Century Marks

Century Marks

The Sufi and Qaddafi

In 1969 Libya's Colonel Muammar Qaddafi deposed King Idris, leader of Sanusi, a Sufi Islamic order, in a bloodless coup. The modern state of Libya was born after World War II with the aid of the British government. The chief negotiator for the British was Norman Anderson, an evangelical missionary with impeccable skills in Arabic. Anderson had a deep respect for Islam that was not typical of conservative Christians in his era. He developed a relationship with King Idris and helped him forge modern-day Libya (History Today, December).

Class warfare?

Americans are almost equally divided between thinking the rich are wealthy because they were fortunate enough to be born into money or have the right connections (46 percent) and thinking that the rich are wealthy due to hard work, ambition or education (43 percent) (USA Today, January 11).

What they’re reading

Mitt Romney, when asked what book he's read recently, mentioned George W. Bush's Decision Points. Michelle Bachman touted J. Steven Wilkin's Call of Duty: The Sterling Nobility of Robert E. Lee (Wilkins is a leading proponent of the notion that the South was an orthodox Christian nation attacked unjustly by the godless North). Rick Perry said he likes W. Cleon Skousen's The Five Thousand Year Leap: Twenty-eight Ideas That Changed the World (it's a book promoted by Glenn Beck and written by a figure the conservative National Review called a "nutjob") (The Daily Beast, December 19).

Woman of the year?

In late December, Verizon Wireless announced that it would charge customers a $2 fee for online or telephone payments. Molly Katchpole launched an online petition opposing this move. One day after the petition was launched, Verizon said it was withdrawing the fee. Katchpole started an online petition earlier in the year against Bank of America's $5 debit card fee. Bank of America reversed that action after Katchpole collected more than 300,000 signatures (New Mexico Business Weekly, December 30)

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).