Century Marks

Century Marks

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).


The Al Roustom family, Syrian refugees, were at first bombarded by the press when they resettled in Jersey City. Requests were initially made through Church World Service, their resettlement agency. Eventually reporters staked out their apartment, awakened them when they were sleeping, and followed them around town. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, a satirical TV show, did a segment on the family in their apartment. The Al Roustoms were an ideal family to profile, with a soft-spoken father, a witty mother, and two adorable kids. Many reporters were simply after a feel-good story and didn’t bother to place the family’s story in the context of the civil war in Syria or the politically contentious issue of resettling immigrants in the United States (Columbia Journalism Review, March 21).

Death penalty moratorium

Mario Marazziti is a member of Italy’s lower house of parliament, but most of his time is spent working globally to end the death penalty. Marazziti, a Catholic and a founder of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, encouraged Pope Francis to call for a moratorium on the death penalty, which he did in February. “On the global scene, no one has worked harder with me to abolish the death penalty than this man,” said Sister Helen Prejean, author of the book Dead Man Walking. Marazziti influenced two American governors to end the death penalty, Bill Richardson in New Mexico and Pat Quinn in Illinois. He worked with an Italian company to take a drug used for lethal injections off the market. A hundred and five countries no longer have the death penalty, and another 60 have not used it in a decade (New Yorker, March 18).

Christ’s protest

During the Nazi regime, when many German Protestants were pro-Hitler, one offbeat newspaper dared to print an imagined worship ser­vice of the future. It imagined a minister who stood before his congregation and said that anyone who is not 100 percent Aryan should leave the church at once. Not a soul moved. He said it another time, and there was no action. When he said it a third time, Christ climbed down from the cross in the church and walked out the door (Los Angeles Times, March 21).