Century Marks

Century Marks

Where is the church?

The black church led the civil rights movement but is much less visible in the Black Lives Matter movement. Black church pastors today are less likely to be in the streets, and they no longer have the authority in the black community they once had. The youth involved in the Black Lives Matter movement are less likely to be in church, even though black youth more often identify themselves as religious compared to their white, Hispanic, and Asian peers. Some young black activists reflect the anti-institutional spirit of the times, while others say they want to create economic, political, cultural, and educational structures independent of the church. Jamal Bryant, a megachurch pastor in Baltimore, said the black church is going to have to adjust to this new reality. “How do you become part of something you don’t lead?” he wondered (Atlantic, March 22).

Losses and gains

In the past six years, 168 Church of England churches have closed, along with 500 Methodist and 100 Roman Catholic churches. But for every Anglican church that has closed over the past six years, more than three Pentecostal or charismatic churches have taken their place, according to an analysis by the Times of London. These Pentecostal and charismatic churches are drawing young, black, Asian, and mixed-race people (RNS).

Waste not

Lauren Singer, who graduated with a degree in environmental studies from New York University, did the seemingly impossible: she was able to collect three years of household waste in a mere 16-ounce jar. Some of her tips: use paper, cloth, or glass products instead of plastics; make your own personal beauty products; plan menus and grocery shopping carefully. Singer gives more tips for reducing waste at her Trash Is for Tossers blog. “It is simple to say no to a plastic straw or carry a reusable bag,” she said (Huffington Post, March 25).

Textual criticism

The Green family, owners of the Hobby Lobby retail chain, has an unusually large collection of biblical artifacts, including some 40,000 biblical manuscripts, Torah scrolls, Dead Sea scrolls, and cuneiform texts. The family started its collection only six years ago. This sudden acquisition of previously unknown artifacts is raising questions among those involved in the antiquities trade, given that there is a history of illegally acquired antiquities from the Middle East. Green family representatives say that they have privacy agreements with sellers and brokers, a practice that is both legal and common. The collection will be housed in the 430,000-square-foot Museum of the Bible, which will open in Washington, D.C., in November 2017, two blocks from the National Mall (Atlantic, January-February).

It’s the economy

In December and January, the Working America organization talked with likely voters in working-class neighborhoods outside Cleveland and Pittsburgh to try to find out their concerns and better understand the appeal of Donald Trump. Their “front porch focus groups” revealed that working-class folks are more motivated by economic anxiety than by racial bigotry. They are frustrated with politics and feel powerless to change government to address their needs and concerns. Only 5 percent of these voters named immigration as their top concern. However, nearly half of those who said immigration is their top concern support Trump (Working America, January 26).