Century Marks

Century Marks


This is the first year that Thanksgiving Day in the United States and the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah coincide, which has led to a flurry of Jewish levity and commercialism. A nine-year-old New York boy raised over $48,000 on Kickstarter for his trademarked “Menurkey,” a turkey-shaped menorah. A mother outside Boston teamed with an artist to create and sell Thanksgivukkah- or Turkukkah-themed shirts, cards and posters. Ten percent of sales are going to a Jewish hunger relief organization. Hanukkah actually begins the evening before Thanksgiving (AP).

Good news in Turkey

St. Giragos Armenian Church in Diyarbakir, Turkey, severely damaged during the 1915 massacre and deportation of Christians, recently underwent an extensive $3 million restoration. It has plans to hold regular services. The reopening of this church is part of a reevaluation by Kurdish Muslims of the role their ancestors played in the killing of minorities, including Armenians. The Kurdish city paid 15 percent of the renovation cost (RNS).

The world ahead

When global warming activist Bill McKibben is asked by people how to prepare for the world that climate change will bring, he responds: live “anyplace with a strong community.” When asked where to find a community strong enough to survive the social divisions that global warming will bring, he says: you make them (New York Review of Books, October 24).

Where’s Judas?

Antonin Scalia, a conservative justice on the Supreme Court, told an interviewer for New York magazine that he believes in hell and the devil. The interviewer wondered whether he thought she would go to hell since she doesn’t believe in it. Scalia reiterated traditional Catholic doctrine, saying that everyone would go to heaven or hell but that you don’t have to be Catholic to go to heaven. He refused to condemn the reporter to hell. “I don’t even know whether Judas Iscariot is in hell . . . He may have recanted and had severe penance just before he died,” Scalia said (New York, October 6).

Unequal pleasures

Philoso­phers have long talked about two different kinds of pleasure: hedonic pleasure gained through good food and drink and eudaimonic pleasure gained from serving the common good. Researchers have discovered that the two kinds of pleasure have different biological consequences. Hedonic pleasure leads to a gene expression associated with inflammation that can cause arthritis and heart disease. Eudaimonic pleasure has the opposite effect: it reduces the stress associated with inflammation. Hedonic pleasure may be the emotional equivalent of empty calories: it offers short-term pleasure with long-term ill effects (ScienceDaily.com, July 29).