Century Marks

Century Marks

Signs on the wall

Last month vandals spray-painted “the Maccabees will succeed” and “Jesus is a bastard” on the walls of a Greek Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem and slashed tires on three cars. This was the fifth attack on monasteries and churches in the area during 2012. Extremist Jews sympathetic to Israel’s settlement movement are suspected. The father superior of the monastery said the vandals would be welcome to come for coffee and conversation. He said he forgave them the first time and would continue to forgive them. Extremists have carried out similar vandalism attacks on other churches and mosques, which have been de­nounced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Jerusalem Post, December 12).

Sacred sounds

Though one may not share Deal W. Hudson’s conservative theological and political views, he’s compiled an interesting list of the “100 best recordings of sacred music.” The list includes not only what he considers the best compositions of all time, but the best recordings of those works. Sacred music lovers will quibble with some of his choices (Elgar and Vaughn Williams have as many entries as Bach) and will point out some omissions. Among his choice of 100 top recordings, Hudson marks those that he considers indispensable (www.catholic.org).

Gays and the fighting Irish

The University of Notre Dame has agreed to create a gay-straight alliance student organization. The move comes in response to a call for greater on-campus resources for gay and lesbian students. But the school has rejected the recommendation from its office of student affairs that sexual orientation be added to the university’s statement on nondiscrimination (InsideHigherEd.com, December 6).

Bricks, mortar and books

When the two bookstores in Nashville, Tennessee, shut down, writer Ann Patchett and a friend cooked up the idea of starting an independent bookstore. People scoffed at the idea, saying that there is no future for bookstores—and perhaps not for books in a digital world. Patchett knew, however, that the bookstores that had closed had been profitable. They closed because of actions by their parent companies. “People still want books,” Patchett said. “I’ve got the numbers to prove it.” She said she hadn’t counted on one benefit of starting a bookstore: “I could talk strangers into reading books that I love” (Atlantic, December).

Proselytized

Blake Page decided to quit the U.S. Military Academy only six months before graduation because he said he could no longer be part of a culture that promoted prayer and religious activities. In a Huffington Post column, Page charged that prayers were routinely included at mandatory school events and that nonreligious cadets were jokingly referred to as heathen (Chris­tian Science Monitor, December 7).