Century Marks

Century Marks

About face

Professor Richard Muller of the University of California, Berkeley, a global warming skeptic, assembled his own research team to study the evidence. The study was partly funded by lobbyists opposed to action on climate change, including foundations operated by the far-right Koch brothers. At the end of the study, Muller confessed to a total turnaround: “Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct,” he said. “I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.” One team member still refused to be part of the final report (BBC News, July 30).

Spirituality of play

The physical benefits of sport have long been known. Some people argue that sports also help moral development. The spiritual benefits are less acknowledged. Sports psychologist Mark Nesti argues that sport ideally involves the mind, body and spirit. Sport as a spiritual activity is best realized when it is seen as a form of play, a way of losing one’s self in the process and not focusing on personal gain alone. Sport also involves sacrifice and suffering, which Nesti doesn’t see as contradicting the notion of sport as fun. “Play can be serious—indeed it should be serious or it’s not really play” (Third Way, July/August).

At Mitt’s table

Despite uneasy relations with evangelicals, the Romney camp has been reaching out to them at least since 2006 when the Romneys invited evangelical leaders to a meeting in New Hampshire. The group included Franklin Graham, the late Jerry Falwell and Gary Bauer. After these leaders got back home they received a chair from the Romneys with a plaque on the back that read, “You will always have a seat at my table.” Evangelicals are hoping that Romney chooses a vice-presidential candidate to their liking and that he’ll give a Rick Santorum–like stump speech supporting their understanding of family values (interview with David Brody on PBS Newshour about his book The Teavangelicals: The Inside Story of How the Evangelicals and the Tea Party Are Taking Back America, Zondervan).

Getting his goat

A new missionary on an Indian reservation saw an elder standing in his yard with a goat in his arms. Occasionally the goat would stretch its neck and take a bite of the bushes in the yard. When the missionary asked what the man was doing, he replied, “I’m trimming the hedges.” Incredulously, the missionary said, “Don’t you know that could take all day?” The man said, “What’s time to the goat?” (Randy S. Woodley, Shalom and the Community of Creation, Eerdmans).

Lay leader

Philanthropist Melinda Gates has declared that she wants to devote the rest of her life to making contraception more accessible globally. Her efforts put her in direct opposition to the Vatican. Gates, a Catholic, says that since her declaration she’s gotten a multitude of supportive responses from Catholic women, including nuns. She argues that women in Africa and Asia need to make decisions on their own about contraception. She points out that 82 percent of American Catholics believe that contraception is acceptable—and that African and Asian women will likely follow them (Sydney Morning Herald, July 13).