Century Marks

Century Marks

About face

S. Brian Willson’s parents were conservative Baptists in upstate New York. His father belonged to the John Birch Society and gave money to the Ku Klux Klan. Willson became an airforce officer and served in Vietnam, where he came upon a South Vietnamese village that had just been napalmed by American forces. Most of the victims—dead or lying in pain on the ground—were women and children. He began to sob and gag at the scene. This experience turned him into a war resister. He lost his legs while lying across a railroad track in the U.S., trying to block a train carrying munitions. Willson, who is also dedicated to ecological concerns, has ridden 60,000 miles on a handcycle since 1997 (Sun, March).

Outsourced weddings

A focus on elaborate wedding ceremonies has led to the quest for the perfect wedding and rising employment for wedding planners. Wedding planners often play the role of pastor and therapist. Expensive weddings cause some wedding guests to joke that they hope the marriage lasts long enough to pay off the wedding (Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of The Outsourced Self, interviewed by Mars Hill Audio Journal, vol. 115).

Plagued

The massive infestation of locusts in Egypt right before the Jewish Passover struck many Israelis as downright biblical. Millions of grasshopper-like insects swarmed over Israel’s neighbor, and some made their way to southern Israel. Israeli agricultural experts are on high alert, fearing that the locusts could devastate crops. Some Israelis have noted that varieties of the leggy pests are kosher. Locusts were the eighth plague visited upon the Egyptians, according to the Exodus story (RNS).

Stressed

Rising levels of stress are causing more depression among pastors. Stressors include declines in membership and contributions, personal financial worries (often due to educational debt), and discord in congregations. One of the top predictors of depression is social isolation. Pastors moving from hospital visits to funerals to weddings experience a range of unpredictable emotions—another indicator of depression. On the positive side, some pastoral counselors see an increase in the number of pastors who are willing to seek professional help and are open with their congregations about their emotional difficulties (ABP).

Everyday religion

Ohio’s John Kasich is one of several Republi­can governors who have agreed to the expansion of Medicaid as called for under Obamacare. Kasich cites Chris­tian belief as a reason for not leaving the weak and vulnerable behind. The Bible runs his life “not just on Sunday, but just about every day,” he said in his annual State of the State address. “And I’ve got to tell you, I can’t look at the disabled, I can’t look at the poor, I can’t look at the mentally ill, I can’t look at the addicted and think we ought to ignore them,” he said. Kasich was raised Catholic and worships regularly in an Anglican church (AP).