Century Marks

Century Marks


Marilyn Chandler McEntyre agrees with Kenneth Burke's observation that literature is "equipment for living." McEntyre, a literature professor, calls herself a gleaner, a collector of phrases and sentences from literature that have helped her to gain perspective, direction, healing or to laugh, reclaim her deepest desires and remember her deepest purposes. The skill of good reading, she says, is not just to notice what one is reading but also to allow one's self to be addressed by it, "to take it personally," she says. Even with secular texts the Holy Spirit can "enable us to receive whatever gift is there for our growth and our use" (Books & Culture, March/April).

Study war no more

Michael Izbicki grew up in a nondenominational church in California. A National Merit Scholarship finalist, he chose to go to the U.S. Naval Academy out of a sense of duty to his country during a time of war. At the naval academy he began to doubt whether the career to which he had committed himself could be squared with the tenets of just war doctrine. He got in trouble when he responded no to this exam question: "If given the order, would you launch a missile carrying a nuclear warhead?" After a four-year legal battle, the navy discharged him as a conscientious objector. Izbicki may have to reimburse the service for part or all of his education (New York Times, February 22).

Heard this before?

Walter Russell Mead likens the Tea Party movement to Jacksonian populism, a recurrent theme in American politics. This kind of populism is skeptical of the elites and of elite institutions, especially during times of economic stress. While the Tea Party itself may splinter and fade, the impulses behind it will remain, says Mead. There is no consensus within the Tea Party, especially on foreign affairs. The Sarah Palin faction wants a strong response to terrorism in the Middle East and is an ardent supporter of the state of Israel. The Ron Paul branch tends to be isolationist and wants to keeps its distance from Israel. The Tea Party is also divided over free trade—the agrarians favor it, those from manufacturing regions oppose it (Foreign Affairs, March/April).

Prayer list

A former military chaplain has set up a website (arfg.org) encouraging people to "adopt a terrorist for prayer." The site lists 165 terrorists, including Osama bin Laden, who can be prayed for. The list of terrorists comes mostly from the FBI and the State Department (CNN.org).

Shady business

A 2006 study of trees in New York City concluded that trees saved the city roughly $28 million annually, or about $47.63 per tree in energy savings. Each tree also removed about 1.73 pounds of air pollutants, saving the city more than $5 million, and trees reduced the amount of stormwater runoff by nearly 900 million gallons each year, for a saving of an additional $35.6 million. Trees add to property values and reduce stress. Hospital patients who could watch a tree out their window were discharged a day earlier than others, and shopping areas with trees had more customers than those that didn't (Wilson Quarterly, Winter).