Century Marks

Century Marks

Karl Marx’s church

When Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, recently visited the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C., he was disturbed to see a promotional banner for the DREAM Act. The act, which was defeated by the Senate, would have provided a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children. "The Methodist Church is pro illegal immigration," Phillips said. "They have been in the bag for socialist health care, going as far as sending out e-mails to their membership 'debunking' the myths of Obamacare." Phillips, who was once a UMC member, now calls it "the first Church of Karl Marx" (Huffington Post, December 20).

Slow learner

Despite his deserved reputation as the "father of the social gospel," Walter Rauschen­busch was not in the vanguard of racial justice. In an anonymous letter he wrote for Rochester Seminary, he played on the racial fears of potential donors and called for an infusion of German immigrants: "Are the whites of this continent so sure of their possession against the blacks of the South and the seething yellow flocks beyond the Pacific that they need no reinforcement of men of their own blood while yet it is time?" But in A Theology for the Social Gospel Rauschenbusch used racial lynching as the ultimate example of evil as a social inheritance (Gary Dorrien, Economy, Difference, Empire, Columbia University Press).

Mother’s love

When theologian Howard Thurman was dying of cancer in 1981, he spent over three hours with Edward Kaplan, his longtime Jewish friend. Kaplan told the dying Thurman that he didn't believe his mother ever loved him. "All mothers love their children," Thurman assured him, and Kaplan's mother loved him "because she gave birth to you." "That is just a pure biological fact," Kaplan replied skeptically. "There is no such thing as a pure biological fact," Thurman said. Thurman, the grandson of slaves, was confident in the Divine Presence in all human beings, and he was able to convince Kaplan of his mother's love for him and to help him love his mother as she truly was (Cross Currents, December).

Some bright spots

Humorist Dave Barry thinks 2010 was the worst year ever. However, it had a few bright spots, three to be exact: one, the Yankees didn't get into the World Series; two, there were several days when Lindsay Lohan wasn't going into or getting out of rehab; and three, Apple released its much anticipated iPad, which gave iPhone users "something to fondle in their other hand" (Washington Post, January 2).

Protesting a mosque

Some Moscovites are upset over the prospect of a new mosque being built in the Russian capital. They claim that the site chosen for construction is not suitable for a large building and want the space turned into a park where "any person, regardless of ethnic, religious, or other background, could relax." The protests about the mosque construction coincided with controversy in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia about the slaughter of lambs as part of the celebration of the Muslim Eid al-Adha feast (ENI).