Bernie Farber, a longtime social justice advocate, is a volunteer at a L’Arche community. Farber, a Jew, learned of this network of Christian communities for the developmentally disabled through his friend Bob and Bob’s son Mark. Mark was born disabled and with sight impairment. After his mother died and Bob became too old to care for him, Mark moved into the L’Arche community. Mark had never had his bar mitzvah, which he still longed for. Aided by the L’Arche community and a local rabbi, Bernie helped Mark celebrate his bar mitzvah at age 60. Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche communities, has been nominated for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. Farber is pulling for him to win it (Huffington Post, June 29).
Jul 05, 2012
The affluent Chicago suburb of Lake Forest was stunned by the apparent suicides of three youths in succession in the first three months of this year. Each teen walked in front of a speeding commuter train near the same spot. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among Americans between the ages of ten and 24. About 5 percent of these deaths are cluster suicides. Experts disagree on whether media coverage of teen suicides can lead to copy-cat suicides. One study suggested that media coverage can deter such behavior, especially if there is a focus on the harsh realities of the incidents (Chicago, July).
Jul 05, 2012
Sara Miles, author of Take This Bread and Jesus Freak, said she has never visited a church that was unfriendly or hostile to her, but she’s visited many churches at which she didn’t know what to do in the liturgy. When that happens, she said, you feel like you don’t belong. She challenges worship planners and congregations to consider: “If someone walked into your church for the first time, what would she or he think you think you’re doing?” (Washington Island Forum, June 25–29).
Jul 05, 2012
When megachurch pastor Rick Warren baptized by immersion some 800 congregants in under four hours, it occurred to him that his members were overweight. He himself was 90 pounds over a healthy weight at the time. Warren instituted the Daniel Plan, a diet based on the book of Daniel, in which four Jewish boys refuse to eat the king’s meat and wine in order to remain fit. The Warren diet prescribes eating 70 percent unprocessed fruits and vegetables and 30 percent lean protein, whole grains and starchy vegetables. It recommends exercising and joining a support group. About 15,000 people have joined the program, some online. Warren’s church lost a collective 260,000 pounds in the past year (Time, June 11).
Jun 21, 2012
One of the most discussed commencement addresses this year was titled “You are not special.” It was given by David McCullough Jr., a popular teacher at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts. “If everyone is special, then no one is,” he told the graduates. “By definition there can be only one best. You’re it or you’re not.” When the speech went viral, McCullough was subjected to numerous media interviews, including an appearance on CBS’s This Morning. McCullough encouraged graduates to pursue learning for its own exhilaration, not for material advantage. “I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its significance” (YouTube, June 7, and Newsweek, June 18).