Century Marks

Century Marks

Hope for the Gulf

The Gulf of Mexico region is awash in 4.9 million barrels of oil and thousands of gallons of chemical dispersants. Despite that, Van Jones, who has served as a green jobs adviser in the Obama White House, believes that the gulf and its shoreline can be restored. Natural methods should be used for absorbing the oil, including use of fungi that can absorb oil and chemicals. Green jobs utilizing renewable energy sources should be brought to the region. The mental health of people in the region must also be addressed: 30 percent of the people, including children, are suffering mild to severe psychological distress (Huffington Post, September 8).

Stratospheric pay

Corporate executives are feathering their own nests at the expense of their employees, according to a study by the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies. Bosses at the 50 American companies that laid off the most people during the recession earned 42 percent more than their peers, they concluded. The worst case was Schering-Plough's Fred Hassan, who was paid $49.7 million, including a golden parachute payout of $33 million that he received when the drug company merged with Merck—a move that led to the loss of 16,000 jobs. The average leader of a Standard and Poor's 500 company earns 263 times more than the typical American worker (Guardian, September 1).

Conversation over

"He lives! He reigns! End of discussion!" (First Church of the Nazarene sign posted at CNN Belief Blog).

A matter of means

An anti-homosexuality bill being considered by the Ugandan parliament, which calls for penalties against gays as severe as life imprisonment or even death, has American backers in high places, claims Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family. David Bahati, the legislator who introduced the bill, refuses to name his American supporters. It is known that Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, former U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft and Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, are on friendly terms with Bahati and the Ugandan Fellowship, an evangelical group within the Ugandan parliament. Sharlet says Inhofe and Warren Love voiced only muted opposition to the Ugandan bill and that they share its goal of eradicating homosexuality. (Harper's, September).

Religious shifts

There can be no peace in the world, especially the Middle East, without peace between the world's religions, starting with Judaism, Christianity and Islam, argues theologian Hans Küng. He thinks dialogue between the religions must include an awareness that no religion is static or monolithic. Küng outlines paradigm shifts each Abrahamic religion has undergone but points out that old religious paradigms can live alongside new ones—which is a source of internal conflict for religions. Particularly important is how each religion reacts to its own "middle age" and to modernity. Islam has not had a reformation in response to modernity, yet most Muslims reject forced marriages, oppression of women and honor killings. "They suffer from the constant sweeping condemnations of 'Muslims' and 'Islam,' without differentiation," says Küng (Theology, September-October).