Century Marks

Century Marks

In other news . . .

The church needs to focus more on art and less on religion, says Jane Shaw, an Anglican priest and new dean for religious life at Stanford University. “I think people are always slightly surprised that I’m not very churchy as a person,” she admits (campusreform.org, December 22). . . .
The pastor of the Living Water Church in Osceola County, Florida, met with a church maintenance worker to fire him. The employee pulled out a gun and shot at the pastor. The pastor had come prepared: he pulled out a gun, shot, and severely wounded his assailant, who is being treated in a hospital (Christianity Today, December 31).

Yankee decline

Between 1990 and 2013 the proportion of Americans who identify themselves as Christians de­clined the most in the Northeast. Nation­ally the percentage went from 86 to 71 percent; in the Northeast it went from 84 to 64 percent; in the West, from 80 to 71 percent. Mark Silk, religion professor at Trinity College, said the steeper decline in the Northeast may be due to the number of Catholic dropouts (RNS).

Untapped resources

If the nations of the world are to keep their pledge to combat climate change, vast amounts of fossil fuel—oil, coal, and even natural gas—must be left in the ground and sea, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. Over 90 percent of U.S. and Australian coal and almost all Canadian tar sands must remain unused, and none of the oil or gas in the Arctic can be used—if the global temperature rise is to be less than two degrees centigrade, as nations have agreed. In the modeling done by this study, the Middle East must keep underground an amount equivalent to Saudi Arabia’s entire reserves (Guardian, January 7).

Testable claims

Jeff Hardin, zoologist at the University of Wisconsin, speaks for a growing group of Chris­tians who call themselves evolutionary creationists. He believes that God authored the emergence of life and humankind; evolution explains how it happened. Scientists have to follow the rules of science, he says. Science can’t accept any supernatural claims, since supernatural causes aren’t repeatable. Hardin also rejects intelligent design because it makes no testable predictions. He also believes that scientists need to be humble about what science can and cannot prove (Slate, December 24).

Churches for sale

From Britain to Denmark, Europe has hundreds of empty churches. The closing of a church is painful—especially in villages where the church for centuries served as a community anchor, even for unbelievers. Efforts are often made to adapt the buildings for a community service, such as a library. Because they are very expensive to maintain, empty churches are more frequently turned into some kind of commercial endeavor. The Church of St. Joseph in Arnhem, Netherlands, still owned by the Catholic Church, has been turned into a skate park. The Nether­lands has the largest number of idle church buildings. Roman Catholic leaders in Holland estimate that within a decade two-thirds of their 1,600 churches will be closed, and 700 of the country’s Protes­tant churches will likely close over the next four years (Wall Street Journal, January 2).