Century Marks

Century Marks

Peace weapon

In his annual message for the World Day of Peace on January 1, Pope Benedict XVI said the freedom to profess and express one's faith is an "authentic weapon of peace" now under threat, especially in Iraq. The pope made special mention of the plight of Iraqi Christians, recalling the October attack on a Catholic cathedral in Baghdad in which dozens of worshipers, including two priests, were killed by gunmen linked to al-Qaeda. Benedict also warned against "more subtle and sophisticated forms of prejudice and hostility" aimed at Christians in the West, especially in an increasingly secular Europe (RNS).

Mourning into dancing

 When Robin Rogers and George Overholser called off their nuptials, they decided they didn't want to waste their $3,500 deposit for the reception, so they orga­nized a $100-per-person fund-raiser for the Greenpoint Reformed Church's soup kitchen in New York City and raised $10,000 for the hungry. "This is a great example of someone turning mourning into dancing," the Greenpoint pastor said (The Week, December 17).

Wonder woman

Glamour magazine has named Dr. Hawa Abdi woman of the year, saying she is "equal parts Mother Teresa and Rambo." A Somali ob-gyn and lawyer, she runs a 400-bed hospital and helped start a school mostly for girls. Surrounding the hospital are 1,300 acres of farmland that have become a refuge for some 90,000 people displaced by the warring factions in Somalia. A hard-line militia decided last May that a woman couldn't run this operation and ordered her to hand it over to them. She refused, even though her daughter pleaded with her to give in. The militia eventually relented in the face of worldwide outrage, mostly from Somali groups. But before departing the militia wrecked the hospital. Abdi has been in the U.S. raising money to restore the facility (Nicholas D. Kristof in New York Times, December 15).

Note this

John Kralik's life was falling apart. He was going through a painful second divorce, his girlfriend had left him, his law firm was failing and he was growing apart from his children. One day he decided to focus not on what he didn't have but on what he did have. To express his gratitude, he wrote a handwritten thank-you note each day to someone who had shown him a kindness—a relative, a colleague, a coffee shop barista. Immediately after starting this note-
writing, positive developments began to take shape in his life. His book about his experience is 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life (USA Today, December 8).

Tracking Jesus

Some churches with public nativity displays have had problems with vandalism. Stealing baby Jesus is a common prank. A security company has come to the rescue. It plants a GPS device in the nativity items so that the stolen objects can be tracked. One church reported that by publicizing its use of the tracking devices it had stopped the vandalism and stealing. The company, BrickHouse Security, is also donating its services to churches, synagogues and schools for displays other than nativity scenes (SFGate.com, December 2).