When a child is ignoring basic responsibilities, parents rely on a well-known parenting technique to make a point. Mom looks her ten-year-old in the eye while holding a toothpaste tube in one hand and the cap in the other. “This is called toothpaste,” she says, “and this is called a cap. They go together.” The Lord God is not beyond impatience and remedial instruction when people need a reminder about neglected responsibilities. God held a basket of ripened summer fruit beneath Amos’s nose and said, “Amos, what do you see here?” The prophet, sensing that God was serious, didn’t bother joking. “A basket of summer fruit,” he replied. With that brief exchange, strangely similar to a parent remedially instructing a child, the doors opened to a flood of divine wrath.
An impoverished doctor in an Alpine valley of hearty people, lures a naive country boy into his examining room, shows him frightening anatomical charts of the mysteries within, and awakens fears about hiccups and hair loss, acne and gas pains. According to this old French fable, the boy leaves clutching a bottle of medicine and carrying alarming stories to pass along.
"Osama bin Laden hijacked four airplanes and a religion.” So reads a full-page ad that appeared in the New York Times in October 2001 and contains statements condemning the 9/11 attacks from some of the world’s most prominent Muslim leaders.
For some 400 years, the small Reformed Church in America has relied on only three confessional statements of belief, all of them forged in the crucible of the Reformation. Now they have added a fourth, and its unlikely origins—apartheid-era South Africa—speak volumes about the changing nature of global Christianity and its impact on one of America’s oldest denominations.
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).