Insight on the News
● The past year, perhaps as never before, has clearly manifested the unstable nature of the world’s stock markets. In the U.S., in January 1973, for example, the Dow-Jones industrial averages hit an all-time high of 1052 points. But by autumn the market was in one of the severest plunges of the century, plummeting a total of 57 points on two days in November and finally dipping well below 800 points. Exchanges in Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan also reported drops of as much as 30 percent from high points earlier in the year.
Why? Fears of a possible 1974 worldwide recession were brought to a head by the Arab oil embargo.
This jittery nature of the stock market is not new. A phenomenal drop took place back in 1955 with the news of President Dwight Eisenhower’s heart attack; fear of grave national consequences arose due to one man’s health.
What was new in 1973 was the market’s continual and drastic fluctuations over a course of many months. Regardless of what happens to the market in coming months, last year’s actions illustrate how fearful world leaders are. (Luke 21:26) Christians can take warning and not be overly anxious, knowing how easily wealth can ‘make wings and fly away.’—Prov. 23:5.
Freedom from Tobacco
● World tobacco production has risen about 12 percent in the past decade. This despite the fact that medical science links smoking with numerous ailments. Evidence grows that even the children of smokers suffer. Why do not more quit?
Dr. F. R. Wake, of Canada’s Carleton University, says: “The major problem is not getting people to quit smoking, but to keep them off it after they’ve quit.” Strangely, just knowing smoking causes cancer is often not enough.
Smoking has never been a sizable problem among Jehovah’s witnesses. They have, since the 1890’s, published warnings against it. Now, since the latter part of 1973, anyone becoming one of Jehovah’s witnesses or desiring to remain an acceptable member of their congregations has been required to drop the tobacco habit. A similar restriction rests on those who make their living in the tobacco business.
Why the concern to free their congregations completely from any connection with tobacco? Jehovah’s witnesses recognize the health dangers that the habit presents. Besides, the vital moral question with them is, Do we use our bodies in a way that shows appreciation to our Creator by ‘cleansing ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit’? (2 Cor. 7:1) They also see tobacco promotion as contradicting one’s love for neighbor. The desire for God’s favor motivates them to gain freedom from tobacco.
Catholics and Communists
● The Italian clergy of the Catholic Church have requested that the pope rescind a 1949 decree ruling that anyone ‘showing favor to the Communist party’ be excommunicated. What else has happened, and what does it indicate?
In recent times the Vatican has received official dignitaries from a number of Communist nations and has even conceded a desire to establish relations with Red China. In these moves alert observers see drastic changes from the church’s previous positions. True, the Catholic Church has always been a ‘friend of the world,’ and, with worldly expertise, she has usually arranged to have priests and bishops and large followings on both sides of political issues, even wars. In that way, regardless of how matters are settled, she maintained a position of influence with the winner.
But today world events are forcing her to make concessions that reveal a steadily weakening position. Peace appears to be developing between the Western nations and the Communist East. To maintain some political strength, the church is forced to reconcile herself with her long-time atheistic enemy.
Thus a church of great worldly power is losing its grip on the reins of political control. Her voice in world affairs is now conciliatory. All of this calls to mind the prophetic picture presented in the Bible book of Revelation chapter 17. There all false religion is depicted as a prostitute who, losing command over the beastly nations, is eventually destroyed by those very nations.