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).

Bad dreams

When Robert Jay Lifton embarked on a project of interviewing Nazi death camp doctors, he started having bad dreams in which he was in a place like Auschwitz along with family members. He talked with Elie Wiesel, an Auschwitz survivor, about the dreams. Wiesel's response: "Good, now you can do the study." Lifton understood Wiesel to be saying that he had to inhabit the subject psychologically, not just academically. That was his way of paying his dues (Witness to an Extreme Century, Free Press).

Peace efforts

Former President Jimmy Carter thinks it was a mistake for the U.S. to veto the bid in the United Nations for Palestinian statehood. He argued that President Obama could make good on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize by backing the move for Palestinian statehood (Haaretz, October 6).

Old immigration story

Benjamin Franklin's freethinking ways didn't include tolerance for other ethnic groups, especially German immigrants. He wondered why "Palatine Boors [that is, Germans] be suffered to swarm into our settlements, and be herding together [to] establish their languages and manners to exclusion of ours? Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of us Anglifying them, and will never adopt our language [or] customs, any more than they can acquire our complexion" (John Fea, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? Westminster John Knox).