Century Marks

Century Marks

First you serve, then believe

A university student who thought he was losing his faith paid a visit to Catholic theologian Karl Rahner and asked what books he might read to recover it. Rahner advised the student not to read books but to "go and serve the poor in Munich and your faith will be rekindled." Lawrence S. Cunningham says he offers similar advice to students wrestling with doubt: volunteer at a homeless shelter or a Catholic Worker house. There you will encounter other committed folks who serve and pray, and there you will find the true church (Things Seen and Unseen, Sorin Books).

Healing arts

Roman Catholic and other church-run health-care systems in the U.S. are more efficient and provide higher quality care than their secular counterparts, according to a Thomson Reuters study. The study examined mortality rates, medical complications, readmission rates, lengths of stay, profitability and other factors (ENI).

Up from the ashes

The Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Springfield, Massachusetts, was razed by arsonists hours after President Obama's election as the nation's first black president. Two defendants have pleaded guilty to arson in federal court and are awaiting sentencing. A third defendant will be tried this fall. They admitted harboring hatred for blacks and Hispanics and said they set fire to the church to denounce Obama's election. Christian and Jewish volunteers from as far away as California helped rebuild the facility. Commenting on the volunteers, Bishop Bryant Robinson Jr., leader of the predominantly black Macedonia church, said a small miracle was born from the ashes (RNS).


Julia Roberts, lead actress in Eat Pray Love—the movie about writer Elizabeth Gilbert's travels in search of her self—was born in Georgia to a Catholic mother and a Baptist father. As an adult she converted to Hinduism, partly as a result of trips to India. Roberts is particularly drawn to the Hindu concept of reincarnation, and she thinks she's been able to recall a previous life as a peasant revolutionary. She hopes that in her next life she can lead a quiet existence, avoiding fame and celebrity (The Week, August 27).

Gambling for the environment

Native Americans once had their land taken from them. Now native peoples are setting an example for how the environment can be restored. In northern California, a consortium is working to protect and restore 3,900 acres of the Sinkyone wilderness along the coast where old-growth redwoods remain. Old logging roads are being removed and a stream is being restored in the hope that salmon runs will resume. Other tribes have started similar projects in Montana, Oregon, New Mexico and in a section of the Everglades in Florida. The projects are often funded by casinos and other tribal enterprises (National Geographic, August).