Century Marks

Century Marks

Call and response

Tim Lucas, pastor of the Liquid Church, a large congregation in New Jersey, is planning a sermon series on politics in which he will try to elevate the level of political conversation beyond the current polarities. He will ask people to respond, via their cell phones, to such questions as: Can a Christian vote for a Mormon? How would Jesus address gay marriage and immigration? He also plans to ask which candidates people are going to vote for and display the results on screen. “Jesus pretty much transcends liberals and conservatives,” Lucas said. “There’s something about Jesus that defies red-state blue-state, black and white thinking” (christianpost.com, September 5).

On the other hand

In the first quarter of this year, U.S. carbon dioxide  (CO2) emissions reached a 20-year low, down 8 percent from the previous year, in part because of the increased use of natural gas instead of coal. Coal emissions alone fell 18 percent, the lowest level since 1986. Many power producers are shifting to natural gas, which is cheaper and more available. Natural gas emits about half the amount of CO2 that coal does. The Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute warns against an energy strategy that relies on natural gas, however, saying that renewable forms of energy are critical solutions in addressing climate change (Worldwatch Institute, September 5).

Credulity

The story has been told that in 1953 a Yale University survey found that only 3 percent of students had long-term goals, and 20 years later, when the same students were interviewed again, the 3 percent who had long-term goals were not only happier and more productive but also had a net worth as great as the other 97 percent combined. But this story, oft repeated by motivational speakers, preachers and professors, is a legend; these studies never took place. In What Christians Believe about the Bible (Baker Academic), Don Thorsen and Keith H. Reeves suggest that the circulation of this false story should compel us to question our own assumptions, including those about the Bible.

Masterpiece

The French artist Henri Matisse was brought back to health in 1943 by a nurse who later became a novitiate in the Dominican Sisters of Monteil. When she told Matisse about her order’s desire for a new chapel, he set to work designing the chapel, the shape of the altar, the liturgical furnishings and even the vestments. Matisse chose only three colors for the stained glass windows: yellow representing the sun and heavenly light, green for plant life and the earth and blue for the sky, sea and the Madonna. For the windows he drew from Revelation 21–22, the description of the descent of the heavenly new Jerusalem. Matisse said he considered the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence, perched above the French Mediterranean, his masterpiece (Wall Street Journal, August 18).

Bulldozer verdict

In 2003 Rachel Corrie, a young American activist, was run over by an Israeli military bulldozer while she was protesting the demolition of Palestinian houses. An Israeli judge ruled last month that Israel bore no responsibility in Corrie’s death; she put herself in danger and could have distanced herself from it, the judge said. Bill Van Esveld of Human Rights Watch responded: “The idea that there can be no fault for killing civilians in a combat operation contradicts Israel’s international legal obligations to spare civilians from harm during armed conflict and to credibly investigate and punish violations by its force.” The Corrie family plans to appeal the verdict to the Israeli Supreme Court (New York Times, August 29).