Century Marks

Century Marks

Latinam legere?

The 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI has put church leaders on notice that they can’t avoid social media like Facebook and Twitter. The pope tweets in nine languages, with 2.5 million followers, including 11,000 who follow his tweets in Latin. The pope understands that social media are a daily part of many people’s lives and have reshaped the dynamics of communications and relationships. A study commissioned by the U.S. Catholic bishops in 2012 indicated that 53 percent of Ameri­cans weren’t aware that the Cath­olic Church has an online presence (AP).

What a waste

About half the food produced in the world is wasted, according to a study by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, based in the United Kingdom. This waste is the consequence of unnecessarily strict expiration dates, Western consumer demand for cosmetically perfect food, poor agricultural practices, inadequate infrastructure and poor storage facilities. Up to half the food purchased in Europe and the U.S. is thrown away. Wasted food also wastes resources used to produce it, including water (Guardian, January 10).

Theological method

Peter Enns says that everything he ever needed to know about handling theological disagreement he learned in kindergarten. “Don’t gang up on anyone. Don’t be a bully. Don’t scream or throw a tantrum. Don’t make fun of anyone. Don’t make up lies to get your way. Don’t try to make others look foolish. Don’t say things when you are angry . . . or tired. No scratching or biting. Respect others. Work as a team. Take turns listening and speaking” (patheos.com, January 17).

Two of a kind

President Obama chose former senator Chuck Hagel as his next secretary of defense because they both have an aversion to war, says journalist Bob Woodward. They both think that the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan was bungled and that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary. Hagel thinks foreign policy should come from the White House, not the Defense Department. Hagel taught a course at Georgetown University called Re­defining Geopolitical Relation­ships. He believes that the Iraq war made Iran the strongest country in the region, and he worries that Iraq will become an Iranian satellite. A veteran of the Vietnam War, he contends that the U.S. needs to avoid massive land wars (Washington Post, January 27).

Despiser of religion

Robert Inger­soll was a late 19th-century agnostic who spoke to more Americans than U.S. presidents did, at a time when public lectures were a source of information and entertainment. Known by his clerical opponents as Robert Injuresoul, he argued that the United States was the first secular government in world history, and he introduced Darwinism with skillful humor. Ingersoll was the son of an unsuccessful Presbyterian minister and, like his hero Abraham Lincoln, self-taught. Though little known today, he influenced such figures as Clara Barton, Clarence Darrow, Mark Twain and Mar­garet Sanger (American Scholar, Winter).