Century Marks

Century Marks

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Amazon says that the most highlighted Bible passage on Amazon’s Kindle e-reader is Philippians 4:6–7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Atlantic, November 2).

Hot Seat

No one can question Reu­ven (Ruvi) Rivlin’s commitment to Zion­ism. He opposes a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians; and he sees nothing wrong with continued Jewish settlement of the West Bank, since he thinks the land belongs to Israel anyway. Now that he’s become president of Israel, a largely ceremonial post chosen by the Knesset, he is outspoken in his criticism of racism and jingoism in Israeli politics and in support of Palestinian rights. He even visited an Arab village to apologize for a massacre of 48 Palestinians in 1956 and made an antibullying video with a Palestinian boy who had been bullied. Rivlin himself has been vilified and called a “lying little Jew.” Photo­shopped pictures of him wearing a red kaffiyeh, the Palestinian head scarf, are circulating on the Internet (New Yorker, November 17).

Extreme measures

Larry Ellison, one of the wealthiest Americans, is spending millions of dollars on research to prolong life. “Death makes me very angry. It doesn’t make any sense,” Ellison ex­plained. Mortician Caitlin Doughty says it shouldn’t surprise us that almost all the people who want to use extreme measures to stay alive are rich, white males, “men who have lived lives of systematic privilege and believe that privilege should extend indefinitely” (Vox, October 30).

Keeping the faith

Parents are the largest factor in whether youth remain religiously active as young adults, according to the National Study of Youth and Religion. When parents talked about faith at home, were active in their congregations, and attached great significance to their faith, 82 percent of their children were highly religious in their mid to late twenties. Two-thirds of young adults raised by black Protestant parents and one half of those with conservative Protestant parents had high or moderate levels of religious commitment as young adults. Seventy percent of young adults raised by mainline Protestants showed minimal or lower levels of religious commitment (Huffington Post, October 29).

Attention deficit

Our culture has an attention deficit disorder. Mark Ed­mun­dson, a University of Virginia professor, says that we’re losing the ability to be­come absorbed, to lose ourselves in something we love doing. “When that happens, time stops and one lives in an ongoing present.” Absorption in something like the arts can benefit others as well as oneself, while paying attention on the job or in school seems like a task that leads quickly to boredom (Hedge­hog Review, Summer).