Century Marks

Century Marks

Baptized fraternity

Dick Allison, retired pastor of the University Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is developing spiritual friendships with men who are in prison. Some of these men have become members of his church. He baptized three of them in horse troughs in the prison. An inmate at an out-of-state prison declared: “I want to become a member of the Horse Trough Fraternity of Baptized Believers.” These prisoners find it meaningful to belong to a church, even if they can’t attend it. One confessed that the only group he had previously belonged to was a gang of skinheads (Christian Reflections, 2012).

Religious vote

The Republican presidential primaries have followed patterns of a religious census. Mitt Romney has won wherever white evangelicals have cast a minority of the votes. Rick Santorum has won in most cases where white evangelicals cast the majority of votes. Mormon voters helped Romney win Nevada, Arizona and Idaho. But ironically, Santorum, a devout Catholic, has consistently lost the Catholic vote to Romney. Columnist E. J. Dionne Jr. thinks this is because Catholic voters tend to be a moderating voice in both parties and Santorum stands to the right of most Catholics who vote Republican. Except among Mormons, Romney doesn't do well with Republican voters who say a candidate's religion matters to them (Washington Post, March 21).

Along for the ride

Imagine someone came up to you on the street and said: "My bus leaves in two minutes. Tell me about the resurrection in the time remaining." Elizabeth Templeton, who posed that challenge to the Church of England's House of Bishops, said her own response would be: "If you really want to hear about the resurrection, be prepared to miss your bus." Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams had another suggestion: "I think I'd have asked the man where he was going, then said that I'd accompany him on the journey" (Benjamin Myers, Christ the Stran­ger: The Theology of Rowan Williams).

Class warfare

The Great Recession did nothing to reverse the gross inequality of wealth and income. The superrich households (the top one-tenth of the top 1 percent) received 37 percent of all the economic gains made during 2010. The rest of the top 10 percent received all the other gains. Last year the richest 1 percent of taxpayers saved more money from the Bush tax cuts than the rest of the 141 million taxpaying Americans made in total income (NationofChange.org).

Attic treasures

A treasure trove of artifacts was uncovered at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg when workers broke through the walls and ceilings during the renovation of a 180-year-old dormitory. Found were a nearly century-old wardrobe signed by decades of students, letters to Civil War soldiers, a plaster relief of Martin Luther and four men's shoes, the oldest dating to 1830. The shoes were deliberately damaged before being stored in the walls, apparently a folk custom intended to bring good luck. In one of the letters, a father encouraged his soldier son to kill "Old Jeff," meaning Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy. Known as the Old Dorm, the building was converted into a hospital during the Civil War. It is being turned into an interpretive museum showing neglected dimensions of the Civil War (Evening Sun, March 12).