Century Marks

Century Marks

New world order

A major document released last month by the Vatican calls for a major overhaul of the world's financial system. The current financial system promotes national self-interest, rewards rich countries over the poor and is anachronistic in a globalized world, the document claims. A universal public authority that transcends national interest is needed, such as the creation of a central world bank that would regulate the flow of monetary exchanges. Taxes should be imposed on financial transactions in order to build a reserve that could support countries hit by crisis (America magazine blog, October 24).

Champion the vote

A group of venture capitalists is backing United in Purpose, a nonprofit organization that is trying to influence the outcome of the 2012 election by registering 5 million conservative Christians. Using a sophisticated data mining procedure, it is compiling a database of every unregistered evangelical, conservative Christian in the country. The organization's Champion the Vote campaign has a website that lists right to life, religious freedom and traditional marriage as its top priorities. Technology entrepreneur Ken Eldred, one of its financial backers, says that one day God will ask people how they voted (Chicago Tribune, September 18).

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).

Church cover blown

As commodity prices soar, thieves are targeting British churches and other institutions, taking copper lightning rods, lead rain pipes, bronze statues, iron gates, even church bells and entire roofs. "Boom conditions in China, India and Brazil have created an incredible demand for lead and copper," said a representative of a private company that insures about 90 percent of churches in England and Wales. "Church roofs are often the target, threatening some churches with bankruptcy," she said. The price of copper came close to US$10,000 a ton earlier this year, having fallen as low as $2,825 a ton in December 2008 due to the financial crisis affecting demand (ENI).