Watching the World
1974 in Vision and Reality
◆ Men of this world are weak at predicting the future. Consider: On July 6, 1949, the Milwaukee Sentinel gave a “preview” of twenty-five years in the future. What was foreseen? “The year 1974 will have prices so low that the buyer [will] be able to select things that appeal to him at the moment and then discard them as easily as last year’s dress.” Compare that vision with reality. The July 6, 1974, New York Times reports: “Soaring food costs are making it increasingly difficult for the poorer countries—and poorer people everywhere—to get a share of limited food supplies and still find money for almost equally vital needs.”
“Divine Purpose” Assemblies
◆ In a five-week period (June 20 to July 28) “Divine Purpose” District Assemblies of Jehovah’s Witnesses were conducted in over 40 U.S. cities. Over 803,000 persons were in attendance at the public lecture, a highlight of the four-day meetings. At the public talk, the speaker pointed out that men’s plans continue to fail, in spite of being constantly revised. As a result there is no unity, not even in Christendom. “Promises of politicians to lay the foundation for a ‘generation of peace’ sound hollow!” he noted. The cause? “An overlooking of the Creator . . . and his counsel.” True harmony, the speaker said, will come in the manner set out in the Bible. There were over 20,800 persons baptized at these 59 English and Spanish assemblies. The concluding three assemblies are not included in this report.
World Council of . . . ?
◆ If a layman goes to a religious conference he expects to hear talk about religious matters. Does he? Well, Magnus Pyke, secretary of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, attended the recent meeting of the World Council of Churches in Bucharest, Romania. New Scientist says this is what he found: “To a scientific stranger from a non-religious life, the proceedings in Bucharest came as a considerable surprise. Much of the discussion—some of it heated—was about politics, by what brand of ‘socialism’ social justice should be achieved (no one had a good word to say about capitalism), and how rich nations should be made to atone for their riches and become poor so that this would be followed . . . by the poor countries becoming richer.”
◆ To know why canned goods cost you more at the market, consider what is happening in California. About 40 percent of all U.S. canned items come from that state. Raw fruits and vegetables now cost the canning processors between 60 and 150 percent more than last year. Sugar has tripled in cost; wood pallets used to stack cans now cost twice as much. Machinery is up 25 percent. And labor will be getting 30 to 40 percent more money over the next three years.
A Farmer’s View
◆ Farmers across the U.S. planned to hold their wheat until they could get top prices; some city people may not understand this action. Melvin Winger, a farmer in Johnson, Kansas, explains their predicament: “Last year most farmers around here sold early and then watched the price double. This year, we‘ve learned, and we’re going to wait.” However, he calls his wait “a real gamble.” Why? Well, in less than one hour in late July, when the price of wheat dropped 30 cents per bushel, farmer Winger’s 95,000 bushels of wheat was worth $28,500 less!
◆ The journal Theology Today recently summarized the condition of Christendom’s Latin-American churches. The picture is bleak: “Enrollments in seminaries have dropped considerably; priests have left the ministry in such numbers that it is called a ‘vanishing profession.’ Conflicts and tensions grow in the churches as conservatives, progressives, revolutionaries, denominationalists, revivalists, and charismatics divide the Christian community . . . Both Catholic and Protestant communities are involved in this crisis.”
Australia’s Empty Churches
◆ Australian churches are “experiencing a slump,” L. Grope, president of the Lutheran Church of Australia, recently told The Seattle Times. He says, “I suppose 95 per cent of Australians would call themselves Christians of one shade or another. But those who like dabbling in statistics would suggest that in recent years there have never been more than 10 per cent of those who have attended (church) at all regularly. If there are a few less now than this—well, it’s hardly noticeable; the churches are empty anyhow.”
Getting Away with Murder
◆ Recently published figures show that there were 644 homicides in Manhattan in 1973. Of this number only 46 were convicted of homicide. Some cases were yet to be settled at the end of the year; but many killers pleaded guilty to lesser crimes, thus gaining lighter sentences. Says former Deputy Police Commissioner Robert Daley: “As a direct result of the plea-bargaining process, many cold-blooded killers now go to jail for less than four years.”
◆ Walrus are being used to forecast ice conditions in the Arctic. In 1965 a group of walrus was spotted a full 100 miles in from the edge of an ice field; within two weeks the area was virtually free of ice. Similar happenings have occurred since. Experts guess that walrus go far back onto the ice field as they follow warm sea currents. Their choicest food is found where warm and cold water meet; the warm current eventually breaks up the ice. Says the Soviet magazine Znaniye-Sila: “All walrus ‘prognostications’ have proved correct.”
A Faster Recovery
◆ Can religion aid a sick person to get well quicker? In a current issue of the American Medical News, Dr. R. J. McFerran of Orange, California, says: “It has been my experience that patients with an active, positive religious faith do get better faster and are not ill as often. Believers do have hang-ups, neuroticisms, and organic illness, but as a psychiatrist once quoted to me when I asked him his feelings on religion and psychiatry, ‘I feel that the battle for return to good mental health is 50% accomplished at the beginning of therapy if the patient has a faith on which to structure treatment.’”
◆ A World Health Organization (WHO) study says that the elderly in so-called poorer nations are better off than those in advanced nations. Why? Developing countries generally accord status to the old people; they are cared for by their families. Advanced nations, on the other hand, often force old people to retire and become reliant on the state for support. The study suggests that the aged be allowed to work as long as they are physically and mentally able.
New Archbishop and His Bible
◆ In November the Church of England will have a new Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Donald Coggan. What are his views about the Bible? The Guardian reports that during an interview Dr. Coggan “replied that he did not take all parts of the Bible as equally valid.”
Cause of Africa’s Famine
◆ What is a main cause of the famine in Africa’s Sahelian region? Science magazine may step on some “experts’” toes when it claims that the famine was caused primarily by man himself, noting that “Western science and technology, and the best intentioned efforts of donor agencies and governments over the last several decades, have in fact made a principal contribution to the destruction . . . Few Western interventions in the Sahel, when considered over the long term, have worked in the inhabitants’ favor.”
◆ International economic policy has brought on many inflationary problems. But the chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve System, A. F. Burns, does not overlook another major cause: “Ironically, the roots of that bias [toward inflation] lie chiefly in the rising aspirations of people everywhere. . . . In some of our businesses, price competition has atrophied as a mode of economic behavior, in part because many of our families no longer exercise much discipline in their spending . . . Careful spending habits are not only in the best interest of every family; they could contribute powerfully to a new emphasis on price competition in consumer markets.”
Who Is the Prostitute?
◆ A convention of 700 prostitutes recently met in San Francisco. Today, that raises few eyebrows. But at least some persons were surprised to learn that the prostitutes gathered in a Methodist church. Says one letter published in The Cleveland Press: ‘That’s like the Mafia convening in the hall of the Fraternal Order of Police.’
◆ To appeal to the world, religious writers often use public relations gimmicks. Why? A writer in the Christian Century magazine explains: “How do you compete with a television film showing the slaughter of villagers? You proclaim the death of God. How do you avoid being shoved into the background, or indeed off-camera, by black-power? You write black theology.”
◆ Inflation has caused people to make some adjustments in unusual areas. One matter affected has been the so-called consumer revolution. Says Business Week: “Inflation has drastically changed the picture in the past 18 months. The consumer, rather than wondering whether he is buying the best product, is now wondering whether he can buy any product at all. The much-vaunted power of the ‘new consumer’ in America fizzled completely.”
More Dog Bites
◆ “Attention has been focused on the wrong end of the dog,” says Dr. David Harris, a former New York City deputy health commissioner. The nuisance of dog droppings has taken attention off of dog bites—now called a problem of epidemic proportions. For about twenty years after World War II there were about 28,000 dog bites each year reported in the City. With the great increase in the number of dogs in the City, in 1973 the number rose to 40,000. Since only half are reported he feels the actual number of dog bites was really 80,000. Interestingly, 80 percent of the time the dogs bit people that they know, not strangers.
◆ Much of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands has been saturated with liberal views. With what result? Holland Herald answers: “The right-wing Roman Catholic group Confrontatie (Confrontation) has made a plea for orthodox priests from abroad to come to Holland and help combat the onslaught of liberalism within the Church. They have also asked Holland’s right-wing priests to serve more parishes, and for pensioned priests to come out of retirement ‘before it’s too late.’”
◆ More and more people have given up hope in the world’s economic system. Notes Richard Neff reporting from Strasbourg, France, for Saturday Review/World: “Modest savers, people on fixed incomes, and creditors have always suffered most from inflation. Today, however, even these groups do not resist inflation as they once did. Savers are in any case a quaint, disappearing race. In traditionally conservative France, savings were 16 times greater than credit buying in 1959; they are only five times greater now!”