Century Marks

Century Marks

Cardinal prophecy

In March 2003, Pope John Paul II sent a letter to President George W. Bush trying to discourage him from invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam Hussein. The letter was delivered in person by Cardinal Pio Laghi, a Bush family friend. President Bush, without opening the letter, set it on a table and launched into a defense of war against Iraq, saying he believed it was God's will. The cardinal told the president three things would happen if Iraq were invaded: it would cause many deaths and injuries on both sides; a civil war would ensue; and the U.S. would have difficulty extricating itself from the war (Vatican Insider, September 30).

Immigrant entrepreneur

Here is a headline you may not have seen: "Steve Jobs Dies: He Was the Most Famous Arab in the World." The father of the innovative head of Apple was from Syria. Jobs's parents, who weren't married, gave him up for adoption. Despite the political unrest plaguing Syria, many Syrians celebrated Jobs's accomplishments when he died. One Syrian admitted: "I think that if he had lived in Syria, he would not have been able to achieve any of this, or else he would have chosen to leave Syria" (The Lede, New York Times, October 6).

German spirits

New guidelines issued by the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church in Germany, that country's largest Protestant body, advise parishioners not to invest in companies that make hard liquor, though beer and wine producers are fine. The guidelines are meant to help investors invest their money wisely but morally in the wake of the financial crisis that has roiled world markets since 2007. The guidelines also discourage investing in companies that manufacture guns or pornography or in countries that are considered dictatorships or present a risk to the environment (RNS).

Big history

Students at Dominican University of California are required to take a sequence of four courses in Big History, a multidisciplinary approach that begins with the origins of the universe and looks ahead to the future of the planet. Half of the course covers eras prior to human history. There is a movement to teach Big History on other campuses, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has funded a project to teach it at the high school level. An Inter­national Big History Association was formed last year, and a conference and journal are to follow (Inside Higher Ed, October 7).

What the doctor ordered

The Memphis-based Methodist Le Bonheur hospital system is working with 400 churches to ensure that its patients have a support system while in the hospital and when they are discharged. Hospital staff called "navigators" work with liaisons in each congregation that is part of the Congregational Health Network to arrange for visits, transportation and follow-up care. The mortality rate for those in the program from 2007 to 2009 was 50 percent lower than for those not in it, and readmission rates were 20 percent lower. The hospital system says 70 percent of its patients belong to churches (Washington Post, October 3).