Century Marks

Century Marks

Not a rat race

Empathy and compassion have long been considered exclusive human traits and some of the loftiest of religious values. But an experiment at the University of Chicago has demonstrated that even rats can show empathy and altruism toward their comrades. Strange rats, unrelated to each other, were put together in a cage. After two weeks some of the rats were placed in a very small cell within larger cages. In a week's time three-fourths of the free rats learned how to free the caged rats. And one half of the free rats would save one or two chocolate chips for the trapped rats, demonstrating both empathy and altruism ("Science on religion," Patheos, March 9).

Radical troopers

Indiana State Representative Bob Morris refused to support a resolution celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts because he believes that the organization is a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood, that it allows transgendered girls to join and that it promotes sex. Writing to his fellow Republican legislators, he said: "The fact that the Honorary President of Girl Scouts of America is Michelle Obama, and the Obamas are radically pro-abortion and vigorously support the agenda of Planned Parenthood, should give each of us reason to pause before our individual or collective endorsement of the organization" (Journal Gazette, February 18).

Picture of God

A Georgia woman claims she was kicked out of church for breastfeeding her baby during worship. The pastor called her behavior lewd and compared her to a stripper, telling her she needed to feed her baby in the bathroom. Rachel Stone argues that nursing a baby is natural and should be viewed with respect and even reverence—and that the act is symbolic of the way God cares for us all (Christianity Today, March 2).

Discuss (with young adults)

Christian Piatt identifies seven reasons why many young adults don't go to church: They've been hurt by the church. College or adult life doesn't seem to mix well with church. Unlike credit card companies, churches don't know how to connect with mobile young adults. Many other activities are competing for their time and attention. They are especially skeptical about people or organizations that are trying to get their attention. Their lifestyle leaves them exhausted. And they don't see any relevance to the church (Patheos, March 11).

Jerusalem syndrome

An estimated 50 to 100 pilgrims to the Holy Land each year are afflicted by what psychiatrists call the Jerusalem syndrome. Most of them are evangelical Christians. One woman was convinced she was Jesus' mother, searching for her baby in Bethle­hem. Another man was convinced he was King David. In some cases, people come to think of themselves as the Messiah. "There's a joke in psychiatry: if you talk to God, it's called praying; if God talks to you, you're nuts. In Jeru­salem God seems to be particularly chatty around Easter, Passover and Christ­mas--the peak seasons for the syndrome," writes Chris Nashawaty in Wired magazine (March). The best cure is to leave the Holy Land.