Century Marks

Century Marks

Poverty myths

The number of households with children living on less than $2 a day per person has increased 160 percent since 1996. Single moms, absentee dads, and black dads are not the problem. Only 9 percent of low-income urban mothers have been single through the first five years of their child’s life. Sixty percent of low-income dads see at least one of their children once a day. Black men who don’t live in the same household as their children are more likely than Hispanic or white fathers to have a daily presence in the children’s lives (Mother Jones, March/April).

Higher calling

The number of women in England and Wales choosing to become nuns is on the rise, reaching a 25-year high. Many of these women are under 30. The increase is occurring in both active and cloistered orders. One novice explained her choice: “If our society is obsessed with money, sex, and power and the games people play with them, then vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience represent a profound freedom. . . . It’s not a fleeing from the world—it’s a finding your place in it” (BBC, May 18).


The Churches Conserva­tion Trust of the Church of England looks after 347 churches that are no longer being used for worship. Several of them are being repurposed for camping. The buildings are still consecrated, but campers who rent the facilities have no restrictions on what can be done in the sanctuaries. St. Mary the Virgin in the town of Fordwich, Kent, dates from Norman times, with 14th-century stained glass windows, 17th-century paintings, and 18th-century wooden pews (Guardian, May 29).

Water quiz

Which consumes more water: taking a ten-minute shower, growing ten almonds, producing a quarter-pound hamburger, or washing a load of clothes? It’s the hamburger, by a wide margin. While a washing machine load takes about 35 gallons, producing the hamburger takes 450 gallons. The conversion of protein from plants to animals is very inefficient. It takes 880 gallons of water to produce a gallon of milk (New York Times, May 30).

Call her rabbi

Sandra Lawson, a personal trainer, wasn’t religious about anything, except maybe fitness. After she converted to Judaism, she certainly didn’t aspire to be one of the first—if not the first—black, openly lesbian rabbis. If all goes according to plan, she will celebrate her ordination in 2018. Lawson is finishing her fourth year at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, near Philadelphia. She plans to marry her girlfriend and spend the fall semester in Israel (RNS).