Century Marks

Century Marks

Due diligence

Nigerian-born novelist Teju Cole has issued a series of tweets critiquing what he calls the White Savior Industrial Complex. Among them: "This world exists simply to satisfy the needs—including, importantly, the sentimental needs—of white people and Oprah." "The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege." If you're going to involve yourself in the lives of others, Cole argues, ask them what they think they need. Look at the broader issues in African countries—the need for a more equitable civil society, robust democracy and a fairer system of justice. U.S. policy is determined by its need for Nigerian oil rather than by the plight of ordinary Nigerians, Cole says (Atlantic, March 21).

Home church

Although Rick Santorum frequently speaks about his faith, he rarely talks or writes about his parish, St. Catherine of Siena, in the Washington suburb of Great Falls, Virginia. Since the Santorums live outside parish boundaries, they had to get special permission to make it their home church. St. Catherine's, known as a conservative congregation with ties to Opus Dei, is attended by other well-known conservative Catholics, including Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. St. Catherine's has one Latin mass each Sunday (New Republic, March 6).

Not a rat race

Empathy and compassion have long been considered exclusive human traits and some of the loftiest of religious values. But an experiment at the University of Chicago has demonstrated that even rats can show empathy and altruism toward their comrades. Strange rats, unrelated to each other, were put together in a cage. After two weeks some of the rats were placed in a very small cell within larger cages. In a week's time three-fourths of the free rats learned how to free the caged rats. And one half of the free rats would save one or two chocolate chips for the trapped rats, demonstrating both empathy and altruism ("Science on religion," Patheos, March 9).

Radical troopers

Indiana State Representative Bob Morris refused to support a resolution celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts because he believes that the organization is a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood, that it allows transgendered girls to join and that it promotes sex. Writing to his fellow Republican legislators, he said: "The fact that the Honorary President of Girl Scouts of America is Michelle Obama, and the Obamas are radically pro-abortion and vigorously support the agenda of Planned Parenthood, should give each of us reason to pause before our individual or collective endorsement of the organization" (Journal Gazette, February 18).

Picture of God

A Georgia woman claims she was kicked out of church for breastfeeding her baby during worship. The pastor called her behavior lewd and compared her to a stripper, telling her she needed to feed her baby in the bathroom. Rachel Stone argues that nursing a baby is natural and should be viewed with respect and even reverence—and that the act is symbolic of the way God cares for us all (Christianity Today, March 2).