Century Marks

Century Marks

That’s life

John Dear SJ introduced the Gospel of Mark to teens in a confirmation class in a remote parish in New Mexico and asked them what they liked or didn't like about the text, what they thought made sense, what seemed crazy. "What is this 'kingdom of God'?" he asked. One student impatiently responded, "The kingdom of God is life." That seemed to Dear like an insight worthy of a Thomas Merton or a Thich Nhat Hanh. Yes, Dear thought to himself on his way home, God's reign offers fullness of life for everyone, friend and foe alike (Lazarus, Come Forth! Orbis).

Coming out

Some of the children of the wealthiest Americans have been involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement. One held a sign reading, "I have more money than I know what to do with. Tax me more." A sign held by twins read, "You would know our dad, if we told you who he was." Some of children of the 1 percent said it was hard to decide to get involved-it was almost like "coming out" (The Week, December 30–January 6).

Patient care

Dr. Stephen Workman, an internist in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has reflected on what doctors should and shouldn't say when patients are dying. When he senses that death is possible, he says to patients: "You could die during this hospital admission. Is that something you've been thinking about?" He might follow up with, "What have you been thinking, and what are your expectations?" He thinks doctors should not say that a patient is failing to respond to treatment; rather, they should say that the treatments are not working. It is the treatments that fail, not the dying patient (New York Times, December 20).

Facebook fuss

Egyptian authorities detained a Christian Coptic student in late December for allegedly posting a picture of the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook. The 17-year-old denies the charge, claiming that friends posted the picture on his Facebook page. The accusations led residents of his village to attack his house and set fire to other Christians' homes. Some Christian villagers have left in fear, even though security forces intervened on their behalf (AP).

Politics in the pulpit

Randall Balmer, a historian of American religion, spent his high school years in Des Moines, Iowa. His father was a staunch Republican and pastor of one of the largest evangelical churches in the state—but he was resolutely apolitical in the pulpit. Beginning in the late 1970s, however, the issue of abortion galvanized evangelical political activism in Iowa, and the state became a harbinger of movements on the religious right. Evangelicals formed megachurches and homeschooling became popular. Iowa's long tradition of progressivism has been blunted, as is evident in the 2010 recall of three Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage (Religion Dispatches, December 31).