed victims to confront the accused. If convicted, the accused were sentenced to do things that helped rebuild the country: repairing houses, making agricultural terraces or tending the fields of victims’ families (United Church Observer, July/August).

Altar call

The agency that commissions Southern Baptist military chaplains says no Southern Baptist chaplain will be allowed to perform, attend or support a same-sex wedding either on or off base. The guidelines issued by the North American Mission Board were updated in response to the military’s repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and the Supreme Court’s decision this summer to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. Recently, the Pentagon began allowing gay and lesbian service members who plan to wed to take travel leaves for up to ten days as long as those service members live 100 miles or more away from one of the 13 states that allow same-sex marriages (RNS).

Humor as a virtue

Humor is not only a desirable human trait, it is also a spiritual virtue that shows evidence of a genuine conversion, argues moral theologian John J. Slovikovski. Christ had a sense of humor, and “to be humorous . . . is to be Christlike, and to be Christlike is to be converted.” Slovikovski understands humor to be a form of mirth. Its goal is the “generous allocation of overflowing and redeemed goodness that makes right relationship with Christ as a redeemed, fully human person attractive and cheerful.” Humor must be related to the other virtues. Humor devoid of love “is nothing more than callous, egocentric and existentially costly self-amusement,” says Slovikovski (Theology, July/August).