Century Marks

Century Marks

Refuge

In response to anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar, over 1,000 Muslims have taken refuge in a Buddhist monastery that is protected by the Myanmar military. Anti-Muslim unrest, precipitated by Buddhists, started last year and has been spreading across the country. The present government, which took over from a military regime two years ago, has been criticized for not doing enough to quell the violence (AP).

Breathing in and out

There is an ongoing tension in Christian faith between contemplation and activism, being and doing. M. Robert Mulholland compares this alternation to breathing in and breathing out. Both are essential; we can’t live without spiritual formation (breathing in) and Christian mission in the world (breathing out). “Genuine Christian spirituality views humanity as spiritual beings created in the image of God and participating with God in a fallen creation which God intends to redeem,” says Mulholland (Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care, Spring).

Stalemate

Thirteen years before the outset of World War I Jan Bloch (later known as Jean de Bloch) predicted that a major war in Europe would be devastating and that it would only end when one side was exhausted. Although he couldn’t foresee the deadly power of the machine gun, he predicted trench warfare: the increased range of smokeless rifles and use of magazines would mean combatants wouldn’t be able to reach other, bringing advances to a standstill. His predictions elicited skeptical responses. One British admiral observed that the prospects of huge casualties hadn’t stopped countries from going to war before. Bloch, a banker and important figure in Russia’s railroad system, called for arbitration to settle international conflict (History Today, May).

Critical perspective

Early in his career Billy Graham was invited to preach at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Aware that he was speaking to critical liberals, Graham declared, “I’ve got it right here in the Bible.” Douglas John Hall was a student at Union then, and the budding theologian heard Graham speak. Hall thought to himself, “that Book that you think you’ve got would not even make such a claim for itself. . . . That Book at every point utters a polemic against the entire human project of possession . . . and (this above all!) the possession of Truth, with a capital T” (Hall, Waiting for Gospel, Cascade).

A child shall lead them

Hannah Robertson, a nine-year-old from British Columbia, took the microphone at a McDonald’s shareholders meeting and rebuked CEO Thompson: “It would be nice if you stopped trying to trick kids into wanting to eat your food all the time.” Hannah had the backing of her mother, who writes a food blog, and the activist group Corporate Accountability International, which is pressuring McDonald’s to stop marketing to kids and to serve more healthy food. Hannah said that she wrote most of her speech herself (NPR, May 23).