Century Marks

Century Marks

Location, location

The purchase of a $3.6 million condo in Beacon Hill to house the rector of Boston’s Trinity Church has caused consternation among some members of this landmark Episcopal congregation. Some members claim that it reinforces the congregation’s reputation as a place for the elite. Others say it is a betrayal of the congregation’s commitment to the poor in the city. Congregational leaders say a place was needed for the rector within walking distance of the church and that nothing reasonable can be purchased in the neighborhood. The purchase of the condo, which used funds from Trinity’s $30 million endowment, didn’t affect the operating budget of the church or its substantial ministries to the poor and homeless (Boston Globe, February 14).

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).

Blame the victims?

Sexual assault isn’t unique to Patrick Henry College, an evangelical school known for grooming graduates to work in conservative organizations or for the FBI, the CIA, and the National Security Agency. It is one of four colleges in the country that don’t accept any federal funding, which frees them from government regulations about reporting campus crimes and disciplining students for sexual assault. Several women who were sexually assaulted at Patrick Henry claim the college didn’t take their stories seriously, blamed them for the incidents, and let the men off easy. Patrick Henry denies the allegations and claims it has disciplinary procedures in place for such cases (New Republic, February 17).


Jamie Coots was a Kentucky preacher who took Jesus literally when he said that he gave his disciples the power to tread on snakes and scorpions and that nothing would hurt them (Luke 10:19). Coots’s son Cody thinks his father was bitten about eight times. He would always refuse treatment or hospitalization, go home in pain, pray, and eventually pull through. But last month Coots was bitten by a rattlesnake in a church service and died. Coots was an outspoken critic of a Kentucky law that forbids handling snakes in church services. The local police chief thinks the law violates free speech rights, so he won’t enforce it unless other people are endangered (Los Angeles Times, February 16).