Century Marks

Century Marks

Fair housing

A Grand Rapids nursing student may be in trouble for posting a note on her church's bulletin board that said "I am looking for a Christian roommate." Someone filed an anonymous complaint to the local Fair Housing Center, which turned the case over to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. The Fair Housing Act does prohibit advertisements for housing that state a preference of religion, race or handicap. If the student is found to have committed a civil rights violation, she could be subject to fines and required to take training to keep it from happening again (Mlive.com, October 22).

Sermon starter

A group of seminarians, a seminary professor and a pastor have issued a call to preachers to address the atrocities that have occurred in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars—especially in light of reports by WikiLeaks about deaths of civilians in Iraq, some through torture. The preaching effort is labeled the Proper 29 Project, which refers to the liturgical designation for the Reign of Christ Sunday, the culmination of the liturgical year (on November 21 this year). The organizers suggest that we are all complicit in the civilian deaths that have occurred in violation of the jus in bello criteria of the just war tradition (proper29.wordpress.com).

Church mice, church cat

The newest employee at Washington National Cathedral is Carmina, a friendly feline with black and tortoise-shell fur. "She likes to bring gifts from her adventures," said Jean Jawdat, deputy director of the Cathedral Choral Society. "She presents us with mice." Carmina, who's named after Carl Orff's opera Carmina Burana, replaces Catherine of Tarragon, who retired to a home in North Carolina at age 16 with a bad case of asthma (RNS).

Anonymous Catholic

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano recently published an article lauding The Simpsons television show. Noting the show's recurrent attention to faith, religion and God, the article concludes that "few people know it, and he does everything he can to hide it, but it is true: Homer J. Simpson is a Catholic" (Telegraph, October 17).

Agreeable paradox

Although wine has been produced in the Champagne region of France since Roman times, it wasn't until the end of the 17th century that the drink known as champagne was created. It was the brainchild of Dom Pierre Pérignon, a teetotaling Benedictine monk. Although he didn't imbibe himself, he was fanatical about producing the best wine, seeing his work as an expression of his devotion to God. By severely pruning and sparingly fertilizing the vines, he developed a grape that yielded less juice but produced a highly concentrated wine. One wine expert, reflecting on the irony of a teetotaler producing champagne, refers to it as "an agreeable paradox" (David Robinson, Ancient Paths: Discover Christian Formation the Benedictine Way, Paraclete).