Century Marks

Century Marks

So what?

A young woman preaching her first sermon seemed to do everything right: her exegesis was sound; the text and title of the sermon matched well; the sermon was carefully organized and delivered in a clear, understandable manner. But the sermon was wrongheaded, especially in context—an African-American congregation. The people called her sermon a lecture, because she failed to speak to their life situations and didn't answer the "so what" question (Raquel A. St. Clair in Interpretation, July).

Unauthorized wars

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war, but it has exercised that power only five times, the last being in the case of World War II. Since the signing of the Constitution in 1787, American presidents have put military forces into action hundreds of times without congressional action. To counteract the executive office's actions in Vietnam, the War Powers Resolution was passed in 1973, calling for an authorization letter and giving the president a two-month deadline. This law has been toothless. No president, Democrat or Republican, has wanted to have his powers as commander in chief curtailed by Congress (Time, July 4).

Financing wars

The Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University estimates that the total cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, plus operations in Pakistan, will exceed $4 trillion. This is more than three times the amount Congress has actually authorized. The total cost is already between $2.3 and $2.7 trillion. These wars could cost more than World War II, which at today's dollars would be about $4.1 trillion. Unlike previous American wars, the current ones have been largely financed with borrowed money (Independent, June 30).


With two Mormons running for the U.S. presidency, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has issued a statement prohibiting full-time leaders of the church from engaging in politics. The ban, which includes leaders' spouses, proscribes making political contributions and endorsing candidates. Part-time officials are permitted political activity so long as it isn't focused on their congregations and it is made clear that they are speaking for themselves, not the church (UPI).

Gone to the dogs

When Arise Church, a United Methodist congregation in Pinckney, Michigan, built a new church on 20 acres of land, the pastor suggested using part of the space for a dog park. He got the idea when he noticed how his normally shy spouse opened up to strangers when they were at a dog park. Some church members were skeptical about the need and concerned about liability issues. But funds for the dog park were raised in the community, and the church's insurance company agreed to insure the park at no additional cost. About 150 people visit the dog park each week. After a year, about ten of the 110 regular attendees at the church said they found out about the church by way of the dog park (UM Portal, June 20).