Century Marks

Century Marks

Debt repayment

Arthur George Weidenfeld credits Christians for helping him escape to Britain in 1938 from German-occupied Austria. As a way of showing his gratitude, Weidenfeld, a Jew, is helping to rescue up to 2,000 Chris­tians from Syria and Iraq. He said it was Quakers and Plymouth Brethren who fed and clothed him and helped him to get to Britain. Baron Weidenfeld is the founder of the Weidenfeld and Nicolson publishing company. His fund to support Christians in war-torn regions in the Middle East recently sponsored a flight of 150 Syrian Christians to Poland (Independent, July 20).

Safety check

Gun possession does not deter crime or reduce homicides. Research at the Harvard Injury Control Center shows that states with the most amount of firearms have 6.8 times more firearm assaults than states with the fewest guns. Firearm homicides are 2.8 times more likely in states with the most guns compared to those with the least. The researchers caution against associating correlation with cause but say that a higher level of gun ownership leads to more crime, not the other way around (Live Science, July 6).

Alms

A coalition of Muslims has raised nearly $50,000 to help rebuild black churches in the South that were recently damaged or destroyed by fire. “To many, it is clear that these are attacks on black culture, black religion, and black lives,” one of the Muslim organizers said. Faatimah Knight, a 23-year-old student at Chicago Theological Seminary, was one of the instigators of the fund-raising effort, which took place during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month devoted to fasting and alms giving. Arson is suspected in several of the church fires (CNN, July 9).

Short-term gains

A study released by the Brookings Institution sheds light on Wall Street’s incentive system that rewards short-term profits at the expense of long-term investment. The study notes four factors with long-term consequences: proliferation of stock buybacks and dividends; increase in noncash compensation to executives; a fixation on quarterly earnings; and the rise of activist investors. These factors lead to rising inequality, a shrinking middle class, a larger wedge between productivity and compensation, and less business investment. The authors suggest that executive compensation and taxation laws change and that corporate reporting focus more on long-term investments (Brookings, June 30).

Beginning with Alpha

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain, believes an influx of immigrants in Britain is not only boosting the ranks of believers but also giving much-needed encouragement to the faith of native Christians. The 2011 census showed a decline over ten years of 4.1 million people in England and Wales who consider themselves Christian. The decline was partly offset by the arrival of 1.2 million foreign-born Christians, including Polish Catholics and African evangelicals. Every Catholic parish in England and Wales is setting up an evangelization team to devise new strategies for spreading the gospel in the 21st century. Catholics are learning from the global success of the Alpha course, the short introduction to Christianity developed by an Anglican parish in London, which has been used by at least 15 million people around the world (Telegraph, July 7).