Century Marks

Century Marks

Curtain call

A funeral home in Saginaw, Michigan, is providing a convenient way for people to show their last respects to the deceased: a drive-through lane for viewing the body. The drive-through option is available only when viewing isn’t happening inside. A curtain conceals the deceased until a car drives up to the window. The curtain remains open for three minutes while music is played. Drive-through mourners can sign a guest book and place memorial gifts into a slot. There are at least three other funeral homes in the country providing a similar option. One funeral home in Chicago recently closed its drive-through option after more than 20 years because of vandalism (Saginaw News, September 15).

Bubble burst

Physicist Stephen Hawking made a $100 bet that physicists wouldn’t be able to discover the Higgs boson, the so-called “God particle.” He lost the bet when the Higgs boson was discovered two years ago, and he said that the discovery had made physics less interesting. He and other scientists are also theorizing that the Higgs boson could one day destroy the universe by creating a vacuum bubble that expands through space, wiping out everything. That is unlikely to happen anytime soon. If and when it does, humans won’t have any warning, and it will come at the speed of light (Christian Science Monitor, September 10).

Cover up

A British team surveyed 600 Muslim women living in Britain to see how they felt about their own bodies. The women who wear the hijab (head covering) at least part of the time had on average more positive body images than those who never wear one. The hijab wearers were less inclined to want to be thin, and they were less influenced by media standards of female beauty. The lead researcher cautioned against applying their findings to Muslim women who live in countries where the wearing of the hijab is mandatory. The study did not prove that the hijab was the source of a better body image (NPR, September 15).

Urban megachurch

The influential Australian-based megachurch Hillsong made it to the front page of the New York Times on September 9. Hillsong, founded 30 years ago, has churches in many major cities around the world, including New York and Los Angeles. Young people are especially drawn to the church, known for its original folk-rock music which incorporates catchy tunes and accessible lyrics. By some estimates, Hillsong has 100,000 people in its pews at their various locations each Sunday, including multiple campuses in Australia. The Pentecostal-leaning church has drawn fire from both the right and the left—the right for what is deemed a thin theology, the left for its strong stand against abortion and the inclusion of gays.

Hospice church

Citrus County, north of Tampa, Florida, is part of what is called the “gray belt,” an area of eight counties with one of the oldest populations in the country. This area foreshadows the future of the country as a whole. In 15 years, one in four residents in Citrus County will be 65 or older. In the not-too-distant future, one in five Americans will be over 65. The First Presbyterian Church in the area is sometimes referred to as a hospice church. The church has a difficult time making the changes that would attract younger families, yet the older members are dying off or moving north to be near family (AP).