Century Marks

Century Marks

Accepting death

Grief researchers have noted that it is easier to accept the death of a loved one if the one dying is able to accept his or her death. The terminally ill also make better decisions if they are able to acknowledge their own impending death. Some people seem primed to accept their death, others are given to despair. Most of us fall somewhere in between. Researchers are now focusing on how to help more people accept their own death (Meghan O'Rourke, The Long Goodbye: A Memoir, Riverhead Books).

In the neighborhood

Sarah L. Courteau is a young, white professional who recently bought a house in the Rosedale section of Washington, D.C., a largely black community that is being gentrified. Courteau points to some studies showing that gentrification doesn't displace as many people as is sometimes feared, and that the people who remain behind benefit from the upgrading of their neighborhood. Gentrification does cause tension, however, between the long-standing residents and the newer ones, and the divide is often along color lines. White people who have moved near the Brown Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church have complained about the parishioners using parking spaces in the neighborhood and about the loud gospel singing that wafts from the church's long worship services (Wilson Quarterly, Spring).

Cover up

Psychiatrist Barry Gault had a thorough Catholic upbringing and education, which he recalls fondly. In all his years in the Catholic Church, he says, he never heard of children being sexually abused by priests. He didn't learn about the priest sex scandal until he read about it in the Boston Globe. He says that any executive who discovers scandal within his or her organization is faced with a choice: either conceal it or resolve it. Leaders of the Catholic Church chose concealment over resolution, which meant losing trust with parishioners once the scandal was exposed (Commonweal, April 22).

A Christian Baywatch

Many Christians feel an antipathy toward Hollywood, and conservative evangelicals especially have called for the making of more inspirational, family-oriented movies with Christian themes. One film designed to meet that demand is Soul Surfer, the story of a young female surfer from an evangelical family who lost her arm to a shark. It may be the kind of movie evangelicals want, but it moved critic Andrew O'Hehir to ask, "Why are Christian movies so awful?" Does God really want "to be glorified by way of something that looks like an especially tame episode of Baywatch"? (Salon, April 12).

Ashes to ashes

On Ash Wednes­day Sara Miles walked in the Mission District of San Francisco with about a dozen others, all dressed in black cassocks, offering people the imposition of ashes. A mother un­wrapped her week-and-a-half-old boy and held him up. Miles crossed his forehead with ashes and said, "Remember you're dust and to dust you shall return." The mother said, "Thank you"—as did everyone else who received the ashes that day. Why, Miles wondered, would people say thank you when told they're going to die? "Because it's the truth," she decided. "And ashes on the skin show that, despite all the lies of our culture, nothing is hidden, or pretend, or made-up anymore. We are walking, the Gospel tells us, in the light" (Journey with Jesus, April 17).