Century Marks

Century Marks

A bit of parsley

The U.S. Senate begins every session with a prayer, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Then the partisan bickering ensues. The prayer is led by Chaplain Barry C. Black, a Seventh-day Adventist who rose to the rank of rear admiral as a navy chaplain. His prayers typically call for unity, respect for one another, and reconciliation. Black is not disturbed by the fact that the Senate rarely heeds his petitions. The rancorous speeches made on the floor of the Senate are usually prepared before he gives his opening prayer, he says. Peter Marshall, Senate chaplain in the 1940s, says he was the equivalent of parsley—just there for decoration (Washington Post, September 21).

A penny saved

Jane Ngoiri is a 38-year-old single mother, a prostitute-turned-businesswoman in Kenya. Having been nudged out of the family when her husband took a second wife, she turned to prostitution to support her children. She eventually joined an antipoverty organization called Jamii Bora ("good families" in Swahili), which encouraged her to save her money. From her savings she bought a sewing machine, using it to make two or three smaller dresses out of used wedding gowns. From her profits she bought a house in a safe neighborhood and sent her children to school. Microsaving is turning out to be more effective than microlending (Nicholas D. Kristof,
New York Times, September 14).

Killing the death penalty

In response to two executions on September 21, one in Georgia and the other in Texas,  more than 200 Catholic theologians have signed a petition calling for the end of the death penalty in the U.S. They speak a particular word to fellow Catholics: "The Eucharistic celebration calls Catholics to remember all crucified people, including the legacy of lynching, in light of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ" (catholicmoraltheology.com).

It’s about the money

Whenever it is suggested that collegiate athletes should get paid for their efforts, the National Collegiate Athletic Association claims that they are already getting paid through athletic scholarships. The NCAA wishes to protect the ideal of the amateur student-athlete. Many players in high-profile sports such as football and basketball come from impoverished backgrounds and don't have the money to buy plane tickets home. The NCCA and its member schools have their own interests to protect. Last year the NCAA was paid $771 million just for the television rights to the men's basketball tournament. Universities with top-tier football programs earn between $40 million and $80 million in profits each year and pay coaches multimillion-dollar salaries (Atlantic, October).

Reality religion?

Jim Henderson, a 63-year-old self-proclaimed failed Chris­tian pastor and "spiritual anthropologist" living in Seattle, believes he may have found his spiritual calling in reality TV. Hender­son has developed a potential TV show called "Save Me!" that would put passionate believers of different faiths under one roof. "Every day they go out individually and independent of each other to try and save people, and then they come home and try to save each other," Henderson said in a casting call on YouTube. While Henderson is a Christian, he doesn't want "Save Me" to be a Christian show; he said casting would be open to Buddhists, Jews, Scientologists and atheists. Henderson spoke about the show six months ago with a Hollywood producer, who was intrigued by the idea (RNS).