Century Marks

Century Marks

Fallen hero?

Americans have a deep desire for heroes, and Greg Mortenson (author of Three Cups of Tea and its sequel, Stones into Schools) has fulfilled that desire. But recently he has been charged with fabricating parts of his story about building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan and with mishandling the funds that have been donated to his Central Asia Institute. A former colleague says Mortenson is "a symptom of Afghanistan. Things are so bad that everybody's desperate for even one good-news story. And Greg is it" (Newsweek, May 2).

Second chance?

In 2002 five boys bound and brutally beat a 61-year-old man to death. Two of the assailants were sentenced to prison for life, the others for 14 years. Now Chris Paul, a grandson of the murdered man, would like to see the guilty set free from prison. Paul, a star in the National Basketball Association, was very close to his grandfather and was devastated by his killing. But Paul, who is about the same age as the men convicted, says they have a lot of life ahead of them and he'd like them to have a second chance (ESPN.com, April 27).

Hit number

The singing of "Ubi Caritas," a composition by Paul Mealor, a little-known 35-year-old Welsh composer, was one of the surprises at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Mealor received a letter last December from the royal couple, requesting a musical contribution. The sixth-century text he chose for this choral anthem is traditionally used for foot washing on Maundy Thursday. It's a prayer about love and service. "Jesus came to serve," said Mealor, "and the young couple are about to enter a long period of service to the nation" (Guardian, April 29).

From the other side

The native mountaineering guides in the Hima­layas, known as sherpas, are intimately ac­quainted with the face of Mount Everest. However, they know it only from one side—the view from their home valley. They have been known to respond in disbelief to images of Everest taken from the other sides. Their disbelief changes to one of amazement when they realize that something with which they are so familiar can have other sides to it (from Jacob Bronowski's Science and Human Values).

Holy curiosity

Marilyn McEntyre tells about a rabbi who, when approached by a member of his congregation who was rejoicing about something, would ask darkly, "How do you know it's not a disaster?" When someone would approach him with a lament, he would respond, "How do you know it's not a blessing?" McEntyre says the rabbi "called his pupils to look again, without judgment, but with what I would call 'holy curiosity,'" which makes "us willing to live in the mystery of an unfolding story" (Weavings, 26:3).