Century Marks

Century Marks

Batters out

A church had to leave the church softball league in St. Clair, Missouri, after it became known that its pastor is openly bisexual. The pastors at three Baptist churches said their teams could no longer play against the team from St. John United Church of Christ, whose new pastor, James S. Darnell, is bisexual. Rather than ruin things for the rest of the league, his church dropped out of the league. “It’s frustrating,” said Darnell, “because this is who is representing Christianity in our community, and this is the message youths in our community are getting” (RNS).

Taking the stand

Blake Allison’s wife, Anna, a software consultant, was on her way to visit a client in Los Angeles when the plane she was in crashed into World Trade Center Tower 1 on Sep­tember 11, 2001. Allison has met clandestinely with the lawyers for Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of 9/11, to tell them he is willing to argue in the military tribunal against the use of the death penalty. Allison knows that his wife’s family doesn’t agree with him, nor do other families who lost loved ones on 9/11. He also knows that Mohammed would do it all over again if given the chance. “First and foremost, I don’t think it’s right to take a life,” Allison said. “It’s grounded in my faith. The New Testa­ment is very clear about this” (New York Post, May 14).

Gender gap

It’s no wonder that Saudi Arabia ranks 131 out of 135 nations in the World Economic Forum’s report on the global gender gap. It is a country where child marriage is still practiced and where women are treated like minors their whole lives regardless of age or education. Women far outnumber men on university campuses, yet they still can’t run in elections or vote. A woman who broke the ban on female drivers was sentenced to ten lashes and needed a royal pardon. Saudi Arabia “is unabashed in its worship of a misogynistic God and never suffers any consequences for it, thanks to its . . . having oil and being home to Islam’s two holiest places, Mecca and Medina,” says Egyptian-American columnist Mona Eltahawy (Foreign Policy, May/June).

Fanning the heat

Wind farms are supposed to be environmentally friendly, but research reported in Nature indicates that large wind farms actually contribute to warmer temperatures, at least at the local level. At nighttime, after the sun goes down, the earth’s temperature usually decreases. Large wind farms mix that cold air with warmer air aloft, increasing the local temperature. This could have an eventual effect on wildlife in the area and could also affect the weather regionally, since warmer air contributes to cloud formation and wind speeds. The research was done in Texas, which has four of the largest wind farms in the world. China is reportedly erecting 36 wind turbines a day (Telegraph, April 29).

Prison ministry

Writing about Prison Fellowship, founded by the late Chuck Colson, Mark Oppenheimer points out that there have been two impulses behind incarceration in the U.S. One, with Christian underpinnings, focused on reforming the imprisoned; the other, which took hold especially in the South during the era of slavery, promoted harsh living conditions and punitive labor (think chain gangs and labor farms). Colson advocated for less crowded, more humane prisons. His critics say that Prison Fellowship doesn’t challenge the prison system so much as work toward the spiritual reformation of individual prisoners. Studies are mixed on whether such a ministry turns prisoners away from a life of crime once they’re back on the street (New York Times, April 27).