Century Marks

Century Marks

Case closed

The occupation of a Massachusetts Roman Catholic church to prevent its closure will end now that the Supreme Court has declined to hear the case, brought by people who have held their ground for 12 years. The occupation dates back to the early days of the clergy sexual abuse scandal when the archdiocese of Boston decided to close and sell some 70 churches to cover its legal costs. Working in shifts since 2004, a group of about 100 people have maintained a constant presence in St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church, which was built in the 1960s. Initially, it was one of more than a dozen Boston-area Catholic churches occupied by parishioners. The other groups either lost their battle in the courts or abandoned their efforts. The parishioners held a farewell celebration at the church in Scituate, about 25 miles southeast of Boston, on the last Sunday of May (Reuters).

Busy, busy

Kim Armentrout, a United Methodist Church pastor in Ohio, began a yearlong time-logging project in January. The project has revealed that she’s not as busy as she claims and has more time for interacting with her husband and daughter than she thought. “I can stop feeling guilty” about neglecting family, Armentrout said. She thought that on weeks when she had a funeral there was little time for anything else. Her log shows that a funeral involves only five hours at a funeral home or seven if the funeral is held at the church. Holy week was stressful, having put in 58 hours of church work. But the exercise taught her that she told herself “false stories” about how busy she is. Armentrout, like other professionals, tend to think of their busiest weeks as the norm (New York Times, May 13).

What Jesus taught

Develop­mental psychologist Erik Erikson, who wrote psycho-historical accounts of both Martin Luther and Mahatma Gandhi, became interested late in life in how Jesus changed the trajectory of history. Following the lead of New Testament scholar Norman Perrin, Erickson published an essay, “The Galilean Sayings,” which examined the sayings of Jesus. He reached two conclusions from his study: that humanity is one universal species, and that by responding to the teachings of Jesus one could discover an inner, numinous core that connects one to something larger than the self. Of Jew­ish background, Erikson occasionally attended church with his Episco­palian spouse but never claimed to be a believer (Theology Today, April).


Americans now donate five times as many clothes to charity than they did in 1980. The supply of donated clothing outstrips the demand: typically, only 20 percent of donated clothing is sold where it is donated. In 2014, 11 percent of clothing donated to Goodwill ended up in landfills. About 45 percent of all donated clothing is exported to foreign countries by for-profit companies. The glut of used clothing disrupts local economies in developing countries, putting textile workers out of jobs. Bre Cruickshank recommends that clothing donors invest “in timeless styles of better quality,” rather than “refreshing our wardrobe according to seasonal trends” (Not Just a Label, April 9).

Joined by the Psalms

U2 front man Bono and biblical scholar Eugene Peterson have found common ground in their love of the Psalms. Peterson didn’t know who Bono was when Bono first expressed interest in Peterson’s writings. A friendship developed, and Peterson and his wife, Jan, were eventually invited to a U2 concert in Dallas. A video was recently released by Fuller Theological Seminary featuring the two conversing about the Psalms. “The psalmist is brutally honest about the explosive joy that he’s feeling and the deep sorrow or confusion,” the singer said during the dialogue. “And I often think, ‘Gosh, well, why isn’t church music more like that?’” (YouTube, April 26).