Century Marks

Century Marks

Conflict over

Class warfare in America is over, says Nick Carnes, and the well-to-do have won. The result is that the less well-to-do are being shut out of the decision-making process. Very few working-class Americans get into government, even at the state level. Running for office is so expensive that only wealthier Americans aspire to elected office. Once in office they reflect their own class. “Social safety net programs are stingier, business regulations are flimsier, and tax policies are more regressive than they would be if our politicians came from the same mix of classes as the people they represent,” says Carnes (Vox, September 3).

Amish mafia?

Mary Haverstick, a filmmaker from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has taken on the makers of TV series such as Amish Mafia, which exploit the Amish. She started a Facebook page called “Respect Amish,” and it grew rapidly into a movement. The local chamber of commerce, the council of churches, and a host of local politicians backed her challenge to the makers of Amish Mafia, which airs on the Discovery Channel. Amish scholar Donald Kraybill, who teaches at Elizabethtown College, says, “There’s no Amish mafia. There never was. The whole things is a fabrication in the minds of the producers” (NPR, August 24).

Job opening

Mubarak Awad, a Greek Orthodox Catholic influenced by Quakers and Mennonites, could have become the Palestinian Gandhi. After his father was killed by Jewish freedom fighters in 1948, his mother taught her children to turn the other cheek. In 1983 Awad opened the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, with the aim of fomenting mass nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. His peaceful efforts got him kicked out of the country in 1988. He now teaches nonviolence at American University. He remains optimistic about the prospects of non­violent resistance in the Middle East, but fears the current conflict between Israel and Gaza is driving more people into the extremist camp (Newsweek, August 11).

Good neighbors

“Having good neighbors and feeling connected to others in the local community may help to curb an individual’s heart attack risk,” according to a research team at the University of Michigan. Participants in the study were asked to rate their neighborhood on a scale of one to seven. For every point they gave their neighborhood, they had a reduced heart attack risk over the four years of the study. People who gave their neighborhood a total score of seven had a 67 percent reduced risk of heart attack compared to those who gave only one point—roughly the difference between a nonsmoker and a smoker (AFP).

Blessing Israel

Several high-profile evangelical leaders traveled to Israel last month as a part of the “Christians in Solidarity with Israel” trip put together by the National Religious Broadcasters in response to the most recent conflict in Gaza. The trip had two purposes, according to Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “We are instructed in scripture not only to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but are told that those who bless Israel will be blessed,” Perkins said. “Secondly, it is in the national security interest of the United States to support Israel.” Some evidence indicates that younger evangelicals are not as steadfast in their support of Israel as their elders and are more sympathetic to Palestinians (RNS).