Century Marks

Century Marks

Chosen by lot

The Coptic Church of Egypt recently chose a new pope through a blind process. After the number of candidates was whittled down to three, their names were placed on pieces of paper in crystal balls sealed with wax and put in a glass bowl. A blindfolded boy picked one name out of the bowl. Bishop Tawadros’s name was chosen. The new pope will have the challenge of guiding the church in the face of a government led by the Muslim Brother­hood (BBC News, November 4).

Militarized

Many Americans know that President Eisenhower, as he left office, warned about the growing power of the military-industrial complex. Few know that Eisenhower was concerned about the spiritual effects of constantly preparing for war. Since Eisenhower’s era, the nation has become even more militarized, argues Aaron B. O’Connell, who teaches history at the U.S. Naval Academy and is a marine reserve officer. The militarization is mostly fueled by civilians, including Congress, not the military. O’Connell points to the plethora of stories in the media that valorize the military, the constant call to citizens to “support our troops” and Congress’s desire to give the Pentagon more money than it requests (New York Times, November 4).

As you love yourself

When considering Jesus’ words, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” we have a tendency to overlook the “as yourself” part, remarks novelist Ron Hansen. We may use “as yourself” as a measuring stick, to see how well we’re loving the neighbor or to assert a quid quo pro. “I think Jesus intended his hearers to realize they are indeed esteemed by God, that Love loves them, and they ought to treat themselves as a favored child or a prized possession,” says Hansen. Concern for others and for ourselves results from a fully integrated devotion to God (guest essay at journeywithjesus.net).

Crushed

An upstate New York man filed a $3 million lawsuit against a Roman Catholic church after a 600-pound stone cross fell and crushed his leg. The man had regularly prayed at the church for his wife’s recovery from cancer. As a gesture of thanks for his wife’s recovery, the man offered to scrub down the large cross which stood outside the church. While he was cleaning the massive crucifix, it came unhinged from its mount and toppled onto him. The 45-year-old father of three, who had no health insurance, lost his leg in the accident
(UPI).

Biased

Jamie Barden, a psychologist at Howard University, tried an experiment with students. He told them a story about Mike, a political fund raiser. Mike had a serious car accident after drinking at a fund-raising event. A month later, Mike made an impassioned statement on the radio against drunk driving. Barden asked the students if they thought Mike was a changed man or a hypocrite. The students were two and a half times more likely to say that Mike was a hypocrite if they were told he belonged to a political party different from their own (New York Review of Books, November 8)