Century Marks

Century Marks

Religious diplomacy

The State Department has just created an office to reach out to faith communities and religious leaders around the world. It will be headed by Shaun Casey, a professor of Christian ethics at Wesley Theo­logical Seminary in Washington, D.C. Casey expects to focus on three areas: religion and development, international religious freedom, and conflict prevention and resolution. “I think we ignore the political impact of religion at our peril,” Casey said about the new State Department office. He was ap­pointed by Secretary of State John F. Kerry, for whom Casey worked when Kerry was a U.S. senator (Washington Post, July 26).

Campus presence

Fuller Theological Seminary is the first evangelical seminary in the country to accept an on-campus group for LGBT students. Called OneTable, it was started by Nick Palacios, an openly gay student from a conservative Pentecostal background. The seminary expects gay students to be celibate and to not challenge the seminary’s stance that homosexual activity is inconsistent with scripture (USA Today, July 13).

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).

Airport security

When people fly they are more anxious than usual, especially after a crash like the one involving an Asiana flight in San Francisco last month, which killed three. The anxiety of flying can help point people toward God, says Michael Zaniolo, a Roman Catholic priest who oversees the airport ministries at O’Hare and Midway airports in Chicago. Huts Hertzberg, an evangelical pastor who oversees Protes­tant ministries in Chicago’s airports, notes that 68 million passengers fly through O’Hare annually, and the airport has 40,000 badged employees. “It’s a city and we’re the only church in the city,” he says (Chicago Tribune).

Ordered life

When Richard Morgan, a retired pastor, moved into a retirement community with his spouse, it struck him that they were entering something like the monastic life. They surrendered all ownership of private property; they relinquished control over their own lives, giving authority to the retirement corporation; and they now live by a fixed schedule, including chapel services at a specified time. As St. Benedict admonished in his rule for monastic life, they regularly ponder the fact that they will die—for their neighbors die rather frequently (Weavings, August/September/October).