Century Marks

Century Marks

In B&W

First Grace in New Orleans is the result of the merger of two congregations—one black, the other white—in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.The first Sunday the groups worshiped together, only 60 people attended—half of them black, half of them white, all a bit nervous. Today attendance is in the hundreds. The church’s outreach ministries include a medical clinic, a halfway house, a feeding program and a legal clinic. Apparently when you’re caught up in the mission, you don’t have time to worry about the color of somebody’s skin (RNS).


Over the past four years the United States has made at least 75 drone strikes in Yemen, killing at least 600 people. The al-Qaeda network in Yemen, according to the U.S., is the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world. It has grown from 300 members in 2009 to well over 1,000 today, despite all the killings. The drone strategy doesn’t work in Yemen the way it has in Afghanistan or Pakistan. In Yemen the terrorists are Yemeni, not outsiders. When terrorists in Yemen are killed by a drone, other Yemeni will defend them because of their sense of kinship, not because of shared ideology (Foreign Policy, August 6).

Mass appeal

During a mass last month with 1,000 bishops in the beehive-shaped modern cathedral in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis echoed the message he delivered to pilgrims at World Youth Day earlier—a radical call to renew the church, which has seen its numbers dwindle in Europe thanks to apathy and in Latin America because of competition from charismatic evangelicals. “We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities when so many people are waiting for the gospel,” Francis said in his homily. It was a slightly more diplomatic expression of an off-the-cuff exhortation he delivered to young Argentine pilgrims, in which he urged the youngsters to make a “mess” in their dioceses and shake things up (AP).

Dirty laundry

The problem with much philanthropy is that it keeps in place a system that makes a few people wealthy and keeps many people in poverty, argues Peter Buffett, son of billionaire Warren Buffett. The chairman of his own philanthropic foundation, he refers to “conscience laundering”: the very rich spread around a little of their wealth to help the poor and make themselves feel better (New York Times, July 26).

Veiled attack

A violent protest was sparked last month in a Parisian suburb when police checked the identity of a woman wearing Muslim garb, which is forbidden by French law. When the woman’s husband scuffled with the police, a larger battle with the police erupted, lasting two days. One teenager lost an eye in the conflict (The Week, August 2).