Century Marks

Century Marks

Everyday religion

Ohio’s John Kasich is one of several Republi­can governors who have agreed to the expansion of Medicaid as called for under Obamacare. Kasich cites Chris­tian belief as a reason for not leaving the weak and vulnerable behind. The Bible runs his life “not just on Sunday, but just about every day,” he said in his annual State of the State address. “And I’ve got to tell you, I can’t look at the disabled, I can’t look at the poor, I can’t look at the mentally ill, I can’t look at the addicted and think we ought to ignore them,” he said. Kasich was raised Catholic and worships regularly in an Anglican church (AP).

Probing thoughts

Three questions that might revitalize your church: “Why does our congregation exist? What breaks God’s heart in our community? Name one spiritually transformative moment you personally experienced in the last year” (achurchforstarvingartists.wordpress.com, February 25).

Abandoned

The number of South Korean seniors who commit suicide has nearly quadrupled in recent years. The country has the highest rate of suicide by the elderly in the developed world. This trend is attributed to the fraying of the traditional Confucian social contract, according to which the elderly were taken care of by their children. In the runaway South Korean economy, many younger people have moved to urban areas, leaving their parents behind in towns occupied mostly by older people. South Korea had nothing like Social Security until 1988, so many older Koreans aren’t covered by the program. The government refuses to support older people when it deems that their children have the means to care for them (New York Times, February 16).

Darwin’s surprise

In early editions of On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin didn’t express any religious beliefs, but he ended the book’s third edition with a hymn in praise of God. He was in awe of the fact that “from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved.” He wrote that the Creator had originally breathed life “into a few forms or into one.” Darwin’s 19th-century critics might not have been so surprised at this expression of religious wonder if they had known about the one book Darwin took with him on his voyages: Milton’s Paradise Lost (Roger Rosenblatt, Kayak Morning, Ecco).

Sans dogma

The service begins with a song, but instead of playing a hymn, the band plays “Don’t Stop Me Now,” by Queen. There is a reading, time for silent reflection and time for greeting others.  This is the pattern at an atheist “church,” which meets in a deconsecrated church in Islington, north of London. In place of a sermon on a recent Sunday, a Cambridge University physicist talked about wonder. An offering is taken to care for the facility, and the group intends to organize for community service in the future. Its motto: “Live better, help often, wonder more.” An enthusiastic participant said, “It’s got all the good things about church without the terrible dogma” (Guardian, February 3).