High calling: When Harris Interactive took its annual poll in 2006 measuring the prestige granted different professions, the top three were firefighters, doctors and nurses. Clergy came in eighth, behind scientists, teachers, military officers and police officers. Ministers have declined in prestige only 1 percentage point since 1977, when the survey began. Firefighters weren’t even included in the survey before 2003 (Calling, Winter).
Wages of war: No one can predict the long-term consequences of war, but not until last summer did the U.S. stop collecting a 3 percent tax on long-distance telephone calls that was begun in 1898 to help pay for the Spanish-American War—a war that lasted only several months (Vital Speeches of the Day, December).
“As Christians, we believe that war is not inevitable; people choose war and people can choose peace. . . . ‘Blessed are peacemakers,’ Jesus said.” —Lebanese Catholic cardinal Nasrallah P. Sfeir on conflict in the Middle East
Charitable giving: An alternative Christmas gift is available through Charity Checks. Here’s how it works: you choose an amount and make the payment online. The recipient gets to choose the charity to which the gift goes. The giver gets the charitable tax deduction. The charity gets the donation (www.charitychecks.us).
Real money: By one estimate, the war in Iraq may eventually cost the United States $2 trillion. Which raises the question: how else could we have used this money? According to Nicholas D. Kristof (New York Times, October 24), it is four times the amount of money needed to stabilize the Social Security system for the next 75 years, and it is four times the amount needed to provide health care insurance for all uninsured Americans for the next decade. Every minute we stay in Iraq costs another $380,000.