Century Marks

Century Marks

Militarized

Many Americans know that President Eisenhower, as he left office, warned about the growing power of the military-industrial complex. Few know that Eisenhower was concerned about the spiritual effects of constantly preparing for war. Since Eisenhower’s era, the nation has become even more militarized, argues Aaron B. O’Connell, who teaches history at the U.S. Naval Academy and is a marine reserve officer. The militarization is mostly fueled by civilians, including Congress, not the military. O’Connell points to the plethora of stories in the media that valorize the military, the constant call to citizens to “support our troops” and Congress’s desire to give the Pentagon more money than it requests (New York Times, November 4).

As you love yourself

When considering Jesus’ words, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” we have a tendency to overlook the “as yourself” part, remarks novelist Ron Hansen. We may use “as yourself” as a measuring stick, to see how well we’re loving the neighbor or to assert a quid quo pro. “I think Jesus intended his hearers to realize they are indeed esteemed by God, that Love loves them, and they ought to treat themselves as a favored child or a prized possession,” says Hansen. Concern for others and for ourselves results from a fully integrated devotion to God (guest essay at journeywithjesus.net).

Crushed

An upstate New York man filed a $3 million lawsuit against a Roman Catholic church after a 600-pound stone cross fell and crushed his leg. The man had regularly prayed at the church for his wife’s recovery from cancer. As a gesture of thanks for his wife’s recovery, the man offered to scrub down the large cross which stood outside the church. While he was cleaning the massive crucifix, it came unhinged from its mount and toppled onto him. The 45-year-old father of three, who had no health insurance, lost his leg in the accident
(UPI).

On a mission

The Church of the Holy Spirit in Lake Forest, Illinois, has been asking itself: “Is the church doing and being what it is called to do and be?” As part of that reflection, parish leaders decided to consult with nearby Willow Creek, an evangelical megachurch—a move that made some people in the congregation unhappy. One parishioner said that less damage would have been done if a grenade had been thrown down the church’s center aisle. The leaders persisted in their consultation, however. What they learned is that the spiritual vitality of any congregation flows from the vitality of its members and that leadership is key: leaders must lead by example (Anglican Theological Review, Summer).

Wake-up call

Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander believed that there is a scientific explanation for near-death experiences—until he had one of his own. What was unusual about his near-death experience was that his cortex, the part of the brain that makes us human, was inactivated during a seven-day coma. He has no doubt that his inner self was alive and well during that time. Through most of his near-death journey, Alexander was accompanied by a young woman. Without using words, she conveyed a three-part message to him: “You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.” “You have nothing to fear.” “There is nothing you can do wrong.” He wants to spend the rest of his life studying consciousness and show that humans are much more than their physical brains (Proof of Heaven, Simon & Schuster, excerpted in Newsweek, October 8).