Century Marks

Century Marks

Keep it short

A vicar asked the duke of Wellington what he would like his sermon to be about. “About ten minutes,” the duke replied (Tolstoy on War, edited by Rick McPeak and Donna Tussing Orwin).

Tending to the neighbor

Marilyn McEntyre suggests some very practical ways that American Christians can work against a self-centered consumerism and toward concern for the neighbor and community. Begin every day for a month asking the question, “What can I share today? . . . What do I have that might be given away?” See if a room at church can be found to use as a “sharing station” where tools, utensils, clothing or books could be stored for others’ use. Talk on the phone with someone who may be lonely for 15 minutes two or three times a week. Host dinner-and-documentary nights to discuss public problems with a view to finding and working at solutions. Commit to a steady-state household: if something new comes in, then something else goes out. “Who is my neighbor?” is a question we cannot afford to consign to cliché, McEntyre says (Weavings, November–January).

Abortion numbers

Research at Washington University’s School of Med­icine indicates that unwanted pregnancies and abortions drop dramatically when free contraception is available. In this study, 9,000 St. Louis women re­ceived free contraception. Teen pregnancy in this group numbered 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers, compared to 34 births per 1,000 teens nationally. Abor­tions among the women in the study numbered 4.4 to 7.5 per 1,000 women, compared to national figures of 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000. The Affordable Care Act pays for contraception for woman. More than 30 federal lawsuits have been filed challenging the contraception mandate, mostly by anti­abortion groups (Religion Dispatches, October 22).

Caste in or out

The Hindu priesthood has been traditionally limited to upper-caste Brahmins. A few years ago the government in a southern India state, which owns most of the temples, began training priests regardless of their caste, including the lowest caste, the Dalits. In reaction, Brahmin groups filed  suit, claiming that the government has no right to impose itself on priest selection or training. There is a shortage of Hindu priests. Critics of the Brahmin suit believe it’s intended to maintain Brahmin privilege and keep in place a 4,000-year-old caste system (Los Angeles Times, October 1).

Anti-Jewish record

Perry Brickman was mystified in 1952 when he was told he had flunked out of Emory University’s dental school after his first year. He had been a B-plus biology student at Emory and received early admission to its dental school. Now the university is acknowledging for the first time that between 1948 and 1961 the school’s dean was engaged in systematic discrimination against Jewish students. During those years, 65 percent of Jewish students were told they had flunked out or were forced to retake a whole year of classes. Brickman has tracked down and interviewed many of these students who, many years later, feel a sense of shame and anger. A documentary film, From Silence to Recognition, is being made based on Brickman’s interviews (New York Times, October 6).