Century Marks

Century Marks

Hottest month

July was the hottest month ever recorded globally, with both land and sea averages factored in. The average global temperature was 1.46 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average. It surpassed the previous record set in 1998 by 0.14 degrees F. The year-to-date average temperature of land surface alone for 2015 was 2.41 degrees above the 20th-century average (ScienceDaily, August 20).

Last wish

When Jimmy Carter announced that his cancer had gone to his brain, he stated one unselfish wish—that he would live to see the day the Guinea worm is eradicated. The very painful parasite was once a common malady in remote parts of Africa. Before the Carter Center began to work on this disease, there were 3.5 million cases annually; so far this year there have been only 11 (Washington Post, August 21).

Sacrificial life

A Yazidi teenage girl who escaped from ISIS has shed light on what life was like for American hostage Kayla Mueller, who was killed under suspicious circumstances. Mueller tried to shield four Yazidi girls who were also held captive and abused by the leader of ISIS. When the Yazidi girls had an opportunity to escape, Mueller refused to go with them because she was concerned that her Western appearance would jeopardize the others. In a letter given to French captives in 2014 but only revealed after her death, Mueller said she had “formed a bond of love and support” for the other hostages. “I am not breaking down and I will not give in no matter how long it takes” (CSMonitor.com, August 15).

Outdoor church

The Pacific Northwest has some of the finest natural beauty in the country. It is also the region with the highest number of nones, people who claim no formal connection with religion. Is there a correlation? Researchers Todd W. Ferguson and Jeffrey A. Tamburello hypothesized that natural beauty impacts religious attendance negatively. They’ve shown that regions in the country with the most natural beauty and the best weather have the lowest church attendance—as much as a 31.5 percent difference between some counties. Natural beauty doesn’t just compete with organized religion for people’s time; it also competes for their allegiance as an alternative connection with the sacred (Sociology of Religion,  Summer 2015).

The Big C and faith

Religious and spiritual beliefs can have a positive impact on cancer patients. The first of three studies indicated that cancer patients with greater levels of religion and spirituality showed better health and the ability to function better in life. A second study focused on the mental health of cancer patients and revealed that spiritual well-being correlated positively with less anxiety, stress, or depression. A third study looked at the social lives of cancer patients and concluded that those with stronger spiritual well-being and religious beliefs had a modest advantage in their social lives over those without belief (International Business Times, August 10).