Century Marks

Century Marks


Andrew Hill, who teaches at the U.S. Army War College, compiled a list of the “The Best Books You Will Never Read,” based on reader votes at Goodreads. Of his list of 30 titles, the top ten are: James Joyce, Ulysses; Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past; David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest; Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace; Thomas Pyn­chon, Gravity’s Rainbow; Jacques Der­rida, Of Grammatology; Jack Kerouac, On the Road; Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; Martin Heidegger, Being and Time; and William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (Chicago Tribune, August 3).

Copts on the defensive

Since the military coup that deposed President Mohammed Morsi, Egyptian Christians have been on the defensive, particularly in the far south, where they are accused by Islamists of engineering the coup. In the city of Assiut, Christians have had their apartments marked with a red cross.  Christian entrepreneurs have shuttered their businesses. Forty percent of Assiut people are Christians (AP).

All’s well

After the Anglicantheologian Bishop Charles Gore (1853–1932) attended a performance of one of Bach’s Brandenburg con­certos, he was overheard muttering: “If that is true, everything must be all right” (quoted by Diarmaid MacCulloch in Silence: A Christian History, forth­coming from Viking).

Mass appeal

During a mass last month with 1,000 bishops in the beehive-shaped modern cathedral in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis echoed the message he delivered to pilgrims at World Youth Day earlier—a radical call to renew the church, which has seen its numbers dwindle in Europe thanks to apathy and in Latin America because of competition from charismatic evangelicals. “We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities when so many people are waiting for the gospel,” Francis said in his homily. It was a slightly more diplomatic expression of an off-the-cuff exhortation he delivered to young Argentine pilgrims, in which he urged the youngsters to make a “mess” in their dioceses and shake things up (AP).

Dirty laundry

The problem with much philanthropy is that it keeps in place a system that makes a few people wealthy and keeps many people in poverty, argues Peter Buffett, son of billionaire Warren Buffett. The chairman of his own philanthropic foundation, he refers to “conscience laundering”: the very rich spread around a little of their wealth to help the poor and make themselves feel better (New York Times, July 26).