Century Marks

Century Marks

Bedside manners

When Dr. Jerome Groopman realized there was nothing he could do to treat a patient’s cancer, he went to her hospital room. “Barbara,” he said to her as he grasped her hand, “we’ve been honest with each other every step of the way. I know of no medicines that I can give at this point to help you.” After a long and heavy silence, she said to him, “No, Jerry. You do have something to give. You have the medicine of friendship” (New York Review of Books, September 27).

Work diary

Keeping a daily work diary can help enhance creativity and motivation, according to research done by Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile. She recommends spending about ten minutes each day, preferably at a regular time, reflecting and recording challenges, successes and other work-related experiences. Her research was based on the study of thousands of daily diary entries written by more than 200 professionals (theatlantic.com).

Call to prayer

Catholic theologian David Burrell says that an advantage of living in a Muslim country is that the daily calls to prayer remind him of the need for the daily discipline of prayer. An African priest once said to Burrell: “Don’t knock them; they have been getting me up to pray for years!” (Burrell, Questing for Understanding, Cascade).


Someone asked an Amish farmer what community meant to him. He said that whenever he and his son are finished with spring plowing, they let their horses rest at the highest point on their farm, where they can see 13 other teams of horses working the neighboring fields. “I know that if I get sick or debilitated or die, those 13 teams will be at work on my farm” (told by Wendell Berry in Hedgehog Review, Summer).

Religious freedom

In the one-year period ending mid-2010, 75 percent of the world’s population lived in a nation with high or very high restrictions on religious beliefs or practices, according to the study conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. A previous Pew study on the subject found that 70 percent of the world lived under religious restrictions. Globally, restrictions increased not only in countries that already afforded few protections for religious freedom, such as Nigeria and Indonesia, but also in countries where citizens have generally enjoyed a high degree of religious liberty, such as Switzerland and the United States. Among incidents cited in the U.S.: the intense opposition to the building of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and a spike in the number of religion-related workplace discrimination complaints (RNS).