Century Marks

Century Marks


May 21 came and went and the Rapture didn't happen as radio preacher Harold Camping had predicted. Followers of his had donated thousands of dollars toward a media campaign to warn people of Judgment Day. Some of them quit their jobs or dropped out of school in anticipation of Christ's second coming. "Life goes on," said John Ramsey of New Jersey on May 22; his pregnant wife thought she'd never get to see her unborn child. Ramsey and his mother both need to find another job since they quit theirs in anticipation of the end. Camping, owner of the Family Radio network, said he wasn't wrong, his prediction was off by five months. The apocalypse will happen October 21 (Huffington Post, May 23; Boston Globe, May 24).

Praying for Osama

At the request of a parishioner, a Catholic church in West Palm Beach, Florida, prayed for the soul of Osama bin Laden during a mass last month. The prayer angered many of the other parishioners, but the priest said his church has never turned down a request for prayer (arcamax.com, May 18).

Look it up

Googleheimer's is a newly discovered condition unique to the Internet age. It strikes when you think of something you'd like to Google—and by the time you reach your computer you've forgotten what you wanted to search (UrbanDictionary.com).

Does history have a future?

Historian John Lukacs says that we live in an era "when many people know less history than their forebears may have known but when more people are interested in history than probably ever before." Some very good histories have been written in the past 50 years, some by amateur historians; since 1960, history books of all kinds have sold better than novels. Yet Lukacs frets about the future of his discipline. Fewer history courses are required in high school and college, and fewer people are earning doctorates in history. He also thinks that history depends on publishing and that the decline in book publishing does not bode well for the future of history (The Future of History, Yale University Press).

Time, talent and treasures

The stewardship program of most congregations is built around four practices: weekly offerings, annual pledge drives, the use of the stewardship cycle to support the annual budget and, in some churches, the filling out of "time and talent" forms. The tradition of the fall fund drive grew out of an agricultural context and was tied to harvest, a pattern that may no longer make sense. In a post-Christian context, "perhaps the really big stewardship issue for a congregation is not the budget," says Rolf A. Jacobson, "but the faith-formation issue of how to form whole people of faith who know that they belong to God" (introduction to Rethinking Stewardship, Word and World Supplement Series 6).