Century Marks

Century Marks

Necessary struggle

In a discussion on work and dignity, Matthew Crawford of the University of Virginia recounts his father’s battle with Parkinson’s disease. Once when they got into a car together, his father struggled long and hard to get his seatbelt fastened. Crawford thought about doing it for his father, but refrained. When he finally got it fastened, his exhausted father looked at him and said, “Thank you for not doing it.” His independence and dignity had been maintained (Hedgehog Review, Fall).

Lament and celebration

The Advent and Christmas seasons can elicit grief, especially for those who have experienced loss since the previous celebration. Cancer survivor Deanna Thompson reminds Christians to allow space for lament during these seasons. Christians have difficulty accepting lament, perhaps because their faith proclaims the resurrection. “To be able to give voice to our deepest sorrows, to attend to the sufferings that ultimately pass none of us by, is to give ourselves permission to lament,” says Thompson. Lament is a necessary precursor to hope (Grace blog, November 13).

Fallout

Islamophobic candidates running for the U.S. Congress didn’t do too well in last month’s election. Allen West, who has called Islam a totalitarian theocratic ideology, lost to Patrick Murphy, a Democratic challenger in Florida. Adam Hasner, also from Florida and known for supporting anti-Islamic events, lost, as did represen­tatives Chip Cravaack in Minnesota and Joe Walsh in Illinois. Candidate Charlie Fuqua in Arkansas, who had called for deporting all Mus­lims, failed to unseat the incumbent in his district (Arab American News, November 9).

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)

Independent study

The One Laptop per Child organization dropped off computer tablets in two remote Egyptian villages. The tablets were preloaded with alphabet games, e-books, movies, cartoons, paintings and other programs. The organization wanted to see if children could teach themselves to read without any help from instructors. Within five days the kids were using 47 apps each, after two weeks they were singing ABC songs, and within five months they had figured out how to use the camera (MIT Technology Review, October 29).