Century Marks

Century Marks

Twice closeted

Jose Antonio Vargas, a reporter who has worked for the Washington Post and the Huffington Post, came out as a gay youth during a high school class. He has lived with another secret even harder to disclose: Vargas is an undocumented alien. When he was 12 his mother put him on a plane from the Philippines to the U.S., where he lived with his grandparents. He pursued citizenship at one point, but it would have required going back to the Philippines to live for ten years, a place he hardly knew. Vargas founded Define America, an organization that tries to reframe the immigration debate (New York Times, June 22).

Teed off

NBC's decision to delete the word God from the Pledge of Allegiance during its coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament teed off Rep. Jim Renacci (R., Ohio). He wrote a letter to the U.S. Golf Association asking it to reconsider its relationship with NBC. The words under God were edited out of a patriotic montage that featured children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. NBC announcer Dan Hicks later apologized to viewers. Golf Digest magazine recently ranked Renacci as one of the best golfers among Washington political operatives (RNS).

Best of the decade

Literature professor Everett Hamner has selected the following works appearing from 2000 to 2010 as the best fiction reflecting religious themes: 1. E. L. Doctorow, City of God (2000); 2. Yann Martel, Life of Pi (2001); 3. Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra and José Marzán Jr., Y: The Last Man comic series (2003–2008); 4. Joe Sacco, Palestine (2002); 5. Richard Powers, The Time of Our Singing (2003); 6. Marilynne Robinson, Gilead (2004) and Home (2008); 7. Cormac McCarthy, The Road (2006); 8. Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl (2009); 9. Ralph Ellison, Three Days Before the Shooting . . . (2010); 10. Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God (2010). Hamner, who teaches at Western Illinois University, predicts that Robinson's books will show up in future American literature courses (Religion in American History blog, June 29).

A law against that

Three activists from the Orlando Food Not Bombs organization were arrested for feeding about 40 people in an Orlando park. An ordinance requires groups to have a permit if they are feeding more than 25 people in a park, and only two permits can be granted each year per group and park. Orlando Food Not Bombs contested the ordinance in court, but it was upheld (News-Press, June 3).

Best-read cities

Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the best-read city in the country, according to an Amazon.com list based on cities' sales data since the beginning of the year. Cambridge residents also ordered the most nonfiction books. Boulder, Colo­rado, lived up to its reputation as a health-conscious city—its residents ordered the most books in the cooking, food and wine category. Florida is the only state with three cities in the top 20, including Miami (6), Gainesville (8) and Orlando (12). The top five are Cam­bridge; Alexandria, Virginia; Berkeley, California; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Boulder.