Watching the World
◆ During the ongoing debate about whether the U.S. should establish its own federal emergency grain reserve, Senator Hubert Humphrey has drawn on ancient wisdom to support his argument. “Frequently pointing to the biblical story of Joseph convincing the phar[aoh]s of Egypt to store grain for lean years,” reports The Wall Street Journal, “the Senator says his legislation would provide for government acquisitions . . . of stocks in times of excess production.” However, the mid-August U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate indicates very little excess grain in 1974.
◆ Authorities are now beginning to adjust their “ethics” for world famine conditions. The subject is treated in a forthcoming study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It discusses at length triage, a French word that once applied only to sorting battle casualties: those who could be saved were given immediate medical attention, while those who would probably die anyway were denied help. Now, says the study, “national triage” must be considered where food is concerned. With such a policy, limited relief supplies would be directed only to nations able to use them effectively. Less fortunate nations? They would be allowed to starve.
U.S. Presidency Firsts
◆ On August 9, 1974, Vice-President Gerald R. Ford became the 38th president of the United States. Since he had been appointed to his former office, he became the first president in the republic’s 200-year history not to be elected by popular vote to the executive branch of the government. On his taking office, the New York Daily News headlined: “President Ford Pledges: TRUTH, PEACE AND SECURITY.” Another first preceded Ford’s inauguration when Richard M. Nixon became the nation’s only chief executive ever to resign from office.
◆ Jesuit priest and U.S. presidential speech writer John McLaughlin observed, in a recent interview, that the exercise of politics within the Church ‘makes the civil kind seem like child’s play.’ He says that “the rawest, most vulgar display of power I have experienced has been ecclesiastical.”
“An Act of Creation”
◆ “We find no vestige of a beginning,” wrote James Hutton, the father of modern geology, about the age of the earth. That was in the eighteenth century. But, as it often does, science has changed. Robert Jastrow, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, writes in Natural History magazine that modern instruments and study “have produced a description of the history of the world that, like the Book of Genesis, begins suddenly, sharply, with an act of creation.”—August-September 1974, pp. 80, 82.
Dialysis and Transfusions
◆ Recent medical reports indicate that the practices of priming dialysis machines with blood, as well as transfusing chronic dialysis patients to combat anemia, are dangerous and unnecessary. European kidney specialists, writing in the internationally respected journal Nephron, state that with “efficient hemodialysis,” proper diet and supplements, “a much more successful treatment of anemia in terminal [kidney] failure is now possible. Blood transfusions are unnecessary and because of their known disadvantages should be banned from routine treatment of dialysis anemia.” Dialysis artificially removes certain impurities in the blood when the kidneys are unable to do so.
Taking the Fear Out
◆ In another effort to stem the decline of the Church, Italian bishops are trying a new approach (for them) in religious instruction. For experimental use, they recently adopted the second in a series of five new catechisms for different age groups. The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reports that the new catechism no longer uses the feeling of terror from the “flames of hell and the demons (hell is spoken of only once as ‘an everlasting punishment’)” to encourage obedience.
◆ With high aspirations, the U.N. Conference on the Law of the Sea convened in Caracas, hoping to create a way to manage ocean resources for the benefit of all mankind. How are these noble aspirations faring? “Greed Takes Over as Nations Divide the Oceans,” headlines the Los Angeles Times. “The nations of the world, acting like individual property owners, are trying to grab as much as they can of unclaimed property.” They are no longer content with the old three-mile limit that leaves most of the seas open to all.
◆ Though many nations cannot find enough money to pay for oil imports, some oil-exporting countries have an opposite problem. Venezuela’s $10-billion windfall from increased prices this year could give the country “economic indigestion,” says the Minister of Development. Authorities fear rapid inflation from pumping too much money into an unprepared economy. “The $10 billion will crush us,” declared former oil minister Juan Pablo Perez Alfonso. “After five years of this, we’ll be in a worse state than ever. . . . Everyone will be thinking how to put his hand in the bag.”
Is Technology the Answer?
◆ Over the years, the public has grown to believe that technology can solve all society’s problems. But “we overpromoted what science could accomplish,” says the director of an RCA laboratory. “Now we’re paying for all those high expectations.” The director of General Electric’s research center in Schenectady, New York, agrees: “Fifteen years ago, technology was changing faster than society was . . . Today, social expectations are changing faster than technology. And that creates a problem for us.”
Churches and Prostitutes
◆ Despite pressure, Methodist bishop R. Marvin Stuart refused to censure or remove the minister of San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Church, where U.S. prostitutes held their first national convention. The minister had welcomed them, saying, “You are helping to change the world and make a new community for mankind.” Meanwhile, a Southampton Church of England vicar and a lay evangelist “captain” are backing a campaign for state-registered brothels. “People have to realise that prostitution is a fact of life and here to stay,” says the vicar. The evangelist captain agrees: “It would help if prostitutes were allowed to install a red light outside, which they could switch off when they were busy.”
A Clergyman’s View
◆ When the St. Paul, Minnesota, city council heard public testimony on a proposed homosexual rights ordinance, one woman quoted from the Bible. Someone objected: “Don’t give me all this holy-moly stuff about the Bible.” Who said that? Baptist minister William D. Young, chaplain for the St. Paul Area Council of Churches. His view prevailed. The ordinance was passed by a vote of five to one.
“Literature in Evangelizing”
◆ At a recent Southern Baptist pastor’s conference in Texas, one pastor, H. L. Fickett, Jr., of First Baptist Church, Van Nuys, California, “called for increased use of literature in evangelizing. He used the Jehovah’s Witnesses as an example, reports the Associated Press, as he noted the huge volume of magazines they produce to back up their evangelizing work. During 1973 the Witnesses distributed to the public world wide about 235 million magazines and nearly 22 million books.
◆ A current public school textbook, American Government in the 20th Century, describes the role of the Supreme Court in protecting religious liberty. It notes that “Jehovah’s Witnesses are a highly organized and very articulate group, whose beliefs and actions have exposed them to criticism and even hostility on the part of some people. . . . Strict followers of the Bible, the Witnesses refuse to salute the flag or render military service in ‘the world’s wars’ . . . The remarkable feature of . . . cases involving Jehovah’s Witnesses is that most of them were decided by the Supreme Court during World War II, when popular feeling ran high against those who did not fully support the war effort.”
◆ Modern medical technology has more than met its match in the fruits of immorality. Noting that “venereal disease is showing an alarming increase everywhere,” World Health magazine says that this “breakdown in the control of venereal infection . . . came as an unpleasant shock to the health authorities.” Why? “Because not many years ago there was a general assumption that new methods of treatment would lead to the rapid reduction . . . of the two most widespread and damaging sicknesses” resulting from promiscuous sex habits. But man’s moral decay has been far more “rapid” than medicine’s advances.
◆ Motorcycle sales in the U.S. have grown at a 32-percent annual rate since the energy crisis. Is it all for economy? The publisher of Cycle Sport magazine says: “The real reason these older guys started buying bikes this year . . . is they now had an excuse from the sad state of the economy to do what they wanted to do in the first place. . . . Suddenly, they can ride to work on a cycle and get away with it.” However, traffic deaths of cyclists are running almost a third ahead of last year, though overall highway deaths declined sharply. New riders with six months’ or less experience account for two thirds of the motorcycle deaths.
Charity for Whom?
◆ What happens to the money that many well-intentioned people donate to religious and other charities? The Baltimore Sunday Sun recently “found striking differences among 20 large charities soliciting in Maryland.” But it noted that the amount spent for “fund raising” reached a “high of over 85 percent for the . . . Pallottine Missionaries.” The Pallottine group conducts a countrywide mailing campaign from its mission office in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
◆ Using methods reminiscent of the old West in the United States, motor-vehicle thieves are making their mark in Nigeria. The Daily Times of Lagos reports that 3,000 vehicles were stolen in the city in the past three years and a number in other areas. “Apart from kidnapping and murdering occupants of cars, thieves also seize cars at gunpoint. They also dope unsuspecting drivers with ‘doctored’ drinks, so as to steal the vehicles” after the drivers pass out. The report notes that “armed robbery, especially on our highways, is likely to be with us for some time to come.”
Are They in School?
◆ “Parents think their children are safely in the care of teachers,” says a senior Scotland Yard official. But he says the great upsurge in juvenile crime in London is because “these little blighters get attendance marks at school by booking in, and then buzz off.” He blames teachers “who do not care.”
◆ Writing to the Boerne, Texas, Star, a Mrs. Otto Rahm commented on the poor appearance of most young men who wear long hair. However, she wrote, “two young men came to my door from Kingdom Hall [of Jehovah’s witnesses], and it was a real pleasure to talk to these clean shaven, short hair, neatly dressed young people, and I wish that more young people would follow their example.”