Century Marks

Century Marks

Zealotry?

Dale Martin, professor of religion at Yale, argues that Jesus wasn’t the pacifist he is often made out to be. In fact, he may have been killed because his followers were carrying weapons. Some historical documents show that it was illegal to walk around with weapons in Rome and some other Roman cities, although no known documents proscribe weapons in Jerusalem. Martin thinks Jesus and his disciples may have been expecting an apocalyptic showdown with the Roman Empire and were committed to using weapons to help usher in God’s reign (Newsweek, September 18).

Without a prayer

Nearly half of Americans claim they pray every day and about a third say they pray several times a day, according to research by LifeWay. Of those who pray, 82 percent pray for family and friends. Despite the fact that the New Testament admonishes believers to pray for those in authority, only about 12 percent of Americans who pray say they pray for government leaders. About 40 percent say they pray for their enemies or those who have mis­treated them, as instructed by Jesus (RNS).

Cover up

A British team surveyed 600 Muslim women living in Britain to see how they felt about their own bodies. The women who wear the hijab (head covering) at least part of the time had on average more positive body images than those who never wear one. The hijab wearers were less inclined to want to be thin, and they were less influenced by media standards of female beauty. The lead researcher cautioned against applying their findings to Muslim women who live in countries where the wearing of the hijab is mandatory. The study did not prove that the hijab was the source of a better body image (NPR, September 15).

Urban megachurch

The influential Australian-based megachurch Hillsong made it to the front page of the New York Times on September 9. Hillsong, founded 30 years ago, has churches in many major cities around the world, including New York and Los Angeles. Young people are especially drawn to the church, known for its original folk-rock music which incorporates catchy tunes and accessible lyrics. By some estimates, Hillsong has 100,000 people in its pews at their various locations each Sunday, including multiple campuses in Australia. The Pentecostal-leaning church has drawn fire from both the right and the left—the right for what is deemed a thin theology, the left for its strong stand against abortion and the inclusion of gays.

Hospice church

Citrus County, north of Tampa, Florida, is part of what is called the “gray belt,” an area of eight counties with one of the oldest populations in the country. This area foreshadows the future of the country as a whole. In 15 years, one in four residents in Citrus County will be 65 or older. In the not-too-distant future, one in five Americans will be over 65. The First Presbyterian Church in the area is sometimes referred to as a hospice church. The church has a difficult time making the changes that would attract younger families, yet the older members are dying off or moving north to be near family (AP).