Century Marks

Century Marks

Warning signs

“Our Earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common. Children no longer obey their parents. Every man wants to write a book, and the end of the world is evidently approaching.” This doomsday prediction is almost 5,000 years old, dating to an Assyrian clay tablet of 2800 BC (Chicago Tribune, December 9).

Killing us

The U.S. has more guns per capita—about nine guns for every ten people—than any other country. It has nearly twice as many guns per capita as Yemen, which ranks second. The U.S. also ranks first in total number of guns, with 270 million of them privately owned. The second highest total is in India, which has 46 million guns—and a population three times that of the United States. The U.S. ranks second only to Mexico in its gun-related murder rate. Mexico’s gun-related murder rate is driven by drug wars (Washington Post, December 15).

Signs on the wall

Last month vandals spray-painted “the Maccabees will succeed” and “Jesus is a bastard” on the walls of a Greek Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem and slashed tires on three cars. This was the fifth attack on monasteries and churches in the area during 2012. Extremist Jews sympathetic to Israel’s settlement movement are suspected. The father superior of the monastery said the vandals would be welcome to come for coffee and conversation. He said he forgave them the first time and would continue to forgive them. Extremists have carried out similar vandalism attacks on other churches and mosques, which have been de­nounced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Jerusalem Post, December 12).

Voices of 2012

“I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” —President Obama in a May ABC-TV interview, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to endorse same-sex marriage

“These practices have no basis in science or medicine, and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.” —California governor Jerry Brown, on signing a bill that outlawed so-called reparative therapies that claim to turn gay minors into heterosexuals

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” —Todd Aiken, U.S. Senate candidate in Missouri, trying to explain why he would prohibit abortion in cases of rape

“Rape is rape. Period. End of Story.” —Paul Ryan, vice presidential candidate, responding to Todd Aiken’s reference to “legitimate” rape

“Wall Street CEOs—the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs—still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them.” —Elizabeth Warren, consumer advocate and U.S. Senate candidate in Massachusetts, speaking at the Democratic Convention

“The worst decision by the Supreme Court in the 21st century. Uninformed, arrogant, naive.” —Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.), maintaining that the Citizens United decision, which prohibits the government from restricting political expenditures by corporations and unions, is tainting U.S. elections

“If you are a Latter-day Saint, a member of the fourth-largest [denomination] in the country, you shouldn’t have to go hat in hand for acceptance while acceptance of other minorities—Jews or Muslims or Presbyterians—is taken at face value.” —Michael Otterson, chief spokesman for the LDS Church, responding to reactions about presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith

“Through resolve, through respect, we will overcome. This is a gift that Sikhs can give to all Americans.” —Sartaj Singh Dhami, codirector of RestoringThePride.com, a Sikh advocacy group, in response to the August killings of Sikhs by a lone gunman at a temple near Milwaukee

“The crime is not only what you did to their bodies but to their psyches and their souls.” —Judge John Cleland, who sentenced former Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky to 30 to 60 years after he was convicted on 45 counts of child sexual abuse

“We need to educate people that morally, you can’t simply say, ‘I’m not going.’ It’s not simply a matter of choice. It’s actually a matter of responsibility to the common good.” —James Keenan, a moral theologian at Boston College, on the debate after Hurricane Sandy about whether people are morally obligated to obey a mandatory evacuation order so as not to put first responders at risk

“We’re not looking for a candidate that can walk on water, we’re looking for a candidate who doesn’t sink under the weight of their own baggage.” —Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, on what conservative Christians were looking for in a presidential candidate

“Want to win this election, candidate Romney and candidate Obama? Recruit the vote of 46 million poor Americans.” —Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the Catholic social justice lobby Network and leader of Nuns on the Bus, a tour that drew attention to the impact of cutting the social safety net

“Twenty years ago our church voted to ordain women. We have arrived at the point when all the indications are that the current theological anomaly of priests who cannot by definition be bishops has become an unacceptable skandalon to the church’s life.” —Sarah Coakley, Cambridge University theologian, on the Church of England’s decision not to allow women priests to become bishops

“The door may be closing, for good.” —UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, warning that continued Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories undermine efforts toward a peaceful solution

“God’s will and elections made me the captain of this ship.” —Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian president, responding to protests over his seizing of unchecked authority

“We know many Christians have left. But we love this country and will stay until death.” —Mounir Ramsis, Coptic Christian, on the suppression of Christians since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown and the Muslim Brotherhood assumed leadership in Egypt

“We have become a nation rife with domestic terrorism—moving from a land of hospitality and freedom to a land of the fearful and the besieged, with gun violence being the driving force behind this change.” —Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., in a resolution calling for a ban on assault weapons, adopted at its annual session in Memphis

“He won’t follow anyone for now. He will be followed.” —Spokesperson for Pope Benedict XVI, who started a Twitter account with the handle @pontifex and within hours had 250,000 followers

Necessary struggle

In a discussion on work and dignity, Matthew Crawford of the University of Virginia recounts his father’s battle with Parkinson’s disease. Once when they got into a car together, his father struggled long and hard to get his seatbelt fastened. Crawford thought about doing it for his father, but refrained. When he finally got it fastened, his exhausted father looked at him and said, “Thank you for not doing it.” His independence and dignity had been maintained (Hedgehog Review, Fall).