Century Marks

Century Marks

Turnaround

Monarch butterflies are making a big comeback at their wintering grounds in Mexico. The area covered by the monarchs west of Mexico City is three and a half times larger than it was the previous winter. The number of monarchs that migrated from the United States and Canada was declining until a turnaround in 2014. The United States is working to reintroduce milkweed—the plant on which butterflies feed and lay their eggs—and protect it from herbicides (AP).

New position

Larycia Hawkins, the African-American professor who lost her tenured position at Wheaton College over her Facebook statement that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, has landed a temporary position at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. She has been granted a fellowship named after Abd el-Kader, a 19th-century Algerian Muslim leader who sheltered Christians during a violent conflict in 1860 (Chicago Tribune, March 4).

Evening prayer

College chaplains at Oxford and Cambridge in England have noticed an increase in attendance at evensong, the service of evening prayer that combines contemplative music with words from the Book of Common Prayer. This trend has also been noticed at cathedrals across England, which are seeing a growing interest in midweek choral services. “I do wonder if it might be related to the trend for mindfulness in this era where we are constantly bombarded from the Internet, from media, from mobile [phones] which are hard to get away from,” says Neil McCleery, assistant chaplain of New College at Oxford (Telegraph, March 1).

Absolution

Bob Ebeling was one of the engineers on the 1986 Challenger space mission which exploded minutes after liftoff. He has carried a load of guilt ever since, though he and other engineers discouraged the launch, saying the weather was too cold. After his story was shared on National Public Radio on the 30th anniversary of the catastrophe, he received an outpouring of letters and e-mails telling him he had done all he could to stop the launch. His burden didn’t ease until he heard from a NASA representative who absolved him of guilt (NPR, February 25).

New platform

Mike McCurry has gone from being President Clinton’s chief spokesman to serving as a teacher of religion and politics at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.—the school he graduated from last year. Raised in the United Church of Christ and now a United Methodist, McCurry wondered what he could do to help the common good after his rough-and-tumble years in the White House. While he has had an advisory role for some liberal candidates and religious advocacy groups, he believes religion should primarily affect the tone of politics, especially in treating others with respect (Washington Post, February 22).