CENTURY marks






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Publication: The Christian Century
Date published: May 4, 2010

A WINNER: Four years ago Shawn Vanzant had no place to hve: his mother was dead, his father in prison and his older brother in trouble with the law. His basketball coach asked Lisa Litton, mother of one of Vanzant's teammates, whether she could take him in on a temporary basis. Vanzant now plays for the Butler University basketball team, which nearly beat Duke for the national championship last month. Though Litton suffers from cancer and lupus, she and her husband and three boys have unofficially adopted Vanzant. Litton can identify with Vanzant's situation: when she was six her mother walked out the door, and she's never seen or heard from her since (fanhouse.com, April 3).

AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO SIN: Modern views of forgiveness tend to focus on the therapeutic value to victims of giving up feelings of retribution, letting go of a grievance and moving on. Such views can overlook the seriousness of the grievance and do nothing about the state of the offender, says Jesse Couenhoven. The traditional Christian view of forgiveness is rooted in God's prerogative to forgive the sinner, set him or her free from sin and restore broken relationships. Divine forgiveness shows all humans to be both victims and perpetrators of sin. We are called to exemplify that divine forgiveness. "Only by seeking the good of those who sin against us can we enter into the newness of life we have been given....Because of this, interhuman forgiveness is a special kind of duty: a duty without a corresponding human right, a gift to one another that we owe to God," said Couenhoven (Journal of Religion, April).

ARE WOMEN HUMAN? B. Julie Johnson argues that debates about prostitution leave out the voices of the women who are victimized by the prostitution trade. Those debates also avoid a fundamental question: If women's bodies can be commodified, are women human? It is not enough just to delegitimize prostitution. The socioeconomic conditions that drive desperate women into prostitution must be altered. "The majority of the 1.5 billion people living on $1 or less per day are women . . . and on average, women earn slightly more than 50 percent of what men earn worldwide," said Johnson (Prism, March/April).

IT'S NOT ABOUT THEM: Like the CHRISTIAN CENTURY (December 1, 2009), the Christian Science Monitor (March 29) has taken note of a resurgence of Calvinist teaching, which emphasizes the sovereignty of God and the depravity of humans. It notes that Capitol Hill Baptist Church, attended by "BlackBerry-wielding Millennials," has grown sevenfold since senior pastor Mark Dever introduced Calvinist preaching there 16 years ago. The movement is partly a reaction to the prosperity gospel and "Jesus-and-me" style evangelicalism. Phyllis Tickle says that the new Calvinism's focus on doctrine appeals to those "who absolutely need the assurance of rules and a foundation" during a time of cultural and religious upheaval.

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