Aging Sisters Go Into Elder Care Business

THE OREGONIAN, June 14—In a telling development on the state of women's religious life in America, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, “rang in a new era” recently by announcing plans to convert much of its provincial headquarters property into a retirement home for both the sisters and, as an income generator, the general public.

“The sisters, whose 240 Oregon Province members average 70 years of age, will share their property with retirees who buy into a development with housing, recreation and health care,” wrote reporter Janet Goetze.

The project, dubbed “Mary's Woods,” will meet a need for senior housing in the area and “enable the province to support its growing number of retirees,” reported Goetze.

The retirement community will include about 265 villas, condominiums and apartments to be built on about 25 acres. The center will have 85 assisted-care units.

The project is a far cry from the child care programs and schools that followed the arrival in Oregon of French-speaking Holy Names sisters from Canada in 1859. They bought the land for what will become the retirement village in 1906.

The Persistence of Faith Over Doubt

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, June 15 — “In the aftermath of the Enlightenment, of modernization, secularization and globalization, we are left with one perennial, religion. This has been a problem for intellectuals, who, so attuned to the spirit of progress, cannot understand this atavistic phenomenon.”

With those words, reviewer Gertrude Himmelfarb takes up God's Funeral, the latest work of biographer, novelist and journalist A.N. Wilson.

The book focuses on 19th-century English “doubters” and “disbelievers,” who are treated favorably by Wilson who seems to be as “God haunted” as “the figures in this book,” wrote Himmelfarb.

She goes on to fault Wilson for omitting some of the most important religious movements of the 19th century, including evangelicalism, opposition to the slave trade and Britain's Labor party.

Observed Himmelfarb: “We are asked to admire Francis Newman, who exposed the ‘vice of Bigotry’ that infects Christianity; but not his far more distinguished brother [Catholic convert and Cardinal] John Henry Newman, who is faulted for being dogmatic and obscurantist.”

Yet, adds the reviewer, “Wilson cannot rest content with his doubts and disbelief. Although not a Catholic, he is drawn to the Catholic modernists at the turn of the century who tried to retain a sense of spirituality and even a respect for the Church while discarding revelation and dogma.” The movement, of course, was condemned by Pope St. Pius X.

In his book, Wilson observes that “most churchgoers today are in some respects Modernists.” The author also concedes that in spite of all the hindrances to belief, “the Christian thing, the Christian idea” persists.

Himmelfarb added: “The news of God's funeral, it turns out, is premature. He may seem to be dying, may even be reported as dead, yet somehow, miraculously, he is always resurrected.”

A Tower of Scriptures

RELIGION TODAY, June 15—Portions of the Bible are now available in more than one-third of the world's languages, reported the Protestant wire service in a story about the United Bible Societies, an umbrella organization for groups dedicated to making the scriptures available in vernacular translations throughout the world.

The figure might seem small, especially in light of the combined missionary activities of all the world's Christian denominations. Yet, the challenge of translating the ancient texts into often obscure tongues is an awesome one, the report noted.

The Bible has been published in 2,212 of the world's 6,500 languages, the organization claimed. It announced that three new translations became available in 1998, said the report. They were prepared for Baoule speakers in Cote d‘Ivoire, the Konkomba people in Ghana, and Kyrgyz speakers in Kyrgyzstan. Four New Testament translations were published in 1998 for the Ari in Ethiopia, the Siriano of Colombia, Loozime speakers in Cameroon, and the Tipperah in Bangladesh, the group found, said the article.