Century Marks

Century Marks

See no evil

When Joe Nocera of the New York Times had a chance meeting with CEO Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Dimon asked him why the Times hates banks. Nocera responded that the Times doesn’t hate banks, the country does. Nocera pointed to evidence reported in The American Banker that the nefarious, sometimes illegal tactics used by banks in the foreclosure crisis are now being used by the banks to collect credit card debt. Many banks are outsourcing collection to law firms that harass and sue people, sometimes without clear evidence that the debts are owed. The banks wash their hands of any culpability. The Consumer Financial Pro­tection Bureau is starting to explore these collection tactics (The Week, April 13).

State of religion

Mississippi is the most religious state in the country, according to a Gallup Poll. Eight of the ten most religious states are in the South. Vermont and New Hampshire are the least religious states, and six of the 11 least religious states are in New England. Religiosity in this poll was based on whether respondents say religion is important in their lives and their frequency of church attendance. The most religious states tend to be Republican, the least religious tend to be Democratic (Huffington Post, March 27).

Time management

Researchers have documented that people who take time out to help others are more inclined to think they can get everything done than those who don’t. In one experiment, students were told they were going to be asked to help at-risk kids write essays. Some of the students were then told that there weren’t enough participants, so they could take the time off instead. The students who actually assisted on the essay writing turned out to have more confidence that they could get all their work done than those who were given unexpected leisure time. “It is not so much how much time you have,’’ says Harvard Business School’s Michael Norton, “as how you feel about what you can get done in the time that you do have’’ (Boston Globe, April 1).

Dog heaven

Megachurch pastor Rick Warren was asked in an ABC News interview whether dogs and cats go to heaven. “Absolutely yes,” Warren said. “I can’t imagine God not allowing my dog into heaven.” Cathy Lynn Grossman, religion editor for USA Today, sent a follow-up question to Warren, asking if rebellious pets are denied heaven. Grossman as­sumed that her dog would be disqualified. As a puppy he chewed up a copy of War­ren’s popular book, The Purpose-Driven Life, for which he’s never repented—as far as she knows. Warren’s response: “Dogs, which have no ability to sin nor moral conscience, do not have an ability to reject Jesus,” therefore they get a free pass to heaven (USA Today, April 9).

Baptized fraternity

Dick Allison, retired pastor of the University Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is developing spiritual friendships with men who are in prison. Some of these men have become members of his church. He baptized three of them in horse troughs in the prison. An inmate at an out-of-state prison declared: “I want to become a member of the Horse Trough Fraternity of Baptized Believers.” These prisoners find it meaningful to belong to a church, even if they can’t attend it. One confessed that the only group he had previously belonged to was a gang of skinheads (Christian Reflections, 2012).