Watching the World
◆ Between June 20 and 30 the first 25 in a series of 62 “Divine Purpose” district assemblies were held by Jehovah’s witnesses in 21 cities across the United States. The keynote speaker in each city forcefully advised the assembled Christians: “For the sake of surviving the ‘great tribulation’ all those now in the spiritual paradise must remain there, like Noah and his family in the ark, the door of which God shut behind them before the deluge burst upon the world.” At these first 25 assemblies, a peak of 325,542 persons gathered to hear the important Bible information presented at these four-day assemblies, and 8,468 were baptized.
◆ Banks in America, Germany and Switzerland recently suffered staggering losses in the world’s money market. International bankers consider Italy and Denmark to be on the verge of “national bankruptcy.” Says Franz H. Ulrich, managing director of Düsseldorf’s Deutsche Bank: “All possible resources will have to be mobilized so that the fire does not turn into a holocaust that would do irreparable damage . . . I do not want to exaggerate these dangers. But conditions can change quickly. Economic and political developments can suddenly lead to lack of trust . . . Sometimes I am not able to rid myself of the feeling that such a day cannot be too far off.”
A Losing Battle
◆ Is America leading the fight against poverty and hunger in the world? The head of an expert panel reporting to the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs answers that “the sad and tragic truth is that, over the past several years, we have moved backwards in our struggle.” High prices are increasing the demand for traditionally cheaper foods. Dried beans, for example, far more than doubled in price since the end of 1970. How do some people cope with the problem? “As much as one-third of the pet foods sold in ghetto areas [are] being used for human consumption,” says the experts’ report.
Can It Be Stopped?
◆ Even without taking into account the fact that less than half of U.S. crime is actually reported, latest FBI figures reveal that in ten years violent crime rose 174 percent, SIXTEEN times as fast as the 11-percent population growth! Is this because nothing is being done? No. Local governments now spend SEVEN times as much fighting crime as they did ten years ago, along with billions from the federal government. Yet across the nation 40 percent of the people polled are afraid to walk the streets at night. In big cities two thirds are afraid. “One fact emerges undisputed,” says U.S. News & World Report, “what has been tried so far has not worked.”
“The Biggest Lie”
◆ The Atlanta Journal and Constitution editor Reg Murphy, who recently survived a kidnapping, writes: “The biggest lie young Americans have ever been told has just hit millions of their ears in resplendent graduation ceremonies. The lie: The best is yet to come. The truth: Unless they find a way to turn down the violence in this society, the worst is yet to come. No point in telling more falsehoods.”
‘Think It Over’
◆ A Philippine Catholic priest writes in his column for a local magazine: “In a pamphlet of Jehovah’s Witnesses they rightly published that almost all religions approve war, tolerate immorality and receive pay for services to God. The only answer that can be given to this is that not all MEMBERS of other churches approve . . . And not all churches officially have that stand. However, the contents of the pamphlet is a good subject for discussion and should be thought over by those who bear the name Christian.”
Jewish Religious Malaise
◆ Fifty-three percent of American Jews are not members of any of the three branches of Judaism. This trend among younger Jews is as high as 60 percent. At a recent meeting of the 1,000-member Rabbinical Council of America, an Orthodox rabbi complained of having to contend with modern life-styles that “emphasize obsession with sex and complete freedom from any discipline.”
◆ The World Health Organization reports that venereal disease world wide shows “an overall upward trend,” with gonorrhea “incidence in countries for which data were available being 10 to 50 times that of syphilis and still rising steeply nearly everywhere. The epidemiological pattern of gonorrhea appears to have changed, with increasing involvement of younger age-groups.” Why the change? “Changing sexual habits [promiscuity].”
◆ A recent survey of New Zealand clergy and laity found that three quarters of them do not believe that the Bible is literally the Word of God. And over half said that chastity before marriage is not an essential Christian doctrine. Then should anyone be surprised that last year New Zealand is reported to have had the highest annual rate of illegitimate births in any developed country?
◆ “NURSES LEAVE AS ABORTIONS SNOWBALL,” headlines the Southampton, England, Southern Evening Echo. The article notes that some young nurses are “placed under considerable strain,” especially in cases where “signs of life exist.” A nursing officer explains: “They come into the profession full of idealism, anxious to preserve life. It can be a shattering experience when they find themselves in a situation where . . . they are helping to destroy life.”
◆ In 1967, the 192-page book Did Man Get Here by Evolution or by Creation? was published by Jehovah’s witnesses. It has since circulated to the number of almost 20 million copies, in 13 languages. Harvard geology teacher Stephen Jay Gould, writing in Natural History magazine, thus rightly says that it “may well be the most widespread antievolutionary document of modern times.”—June-July 1974, p. 22.
Church and State
◆ The recently appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, Donald Coggan, now heads the (Episcopalian) Anglican Church of England. Embarrassingly, a Methodist appointed him! Why? That is the religion of England’s prime minister, Harold Wilson, whose duty it is to make such appointments.
◆ Hawaii’s Chinese are indignant at the recent U.S. ban on the use of fireworks. The Hawaii State Attorney General’s office argues that firecrackers in Chinese religious ceremonies are deserving of constitutional protection. “The absence of loud noises and smoke produced by fireworks which serve to purify the area, cleanse people’s souls, ward off evil spirits and invite the beneficent gods,” it was claimed, “would render innumerable Chinese ceremonies and religious practices meaningless or tainted.” The ban was temporarily postponed.
◆ An American ice-hockey coach visiting Moscow learned that Soviets are very serious about the sport. Their “scientific” approach includes “blood withdrawal and reinjection for added stamina.” The blood is withdrawn “until the body replaces it.” Then they “inject the original blood right back in” on the theory that with more blood “your heart doesn’t work as hard and you don’t tire so quickly.” Possible side effects are still being studied.
◆ The Chinese are constructing an underground tunnel system that the head of an Indian goodwill delegation says “makes the Great Wall of China look like a toy castle.” Fear of Soviet attack is said to be the motive. The tunnels visited by the Indian group in a northeast China city reportedly can contain its entire population of one million. They include shops, schools, factories and decontamination plants to deal with nuclear fallout. The tunnels have also been observed in other major cities.
◆ Since 1968 the United Methodist Church in America has lost about one million members! At their Central Illinois Conference annual meeting, a former head of the church’s membership movement offered as one explanation: “The purpose of the church is to meet the needs of its membership . . . [to] show human concern and real love for people. We just haven’t done it.”
“God Save the Kung”
◆ Under this motto students of the controversial Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Kung will protest if he is condemned by Rome for his stand against papal infallibility. A three-year secret investigation of his book on the subject has been held before the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly known as the Inquisition). Tübingen University canon law professor J. Neumann calls the secret procedures without the right of self-defense a “modernized Inquisition.”
Can They Catch Up?
◆ The U.N.’s first “World Housing Survey” reports that the world’s gap between houses needed and houses built is increasing by 4-5 million each year in urban areas alone. The survey attributes this “alarming rate” of decay to governmental failure to understand the movement to the cities as well as the lack of building technology and skilled labor.
“Asking for More”
◆ “Of course we’re after money and we’re going to be asking for more,” says the head of Canada’s largest Protestant denomination, the United Church. The money, he asserts, is for helping “a needy and hungry world.” No mention of spiritual help was reported in the Toronto Star article, but he did say: “Of course, we’re getting into political matters because it’s not possible to lift ourselves privately to God.” But has church politics ever ‘lifted anyone publicly to God’?
◆ The eastern U.S. and Europe are experiencing rainfall 100 to 1,000 times more acidic than normal! Ironically, some of this increase is attributed to the use of antipollution devices. They filter out solid particles that scientists believe are capable of neutralizing the acid that forms when the remaining gases are discharged from chimneys high into the air. In extreme cases, researchers found the rain to be as acidic as lemon juice! Damage to forest growth, outdoor structures and water life is said to be the probable result.
Is It Necessary?
◆ Of the 40,000 American women who undergo hysterectomies for benign tumors each year, Family Health magazine reports that a “considerable number” may not be necessary. Benign tumors called “myomas” can often be removed by local “myomectomies” rather than complete removal of the reproductive organs, asserts the article. Dr. Francis M. Ingersoll, professor of gynecology at the Harvard Medical School, says: “Many medical students, residents, and even some practicing physicians are simply unaware that there is a surgical alternative to hysterectomy.”
◆ The scheduled 1,805-foot height of the new Toronto transmission tower produced some construction problems. The earth’s rotation caused the tower to twist counterclockwise during the record 1,464-foot concrete pour. Cables on the forms had to be continually adjusted to pull it back in line. When completed, its height will surpass the present free-standing record holder in Moscow by 57 feet. Still taller is a 2,108-foot antenna in Poland, but it is supported by guy wires.