Century Marks

Century Marks

On a mission

The Church of the Holy Spirit in Lake Forest, Illinois, has been asking itself: “Is the church doing and being what it is called to do and be?” As part of that reflection, parish leaders decided to consult with nearby Willow Creek, an evangelical megachurch—a move that made some people in the congregation unhappy. One parishioner said that less damage would have been done if a grenade had been thrown down the church’s center aisle. The leaders persisted in their consultation, however. What they learned is that the spiritual vitality of any congregation flows from the vitality of its members and that leadership is key: leaders must lead by example (Anglican Theological Review, Summer).

Wake-up call

Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander believed that there is a scientific explanation for near-death experiences—until he had one of his own. What was unusual about his near-death experience was that his cortex, the part of the brain that makes us human, was inactivated during a seven-day coma. He has no doubt that his inner self was alive and well during that time. Through most of his near-death journey, Alexander was accompanied by a young woman. Without using words, she conveyed a three-part message to him: “You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.” “You have nothing to fear.” “There is nothing you can do wrong.” He wants to spend the rest of his life studying consciousness and show that humans are much more than their physical brains (Proof of Heaven, Simon & Schuster, excerpted in Newsweek, October 8).

Normal belief

A Florida state judge has ruled that a schizophrenic man sitting on death row can be executed despite the fact that the legally insane are not supposed to be executed. The reason, the judge ruled, is that this murderer believes he is the “Prince of God” who will some day sit at God’s right hand. The judge said that since this is a normal Christian belief, it doesn’t prove the convicted man is crazy (The Week, October 26).

Loving the environment

In addition to being an award-winning author of 14 books, a Sunday school teacher and a Century editor at large, Bill McKibben is one of the best-known environmental activists in the United States and a leading voice in the campaign to address climate change. But when it came to raising his daughter Sophie (now 18), McKibben said that he didn’t think it was appropriate “for little kids to be freaking out about climate change.” He remarked: “It always struck me as a parent that my first job in this context was to help her fall in love with the natural world. If you do, then I’m absolutely confident that you’ll do what’s necessary to defend it” (Outside, October).

License to preach

Would you like to be a minister but you just don’t have the time or money to attend seminary? Well, now there’s an app for that, available for the iPhone and Android phones. The app won’t actually ordain you, but it will show you what you’d look like in the garb and what you’d believe if ordained in one of 12 different religions. A sample prayer is provided for each religion (ordainthyself.com).