Century Marks

Century Marks

Double belonging

The biblical figure of Orpah in the story of Ruth often gets a bad rap. Unlike Ruth, she turned her back on their mother-in-law Naomi and returned to her Moabite people; she did not cast her lot with the Israelites, her deceased husband's people. Some minority groups, however, see in Orpah a model, says Korean-American biblical scholar Uriah Y. Kim. Orpah refused to turn her back on her people and her own cultural heritage for the sake of blending in with another people and culture. Nevertheless, Orpah had been faithful to her Israelite husband and mother-in-law. Kim likes to think that Orpah continued to demonstrate faithfulness to the God of the Israelites (Interpre­tation, July).

Silent presence

The late Abraham Joshua Heschel and Jack Reimer, both rabbis, once went to visit mutual friends who had just lost a loved one. When they arrived, Heschel hugged the grieving family members without uttering a word. Then he sat down and remained silent. After an hour passed, Heschel got up and hugged the mourners again; then the two rabbis departed. "I learned that you don't have to be glib," said Reimer. "You just have to care" (Spiritual Life, summer).

Rain prayer

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is calling Oklahomans to pray for rain. More than 40 percent of Okla­homa is experiencing an exceptional drought, the most severe category measured by climatologists. Seventy percent of Texas is also in the category of exceptional drought. Texas Governor Rick Perry issued a call for prayer in April. The drought in Texas is much worse now. Both Fallin and Perry are among the prominent politicians who are skeptical about the scientific evidence for human-caused
climate change (Ethics Daily, July 21).

Fervent prayer

When Congress was bogged down in the debate over raising the debt ceiling, the chaplain of the Senate voiced the concerns of the nation in his daily prayers. Barry C. Black, a longtime navy chaplain and a Seventh-day Adventist minister, urged the Senate to reach a resolution to the stalemate, and his prayers be­came more intense as the debt deadline ap­proached. On one of the last days before an agreement was reached, Black prayed: "Faced with potentially disastrous consequences, give the members of this body the wisdom to work while it is day. For the night comes, when no one can work" (Washington Post, July 31).

Dorothy’s secret

Dorothy Day, cofounder of the Catholic Worker movement, who is now being considered for canonization, apparently had an abortion early in her life. She was reluctant to talk about it because she didn't want to encourage other women to do what she had done. One woman told Day that she had had an abortion because she knew Day had had one. Even though she was opposed to abortion, Day's criticism of it was muted in light of her own experience (America, July 1).