Watching the World
“Shocking Lack of Knowledge”
● “A shocking lack of knowledge about the Bible,” is the way world-renowned pollster George Gallup, Jr., puts it, and he says it is “time to sound the alarm.” He went on to say “that eight out of 10 people surveyed consider themselves Christians” but that “only 4 out of 10 people know that . . . Jesus Christ delivered the Sermon on the Mount.” Commenting on Gallup’s report, The Toronto Star adds that “40 per cent of the U.S. population is ‘unchurched,’ meaning they have not attended church in the past six months,” except for special holidays. Gallup was speaking to the Seventh All-American Council of the Orthodox Church of America at their week-long meeting where they were discussing “Church Growth.” The council apparently was not emphasizing Bible knowledge.
● Indonesia has planned to resettle 2.5 million Javanese on some of its 13,700 islands by the end of this year. Why? Because 91 million people live on Java, which is only about the size of Louisiana. Feeding that many in so small an area is a formidable task. Most Javanese are farmers, but the farms are said to be so tiny that they are measured by the meter. Yet most farmers do not own land nor do they have enough to care for their own needs. The transmigration program “without a doubt beats all,” marvels The Wall Street Journal. The government promises “a parcel of land, a wooden shanty, food for a year, seeds for two years and an assemblage of garden tools, kitchen pots and mosquito nets.” Indonesia plans to move four million more people by 1988.
● The diary kept by Soviet astronaut Valentin Lebedev during a seven-month flight revealed what life was like during his 3,300 orbits of the earth. According to the Communist Party newspaper Pravda, he wrote: “I am apprehensive about myself, whether I will be able to live and work so long with my colleague, whether I will always be able to keep my composure and self-control.” Later the diary revealed his most difficult problem was “keeping calm in dealing with ground control” because of “pent-up fatigue.” Sometimes he did not sleep well or did not sleep at all, and he began to complain mildly about the food and difficulty in keeping clean. His diary indicates that after five months his concern had increased: “I am humming tunes and pacing up and down the station. I have begun to wonder if there will ever come a time when we will be back on earth.” Homesickness was also a real problem.
Value of a Smile
● Scientific research confirms the Bible proverb: “A joyful heart has a good effect on the countenance.” (Proverbs 15:13) “Just the act of flexing facial muscles into the characteristic expressions of joy or other emotions, the researchers found, can produce effects on the nervous system that normally go with those emotions,” reports The New York Times. Dr. Ekman, the principal researcher, says the finds are quite surprising. He believes that the movement of facial muscles is tied in with the nervous system, which controls heart rate, breathing and other vital involuntary functions. The article reveals that actors know that “acting out an emotion can have physical effects.”
Canaanite Fortress Discovered
● Israeli archaeologists have discovered what they believe was “the base of a huge stone fortress that served as the principal public building of Jerusalem in the time of the Canaanites before King David conquered the city,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Professor Yigal Shiloh, the Hebrew University archaeologist in charge of excavation in Jerusalem, asserts that King David built his citadel on the foundation of the Canaanite fortress, which he says was more than 250 square yards (210 sq m) in area. The ruins were found in the area “now known as the City of David,” which is just south of where Solomon built his temple and lies outside the present Old City wall built by the Ottoman Turks.
Proper Dress Adds Dignity
● In order to maintain an atmosphere of dignity and distinction in Brazil’s Legislative Assembly, deputy Ricardo Izar recently presented a resolution requiring all male members to be properly dressed in suit and tie. Those failing to do so would not be allowed to remain in the assembly. Why? “The appearance in public of members of parliament,” he said, “should be according to the standard of sobriety and decorum that shows that they have self-respect.” The exercise of parliamentary activity, he added, imposes upon the deputy the use of dress fitting the solemnity of the House. Apparently Mr. Izar had in mind the fact that some of his peers come to sessions in blue jeans and T-shirts, trying to appear as laborers, while members who were formerly manual laborers present themselves in neat attire. Newspaper editorialists were quick to point out that while adherence to etiquette by statesmen is appreciated, compliance with ethical standards is even more so.
● On September 17, Muslims commemorated Abraham’s sacrifice of a ram instead of his son. The Economist of London reported that “1.2 million animals, flown in from Australia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Argentina and Uruguay” were to be killed “on behalf of 2 million Haj pilgrims.” What is done with all the meat? “Most is burnt and buried,” says the report, “but efforts are being made to find a way of using it.” This year some 100,000 carcasses, yielding about 17,000 tons of meat, were to be chilled and flown to refugee camps in Sudan, Pakistan and Djibouti. It has been proposed that the meat be frozen with liquid nitrogen next year.
● “Quite intelligent people argued then [10 or 15 years ago] that pornography would be a sexually liberating force,” reported The Toronto Star, but “instead it has turned bitter, violent and darkly angry.” According to this article, the idea was that once pornography was freely available “it would quickly exhaust the interest of its consumers.” Rather, the desire for it was found to be “insatiable” and more people want it. People of 20 years ago “never imagined in their worst nightmares” the outcome of their liberal attitude toward pornography, comments the Star.
Monkeys in Business
● ‘Thailand may open a school for monkeys and send graduates to do agricultural work in other countries,’ reports United Press International. After witnessing 40 monkey contestants climbing coconut trees “with inhuman agility,” Niphond Bunyapataro, governor of the province of Surat Thani, asserts that “monkeys make ideal fruit-pickers.” The top monkey picked eight coconuts in 30 seconds. Its proud owner said he rejected an offer of $1,300 (U.S.) for the monkey because on a good day it “can pick up to 1,400 coconuts.” The governor suggested awarding graduation certificates and sending the trained monkeys to Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and other countries.
● The island of Jamaica has found disease-killed coconut trees valuable for lumber. Thousands of the trees are being turned into wood that is said to rival mahogany in density and cedar in strength. Coconut wood can be used for making furniture, for handicrafts and in construction of floors and wall paneling. Guy Symes, director of the Fidco Company that already uses coconut wood, says that it “is a wasting asset.” Making use of trees killed by the lethal “yellowing disease” will help the economy as well as get rid of the dead trees.
● Having fallen down a flight of stairs in his mountain home ten miles (16 km) from help, 73-year-old Briton Brian Miller recalls that “Lady (his collie dog) was [his] only hope.” Lady, being unable to rouse her unconscious master, ran ten miles to a neighbor’s house and arrived at midnight, “barking her head off,” said the neighbor. He added, “When I went outside, she grabbed the sleeve of my robe and started tugging. I knew something had to be wrong.” The neighbor took the dog and drove to Miller’s mountain cabin and took Miller to a hospital in London “just in time,” said the doctors, to save his life.
● An estimated 16 million people in Japan participated in an earthquake drill on September 1, 1983. Drills staged in Tokyo and nine surrounding prefectures included a traffic halt, schoolchildren scrambling beneath their desks for protection, then evacuation to playgrounds. Why such a gigantic drill? To mark the 60th anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake of September 1, 1923. This struck Tokyo and surrounding areas, killing 142,800 and engulfing the city in flames. Seismologists warn “that there is grave danger of another great quake.”
● How homing pigeons find their way home has long been discussed. The latest theory, according to a four-year study by the Max Planck Institute of Ethology of Seewiesen, Federal Republic of Germany, “seems to confirm an unlikely-sounding theory first proposed 12 years ago—that the birds use their sense of smell to find their way home.” The initial experiments establish, says the report, “that birds whose olfactory membranes were knocked out with anaesthetics or whose nostrils were plugged, could not find their way home over long distances.”
● “A two-ton ice cream truck careened 215 feet [66 m] down a hill into a hickory tree—with a nanny goat at the wheel,” reports the New York Daily News. The driver had stopped to take an order and left the door open. So the inquisitive goat hopped inside, accidentally releasing the brake and thus setting the truck in motion. The damage to the truck was $5,000 (U.S.), but the goat was uninjured.
● “Of 20,053 homicides recorded by the FBI in 1981, half were caused by handguns,” cites Betsy Gotbaum, executive director, National Alliance Against Violence, in a letter to The Wall Street Journal. She added: “Fifty-five percent were committed by family, friends or acquaintances of the victim. There are some 800 accidental deaths due to handguns each year in the U.S., with one child killed per day. An estimated 6,600 Americans each year commit suicide with a handgun.” In Washington, D.C., where there exists a Firearms Act, domestic homicides in families were said to be cut in half, while in nearby Baltimore they continue to increase. Gotbaum also pointed out that a person attempting to use a handgun for self-protection is “liable to sustain injuries that are five times more serious,” and those resisting a robbery are “eight times more likely to be killed than individuals who do not resist.”