Century Marks

Century Marks

As good as cricket

Speaking at a book launching, the militant atheist Richard Dawkins admits he is a cultural Anglican. He would miss church bells if they were gone, and he views evensong in a country church with the same appreciation as he views a cricket match on a village green. Dawkins lauds the “benign tolerance” of the Anglican tradition, which makes it possible to appreciate religious traditions without actually believing in them. He suspects that many Anglicans “don’t believe any of it at all” (Telegraph, September 12).

Faith-filled writing

Taking issue with the claim that there is a dearth of mainstream writers who grapple with issues of religious faith, Gregory Wolfe, editor of Image journal, has compiled a list (with input from others) of 25 such writers, including Wendell Berry, Annie Dillard, Patricia Hampl, Ron Hansen, Mary Karr, Julia Kasdorf, Anne Lamott, Paul Mariani, Kathleen Norris, Ann Patchett, Marilynne Robinson, Elizabeth Strout, Christian Wiman and Franz Wright (Patheos, September 9).

Common humanity

For nearly 40 years Brigitte Höss kept a secret: her father was Rudolf Höss, a notorious Nazi who made Auschwitz into a killing camp that took the lives of 1.1 million Jews and tens of thousands of gypsies and Polish and Russian prisoners of war. Having found her way to the United States, Brigitte worked at a Jewish-owned fashion salon in Washington, D.C., for over 30 years. The owners knew her secret. For years after Brigitte retired, they called her monthly to see how she was doing. The owners’ son was asked why his parents employed Brigitte, knowing their own family was driven out of Germany by people like Brigitte’s father. “She is a human being,” he said. “She was not responsible for her father” (Washington Post, September 7).

Imagine this

The phrase “I can’t imagine” is a well-intended corrective to the bromide “I know how you feel,” which some people utter when responding to those in grief. Mary Robin Craig, whose son took his own life, doesn’t think “I can’t imagine” is much of an improvement. Craig said she has never heard that line from people who were steeped in Ignatian spirituality, which focuses on the cultivation of the spiritual imagination. “The spiritual companions who offered me time and space,” she says, “were able to imagine my experience well enough to enter into its vast emptiness with me, to accompany me without judgment into places without answers or comfort” (Presence, September).


A woman from Tennessee was thrown out of the Ridgedale Church of Christ, which she had attended her whole life, because she refused to publicly condemn her lesbian daughter. “They’re exiling members for unconditionally loving their children,” the lesbian daughter said in defense of her mother (The Week, September 6).