Century Marks

Century Marks

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).

Voice for change

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for advocating the education of girls, made a case for education in a speech on her 16th birthday at the United Nations Youth Assembly. “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world,” she said. “Educa­tion is the only solution.” She called on the UN and world leaders to fund universal education for primary school­children by 2015. The UN estimates that 57 million primary school-age children don’t get an education, half of them from countries in conflict (Aljazeera, July 12).

Triumph of liberalism

Robert Bellah, a sociologist of religion, believes that liberal Protestantism has been eclipsed because it has been so successful. It has infiltrated and transformed secular humanist culture. The teaching in religious studies departments in many American universities has a liberal Protestant bent. The reform of other religions, including Catholicism at Vatican II, and the work of international human rights movements reflects the influence of liberal Protestantism. Even the growing ranks of the so-called “nones” have more in common with unorganized liberal Protestantism than with atheism (First Things, June/July).


Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old Pakistani girl, was falsely accused last August of burning pages from the Qur’an and was imprisoned for two weeks. It is believed that she has learning disabilities. While charges against her were dropped, the family moved to Canada after receiving numerous death threats. A Muslim cleric was subsequently accused of framing the girl (BBC News, June 29).