Century Marks

Century Marks

Fact check

In a New York Times column lamenting the declining influence of religion, pundit David Brooks wrote: “In Corinthians, Jesus tells the crowds, ‘Not many of you were wise by worldly standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. . . .’” The author, of course, was not Jesus but the apostle Paul. Where were the Times’s fact-checkers? (dotCommonweal, June 14).

Risky crossings

Immigrant deaths at the Mexican border rose by 27 percent in 2012, according to the National Foun­dation for American Policy, with nearly 500 people being killed. It’s a consequence of crackdowns in border towns, which has pushed risk takers into much more dangerous and inhospitable desert regions (Reason, July).

No more payback

When the patriarch Joseph revealed himself to his brothers in Egypt, he had a chance to retaliate against them for selling him into slavery. Payback—an eye for an eye—was the ruling ethic up to this point in the stories of Genesis. Instead, Joseph forgave his brothers and looked out for their welfare, ending the tit for tat. Old Testament scholar David Noel Freedman was once asked to sum up the whole Bible in a sentence. After a moment of reflection he said, “There is forgiveness” (Interpretation, July).


Long-lasting loneliness can make humans sick and even cause death. Emotional isolation and lack of intimacy is as high a risk factor for death as smoking. The diseases that can be caused or exacerbated by loneliness are Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer. Loneliness is a “feeling that wreaks havoc on the body and brain” and has become “a public health crisis,” says Judith Shulevitz (New Republic, May 13).

Lost ethic

In a recent statement Pope Francis attributed a growing financial and economic crisis worldwide to a loss of solidarity within the human family and a rejection of an ethic of the common good. The income of a minority is growing exponentially, while that of the majority is crumbling, he charged. The free market economy denies the state the necessary right to regulate the economy for the common good. The pope commended the words of St. John Chry­sostom to financial experts and political leaders: “Not to share one’s goods with the poor is to rob them and to deprive them of life. It is not our goods that we possess, but theirs” (VIS, May 16).