Older and wiser: Henry Alford, 46, has written a book about old age based on conversations with more than 100 people over 70 (How to Live). Althea Washington, a retired school teacher, lost her husband and house in Hurricane Katrina and now lives in a small apartment close to train tracks. When asked how she's coping, she responded: "Can you hear that train? As long as it stays on its tracks, I'll stay on mine" (USA Today, December 30).
Disarming: A Christian women's group in Japan has produced New Year postcards, in English and Japanese, to promote a war-renouncing clause in the country's 1946 constitution. Some politicians have in recent times tried to amend this clause. Tens of millions of New Year cards are delivered throughout Japan on January 1 (ENI).
Voices of 2008 “I have come to the conclusion after two years of debate on immigration without success that it’s going to take the love of Jesus Christ to bring people together.” —Senator Chuck Grassley (R., La.), speaking on the contentious subject of immigration reform
Turnout: Many observers expected this year’s presidential election to be marked by massive turnout by blacks and young people. What happened? The Washington Post (November 16) reports that black voters made up 13 percent of the electorate in 2008, compared to 11 percent in 2004, and voters under 30 were 18 percent of the electorate this year, versus 17 percent in 2004.
Squatters’ (divine) rights: To a Pentecostal community of squatters in Caracas, Venezuela, studied by Rafael Sánchez, their occupation of an empty, 12-story building in what was once a posh part of the town makes good theological sense. The world really belongs to God, they explain, but the devil has taken it over, and Christians’ job, as agents of the Holy Spirit, is to take back what really belongs to God (Public Culture, Spring).