Century Marks

Century Marks

Bulldozer verdict

In 2003 Rachel Corrie, a young American activist, was run over by an Israeli military bulldozer while she was protesting the demolition of Palestinian houses. An Israeli judge ruled last month that Israel bore no responsibility in Corrie’s death; she put herself in danger and could have distanced herself from it, the judge said. Bill Van Esveld of Human Rights Watch responded: “The idea that there can be no fault for killing civilians in a combat operation contradicts Israel’s international legal obligations to spare civilians from harm during armed conflict and to credibly investigate and punish violations by its force.” The Corrie family plans to appeal the verdict to the Israeli Supreme Court (New York Times, August 29).

The nonevent

Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, has said he’s canceling a presidential forum with President Obama and Mitt Romney because he doesn’t think they can have a civil conversation. It appears that neither candidate had agreed to participate and that such an event was never scheduled. Warren held a forum with both candidates in the 2008 campaign (TNR.com, August 23).

Election night worship

A grassroots movement is encouraging churches to do something together on election night to signify and embody their oneness in Christ: gather at church to hold communion around the Lord’s Table. Called Election Day Communion, this effort aims to build unity in Christ in spite of theological, political and denominational differences (electiondaycommunion.org).

Commandments 2.0

Adam Copeland has reframed the Ten Com­mandments to speak to the moral challenges of technology we use in our everyday life. The first commandment is: “You shall have no other gods, so don’t treat your cell phone like one.” The third is: “Honor the Sabbath day; give the gadgets a rest.” The fifth states: “You shall not kill, so of course you shall use the Internet for peace.” The seventh: “Steal neither goods nor time from yourself and others.” Technology is a gift, says Copeland, but a problematic and challenging one. Some families have a designated technology basket where cell phones and music players are placed during meals and other family times so as not to be distracted by them (Word & World, Summer).

SK and FDR

The late Howard A. Johnson, an Episcopal priest, theologian and Kierkegaard scholar, was invited to the White House near the end of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s life. Roosevelt picked his brain about Kierkegaard, since he had been told that Kierkegaard’s later writings helped to explain the rise of totalitarianism and Nazism. Frances Perkins, Roosevelt’s biographer, said that the hour-long conversation made an impression on Roosevelt, as he spoke of it often afterward. “I have never been able to make out why people who are obviously human beings could behave like that,” Roosevelt said, speaking of the Nazis. “They are human, yet they behave like demons. Kierkegaard gives you an understanding of what it is in man that makes possible for these Germans to be so evil” (Anglican Theological Review, Winter).