Century Marks

Century Marks

Shooting practice

The National Rifle Association reports that in 2015 22,370 people over age 65 took basic firearms training from NRA-certified instructors, four times the number who took it five years ago. The rate of growth is greater in this age category than any other, the NRA claims, but it hasn’t given data to back up that claim. “Today’s buyers are scared,” a gun shop owner in Oklahoma City said. These gun buyers may also be misguided, according to David Hemenway, a professor of health policy at Harvard University. Shooting an intruder or assailant is hard to do, and having a gun in the home increases the chances of suicide and accidental shootings (Wall Street Journal, March 29).

Teaching for peace

Hanan al-Hroub, the winner of the $1 million award for the 2016 Global Teacher Prize, is a Palestinian teacher who was raised in a refugee camp outside Bethlehem in the West Bank. Her students “come from stressed-out environments,” she says, and they often act out the violence they see in their homes and streets. Al-Hroub uses games, puppets, and team-building in the classroom to reduce the stress endured by her students. Pope Francis nominated her for the award, which is granted by the Varkey Foundation and sponsored by the ruler of Dubai, the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. Al-Hroub plans to use the money for college scholarships for students going into education and for teachers committed to employing her teaching methods (Washington Post, March 22).

Where is the church?

The black church led the civil rights movement but is much less visible in the Black Lives Matter movement. Black church pastors today are less likely to be in the streets, and they no longer have the authority in the black community they once had. The youth involved in the Black Lives Matter movement are less likely to be in church, even though black youth more often identify themselves as religious compared to their white, Hispanic, and Asian peers. Some young black activists reflect the anti-institutional spirit of the times, while others say they want to create economic, political, cultural, and educational structures independent of the church. Jamal Bryant, a megachurch pastor in Baltimore, said the black church is going to have to adjust to this new reality. “How do you become part of something you don’t lead?” he wondered (Atlantic, March 22).

Losses and gains

In the past six years, 168 Church of England churches have closed, along with 500 Methodist and 100 Roman Catholic churches. But for every Anglican church that has closed over the past six years, more than three Pentecostal or charismatic churches have taken their place, according to an analysis by the Times of London. These Pentecostal and charismatic churches are drawing young, black, Asian, and mixed-race people (RNS).

Waste not

Lauren Singer, who graduated with a degree in environmental studies from New York University, did the seemingly impossible: she was able to collect three years of household waste in a mere 16-ounce jar. Some of her tips: use paper, cloth, or glass products instead of plastics; make your own personal beauty products; plan menus and grocery shopping carefully. Singer gives more tips for reducing waste at her Trash Is for Tossers blog. “It is simple to say no to a plastic straw or carry a reusable bag,” she said (Huffington Post, March 25).