Century Marks

Century Marks

At Mitt’s table

Despite uneasy relations with evangelicals, the Romney camp has been reaching out to them at least since 2006 when the Romneys invited evangelical leaders to a meeting in New Hampshire. The group included Franklin Graham, the late Jerry Falwell and Gary Bauer. After these leaders got back home they received a chair from the Romneys with a plaque on the back that read, “You will always have a seat at my table.” Evangelicals are hoping that Romney chooses a vice-presidential candidate to their liking and that he’ll give a Rick Santorum–like stump speech supporting their understanding of family values (interview with David Brody on PBS Newshour about his book The Teavangelicals: The Inside Story of How the Evangelicals and the Tea Party Are Taking Back America, Zondervan).

Getting his goat

A new missionary on an Indian reservation saw an elder standing in his yard with a goat in his arms. Occasionally the goat would stretch its neck and take a bite of the bushes in the yard. When the missionary asked what the man was doing, he replied, “I’m trimming the hedges.” Incredulously, the missionary said, “Don’t you know that could take all day?” The man said, “What’s time to the goat?” (Randy S. Woodley, Shalom and the Community of Creation, Eerdmans).

Copy cats?

The affluent Chicago suburb of Lake Forest was stunned by the apparent suicides of three youths in succession in the first three months of this year. Each teen walked in front of a speeding commuter train near the same spot. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among Americans between the ages of ten and 24. About 5 percent of these deaths are cluster suicides. Experts disagree on whether media coverage of teen suicides can lead to copy-cat suicides. One study suggested that media coverage can deter such behavior, especially if there is a focus on the harsh realities of the incidents (Chicago, July).

Strangers’ eyes

Sara Miles, author of Take This Bread and Jesus Freak, said she has never visited a church that was unfriendly or hostile to her, but she’s visited many churches at which she didn’t know what to do in the liturgy. When that happens, she said, you feel like you don’t belong. She challenges worship planners and congregations to consider: “If someone walked into your church for the first time, what would she or he think you think you’re doing?” (Washington Island Forum, June 25–29).

Heavy church

When megachurch pastor Rick Warren baptized by immersion some 800 congregants in under four hours, it occurred to him that his members were overweight. He himself was 90 pounds over a healthy weight at the time. Warren instituted the Daniel Plan, a diet based on the book of Daniel, in which four Jewish boys refuse to eat the king’s meat and wine in order to remain fit. The Warren diet prescribes eating 70 percent unprocessed fruits and vegetables and 30 percent lean protein, whole grains and starchy vegetables. It recommends exercising and joining a support group. About 15,000 people have joined the program, some online. Warren’s church lost a collective 260,000 pounds in the past year (Time, June 11).