Asra Q. Nomani found it impossible to mourn the loss of her dear friend and colleague, Danny Pearl. Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was beheaded in 2002, purportedly by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. After attending his 2012 arraignment at Guantánamo for the World Trade Center attacks, Nomani asked psychologist Steven Stosny the question she had long avoided: “What is grief?” “It’s an expression of love,” he told her. “When you grieve, you allow yourself to love again.” “How do you grieve?” she asked him. “You celebrate a person’s life by living your life fully,” he replied (Washingtonian, January 23, 2014).
Jan 15, 2015
An analysis of Google Trends in 2011 and 2012 indicated that highly religious and conservative states like Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama had the greatest number of Internet searches for sexual content, both gay and straight. States like Vermont and New Hampshire, the least religious states, had the lowest number of searches for sexual content. A possible explanation for these trends is the theory that the more people repress their urges in public, the more they indulge in them privately (Discover, December 30).
Jan 15, 2015
Patients at the Maple City Health Care Center in Goshen, Indiana, have a new way to pay for medical services. They can join Martha’s Gift program, which knits blankets for babies in the community, and receive a credit against their bill. The knitting happens in a group setting in which people joke, laugh, and share their lives. The center serves low-income people and the uninsured. It has a sliding scale payment plan, but offers community service projects as another way to pay off bills. The knitting program not only makes health care more affordable but counters the isolation that often accompanies illness (Elkhart Truth, December 31).
In other news . . .
Jan 15, 2015
The church needs to focus more on art and less on religion, says Jane Shaw, an Anglican priest and new dean for religious life at Stanford University. “I think people are always slightly surprised that I’m not very churchy as a person,” she admits (campusreform.org, December 22). . . . The pastor of the Living Water Church in Osceola County, Florida, met with a church maintenance worker to fire him. The employee pulled out a gun and shot at the pastor. The pastor had come prepared: he pulled out a gun, shot, and severely wounded his assailant, who is being treated in a hospital (Christianity Today, December 31).
Work and pray
Dec 31, 2014
Glenn Hinson recalls his first visit to the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky with a group of Baptist seminarians. They heard a talk by Thomas Merton on contemplation. One student asked Merton a question along these lines: “What is a smart fellow like you doing in a place like this?” Hinson expected a stiff rebuke from Merton. Instead, Merton said: “I am here because I believe in prayer. That is my vocation.” It had never occurred to Hinson before to think of prayer as a vocation (Weavings, vol. 30, no. 1).