Century Marks

Century Marks

Time-out

Flora Slosson Wuellner witnessed a congregational business meeting in which deliberations would cease after every half hour and the congregation would sit in silence for five minutes, attending to the Spirit’s promptings. People would take turns holding a stopwatch. After the silent periods, “the tone of the talk and planning changes, attitudes changed, disagreements were handled differently, fresh options were envisioned,” Slosson Wuellner says (Weavings, May).

Hot air

Baseball commentator Tim McCarver has been ridiculed for suggesting that global warming is to blame for an increase in the number of home runs hit in the major leagues. To a point he’s correct. Balls carry better in warm, humid air. The increase in global temperature does track with an increase in home runs. However, other factors are involved, including changes in athletic ability, batting and ball technology and pitching styles. One physicist argued that a two-degree rise in temperature could lead to a 1.75 percent increase in home-run odds. A climatologist argued that an increase in carbon emissions makes the atmosphere heavier, which should result in fewer home runs (Washington Post blog, April 30).

Real spirituality

The Vietnam War underscored for Ismael García the colonial status of Puerto Rico. An inordinate number of Puerto Ricans were drafted to fight that war, even though they couldn’t engage in electing the people who were responsible for it. García was also disappointed in the church at the time, because he thought it ignored social and political realities on the island and focused instead on whether it was appropriate for women to wear slacks and how long men’s hair should be. In time García, who became a Christian ethicist, discovered Christians who modeled a life of social activism and inner spiritual devotion. He identified three traits of these Christians: they view God as sovereign in all spheres of life; they are committed to projects and concerns larger than their own personal interests; and they know that faithful living entails social analysis and cultural interpretation (“On Spirituality,” in A Spiritual Life, edited by Allan Hugh Cole Jr., West­min­ster John Knox).

Sing out

People still sing together in churches and ballparks, but what is absent in America, say Karen Loew, is “community-oriented, community-building, sometimes spontaneous” singing. One obstacle is the lack of a common repertoire of songs. “Since we’re out of practice as a society, the person who dares to begin a song risks having no one join her.” Protest movements have long been known by their music. While the Occupy movement has incorporated some music, it has not generated original music (Atlantic, March).

Preemptive strike

When 60 Minutes was working on a story about the exodus of Christians from the Holy Land, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren called Jeff Fager, head of CBS News and executive producer of 60 Minutes. The ambassador said he had heard that the program would be a hatchet job. Later, Bob Simon, the reporter on this story, told Oren that he has gotten all kinds of reactions to stories he’s done, but never before has he gotten a reaction to a story before it was broadcast. “Well, there’s a first time for everything, Bob,” the ambassador responded. The ambassador was concerned that the story about Christians leaving the Holy Land would have a negative effect on tourism, a multibillion-dollar business in Israel and the West Bank. He wanted the Christian exodus blamed on Muslim extremists rather than Israeli policies (60 Minutes, April 22).