Watching the World
More Arrests in Turkey
◆ According to a communiqué issued in Turkey, another group of eleven of Jehovah’s witnesses were arrested April 8, 1973, in Ankara while assembled for a meeting. However, the facts are that the eleven witnesses were not assembled when arrested. It was 11 p.m. They were in different apartments and houses. One elderly woman was already in bed. Other persons who were merely on the street happened to be recognized as Witnesses by a police officer, who then took them along to the station. “Because of making Christian propaganda with the aim to break up the unity of the nation,” the communiqué asserts, the eleven Witnesses were charged with violation of the criminal law.
Food Prices Still Go Up
◆ Almost daily new factors drive U.S. food prices higher. Unseasonal snowstorms, rains and floods have wiped out about one billion dollars’ worth of crops and livestock. In Iowa alone more than $18 million worth of cattle, hogs, sheep and turkeys perished in the state’s worst April snowstorm. Georgia appears to have lost half of its $18 million peach crop; Indiana and southern Illinois will suffer, it is feared, at least 75 percent peach losses. Michigan’s sour cherry crop is expected to be off 70 percent due to cold. Texas onions have been badly damaged, driving costs to record levels; Idaho potato prices are up 50 percent over a year ago. In late April the Food and Drug Administration banned the cattle-fattening hormone DES, a move certain to raise meat prices further. Government grain reserves are due to be gone by July 1; poor spring and fall harvests could jack up prices again. Some people are coping with the situation illegally. Cattle rustling is now considered the nation’s number one rural problem. Elk and deer poaching have increased over 100 percent in some parts of the country.
◆ The Vatican has made what amounts to public overtures for “dialogue” with the Communists of Red China. The church’s missionary bulletin, International Fides Correspondence, notes that “China’s opening to the world should pave the way for contacts with the Holy See.” The bulletin asserts that Maoist doctrine “contains some directives that are in keeping with the great moral principles of the millenary Chinese civilization and find authentic and complete expression in modern social Christian teaching.”
Morality and the Confessional
◆ Two Italian journalists have written Sex and the Confessions. Their controversial book is based on 112 tape recordings they made while pretending to ‘confess’ their sins in Catholic churches in Italy. One priest in Milan is reported to have said regarding premarital sex relations: “I can’t advise you, but if you think it is right and honest you can continue . . . if your fiancée agrees and she too does not see anything wrong with it, I shall give you absolution.” Some churchmen have been critical of the book. However, a member of the board of publishers says the authors “have neither spied on souls nor offended the sentiments of real sinners because situations were hypothetical.”
Why College Enrollment Drops
◆ Enrollment in major U.S. four-year, state-supported colleges is dropping. By this spring applications for the fall semester were over 4 percent lower than at the same time in 1972. Why the drop? One reason is money. Middle-income families cannot afford the increasing tuitions. The colleges themselves are in financial trouble. A new report by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education says that financially they are “living on borrowed time.” Changing attitudes toward education are a major reason for the decline in applications. More than two thirds of college seniors recently interviewed agree: “Much of what is taught at colleges is irrelevant to what is going on in the outside world.” Many youngsters are turning to vocational and technical skills. Some believe that colleges actually help produce society’s problems. P. Lesley, speaking to the Public Relations Society of America, observed: “Colleges offer degrees as freedom from routine roles and marks of leadership. Yet only a few find they can attain their dreamed-of influence, and disillusion sets in. Those who have been led to expect great things then seek to justify themselves. They have the time, the inclination and the opportunity to attack the structure that does not recognize their superiority.”
This Is “Liberation”?
◆ Has the modern sexual revolution really “liberated” women? Psychotherapist Catherine Hahner of New York thinks not. “We now feel not only that we cannot be afraid to make love with men—but that we must. Our glorious sex revolution has turned us into worse slaves than we were a hundred years ago. Now, instead of being the sexual property of one man, we‘re the sexual property of every man!”
Effects of Gonorrhea
◆ Over two and a half million cases of gonorrhea were reported in the U.S. last year; it is the nation’s most common reportable disease. One result expected from the current epidemic is a corresponding increase in gonorrheal infection of the eyes of newborn babies, leading to blindness. Unlike syphilis, there is no easy, reliable blood test to detect gonorrhea carriers. So an infected pregnant woman may unknowingly present a danger to her child. In Current Medical Dialog two doctors at Baltimore’s Mercy Hospital say: “We are in the midst of a gonorrhea epidemic which seems uncontrollable by currently available techniques . . . At present we are losing the battle against gonorrhea and the future holds little hope for victory using traditional methods.”
Religion in Rhodesia
◆ “Once, religion in Rhodesia was the picture of robust health,” says the Rhodesia Herald. And now? “Many Africans cling to their traditional beliefs, and many more are Christian only in name. Europeans are, on paper, devoutly religious. More than 80 per cent of the European population is officially classed as Christian. Europeans are, in fact, indifferently religious. Less than 15 per cent go to church regularly. . . . The trend of diminishing congregations is reflected in the slackening rate of church-building in Salisbury—another symptom of religious inertia.” The newspaper quotes an Anglican priest as asking: “Where are the heathen? Most of them now claim they are Christians.”
Church Influence Falls
◆ Not only is church membership declining, but at the same time church influence is waning. Professor of theology S. Calian, at the University of Dubuque, knows that church spokesmen “have all but been silenced: “Who is it in our society that makes significant and prophetic statements about the epic events of our times? Astronauts, artists, novelists, newscasters, politicians, but for the most part certainly not ministers. . . . Harried, tired, and ill-prepared; they have become an inarticulate voice in a world seeking purpose and hope.” Not surprisingly, W. L. Edelen, Jr., minister at the First Congregational Church in Tacoma, Washington, admits: “The church today is often barely different from Rotary, Sertoma, Kiwanis, Model Cities, Lions, and NAACP, the AMA, ADA, and almost indistinguishable from an average business corporation or political machine.”
◆ Many people attempt to minimize the effects of pornography. But if it really is harmless, then the simple question in the British Medical Journal is appropriate: “Those hearty spirits who deny that pornography has any effect whatever on the minds of its readers and viewers will usually admit that it should be kept away from children. Why?” The Journal further says: “Among the more harmful myths of our time are, firstly, that drugs such as cannabis and LSD expand the mind, and, secondly, that pornography extends man’s freedom. Both offer debased substitutes for the real thing.”
Intense Athletic Training
◆ The long-term effects on the body of extreme athletic training are not clearly known. What about short-term effects? A recent article in Medical World News considers the work of noted swimming coach Dr. J. E. Counsilman: “There has, however, been one common short-term effect of the stress [his students] undergo during competitive years: They are especially prone to develop allergies and infections such as the common cold, ‘strep throat,’ and mononucleosis, he says. Indeed numerous studies indicate that strenuous training in any sport doesn’t enhance resistance to infectious disease but rather tends to increase susceptibilities to inflammation and infection, particularly by viruses.”
Churches Continue Decline
◆ Religion continues to lose members in the United States. The 1973 edition of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, edited by the National Council of Churches, shows that in 1971 most major “liberal” churches reported new losses. Interestingly, the “conservative” churches also showed either losses or smaller gains than in the past. Over all, religious growth was the lowest in over a century. The proportion of Americans associated with a church or synagogue dropped from 63.2 percent (in 1970) to 62.4 percent (in 1971). Population in the same period increased about one percent. Outstanding among those gaining in numbers in 1971 were Jehovah’s witnesses, who advanced over 7 percent. Comments C. H. Jacquet, Jr., editor of the yearbook: “The answer to growth seems to be militancy in going out and saying what’s on your mind.”
Bishops Take Loyalty Oath
◆ Czechoslovakia’s four new bishops have taken an oath of loyalty to the State. The oath was administered by Slovak Premier Peter Colotka while he was in Prague. The four new bishops were recently installed by a representative of the Vatican, following an agreement with Czechoslovakia.
Anshan Believed Found
◆ Archaeologists believe they have unearthed a portion of Anshan, capital of the ancient Elamites. The Elamites are referred to a number of times in the Bible. The suggested site, Tal-I Malyun, a large mound about twenty-five miles north of Shiraz, is in the mountains of southwestern Iran. Documents found in the mound refer to Anshan by name.
God, Money and Sports
◆ Professional sports are increasingly religious. Garry Wills observes in the Easton (Pennsylvania) Express: “Sports is big business, and symbolic politics. On the principle that the shadier the activity, the more it needs diversionary benediction, God arrived on the gridiron just in time. . . . Only God can explain and condone a war; so warrior call on him with special fervor. So, in their way, do quarterbacks. . . . We have made the Marketplace our God. He is Moloch, and we sacrifice men to him. This makes the injuries of Sunday afternoon [football games] sacramental.”
◆ “Mental illness” among domestic animals is said to be increasing. Animal Cavalcade, official journal of the Animal Health Foundation, quotes one veterinarian as saying: “‘I’m seeing more neurotic animals with psychosomatic illnesses than I ever did when I started my practice more than twenty years ago. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t see several mentally disturbed dogs. Not dangerous or vicious, mind you, just all mixed up.’ Veterinarians all over the world report the same thing.” The magazine says that pets confined to apartments and backyards are subjected to unnatural tensions. It further asserts that many pets reflect the anxieties and frustrations of their masters.