Century Marks

Century Marks

Running for God

Ryan Hall is a Pentecostal Christian and a world-class marathon runner. At the Beijing Olym­pics he came in tenth, and he hopes to do better in London. His training routine is unorthodox: he doesn’t have a coach, he doesn’t do training at high altitude as many long-distance runners do and, due to his faith, he takes one day off in seven. Hall has taken criticism for his approach, but Tim Noakes, an exercise physiologist at the Univer­sity of Cape Town, says: “The more stable you are as a human, the better you are as an athlete, and religion is a very stabilizing force” (New York Times, July 14).

Dark Christ

Arthur Shearly Cripps (1869–1952) was a missionary to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) who had poor eyesight all his life and eventually went blind. He was known for his poetry, respect for native Africans and radical politics, which comes through in this short poem, “Seen Darkly in Africa”:

To me—as one born out of his due time—
To me—as one not meet to reckon in—
To me (of all injurious aliens chief)
Christ hath revealed Himself—not as to Paul
Enthroned and crown’d, but marr’d, despised, rejected—
The Divine Outcast of a terrible land,
A Black Christ with parched lips and empty hand.

The reference to a “terrible land” was a critique of the unjust land policies imposed by white settlers. The concept of a Black Christ was very controversial in Cripps’s time (T. Jack Thompson, Light on Darkness? Eerdmans).

Mad mullahs?

A nuclear-armed Iran would not necessarily be the worst thing that could happen to the Middle East, argues Kenneth N. Waltz of Columbia University. Ever since Israel got nuclear weapons, there has been an imbalance of power in the Middle East. Armed with nuclear weapons, Iran would provide balance and bring stability to the region, he argues. Western responses to Iran’s desire for nuclear weapons is founded on the notion that Iran’s policies are devised by “mad mullahs.” In reality, Iran is guided by “perfectly sane ayatollahs” who wish to survive just like the leaders of other nations, despite their incendiary rhetoric (Foreign Affairs, July/August).

Travel deficiency

About one third of the American population has passports. States with a high population of Latinos have a higher number of passport holders due to the post-9/11 passport requirement in traveling to Mexico (and Canada). Take Latinos out of the equation and the states with the fewest passports have the highest rates of opposition to Obamacare. According to Juan Cole, a historian at the Univer­sity of Michigan, lack of experience with the rest of the world tracks rather closely with how people think the United States should deal with the rest of the world. It also tracks closely with reactionary responses to social programs (Informed Comment, July 6).

Stand corrected

When it comes to political campaigns, candidates are inclined to invoke voices from the grave to support their own election. Presiden­tial candidates especially like to quote previous presidents. A new online feature by the New York Times is going to try to keep candidates honest. A range of expert opinions will be sought when candidates draw on history. Called “Historically Corrected,” the first installment challenged President Obama’s upbeat rhetoric about American achievements in the past in building the transcontinental railroad and the interstate highway system. “We built this country together,” Obama likes to say. In fact, many of the grand achievements in the past were products of political conflict and bickering, just like Obama’s own health-care law (New York Times, Campaign Stops, July 7).