Century Marks

Century Marks

Work and pray

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).

Hindu nation

Mohan Bhagwat, the head of India’s most powerful Hindu group, has vowed to move ahead with a campaign to convert Muslims and Christians to Hinduism. Claiming that India is a Hindu country, he says that non-Hindus left Hinduism through coercive measures, and he wants to bring them back to the fold. Bhagwat’s right-wing party is the ideological wing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party. Modi has not made an official statement on the conversion campaign, although he has privately warned party officials against it (Reuters).

Model city

Dr. Mubarak Awad, a Palestinian psychologist who teaches at American University in Washington, D.C., says that the city of Haifa, Israel, is pointing the way for constructive Israeli-Palestinian relations. Haifa has both Palestinian and Israeli policemen, judges, and schools. Meir Amor, an Israeli-Moroccan sociologist who teaches at Concordia University in Montreal, agrees. Amor taught at Haifa University for two years, where half of his students were Palestinians. He says students from both sides learned to be sensitive to others and to think positively about how to live together (Peace Magazine, January).

Chew and pray

The nuns at the Abbey of St. Walburga in northern Colorado have been raising and selling grass-fed beef for about seven years. They always have a waiting list for the organic beef. One sister sees a relationship between cattle and their life of prayer. “Praying with the scriptures is like chewing your cud,” she says. “So all through the day, we’re ruminating on it. We chew, chew, chew, swallow, regurgitate. So it’s not just ‘the Lord is my shepherd,’ it’s ‘the Lord is my cowboy’” (NPR, December 22).

Death threats

Jackie Carter, pastor of the First Metropolitan Com­munity Church in Wichita, Kansas, says she has received death threats in response to gay weddings she has performed. The church has been vandalized too. Threats have accelerated since the state’s ban on gay marriage was struck down by a federal judge in November. The church has hired a security company and is hoping to install cameras on the exterior. Carter says, “I’m not going to change my message of inclusion, I’m not going to change my message of love, and I’m not going to stop marrying [gay] people” (KSN.com, December 5).