Century Marks

Century Marks

Read this text

Nearly 50 years ago, archaeologists found a charred and un­readable ancient scroll in a synagogue near the Dead Sea. Thanks to “virtual unwrapping,” a new technology developed at the University of Kentucky, the text is now readable. It is a fragment from the book of Leviticus that is identical to the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible, the authoritative version often used to translate the Old Testament in Protestant Bibles (New York Times, September 21).

Missing debate

In this presidential campaign, the media seem most interested in asking who supported “which war when” than in asking the candidates their positions on the use of military intervention in a post-9/11 world. Author David Graham says that “Clinton and Trump both came to the same conclusions about hitting Baghdad and Tripoli: the wars would be short, good for America, and good for the world. In both cases, they were wrong.” (Atlantic, September 16).


It is hard to assess how many people die annually from climate change, but one measurement puts it at 700,000. The people least responsible for climate change are the ones most devastated by it. “Just 10 percent of the world’s population are responsible for 50 percent of emissions, while the poorest 50 percent are responsible for only 10 percent of emissions,” says Asad Rehman of Friends of the Earth. People of color in developing countries are most affected by climate change (Newsweek, September 9).

Hidden past

The national parks are rightly considered some of America’s great treasures, but their history is not as serene as their landscapes. A year after the Battle of Gettysburg, President Lincoln deeded Yosemite Valley to the state of California, to be maintained for public use for all time. Lincoln hoped these “magnificent lands . . . might offer a unifying peace for a divided nation.” But before Yosemite could be turned into a park for public use, the Ahwahneechee, its native inhabitants, had to be driven out. Similar wars of removal were conducted at the end of the 19th century at the sites of Glacier and Yellowstone parks (Times Literary Supplement, September 2).

Leading by example

John Coleman, who died recently, presided over Haverford College during the tumultuous Vietnam War era. He sympathized with students’ antiwar protests but also tried to channel the antiwar movement in constructive ways. When students considered burning the American flag, Coleman placed a washing machine at the center of the campus and encouraged students to wash the flag instead. He persuaded dozens of college presidents to sign an antiwar statement. On sabbaticals he took blue-collar jobs to explore the gap between academics and workers (Inside Higher Ed, September 12).