Century Marks

Century Marks

Who’s generous?

The wealthiest Americans—those in the top 20 percent—give 1.3 percent of their income to charity; those in the bottom 20 percent give 3.2 percent of their income, even though many of them can’t itemize their contributions as a tax deduction. One theory about why the rich give less is because they are more isolated from and therefore have less empathy toward truly needy people. Lower income people may give more because they are more acquainted with the challenges of meeting basic human needs. Rich people tend to give to the arts and education, whereas poorer people tend to give to social service and church organizations (Atlantic, March 20).

Pastor as theologian

The separation of theological scholarship from pastoral ministry has led to two unfortunate outcomes, says pastor and writer Gerald Hiestand: the theological anemia of the church and the ecclesial anemia of theology. Hiestand suggests that the pastoral vocation and theological scholarship need to be reunited by resurrecting an almost extinct role: the pastor as ecclesial theologian. Doctoral students in theology could be encouraged to make pastoral ministry the context for their scholarship (Expository Times, March).

Church collateral

With banks in Cyprus on the verge of collapse and the government unable to come to agreement with the European Union over a bailout plan, the head of the Cyprian Orthodox Church offered to help. Archbishop Chrysostomos II offered to mortgage the church’s assets to help get the country out of its financial bind. Although the church is be­lieved to be the biggest landholder in the country, it does not have enough assets to bail out Cyprus by itself. The archbishop urged his country’s leaders to find solutions within Cyprus, and he was highly critical of the European Union’s plans to make bank depositors give up some of their assets. He called on Cypriots to make sacrifices to help pay off the country’s debts (ABC News, March 20).

Ordinary living

In a tribute to outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Stanley Hauerwas said that what Williams taught us is the art of ordinary living. This means giving up notions about grand gestures or heroic actions. It involves learning to live without fear of the complexity of ordinary life. Williams confessed that he longed for a church that was more true to itself. Yet, said Williams, the art of ordinary living means he “must also learn to live in and attend to the reality of the Church as it is, to do the prosaic things that can be and must be done now and to work at my relations now with the people who will not listen to me . . . because what God asks of me is not to live in the future but to live with honesty and attentiveness in the present, i.e., to be at home” (Religion and Ethics, Australian Broadcasting Cor­poration, March 20).

Women in history

When the Washington Post in 1943 tried to come up with a list of the “Ten Outstanding Women of the Modern World,” it could name only eight. Three of them were wives of world leaders at the time: Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt; Madame Chiang Kai-shek, wife of the Chinese nationalist leader; and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, wife of the King of England George VI. The others were Margaret Mead, American anthropologist; Evie Curie, Marie’s daughter; Dorothy Thompson, journalist and foreign correspondent; Sigred Undset, Norwegian writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928; and Louise Boyd, who had made an expedition to Green­land (History Today, March 2013).