God for a change: The Shona people of Zimbabwe have many names for God. Janice McLaughlin's favorite is Chipindikure, which means "the One who turns things upside down." It comes from the word kupinduka, which means "to be uprooted." Says McLaughlin, a longtime Maryknoll missionary: "What an amazing concept to explain God's presence in the often unwanted and unplanned changes that happen to us throughout our lives" (Ostriches, Dung Beetles, and Other Spiritual Masters, Orbis).
Pill popping: Sales of the antidepressant drug Cymbalta are up 14 percent since the summer of 2008. Unfortunately, some of the people who might benefit the most from the drug aren't getting it. A study of homeowners in Philadelphia on the brink of foreclosure revealed that 37 percent suffered from severe clinical depression, yet nearly half said they were too poor to buy prescription drugs (Toronto Star, September 2).
Pain too shall pass: The great French painter August Renoir suffered from painful arthritis in his later years, and had to strap a brush to his paralyzed fingers to do his creating. When friends suggested he give up painting, Renoir responded, “Pain passes but beauty remains forever” (Paul Coutinho, S.J., in Just As You Are).
Books to change lives: Hakim Hopkins was in juvenile detention when his mother sent him a copy of the classic Native Son, by Richard Wright. Reading the book changed Hopkins’s life and gave him a vocation: he runs an independent bookstore in inner-city Philadelphia with the name Black & Nobel (playing off the names of both Barnes & Noble and the Nobel Prize). A banner outside his store advertises, “We ship to prisons.” One customer who purchases books for her father in prison reported that he reads the books she sends him real fast—though he wasn’t a reader when he was out on the street.
Racial profiling: When President Obama was in the Illinois Senate, he worked on a racial profiling bill that led to state traffic studies on who gets pulled over by police. The latest study reveals a consistent pattern: 24.7 percent of white drivers who consent to a search of their vehicle have contraband, while only 15.4 percent of minority drivers do. Yet minority drivers were twice as likely to be asked to consent to a search of their vehicle (Chicago Tribune, July 26).