Century Marks

Century Marks

Mr. Rogers’s blessing

When Fred Rogers received a Lifetime Achievement Emmy award in 1998, he asked the celebrity audience to take ten seconds of silence to think about people who had loved them into being and helped them become who they are. Within seconds weeping and sobs could be heard throughout the audience. Then Rogers said, "May God be with you," and sat down. Eliot Daley, a Presby­terian minister who had worked with Rogers, says it is significant that Rogers didn't say "God bless you." Rogers knew that the people were already blessed by God. He wanted the people in the audience to be aware that God was with them (Huffington Post, June 30).

A law against that

Three activists from the Orlando Food Not Bombs organization were arrested for feeding about 40 people in an Orlando park. An ordinance requires groups to have a permit if they are feeding more than 25 people in a park, and only two permits can be granted each year per group and park. Orlando Food Not Bombs contested the ordinance in court, but it was upheld (News-Press, June 3).

Best-read cities

Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the best-read city in the country, according to an Amazon.com list based on cities' sales data since the beginning of the year. Cambridge residents also ordered the most nonfiction books. Boulder, Colo­rado, lived up to its reputation as a health-conscious city—its residents ordered the most books in the cooking, food and wine category. Florida is the only state with three cities in the top 20, including Miami (6), Gainesville (8) and Orlando (12). The top five are Cam­bridge; Alexandria, Virginia; Berkeley, California; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Boulder.

Subversive prayer

When the late Abraham Joshua Heschel was asked by a journalist why he was demonstrating against the Vietnam War, Heschel said: "I am here because I cannot pray." He went on to explain: "Whenever I open the prayerbook, I see before me images of children burning from napalm." We ­shouldn't pray, he said, while we remain silent about the atrocities committed by our government in our name. "Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive" (Abraham Joshua Heschel: Essential Writings, Orbis).

Watchdogs missing

A report from the Federal Communications Commission concludes that a dearth of in-depth news reporting exists at the local level, which means that the public has lost a way of holding government, businesses and schools accountable. Cable news and the Internet provide more news options than ever, but they are not filling the void left by the contraction of newspapers. "The independent watchdog function that the Founding Fathers envisioned for journalism—going so far as to call it crucial to a healthy democracy—is in some cases at risk," the FCC report says. Staffing levels at local newspapers have fallen by more than 25 percent since 2001 due to the weakened economy and to declining revenues from advertisers that have switched to the Internet (AP).