Watching the World
◆ Water held back by a pile of waste material from a mining operation in West Virginia inundated 14 mining communities when the pile gave way on February 27. At the beginning there was a wall of water ranging from 20 to 50 feet high as it rushed downhill wrecking most of the homes in its path. Floating bodies were found 24 miles downstream. It was estimated that 5,000 people were displaced from their homes.
Spectacular Argentine Fire
◆ A spectacular fire swept through a shantytown in Buenos Aires totally destroying it a few months ago. The fire left 700 people without homes and caused damage running into the millions of pesos. The cause of the fire was idolatry on the part of a woman who owned a bar. When she closed the bar to go home she left a candle burning in front of an effigy of her favorite saint, and it was the flame of this candle that ignited the inferno that destroyed the shantytown.
Transporting Oil Through Water
◆ Using the principle that water and oil do not mix, an oil company has devised a method for transporting crude oil through an unheated pipeline. This makes possible the operating of oil fields formerly regarded as uneconomical. The new method uses water as a surrounding shield that prevents the oil from coming in contact with the sides of the pipe and experiencing frictional drag from the pipe. In a 24-mile experimental pipeline, the company is moving 27,000 barrels of heavy crude oil daily. The volume of liquid in the pipe consists of 70 percent oil moving as a core through a surrounding shield of water that makes up the remaining 30 percent.
◆ There is growing concern in Great Britain over the unemployment problem. Nearly one third of those out of work have not been able to find a job for more than six months, and they have exhausted their unemployment payments. Reporting on it, The Guardian Weekly commented: “Men’s pride and their will to work can be permanently damaged by the prolonged idleness. . . . Our society is not in a condition when it should take such hardship lightly.”
Unstable Youthful Marriages
◆ According to statistical evidence released by the U.S. Census Bureau, people who marry young are twice as likely to seek a divorce as those who marry when older. The figures showed that 27 percent of those who married before they were twenty years old later got a divorce, as compared with 14 percent of those who married after their twentieth birthday. It was also found that the presence of a child during the first two years of marriage doubled the possibility of divorce because many of these children were the result of premarital pregnancies.
◆ Foreign-language newspapers in the United States are struggling to continue in existence. Since 1940 nearly two out of three have gone out of business, a total of 730 newspapers. The older generation of foreign-speaking people are the mainstay for the papers left, but they are dying off. The Jewish paper Daily Forward had a circulation of 200,000 in 1920, but now it has only 45,000. The German-language paper New Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold once had a circulation of 180,000. Now it has only 12,000. There are 440 surviving foreign-language papers, many of them losing money and readers.
◆ A step toward an automated car now makes it possible for a car automatically to operate the throttle and brakes in response to changing traffic conditions. A radar sensor on the grille detects hazards ahead and automatically adjusts the speed of the car. Sensors near the tail lights solve the problem of blind spots and warn the driver audibly or visually of vehicles approaching from the rear. A backup sensor is activated when the car is put into reverse and warns the driver of such objects as small children, tricycles and other objects that might be in his way but below his line of vision.
Operating with Stored Blood
◆ Men of science are constantly developing new methods for performing surgical operations. The Journal of the American Medical Association, dated November 15, 1971, described a procedure for open-heart surgery that employs “sever hemodilution.” Early in the operation a large quantity of blood is drawn off into a plastic blood bag. Though the bag is left connected to the patient by a tube, the removed and stored blood is no longer circulating in the patient’s system. It is replaced with a plasma volume expander, which dilutes the blood remaining in the veins and which gradually dissipates during the operative procedure. Near the conclusion of the operation the blood storage bag is elevated, and the stored blood is reinfused into the patient. The New York Times of November 9, 1971, reported on a somewhat similar procedure whereby some days before one undergoes surgery as much as four pints of blood are removed and stored. During the operation the person’s own stored blood is transfused back into him, thus avoiding the danger of disease and mismatched blood. These techniques are noteworthy to Christians, since they run counter to God’s Word. The Bible shows that blood is not to be taken out of a body, stored and then later reused.
◆ In testimony before the Commission on Medical Malpractice, Dr. Sidney Wolfe estimated that 10,000 Americans die every year as a result of two million needless operations. It is always advisable to get the opinion of more than one doctor before submitting to surgery. Doctors differ in their opinions and skills.
Doubts About Soul Immortality
◆ The Lutheran theologian Krister Stendahl, dean of the Harvard University Divinity School, was reported by the Minneapolis Tribune as saying that the tradition of “speaking about the immortality of the soul may be coming to an end.” He admitted that neither the “Old Testament” nor the “New Testament” make any promise of soul immortality. Immortality of the soul has long been a fundamental Lutheran teaching.
Catholic Leadership “Bankrupt”
◆ According to a 14,000-word analysis that was prepared for a bishops’ committee on the priesthood by a priest-sociologist, the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States is “morally, intellectually and religiously bankrupt.” He claims that most priests reject various teachings of the church, such as those on birth control, celibacy and divorce. He also stated in the report: “Many priests under 40 no longer believe a thing that the collective hierarchy says, no longer take seriously any of their instructions, and no longer have any confidence in their capacity to lead.”
◆ Although the Catholic church is badly in need of more priests, its seminaries which have supplied her priests are rapidly declining in number. In just the middle part of the United States 12 of 33 seminaries have closed since 1967. In the entire country approximately 45 have closed. Enrollment has dropped 19 percent since 1967, but in the middle states of the country the drop was 39.3 percent. A Franciscan priest observed: “Not only do we find fewer students going to the seminary, we find almost 40 percent of the new seminarians drop out.”
Vatican Changes Rules for Converts
◆ On February 17, the Vatican issued new rules for converts to Catholicism. In countries where polygamy is practiced a convert may participate in Catholic religious life even though he has more than one wife. Before being baptized, however, he must forswear polygamy. Baptism by immersion will be permitted even though it has been the long-standing Catholic practice to sprinkle instead of immersing baptism candidates. The Scriptural practice requires immersion.
Hearing Loss from Rock Music
◆ A study made by two ear doctors in San Francisco revealed that 41 of 43 rock musicians tested by them have suffered permanent hearing loss. The average age of the musicians is 22, and they have been performing from one to six years. Their hearing loss was evident before a performance and outstandingly after a performance. It apparently is due to the high sound level used in rock music. Although some experts believe that the safe sound level is 75 decibels, rock music often reaches 140 decibels. The hearing of listeners can be affected even more adversely than that of the musicians because the musicians are behind the loudspeakers.
◆ It has been a long-time practice among manufacturers of animal feed to add antibiotics to the feed. Chicks, calves and pigs are said to grow more rapidly when given antibiotics. This practice also has made possible the raising of thousands of chickens in a relatively small area and cattle on crowded feed lots. But the Food and Drug Administration is becoming concerned about the practice. It appears that bacteria in the poultry and cattle are producing strains that are resistant to antibiotics. This resistance could, according to the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, cause a “health hazard” to man. There is the possibility that if these resistant bacteria were to infect man, antibiotics would be powerless to fight the infections.
Soap and Lotion Warning
◆ Skin specialists are taking a closer look at soaps and lotions that contain a chemical known as TBS. Some of these doctors claim that toilet soaps and after-shave lotions containing this chemical are causing a number of people to become allergic to sunlight. Even when they sit near a window, the light coming in can cause their skin to break out with scaly, itchy sores. This has caused some skin doctors not only to stop using soaps and lotions with antibacterial agents but to recommend that their patients stop using them as well. They contend that germ-killing soaps are not needed by people generally. They point out that normal skin bacteria have a protective role in fighting disease-causing bacteria.
Harmful Chemical in Meat Products
◆ The Food and Drug Administration discovered potentially hazardous levels of nitrosamine chemicals in samples of processed meat. They apparently developed from compounds like nitrate salts that are used as antibacterial agents and for improving the appearance of meats that are cured. Some laboratory animals developed cancer after being given these chemicals.
Undersized Brains and Kidneys
◆ Canadian research scientists are searching for a substance in cigarettes that causes pregnant rats to have offspring with undersized brains and kidneys. The kidneys weigh 25 percent less than normal and the brain 10 percent less. Total body weight was down 20 percent. Cigarette smoke was breathed by the rats at a rate equal to what a woman would breathe when smoking a package of cigarettes a day.