Century Marks

Century Marks

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).

Discuss (with young adults)

Christian Piatt identifies seven reasons why many young adults don't go to church: They've been hurt by the church. College or adult life doesn't seem to mix well with church. Unlike credit card companies, churches don't know how to connect with mobile young adults. Many other activities are competing for their time and attention. They are especially skeptical about people or organizations that are trying to get their attention. Their lifestyle leaves them exhausted. And they don't see any relevance to the church (Patheos, March 11).

Fact check

A line from a 1952 speech by President-elect Dwight Eisenhower is often cited as an example of civil religion: "Our form of government has no sense unless it is grounded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don't care what it is." In the 1980s historian Patrick Henry studied many accounts of that speech, including those in the New York Times and the Christian Century as well as several copies of the speech itself, and found that sources don't agree on what Eisenhower actually said. Henry concluded that we may never know (Church History, December).

Religious profiling

In late 2007 officers in the New York Police Department's secretive Demographics Unit were assigned to investigate the region's Syrian population. They kept records on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans because the owners were Muslims. Most of the Syrians in the region are Jewish, and they were excluded from the clandestine investigations. Similarly, when the NYPD unit investigated Egyptian businesses, they excluded Coptic Christian-owned ones (AP).

Bible clues

The late Stieg Larsson, author of the hugely successful Millennium trilogy, grew up in the northern part of Sweden sometimes known as the Bible Belt. While the Lutheran church was the state church of Sweden until 2000, renewal groups emerged in the 19th century, especially in the north. These groups emphasized a personal relationship with God, daily Bible reading and a rigorous personal morality. While Larsson's own upbringing was in a family dominated by communist and Social Democratic workers, this Bible Belt milieu seems to have acquainted him with the Bible. The first novel in the Millen­nium series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, uses scripture texts as codes in the mystery (Eva Gab­rielsson, "There Are Things I Want You to Know" about Stieg Larsson and Me, Seven Stories Press).