Century Marks

Century Marks

Risky decision

Sissela Bok, a philosopher who recently published a book on happiness, says she might never have existed, much less experienced happiness, if it weren't for her mother's stubborn refusal to accept the advice of doctors. Bok's mother had come close to death through a traumatic miscarriage and later developed a uterine tumor. Her doctors urged her to have a hysterectomy and warned that future pregnancies could be fatal. But she refused the hysterectomy, believing that her only child at the time—Bok's older brother—needed a sibling. Bok discovered all this 50 years afterward when she read a letter her father, Gunnar Myrdal, had written to her mother affirming her mother's decision (Exploring Happiness, Yale University Press).

God above the border

According to a new poll, slightly more than half of Canadians believe in heaven, but fewer than a third believe in hell. About 53 percent said they believe in life after death; about 27 percent said they believe in reincarnation; and half expressed belief in religious miracles. The Canadian poll, which surveyed 420 people earlier this year, found that about 30 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, "I know God really exists and I have no doubts." Most of the "nonbelievers" believe in a higher power, stated Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies, which conducted the study with Carleton University in Ottawa (RNS).

Sacred ground?

A majority of New Yorkers oppose the building of an Islamic center near Ground Zero, but apparently they aren't bothered by the presence of several strip joints and an off-track betting facility near what many regard as the hallowed ground where the Twin Towers once stood (Wall Street Journal, August 19).

First you serve, then believe

A university student who thought he was losing his faith paid a visit to Catholic theologian Karl Rahner and asked what books he might read to recover it. Rahner advised the student not to read books but to "go and serve the poor in Munich and your faith will be rekindled." Lawrence S. Cunningham says he offers similar advice to students wrestling with doubt: volunteer at a homeless shelter or a Catholic Worker house. There you will encounter other committed folks who serve and pray, and there you will find the true church (Things Seen and Unseen, Sorin Books).

Healing arts

Roman Catholic and other church-run health-care systems in the U.S. are more efficient and provide higher quality care than their secular counterparts, according to a Thomson Reuters study. The study examined mortality rates, medical complications, readmission rates, lengths of stay, profitability and other factors (ENI).