Century Marks

Century Marks

Pastoral care

Megachurch pastor and popular Christian author Rick Warren said he was “overwhelmed” by the love and support offered after the apparent suicide of the youngest of his three children. The Warrens said in an e-mail to church staff Saturday that Matthew Warren had taken his own life in a “momentary wave of despair.” It said he had long struggled to control his emotional pain despite years of prayers and the best available treatment (AP).

First unions

Cohabitation is preferred over marriage among nearly half of women age 15 to 44, according to a study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. Marriage is part of a first union for less than one-quarter of women in this age bracket. Un­married couples are staying together longer and more are having children. Within three years of cohabitation, 40 percent of the women had gotten married, 32 percent still lived with their partner and 27 percent had left the relationship. Those with a college education are less likely to choose cohabitation and more likely to move quickly to marriage (USA Today, April 4).

Evangelical politics

At least since the 1980s American evangelicalism has increasingly associated itself with conservative, often Republican, politics. Comparing evangelicals in the U.S. with those in Brazil, Erin McAdams and Justin Earl Lance found that evangelicals in Brazil are not as conservative. In response to the statement, “The government should guarantee every citizen enough to eat and a place to sleep,” 96 percent of Brazilian evangelicals agreed but only 67 percent of Americans did. Brazilian evangelicals are no less theologically orthodox than their American counterparts. One reason for the difference is that no political party in Brazil endorses abortion, which takes that issue off the table. Brazil has a multiparty system and only in 2002 did one party target evangelicals (Boston Globe, April 1).

Best sellers

Fiction was not highly regarded by Americans in the 19th century. The country, says Randall Fuller, was focused on industry, success and salvation, not artistic achievement. Many were taken by surprise, then, by how Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin drew people into its antislavery narrative and moved them emotionally—sometimes to the point of embarrassment. Her novel, which she claimed she didn’t write (“God wrote it. I merely did His dictation”), was outsold in the 19th century only by the Bible (Humanities, March/April).

Revised edition

Albert Schweitzer’s The Quest of the Historical Jesus is one of the most important books on biblical theology in the modern period. Many people don’t realize that Schweitzer published a greatly revised edition—an edition that didn’t appear in English until 2000. Theologians in the U.S. often quote a passage from the original text without realizing that Schweitzer excised it in his revision: “the coming Son of Man lays hold of the wheel of the world to set it moving on that last revolution which [will] bring all ordinary history to a close. It refuses to turn, and He throws Himself upon it. Then it does turn; and crushes Him. Instead of bringing in the eschatological conditions, He has destroyed them.” Another famous section, “He comes to us as one unknown,” was retained in the revised version (Early Christianity 3 [2012]).