Death to the death penalty: Polls show that support for the death penalty among lay Catholics is declining. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, D.C., acknowledges that theology doesn’t seem to be driving this trend. Rather, it is more the consequence of the number of cases in which convicted inmates have been proved innocent after DNA testing (USA Today, November 8).
Bryan Rehm sued the Dover, Pennsylvania, school district over its requirement that intelligent design be taught as an alternative to evolution in the ninth-grade biology class. Rehm says he's been accused of atheism. “They don’t know that I’m the co-director of the children’s choir at church, or that I run the music at the second service, or that my wife and I run vacation Bible school,” he said. He maintains that intelligent design is not credible science, and that evolution does not explain away the existence of a divine Creator (beliefnet.com).
Leap of imagination: Christopher Herbert, the Anglican bishop of St. Alban’s, is troubled by strident Christian voices. “There is a noisy, almost angry, literalism around desires to define and codify who is, or who is not, a ‘real Christian,’ and what seems to accompany this is a plodding, narrow biblicism which is punitive in tone and joyless in character.” Apprehending the beauty and truth of God, which involves paradox and apparent contradiction, takes faith, but also playfulness and imagination (Anglican Theological Review, summer).
Lion and lamb: Pope Benedict XVI and liberal Catholic Hans Küng met in 1962 when they were both young and progressive. Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, took a turn to the right and may have played a role when Küng was later stripped of his privilege to teach on the grounds that his theology was incompatible with Catholic doctrine. Küng called Ratzinger a “grand inquisitor.” But after a recent four-hour meeting, Küng said the pope isn’t as reactionary as many assume, and needs to be given time. The two discussed the notion that science and religion are not incompatible, and the role of the church in a secular world (New York Times, September 27).
Rising tides: Environmentalist (and Century editor at large) Bill McKibben reports that according to one prediction up to 150 million people worldwide could become “environmental refugees” by the year 2050 because of rising waters. There is evidence “that tropical storms are lasting half again as long, and spinning winds 50 percent more powerful, than just a few decades ago. The only plausible cause: the ever-warmer tropical seas on which these storms thrive” (Newsday, Sept. 14).
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