Century Marks

Century Marks

Minimum housing

There is no state in the United States where a person working full time at minimum wage could rent a one-bedroom apartment for less than 30 percent of wages—the benchmark for housing affordability. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition has tallied the amount of hours a minimum-wage worker would have to work in each state to afford a one-bedroom apartment. In the District of Columbia it is 100 hours per week, in California 92 hours, and Texas 73 hours. In South Dakota, the lowest, it is 49 hours (Vox, May 28).

Pocket poetry

Win Bassett discovered that many of the patients in the state-run hospital where he was working as a student chaplain were very familiar with hymns. Hymns were the most effective way of consoling these patients’ souls. They responded positively to poetry as well, even though they didn’t know the poems he carried in his pocket. “I chalk up these powers to poetry’s economy of words,” Bassett writes. “When you know you don’t have much longer in this life, why not make every word you speak and hear pack as much meaning as possible?” (Poetry Foundation, May 27).

God and guns

An NRA-backed bill in North Carolina, which calls for an end to the ban on Sunday hunting, is pitting religious conservatives against other conservatives. The Christian Action League of North Carolina, a coalition of 17 conservative denominations, is vigorously opposing the repeal, saying Sunday hunting is a violation of the fourth commandment. Supporters of the repeal say the ban on Sunday hunting forces people to go hunting in neighboring states and negatively impacts the North Carolina economy. One of the chief backers of the ban in the legislature is a member of a Southern Baptist congregation and a lifelong member of the NRA who has a concealed-carry permit (Baptist News Global, May 27).

Poverty myths

The number of households with children living on less than $2 a day per person has increased 160 percent since 1996. Single moms, absentee dads, and black dads are not the problem. Only 9 percent of low-income urban mothers have been single through the first five years of their child’s life. Sixty percent of low-income dads see at least one of their children once a day. Black men who don’t live in the same household as their children are more likely than Hispanic or white fathers to have a daily presence in the children’s lives (Mother Jones, March/April).

Higher calling

The number of women in England and Wales choosing to become nuns is on the rise, reaching a 25-year high. Many of these women are under 30. The increase is occurring in both active and cloistered orders. One novice explained her choice: “If our society is obsessed with money, sex, and power and the games people play with them, then vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience represent a profound freedom. . . . It’s not a fleeing from the world—it’s a finding your place in it” (BBC, May 18).