Watching the World
Churches Emphasize Money
◆ As money grows tighter the churches put even more stress on it rather than on the spiritual condition of their flocks. Mrs. A. Babalola points this out in a recent issue of Nigeria’s Sunday Times: “Christianity seems to be losing its hold on its members and yet the fold is ‘hungry.’ . . . The preoccupation with how to get money has become a bane on the church. . . . Why must pews be sold to the wealthy members of the church when Christianity preaches equality before God? . . . Precious time that should have been useful in delivering a much-needed sermon to ‘hungry Christians’ is wasted on reading out long lists of defaulters in paying church dues . . . Hundreds turn away disappointed from our churches every Sunday. They have come hoping to share in the spiritual feast at the feet of Christ but somehow they never get fed. There is always an impediment—the huge monster—commercialism.”
Green Revolution Wilts
◆ A few years back the Green Revolution was predicted, because of its high-yield seeds, to end hunger forever. Has it been successful? Says Columbia anthropologist M. Harris in a recent issue of Natural History: “The Green Revolution has not brought any significant respite from hunger and malnutrition in Asia. Despite a total of more than 50 million acres planted in high-yield varieties of rice and wheat, grain production fell to dangerously low levels throughout Asia last year. . . . India . . . may be on the verge of a disaster. . . . India’s [per person] grain production has fallen below the levels of 1960-61, which was before the Green Revolution began. . . . You have to be brutally frank with some experts, you have to push them into realizing it: the Green Revolution is a hoax.”
◆ A pair of British researchers, Mr. and Mrs. A. Wynn, claim that each year hundreds of children are born seriously handicapped because the mother has had a previous abortion. Wynn says: “A man is more likely to have a sterile wife or a stillborn or premature or defective child if he marries a girl who has had an induced abortion.” Gynecologist John Peel agrees with the Wynns’ findings: “I have no doubt whatever that there is a percentage of serious consequences, particularly on patients who are having their first pregnancy terminated.” At the same time a Gallup poll of British nurses shows that two of every three involved in abortion operations find their work so upsetting as to consider withdrawing their services. There were 156,714 abortions in Britain in 1972.
◆ U.S. drivers may be inconvenienced by gasoline shortages this summer. Limited gasoline may also raise prices. The shortage results from more demands for crude oil. It, in turn, is increasing in cost due to limited supply and higher drilling costs. Much crude oil was diverted to make heating oil during last winter’s crisis. This cut gasoline stocks. Some industry spokesmen anticipate future government rationing.
Medicine and Human Kindness
◆ Despite advances, one of the areas where the medical profession can still make improvement is referred to in the Westchester Medical Bulletin: “The simple, uncomplicated term human kindness is not even heard in clinical conversation. . . . The best and most modern medical care is defective if it is lacking in this simple element of human kindness. One may call it empathy, sympathy, compassion, or any other term, but it is essentially that crucial element of humanness that we dare not take for granted.”
Teachers Under Attack
◆ Increasingly, U.S. schoolteachers are the object of student attack. Recent reports indicate that Detroit averages one assault per day. At some schools teachers come to work in groups and carefully keep their purses under coats. Herb Cooke, executive director of Classroom Teachers of Dallas, says students call teachers “every four letter word in the book.” A group of girls there recently kicked one teacher in the back; another student, smashing light fixtures with a hammer, threatened an observing teacher: “You didn’t see a thing.” A New York Daily News article observes regarding that city: “School violence over the past several years has increased to the point where, in many schools, education has become all but impossible.”
◆ In March 1973 the latest Catholic manual for chaplains was issued. In the foreword of Vademecum for the Priests Serving the Military Vicariate of the United States of America, Terence Cardinal Cooke of New York writes: “My admiration has ever grown for the important work that you are doing for the spiritual life of our military personnel and their families. In fact, I do not know of any greater apostolic work than that of a chaplain in the armed forces of the United States. . . . Praying that God may continue to bless you in your dedicated ministry, I am gratefully yours in Christ.” But does not the Bible say: “You shall not kill”?—The Catholic Jerusalem Bible at Romans 13:9.
Sex and U.S. Teen-Agers
◆ Fifty-two percent of all U.S. 13- to 19-year-olds recently surveyed had had sexual intercourse. The report, Adolescent Sexuality in Contemporary America by Robert G. Sorenson, is based on over 600 interviews and questionnaires. Most were children of parents in the $10,000-or-more-per-year income bracket. A majority of parents, the youngsters reveal, have not discussed sex with them other than warning of possible pregnancy. Most sexual activity by teen-agers takes place in the home. Some parents even know about their youngsters’ sexual activity but refuse to instruct or discipline them; other parents seem willingly ignorant of their youngsters’ views and acts. The adolescents describe the churches’ attitude toward sex as irrelevant. “The Sorenson Report,” one reviewer says, “brings out very clearly that whether elders like it or not, teen sexual attitudes and actions . . . have radically changed in the last decade.”
Church of England Declines
◆ London’s Westminster Abbey is considered the pride of the Church of England. But is the Bible really taught there? A Seattle Post-Intelligencer writer visited recently and reported this: “When the cleric at the lectern read the Garden of Eden story with enthusiasm, two in my row began giggling over whether he wasn’t an ‘old, frustrated Shakespearean thespian.’ . . . He used illustrations concerning Auschwitz, Voltaire and Socrates, and concluded: ‘I suspect that Adam and Eve at the end of their days never regretted they left the Garden.’ Delivered from that very pulpit during another age, that sermon might well have caused all of England to rock with a heresy trial.” But today? Few even care. According to a newly published book, The Church of England in Crisis, by priest-journalist T. Beeson: “The church’s influence has declined to a point lower than anything experienced since England became a Christian nation.”
◆ Food prices continue to rise. But how much of the money goes to farmers? For each dollar Americans spent on food in 1972, 33.4 percent, on the average, went to the farmer; this compares with 32.2 percent in 1971. The remainder of the food dollar is divided like this: 33.1 percent to retailers; 22.1 percent to processors; 6.1 percent to wholesalers; 5.3 percent to transportation firms. The farmer’s percentage, of course, depends on volume and the item produced. Thus, chicken retails for 41.5c per pound; 20c goes to the farmer. But on a 38c can of peaches, the farmer only earns about 7c.
◆ The Indian government has launched Project Tiger in an effort to save the country’s remaining 1,800 animals; there were 40,000 in 1900. Shooting has been only partly responsible for tiger decimation. Expanded cultivation, irrigation schemes and the clearing of forests for timber and pulpwood have crowded the tiger and his prey out of their home. Russia now has less than 200 tigers; Malaysia, Burma and Thailand may, all together, have 2,000. But, says W. Schwartz in the Guardian, the Indian project will not be easy: “Saving an animal species in a land where so many humans need help is an uphill task.”
◆ More and more Catholics are at odds with what their church officially teaches. Over twelve hundred members of Philadelphia’s St. Peter Celestine Parish were recently surveyed. Results show that about 68 percent would not object to married priests; 63 percent say few people would attend Mass if it were not obligatory; 54 percent claim the pope is not infallible. Clear teachings of the Bible are also doubted: 55 percent believe “the virgin birth of Jesus is meant to be taken symbolically, not biologically.”
◆ A one-hundred-year-old theory is that oil was made from minute organisms, slowly transformed chemically. But many ask how so much petroleum could possibly have been formed from such tiny living things. Another theory has been newly published by L. Gaucher in Chemical Technology: “I suggest that oil could have been formed, in much larger quantities than was ever considered plausible before . . . long before there was any plant or animal life at all. . . . Instead of assuming that oil was formed under surface and atmospheric conditions similar to those that we find on earth today, as the organic theory does, I suggest that oil was formed through chemical reactions of components of the atmosphere at the time when the earth was still hot and devoid of life.” Gaucher, a chemical engineer, suggests that an “oil rain” brought this mixture to earth.
Communist in a Baptist Church
◆ The ‘thaw’ in cold-war relations between the U.S. and Russia is affecting even so-called fundamentalist churches. Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., recently invited a Communist Russian diplomat to speak. The journal The Christian Century says: “We applaud the efforts of our Southern Baptist brethren.”
Paper Demand, Cost Up
◆ The demand for paper is now exceeding supply. As a consequence, prices are edging up and orders must be submitted early. Many plants have been closed down for environmental reasons, partly explaining the shortage. Some paper companies are now dropping their less expensive grades. The journal Industry Week tells why: “Producers know they can sell any grade of paper they make, so they are dropping less costly lines to increase their profits.”
◆ A combined total of about 20 million persons visited the Smithsonian Institution and the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., in 1972. So says the recently released Smithsonian Year 1972. It also shows that the capitol building has seven to ten million visitors annually. In New York the Metropolitan Museum is said to draw some 2.25 million every year, while the American Museum of Natural History attracts 3.2 million. Disneyland, California, claims 9.5 million visited there last year, and Florida’s Walt Disney World is said to have hosted about 7 million. The National Park Service claims that as many as 200 million persons visited all their public installations last year.
Australia Drops Draft
◆ The military draft has been abolished in Australia. Draft evaders will be released from jail; draftees in uniform may be immediately discharged if they desire. The draft law is not being repealed, but the government will simply not exercise its option.