Century Marks

Century Marks

Radical elements

Pete Simi, coauthor of American Swastika, says there is no uniform profile of persons who join extremist groups. But many of them have experienced some kind of family disruption. They also tend to have difficulty with ambiguity and are susceptible to conspiracy theories. It’s a myth to think they come mainly from the lower classes. Some were violent before joining such groups, others become violent only after joining. For most of these groups, violence is in their talk rather than their actions (Southern Poverty Law Center, Intelligence Report, Spring).

Grace and suffering

Jim Kelly has to be the Job of the National Football League. As an NFL quarterback he took the Buffalo Bills to the Super Bowl four years in a row—and lost each time. A son born with Krabbe disease died before his ninth birthday. Kelly barely survived a plane crash in Alaska. He contracted cancer and has had his upper left jaw removed and all but two of his teeth. He has so much pain he can’t sleep at night without medication. Yet his wife says he never complains and indulged in self-pity only once. Kelly, 54, says, “I’ve been blessed. I wouldn’t change a thing” (ESPN.com, March 4).

Contextual evangelism

Some Baptists in Kentucky have been reaching out to unchurched men through “Second Amendment Celebrations” at which guns provided by local dealers are given out as door prizes. Sponsors of these events call it “affinity evangelism,” a means of drawing people to church through common interests and hobbies. They justify this approach by saying that this is the only way to attract some unchurched people, many of whom make a confession of faith at these events. Other churches and pastors have publicly criticized the events. One Kentucky pastor said the practice verges on bribery and makes a mockery of evangelism (Louisville Courier-Journal, March 3).

Alone and lonely

A study of people age 50 and older in the United Kingdom found that those who were lonely had a 14 percent greater risk of dying during the six-year study. Feelings of isolation can have twice the impact on health as does obesity on aging people. Previous studies have shown that loneliness in older people can lead to high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, depression, heart attack, and stroke. Retirees should think twice before picking up stakes and moving to a new area for retirement if that means giving up a social support system. People need to feel valued and be involved in life. The research indicated, however, that some people actually prefer solitude (Guardian, February 16).

One God

The Central African Republic is being torn apart by strife between Muslims and Christians. A Catholic church in one small town has taken in about 650 Muslims who are seeking sanctuary from Christian marauders. Father Xavier Fagba, the priest at the church, knows that some Muslims hiding in his church attacked Christian families in the past year. The priest is determined to keep providing sanctuary because “the Muslims discovered in our church that the God we worship is the same as their God. And that’s the vision the whole of this country needs to have,” the priest said (BBC, February 13).