Century Marks

Century Marks

Violent divide

The United States is deeply divided regionally when it comes to violence, gun possession and the death penalty. Dividing the country into 11 different “nations” based on the predominant origins of its inhabitants and the resulting culture, Colin Woodard says Yankeedom (his label for the Northeast) and the Left Coast are most open to gun control and abolition of the death penalty. The Deep South, Appala­chia, Tidewater and Far West regions contain the most adamant supporters of the Second Amendment and capital punishment, and they also have the highest rate of murders. If the deadlock between these two extremes is ever to be broken, it will come about through swing voters in the middle states (Tufts magazine, Fall).

Immigrant religion

Public discussion in the United States and Europe about immigration usually focuses upon illegal immigration or Muslim immigrants. In both places, however, the largest proportion of immigrants is Christian. In the United States about 75 percent of new immigrants are Christian. In the European Union, 43 percent of immigrants are Christian, 30 percent are Muslim (Mission Studies, 2013).


A Kentucky high school student dropped out of a regional cross-country race after organizers gave her the number 666. Based on a reference in the book of Revelation to the Antichrist, the student considers the number a sign of the devil. The race organizers refused to give her another number, which led to the student’s withdrawal. “I didn’t want to risk my relationship with God,” she said (The Week, November 22).

Clueless kids

Many older teens are stumped by tasks—changing a tire, replacing a button, or applying for a job—that their parents would have considered commonplace when they were the same age. One explanation is that teens are remaining dependent on parents much longer, often living with and being supported by their parents into their twenties. Another is that increasingly teens and young adults are living in a cohort bubble, with little contact with other adults—a bubble marked by use of technology and social media. Despite this generational divide, the Culture of American Families Survey shows most parents see themselves as heavily invested in parenting and hope that in the long term they will be best friends with their children. It’s as though they’re looking for a return on their investment (Hedgehog Review, Fall).

Seeking redemption

In 2006 Charles Roberts walked into an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania, shot and killed five schoolgirls, injured another five and then took his own life. The Amish community immediately declared that it forgave Roberts for his heinous acts, and some of them reached out with compassion to Roberts’s mother. Roberts’s brother Zachary is now working on a documentary called Hope, focusing on his mother’s journey since the shootings. “How does the mother of a mass murderer move forward?” he asks. Forgiveness and faith have been the key ingredients in her life (Huffington Post, November 17).