With the terrorist attack that barely failed on a U.S. jetliner on Christmas Day and the opening of a new U.S. “front” against terrorist cells in Yemen, the year 2009 (and the decade of the “00s”) came to a somber conclusion. The struggle against radical Islamic terrorists remains a long, twilight struggle.
Part of the continuing education for religious leaders of all types ought to involve occasional Sunday mornings spent not in church but observing the way that an increasing percentage of Americans spend their Sunday mornings. I came upon this idea some years ago when I found myself at home on a Sunday with reasons not to show up at church, since everyone was expecting me to be away.
Members from more than 500 congregations marched in Charlotte, North Carolina, last October as part of the “10 Percent Is Enough” campaign. While conceding that careless spending is the chief cause of consumer debt and needs to be addressed, march organizers object to credit companies' enticing offers of easy credit, their increased interest rates and their profitable penalties. The "10 percent" campaign proposes a cap on interest rates.
For the second year in a row the state of South Carolina has sponsored a Second Amendment Weekend—popularly called “the extrava-gun-za.” For two days over the Thanksgiving weekend shoppers can buy handguns, rifles and shotguns—but not ammunition and accessories—without paying the state’s 9 percent sales tax.
Dr. Paul Farmer, an infectious disease specialist known for his work in Haiti, has been to Liberia and planned to go back again in the fight against Ebola. According to Farmer, the outbreak of Ebola is a symptom of a very poor and weak health-care system in the three West African countries where it is spreading. In Liberia there is one physician per 100,000 people, compared to 240 in the United States. The president of Liberia points out that the Dallas Cowboys stadium uses more electricity each year than her whole country. Vaccines and drugs don’t exist because Ebola’s victims are poor and—so far—not very numerous (London Review of Books, October 23).