Century Marks

Century Marks

Finding my religion

The conventional wisdom has been that going to college leads people away from organized religion, and that was true for those born in the first part of the 20th century. But it’s not true for recent generations, says sociologist Philip Schwadel at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. In fact, it’s the least-educated members of Generation X—people born roughly between 1965 and 1980—who are most likely to leave religion. “Americans born in the late 1920s and ’30s who graduated from college were twice as likely to drop out of religion than people who didn’t graduate from college,” said Schwadel. However, for the generation born in the 1960s, there’s no difference between those who did and those who did not go to college in their likelihood of religious affiliation. Among those born in the 1970s, “those without a college education are the most likely to drop out.” Schwadel did not include millennials—Americans roughly between the ages 18 and 30—in the study because, he said, it’s too soon to tell if they will settle on a religious identity (RNS).


The war in Gaza has been accompanied by an increase in anti-Semitism in Europe. In July mobs attacked two different synagogues in Paris, and in the same month anti-Semitic incidents doubled in Britain. The attacks on Jews and Jewish establishments came largely from Muslims upset about what is happening in Gaza. Even before this conflict, anti-Semitism has been on the rise, with the worst expressions of it in France, Hungary, and Belgium. A hopeful sign is that in some places moderate Muslim leaders are working with Jewish leaders to stop campaigns to ban circumcision and ritual slaughter (Newsweek, July 29).

High life

Many American Catholic bishops have yet to heed Pope Francis’s example of simplicity. According to a CNN investigation, ten of 34 active archbishops in the United States live in domiciles worth more than a million dollars. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City lives in a 15,000-square-foot mansion on Madison Avenue that is worth at least $30 million. Dolan has expressed misgivings about his residence, but so far there are no plans for him to move or to sell the building. In Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley lives more simply in a rundown rectory in the city’s South End (CNN.com, August).

Under fire

Since the Israeli military operation against Gaza began July 7, 138 schools have been damaged by bombs, including 89 that are run by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Over 400 children were killed and at least 2,000 injured. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that in some instances Hamas has stored munitions in the schools. The UNRWA sites, internationally regarded as neutral, were also used as refuges for people fleeing the fighting, which increased the casualties when these schools were hit (Brookings, August 4).

War poet

The diaries of World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon have been digitized and made available to the public by the University of Cambridge. Sassoon, a British soldier, was quickly disillusioned by the war and became an outspoken war critic. His diaries feature poetry, prose, and drawings and include his 1917 antiwar “Soldier’s Declaration,” which got him committed to a hospital for the duration of the war. He described the first day of the Battle of Somme as a “sunlit picture of hell” (BBC, July 31).