Century Marks

Century Marks

Curtain call

Desmond Tutu, former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, has sent a letter to the Cape Town Opera, protesting a scheduled performance by the company in Tel Aviv, Israel. "Just as we said during apartheid that it was inappropriate for international artists to perform in South Africa in a society founded on discriminatory laws and racial exclusivity," Tutu wrote, "so it would be wrong for the Cape Town Opera to perform in Israel." He said millions of people are denied the right to education and cultural opportunities in Israel and the Palestinian territories it occupies. A South African Jewish group criticized Tutu's call for a cultural boycott of Israel and rejected the notion that Israel discriminates. A representative of the opera company said that while it respects Tutu's views, the company is promoting human values through the medium of opera (ENI).

Liberating the women

People who favor reducing U.S. forces in Afghanistan and making a deal with the Taliban are sometimes asked, "What about the women?" Columnist Nicholas Kristof went to Afghanistan to explore that issue. He's reached the conclusion that the abusive treatment of women there is not just the fault of the Taliban. It's part of the culture. Some women he talked with said that the war is worse for them and their families than Taliban rule. The road to a better life for Afghan women is through education and economic empowerment. The organization BPeace is helping women like Soora Stoda, who is building a potato chip factory; Shahla Akbari, who is making shoes; and Shahla's mother, Fatima Akbari, who has 3,000 employees, mostly females, making jam, furniture, clothing and jewelry (New York Times, October 23).

Nonmembers

In 2001 about 11 percent of worshipers in the U.S. were active participants in congregations without being members or without actively pursuing membership. By 2010 that number had risen only slightly, to 12 percent. However, the number of young adults who are nonmember participants is nearly double that of worshipers who are 45 and over (The Parish Paper, November).

Which God?

There are two different images of God in the Gospel of Matthew, according to Barbara E. Reid. Particularly in the Sermon on the Mount, God is portrayed as boundlessly forgiving and gracious. But eight parables portray God as vindictive and punitive. So which God is it? While offering a number of explanations for this seeming contradiction, Reid argues that the God image more difficult for us to accept is the one who boundlessly loves and forgives us. "It is so much easier to know how to relate to a God who exacts payment for sin and whose love must be earned" (Interpretation, October).

Fair housing

A Grand Rapids nursing student may be in trouble for posting a note on her church's bulletin board that said "I am looking for a Christian roommate." Someone filed an anonymous complaint to the local Fair Housing Center, which turned the case over to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. The Fair Housing Act does prohibit advertisements for housing that state a preference of religion, race or handicap. If the student is found to have committed a civil rights violation, she could be subject to fines and required to take training to keep it from happening again (Mlive.com, October 22).