Century Marks

Century Marks

Dog heaven

Megachurch pastor Rick Warren was asked in an ABC News interview whether dogs and cats go to heaven. “Absolutely yes,” Warren said. “I can’t imagine God not allowing my dog into heaven.” Cathy Lynn Grossman, religion editor for USA Today, sent a follow-up question to Warren, asking if rebellious pets are denied heaven. Grossman as­sumed that her dog would be disqualified. As a puppy he chewed up a copy of War­ren’s popular book, The Purpose-Driven Life, for which he’s never repented—as far as she knows. Warren’s response: “Dogs, which have no ability to sin nor moral conscience, do not have an ability to reject Jesus,” therefore they get a free pass to heaven (USA Today, April 9).

Baptized fraternity

Dick Allison, retired pastor of the University Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is developing spiritual friendships with men who are in prison. Some of these men have become members of his church. He baptized three of them in horse troughs in the prison. An inmate at an out-of-state prison declared: “I want to become a member of the Horse Trough Fraternity of Baptized Believers.” These prisoners find it meaningful to belong to a church, even if they can’t attend it. One confessed that the only group he had previously belonged to was a gang of skinheads (Christian Reflections, 2012).

Arms and the state

Arms manufacturers like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Gruman, General Motors and Raytheon are the largest, most powerful interest groups in the U.S., claims Andrew Feinstein (The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade). The arms industry is driving foreign and domestic policies and is involved in shady and illegal business deals at home and abroad. The American arms industry lobbied for the war in Iraq. Halliburton, which gave over $1 million to the Republican Party between 1998 and 2003, was a huge beneficiary of that war. Lockheed Martin pushed for the expansion of NATO, because it called for Eastern European countries to upgrade their militaries, often buying from U.S. companies. Congressional members with defense contractors in their districts find it nearly impossible to oppose America’s going to war (review in TLS, March 30).

Along for the ride

Imagine someone came up to you on the street and said: "My bus leaves in two minutes. Tell me about the resurrection in the time remaining." Elizabeth Templeton, who posed that challenge to the Church of England's House of Bishops, said her own response would be: "If you really want to hear about the resurrection, be prepared to miss your bus." Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams had another suggestion: "I think I'd have asked the man where he was going, then said that I'd accompany him on the journey" (Benjamin Myers, Christ the Stran­ger: The Theology of Rowan Williams).

Class warfare

The Great Recession did nothing to reverse the gross inequality of wealth and income. The superrich households (the top one-tenth of the top 1 percent) received 37 percent of all the economic gains made during 2010. The rest of the top 10 percent received all the other gains. Last year the richest 1 percent of taxpayers saved more money from the Bush tax cuts than the rest of the 141 million taxpaying Americans made in total income (NationofChange.org).