Some enjoy traveling. Others not. I happen to belong to the last category. So in order to transform what can be an unpleasant chore into something pleasant, I always pick up as many newspapers and magazines as I can as I try to stuff my brain with things new and interesting.
It always startles me to realize what kind of world we live in.
I knew that money is important. I knew also that money creates problems; Saint Paul even says that the love for money is the root of all evil. But I did not know it is so heavy! The news item said, ‘it weighed 28 tons and took as much room as 74 washing machines’. It was $2.4 billion in $100 bills that was transferred to Baghdad in a special delivery to help run the country as the Interim Iraqi government took over! The Federal Reserve Bank of New York had to open its vault on Sunday, a day banks are not usually open. They even had to line up a special Air Force C130 plane to hold the money. “Just when you think you’ve seen it all… ” read one email from an exasperated Fed official.
In a public school in London Ontario parents were enraged because they received a letter from the principal asking them for permission to distribute the New Testament for free! Enraged?! Complaints came in after the principal sent letters home with pupils, asking them if they wanted a free copy of the Bible. If parents returned the permission slip saying yes, kids could pick up a Bible at the main office. Are we becoming so allergic to religion? What is wrong with parents being able to say yes or no to a Bible? What happened to the right to choose?
When I asked my pastor why he never reads papers, he quipped ‘I hardly have the time to read the Good News, why should I waste my time reading the bad news?!’ Well, sometimes the papers do carry good news! A survey examining religion in medicine found out that most US doctors believe in God and in an afterlife. Of the 1044 doctors surveyed, 76% said they believe in God, 59% said they believe in some kind of an-after life, and 55% said their religious beliefs influence how they practice medicine. “We were surprised,” said one of the researchers. This news was carried on the USA Today.
I did not know whether I should have smiled or take seriously the article that appeared on the Honolulu Advertiser on the relationship between faith and diet. Prayer, I read, can help some people avoid overeating. To underscore the point, the article spoke of Jodi Hertz, an Oahu mother of three, who had been overweight all her adult life. To prove it there was even her photo. She had tried diet clubs, drugs, low-carbs, low fat, you name it. Then she had a change of heart. “I used to go to the food, now I go to God to get the needs filled” she confessed. It has been four and a half years and she is 85 pounds lighter! The whole program aims to transfer relationships with the world – food, smoking, filth, money, porn – to a relationship with God.
Call it animal instinct, call it a miracle but it is surely uncanny. It happened in Ethiopia. A 12 year old girl was abducted and beaten by seven men trying to force her into marriage. Three lions came out of the forest, chased the captors away and waited besides the girl until some relatives came to fetch her up. “Then they just left her and went back into the forest” Sgt Wedajo said. “Everyone thinks this is some kind of miracle, because normally the lions would attack people.” Animals beat men in compassion!
An obituary in the Financial Times on Cardinal Jaime Sin, the former archbishop of Manila, had this one of a kind statement. “Cardinal Sin liked to say that if his parents had believed in birth control he would never have been born. He was the fourteenth of sixteen children! Perhaps the Church is right! Perhaps?!!
Do not tamper with nature! In China, the Herald Tribune reports, have a serious problem. They have a serious glut of boys! Demographers predict that in a few decades China would have up to 40 million bachelors unable to find mates! It all started when the Communist party, in an effort to curb China’s population growth, adopted a one child policy. This has led many families to use prenatal scans and selective abortions to make certain that their child is a boy. Result? Today China has one of the world’s worse cases of ‘missing girls’.
Yes we live in a strange world. This is the conclusion I always arrive when I read all these newspapers all at once. “It is often said”, wrote the editor of the Air Canada magazine, “that comedy is tragedy that happens to someone else”! Mel Brooks once quipped that “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die.” Perhaps we should start thinking of doing something about all this!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.