Century Marks

Century Marks

Rare case

A hard-line Muslim cleric received an 11-year suspended sentence last month for tearing up and burning a Bible in Egypt. His son was given a suspended sentence of eight years for the same incident. The two were ordered to pay a fine of 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($700). The ruling can be appealed. The cleric ripped up a Bible and burned it during a rally last fall by ultraconservative Salafi Muslims in front of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, protesting an anti-Islam film produced in the United States. It’s rare in Egypt for an attack on a faith other than Islam to be prosecuted (AP).

Define church

Will Campbell, who died last month, referred to himself as a bootleg preacher. A lawyer once asked him where he went to church. Campbell said that depends on your definition of church. The lawyer replied that church is a community of baptized believers. Campbell said that the night before he was in a tavern with a neighbor whose wife had just died. He watched him get drunk and helped him a bit. Campbell said he knew the people in that tavern. “There were all baptized; they were all believers,” he said (Tennessean, June 4).

Desperate messaging

While opening a Halloween package purchased at Kmart, an Oregon mother discovered a handwritten letter in which the writer said he was imprisoned in a work camp in northeastern China. The inmates there, the writer charged, worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week, and were tortured by sadistic guards. The letter drew international attention, but the writer remained a mystery until a Beijing resident came forward anonymously and admitted having written the letter when he was an inmate in a work camp. He is a member of the Falun Gong, a group outlawed by the Chinese government (New York Times, June 11).

Marital advantage?

Opponents of same-sex marriage argue that it will lead to a further weakening of the institution of marriage. But some research shows that there are strengths in same-sex marriage from which heterosexual couples could learn. Same-sex couples tend to be happier and have less conflict, and they are more likely to share equally in household chores and childrearing. Because they don’t have fixed gender roles to follow, same-sex couples have to do more negotiating to make the relationship work. “If a genderless marriage is a marriage in which the wife is not automatically expected to be responsible for school forms and child care and dinner preparation and birthday parties and midnight feedings and holiday shopping, I think it’s fair to say that many heterosexual women would cry ‘Bring it on!’” says Liza Mundy (Atlantic, June).

Earn to give

Jason Trigg, a recent MIT graduate in computer science, may represent a new breed in his generation. He’s taken a job at a Wall Street hedge fund company to make as much money as he can—so he can give away as much as he can. His favorite charity is the Against Malaria Foundation, which estimates that a $2,500 donation can save one life. Trigg, who lives with three roommates, figures he can do more by contributing to good causes than by actually working in them. Rather than going on a mission trip to dig wells in Africa, he can contribute funds to have more wells dug. Trigg attributes his career choice to philosopher Peter Singer, who regards earning-to-give as the most ethical career choice (Wonkblog, washingtonpost.com, May 31).