Current Comment

Christian Unity

One hundred years ago the Rev. Paul Watson and Sister Laura White, co-founders of the American Anglican community called the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement, organized the first Christian Unity Octave, a period of prayer for the reunion of the church that extended from Jan. 18 to Jan. 25, the eight days between the feast of the Chair of Saint Peter and that of the Conversion of Saint Paul. As Episcopalians, Father Paul and Sister Laura originally envisioned the observance as a time of prayer for the reunion of their fellow Anglicans with Rome. In 1909, the Society of the Atonement, popularly known as Graymoor after the location of its monastery in New York State, entered as a body into full communion with the Catholic Church. Following the Second Vatican Council, the Week of Christian Unity took a more ecumenical turn and is now observed by many churches as a time to join themselves with Christ’s prayer “that all may be one” (Jn 17:21).

Since 1965 the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches’ Commission on Faith and Order have jointly prepared texts for the week. This year’s theme is found in Thessalonians 5: “Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”


Golf Diversity at the Fore

When the Golf Channel’s anchor Kelly Tilghman commented on Tiger Woods’s dominance of the P.G.A. Tour in early January, she joked that his opponents might want to “lynch him in a back alley.” Tilghman apologized for the remarks and Woods downplayed their significance, but it was only the latest incident in professional golf’s troubled history with diversity. The P.G.A. did not drop its “Caucasian only” membership clause until 1961, and early African-American golfers like Charlie Sifford faced years of verbal abuse from fans. A decade ago, the golfer Fuzzy Zoeller suggested that Woods, after winning the Masters tournament, might serve “fried chicken and collard greens.” The host of the Masters, the Augusta National Golf Club, still refuses to allow women to become members. (They are, however, allowed to serve as caddies.)

Ironically, the exploding popularity of golf in the last decade is due in large part to exciting new arrivals outside the traditional white male bastions of the sport, including the two-time P.G.A. champion Vijay Singh, originally from Fiji, and Michelle Wie, a Korean-American who played in her first L.P.G.A. Tour event at the age of 14. Then there is Woods himself, who in just 11 years has gained more career wins than any other active golfer, while simultaneously upending many of America’s racial categories. Woods refuses to be identified by contemporary ethnic labels, because he is one-quarter Chinese, one-quarter Thai, one-quarter African-American, one-eighth Native American Indian and one-eighth Dutch, making him (to use his own word) “Cablinasian.” Should his seven-month-old daughter Sam Alexis inherit his athletic prowess, she could one day increase further the diversity of the golf world. Her mother, Elin Nordegren, is Swedish.

Is Small Beautiful?

Perhaps it will be in this case. According to reports from India, Ratan Tata’s tiny new $2,500 car already enjoys wide appeal. Called the Nano (not to be confused with the iPod Nano, which, at the size of two fingers, is even smaller), the car represents a serious effort at thinking small. Its designers repeatedly asked themselves, Do we really need that? It is the right question. Mostly they answered no. As a result, compared with subcompact models currently on the market, the Nano is about half the size, with less than a third of the horsepower, not much speed and not one frill. Still, it is the first car affordable to millions of would-be drivers in developing nations (especially India and China). No wonder it has been nicknamed “the people’s car.” The Tata Group that developed it hopes to show that thinking small will earn them big profits in the right markets.

Environmentalists, however, are alarmed. They wonder whether the Nano can be made safe and green (fuel efficient and low on carbon emissions). That, too, is the right question to ask. A million more drivers each year in projected Nano sales would mean a huge increase in emissions, however stringently controlled. Will that prospect goad India into passing mandatory fuel efficiency standards, while the Nano fulfills the dreams and needs of the poor? Will other manufacturers follow Tata’s lead in thinking small? Or is the Nano an hors d’oeuvre on wheels that will whet the appetite of new drivers for bigger, faster cars—the environment be damned?

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.


The latest from america

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., shakes hands with Alabama State Sen. Henry Sanders at the Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Ala., on March 19. (Jake Crandall/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., responded to a question about his religious views by talking about his own faith and what he sees as a distortion of Christianity among U.S. conservatives.
Since retiring from my job, my husband has found me irritating. We had a talk (after fighting), and he is right: I am mothering him. Smothering him. “I have a mother,” he said. “I want a wife, a partner, a best friend.”
Valerie SchultzMarch 25, 2019
Jesus asks us to be generous with the poor. It’s one of the foundations of his public ministry: caring for the poor himself and asking his disciples to do so.
James Martin, S.J.March 25, 2019
We are invited, today, to listen—and as the psalmist today colorfully puts it, God has even done us the courtesy of digging out our ears so that we can hear.